Secrets of the Tune: Grand Belial’s Key and Das Deutschlandlied


This is the first in a series of posts on things I’ve found buried in the music, lyrics and artwork of metal records. Maybe people have picked up on this stuff before – if you have, tell us about it. The idea is to provoke discussion and maybe discover more of these hidden details.

Listening to Kosherat the other day, my ear picked out a familiar tune, which on previous listens had gone right over my head. Woven into a riff in ‘The Bearded Hustlers’ is the opening phrase of the German national anthem, Das Deutschlandlied. Have a listen and see for yourself:

Grand Belial’s Key vs. Haydn’s Deutschandlied

Why, you might ask, would an American band want to bring in a theme from the German national anthem? The answer’s in the song’s history. Nowadays only the third verse of the Deutschlandlied is sung, but during the Nazi era it opened with the infamous words, Deutschland, Deutschland über alles (“Germany, Germany above all”). Thanks, perhaps, to its use in war films, people outside Germany are more familiar with the earlier version of the anthem than with its modern replacement. The association with the Nazi era, then, is kind of understandable. You only have to type the opening lines into Youtube or listen to Wolfnacht to see that the NSBM kids are all over it like a rash.

Grand Belial’s Key have always been careful not to endorse Nazism too explicitly in the public eye, or in their lyrics. And they’ve not done too bad a job: concentrating (as they usually do) on lyrics alone, the Metal Archives simply list them as ‘Black Metal’ rather than ‘NS Black Metal‘. Despite this relative coyness, though, it seems that GBK still like to throw in the 8dd b8ne for the true bel14ver.

Has anyone noticed anything similar elsewhere in their music? Or in metal in general?

6 Comments

  • Reply September 11, 2010

    :Vragh:

    Though the exact title of the track is something I can't recall at the moment, the weird piano parts in At My Funeral by Sigh, on their first album is very similar to an early jazz tune featuring Louis Armstrong.

  • Reply September 11, 2010

    ABdozen

    Good catch, interesting but not too surprising that they would slip that in there.

    And to the guy above, Sigh mixing in some Louis Armstrong would make a lot of sense too. They also did a rendition of John Coltrane's Spiritual

  • Reply September 26, 2010

    Rob

    Yeah, so I changed the name of this series of posts. I saw Invisible Orange's new column, 'The Read Chord' and took it as a challenge.

    For a black metal band to quote the work of a jazz artist is almost as strong an ideological statement as this is for GBK, given BM's traditional antipathy to such types of music. Of course, there have always exceptions to the trend; but you need only look at BM interviews from circa 1993 (when Sigh released Scorn Defeat), to see how much hostility there was in the scene to the influence of black immigrants on western culture.

  • […] column is back at last for its third installment. If you missed the first two, you can catch up here and […]

  • […] the fourth in our ‘Secrets of the Tune’ series. If you missed the first three, catch up here, here and here. Share:ShareRedditRelated musings:Summoning the Old Gods with AphrenousHeathens (now […]

  • Reply July 8, 2014

    Simon

    I get the impression that GBK were at first about as serious about the cryptofascist stuff as Anal Cunt, then started seriously believing in it somewhere around their second LP. Weird…

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