Black metal can be a funny genre, in that the better you get at making it, the more likely you are to be put on blast for being inauthentic. Over the genre’s three-decade history, the standard for what is “trve” or “kvlt” has become very strict—if you’re not anonymously releasing completely blown-out, inaccessible cassettes with photocopied black-and-white covers strewn with indecipherable text, you’re a poseur. Part of the reason I love New York band Yellow Eyes so much is that they gracefully and successfully push back on that philosophy. They create black metal that’s lush, completely musically intelligible, borderline catchy, and played with next-level skill. Assuming that “accessible black metal” isn’t a self-canceling impossibility, Yellow Eyes are in its vanguard. They also reject conventional black-metal protocols and aesthetics, including pseudonyms and corpse paint, which could further provoke the heads who are itching to accuse them of being “false,” but I think they’re the perfect entry point to the genre. The band’s most recent release, the wildly epic 2019 album Rare Field Ceiling, was probably my most-listened-to record of that year due to its mind-bending guitar interplay, endless twists and turns, and sweeping, forlorn vocal howls. Yellow Eyes didn’t play live very often even before the pandemic, and Scorched Tundra’s Alexi Front (who’s coproducing this event) tells me this show has been in the works for years—it’s not to be missed.
Yellow Eyes, Immortal Bird, Bottomed Fri 11/5, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, $12, 21+