Jun 9, 2021 • 1HR 9M

25: Black swamp metal (w/ Eddie Newman)

Cicada trills and wretched summers inspire a gorgeously bleak album from Prosperity Gospel

 
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Paul Bowers
On struggles, schooling, and raw concrete in the dirty dirty south. A companion podcast to the Brutal South newsletter.
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Quick note in case you missed it: I’m trying to decide on a T-shirt design for Brutal South, and my friend CJ Bones came up with three metal-inspired logos to choose from. Click here to check them out and let me know which one you like the best.

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Brood X is upon us. I'm talking about a brood of cicadas that emerges mature from the earth just once every 17 years. They scream, they mate, and they die in a matter of weeks, leaving the next generation to arise from the earth in another 17 years. You may have heard them from your porch.

My guest on the podcast is Eddie Newman, whose one-man black metal project Prosperity Gospel put out a compelling album earlier this year featuring field recordings of cicadas. You can see cicadas in the logo, too, which is just a classic, gnarly, root-inspired metal logo by the artist Vojtech Doubek.

There is something distinctly metal about cicadas. I was reading about Brood X this week and I found this early description of the same 17-year brood written in 1766 by the Quaker naturalist Moses Bartram:

“Viewed through a microscope the moment they are hatched, they appear in every respect as perfect as at the time of their last transformation, when they rise out of the earth, put off their scaly covering, expand their wings, display their gaudy colours, dart forth their eggs, and after a few days existence, to fulfil the wise purposes of their maker, close the period of their lives by an early death. How astonishing therefore and inscrutable is the design of providence in the production of this insect, that is brought into life, according to our apprehension, only to sink into the depths of the earth, there to remain in darkness, till the appointed time comes when it ascends again into light by a wonderful resurrection!"

Eddie doesn't use such religious language to describe his awe and horror at a swarm of cicadas, but he has an appreciation like I do, and I think it comes through on this album.

The album is called "Violently Pulled from Bliss," and it feels like summer does here in South Carolina: oppressively hot and murky with the occasional breeze that feels like a triumph. I listen to it often while I'm writing or running or doing chores. It rips.

You can find his album on streaming platforms or buy it on Bandcamp. You'll also hear clips from the album throughout this episode.

We are all shedding our exoskeletons in a way this summer, emerging from the earth after a deadly pandemic. We all feel like screaming about it sometimes. This album is a perfect catharsis for me, and I loved talking to Eddie about how and why he made it.

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