Feminazgûl spins anarchy, feminism, and literature into atmospheric black metal on No Dawn for Men | Music Review | Chicago Reader

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Feminazgûl spins anarchy, feminism, and literature into atmospheric black metal on No Dawn for Men


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Margaret Killjoy, the self-described “mistressmind” of North Carolina–based Feminazgûl, announced on March 16 via Facebook that due to the pandemic-slash-shitstorm, her atmospheric black-metal band would release their first full-length, No Dawn for Men, ahead of schedule and make it available for purchase on a pay-what-you-can basis. Killjoy, a trans woman, also writes queer anarchist steampunk and folk horror, which helped Feminazgûl’s debut EP, 2018’s The Age of Men Is Over, make big ripples in subcultures beyond the metal scene. The themes she explores in her prose often bleed into her songs; the new album’s monumental “Bury the Antlers With the Stag” reminds me of her 2017 novella, The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion, in which a rural squatters’ commune is terrorized by a vengeful spirit in the shape of a stag with three antlers. Though Killjoy made The Age of Men as a solo endeavor, on No Dawn for Men the Feminazgûl lineup includes lead vocalist Laura Beach and California-based violinist and theremin player Meredith Yayanos—and the fleshed-out instrumentation lends an ethereal dimension to the hair-raisingly shamanic “The Rot in the Fields Is Holy.” Killjoy enjoys playfully appropriating quotes and imagery from mythology and classic fantasy to flavor her anti-patriarchal, anarchist message—both of her album titles are quotes from The Lord of the Rings, and the band name of course riffs on the word for the Ringwraiths in the Black Speech. On No Dawn for Men she deals with vengeance, defiance, the ascension of nature, and the acceptance of death: opening track “Ill, Mother of Death” begins with a pastoral idyll and turns into a Maenad-mad invocation of a death goddess. Lovely instrumental “Look Not to Erebor” provides an eerie and melancholy respite after the renouncing fury of “Forgiver, I Am Not Yours.” This is a rich and unsettling album, full of horror and beauty, and I’m going to be revisiting it a lot. Killjoy also expresses her worldview through other musical endeavors, making neofolk as Alsarath (the EP Come to Daggers dropped in January), blackened doom as Vulgarite (the EP Fear Not the Dark nor the Sun’s Return came out the same month), and electronica as Nomadic War Machine (the track “The Flood Came Over Me” arrived in March). Killjoy has a methodical bent to her prolificacy; she sorts and organizes the different aspects of her creativity into categories, and uses varying sounds to conjure varying energies. As in her work as an author, she tailors the style of her prose to the vibe of the story at hand.   v

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