Song of the Day: Drottnar - Cul-De-Sac

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Impossibly difficult to categorize into any nice, neat genre, Norway’s Drottnar originally formed as Vitality, in 1996. They began playing death metal, but changed names when their sound shifted towards black metal. The band’s sound continued to evolve more and more, incorporating progressive and technical elements into something more avant-garde over time, while still retaining elements of black metal, death metal, and other extreme sounds.

It is this level of experimentation and excellence that both sets them apart from their peers musically, and simultaneously makes their music less accessible to the general populace of listeners–even amongst fans of heavy music. But the difficulties don’t end there. In addition to complex time signatures and heavier-than-thou riffing, Drottnar frequently utilized confusing (at least to non-Europeans) imagery, and poetic lyrics that–while clearly pointing to a faith in Christ–did not beat one over the head with obvious meaning.

In fact, the band have dubbed their genre “bunker metal,” which is itself a clue to the meaning behind the warlike imagery. Members are known to dress in military garb and use powerful-yet-ambiguous symbols like gas masks, hammers, and so forth in band logos. Lyric videos sometimes make reference to World War II. Wait a second . . . are these guys Nazis? Far from it! Norway was an occupied territory during World War 2. “Bunker metal” would mean those who resisted the Third Reich, not those who supported it. Although one could argue they’re treading dangerously, the meaning of the military garb and cryptic lyrics is there for those who have the patience to dig into it–and maybe that’s the point!

“Cul de Sac” from the fourth album, Stratum, is an assault on the inanity of materialism and competition for one’s place in the (post)modern world:

Pride is the stilt
That keeps me low

Tedium crowned me
King of this empire

I wear it unnoticed

I revile
My cul-de-sac
Where nothing is
Of substance

Silently mocking
Vulgarly acclaiming
Your kind as well
As my

My cul-de-sac
Slowly speeding
To the dead

While the attack on Norway in the 1940s was unwelcome and menacing, the contemporary assault on a meaningful life–by money, fame, normality, competition–is subtle, dangerous, and too often welcomed by those who fall prey to its necrosis.

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