Deconstructing USBM’s Deviation from the Golden Path

As America’s conservative renaissance thrives through its flourishing Alt Right movement, the time is ripe for a full fledged rebirth of its black metal identity.

With the genre having reached rock bottom in recent years due to pop punk and screamo influences, beta male journalism, communist ideologies, and a faux transcendentalist philosophy, we can begin to right the ship by exhuming and examining the cadaver of its formative age.

Deconstruction: The Death Metal Embrace

What initially set American black metal apart from its European counterparts was its unapologetic use of death metal technique. While the Scandinavian bands sought to purge their death metal elements, America’s most compelling black metal pioneers wore them as a badge of honor. Much of the classic death metal originated in the United States and many of its first black metal musicians came from a death metal background. By retaining its death metal elements American black metal cultivated a unique identity.

It also unleashed a sound that was more abrasive and destructive than what had taken the European continent by storm. This would come to haunt it, as the hybrid allowed incorporation of other elements into what was otherwise a complete sound as the Nordic black metal waves demonstrated, and these exterior influences made the music more populist, allowing it to collapse into something like three-chord punk and then absorb the same influences that assimilated punk music, effectively reducing black metal to an aesthetic flavoring onto what was musically not distinct from grindcore or later hardcore.

U.S.B.M. was from the embrace of a death metal past alongside the black metal sound. The seemingly minute addition of elements such as slow tempos and guitars tuned one to two steps down ended up offering American black metal a more threatening, menacing, and soul draining sound. The listening experience for Demoncy‘s spiritually defiling Joined in Darkness or Profanatica‘s sadistically demoralizing Weeping in Heaven was in stark contrast to the majestic soundscapes and foreboding long-form vortexes that defined the Norwegian journey.

Deconstruction: The Nihilist Vision

The more extreme aesthetic initially insulated USBM against commercialization because it was farther from melodic songs which could be appreciated by normal people. This also condemned it to obscurity during the early 1990s when only a handful of bands practiced this art form. Perhaps it was for this reason that the architects of this courageous effort eventually chased a more Scandinavian sound or faded into obscurity for years to follow.

American black metal took a different approach to the Norwegian occult, Satanic and nature mystic philosophy. Where Europe still had a memory of Christianity, in America it had failed and fallen away so hard that rebelling against it was like rejecting the flat Earth theory. In Nihilism, American black metal had found a path for its violent facade and sense of helplessness against a churning industrial-democratic society.

Unfortunately, nihilism is barely understood, and so it became an aesthetic more than a philosophy for most bands. In their view, nihilism meant a fatalism toward existence, which enabled them to introduce both low-musicality punk thrashing and emo-influenced “depressive suicidal black metal” influences. The lack of an articulable guiding philosophy meant the genre defaulted to acceptance, and since these other genres were more popular, they swallowed up the germinal material of USBM.

Deconstruction: The Fringes of the Extreme

The American black metal of old was not without ventures into controversial territory. Nonetheless musicians, bands, fans, and record labels understood that a genre without limits would inevitably find its way into the fringes of the extreme. Acknowledging this, they collectively marched on without fear of offense or cultural repercussions.

On the mail orders of cornerstone labels Moribund and Elegy no speech, imagery, or ideology was off-limits. This invited in the most primal and ancient of human ideas Members of Demonic Christ openly embraced nationalist philosophies. Judas Iscariot’s mastermind proudly marched in The Pagan Front while his father campaigned to be a state justice. Xenophobia played the full national socialist card whenever possible.

While people can take nationalism to silly places, like enmity toward non-white races or the Jewish people, it would be foolish to pretend that black metal, as an affirmation of natural order over human herd morality, does not open the gateway to dark ideas including tribalism, Nietzscheanism, eugenics, social Darwinism and racialism. Nearly any member of any band whom has played a black metal fest or released an album through a black metal record label can be connected to these terrible truths within a few degrees.

Unfortunately, this made USBM into a battleground between Left (egalitarians) and Right (natural order). As with most popularity contests, because this was a popular music genre, the needle of USBM eventually swung to the Left and stayed there as the genre, lacking a clear artistic core like the Nordic bands, drifted into related genres that, proving more popular than its raw sound, swallowed it up from within. By the time Deafheaven, Hunter Hunt Hendricks, and the new “emo” Krieg floated around, the genre had already lost its audience to those seeking a mainstream experience with the hint of extremity on the surface.

This development correlated with a political shift in America as well as the 1990s faded and we launched into the neoconservative age of George W. Bush, which drove both Right and Left farther apart and turned every cultural landscape into a battleground. The shoegaze and drug-rock experimentations of the early 2000s gave birth to the most disgraceful decade of black metal in any country’s history.

Reconstruction: A Potential to Return to Form?

As this confused, emasculated, utter inversion of American black metal is due a brutal death, and has burned out its audience by becoming indistinguishable from other genres and thus ruining what made black metal appealing in the first place, it makes sense to revisit the strengths of early USBM:

  • American black metal embraced its death metal roots and thus was able to be darker and more savage
  • American black metal applied Nihilist concepts in lyrical and musical form to enhance its power through spirit and logic
  • American black metal understood the genres cultural history and reaches and did not apologize for them

And the failures of the worst era of USBM:

  • American black metal’s shoegaze experimentation led to pop punk and screamo hybrids
  • American black metal’s application of transcendentalist nonsense led to perversions of its culture
  • American black metal denied, hid from, and apologized for aspects of its identity and eventually lost its identity fully

If the American black metal movement is to make any attempt at rebirth it must return to what once gave it form and content: its inner motivation and the correspondingly naturalistic philosophy that propelled it, much as it did in European black metal.

American black metal can rediscover this spirit through its death metal roots. It must again learn the merciless brutality and disturbing grotesque abnormality of early death metal. It must abandon New Age transcendentalism and return to nihilist ways. It must abolish attempts to polish its image in order to achieve mainstream and academic acceptance. And it must completely rid itself of the egalitarian ideologies that have neutered it.

But it also must not be a complete rehash of the past, or ritualistic worship of the old style. Its golden age must be a starting point, not the destination. We can bypass the terrible years that followed and instead use the advancements of modern technology and culture to our advantage. We can introduce expanded technique and technicality, mindful of the pitfalls, but retain the conservatism and culture that made the genre something worth plunging into hap hazardously.

American black metal does not need to die; it has already died. It needs to rebirth itself, but in order to do so, it must maintain vision. For that reason, it makes sense to view American black metal as a philosophy, and through that vision, to reanimate the disordered elements of the genre and give them new purpose.

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56 thoughts on “Deconstructing USBM’s Deviation from the Golden Path”

  1. Oy vey says:

    I wonder if a black metal / shoegaze hybrid could have worked if people had copied the techniques used by My Bloody Valentine to get the Loveless sound instead of copying the pop songwriting.

    1. only steel reserve 211 is real says:

      Defheaven ripped off Kevin Shield’s chord-bending technique and didn’t write pop songs but still sucked.

      1. Oy Vey says:

        I guess yeah. Well they never understood black metal nor reached the sonic density of loveless.

  2. Necronomeconomist says:

    Prozak, keep this Cullen Toner cat on. He’s way better than the boy Daniel Maarat.

    “Where Europe still had a memory of Christianity, in America it had failed and fallen away so hard that rebelling against it was like rejecting the flat Earth theory.”

    Cullen, is that true? Profanatica immediately springs to mind as an example of the contrary — their entire schtick is extreeeeme blasphemy against Christ.

    Besides Demoncy, who are some other big-name USBM bands? I guess I’ve mainly been on a Euro-trip for black metal, USA for death metal.

    1. Marc Defranco says:

      Just throwing in my 2 cents. Yes the statement is fairly true. It has not been extreme or against the mainstream to bash Christianity in the US for years now. Many of these left wing pop black metal bands and many crust fund punk bands have been doing so for some time. The next step for US black metal would be to blaspheme against all forms of abrahamic religions (Christianity/Catholicism, Judaism, Islam). Specifically Islam as it is the more controlling of the religions in modern times. The far left bands seem to make exceptions for religions other than Christianity due to their need of “social justice” and how easy it is to bash Christianity now. The constant policing by the far left for US bands will eventually implode though. They are already an oxymoron. Denouncing Christianity but ignoring Islam when it is the most oppressive of the abrahamic religions especially against females and homosexuals

      1. Cornrose says:

        Christianity is generally associated with white Europeans in USA so there’s no need for the leftists to go after the others.

        1. Marc Defranco says:

          I understand your point but that only proves their hypocrisy. They aren’t actually playing black metal with a satanic or pagan basis then

      2. I never recovered from Angra's split says:

        It’s just that one should denounce what comes from his own traditions/culture/call it what you want, otherwise it’s just a tourist’s job : it gets stuff wrong, makes arguments beside the points, and is just not gut-feelings enough to ring true and communication something lasting to listeners.

        1. Marc Defranco says:

          I agree in some respects but if a band is satanic then there is no point in ignoring other closely related religions that praise a god. They should shout blasphemies against all three like some bands have started doing in recent times and some since the beginning

    2. Necrotic Phlebotomist says:

      Off the top (and I’m tryna think of earrrrly ’90s guys, don’t fucking suggest Nachtmystium):

      Averse Sefira (gotDAYUM they were good with the black + death elements)
      Judas Iscariot
      Xasthur (LOL)
      Leviathan (LOL)

      I’m shootin’ blanks here, help a nigga!

      1. Stick to these:

        Profanatica / Havohej
        Averse Sefira


        Absu (1st)
        Deteriorate (2nd)
        Morbus 666

        Also, instead of Judas Iscariot, pursue the death metal project Sarcophagus which shared some personnel.

        1. Spinal says:

          Sarcophagus is a hell of a lot better than Judas Iscariot.

          I second Deteriorate as well.

          1. Seth says:

            I would add Incursus as well. Definitely some of the higher quality USBM to come out in recent years.

        2. Necrotic Phlebotomist says:

          Thanks, B. Guess I haven’t missed much. VON — duh, of course!
          I’ve never heard of Deteriorate or Resuscitator.

        3. gk says:

          Thoughts on Masochist/ Wind of the Black Mountains?

          1. Necrotic Phlebotomist says:

            Sure! I think they leaned too heavily upon Darkthrone-worship, though it was strangely a blended worship of ‘Soulside Journey’ and ‘Under a Funereal Moon’. Nevertheless, they were competent at that much, and including elements of death metal (in the Autopsy/Obituary vein). Still, I’d rather listen to any of the 3 bands mention, then Masochist itself.

        4. Order From Chaos – An Ending in Fire is decent too; their only well-organized release.

        5. Only about a third of that Deteriorate album is black metal, and the rest drags on forfuckingever. Would not recommend. How about Bahimiron? Easily up there with Morbus. Also, consider the portion of Imprecation material with keyboards(towards the end of the Thugea comp) that is practically usbm. I love you though, Brett

        6. It's just brown and water says:

          I’d add Black Funeral to that list but that’s about it.

  3. It's just brown and water says:

    Is this article just some kind of ‘Make American Black Metal Great Again’ troll? I mean what the fuck is the point of it if you (Cullen) are not going to engage in the process? It’s just masturbatory exposition.

    And ‘hap hazardously’?

    1. Cullen Toner says:

      Maybe I have been engaging in the process without engaging in narcissistic self promotion

      1. It's just brown and water says:

        It wouldn’t have to be narcissistic. Maybe have Daniel or Johan review your material. It is good to know that what you said might not be so hollow.

        1. Rainer Weikusat says:

          To state this again in simple terms: Whether or not the author of the text recorded something in the past doesn’t matter for the text.

          1. It's just brown and water says:

            Once again, it does given the content of the text itself. Get off my dick you aluminum fuck.

            1. Rainer Weikusat says:

              I’m not interested in you, dear person who doesn’t dare to publish its name. I’m just pointing out that your ad hominen misses the point.

    2. BlackPhillip says:

      He has engaged. I haven’t listened to his stuff yet but plan to.

    3. picture a normal-ass tabby with a horsecock the size of an half-bratwvrst says:

      What’s the point of criticising a president unless YOU are going to run for president?

      1. It's just brown and water says:

        A terrible analogy.

    4. It's only smellz of putrefaction says:

      Ever heard of a blue-print?

    5. Rainer Weikusat says:

      This is an opinion on some topic. It exists independently of the person who published it and its merit (or lack thereof) is not related to whatever the ‘real’ motivations for publishing it were. Openly speculating about them, especially if nothing more original than the usual kitchen-Freud turns up, is just a way to bury a discussion about some topic with a (much more noisey) meta-discussion about the people who were discussing the topic.

      1. It's just brown and water says:

        The article’s purpose is relevant to the discussion, especially when it’s a call to action, you fucking cyberized autist.

        Not to mention that the author clearly answered my questions two days ago.

        Why don’t you stick to making comments that are unrelated, rambling anecdotes about how you didn’t get in a fight?

        1. Rainer Weikusat says:

          Sort of a rambling, unrelated comment, is it not? I didn’t write anything about “the article’s purpose”. I also noted that you managed to annoy the author and quite pointlessly so.

          1. It's just brown and water says:

            No, it isn’t. You’re a robot.

  4. Deport All Hipsters says:

    > Hunter Hunt Hendricks


    Hendricks is the (fake) redhead with (real) big boobs.

    > It’s just masturbatory exposition

    You must be new here.

  5. Seth says:

    Hmmm, I disagree with jumping on the Alt-right bandwagon and making black metal and associative art. Despite authors on this site and a scattered few realists around the world who have worked to make it more philosophically erudite and in line with, as you say, the natural order, ultimately the vast majority of any populist movement is going to be really, really stupid. Beyond that even, trying to make an coalescence between a temporal political movement and a type of music that seeks to converge with the the natural order of nature and the infinite unknown with the subjective perceiver in a position of awe towards its unfathomable complexity, or being as a tool to restore natural order. Ally with the ever-evolving principles, not a deformed at birth manifestation of it.

    “For the authentic revolutionary conservative, what really counts is to be faithful not to past forms and institutions, but rather to principles of which such forms and institutions have been particular expressions, adequate for a specific period of time and in a specific geographical area.”
    ― Julius Evola,

    Spot on dissection of USBM, however.

  6. GGALLIN1776 says:

    What the fuck is shoegaze?

    1. canadaspaceman says:

      late 1980s /early 199ps Brit pop where boring bands onstage stared at their shoes.
      check out Ride.

      1. GGALLIN1776 says:

        Thanks for the description, but I’ll pass on listening to it.

    2. Rainer Weikusat says:

      Reportedly, some kind of music made with electrical instruments relying heavily on feedback and effect pedals. Because of this, bands were said to mostly ‘gaze at their shoes’ aka ‘the pedals on the floor’ when playing live.

    3. AIDS without pain says:

      It’s hipster music pre-dating the term. Fuck My Bloody Valentine.

  7. canadaspaceman says:

    you are all fags, as satan’s kids already control the white race for a very long time. is there ANY metal band dangerous against Islamic/Muslim terrorists a mukka a migh ding dong? Buy a good knife and keep it in the pocket, ALWAYS, plus start doing pushup’s / pull up’s, arm curls (even with a phone book!), and get ready for the day when you are arrested for NO REASON and no gawdam lawyer will ever get ya out. then you will learn. Your race inside the walls, and god is what you can rely on… non-white’s? what the fuck do I care? Had enough of everybody’s bullshit already.

    1. BlackPhillip says:

      My grandfather always said “never trust a muslim.”

      1. GGALLIN1776 says:

        My Grandparents always said “Don’t trust anyone except for us”, so I don’t.

    2. Exfoliation says:

      You have strange brownman dreams of getting ripped by lifting phone books to be locked in prison after stabbing someone with a knife, you sound submissive to your fate as if to surrender to being dominated by other men presenting to them all they want, with raw, sensitive to caress urgency, mewling in passion and teasing with a circular hip motion, cheeks apart in open air, vapor waves of heat burst force from a cloud of steam as the cheek slowly peel apart, a sigh of steam, red aperture staring back in terror

    3. GGALLIN1776 says:

      I haven’t left the house without one in 22 years.

      Don’t just carry, PRACTICE! Also you fill empty milk jugs with water or rocks/sand/lead wheel weights & there’s your free dumbells. Just be sure to duct tape those lids unless you want a mess. Cardio/breathing is your biggest worry, there have been times that I have gotten winded quick…when you get like that you can’t fight.

      P.S.- You’re a fag as well.

    4. Abominable Goatpenis says:

      How many nerds here would actually survive the upcoming anal apocalypse?

      1. Horrible dick and ball torture says:

        I’m sure it depends on how wide they’re able to spread

  8. Nathan Metric says:

    The nihilism of metal is precisely the reason it was made irrelevant. Eventually the world became more nihilist and more evil than metalheads. Especially after 9/11.

    1. Rainer Weikusat says:

      This is an odd comment. The world wasn’t all daisies and butterflies before 2001. Out of my head, I can enumerate the Tianamnen masscare in 1989, the 2nd gulf war (which got many people seriously paranoid,, the first war in Europe since the end of WWII (Serbia/ Bosnia) and the Rwanda genocide. I could probably come up with more. The only ‘black metal event’ which made the regular news during that time was the killing of Sandro Beyer and I doubt this was ‘news’ outside of Germany. ‘Churches burning down in Norway’ certainly wasn’t in Germany, rather arson for the choir.

      Chances are that the Guernica picture is meanwhile more well-known and has had more real world effects than the actual event, although these are less measurable. As soon as culture becomes political, it starts to cease being culture and the more it proceeds on this path, the more of its original traits it looses until only “political position with a different colour!” remains. The idea that culture ought to be political, that is, that it ought to be an external force in the lifes of people, instead of being an integral part of them, is wholly misguided: You can’t keep your soul by offering it for sale.

      NB: This text written in the hope that it’s clear enough that someone understands it (or parts of it). This is difficult topic.

  9. Fenrir says:

    Good USBM is (i) mythical, if not nonexistent; (ii) practically death metal played weird (see Profanatica and Demoncy, the only two worth anything at all)

    No, the U.S. is death metal land, black metal is too mystical for the flat, cartoonish sensibilities of “Americans”.

    1. Trashchunk says:

      black metal is stupid music for faggy people that just coincidentally has good things about it

  10. matters says:

    That compilation’s legit!

  11. Fuck the alt lite as well as sjw commies… Neither should have a place in Black Metal…this article is garbage and so are you… Your pathetic alignments with your off the rack ideologies only prove your weak mindedness and herd tendencies

  12. Forbinator says:

    It’s funny how conservatives value the “natural order of things” and don’t even realise that their whole ideology is based on a logical fallacy.

    Like, do you even logic bro?

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