None more black

Northwestern Black Circle Festival III promises to be the darkest, blackest and most evil installment of Dark Forest Productions’ metal festivals yet.

Northwestern Black Circle Festival III promises to be the darkest, blackest and most evil installment of Dark Forest Productions’ metal festivals yet. Some of the best bands the Pacific Northwest has to offer will be rocking live this weekend with extreme head-banging take-no-guff authority.

Two nights of the heaviest metal will go down at Branx with several bands, including veterans Inquisition (headlining Friday’s show), Nunslaughter (headlining Saturday’s show) and a sprawl of groups from all over the region. With what feels like nine months of rain, dark clouds and depression a year, it’s no wonder the Pacific Northwest is producing some of the greatest, most expressive metal bands in fields like black metal, death metal and all-out experimental extreme metal.

Black metal is definitely the most extreme genre of heavy metal available to listeners around the globe today. The subgenre had its humble beginnings in the ’80s from a few crossover thrash bands like Venom (who coined the term “black metal” with their 1982 release of the same name), Bathory and Celtic Frost. They were among the first groups who defined black metal’s early sound.

It wouldn’t be until the ’90s, however, that bands like Mayhem, Emperor and Immortal started manipulating the sounds that would ultimately develop into black metal. High-pitched guitars covered in distortion, fast-paced extreme double-bass drumming and guttural vocals characterize most of the music in the genre. Unfortunately, the entire genre has often times been inappropriately demonized and ostracized for its purported links to church burnings, demon worshipping and murder.

Inquisition got their start in 1988 in Colombia, formed by the lead guitar player known only as Dagon. When he left for America in the early ’90s for America, his main mission was to carry on his musical project. More importantly, he was searching for a drummer capable of delivering a sound that would fit with the Inquisition ideology. Insert newly found drummer Incubus. Incubus’ style of extreme blast beats (heavy double-bass kicks and rapid-fire snare shots) would transform Inquisition into what they’ve ultimately become today. In fact, they even live north of Seattle, making them true Pacific Northwest black-metal heroes. They’ve been releasing material publicly since 1990 on cassette tapes and vinyl. Last year’s release, “Ominous Doctrines Of The Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm,” will have lasting power in the black-metal world for its unrelenting assault of demonic vocals, shredding minor-scaled guitar riffs and eruptive blast-beat drumming.

Nunslaughter are veterans of the death-metal scene. Countless lineup changes have plagued the band since their inception in 1987, but haven’t ever managed to bury their success. Controversial lyrics backed by heavy metal distorted guitars and lightning speed drums drive their ever-risky sound. Their early material isn’t easy to find, they’re all short run pressings of 7″ vinyl and cassette tapes, so seeing these guys live is definitely a treat. The 2010 release of “Live Devils in the City of Angels” is a live album recorded in Los Angeles in February 2009. Limited to 100 copies on vinyl it definitely has an air of radical collectivity that you don’t get from mainstream outfits—get your hands on it if you can.

The third installment of the festival promises to be the best yet. Inquisition has been performing at the festival since its start, as have some of the other acts, but you won’t want to miss a second of this year’s festival. Ticket prices are nowhere near steep; $15 each day gets you seven hours of black metal. Tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets as well as at the door on the day of the show. Branx will definitely pack it in this weekend, so don some evil corpse paint, all-black clothes and your heaviest boots in preparation for an assault of awesome heaviness. ?