Vice Magazine’s Embarrassing French Black Metal Film

As part of their quest to ruin everything interesting and appealing about both metal and life, the gullible cronies of media pyramid scheme Vice Magazine have journeyed to the grim countrysides of the French black metal underground to film what is undoubtedly the most boring film in the history of music. While Vice markets this abomination as a “documentary” calling it such is actually a misleading statement as the film is little more than a collection of autistic ramblings without a single question or narrative statement. In any case, the eyesore is a bastardization of the region’s legacy as any shred of decency still possessed by the founding members of Mutiilation and Drakkar Productions have been urinated directly into the toilet as they hammed it up for the same forces that they claim to be rebelling against. Fortunately, the film’s lack of credible sources and unbelievably poor post-production prevents it from succeeding in the demystification of what was once one of the more intriguing regional black metal scenes.

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Vikernes suing French government for false detention

varg_vikernes-burzum-band_photoAt least one metal musician has learned that if society attacks, you counter-attack. Varg Vikernes of Burzum, who was arrested several weeks ago and charged with inciting racial hatred, is attempting to sue the French government for an arrest that ultimately led to no new charges because of a lack of evidence.

“We want to sue the authorities for arresting us for no good reason whatsoever, doing so in the most brutal way possible and with children present,” Vikernes wrote on his blog.

During the early 1990s, Vikernes created a one-man band named Burzum which knocked out a series of innovative, multi-riff songs designed to blur the boundaries between metal and ambient, and “awaken the fantasy of mortals.” Some metal historians believe that Burzum’s Hvis Lyset Tar Oss effectively ended black metal’s development by raising the bar above that which others could follow.

Since that time, Vikernes has spent sixteen years in Norwegian jails, written several books, and continues to both produce music and write political texts. His most recent work, Sôl austan, Mâni vestan, is an ambient work that recalls the power of earlier Burzum.

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Metal and Post-Modernity

Article by Bill Hopkins

“We might even say that to be fully modern is to be anti-modern: from Marx’s and Dostoevsky’s time to our own, it has been impossible to grasp and embrace the modern world’s potentialities without loathing and fighting against some of its most palpable realities.”

—Some overweight sociology professor

Metal, like any manifestation of culture, doesn’t emerge from a social vacuum. So much should be uncontroversial. This raises a question in need of reply: What set of ideas and social forces explain the existence of metal? One hypothesis is to view metal as a manifestation of European romanticism [1], the period of European culture from roughly 1789 to 1850. This article suggests a different hypothesis: namely, that metal must be placed against the backdrop of post-modernity in order to be properly understood. In order to make this case, it is vital to understand ‘post-modernity’. Many confuse post-modernity (1960s-) with modernism (1890s-1930s), especially when it comes to art. Thus, a secondary goal of this article is to illuminate post-modernity. I will argue that one key imputes giving rise to metal was post-modernity’s re-engagement with past forms [2].

One naïve view of post-modernity, especially in its artistic manifestations, views it as an elitist movement intent on offending traditional and bourgeoise sensibilities by embracing the ‘shock of the new’ and the absurd: think of the sort of art piece your intellectually disabled 3 year-old could do if given a paintbrush and a blank canvass stretched out on the floor. However, this is to mistake post-modernity with modernism[3]. Modernism preceded post-modernity by decades. It began in the late 19th century and had all but dissipated in time for the lead up to WW2. Not only this, modernism was primarily an artistic movement whereas post-modernity refers to sweeping social and economic changes in addition to artistic ones.

‘Blue Poles’ by Jackson Pollock

As we will see, post-modernity is characterised by a re-assessment of modernism’s ‘shock of the new’. In order to explore post-modernity and its connections with metal more fully, however, we need to take a few steps backwards before going forwards. We need first to understand the broader concept of ‘modernity’ (1789-). What is modernity, such that ‘post’-modernity is contrasted with it?
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Did Rock & Metal Engineer Societal Destruction?

What do Jonathan Davis, Corey Taylor, and Scott Weiland have in common?  Answering the question “90 Hard Rock singers” would not be incorrect, but there’s something darker beneath the surface – all three men are rape victims.  Davis even documents the experience in graphic detail in a platinum selling album from his band, and many of Taylors lyrics are riddled with sexual abuse.

Why were the executives of the murder industry so keen on pushing rape victims as the new face of rock n’ roll?  Furthermore, why were the most popular genres of rock and metal so lyrically obsessed with self destruction?  From Grunge “morality is useless and life is hopeless” to Nu Metal “I’m a freak and everyone hates me” to Emo and Screamo “I’m lonely and will never be loved” to indie (soy) metal and rock “We failed to be what we should have been” the message of mainstream rock and metal music has constantly be one of self destruction.  This trend is mirrored by a 25% increase in American suicides in American suicides since the 1990s:

Suicide rates increased by 25% across the United States over nearly two decades ending in 2016, according to research published Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Twenty-five states experienced a rise in suicides by more than 30%, the government report finds.

More than half of those who died by suicide had not been diagnosed with a mental health condition, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC.

“These findings are disturbing. Suicide is one of the top 10 causes of death in the US right now, and it’s one of three causes that is actually increasing recently, so we do consider it a public health problem — and something that is all around us,” Schuchat said. The other two top 10 causes of death that are on the rise are Alzheimer’s disease and drug overdoses, she noted.

With statistics like this, it’s absolutely time to panic: our society is being marred by growing influences- intentional or not – to destroy ourselves.  Let’s examine music’s relationship to this now obvious horror and see if we can determine why this is happening.

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The Importance of the Hessian Ideal

The modern way of life has conditioned people to think and consider their lives a juxtaposition of ‘job’, ‘family’ and ‘hobbies’ along with ‘fun’. This is a model influenced by industrial mentality, which needs vast amount of automatons performing meaningless tasks for the sake of production itself, simply in order to protect the bottom line at the expense of individual quality and relevance. As a result, very few people, indeed an incredibly outnumbered minority, will see and live their job as a craft wherein they find aesthetic and spiritual meaning, and would rather be out the door as soon as possible as long as their salaries are not affected.

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Ancient – “Eerily Howling Winds” (1993)

As previously pointed out by the editor of this site, metal demo recordings does not exist as crass commercial propositions with the sole purpose of advertising the market viability of the artist, but function — at least ideally — as independent works produced and distributed without further infringement from the recording industry. In spite of eventual shortcomings resulting from lack of budget, experience, and time, demo-level recordings remain a breath of fresh air because they oftentimes capture bands at a nascent and untempered creative stage.

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Somber Lands: The Harmonic Minor Scale

Dark, brooding, and long cloaked in obscurity, the harmonic minor scale is a compelling collective of notes that has historically been used as an accent to minor key compositions.  For centuries only a handful of pieces had been written within its bounds as composers instead opted to weave in for a number of measures before an eventual progression into the natural minor scale.  From there it appeared again in a few folk songs, took a strong spiritual presence in Islamic culture, and later became an integral part of horror movies when they progressed into the frightening mediums they became in the 1970s.  But it wasn’t until the musicians of the early Swedish death metal scene discovered how to fully harness the scale’s potential that lengthy songs and even the majority of some albums began being composed within its bounds.  A truly grotesque wedlock, the scale gave he who wielded it the power to craft the most sinister and foreboding compositions possible within the laws of music.  It is for this reason one could attest that the minor harmonic scale has found a home in heavy metal that no other genre of music could provide.
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Star Wars: Tie Fighter 1994 LucasArts

Throughout literature, film, and any other telling of the Arthurian legend there is usually a hard line stance taken on characters or ideas being indisputably good or evil.  The heroes and villains are on conflicting sides of a fundamental and absolute morality despite reality often being much more complicated.  The Star Wars franchise followed this school of thought- casting the Empire as the evil and soulless reflection of Western history’s teaching of the axis powers of World War II.  It parallels the post-French Revolution narrative that all democracy is good and all imperial reigns are heinous and wrong.

It is because of this that we can remember LucasArts’s 1994 PC flight simulator Tie Fighter as such a refreshingly bold and surprising experiment in a world of video games where the narrative is always fixated on “the good guys.”  In Tie fighter, you are- from start to finish- fighting on behalf of a faction that the movies portrayed as dark and merciless dictatorship that is completely void of humanity.  No change of heart in your character halfway through (as in this year’s disastrous Battlefront 2), no surprising twist- you’re essentially waging war with all that is good and just in the galaxy.  It’s one of the first and possibly few games that take this perspective, and – for one of the first times for a mainstream game of this caliber-  Tie Fighter gives the player a unique chance to embrace the understanding that morality is often a form of perspective.

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