Black Mass Rising is deeply influenced by extreme heavy metal music. My perennial expose to genres like black, death, and doom metal did not only shape the aesthetic approach of the book, but was a triggering event that initiated the actual writing. There's such vast storytelling potential in the visual representations, sonic landscapes and lyrical concepts of these genres, that I think it's a shame they're not being associated with comics, film, and television more often.
I put together a list of six relatively recent metal albums that I was listening a lot while writing the book, and which I thought you might also find inspiring while reading it. So kick back, pour some pinot noir, and let the darkness in.
1. Paradise Lost - The Plague Within
This record reflects upon Black Mass Rising's themes like no other. The fear, the doubt, the divine deceit, it's all in there. It's gothic, it's baroque, it's heavy, it's unearthly. It's a masterpiece of beauty and despair. The air might bring you a fleeting scent of roses, but it's mostly death and putrescence. In my book, this is the best Paradise Lost record ever.
2. Bell Witch - Mirror Reaper
Mirror Reaper is actually a single epic 80-minute-long song, literally bathed in the sweeping desperation of death (the band's drummer died shortly before recordings began, and the album it's dedicated to him). Listening to it is a transcendental experience, one that will plunge you into darkness and might suffocate you at times, but also one that you cannot avert your ears from. This is funeral doom at is best. And if Black Mass Rising had a soundtrack, it would sound like this.
3. Rotting Christ - The Heretics
In 2019, Greek gods Rotting Christ returned with an album that is the perfect culmination of their second and more melodic creative period that started 15 years ago with Aealo. The Heretics is a tribute to some of History's most important apostates of Christianity, an album full of incredible dark atmospheres, sweeping melodies and catchy kickass riffs. The Healer's gradual distrust and estrangement towards God finds a perfect home here.
4. Wolves In The Throne Room - Thrice Woven
It might be true that Wolves In The Throne Room's music is vastly influenced by TRVE Norwegian Black Metal, but their similarities end right here, since they're as far away from the aforementioned scene's typical corpse-painted look and far-right-friendly politics as possible. A return to form for them, after some controversial ambient/drone experimentations, Thrice Woven is an elevating, multi-layered, pagan-worshiping black metal masterpiece that shares the same kind of black folkloric heart with Black Mass Rising.
5. Negura Bunget - Om
A Transylvanian folk black metal band, with a name that translates dark foggy forest — does it get any more Black Mass Rising than this? Om is an emblematic album in the underground black metal scene, a bucolic, spiritual journey full of dramatic tension, performed to perfection by an amazing band that was unfortunately hit by both conflict (split-up in 2009) and tragedy (founding member Negru's untimely death in 2017).
6. LÜÜP - Canticles of the Holy Scythe While this is not a metal record per se, it's probably the creepiest of the lot. This is actually a chamber music project by Greek composer and multi-instrumentalist Stelios Romaliadis, a concept album about Death through occult philosophy, a journey of understanding and reconciling with Death as a symbol of renewal through self awareness and enlightenment. Infused with spine-chilling strings, disturbing black metal shrieks, etherial polyphonic folk singing, and a generally eerie and ceremonial vibe, this record is not for the light-hearted. This is essentially the music you would hear, should you find yourself prowling around the halls of late 19th century Castle Dracula. Boo.