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Essential Black Metal Listening

Essential Black Metal Listening: CARPATHIAN FOREST Black Shining Leather

Carpathian essentially founded black 'n' roll with the magic of Black Shining Leather – this is an album that you simply can't ignore.

Carpathian essentially founded black 'n' roll with the magic of Black Shining Leather - this is an album that you simply can't ignore.

Before writing this article I don't think that I fully realized how influential Carpathian Forest have been over the years. Out of the twisted black and roll magic of their debut, Black Shining Leather, came legions of imitators, and a whole movement that, for a minute there, seemed like it might come to define the scene. The point being is that Black Shining Leather stands out in the black metal canon, because even though it took Carpathian Forest eight years to put out their first full length it was a record that spun the genre on its head, creating punchy grooves, and dare I say catchy riffs, that still managed to fit into a more traditional black metal polemic. Also there's a cover of a Cure song, and if you can't love a band for covering Robert Smith then you might not have a soul.

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I think that the cascading chords and distinctive rhythmic patterns of Carpathian Forest have always set them as a breed apart. The band has always had a distinct sense of "rock and roll" about their image and sound, pushing things past the point of being fun and instead finding themselves lost in the northern wastes. Like I said before, Black Shining Leather is no typical black metal album: it is an album that expands the palate of the genre and gives us whole new sound worlds to connect to and fall in love with. Something about Carpathian Forest has always seemed very natural, as if they were a band who grew up loving Motorhead but still wanted to find a place in the Norwegian black metal scene. Perhaps that explains the brilliantly executed and raging black metal fury of a track like "Pierced Genitalia".

Despite its weirdness, Black Shining Leather stands out because it comes from a scene that at the time was still largely conformist. Around the turn of the century black metal was in a really weird place, and Carpathian Forest were making it grow in an exciting new direction. You can sense the raw energy tingling through the music, especially on the more distinctly "rock and roll" riffs. Beyond that, the doomy power of the synthesizers on Black Shining Leather have captured the imaginations of legions of fans for years; it helps to build on the sonic and ideological dualities that help to make this album so special.

A surprising amount of modern mainstream black metal is derived from this very record. Asides from fairly obvious ties to bands like Goatwhore and Fuck Off And Die! I think that there is a case to be made that a lot of what bands like Behemoth do stems from what Carpathian Forest did here, their unique sound proving that even in a world of broken landscapes and barren wastes we could still get together and just rock. Simply put, this is an album that fully embraces its own weirdness and still brings in the inherent raw magic of black metal. Black Shining Leather invokes everything we love about the music and encourages us to get a little crazy, stage dive off a balcony and bend a knee in honor of true black metal fury.

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