Death Melodies Series: Sergei Rachmaninov

February 11, 2013 –

The Death Melodies Series (DMS) continues with one of the last Romanticist composers.

rachmanRachmaninov was born in Russia in 1873 and died in 1943. After the Russian Revolution, he spent most of his time in the US and Europe. He’s known as a late Romanticist while Modern styling was becoming prominent. He’s widely considered a virtuoso on piano, which his piano concertos have become standard in classical music performance.

Toward the end of Rachmaninov’s life he drifted from American lifestyle and would rather speak in his natural Russian tongue. His circle of friends that he would regularly visit were mainly Russian nationals.

When Rachmaninov was in Paris in 1907, he stumbled upon Arnold Böcklin’s fourth version of the painting ‘Isle of the Dead‘, which inspired him to compose his symphonic poem about it. The fourth version was black and white, which Rachmaninov stated that if he had seen the colored version that he wouldn’t have forged his somber symphonic villanelle. The fourth being rather recondite, it’s easy to see the correlation to the temperament Rachmaninov sets in the first half of his piece.

The painting depicts a man being ferried to an island. Böcklin never mentioned the meaning behind it, but others surmise it’s of a lifeless man being transferred to afterlife. It has been a source of inspiration for Salvador Dali and many others. Hitler was also noted to having a version in his office.

After the austere waves of sound passes in the first half, it shifts to pure beauty.

On the piano front, Rachmaninov composed many pieces. When he was 19 he wrote his “The Bells of Moscow” Prelude in C Sharp Minor. This piece gained enormous popularity. At one point he stopped composing and would just perform shows to earn money for his family. The crowds always wanted to hear this piece. He was embittered to it as he grew older.

Jess and the Ancient Ones – Astral Sabbat

February 10, 2013 –

jess_and_the_ancient_ones-astral_sabbatComing at you straight out of an alternate version of 1964, Jess and the Ancient Ones sound like a fusion between fifties crooner music and sixties rock, but with a twist: this music is based on occultism, the renewal of souls, and an epic spiritual war splitting heavens and earth.

Vocalist Jess dominates the music with her arched and elegant vocals which possess a strength and sultry timbre not found in many singers past the 1970s. She belts out these songs with a conviction and yet a subtlety which is reminiscent of Abba and Nancy Sinatra.

Guitar work by the three wizard guitarists in this band is subtle and supports the vocal role in defining each song, either through subdued chord strumming that is just offtime enough to induce a dreamlike haze, or lead fills that churn momentum behind the vocals.

When this came on the MP3 shuffle, I was convinced it was 1960s material and had to double-check the name immediately thereafter. The quality of vocal melody and self-assured minimalism and proficiency of the guitars and drumming makes this band seem otherworldly to the musical offerings now, which aren’t as “musical” and definitely aren’t as confident and interesting.

The biography claims that “JATAO draw inspiration from heavy metal and rock groups of the classic era, such as Mercyful Fate, Roky Erickson, Iron Maiden and Abba.” The Roky Erickson and Abba stand out the most. It’s probably a mistake to pitch this to a metal audience, since the type of person who will immediately enjoy this 1950s underworld vibe would be a Misfits or Lou Reed fan, although just about anyone who likes good songwriting and strong performance will get into it if they give it a chance.

These three songs, one of which is a cover of “Long and Lonesome Road” from Dutch band Shocking Blue, just whet the appetite. Look to 2012’s debut album from this band for more of this material, but they seem to be growing into their sound and being unabashedly less metal/rock and more progressive with every release.

1. Astral Sabbat (6:27)
2. Long and Lonesome Road (3:10)
3. More Than Living (14:48)
Length: 24:25

$14 (LP) / $10 (CD)

Massive Sale on Extreme Metal CDs

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Forbidden Records has slashed their prices for the time being on CDs in their distro.

Most CDs are listed as $5 (and an additional 10% discount for today only). With Valentines day around the corner, why not relish in the devil’s intonation and offer your significant other a soundtrack or few to fuel their metal lust?

Purchases can be made at forbidden-records.com


cdsale

Death Melodies Series: Marin Marais

February 9, 2013 –
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Marin_Marais_2The Death Melodies Series (DMS) continues with more Baroque.

Frenchman and basse de viol master Marin Marais lived from 1656 to 1728. He was hired as a court musician for the royal court of Versailles in France. During and after his stint appeasing the wigs upstairs, he wrote numerous books for his instrument.

Not much is known of this composer’s personal life after he reached adulthood.

Ironically, former Morbid Angel and Nocturnus drummer/vocalist Mike Browning was recently hospitalized for having enormous kidney stones. His surgery to remove them was successful. Marin Marais‘ morbid work ‘The Bladder Stone Operation‘ for viol and harpsichord would have been a suiting victory soundtrack.

Q&A with Mike Browning regarding his surgery:

When did you realize something was odd in your body?

About 3 weeks ago I started getting a very bad pain on my left side, right in the area above were your leg and body meet. This is the 3rd time I have had kidney stones, so instantly I knew what it was. The pain got so bad though that I had to go to the emergency room!

How long did the procedure last?

They used a laser on me to crush up one large and several small stones in my left kidney, the whole procedure lasted almost 3 hours, luckily I was under anesthesia!

What type of medication did the doctors give you after the surgery?

They only gave me a bottle of hydrocodone 5 mg, which is not much more than taking a couple aspirins!

Did you at any point think about Marin Marais while you were hospitalized?

No, until now I have never heard of Marin Marais! The only thing I thought about was pain and when it would all be over!!!

Mike Browning prepping for surgery.

kidney stoneLe Tableau De L’Operation De La Taille (in 17th Century French)

L’aspect de l’apareil – Fremißement en le voyant – Resolution pour y monter – Parvenu jusqu’au hault – descente dudit apareil – Reflexions serieuses – Entrelaßement des soyes – entre les bras et les jambes – Icy se fait l’incision – Introduction de la tenette – Icy lon tire la piere – Icy lon perd quasi la voyes – Ecoulement du sang – Icy lon osteles soyes – Icy lon vous transporte dans le lit.

English Translation:

The depiction of a waist surgery – The appearance of the operating table – A shudder on seeing it – Determination when mounting it – Climbing in – Climbing out and dismounting – Grave thoughts – Knotting the silk restrains for arms and legs – Then the incision is made – Introduction of the forceps – Then the stone is drawn – Then you nearly lose your voice – Blood flows – Then the silks are unknotted – Then you are taken to bed.

Here we have a viola da gamba and harpsichord performing Marin Marais‘ bladder stone song.

Aside from composing about his own surgical encounters, Marin Marais was also very proficient at creating a simple motif and building complex structures upon it.

The most blasphemous devil metal

the_most_blasphemous_metalRecently we published an account of how a Christian “black metal” band was attacked by fans who resented the encroachment of propaganda against evil into the devil’s music.

As many acknowledge, metal is very much the devil’s music. It is obsessed with social rejection, the occult, the power of nature, warfare, death, killing, disease, horror and ancient ways.

When you pick up your average heavy metal record, it is the exact opposite of the message of good, which is that we can make a perfect society where raw power doesn’t rule and where everyone is accepted.

In the world of metal, all the best laid plans of mice and men go awry in the worst possible ways. There is no perfection to society, or humankind. It is warfare and predation, red in tooth and claw, fighting it out to the end.

For this reason, metal has exhibited a fascination with Satan since its earliest days. Where the blues showed a belief in Satan’s power to help individuals, metal went elsewhere and portrayed Satan as an active metaphysical force affecting us all. As time went on, that viewpoint went from fearful (“War Pigs”) to an outright endorsement.

As one writer noted:

He asked me if I worshipped “the Devil,” looking at my iPod’s screen, where the gloriously disgusting cover of Cannibal Corpse’s The Wretched Spawn was displayed…

After shooting him a sideways glance that I hoped would be conveyed as Satanic, I thoughtfully sipped my Jack Daniels. Then I leaned in closely, asked if my black nail polish gave me away, and added that, duh, everyone who listens to metal — especially chicks –practice secret Satanic rituals that work best with the blood of an unsuspecting male. – “Is Heavy Metal Really The Devil’s Music?” by Lauren Wise, Phoenix New Times, July 23, 2012

The article goes on to have a balanced view of the metal equation, in which some newer material that is pro-Jesus gets some airplay. However, the lingering question remains… isn’t the majority of metal evil? Doesn’t the exception prove the rule?

To that end, we present the most blasphemous metal we can assemble so that you, too, might enjoy the blessings of evil:

Slayer – Altar of Sacrifice

Back in the 1980s, when Tipper Gore and her big-hair people ruled the censorship committees, this song seemed designed to fit into their worst fantasies. Its lyrics read like a Satanic ritual and its sound dwarfed anything else on the record store shelf.

Beherit – Lord of Shadows and Goldenwood

This album opens with a recited text from the Church of Satan, and then launches into some of the most primitive and evil-sounding metal ever created. This particular song hails the dark lord in a manner that by being mystical and metaphorical is almost more threatening than direct assaults.

Hellhammer – Satanic Rites

Three proto-black metal bands founded the genre: Bathory, Sodom and Hellhammer. Slayer gets some credit for technique as well, bypassing Venom who were fundamentally a heavy metal band and not really black metal in any distinctive way. Of these, Hellhammer came up with the best tribute to Satan ever invented. Obey the ritual!

Darkthrone – In the Shadow of the Horns

No list would be complete without the band who inscribed “As Wolves Among Sheep We Have Wandered” and “Darkthrone is for all the evil in man” on their early albums and claimed to be the most hated band in the world. One of the best bands in the world, if you ask me, and filled with delicious hatred for goodness.

Demoncy – Impure Blessings

If you are curious as to what it will sound like when Satan takes possession of earth, this song should tell you. Occult lyrics combine with a sound like an ineffable mechanical devourment of earth itself by forces opposed to all goodness and beauty.

Deicide – (Discography)

We could write several articles about which Deicide albums or songs are the most blasphemous, but it really is splitting hairs. From their eponymous debut to their last great album, Once Upon the Cross, this band blasted Jesus with hatred and mocked God, proclaiming Satan’s order on earth. The only reason they might not be qualified as evil is that they probably drove hordes of people to church in horror.

Blasphemy – Ritual

The Satanic Skinheads from Ross Bay brought us this disturbed homage to Satan and evil ritual. You can imagine a cemetery desecration and the broken wings of angels scattered across a dystopian wasteland, while elegant fragments of music from a more orderly time fade out on the toxic wind.

Mayhem – Life Eternal

This song smashes the idea of a pleasant afterlife with its image of eternal death. Although it does not mention God, Jesus, angels, etc. by name, it does refute the theories of these notions with a darker and more unforgiving concept.

Von – Satanic Blood

Apocalyptic evil emerges in this song that sounds like an air raid alarm being played over the chants of those who would destroy this world for Satan. Possibly one of the most minimalistic black metal bands ever, Von influenced others with its droning call to blasphemy.

Hypocrisy – God is a Lie

Threatening to choke the life out of God with their own hands, Sweden’s Hypocrisy launched into a tirade of righteous anger that has few comparisons in the world of music. This is the wrath of anti-god and it affirms that metal truly is the devil’s music.

Samael – Into the Pentagram

Named after a demon whose name is supposedly the key that unlocks the death of God, Swiss evil metal slingers Samael unleashed a torrent of occult and mystical works that refute the Bible and the best wishes of its minions. This particular track seemed custom-cut to delight those who relish apostasy.

Unleashed – For They Shall be Slain

No list of blasphemies in metal would be complete without this Viking explanation of how the Christian invaders must be destroyed and cut down where they stand. This is blasphemous, but more importantly, it’s a call to war that many heeded and still more are appreciating.

Burzum – Lost Wisdom

No assault on God would be complete without a litany of the sins of the Christians and the philosophical crisis brought on by dualistic monotheism. In this short hymn, murderer and fervent anarcho-nationalist Varg Vikernes encourages us to remember how Christianity displaced knowledge into symbols and cut out actual experience of life. It’s less rage and more an unsettling sense of deep opposition.

Havohej – Weeping in Heaven

Sounding like rebel angels who picked up instruments casually scattered around Hell in order to wax lyrical about the joys of evil, Havohej oppose all that religion and good bring with it. I vomit on God’s child!

…and last but not least…

Bathory – The Return of Darkness and Evil

Not many people understand the profundity of this song’s undoing of the Revolution that brought us goodness and light. It posits a world outside the well-intentioned order of the church and its humanist allies in which predation, war and violence rule the day instead of morality. After a millennium of trying for Utopia and creating dystopia, Bathory argues, we should return to the primitive ways before consciousness of morality, as those had better results. Unsettling.

What to take away from this all?

First, metal is the devil’s music. Even if you were Christian, like Slayer’s Tom Araya, you would want to make music that sounded evil and opposed the do-gooder notion of a moral order. Metal is not protest music, but it is discontent music, and discontent of a type that affirms all the fears humans have of life outside our social and moral order.

Next, Satan has some killer tunes.

Finally, it makes sense to look at metal in a historical context. See if the following description makes any sense to you:

Romantic poets cultivated individualism, reverence for the natural world, idealism, physical and emotional passion, and an interest in the mystic and supernatural. Romantics set themselves in opposition to the order and rationality of classical and neoclassical artistic precepts to embrace freedom and revolution in their art and politics. – “A Brief Guide to Romanticism” by the Academy of American Poets

Many of the themes that rock throughout metal would be at home in Coleridge, Blake, Milton, Goethe and Wordsworth. Like Romantic poets, metal struggles with the new world order that came about in the 1700s based on the Enlightenment. In this order, the morality of the herd was at its full power and it used the Church as its shield and justification.

And like metal, they rebelled against it then, much as blasphemy echoes the halls of rock now when metalheads compose their micro-symphonies to Satan and hymns of praise for evil.

HAIL SATAN

30 years ago: Dirty Rotten LP

February 8, 2013 –

driA lot of the death metal gems we listened to (and still listen to) during the heyday of the genre would probably never have been possible if it weren’t for this 22-song, 17-minute 12″ crossover piece of awesome.

Dirty Rotten LP is “as punk as it gets” some would say, and, indeed, structurally it’s hardcore punk all over. But D.R.I. (or Dirty Rotten Imbeciles), hailing from Houston, Texas, managed to do something fruitful with heavy metal riffs in this furious punk context and paved the way for the devilish energies emerging in bands like Slayer. The rest, as they say, is death metal history.

30 years after its initial release, it’s surprising to hear how potent these short bursting songs are. While some of the lyrics are dated, the project as a whole nevertheless seems relevant enough to this day. Inventive and playful, this album will still take you places: the music moves like a bulldozer on speed through a tangle of asphalt, and suddenly the bitter-sweet destruction of society becomes a playground where artifacts of modern society just wait for us to smash them to a pulp.

Now go grab your abstract baseball bat and thrash your way through to sanity!

Death Melodies Series: Johann Sebastian Bach

February 7, 2013 –

johann_sebastian_bachThe Death Metal Underground (DMU) is proud to present the Death Melodies Series (DMS).

The primary function of the DMS is to expose metalheads to Classical Music that they might enjoy.

If it’s Baroque, don’t fix it.

Our first in the Death Melodies Series will feature some Baroque pieces. The Baroque Period followed after the Renaissance Period and was roughly from the beginning of the 1600’s to mid 1700’s. The emphasis on tonal harmony was established during this time. Opera was also introduced amid the Baroque term.

This article will focus on Bach, which is one of the most prolific Classical composers that ever lived. Bach gradually became blind as he aged, however his disability didn’t stop him from composing. Other noteworthy composers of this era were Handel, Scarlatti (x2), and Vivaldi. Nevertheless, the DMS will be showcasing more of the dark, ominous, and powerful pieces.

Bach’s most assaulting weapon was the organ, though he also played and wrote pieces for violin, viola, and harpsichord.

There is debate about transcriptions for Bach’s organ work for other instruments. Hipsters like Glenn Gould would claim that they do justice transcribing it to piano, though piano was invented during Bach’s life and he didn’t compose any melodies for it because he found it somewhat lacking. Glenn Gould just wanted to be hip, different, and make money doing it. Orchestrated versions of Bach’s work tend to add more parallels, which Stokowski portrayed:

Here is another example of an orchestrated rendition:

“Black Magic Evocation of the Shem ha Mephorash” Occult Book Released

February 5, 2013 –

Some classical music incorporated morbid themes, but most metalheads look back to Black Sabbath being the first to incorporate occult themes into their music. Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler have both been noted for dabbling in the dark arts, while their vocal counterpart Ozzy Osbourne publicly denounced any Satanic undercurrents. Their label Warner Bros was more than likely the cause to establish their occult image in the press. From this point on, the dark arts have been subject matter to innumerable musical acts and has become steeple in the extreme metal community.

Gilles de Rais from US Black Metal band Teratism has released his grimoire, “Black Magic Evocation of the Shem ha Mephorash“.

Excerpt from its press release via Negativity Records:black magic evocation

“The Shem ha Mephorash or Explicit Name is a list of 72 angels derived by ancient occultists. Combined, these spirits are believed to comprise the secret name of the Creation of the Universe. Now, for the first time, these angels are uncovered and illuminated, presented with detailed information and spirit signatures, enabling witches and left-hand-path magicians to access their energy and interact with them through ceremonial conjuration and black magic. In essence, Black Magic Evocation of the Shem ha Mephorash dissects the Abrahamic creator Deity into 72 segments and empowers brave witches everywhere to ritually evoke them into conscious interactive manifestation. Included are exhaustive tables of hours, days, weeks, months, planets, elements, and sacraments, all the information needed to bring the spirits of the Shem ha Mephorash, the most powerful name in western occultism, to life within the magician’s ritual chamber.”

 
Q&A with Gilles de Rais:

Where do you think the occult first gained momentum in Metal?

I don’t know: Black Sabbath? But that thread really goes back to the Blues, which is a form of apostate gospel sung by those who wanted to get drunk and laid on Saturday night more than they valued getting saved on Sunday morning. Moreover, the idea of magick hidden in music (or music as a form of magick) goes back to the dawn of civilization. The book of Genesis talks about the fact that music and musical instruments were invented by Jubal, one of the sons of Cain, the first murderer and a symbolic type of the Antichrist. Even though the book of Genesis is fictional, its poetry, symbols and imagery derive from archetypes in the shared collective unconscious going back to before Sumeria. To quote the old adage: the Devil writes the catchiest tunes.

You go by the saying ‘Do What Thou Wilt’, which stemmed from Aleister Crowley’s teachings. My personal take on this saying is more of a metaphysical one; meaning that we should harness our wills into the most impactful manner possible. Then again, there must be meaning behind our wills. If they are aimless, they shouldn’t be focused upon. How do you equate this saying in your day-to-day life?

The statement “Do What Thou Wilt” is misunderstood. Everyone seems to want to take orders and always looks for some new commandment. It is not a commandment. It is a simple admission that the laws of physics provide the limitations of human experience, not what your priest, pastor or rabbi tells you. It is simple, elegant, flatly amoral statement and should be left as such and not tagged with any asterisks, addendums, modifications or apologies. The morality should come from your own conscience and the fact that the temporal lobe of your brain gives you the ability to ponder the consequences of your actions and act accordingly.

What inspired you to write this grimoire?

I wrote it to consolidate the wisdom of a growing library of books on the occult — 700+ and counting — that I have collected over a lifetime, and from my knowledge of those books, synthesize a functional, cohesive, unique system of left-hand-path meditative and mystical Satanism as a way of providing a foundation of legitimacy to creating music under the titulary umbrella of Black Metal, which I personally believe begins and ends with the transmission of Satanism and demonology.

In the process of researching for that book, on which I am still working, I attempted to gain some understanding of the Shem ha Mephorash (Shemhamphorash) due to the fact that (1) it is ubiquitously referred to in Satanism and black metal, and (2) i could not find any authoritative, complete books on the subject. This book (Black Magic Evocation of the Shem ha Mephorash) is the result of my findings.

How would you differentiate Luciferianism and Satanism?

Etymologically, Lucifer means light bearer and the name primarily refers to Satan as the descending archangel who brings forbidden illumination to witches (and mankind). Satan means “adversary” or “accuser” and it refers to the role of Satan as an enemy of the herd, as a liberator from the commandments, restrictions, subjugations, and shackles of the right-hand path, and an instigator of insurrection against the tyranny of Light and the murderous blindness it engenders in its devotees.

Esoterically, some schools view Lucifer as Satan in his “pre-fallen” state as an archangel, and so their roles often differ in terms of how they are approached in occult ritual when accessing the two figures within this specific mythological paradigm.

Generically used, however, the two words can be interchangeable because you are drawing water from the same well. It should be noted though, that my answers are terribly condensed and incomplete, and that these two words also have as many meanings as there are practitioners of both disciplines.

What literary work would you impose on our readers that are interested in the Dark Arts?

Start with the Bible and the Koran to gain a healthy sense of contempt and rage for the mindless, savage, hysterical, phobic herds of the Right-Hand Path. When you are sufficiently outraged and ready to take action and see what the sitra ahra (other side) has to offer, you might begin Three Books of Occult Philosophy by Henry Cornelius Agrippa, which is a graduate course on Western occultism. In terms of taking the elevator all the way down to basement level 666 and drinking the poison of Sammael right out of the genie’s bottle, go to Amazon and enter “Satanism” and “Black Magick” and enjoy.

Is there a direct correlation to your book’s subject matter to Teratism’s lyrics?

That’s best left for an interview with Teratism. They’d flay me alive and put me on their altar if I went into that here.

Realm of Chaos re-released in FDR audio

bolt-thrower---realm-of-chaosBolt Thrower‘s Realm of Chaos album will be re-released by Earache Records on Monday 18 February, 2013.

This time around, it’s been pressed from the master tapes in Full Dynamic Range audio, which according to Earache means the album is

at its optimum sound quality, with full dynamic range and in its highest resolution. No loss of quality, no compromise. To put it simply, this is, without doubt, the best sound this album has ever had!

Realm of Chaos was originally released in 1989 and according to our review it shows how the band’s grindcore leaned towards the grandeur of death metal, making this album an amalgamation of the epic and the youthfully energetic.

The release includes a DVD of the Bolt Thrower performance at the “Grindcrusher” tour in Nottingham, where they played seven of the albums songs on 14 November, 1989.

Best Metal of 2012 (en Español)

February 4, 2013 –

Spanish blog El Negro Metal has published a Spanish translation of our post, “The Best Metal (and related) of 2012″.

Compare the English original:

This legendary band existed before Amorphis and plays a grittier style of the bold, warlike and heavy yet melodic music that graced Amorphis’ first album, The Karelian Isthmus. These Abhorrence tracks show the band that would later write that album as they emerge from early grind/death stylings and gradually work more melody into their work. This is metal’s holy grail: how to be both epic and amoral in the nihilistic sense of worshipping power, darkness and nature, but also use melody and harmony to give the works some staying power. As this collection of re-released demos progresses, the fusion of the two gets more confident and deft, leading us up to the point where the greatness of the first Amorphis album was inevitable.

With the translation:

Este grupo legendario existió antes de Amorphis, y practicaba una versión menos refinada de la música audaz, belicosa y pesada, y sin embargo también melódica, de que hizo gala Amorphis en su primer álbum, The Karelian Isthmus. Estos temas de Abhorrence muestran al grupo que más adelante compondría aquel disco a medida que emergía de un estilo grind/death primitivo para ir introduciendo gradualmente más melodía en su obra. Aquí radica el Santo Grial del metal: cómo resultar a la vez épico y amoral en el sentido nihilista de la glorificación del poder, la oscuridad y la naturaleza, sin dejar de utilizar también la melodía y la armonía para conferir a las grabaciones cierto poder perenne. Según avanza esta recopilación de maquetas reeditadas, la fusión de ambos factores se vuelve más segura y hábil, llevándonos hasta el punto en que la grandeza del primer disco de Amorphis resultaba inevitable.

Looks like a good in-depth analysis and translation. Thanks to El Negro Metal for this addition to the world of metal en Español!