Babe, wake up! Everything Is Noise‘s resident old head is about to talk about black metal again!

All right, I am not that old, but one of our fellow writers just told me that a doom record I have distinct memory of finding, loving, and recommending to friends is nearly 10 years old. So, I am feeling it a bit as I write this. Anyway, doom is not on the menu for this week’s WFA, but instead black metal! I have a hard time writing about the massive metal sub-genre, because there is so much of it and so much history that it can feel alienating to less familiar audiences when we start getting into sub-sub-genres and comparisons to other obscure black metal bands, etc.

So, for any less initiated readers, let me assure you that the typical black metal gatekeeping and pedantry will be eschewed in favor of a (hopefully) more fun and inclusive tone. I have a deep love for black metal, but I have a deep annoyance with a subset of black metal fans and in turn, some of the bands. There has always been this attitude of elitism and scene devotion (trve cvlt shit) that takes the fun out of the genre. The forebearers of black metal are partially responsible for this. The infamous Norwegian second wave of black metal were a bunch of kids being as edgy as they could for laughs, but some in that scene took it way too seriously.

So, the genre has a reputation for being too self-serious. That aggrandized sense of doing great Satan’s work can and does produce some killer records, though. Somewhere along the way, the sense of kids having fun fell off.

All of this to say, that Saidan, Nashville, Tennessee’s freshest underground cvlt offering, is delivering the kind of refreshing sound that black metal has been missing (at least from many bigger releases in the genre). They play fast with a punk-influenced edge, craft upbeat melodies, and seem to be having a great time doing it. This isn’t exactly Agriculture‘s euphoric black metal, there is still seething anger behind their work, but I, at least, am having a blast listening. Check out this video for “Kissed By Lunar’s Silvery Gleam” and tell me you didn’t rock out and feel good.

Tight, right? The above track is from Saidan‘s second full-length album, 2022’s Onryō II: Her Spirit Eternal, an album that I discovered by, well, less than fortunate circumstances. Without going into detail, I had a total loss of my worldly possessions roughly a year ago, including about 900 records. Many folks came together to get me back on my feet, including members of the local and regional metal community. I was gifted many records to rebuild, and among them was this gem. I turned it on, not knowing what to expect, and it immediately launched itself to one of my favorites of the records I was previously unfamiliar with.

So, with Saidan on the cusp of releasing an new full-length album, I reached out to them for an interview. Saidan is Splatterpvnk on guitars, vocals, synths, and Hundosai on drums. Splatterpvnk spoke on behalf of the band.

On how Saidan came together:

Saidan originally began as a solo project by me in 2020 as mostly an outlet to deal with how I was feeling at the time. After my first EP/demo I was soon approached by a few labels wanting me to possibly release a full length album, and once I had completed the writing process of that record, I reached out to my long time friend Hundosai to see if he’d be interested in recording live drums. He said ‘yes’ and we’ve basically been a duo ever since.’

What have been some highlights of your career so far?

‘I think the biggest highlight for me so far has been meeting people online and at our shows that have been impacted in some way by our music. It’s something I never expected to happen, and it’s a wild thing to wrap my head around.

‘Along those lines, another highlight has been meeting artists who I grew up idolizing and finding out that they’re fans of what we’re doing. It’s a strange feeling.’

What are the biggest influences on your music and for the new album?

‘The biggest influence on my song writing has always been a blend of punk rock and Jrock. Bands like Balzac, Misfits, L’arc-en-Ciel, X-Japan, early AFI, MCR, SHAZNA, Bad Religion, Teen Idols, etc. Along with classic black metal. Satyricon, Immortal, Carpathian Forest, Ancient, Horde.

‘This new record in particular is mostly a combination of those three genres with a small touch of breakcore.’

I can definitely hear the Immortal influence. AFI and My Chemical Romance surprised me, but I can see it when I look for it. Saidan‘s melodies and catchiness are punk driven, for sure. If their latest videos aren’t right in the wheelhouse of Immortal, I don’t know what is. There are even Gerard Way-esque hand gestures! Here’s “Tears Seeping Through Beautiful Agony” from Visual Kill: The Blossoming of Psychotic Depravity, out May 24, 2024 on Jems Label.

What can fans expect on the new album/how does it differ from your last album?

‘We spent a long time with this record, and there were a lot of ups and downs along the way. We actually scrapped a fully recorded album in the process and decided to go back to the drawing board to figure out what makes Saidan ‘work.’ Once we were able to do that, everything seemed to come out naturally. In many ways, I believe that this new record has nearly ‘perfected’ the sound I’ve been striving for since 2020. It’s angry and violent, but it’s caked in uplifting riffs and heartbreaking melodies. For fans that enjoyed our last album, I hope this meets their expectations, and for people who hated the last record, I hope they hate this one even more.’

What was the writing and recording process like for the new album?

‘As I sort of alluded to earlier, this album was a bit of a nightmare. We spent close to a year writing and recording Visual Kill only for me to hate nearly every song on the album. Everything sounded overly produced, the riffs were too ‘pop’, lyrically there was no direction. The only positive was the song “Desecration of a Lustful Illusion”. That was the track that made us change course and the track that helped us understand what Saidan and Visual Kill should be. Once we scrapped everything and started back from scratch, we wrote the whole album in two months.

Splatterpvnk said that the rest of 2024 will include, ‘More than likely shows and a lot of writing. We have some really cool stuff planned for later this year and (fingers crossed) a big announcement this summer that I can’t really talk about. The most important thing for me is to continue writing new music now that I have a much clearer picture of what we are.’

Visual Kill: The Blossoming of Psychotic Depravity will be the first album I listen to this Friday. This band brought me unexpected joy at a time where things felt mostly hopeless while playing a genre that strongly tends towards hopelessness and misanthropy, a trait that I tend to lean into when I am feeling down. Saidan and bands like them in the greater metal and punk scene are understated in their importance. Fans of this music, myself included, are often happy to use the aggression of the sounds to alleviate our own frustrations and strife through a healthy outlet. Occasionally, all of the death, doom, and despair that are thematic in extreme music can prolong those feelings, rather than pacify them. It is difficult to find that balance when extreme metal is your go-to genre.

Not only does Saidan provide some much needed levity and earnest joy from their music, but they just straight up rip at the same time. Hunosai’s speed metal drumming carries Splatterpvnk’s ear-worm riffage and impassioned vocals into a concoction that hits all the right spots for a black metal cheer-up or caffeine-fueled dance party when no one is looking. They embrace all of the pageantry of black metal with such sincerity that it seems impossible to not be charmed by their music and aesthetic. Black metal fans, being black metal fans are probably divided on this band, however, and those who detract them are missing out on one of the most endearing acts to come from the black metal underground in a long time. Hail Saidan!

Saidan is:

Splatterpvnk – guitars, vocals, bass, synths
Hundosia – drums

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