October Music Series: Natural Spirit – Внукам Даждь-Бога

Here’s a song I thought fit the season rather nicely. Natural Spirit is a folk/pagan metal band from Ukraine, and Внукам Даждь-Бога (To The Grandchildren of Dazhd-God, at least as Encyclopaedia Metallum translates it) appears on their original 1999 demo Star Throne. The band have released three albums since, most recently in 2011, but this is the only one I’ve heard, so I can’t speak for what they sound like these days.

I’m always a sucker for that cheap, almost SNES-sounding keyboard you find especially on Ukrainian pagan metal albums (Nokturnal Mortum’s cover of “Sorrow of the Moon” by Celtic Frost could be straight out of Secret of Mana or Soul Blazer at times). Of course there’s nothing authentic about it, but its primitive sound in comparison to other synth puts it in a unique position to sound both ancient and entirely unnatural. It’s both reverently pagan and haunting in a dark, fantasy-themed way, uniting visions of Tolkienic landscapes with conjurations of long forgotten gods.

The name in the title, Dazhd-God, refers to the Slavic sun god Dažbog, son of the fire god Svarog. The frequent references to Slavic mythology in Eastern European folk and folk metal are always revealing, if only for the lack of attention this pantheon receives. Translations of the Prose and Poetic Eddas are a dime a dozen, and most people who have the slightest passing interest in mythology have probably read at least some segments of them. History and Germanic Studies departments around the world specialize in them. As diligent as metal bands have been in preserving tales of the Norse gods, the historical texts are there to be had with or without them. With no Slavic Snorri Sturluson to fall back on, Eastern European bands interested in preserving and resurrecting the past share less company. They are far more uniquely responsible for my having ever even heard these names. It is perhaps a consequence of this that lends Slavic pagan metal a stronger affinity with mysticism, often coupled with an almost violent, desperate sense of pride. Внукам Даждь-Бога avoids the latter, but it definitely presents Dažbog in an otherwordly, supernatural light that you won’t find much of in Norse-centric metal beyond Burzum.

Horror Scenes I Love: Christine

Here we are again ghouls and ghoulettes. Time for another one of my favorite horror scenes. Some might say that the film I chose my latest favorite scene from is not truly a horror film but more a thriller are so definitely wrong. Both in it’s original novel form and in Carpenter’s film adaptation, Christine is definitely a horror film that eschews overt scenes of gore and violence and goes about it’s scares in a more round-a-bout way. It’s a horror film of a Boy-meets-Girl gone wrong. My own review of the film over a year ago show’s my positive take on this 80’s classic.

One of my favorite scenes from Christine happens midway through the film that also serves as the final clue that something may just be a tad different with Archie’s car named Christine. While the scene itself is not one of horror it does show the supernatural side of this film’s plot (a bit more simplified than the original novel’s but still keeping the theme of possessed inanimate objects giving life to itself). The combination of Christine showing Archie just what she’s capable of and Carpenter’s electronic film score as it segues into a seductive tune adds to the awesomeness of this scene.

Once this scene is over the audience now knows that Archie is fully gone over to Christine’s side and that the story will end not in a very happy note, but until that happens we see just how much this particular Boy seem to have finally met his ideal Girl.

Trailer: Django Unchained

The last couple days have seen the release of a number of upcoming films that should be jockeying for all those fancy-pants end of season awards. One such film is the latest film from Quentin Tarantino. Django Unchained is his latest trip into the grindhouse world with this film being his take on the spaghetti westerns made popular by Italian maestros like Sergio Leone, Sergio Corbucci and Enzo G. Castellari.

It’s an ensemble cast that’s headlined by Jamie Foxx in the title role with Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson and Leonardo DiCaprio (playing against the grain as the main villain of the piece). To pay respect to the very genre that this film owes not just it’s title, but theme and tone, Tarantino has even cast the original Django in Franco Nero in the role of Amerigo Vassepi.

Django Unchained is set for a Christmas Day 2012 release date (hopefully the world didn’t end just four days earlier).