Part IV: The Spiritual Significance of Struggle and the Mountain
“The most spiritual men, as the strongest, find their happiness where others would find their destruction: in the labyrinth, in hardness against themselves and others, in experiments. Their joy is self-conquest: asceticism becomes in them nature, need, and instinct. Difficult tasks are a privilege to them; to play with burdens that crush others, a recreation. Knowledge-a form of asceticism. They are the most venerable kind of man: that does not preclude their being the most cheerful and the kindliest.”
In great numbers we advance before dawn
By the great hail this great fight is born
Among the clouds now our black wings fills the air
No more frontlines the holy battle is everywhere
Though death may await me on the battlefield
I die to go on but by the great hail I will go,
I am marching under the runes
Countless victories we fight side by side
Deep down in the oceans on land and way up in the sky
Comed this far now there is no way back or return
If we do withdraw the horizon will seem to burn
Though death now is closing in on me
I die to go on but by the great hail I will go,
I am fighting under the runes
Standing here now amidst the hell we have made
All signs of a wonder or to survive now seems to fade
But I am a fighter and I still have my pride
They are gonna have to kill, by my own hand I refuse to die
Though now death is all that awaits me
I die to go on but by the great hail I will go
I am dying under the runes
Quorthon’s rock influences manifest in a solar song that celebrates heroic intoxication and the power of a life free from itself!
I’ll listen to everything from Glenn Miller to The Beatles, from Wagner to Sex Pistols, from Nick Drake to Beethoven. I hardly ever listen to metal. The only metal I will listen to, is vinyl that I bought 20 or 30 years ago like Mountain, early Kiss, early Saxon, early Motörhead or early Black Sabbath. I haven’t bought a metal CD in ten years. The last metal CD must have been Motörhead’s “Overkill”. The last CD I bought of any kind was last summer, George Harrison’s “All things must pass (1971).
He said sometime after that, he received a couple of letters from people who said that they burned their Bathory records when they found out Quorthon was a “poser”.
He was an elitist. Not a tool. He adored great music irrespective of genre. And never only adhered to it like a zealot.
“I don’t like any of these bands out there today playing black, death or simply just decayed metal — well, today you can use any word and be right, so I can’t figure out what band influenced me to perform this type of hellpaced metal. I don’t just write this kind of evil shit. I write ballads, rock, pop, and metal because I enjoy writing different kinds of music.”
“My favourite bands would be Kiss form 1973 to 1978, Sex Pistols, GBH, The Beatles. I like Toyah, the first three albums with Pink Floyd, some Motorhead. I like Motley Crue and Aerosmith, Space Ace Frehley, Sid Vicious, some Triumph, some Sabbath, Ripper, some Sweet stuff, and classical music.
“Yeah, well this satanic thrashing thing has really become a fad alright. I really think it has grown into something I really don’t want to be a part of any longer. Too many bands today come up with crap demos that get quite good reviews in underground mags while, at the same time, bands like Slayer and Bathory spend a week in the studio with all the expenses and get an eight or a nine in the same mag. Too many bands today put out shit vinyl and poison the metal market. In a year or eighteen months, this satanic shit will make people throw up all over a metal album.”
Two themes suffice, to echo in eternity:
A → B
A has two forms, acoustic and electric.
The acoustic introduction weaves the mythical story of the hero who goes to meet his glorious demise in the heat of battle!
B uses a joyful Ionian bridge over smooth jazz chords.
Extra vocals in the manner of classic rock bands chanting ‘aaahs’ over the main riff. The arena rock potential is great.
The solo is celebrating the legacy of rock’n roll. It is often forgotten that all emerged from rock’n roll, because rock music possessed a certain virtue manifested in greats such as Queen, Wishbone Ash and Yes and carried forth by the metal revolution. For what is the essence of rock music, but the cherishing of strong emotions? A suitable vessel for the strongest emotion; the drunken joy of battle!
A pentatonic solo manifests as sloppy chromatic licks coming from the punk legacy of non-conforming to proper structure, or in simple words, coming straight from the heart.
Those are some fast and gratifying six minutes, reminiscent of the fact that such a style was pioneered through non-conformity as well as adherence to form; but the author believes that no matter if you know theory or not, if you are sincere the result takes care of itself. In the end, as a self-taught guitarist, I can’t help but idolize Quorthon. This song makes one feeling a calm happiness. And the listener wonders whether the Elysian Fields would feel like this song.
The most joyful song on the record. Beckoning.
No more frontlines. The battle is everywhere.
War is our father. He is within us and without. Even in times of peace, we have to fight.
We can throw our weapons and surrender. We can sit down and cry. We can rejoice like psychopaths and acknowledge our beast within, seek depths of depravity yet unfound.
Or we can joyfully go and stand our ground. Use every battle as a chance for growth. To understand ourselves and hence the universe. This is the aryan doctrine for struggle and victory!
Thou seest Me as Time who kills, Time who brings all to doom,
The Slayer Time, Ancient of Days, come hither to consume;
Excepting thee, of all these hosts of hostile chiefs arrayed,
There shines not one shall leave alive the battlefield! Dismayed
No longer be! Arise! obtain renown! destroy thy foes!
Fight for the kingdom waiting thee when thou hast vanquished those.
By Me they fall—not thee! the stroke of death is dealt them now,
Even as they stand thus gallantly; My instrument art thou!
Strike, strong-armed Prince! at Drona! at Bhishma strike! deal death
To Karna, Jyadratha; stay all this warlike breath!
’Tis I who bid them perish! Thou wilt but slay the slain.
Fight! they must fall, and thou must live, victor upon this plain!
• Krishna; Chapter 11, verses 32–34 (Lines 201–212); Sir Edwin Arnold translation
A new song from Arch Enemy reaches 4.000.000+ views after a month on Youtube. Pieces of masterpiece (musically and lyrically) of Bathory after 4 years on Youtube don’t exceed 50.000 views. Im trully disappointed by the metal community…. ~ Random youtube commenter
Well, then fuck the “metal community”. Stand your ground!!
Indeed, the fewer the better. Good to recognize the metal community as a den of poseurs lacking opinions of their own, listening to what the media tells them to. In the end of the day, fuck standards. A person who listens to what he wants is worthier of respect than someone who listens to feel included and part of the group – even if that group is our website. No person is better because of the music he listens to, although great music can help with self-development and this has been recognized since antiquity. On the other hand, there is also the category of people that burned their Bathory albums when they learned that Quorthon listened to Motley Crue. Apart from his exaggerations, the fact that Quorthon was mainly listening to classical, didn’t like tours, was bored in concerts and enjoyed rock music highlights the fact that he was a persona and definitely not a ‘metalhead’. Quorthon would frown upon those people with merciful understanding, since most of them are youths like he used to be.
“There is a solitude within him that is inaccessible to praise or blame, his own justice that is beyond appeal” (The Will to Power)
Enter Your Mountain
The symbol of the mountain refers to those superior spiritual beings who command and who direct in an invisible way the great currents of the waters. The waters symbolize the historical and social forces, the traditions, the beliefs and the collective psychic system which dominate the passive beings who, living like a flock inhabit the sublunar world.
This might get quite complicated. On the left side, an arbitrary number to name the riff (e.g. ‘1’ means ‘riff number 1’, ‘2’ means ‘riff number 2’) and on the right side the scale (e.g. C major, F major etc.).
3 Eb shouted vocals accompany the main vocal line to emphasize root on Eb
3’ Eb moves down the scale on answer centered on C and the Eb accidental is eliminated on the last powerchord, creating a nebulus vision, preparing the listener for the anomaly of the terrain
4 B scale ascension
5 G scale F accidental weird chord in the end, second half B5 C5 lead to 1’, which is the acoustic riff on top of the droning D5 on the intro 1 by itself.
And here we go again 2 2’ 3 landslide effects and thunder vocals have added growls demoniac ‘endless mountain for you too’.
Mountainous chorus returns, like a litany.
Back to 1
3 ‘He who enter…’
A heavy chord mixed with naturalistic acoustic clean is strummed in the repeating rhythm of Himalayan thunder.
The open chord intro gives birth to acoustic riff 1 which is transposed upwards to 1’ and then it is contrasted by heavy folk riff 2 which is transposed downwards to 2’ for symmetry. Then 3 monolithic chorus dominates.
The open chords as always create volume: a mountain is something huge and uniform from afar, shrouded in mist, not unlike the monotonous distortion of D5 which hides riff 1, a riff so detailed in comparison, that resembles the fauna and wild beasts and secrets of the Mountainside.
Folk music overtones of joy celebrate the innocence of the landscape in riff 1. It is Blood and Iron’s happy sister. The listener – or should I say traveler? – shares picturesque mountainous sceneries that would not be out of place in a postcard from the German countryside, on which Tolkien encountered the mountain spirit destined to inspire Gandalf the Grey.
On the other hand, we are reminded here of the art of Nicholas Roerich. Indeed, the pentatonic 2’ is transposed up as an answer to riff 2, emphasizing it. It ascends, as we are about to ascend. Then comes a naked riff, stripped of acoustics, in the vein of Black Sabbath before the deluge, ancient and wild, a hyperiff.
Yet, this riff goes downwards. Towards the Within.
On this struggle for the top, the mountain without represents a sacred part of man in his soul. By entering the Mountainside, he enters on this sacred space: The Internal Earth. One can see parallels with the alchemical formula V. I. T. R. I. O. L., yet such an idea is unlikely to be propagated by Quorthon. He does not boast of his book collection. Life taught him. Maybe he lived in an age where pseudointellectualism in metal music was not throwing a blight across all that was pure and true, to the point that now we need to pseudointellectualize everything to find the hidden stone and quintessence of this music, again.
Cut the crap. Just listen.
Apophantic aphorisms against the herd are spewed from his mouth of lucid madness. As a wolf among sheep Quorthon with his wonderful bass false chords accompanies the descent of the song into the entrance of the spiritual Mountainside. His spiritual commentary reprimands his weak brothers who have strayed from the path of glory.
“The concept of greatness entails being noble, wanting to be by oneself, being able to be different, standing alone and having to live independently.” (Beyond Good and Evil)
The power chords are going up before the chorus. The final ascension, the exponential and awesome cliff. The chugging chords of the chorus evoke the gravellous terrain towards the top – contrast this with the droning chords of the next song, signifying a slow transition into monotony and orchestrated closure. The pursuit of a man striving to attain individuality, striving for freedom from the oppressive uniformity of the herd. It seems as though the record reaches a mystical climax here.
The manifold voices chant with a sense of ascended detachment from the earthly. Their philosophical apathetic lines running in fifths have a tendency of climbing upwards on the scale, mirroring the act of going up.
We need to Enter the Mountainside.
Shouting ‘He who enter his Mountain’, with awe, again and again, like a mantra. Recognizing the Man who shall dare to enter and achieve his true potential.