Traversing the Underground: Roots and Origins

tolkien-tree

Article by David Rosales.

A trend in the modern conception of anything has been that the newer something else, the better we expect or assume it to be. Experience in reality, however, has also given rise to another perception: that the new tends to be worse and not better. Attempts at rationalizing this drive the pseudo-intellectual, pro-sheeple crowd to say that times just change, but ratios of quality do not vary. This is not only unscientific but an obvious politically correct answer that has as its premise that everyone is equal, and hence, that the resulting products of these “equal” people must also be probabilistically equal. Impermeable external influence seems to them the only changing factor, with the internal being either infinitely constant or practically negligible. This is assumed and then possible causes are haphazardly and desperately pieced together, the answer is assumed and then anything is either positive evidence or brushed aside if too problematic to incorporate into the fairy tale. Ignorance compounded with pretense and emotional insecurity always results in capricious imposition of an arbitrary and dogmatic concepts and scale of values.

Examinations of developments at different scales and at different levels reveal a linear change throughout history under which cycles of attitudes in the collective human psyche recur, humanity’s pendulum oscillates between two asymptotic boundaries in their internal processes. This internal lapsing may be a result of our mortal lives, there is only so much a single mind can evolve, each new generation comes into the state left by the previous one, and needs to reabsorb it and process it for the first and last time. The outer changes that we see as as linear constitute the other factor. The error lies in confusing this outher manifestation, this temporal passing by, for the real thing. Picture the way we look at a sinusoid. The horizontal values will keep changing, that is, the input value of the mathematical function moves towards positive infinity on the right and negative on the left. The resulting changes themselves, however, stay within a range defined by that function. No matter how far into the future or the past one goes, the net resulting values are the same and swing from presumed ‘better’ to ‘worse’ and back again ad infinitum. Is there any reason to think that the attitude towards and capacity in the arts and their effective channeling of the unconscious swings as well?

Then comes the next contradiction the usual suspects produce: their faith in the evolution of human nature. This would inevitably imply a change of the asymptotic values of the sine wave previously mentioned, and would instantly refute their theory of constant human capabilities throughout time. The question is, is this evolution continuous or discrete? If it is continuous, then there is no way it can be ascertained that we (and our art) are just as good/bad today as it was twenty, one hundred or three hundred years ago — or an hour ago, for that matter. If it is discrete, the question remains the same, except that their must be a point where those inner capabilities do differ. Unless another arbitrary rule that says that artistic psychic capacity does not change, in which case the completely unscientific posture of the social justice camp shows even more blatantly. It is interesting to note, as well, that any presumed evolution is usually assumed to take place in the direction that would most benefit status quo values. This is either mental incompetence or intellectual bankrupcy.

The modern era saw a shift from allusion, human inspiration, to mechanistic and “measurable” prowess. Music and the arts in general shifted from being a mystic endeavour meant to complement and speak to the spirit or the unconscious, to the ego stroking of ivory tower artificialities. Inspiration was no longer important as long as things were technically clever. Literature and philosophy saw this shift: correct terminology and meta-metanness took the place of discussions on the human condition and actual experencial concerns. It stopped being about reality and what it was, and in turn a deconstruction of everything, a perpetual throwing of the hands in the air took place, alongside a claim that hence, we should all just pay attention to what we want reality to be. Thus art stopped being taken as our natural expression that develops healthily in a certain range and direction, and was taken as subjective irrelevance that is “always beautiful”, making the latter term completely devoid of any useful meaning.

Metal, and the true underground in general, stands against such superficial delusions of the status quo. Not because it is the status quo, not because it is “bad” or “wrong” in a moral sense, but because it is out of touch with reality. The following are two metal works to go back to in order to rediscover the true roots, and the depth in quality beyond production values or sports-like instrumental flair in the art of metal:

Slayer hell awaits
SlayerHell Awaits (1985)

Invariably hailed at DMU as the spiritual pinnacle of underground metal, Hell Awaits still packs a solid punch, only mitigated by the expectation of loud production in metal nowadays, and by the fact that the Slayerian riff has become a de facto standard. Simplicity here is better described as clarity, while the structure remains at an economical level where it provide just enough intricacy to drive the nail deep, but no more. Effective, aural, rough. The best to ever come from this band.

under the sign of the black mark
BathoryUnder the Sign of the Black Mark (1987)

Although not quite the tallest peak climbed by Quorthon, Under the Sign of the Black Mark is nonetheless iconic and powerful whose ripples directly brought forth the birth of gems such as the more occult Darkthrone Under a Funeral Moon. This is one of those albums that never loses its lackluster, it is just as shocking, grabbing, and potent today as it was when it came out. Lacking the epic depth of its successor, Blood Fire Death, it makes up for with sharp attack and briefness, stating a completely different goal. Where Bathory’s 1988 is an atmospheric metallic journey through a dark alternate reality, this 1987 is the melting of this, our, reality by dark forces.

To further accentuate, deepen, and place this journey in the perspective of larger things, below are listed four ancient (and more ancient) works of an ultra-spiritual nature, works that attempt to bring the whole of human reality together under half-rationalisms, mood evocations, familiar images, and curious relations. These are not so much religious in the modern sense, but are holistic and cosmological. It is recommended that they be explored in the order in which they are listed, for educational and formative purposes.

  1. Sepher Ha-Zohar: interesting for its psychological components and a somewhat veiled but underlying atheism. Rich in insights, powerful in its methods, inspirational beyond doubt, it is stamped with virulent ethnocentrism permeated by just enough mysticism to build a system of thought, but with no intention of hiding the agenda of power of the ‘chosen people’, thus echoing multiple traditional Judaic tractates, both ancient and contemporary.
  2. The Nag Hammadi Library: Gnostic and Christian, and everything in between. Fascinating and much more complex than the simple fairy-tale for dummies we are used to seeing in Protestantism or the materialist mind control of Catholicism.
  3. The Zend Avesta: Persian religious philosophy and mysticism. From a time when these were not divorced aspects, before Judeo-Christianity took charge of specializing religion as a mind control system of nonsense.
  4. The Upanishads: Some of the most ancient repositories of human reflection on its own existence, philosophically open-minded, free and beyond black-and-white morality.

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29 thoughts on “Traversing the Underground: Roots and Origins”

  1. MetalBrutha says:

    THIS LIKE WHAT PROSCRIPTOR WOULD WRITE ON LSD YO!

  2. Felix says:

    David, have you thought reading some works by René Guénon? (although he doesn’t fit a certain metal spirit, unlike Evola)

    1. David Rosales says:

      I’ve read the name, haven’t read his books.
      Evola, though, wow…

      I have much to learn from Evola yet…

    2. David Rosales says:

      Oddly, I started to read Evola directly for the first time just a few days after submitting this article.
      The mind does curious things…

      The difference is, of course, that Evola is a master, I am just a snot-nosed brat.

      1. Felix says:

        Well at some point Evola was to Guénon what we are to Evola. His first encounter with Guénon’s books was negative but he soon learned to understand him and changed some of his own views (he called him the “unequalled master of our time” although he made it clear that there are many points to reject in Guénon’s work). (cf. https://juliusevola.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/28-ren-gunon-a-teacher-for-modern-times.pdf)

        Also, you may have already seen this, but just in case if you’re getting into Evola you might be interested in this interview https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiCtdi5nCoA (a shorter and lesser quality version of this one without subtitles https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4fxXtFZnjA)

        1. David Rosales says:

          Thanks.
          I got some stuff on Gernon after you mentioned him and reading a reference to him by Evola in Revolt Against the Modern World

        2. David Rosales says:

          Thing with me, is that I do not marathon through a writer’s books unless I know I am ready and have the background.
          So I end up jumping between authors in order to absorb more of the related topics and bases. I would have read Evola a long time ago, but I wanted to get more background on certain topics, and it really does pay off: all his references to esotericism or primitive societies, jungian psychology, make a lot of sense and have a huge backdrop when I read them now.
          Perhaps after reading RATMW I should go for Gernon’s Le Roi Monde. I’m also on “preparation” for M. Serrano. having read only a short book by him, I’ve reserved his main opus for when I’ve explored Zoroastrianism more.
          Evola further encourages me to further explore and draw lines between Aryan India, Persia with Egypt on the side. So I probably will not read another Evola in a long time.

          1. Felix says:

            You indeed did good by “preparing” for RATMW. I made the mistake of taking the reverse path, so I was lost in the massive amount of information about subjects I didn’t know enough about. But it also gave me the motivation to get into all those ancient texts and recent studies. This is why I haven’t yet read a full book by Guénon, only a few articles and chapters and a lot about him.

            Evola quotes him very often, but mostly for his more “anti-modernist” works and not really those about metaphysics or symbolism. Le Roi du Monde is a small book and doesn’t seem much relevant. Given the interests you listed, I’d recommend Traditional Forms & Cosmic Cycles or Symbols of Sacred Science, both posthumous collections of articles.

        3. David Rosales says:

          You know what is even more interesting is that when “preparing” for a certain author’s ideas, you end up developing your own view of things, discovering a lot of things that the sage you will eventually read confirms and expands, and in some cases, you will disagree with him, which is healthier than just ignorantly trying to understand.

  3. B L O K E says:

    David,

    According to Schopenhauer music is the highest form of aesthetic awareness which is of course second only to moral awareness. Furthermore, that sex brings about intimate knowledge of the Will which is but one phase on the path of cessation. Wagner – under the tutelage of Schopenhauer’s thinking – made sex the chief focus of his life’s work believing it to be the highest explorable subject of music.

    The question is, why are we not hailing Van Halen, Drake, Minaj as similar contemporary pinnacles of aesthetic awareness as per the insights of the aforementioned giants of thought and art? What is this shit about murders and graves that

    1. B L O K E says:

      – that ultimately distracts Man from the Great Work?

      1. Phil says:

        Metal music explores death because they don’t give a shit about Schopenhauer’s forms of aesthetic awareness. Only death is real.

        1. B L O K E says:

          Are you a eunuch, my beautiful siren?

        2. Rainer Weikusat says:

          If I may supply some context here: At least recently, Nietzsche was frequently mentioned here. Schopenhauer was an earlier, German philosopher whose ideas Nietzsche rejected as detrimental: In essence, according to him (I’ve never read Schopenhauer myself) they are “The world is a shithole and nothing can be done against that. So, let’s roll over and die”. This is in stark contrast to Nietzsche’s idea of life (and whatever promotes life) as value because of itself (sui generis?): The purpose of life is to live it insted of enduring it.

          Wagner was a German composer and contemporary of Nietzsche he initially believed to admire but then distanced himself from as Wagner turned into the celebrated spiritus rector of a (self-styled as) ‘reborn’ German nationalism based on re-interpreting the mundane as heroic, eg, people ‘heroically’ becoming reserve officiers by exploiting their social connections and thus ennobling themselves with any traces of actual nobility (Nietzsche could describe this much better than I do :-).

          The connection between Schopenhauer, Wagner and ‘the S-word’ (my prejudices are as important as your prejudices) was probably manufactured by creative interpretation of parts of the corresponsing Wikipedia articles in order to make the text somewhat more annoying.

      2. Rainer Weikusat says:

        I shouldn’t be writing this as I had two pints and it’s sort-of late here (but it’s fun): One of the characteristics
        of the hive mind is that it can never really get past its bodily functions. No matter what it is, it ends up as food, excrement, congenial to fornication or WTF. Taking this into account, since you can’t eat Eddie van Halen legally, thus disqualifying him insofar #1 or #2 are concerned, only #3 remains. But hailing someone else instead of roaring with all your might while drumming your fist on your chest won’t accomplish anything in useful this respect: Someone else will end up the winner who takes it all and who could want that?

      3. David Rosales says:

        Furthermore, as L.V. states in his latest article on Hell Awaits:

        Hell Awaits contains prototypical death metal and black metal, while retaining an inheritance from heavy metal through Iron Maiden legacy motifs and finally, the raw motion of speed metal. Topically, the album unites metal in finding meaning in death, horror and uncertainty while embracing the perspective of the persecutor – be it nature, demonic entities or evil men.

    2. David Rosales says:

      First, you are confusing sex as one of many experience gateways, with sex as hedonistic fun, which is what Van Halen and Minaj represent.

      Second, what X person said could be something to learn and consider, but it isn’t dogma for us. Unfortunately most may think that if X important person said something, then you must either accept it as it is or you must refute it. This is the modern retard’s way of thinking.

  4. The union of realism and transcendentalism is the most problematic but most worthy of human endeavors. Only death is real = realistic approach to mortality, plus the question of what is worthy of life, and in “worthy,” a question of direction, aesthetics and morality.

    1. Son of the Damned says:

      Exactly;and this is the reason why works such as Hell Awaits and Under the Sign(or,even better:The Return)should be held in high regard,for having synthesized a unique nihilistic weltanshauung in strong musical forms.

  5. Rainer Weikusat says:

    I’ve so far seen two such tendencies: One is about chasing what’s new for the sake of remaining at the forefront of things. The archetypical example of this (for me at least) was everybody and his dog becoming an overnight hip hop fan because that’s New! and Different! and somehow, I (the person whoever does this) can prove that I’m not dying yet despite I’m increasingly beyond being a youth. This is obviously silly. But the opposite of that, lamenting about how the world’s just going downhill all the time and rejecting new things because they’re new is no better. People have been complaining about ‘the new times’ since at least the turn of the 20th century and probably, since ever. But it’s not the world which is going to end (at least not anytime soon), the life of the affected indivual is running its course. There is never going to be another Hell Awaits, not even in the continued output of Slayer, precisely because it’s special. But there’ll be other things which are at least also worthwhile or maybe even as good just in a different way (I’m theorizing here).

    I can’t claim much familiarity with Slayer because by the time I encountered metal, it was already what everybody was supposed to like because that’s what everybody likes. And in my opinion, flowers don’t grow in the middle of the road because that’s where all the camels tread[*]. This means things I used to like where, for example, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhOJzgRMs3I (that’s curious German band not really matching a description which has unfortunately been recording nothing but trash for a long time) or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNXiU5pMsQY or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mj5Ajt3r5xA (I still find myself humming ‘dehydration as the death cause’ now and then). OTOH, it’s 2016 now and something that’s both decidedly simple and underground (and which I like very much) could be https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXyxB-lBNA8.

    [*] I could probably grow accustomed to pre-chart Slayer were I willing to try. But I’m pretty certain that Mr Chuck will keep causing an instant “Go away I hate you!” reaction.

    1. David Rosales says:

      Who is “Mr. Chuck”?

      Don’t read or listen to anything because that is what everybody else is doing.
      Read or listen to it because you’ve evaluated the worth you’ll get from it.

  6. Rainer Weikusat says:

    “Death”

    1. David Rosales says:

      Oh, I suspect as much but what does he have to do with Slayer?

      1. Rainer Weikusat says:

        Death is the other »genre-defining« band from about this time everybody likes. This even extends to these pages where one will usually find some mild-mannered criticism like »overrated«. Schuldiner’s guitar playing evokes disgust in me — that’s plastic and a pretty obnoxious variant. It’s possible to refine this genre template (Wikipedia) into music, then, you’ll get something like Undead (meanwhile Undead Prophecies) and if someone’s in the mood for something light-hearted and fairly simple with extensive, vaguely medieval-sounding soloing (my knowledge of musical terminology is ‘desinterested college kid’), that’s a good choice. More faithful reproduction leads to really gruesome death metal (that’s a band with the guy kicked out of Malevolent Creation last year [AFAIK] on drums whose bandcamp URL is actually gruesomedeathmetal. …).

        1. David Rosales says:

          Well, Chuck’s Death is not really genre-defining, but there has been an interest in pushing that fanciful story.
          Morbid Angel was much more “genre-defining”, check out their 1986 Abominations of Desolation, under some speed metal guitar attack, it’s actually already death metal riffs and construction.
          It took death at least two years to follow behind that development (remember Scream Bloody Gore is just kind of aggressive and cavemanish speed metal, barely making it to semi-death metal).
          Death always followed behind in every development of the genre, but they were kinda popular in the American and Canadian circles because the music and lyrics were easier to get.

          Throw Death in the trash bin.
          Take up 80s Slayer, and Morbid Angel up to and especially on Blessed are the Sick.

          1. Rainer Weikusat says:

            I’ve now spent over an hour with digging up old Morbid Angel recordings on youtube as one just naturally led to the other and that was a time well-spent considering that everybody else is busy shouting, cherchez-la-femme’ing and getting drunk in this or that pub. Abominations of Desolation (I listened to a couple of tracks while moving around) was particularly interesting: This cries out “Sodom”, ca Obsessed by Cruelty, something I certainly hadn’t expected (I already noticed that the Sodom drummer is playing blast beats on Persecution Mania). Fun ways to waste you time!

            1. David Rosales says:

              You decide if it is a waste of your time.
              To compare it to Sodom is to stay on the surface of surfaces.
              STructurally far beyond, motific support and use is different.
              You are only hearing guitar/drum/voice tone and basic technique.
              Last hint I’ll give you.
              You decide how far you wish to understand and experience.
              If it is a “Waste” of your time, then you can go back to spending it more “usefully”.

              1. Rainer Weikusat says:

                It’s a waste of time because nobody’s paying me for that (this alone will make it completely unintelligible to a lot of people) and there’s no other tangible outcome of any practical usefulness, not even as a talking point. I may be able to locate a few Orange Goblin fans within a mile with some effort and some of the usual penny change (“Ey Rutschknote! Alles fit im Schritt?” — man denke sich das a la Mundstuhl [This is really untranslatable as it combines Hessian standup comedy mocking nu metal with some running gags common among right wing guys living in the place I was born in I used to hang out with to a degree for some time: An attempt could be “Oi slip-knot! Any problems with erectily dysfunction lately?”]) but any attempt to talk them, let alone about fairly estoreric, musical topics, eg, the development of Chapel of Ghouls from a demo version through the ‘Abominal Desolation’ recording to the one on ‘Altars of Madness’ and what I think about these would – at best – result in a blank stare but more likely, in threats and/or violence as men taking an inexplainable interest in other men must be … and want … and we ought to defend ourselves against that. Not to mention that I’d be lacking the vocabularly, anyway.

                It’s nice to see that we agree about the similarities. While I used to like Obsessed by Cruelty in former times, I think it’s pretty grotty nowadays, but not outright offensive. I’m somewhat unsure if the ‘tone’ in your sentence is supposed to apply to all three or only to the last. Expressed in a more finely grained way, the vocals are similar in style instead of something like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6WSIu7cSYQ (for instance). I would go so far to refer to the drumming as similar in style and ineptness (the latter is a bit too harsh). The sound of the rhythm guitar, especially during the faster passages, and also what it actually plays also show similarities. This is interesting because these are both 1986 recordings. The sound similarities could be the fault of whoever recorded/ produced this, though. I’m somewhat surprised that you just wrote »guitar« here as the lead guitar and the solos are the most striking differences. followed by the tempo changes, especially the in-riff ones (I have to make up terms to some degree here as I don’t know the proper ones) and also, that the drums are not just used for rhythm but actually partake in the development of the songs. I could enumerate more things here, but I’m not really trying to write a monography about Early Recordings of Morbid Angel and you know about them, anyway.

                A trailing remark I can’t help making here: One of the most vexing quirks of people is that they, whenever something is anyhow open to interpretation, almost always pick an interpretation which doesn’t make the least bit of sense, and then fault the original author of some text for this. That’s why I generally avoid them in real life. There’s less risk of physical damage from this on the internet (if nothing else, this has provided me with an excellent excuse to listen to the album in its entirety instead of dealing with yesterday’s mess in my flat and move forward to getting some work done quickly. One has to be happy about the small things in life).

              2. David Rosales says:

                “Because no one is paying me for it”

                Not the best reason to do anything at all, especially not meaningful things.
                Don’t get me wrong, I am pretty mercenary, but I know what I do for money and what I do in search of worth and meaning, and these two are different.

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