Black metal has a reputation as being dominated by white dudes with overactive imaginations and disconcertingly deep interests in Norse mythology. This is all well and good and for the most part a harmless. But as illustrated by Michael Moynihan and Didrik Søderlind’s book Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground, there is a dark side to these fantasies as well. Much of black metal’s second wave aesthetic has been tainted by the unfortunate and ill-informed convictions of the young men depicted in that book, which can make the raw and relentless qualities of the style harder to enjoy when you feel compelled to constantly having to peek under the sleave of every new release to make sure that there isn’t any misappropriated Eurasian Sanskrit underneath. It’s one of the reasons that Illinois’ Pan-Amerikan Native Front is so refreshing. The one-man war-party takes the aesthetics of Mayhem and Darkthrone and twists them to a just end, that of reclaiming the American continent from colonizers.
Pan-Amerikan Native Front’s latest release is an album lengthed split that they dropped back in February with Quebec’s Ifernach, titled Native Amerikan Black Metal. When physical copies were announced on vinyl later in the year they not surprisingly sold out almost immediately. You can still get a digital copy of Pan-Amerikan Native Front’s half of the split via Bandcamp though, which is why we are featuring them today.
Native Amerikan Black Metal comes in the wake of Pan-Amerikan Native Front’s 2016 release Tecumseh’s War which continues to generate interest in the metal underground despite being perpetually out of print (once again, you can still get it via Bandcamp(!)). The album depicts, in gruesome detail, the Tecumseh’s Confederacy war with the United States military at the turn of the 19th Century for control of the Great Lakes region. Lead by the Shawnee general Tecumseh, the Native army clashed with invading US troops throughout parts of modern day Indiana, Ohio, Southern Michigan, Eastern Illinois, and Canada. The conflict took place simultaneously with the War of 1812 and ended when Tecumseh was killed fighting William Henry Harrison army at the battle of Thames in Upper Canada. Tecumseh’s War is considered by many historians to be the final stage of the multi-generational conflict for control of the upper midwest known as the Sixty Years’ War.
Native Amerikan Black Metal doesn’t have the same specific historical context as Pan-Amerikan Native Front’s previous release, but it does carry aloft the same vengeful spirit and zeel for retribution. “War Belts of Death to the Garrisons” breaks ground like a cavalry charge flooding out of a burning forest, blood streaking the faces of steed mounted warriors as they grip hatchet hilts between their teeth and pull back the strings of their bows in anticipation of a fateful clash. The guitar work on this opening track captures Immortal’s fascinatingly dark tones and adrenaline priming tremolos, while the beat is a pure soul-stealing rip of Mayhem-esque kicks and fills. A cacophony that subsides respectfully for a native chant only to be picked up again with equal intensity on the relentless second half. “Blazing Winds of the Three Fires” has more of a Tribulation-esque, blackened rock ‘n roll vibe to it, that rides a sickeningly acrid groove through oiley, sinkhole like depression where it attempts to offload the listener into slimy, lightless tombs as a call for strength rings out the overhead, invoking the spirit of the Ojibwe, Ottawa, and Potawotami peoples to aid in expunging a plague that has befallen the land (and in case you couldn’t guess, that plague is you, dear reader). It all wraps up with a captivatingly epic guitar and drum groove, lead by a clarion like high-hat, a procession that is as inspiring as it is brutal.
There is a lot more that could be said about Native Amerikan Black Metal but the time has come for you to feel its scolding anger for yourself below.