Black Metal? Eh?

It has taken some time, but Black Metal has almost returned full circle to the ideas and beliefs that kick started the early Norwegian scene, albeit at a more fundamental level. What we enjoy and support today is less the immature Satanism in the face of mistrust and disbelief at Christian values and instead a return to the grand nihilistic idea that all values must be questioned, everything interpreted: ‘Nothing is true, everything is permitted’. Sure, there is the inevitable inbred offspring of a million bedroom black metal acts throughout myspace, and sure, there remains the orthodoxy and talentlessly satanic majority of bands that propagate the halls of Black Metal history – but today is a good day, there are so many incredible artists and visions that have arisen from this ideology that I thank my lucky stars I am here to witness it.

From the sidelines it is easy to see how ridicule and mockery follow suit in a genre that is stigmatized by outsiders as a self-contradiction, as something incapable of grasping the fundamentals of human life. You have the decidedly ‘emotive’ and egoistic characteristics in depressive black metal, the nigh-on-naïve corpse paint of orthodox bands and the flawed ideologies of projects that wallow in the limelight of a semi-conscious public eye.

Taken from an insider perspective, Black Metal represents something more significant than the anti-christian, overtly satanic blasphemy that 95% of immature, ill-favoured and ill-adapted musical projects in this genre border on. From the waking youth of Burzum and the unwavering belief that Christianity’s usurp of Norse mythology without question or regard was a direct contradiction in terms for a religion spouting ideals of equality, it is possible to divulge a greater idea that innumerable bands of great quality are indulging in. This idea was always present in the earlier sounds, from Burzum through Darkthrone, the idea was never directly satanic, never to use satan as a gimmick or stepping stone – it is a simple idea that reflects a more fundamental ideology than anti-religious, anti-life murmurs.

In brief, there’s no doubt that Black Metal has spilt its guts over the proverbial butchers block as more and more bands apply the approach in search of new sounds. Is this something the kids from Norway would have wanted? The gateway of satanic and pagan approaches that are regularly displayed within Black Metal circles are now being replaced with egoistic approaches, unique ideas that reflect more than a deep-seeded hatred for religion in broad, they espouse a rejection of accepted forms of thought in general. Different interpretations are taking shape under a genre that is becoming harder and harder to classify solely as ‘Black Metal’, progression with the underlying concept of Black Metal, of negation, anger and power. What other artistic movement has ever eaten its own tail? Black Metal as the anti-value.

Putting inevitable evolution aside, orthodoxy is still rampant and the thoughts and feelings of individuals assuming Black Metal should remain stagnant in its approach, never really amounting to more than a Darkthrone clone, are starting to look more and more like the very idea their music seeks to overcome! We are starting to see the artist return to Black Metal, and not the shadowy photocopying process of bands with black and white album covers, corpse paint and satanic stupidity that seem to promulgate throughout Metal-Archives. The perfect idea for finding new sounds, laid bare – Black Metal seems to have given the idea back to the artist; deny nothing, but doubt everything! I have grown so tired of stale Black Metal clone bands claiming their orthodox work consecrates the unholy grace of satan. The stale and retarded gimmicks behind these bands undermines the genre as a whole and creates the propensity for people to label Black Metal hypocritical and self-defeatist. The very idea of Black Metal is to negate accepted forms of thought, accepted forms of musical definitions, musical approaches, ideologies, concepts. Much like the bastard father Punk Rock. So please, I ask you, if you have ever ignored/refused or labelled this genre as immature and barbaric – search deeper.

So, godspeed you! Artists of the void. Like the anti-civilisation theorems advocated by Cascadian Black Metal, Wolves in the Throne Room echoing remnants of a lost and ancient consciousness, a clear and beautiful inspiration from nature and the overarching campaign to return back into beauty. The negation of modern civilisation in favour of different forms of thought, the belief that there is more than a shallow acceptance of what you see is what you get. The blatant homage Paysage d’hiver display to nature that echoes the principles and influences held within the music perfectly, wherein political and sociological opinions are largely vacant. The divergent philosophy of Deathspell Omega whose mature Satanism is a welcome change from the Transylvanian Hunger clones that flock to 3 chord 4/4 song structures and spout barbarity in a claim to never undermining their artistic integrity. Today we have Black Metal incorporating drone, ambience, jazz – that is completely ignoring the inspiration and influence Black Metal as a movement has had on music as a whole.

That is not to say Black Metal in general is the only art form touting this general feel of nihilism. Art in general seems to be fragmenting at a rapid rate. Where in the past there were clearly defined artistic movements, today’s idea of art seems heavily egocentric. We are in the process of a grand declaration of war. Art declaring war on art. What better way to break down the doors of perception than through a genre that does nothing but ‘refuse to play ball’. For ” every true faith is infallible. It performs what the believing person hopes to find in it. But it does not offer the least support for the establishing of an objective truth. Here the ways of men divide. If you want to achieve peace of mind and happiness, have faith. If you want to be a disciple of truth, then search.”

It is often a question I’m faced with, why do you listen to a horribly produced, horribly disgusting genre? It completes the circle, offers ideas and thoughts that music and man in general have always ignored (instead stuck in their ignorance that truth and happiness are one and whole) and provides me with some of the most interesting and forceful artistic visions that the majority of mankind would prefer to shy away from. How can I not listen to it?

You'll find me in the vast wilderness of British Columbia, talking metal at LURKER, or working in publishing and front-end web/eBook development.

10 Comments

  • Reply April 18, 2010

    Anonymous

    In my opinion Black metal have to be pure Spiritual.

    I think the stuff with the nordic mythology shit made a strong backstep for black metal.

    For me BM becomes only a esoteric way of practice spiritual gnosticism and satanism, and all bands who are not on this topic, are for me not black metal.

    It's sad that a lot of people see norway as the country of the birth of black metal. i do not agree with that.

    There are so much views and ideal in this music…for myself i can say..i do not accept norwegian black metal even i listen BM since 10 years. Not may people would agree with me, but do i care about other people?

  • Reply April 18, 2010

    Slicedmind

    Black Metal is definitely one the most 'projected-onto' genres out there. I'm not going to sit here and tell you how you should feel about Black Metal.

    A point I do have refers to the whole 'satanism' thing. To be a satanist you have to accept a form of Judeo-Christian mythology, and then decide that 'evil' is something to be 'worshiped'.
    But a strong theme (some would say the only theme) throughout Black Metal has been that of the anti-christian.

    Which ISN'T satanism.

    It's a rejection of a whole belief system. You can't hope to embody an element of a belief system if you have rejected that belief system.

    To destroy Christianity isn't an act of satanism, it's an act of humanism.

  • Reply April 18, 2010

    Bile

    As much as I'd like to attempt to agree with every individual that visits our blog, takes time out to read our ramblings and comment their own thoughts on topics – I really couldn't disagree more with you 'Anonymous'.

    It is this sort of pious-faced 'black metal is spiritual' lark that undermines the genre as a whole. This blind orthodoxy that makes your satanism nothing but a religion in itself, no better than Christianity: blind faith and the belief that THIS is the path, ignorance to change and evolution. That is the Black Metal you support?

    I’m not in anyway trying to undermine satanic black metal though – it is just this mentality that this is the ONLY black metal that makes me laugh. I see the genre as a movement reflecting a much more fundamental idea than directly anti-christian sentimentalities. It’s like Ihsahn said in the lords of chaos interview; Black Metal isconfrontation to all the normal stuff. No herd mentality bullshit.

  • Reply April 19, 2010

    Anonymous

    @BILE

    Yeah i did not say the scene or something should be like that. I'am not in a scene or something and i don't wear black or scene clothes. I get myself into esoteric and occultism long before i start to listen music. I do not listen black metal because only of the music, i do because i want myself find my views in music. And yeah you are right theres a lot of shitty "orthodoxy" trend out there, but thats why i call my music spiritual, and not orthodox or something.

    I don't say its the true way for all, but in my opinion its the true way for me. I don't have anything against christianity. i like their conservative view of sight. I try to live a part of my live in askese..no alcohol, no drugs etc…and i practice a form of Satanism who is mostly known in india and bangladesh. As you can see, i respect spiritualy really high…I just don't want have something to do with that puberty stuff black metal was created. Some bands who call themself spiritual are not spiritual..they try to give some cool religios pics on their covers n' stuff but they have no knowledge..i don't like this. I do not say its the only Black metal, but some special bands who are dealing with an spiritual topic, i will accept as black metal – and this has nothing to do with purist mentality or some shit because i see some "death" metal bands also as black metal. Because of their views and lyrics.

  • Reply April 19, 2010

    Bile

    If you're on good terms with Christianity then fair enough, it looks like you have your own conception of what the music means. Can you recommend any bands that accurately capture this spiritual satanism? Or even a last.fm if you have one!

  • Reply April 19, 2010

    Anonymous

    Hi, another Anonymous.. Really interesting post, and overall blog. I'm not the same guy you had a discussion with further up. I was the one who commented on Austerity about Nortt, also the one who recommended Klage to someone. Perhaps I should register, haha.

    Anyways, isn't all satanism spirital? At least to an extent. About satanism in black metal though, there are quite a lot of newer bands who seem to take "satanism" to another level. Beyond just stating stuff like: "the lord is coming and his name is satan", but a more complex approach.This might be chaos-gnostic stuff, or even dark germanic heathenism. In my opinion various types of religion is a really interesting and fitting subject matter for black metal. That being said though, I certainly don't think there is any reason to limit yourself in regards to what lyrical theme you find most fitting for your specific brand of Black Metal. As you stated in your post, it's become quite a diverse genre. I can namedrop some bands if you're interested.

    Also, anti-christian black metal seems to have lost most of it's offensive value, but I do applaud the effort.

  • Reply April 19, 2010

    excellentsword

    Black Metal's bound to mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Personally, I'm not going to discount a band if they're not handling their satanism maturely. Is it even possible to be mature about satanism? You could say Deathspell, but even that's debatable.

    As for spirituality in Black Metal, it's not something I search for. I will be the first to admit I enjoy the occult/satanic connotations due to a simple childhood interest, but don't forget that Heavy Metal was using the same imagery decades before Black Metal existed and back then, as it is now, it exists for little more than shock value.

  • Reply June 2, 2011

    Kafir

    By anyone proclaiming Black metal to be spiritual is missing the whole point of this art. Black metal is satanic in the sense that it’s an adversary of Abrahamic religions, and not a devil worship genre. Although i don’t agree with the misanthrope point of view of the majority of black metal bands i can understand why they may have such thoughts. I believe a humanitarian black metal genre would be better, so that humanity may progress by eliminating mainly Christianity and Islam. Deathspell Omega have done a great job at being an adversary of Christianity. A fine example of how bands should express themselves. There should now be a new wave of black metal bands that attack Islam!

  • Reply June 2, 2011

    Alex

    I get the sad, morose impression a new wave of black metal bands attacking Islam would be interpreted as some petty NSBM move – such is the attitude of the modern day metalhead.

  • Reply June 11, 2011

    Kafir

    Even though people may think that way, we should still focus now more on Islam than other Abrahamic religions.
    pewresearch.org/pubs/1872/muslim-population-projections-worldwide-fast-growth

    Islam is one of the fastest growing religion, and we must destroy it. Not only with music but, with anti-Muslim books, and debates, such as the ones that Sam Harris, and company do. btw, the thinking atheist is not my website.

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