Album Review – Nachtlieder / Lynx (2018)

Witness the lynx, the antagonist of the antagonists and a symbol for knowledge and clairvoyance, in the form of the beastly Black Metal by Dagny Suzanne’s alter-ego, sticking its claws deep inside your flesh.

Our beloved Swedish Valkyrie of Black Metal, the talented multi-instrumentalist Dagny Suzanne, is finally back with her incendiary alter-ego Nachtlieder three years after the release of the excellent The Female Of The Species, showcasing another evolutionary step in her interesting and fruitful career with her third full-length album, simply titled Lynx. Once again accompanied by Martrum on drums, and with the fantastic support of the skillful Déhà (Musical Excrements), who not only provided some additional vocals and noises on the album but who also produced, mixed and mastered it, Nachtlieder will stick her claws deep inside your flesh with Lynx, proving her creativity and energy are soaring at this stage of her life.

Featuring a beautiful cover art based on a painting named Guldnyckeln by John Bauer, from 1915, and a digipack booklet portrait of Dagny by I Breathe Needles, the title of the album refers to the lynx as the antagonist of the antagonists (the wolves) and also as a symbol for knowledge and clairvoyance. The theme of the album is largely death and solitude, with many references to the lynx in cultural history, as well as to science in general. In other words, our Gothenburg-based she-wolf doesn’t just deliver high-quality music for our avid ears, but there’s also a lot to savor and learn in Lynx, one of those albums that you’ll get addicted to from the very first second without even noticing.

Distorted, wicked noises ignite a Black Metal feast entitled Claws and Bone, feeling more melodic and dissonant than the project’s previous albums, with Dagny sounding beautifully hellish and somewhat cryptic on vocals and on the guitar while Martrum adds a welcome dosage of intricacy to the music with his beats. Then we have the furious title-track Lynx, a song that grows in intensity until it reaches a pulverizing and mesmerizing tone, with the strident guitars by Dagny being flawlessly complemented by Martrum’s classic Black Metal beats and fills, resulting in a full-bodied sonority tailored for fans of modern-day Extreme Metal; followed by Song of Nova, an explosion of dark, crisp and low-tuned tones embellished by harmonious background elements, also presenting some welcome neck-breaking passages and Dagny’s usual poetic lyrics, giving even more depth to her already exhilarating music (“Dark frequencies, succumb to by every beast / As nova has swallowed the last light / And resigns / Their limbs tremble as the chords are strung / Fragile glass that shatter / Shards that dissolve into dust”).

The next tune, titled Nameless, Faceless, presents a creepy intro showcasing dark vociferations by Dagny, evolving into classy Scandinavian Black Metal with a superb job done by Dagny with both her slashing guitar lines and rumbling bass lines, flowing smoothly and powerfully from start to finish, whereas Law of Decay is a first-class, infuriated display of flammable and straightforward Black Metal, offering the listener a massive wave of classic riffs, unstoppable beats and those demonic, Stygian growls we all love so much in this type of music. And Dark Matter sounds closer to the music found in her two previous albums, especially the sound of the guitars and the hypnotizing music structure and pattern, with all instruments emanating metallic sounds that end up creating an enfolding atmosphere that will certainly captivate all your senses.

Eyes Ablaze, which brings forward what’s perhaps the most carnivore lyrics of the whole album (“Eyes, eyes staring in the dark in the misty night, eyes ablaze / Only star and spectre / Dare to meet my gaze / Claw, clawing round the walls round the bodies of the game / For carnage and grim sight / I will be to blame / Teeth, teeth sunken into meat into warm flesh, then like a flood / Fallen sheep and hound / Lapping blood”), is a rip-roaring Black Metal onrush that will leave you absolutely disoriented, showcasing an amazing performance by Martrum on drums while Dagny’s scorching riffs and visceral gnarls will crush your soul. And last but not least we have Moksha (a term in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism which refers to various forms of emancipation, liberation and release), bringing more of Dagny’s unparalleled music combined with the precision and complexity of Martrum’s drumming, therefore offering the listener over six minutes of classic Black Metal with a fresh twist, with all instruments getting heavier, darker and more piercing as the music progresses before all devastation gives place to a somber and atmospheric ending.

In summary, like what happened with Nachtlieder’s self-titled debut album in 2013 and The Female of the Species in 2015, Lynx is more than just a detailed and thrilling album of classic Black Metal, becoming Dagny’s outlet to the outside (and always dangerous) world we live in, and due to those additional layers the album ends up growing on you with each and every listen, revealing to your ears and mind previously unexplored grounds and nuances. Hence, if you want to venture through the realms of Natchlieder and Lynx deeper and deeper, you can enjoy the full album on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course the most recommended way to do so is by purchasing the album from Nachtlider’s BandCamp page, as well as from iTunes, Amazon and Discogs, always keeping an eye on the project’s official Facebook page for news and other nice-to-know details. As the beast called Lynx has just been unleashed upon humanity, the only thing that’s left for us to do is succumb to its music and energy, all in the name of meaningful extreme music.

Best moments of the album: Song of Nova, Law of Decay and Eyes Ablaze.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Nigredo Records

Track listing 
1. Claws and Bone 4:31
2. Lynx 3:52
3. Song of Nova 5:22
4. Nameless, Faceless 5:04
5. Law of Decay 4:25
6. Dark Matter 4:47
7. Eyes Ablaze 3:56
8. Moksha 6:19

Band members
Dagny Susanne – vocals, all instruments

Guest musicians
Martrum – drums
Déhà – additional vocals, noise

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Metal Chick of the Month – Dagny Susanne

Malice, come closer to me!

The month of November in the Northern Hemisphere is always a synonym to colder temperatures and darker days, a sign that winter is coming and that all the happiness and warmth of the summer are long gone and will take even longer to return. Having said that, there’s nothing better than listening to some old school, menacing Scandinavian Black Metal to “celebrate” the Stygian season that’s about to begin, especially if it’s the Black Metal crafted by our metal chick this month, the multi-talented Swedish Valkyrie known as Dagny Susanne, the mastermind behind the top-notch extreme music project Nachtlieder. By the way, Nachtlieder is German for “night songs” or “songs of the night”. Do I need to say more?

Born on September 9, 1986 in Kiruna, the northernmost town in Sweden, situated in the province of Lapland, but currently residing in the multi-cultural Swedish city of Gothenburg where she moved about a decade ago, Dagny Susanne (whose real full name is Karin Dagny Susanne Hansson) mentioned she never had any friends who were into heavy music nor could buy any albums in her hometown because there wasn’t a record store there at that time, being “forced” to download music using Napster with a modem, which obviously made her discovery of metal painfully slow. Furthermore, growing up in Kiruna affected her personality and the way she currently sees things both in good and bad ways, but her interest in metal, in meeting musicians and starting a band motivated her to move to Gothenburg. However, nowadays Dagny feels a little nostalgic when talking about her beloved Kiruna, saying that not only it’s a beautiful and serene place, but it also inspires you to work, clearing your head and putting you in a good state of mind due to its calmness and distance from bigger cities like Gothenburg and Stockholm. For instance, just to give you an idea of how isolated Kiruna is, Luleå, the biggest town in the same region, is nothing more, nothing less than three hours away from it.

Since 2008, Dagny has been embellishing the world of extreme music with her Black Metal outlet Nachtlieder, being responsible for the songwriting, the lyrics, all vocal parts and pretty much all other instruments except for the drums, played in almost all her releases by her longtime friend Martrum (also known as Dödsdyrk, from bands such as Minion and Wicked). After the release of two demos in 2009 and a promo album in 2010, Dagny and her Nachtlieder became a much bolder and intense entity after unleashing upon humanity the full-length albums Nachtlieder, in 2013, and more recently The Female of the Species, in 2015, with the latter having the Biblical character of Eve, the female of the species, as the central character in the album’s narrative as mentioned in our review for the album. However, the original idea of the album was taken from the book “The Female of the Species”, by American writer Joyce Carol Oates, a collection of novellas about women committing different acts of violence for various reasons, slightly changing to the narrative about Eve after Dagny began to reference the phenomenon of “Satanic feminism” where Satan, a symbol for liberation, is also used as a feminist icon in her lyrics. In addition, Dagny said that, as she used to work in a public library, she reads a lot and that has a significant influence on her lyrics (but not on her music, thought), starting with small text fragments before coming up with what the lyrics should be about.

If you want to take a good listen at the music by Dagny and her Nachtlieder, I highly recommend you go to BandCamp, YouTube or Spotify to do so, being suddenly embraced by her visceral Black Metal such as in the excellent songs Eve, Beyond Death, Leave the View To the Rats and A Meager Escapism. The only “issue” with Natchlieder is that you won’t be able to find any live material or footage online, as Dagny hasn’t been able to form a full-bodied band yet. She obviously wants to perform live some time, but there are a few barriers to that such as the availability of musicians in her circle of friends that would be willing to play her music, and if those musicians would be reliable enough to replicate her music to an acceptable level to her.

Prior to becoming Nachtlieder, our Swedish black metaller was the bass player for Gothenburg-based Death/Black/Thrash Metal band Wicked from 2006 to 2010, having recorded with them a demo titled Chaos in 2007, the single Gospel of Sickness in 2009 and the split album Abominations, Chaos and Bestial Warfare in 2009 together with the bands Adokhsiny, Land of Hate, Надимач and Wargoatcult. She mentioned that she learned a lot from that time as it was her first extreme band, in special about arrangements and the role of the bass guitar in a band. The band unfortunately disbanded after their lead singer moved out of town with his family, but all three members are still friends and try to meet as much as possible whenever they’re in the same city. Apart from Wicked and obviously Nachtlieder, you can find Dagny in a couple of bands and projects as a guest musician, being the bassist and guitarist for the 2016 album Winds of Transilvania, by American/Swedish Black Metal project Nattsvargr (led by American vocalist Noctir); and doing some vocals and violin for a German Ambient Black/Doom Metal band named Black Autumn.

Dagny also has a very interesting (and obviously strong) connection with Black Metal from her homeland, having discovered the genre in her teens and consequently listening to Swedish bands for hours and hours, in special her favorite of all, Dissection. For instance, she mentioned that Dissection’s first gig after guitarist, vocalist and main songwriter Jon Nödtveidt (R.I.P.) got out of prison was the first big concert she ever went to. When asked about the general concept of cold and dark winter days being the reason why Scandinavian Metal is so unique, our Swedish diva said that there are of course bands that succeeded in portraying the extreme conditions and contrasts that exist in the northern parts of Scandinavia through their music, but that you can also see a significant difference between the metal scene in Norway, Sweden and Finland. Furthermore, when asked what defines Black Metal as a genre, Dagny said that when she wrote her bachelor in musicology about Black Metal she tried to identify the elements that define the music, finding that certain intervals were used both in chord progressions and melodies, therefore making Black Metal a music style for her no matter what the lyrical content is. For example, she said that if Black Metal is all about Satanism as several people think, then a band like Immortal, one of the biggest and most influential exponents of the genre, wouldn’t be Black Metal.

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As usual, I love to know about our metal girls’ opinions about women and sexism in the metal universe, and Dagny has a strong position about those topics, especially for playing a music style vastly dominated by men. First of all, she mentioned that gender isn’t the only thing that matters, citing other details such as age, profession, place of birth and residence and ethnicity, among others, as reasons why different people doing the exact same thing will certainly receive very distinct feedback from the society. However, she said she has already faced some not-so-subtle sexist comments directly to her face such as “chicks can’t play”, as well as the feeling of not being fully respected by guys whenever she was the only woman in the group. In addition, she said that although she doesn’t know for sure why the number of one-woman Black Metal bands is extremely low compared to one-man Black Metal projects, she feels that it might be due to the different networks between men and women and the conscious and subconscious differences in social sex. “From the day we’re born we’re not encouraged to do the same things and this includes the music we should listen to and perform and the instruments we should play”, said Dagny. Also, she thinks the well-established expression “’female-fronted metal” (which I confess I end up using quite often i my reviews and discussions) doesn’t really make sense at all, like the term “female vocals” instead of “clean vocals” when the singer is not a man, and that applies to Nachtlieder as very few people would associate those expressions with the type of music she plays.

As any musician in our modern-day society, Dagny also has to deal with illegal downloads of her music, but she doesn’t see those as a huge threat to music in general as many others do. She said that the biggest trouble for artists like her concerning illegal downloading is that they can’t keep track of their listeners, and knowing who her listeners are and that there are people out there who appreciate her music is always a boost to her creative process. She thinks that people who can afford it should prioritize paying for their music consumption, and the ones who can’t pay for it should at least be part of an informal “marketing campaign” by sharing the bands’ Facebook and BandCamp pages, leaving positive comments on YouTube, among other small but meaningful acts. The only thing that really bothers her in this case is when an album leaks before the release date, as she finds that really disrespectful towards the hardworking labels and artists. Furthermore, Dagny also considers the way music is shared by fans on the internet extremely positive for independent artists like herself, saying that for example fan initiatives like the Facebook community Death Metal Girls and the YouTube series The Female Vocalists of Extreme Music are great options for headbangers who want to broaden their knowledge of female artists in metal.

Lastly, one might think that a musician like Dagny, coming from the northernmost part of Sweden and playing the ominous Black Metal by Nachtlieder, must draw most or all of her inspiration in the night, but in reality that’s not what happens to her during her creative process. Dagny said she’s inspired by her instrument and what she’s playing at the moment, with the calm and relaxed feeling from the middle of the night being of course something she loves but that due to her working schedule is not something she can fully enjoy anymore. For instance, one of my favorite songs from The Female of the Species, the fantastic Nightfall, was written at night and had parts of its lyrics inspired by the first part in the Arnold Schoenberg opera Pierrot Lunaire, also known as “Moonstruck Pierrot”. I guess everyone reading this tribute to Dagny has already gotten “moondrunk” in life, feeling dizzy or lightheaded after staying awake for an entire night, but of course very few of us are capable of delivering such vibrant and captivating music by ourselves like this high-skilled woman who left her hometown, the distant city of Kiruna, to conquer the world of extreme music with her undisputed, raw and totally awesome Black Metal.

Nachtlieder’s Official Facebook page
Nachtlieder’s Official YouTube channel
Nachtlieder’s Official BandCamp page

“My own purpose with feminism is not to blame the trouble in the world on a specific group of people, but to raise the questions. Make people think about how they treat others and why. It’s all about recognizing human value, in the metal scene, but most of all outside of it. I’m certainly responsible too and no one is without flaws. We’re all products of the societies we live in.” – Dagny Susanne

Album Review – Nachtlieder / The Female Of The Species (2015)

The Swedish Valkyrie of Black Metal returns with her aggressive night songs to tell us the spiteful story of Eve, the female of the species.

Rating5

IVR048_NACHTLIEDER_The_Female_Of_The_Species_1500pxThere couldn’t be a more suitable name than Nachtlieder for the Black Metal storm spearheaded by the skillful Swedish multi-instrumentalist Dagny Susanne. Nachtlieder is German for “night songs” or “songs of the night”, an epitome of the music found in The Female Of The Species, which is not only the brand new release by this talented Valkyrie from Gothenburg, Sweden, but also a concept album that will tell you the resentful story about Eve, the female of the species.

Unleashing her fury upon mankind since 2008, our female warrior has clearly expanded her horizons and aggressiveness from their debut album in 2013, evolving from feelings of desolation, loneliness and misanthropy to a much bolder and controversial theme. “The Garden of Eden is decaying,” she says, “and Eve’s sudden revelation of desolation and mortality has grown into spite. Stepping barefoot in the soil, she finds her path under the frozen leaves.”

In Malice, Come Closer, an incandescent Black Metal aria with hints of Atmospheric Doom, Dagny proves within less than two minutes how powerful women can sound in extreme music by offering the listener stunning sinister growls and sharp guitar riffs. And sounding even heavier and darker, Nightfall disseminates a sense of sorrow and despair that darkly reeks in the air, with lyrics that couldn’t be more Black Metal (“Stillness, sinister, crystal clear awakening / Open hands in a wordless prayer / A chilling pulse violently beating within / The silent horizon”) and a precise drumming by Martrum (by the way, drums are the only instrument not played by Dagny in the entire album).

IMG_3658-1Including elements of Doom Metal and Blackened Doom, which end up making it sound more obscure than raw Black Metal, Fatale keeps the album at a good level of quality, with highlights to its mesmerizing and diabolical riff; and if you enjoy faster and more extreme metal music, the amazing Lonely Mortal, a very well-crafted chant where Dagny shines brighter than a lonely star on a deadly winter night, will satisfy your most devilish cravings. Then, Eve gets back to a doom-ish sonority, a nefarious song with stronger keyboard notes by Dagny while the beats by Martrum get a lot more rhythmic.

You’ll need only a few seconds to know Silence And Devastation is going to be a blast of old school Black Metal from start to finish, not to mention how interesting it is to notice the way Dagny blends riffs and keyboards into one unique “entity”. Following all that heaviness we have the somber Cimmerian Child, with its grim rhythm and low-tuned riffs. Moreover, as “Cimmerian” relates to members of a mythical people who lived in perpetual mist and darkness near the land of the dead, the lyrics in this tune are spot-on to depict the result of their inbreeding (“Follow a path toward the light / Through the dense dark forest / Pretty little one / Brush the thorns from your cloak”). At long last, the album wouldn’t be complete without its title-track The Female Of The Species, closing the album in the most obscure and violent way possible. This is not only a thrilling 8-minute Black Metal opus, but also an excellent display of what our multi-instrumentalist diva of darkness is capable of and the direction her music might probably follow in her future releases.

In short, although The Female Of The Species might be considered by many as a raw Black Metal album, there’s a lot more than that offered by Nachtlieder both musically and thematically speaking. In case you want to know more about the Swedish Valkyrie of Black Metal and her distinct music, she can be reached directly via her Facebook page, and if you’re eager to relish the vindictive story told by Dagney in The Female Of The Species through her rampant and enthralling songs of the night, you can find it for sale at her official BandCamp page, as well as at the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp page or official webshop.

Best moments of the album: Nightfall and Lonely Mortal.

Worst moments of the album: Fatale.

Released in 2015 I, Voidhanger Records

Track listing
1. Malice, Come Closer 4:20
2. Nightfall 4:34
3. Fatale 4:14
4. Lonely Mortal 4:39
5. Eve 5:16
6. Silence And Devastation 3:58
7. Cimmerian Child 4:34
8. The Female Of The Species 8:25

Band members
Dagny Susanne – vocals, all instruments
Martrum – drums