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?