Codex Obscurum #8 available for pre-order

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Codex Obscurum arose in the 2010s to revive the utility and flavor of metal zines from the 1980s, but doing so in an internet age, chose to focus on selectivity over attempting to compete with the flood of raw (and mostly wrong) information. Now this zine is on its eighth issue and has featured most of the classic and new bands of stature which are active in the underground.

The eighth issue promises to have many new delights for the metal reader. According to the zine, this issue features:

  • The art of NecroMogarip
  • Blood Red Throne
  • Noisem
  • Zemial
  • Castrator
  • Blizzard
  • Morgengrau
  • Rawhide
  • PanzerBastard
  • The 3rd Attempt
  • Skelethal
  • Impenitent Thief
  • …and many more…

You can order your copy — they are now shipping — at the following location for $3 plus shipping:

Sammath re-releasing Strijd in 2016

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Dutch-German black metal band Sammath will re-issue its first album Strijd on Hammerheart Records during the first quarter of 2016. This under-appreciated classic has made fans for its enduring emotional and technical power. As our review at the time opined:

Sammath achieve a vast sonic landscape with this release that merges fast black metal riffing with elegant melodies that rise out of the chaos and return to mesh with its themes and transit to a final state which expands upon the conflict. On Strijd, riffs are heuristics which evolve over time as more texture emerges.

The result feels like a land constantly wracked by war and disaster in which brief moments of intense beauty emerge. The majority of riffing here is consistent with what one might expect from late-1990s black metal, which is a stripped down but highly genre-conventioned vocabulary. Unlike most bands Sammath fits these riffs together into a language that fits each song, and as such there are no random bits floating around for the purpose of being faithful to a template.

The emotional state of black metal is fragile because it is finely delineated and requires a great deal of background experience and understanding to parse. Sammath achieves the violence and yet arch beauty of black metal, a Romantic vision in which the lone thinker takes on the herd and triumphs by denying the human pretense which unites dying societies like our own. Strijd shows Sammath at simultaneously its most emotional and most violent. While not as technical as later releases from this band, Strijd won over fans for its plain-spoken truthfulness and elegant melodies.

A statement released by the band detailed the upcoming re-issue of Strijd:

Sammath to reissue debut LP on Hammerheart Records

In the first quarter of 2016 the long sold-out debut album “Strijd” from Sammath will be re-issued.

“Strijd” delivers black metal in high-powered generous doses but also maintains its introspective side, creating the perfect melancholic warrior album for a dying world.

The LP will be released on gold vinyl and is limited to 300 copies.

Many of us are also hoping for a CD re-issue so that new generations can own this powerhouse in a compact format.

Camel – Music Inspired by The Snow Goose

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Those familiar with The Heavy Metal F.A.Q. and the The Dark Legions Archive will note the basic thesis of this site: heavy metal arose from the fusion of late-1960s punk, progressive rock and horror movie soundtracks, and this blossomed into its final form in the early 1980s with Hellhammer, Sodom, Bathory and Slayer. From that all underground metal emerged.

On the progressive rock side, the obvious influences are King Crimson and Jethro Tull, but the entire genre had its effect. Much in the vein of Jethro Tull, who wrote the rock equivalent of vast narratives united by leitmotifs in the Wagnerian style, Camel for their second album chose inspiration from The Snow Goose: A Story of Dunkirk by Paul Gallico and crafted an epic instrumental album around it. Lore holds that this may have been in order to avoid a copyright complaint, but that seems ridiculous unless they literally quoted from the book; perhaps the authors always intended, as classical composers did, to translate rather than transliterate great writing into sonic form. The result was a sprawling instrumental work which used themes from the book to inspire melodies, around which it built songs, as a result decreasing the “rock” quanta of progressive rock and transitioning mostly to a new genre. As with most 1970s progressive rock, jazz-fusion and classical/soundtrack-inspired parts vie with bombastic ballad-style choruses and processionals. The absence of vocals allows the layers of guitar, bass, and keyboards to expand their roles, which gives this music both harmonic depth and the ability to transition themes through foreshadowing by different instruments.

The greatest strength of Music Inspired by The Snow Goose however comes in what it did to the songwriting abilities of this band, unleashing the guitarists to think outside the lead and instead write lead rhythm parts based on the motifs of the narrative. As if presaging what Joe Satriani would do for shredder guitar a decade later, Camel often allow single-string melodies to take point and walk through a theme cycle that is then repeated and expanded with stacks of keyboards and guitar harmony. Counterthemes appear as if from a darkened cloud, often transitioning between tracks, and then force a thunderous conclusion which finishes the story arc. That results in an album which is both emotionally satisfying like a myth, and deeply satisfying as a listen because each of its tracks gives itself fully over to purpose. This may be the peak of the progressive rock genre because it fully transcends its origins in those moments and creates a form of popular music which, like Greek theater, connects the listener to idea and sensation at once.

Each melody becomes delightfully distinct in its effort to exemplify a character or situation, and by giving itself fully to that purpose, loses much of the randomness of popular music. While Music Inspired by The Snow Goose may be a bit difficult for popular music listeners who are accustomed to a constant beat with vocals to guide them, a reasonably mentally alert person will find that the melody itself — transitioning between instruments, in the form of a leitmotif — has taken that role, and everything else follows like the reaction of forest creatures to the break of dawn. Forty years later, this album remains a favorite for many prog listeners, and those of us in the metal world can only hope it inspires someone to tackle a hybrid of its narrative approach and the more stentorian sounds of first album Immortal and Incantation.

#metalgate: SJW hipsters will trash metal like they trashed the Hugo Awards

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Angry hipsters are like discontented housewives: living in the midst of plenty, with any option open to them, they prefer to combine excuses for failure with a passive-aggressive attack on the world. It is as if they are seeking to justify their fedora-wearing, basement-dwelling ways in the face of the many possibilities they could have explored. Life peaks early for such people, and peaks low.

Last night’s debacle at the Hugo Awards, nominally granted for science fiction excellence, shows what happens when SJWs take over a genre: they kill it by replacing it with an inferior version of itself, and by doing so, drive away anyone interested in quality of art, music or literature. This parallels their infiltration of metal with terrible indie rock like Deafheaven, Necrophagist, BabyMetal and Wolves in the Throne Room.

They attack under the guise of humor. Remember Metalocalypse? It was Adventure Time with a butt-metal theme. Then they demand you be open minded, and spiritual, which showed up everywhere from the fruity New Age lyrics of Cynic through the recycle-your-cigarette-butts environmentalism of “Cascadian black metal.” Finally, they make the political demand: start preaching what we preach, or you are the enemy and must be destroyed.

They did the same thing in science fiction. This explains why the genre has fallen off the radar for the most part, since the “new classics” — coming on the heels of some execrable years of Fantasy hybrids — are all bad and meaningless. The days of Heinlein, Card, Asimov, Niven and other giants are removed from the present-day drivel. As writer John C. Wright described it:

Once, the Hugos were the popular award given to the best works by Frank Herbert, Robert Heinlein, Issac Asimov, Bob Silverberg, Ursula K LeGuin and Harlan Elison, and Roger Zelazny. After much patient effort, the Hugo Awards, together with the SFWA (the Science Fiction Writers of America) were controlled by a small clique of like minded creatures loyal to Mr. Hayden.

Thereafter, the Hugo voters awarded awards to the Tor authors Mr. Hayden selected based on their political correctness, and expelled those whose politics the clique found not to their taste.

None of this was done on merit. Editors and writers in the field have been silence or shoved to the sidelines thanks to the action of the clique. I mention no names in public, but those in the field recall the various false accusations leveled against numbers of people, both working for Tor and outside.

So, in effect, the Hugo Award became the Tor Award. It was given, over and over again, to works of modest merit (such as REDSHIRTS by John Scalzi) or none at all (“The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt) or selected solely on the grounds of their promoting political correctness or sexual abnormalities (“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu).

We know this pattern: we’ve seen it!

Every month, the cozy little clique of labels and “journalists” prances out a new favorite which they claim is new because it “breaks down boundaries,” which actually means that it is indie rock music with metal grafted on top. Metal-flavored rock, in other words. That means that it is not new, or breaking barriers, but in fact reverting to what existed before metal and what many of us came to metal to escape, i.e. endless droning self-drama victimhood songs by bored people who never found anything worth giving a damn about in life.

The real story at the Hugo Awards is that the voting was corrupt: SJW hipsters were buying votes in an attempt to block all non-SJW authors from receiving awards. The whole point of being an SJW is to have a personal army, so that if you want to show the world how important you are, you can summon a whole horde of internet people to come forth from their basements and inundate whatever target you have selected. Then, you alter it — just like the SJW invasion of metal turned it into indie rock — and declare that it has “changed,” even though what has really happened was an invasion from outside.

Even WIRED magazine, normally pro-SJW like most media, noticed the clash. Its story looked in-depth at the SJW passive-aggressive phenomenon, where SJWs style themselves as anti-racist and accuse anyone who disagrees with them of — you guessed it — being racist. WIRED pointed out the origins of the backlash against this:

But from the start, Correia had some serious complaints. He felt that the Hugos had become overly dominated by what he and others call “Social Justice Warriors,” who value politics over plot development. Particular targets of Puppy derision include two 2014 Hugo winners: John Chu’s short story, “The Water That Falls on You From Nowhere,” in which a gay man decides to come out to his traditional Chinese family after the world is beset by a new phenomenon: whenever a person lies, water inexplicably falls on them; and Ann Leckie’s debut novel Ancillary Justice, whose protagonists do not see gender. Leckie conveys this by using female pronouns throughout.

Correia’s New York Times best-selling book Warbound was up against Leckie’s novel at the 2014 Hugos. (He thinks he was a finalist because of an earlier Sad Puppies lobbying effort.) He and Torgersen, a 41-year-old chief warrant officer in the Army Reserve who took over the Sad Puppies campaign this year, told me they want sci-fi to be less preachy and more fun. Both bristle at assertions made in the blogosphere that they are racist, sexist homophobes.

In fact, their argument is actually pretty interesting. They say their beef is more class-based; Torgerson says his books are blue-collar speculative fiction. The Hugos, they say, are snobby and exclusionary, and too often ignore books that are merely popular, by conservative writers. The Sad Puppies have a name for those who oppose them: CHORFS, for “Cliquish, Holier-than-thou, Obnoxious, Reactionary Fanatics.”

In other words, on one hand there are affluent college-educated MFA-attending SJWs who want to write stories about “social justice” and have an audience buy them for that reason alone. On the other hand are more traditional writers, who may not have come from a privileged background and who mostly lack a political agenda, but are writing based on content alone, and push ideology and style to the side. Their sin, according to SJWs, is not that they oppose SJW, but that they fail to make it the centerpiece of all of their works.

A cynic might see this in simple economic terms. SJWs in metal and science fiction want a captive audience: if the book talks about “social justice,” buy it like housewives picking up the latest Barbara Kingsolver book because they feel too guilty not to, and therefore SJWs always have a job. The non-SJW writers compete with this, so the SJWs want to exclude them from the scene, just like they have waged war on non-political bands in metal, claiming that denial of “social justice” beliefs equals rejection of the validity of the underlying issues those SJW beliefs purport to discuss. In other words: there is only one right way to think about these topics, and if you do not join the bandwagon, you are literally Hitler.

As in science fiction, the problem created by SJWs is not right vs. left but all of us who want a healthy genre versus those who want to take it over and use it as a zombie bullhorn for their own propaganda. We resisted it with Christians, and with the far-right, and now we must resist it with SJWs, because once they take it over it will never recover. SJWs implement a type of “soft censorship” where if journalists, they refuse to mention non-SJW bands in a positive light, and mention the SJW bands ten times more. If labels, they sign only SJW bands. The fans buy only SJW-approved material. The result creates a market that replaces metal as a whole and crowds out the original fans and new fans, attracting — and allowing in — only fellow traveler zombies. That is our future if we do not fight SJWs like we did Christian metal and the far-right in the 1990s.

Peterson of Dublin – Irish Oak (2015)

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The first flavor that rises off the burning mulch of Irish Oak is a vinegar taste merged with the sense of fresh-cut vegetation, but that rapidly gives way to a deeper almost chocolate taste of strong tobacco. Like a good English blend, the flavors in this mixture support each other without overdominating, and while they separate over time unlike some of the more refined English conglomerations, they work together to form a gestalt which brings out inner conflict as a type of balance. This blend from Peterson will not be an immediate favorite, but can win over a smoker over time as its strengths become apparent.

The official description reads, “A rich blend of Brazilian and African Virginia leaf with Cavendish and rare Louisian Perique,” but the end flavor is more like a rich Cavendish with hints of Perique and the Virginia having picked up a more vegetative flavor, perhaps from the sherry barrels in which this blend is supposedly matured. While this tin is generally classified as a “luxury” tobacco, in our broken times “luxury” means merely not botched. It is not a flatterer or fancy hugbox to avoid confronting tobacco in its feral state. Irish Oak balances its elements while keeping them wild, and offers a challenging palette of flavors for the experienced smoker. In a market flooded with various English and English-inspired tobaccos, this offering from Peterson of Dublin keeps its head up and stays idiosyncratic, delivering a complex smoke as a result.

****/*****

Prince Albert – Prince Albert

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The pouch note of this tobacco summarizes the experience; in the words of one noted taster, “It smells like a brownie.” Rich burley mixes with a faint touch of vanilla and a dose of cocoa, which manifests in a smoke in which the nutty burley flavors form a continuum with the chocolate. This belongs to that predominantly American genre of semi-aromatics, meaning that while it has flavoring, it is more like a top casing than the soaking of fluid given to aromatics. A working definition of aromatic: any tobacco blend where the flavoring essentially overwhelms the tobacco. Semi-aromatics on the other hand — like Prince Albert — feature mostly tobacco flavor, complemented by a top note. This distinction, while seeming fragile, nonetheless conveys what this blend is about. If you like the taste of well-matured burley with a hint of sweetened cacao, Prince Albert will provide hours of complication-free — the dominant trait of over-the-counter (OTC) blends like this one — joyful puffing. It is worth taking the time, since this perennial favor packs relatively light nicotine, albeit more than many aromatics. It is designed for all-day puffing by people otherwise busy at everyday tasks who enjoy keeping a pipe in the mouth for little sips of nicotine with a wholesome flavor. Some have noted that this rather dry tobacco mixes well with other blends, and this reviewer can confirm that the introduction of another more powerful seasoned burley makes for a flavorful and more sustaining experience. At its heart, however, Prince Albert stands alone as a whole experience: a packet you can grab at just about any drugstore, easily packed and lit, that burns evenly and exudes hours of gentle flavor and quietly excellent smoke.

***/*****

#metalgate: why SJWs became hipsters

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The hipster has one salient trait: ironism. Whatever everyone else is doing, he is not. He uses this trait in a passive-aggressive way to force acceptance through provocation. Where normal people gather, the hipster will show up looking as weird as possible, hoping that someone will say something because he knows that social pressure is on his side. If he is criticized, he can use the dominant paradigm of our age (individualism) as a weapon and claim the other party is bullying him, when in fact it is the hipster who is starting the argument by deliberately being unusual, different and “unique.”

This approach combines some of the ugliest aspects of human behavior. First is bullying, because the hipster is waiting for criticism so he can say, “Look boys, it’s just like in Napoleon Dynamite, the popular kids ganging up on all of us accepting and tolerant freaks! I’m just different, why am I the victim here?” and have an instant army of angry complainers to attack the critic. He has government on his side, which supports being freaky any way you want to so long as you pay taxes and don’t murder, and popular opinion. Second is egomania. The hipster is not concerned with truth, the future, the past or fact; he is concerned with social appearance, which serves as both his justification for existence and his weapon against others.

SJWs arose when people realized they could politicize this hipster approach. In addition to looking freaky, they took extremist positions within the dominant leftist+consumerism individualist ideology of the West. This attitude combines the liberal social attitudes of the left with the market-oriented attitudes of the right, and creates a nasty hybrid which supports freedom above all else, so long as profits (and taxes) are made. SJWs are not “different”; they are a different variety of the same. This allows them to style themselves as unique and deep thinkers without offending any of the current attitudes of society, but because they manifest these ideas in physically odd appearances and extreme versions of those accepted views, they provoke criticism and can then attack, increasing their own power in the process.

When SJWs decided to adopt metal, their first goal was to style the rest of us as aggressors. That way, the hipsters could passive-aggressively claim to be victimized and begin the group counter-attack. Their problem has been that metalheads use apathy as a weapon. We view this society as moribund and on its path to self-destruction, and so tend to consider SJWs irrelevant drama. On their second assault, SJWs refined their attack to “if you do not participate in our crusade, you are bad and must be destroyed.” This is why we now have articles on a regular basis talking about how metal is not accepting enough and must be reformed.

All of this comes as metal struggles with its own refinement, namely the smooth fusion of hardcore punk, progressive rock and heavy metal that was underground metal (death metal, black metal, grindcore and doom metal). The SJW hipsters do not like this fusion because it is too far from the warmed-over 1960s protest rock that they favor — let us face facts and admit that emo, and anything tinged with it, is basically Bob Dylan worship. Metal rode on a wave of energy caused by the need to make such a fusion, but once it was achieved, had no idea where to take it further. There were no further (coherent) extremes, nor new musical developments to occur. As a mature style, it is still waiting for fresh energy to revitalize its lexicon of techniques and conventions and put them into a new language, and while some bands have forged a path in this direction, most continue to either re-hash the past or re-hash other genres with metal flavoring. For this reason, SJWs infest it, because they sense a dying trend they can turn into something they control.

#metalgate: SJWs make clear the agenda is making you OBEY

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To succeed in modern society, it is best to style oneself as a victim. We live in a time of victimhood politics where the person who successfully portrays themselves as being harmed finds that society steps aside to let them ahead, handing out freebies in the process.

Rape victims — whether a rape occurred or not — become overnight celebrities. Politicians gain stature for having been opposed, not for having been right. Every celebrity and actor has a story of how life harmed them early on. In a society of equals, the only way to be more equal is to be perceived as having been made less equal, thus a recompense — and rise in moral stature to “hero” — is deserved.

For most of their careers, SJWs have stayed behind the cloak of victimhood. In their view, someone out there is harming them, despite living in the nation with the best quality of life on earth, having government incentives for their hiring and renting, and being generally privileged college students working in easy media careers. They portray their crusade as correcting injustices.

But, as any cynic or observer of human behavior knows, those who perceive themselves as victims are usually simply manipulating others. Grackles — small brownish-black birds known for raiding dumpsters — will fake an injured wing to cajole extra treats from people eating at open-air cafes. This behavior is older than humanity itself. The difference with humans is that once given power, SJWs become insatiable attackers demanding that everyone else be cleared from their way. Their agenda is revenge against anyone having a better life than they are, which — since SJWs are the cause of their own underlying misery — is anyone who is not miserable.

We can see this pathology in a recent article by Laina Dawes (who unfriended me on Facebook for having a different opinion than she did) about “Heavy Metal Feminism”. Here’s the pitch:

Despite the global appeal and presence of heavy metal culture, widespread online distribution, and increasing awareness among a diverse audience, there remains great resistance to discuss ongoing sexism, racism, and other issues that can potentially dissuade fans from actively participating in the subculture. “I don’t know why it is so hard for people to understand that not everyone is just like them,” Phillips told me. And Phillips isn’t alone; other artists and journalists are questioning the pervasiveness of discriminatory practices and beliefs within a musical culture that, ironically, not only boasts of its “inclusive community” (in which membership is predicated on fandom and not gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation), but also, because of its underground status, places an emphasis on fan participation and economic support in order to create and distribute music that will never, and doesn’t want to, receive true mainstream commercial attention.

At this point, the true message emerges: agree with us or you are bad and must be destroyed.

Never mind that what is popular is almost always wrong and corrected by the next generation, or that heavy metal might have its own way of dealing with this issues.

Despite all the citation of academic articles here, Dawes’ approach is fundamentally unscientific: cite lack of tons of female heavy metal bands as “proof,” then claim that only that will rectify the “problem,” and demand that everyone else drop everything they are doing in order to get ahead.

And throughout it all, no one answers the real question: what have these female-fronted bands done to make themselves important to metal?

After all, Lita Ford, Jo Bench, Lori Bravo, Mythic/Derketa and others have had no trouble being metalheads who also happen to be women.

But that shows us the real agenda that Dawes is pushing: she does not want women in metal, she wants propagandists. She wants women who agree with her to be shoved to the front of the line so they can drown out that bad old white male music.

Never mind that metal has never been exclusively white nor male. Never mind the legions of women who have been in bands, worked as journalists (including the underground zines that mainstream media refuses to mention), run labels or otherwise contributed vital things to metal.

They claim they are anti-fascist, these SJWs, but while they are not fascist they are authoritarians. Their goal is to replace metal with propaganda rock with the “right” opinions to cure a “problem” that is not a problem. And if you need any more reason than that to kick them to the curb, you have not been paying attention.

#metalgate was right: SJW journalist Kim Kelly caught faking stories

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We know they coordinate stories to present the same trends/fads, and that they are fast and loose with details, but now #metalgate-involved journalist Kim Kelly has been caught faking a story. Or rather, from a couple years ago, as Metal Illuminati observed:

Do they really expect us to believe that two Seeds of Iblis members immigrated to post-war Iraq to start the band? Especially since Anahita has stated on record that they’re actively trying to score a record deal. (I doubt many A&R’s hang out in Baghdad — where Anahita claims Iblis have played concerts)

Ms. Kelly, how did you not notice that???

At the end of the day, there’s little reason to doubt that Anahita, Janaza, or Seeds of Iblis are anti-Islamic metal musicians. However, their Acrassicauda 2.0 backstory of currently living in Iraq and covertly dodging “religious authorities” as Kim Kelly’s (supposed) reporting describes just doesn’t add up. And since that was their main claim to blogosphere fame, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to promptly give them the Milli Vanilli treatment.

When we see the media darlings being introduced as “important” with nothing of note in their histories, and all of the chattering classes of supposed “metal journalism” gathering in a cult-like clique to support them, our warning signal should go off: this isn’t journalism, it’s advertising, both for the fake journalist SJW herd and their pet ideologies. While the stories being fake is not surprising, it’s good to see such solid evidence gathered against them.

Rigor Mortis vocalist Bruce Corbitt facing health challenges

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Sometimes the people with the biggest hearts find those organs in trouble. Rigor Mortis/Wizards of Gore vocalist Bruce Corbitt has undergone a series of medical procedures to correct a misfiring heart, and has embarked on a grueling schedule of benefits to fund these costly undertakings.

As the Dallas Observer reports:

But last week, two heart complications in less than five days changed Corbitt’s reasoning. At the ER, Corbitt found that his heart was misfiring, which caused his blood pressure to skyrocket. The doctors told him that he would need heart surgery. After months of living healthy, even changing his diet, he finally agreed. He couldn’t take the chance of dying on stage like his late guitarist and friend Mike Scaccia, who died playing at Corbitt’s 50th birthday bash at the Rail Club in Fort Worth.

“It became very evident that I can’t live a normal life anymore without doing the surgery, without fixing the problems,” Coribtt says. “It’s not fair to me, my wife, my family and my band to have to worry. It’s no way to live: ‘Oh we can’t go out of town without worrying about his heart messing up.’ Nah, it’s worth the risk of surgery to live a normal life again. I feel like a walking time bomb.”

Fans can support Bruce through a crowdfund, shopping at the Rigor Mortis store, or attending a benefit show on October 17 in Forth Worth, TX.