Black Metal Goes Dream Pop? Xasthur Makes Album With Marissa Nadler

Collabo alert! Air horn! AIRRRRRR HORRRRRN!!!

At long last, devotees of creeping, hell-sent ambient black metal and fans of spare, heavenly folk-skewed dream pop will have something to lick shots into the air about together. Via her website, Boston-based singer-songwriter Marissa Nadler recently announced that Los Feliz's Hydra Head Records will release an as-yet untitled album-length collaboration between herself and Alhambra-based doom specialist Xasthur.

Here's the lovely couple now:

Xasthur, imagining his own rib cage exposed.
Xasthur, imagining his own rib cage exposed.
Nadler, recalling the last time she went berry-picking.
Nadler, recalling the last time she went berry-picking.

Find out the star-crossed collaborators' story after the jump.

West Coast sound stumbled across this news whilst tracking down a darkly delicious MP3 stream from Xasthur's upcoming 2005 Demo 12-inch release, due out February 23 on Hydra Head. That stream is, well, streaming here, at a blog called Chronic Youth, accompanied by this obviously coded statement:

"There has been a weird wave of backlash against Xasthur and USBM as of late and I'm not entirely sure why. Maybe it's his announced collaboration with Marissa Nadler? Maybe not. I mean, Fenriz can openly say he likes tech-house and shit but kids still jock Darkthrone. Anyway, Xasthur is sick. Personally, I'd much rather [listen] to retrospective, misanthropic and truly depressive music than a bunch of wieners barking about Satan and winter and Europe and shit."

Upcoming Events

Of the precious few words WCS understood therein, "Marissa Nadler" stuck out like a thumb which had been freshly, purposely pierced with a rusty nail. (We also did a little digging and discovered that "USBM" stands for "United States Black Metal" and not, as we'd assumed, "Unscheduled Spontaneous Bowel Movement.") WCS loves Nadler's ethereal, shoegaze-y acoustic music, and also Xasthur's wicked, soulless depressive murk, but ghostly as both can be at times, must admit that it never saw this coming.

Again, for perspective, here's the match made in heaven hell purgatory.

Xasthur takes shallow breaths in a brimstone fog.
Xasthur takes shallow breaths in a brimstone fog.
Nadler inhales deeply amidst the SoCal breeze.
Nadler inhales deeply amidst the SoCal breeze.

Nadler's latest announcement, which confirmed the label involved with the project, was actually just the latest in a series of blog entries documenting a blossoming creative romance between her and Xasthur, a.k.a. Scott "Malefic" Connor. From the look of it, she won't be singing actual lyrics. (Although, many of her original words would fit right in; to wit, take any song on her gorgeous and melancholy 2009 LP, Little Hells.) Instead, Nadler is being credited for "choir" and "backing vocal dirges."

From her blog on January 7:

"It's been lovely to break through vocal barriers and inhibitions and contribute to something harder and darker. Go to Xasthur's blog to read about the project. This has been part of my short-lived move to Southern California, but will not be a short-lived collaboration. I realize that at heart I miss the freezing cold winters and icy roads [of Boston]."

From Xasthur's blog on January 6, titled "eerie":

"For the past few Tuesdays, Marissa has been recording live with me and it has been incredible, mournful and haunting. This is working out even better than I expected. And I must say, it has been a great time."

And in a much older entry that seems to have stayed off of most blogs' radars (Chronic Youth withstanding, of course), Xasthur broke it all down thusly:

"Xasthur is extremely proud to have a new addition for the next album, Marissa Nadler.

Marissa is a solo artist (singer/songwriter/guitarist); her music can be described as Ambient Atmospheric Shoe Gaze Acid-Folk, even though I'm not very concerned with labeling genres. She has a few albums you might want to check out, Ballads of Living and Dying, Saga of Mayflower May, Songs III: Bird on the Water and Little Hells if you have the time. This is really an honor because I'm quite a fan of her music.*

Her voice will be heard as another instrument to accent the music of Xasthur which is an old sound that just doesn't come out of today's technology... and I must say it works very well with what I'm doing. Think in the vein of [Finnish doom band] Shape of Despair Shades Of....

So far, I have listened to a couple of tracks that she has contributed to, and for a minute, I asked myself, "What band is this again?" I like when that happens.

With that said, if you're expecting anything less dark or atmospheric with the music on the next album, then you're deeply mistaken. Instead, it's yet another direction the band is going into.

Truth is, I am becoming very tired of how limiting "black metal" is, so now it's time for something a bit more unidentifiable. As usual, I'm in this to make the kind of music I want to make and feel inside of me and not to score scene points, which are cheap and don't mean much. Fitting in is for needy people.

That's all I have to say,


*We've bolded the bullet points.

Unfortunately no material from the upcoming album has surfaced yet, but using science, West Coast Sound can now approximate the expected results. Step one: Prepare mind for total blowing thereof. Step two: Click the play button on each clip below in quick succession. All joking aside, give the first clip a two-second head start and you'll witness some pretty strange visual synchronicity.

Upcoming Events

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >