While I can think of plenty of great bands that have come out of the American Southwest, I can only name a few that play black metal. Arizona has Abigail Williams (originally from Phoenix, now based in Washington) and Suicide Forest (Tucson), and New Mexico has Void Ritual.
The solo project of Albuquerque-based musician Daniel Jackson, Void Ritual’s sharply melodic take on second-wave black metal has been garnering critical acclaim since Holodomor, his first EP, came out in 2014. Last year’s Heretical Wisdom was also a critical success, and helped increase the band’s profile considerably. On August 3, Void Ritual will release its follow-up, Death is Peace. The first of two planned full-lengths in 2018, the album sees Jackson expanding on that second-wave tremolo-and-blast template and introduce a bit more variety into his song structures.
Opening track “Given Unto the Water,” which we’re premiering today here at the Vault, is a perfect example. With its moody, clean-guitar intro, tribal-sounding percussion, and unique melody, it’s easily one of my favorite tracks not just on Death is Peace, but in his entire discography. Also worth mentioning is the album’s cover art, courtesy of Ivan Belcic, which perfectly complements the change in musical direction with its deeply impressionistic feel.
Death is Peace will be available via Jackson’s recently launched label Ipos Music (preorder here), a non-for-profit label dedicated to supporting causes benefitting LGBTQIA+ people and people of color. All of the proceeds from its release will be donated to the Coalition To Stop Violence Against Native Women (find more info here).
Here’s what Jackson had to say about both the song and the Coalition To Stop Violence Against Native Women:
I chose “Given Unto The Water” as the beginning of the album specifically because the more tranquil opening minute or so of the song was a good way of signaling that this album was going to be a bit different musically. It’s still largely a black metal album, but the song is a representation of things I’ve begun experimenting with: softer sections, keyboards, unique drumming patterns within a black metal context, that sort of thing. The lyrics in the song are painful, and are representative of the lyrical tone for the rest of the album. The words describe a sort of ritual sacrifice, in which my throat is slit with my head held underwater. In my mind, this represents the intense struggle and anxiety, followed by an eventual release and then empty nothingness, that I’ve dealt with repeatedly over the last year or so mentally.
Ipos Music is a label (in the loosest sense of the word) I started specifically to release albums where the money I make from sales would be donated to charities benefiting LGBTQIA+ and people of color. There’s a large Native American community in my state, so it made sense to donate money to a cause that would directly help my local community, as I’m doing with the Dead Wretch album and the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico. My co-worker Becki made me aware of CSVANW after seeking her advice on organizations to which I could donate to benefit the Native community. Beyond offering trainings and workshops for those working with survivors of domestic violence, or for those working with abusers to change their violent behavior, the Coalition also advocates for policies that will serve the needs of domestic violence survivors in Native communities, as well as offering outreach programs and youth programs.To clarify, I’m just donating the money to them once the album is out. I don’t work directly with them, and I don’t believe they’d actively endorse an album where the lyrics depict violent situations as a representation for ongoing metal health struggles, dealing with loss, and anxiety.