The Craft of Metal #1: Satanic Rites —Part I

Satanic Rites is one of the early influences that would take the heavy metal and hardcore punk of the past and transform it into Extreme metal through some groundbreaking compositional tools that were unheard of at the time. On first listens, the music can be confused for many other bands due to the impact this record had in its time, and rightfully so as it serves as an excellent introduction to what metal would have perfected on a much larger scale a decade later.
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Satan’s Host

Satan’s Host was formed by USPM vocalist Harry Conklin of Jag Panzer fame. Where many bands transition from Death/Black Metal to Power Metal, Satan’s Host sought to reverse the stereotype by transitioning to Black Metal with vocalist Elixir. Eventually Conklin would return and they would attempt to find balance between modern Extreme Metal and NWOBHM in the style of Angel Witch. Though the mindset of an old dog attempting to learn new tricks is admirable, Satan’s Host never seemed to quite understand the source material that would inspire the majority of their long career.
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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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Whispers of the Kábeiroi

Extending further into the past, and lying in deeper recesses of mystery, are the cults and legends of the ancient Pelasgians. Their symbols, gods and myths included precede, and in a way bring forth the Hellenic [1], while remaining in a relative obscurity even when the cults were known to be active [2]. Among these obscure cults was that of the Kábeiroi (a.k.a. Cabiri), a group of unknown but powerful beings tracing lineage to Rhea —The feminine Titan of Saturn [3]— and to the vast Sea [4].
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The Importance of Contrast and Structure/Musical Motion through Levels of Consciousness

Article by Salustiano Ferdinand

One of the hallmarks of great musical works is that every note has a purpose to move the mindset of the listener in some direction. Musical structure whether on a small or grand scale is what gives music much of its power and memorability; a focused work that wastes no note and moves with constant intent from distinctive point A to distinctive point B and on will embed itself into the mind of the listener not just for its general sound and aesthetic but in its entirety. Classical pianist James Rhodes said of Ludwig van Beethoven, likely the greatest composer of memorable themes in western art music, that with his works, “Every note was sweated over, every theme worked on tirelessly and chiselled into immortality. The manuscripts of Bach and Mozart look spotless next to the messy, crossed-out, almost indecipherable madness of Beethoven’s. While Mozart hurled symphonies on to paper as fast as he could write, barely without correction, Beethoven stewed and fought and wrestled and argued and raged until he forced what he was looking for out and onto the page.” [1] Sadly, however, the importance and art of structure is often ignored and neglected entirely within metal albums. Too often a death or black metal band is content to choose a tempo or two and proceed to restate the same content through interchangeable means for a length such that they overstay their welcome about halfway through the ordeal.
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Introduction to Power Metal, Part III: 1980s US Power Metal

A salute goes out to Misters Imladris and Kaelrok for sharing recommendations and insights related to the subject at hand.

After having recounted and commented on the birth and evolution of the first wave of European power metal in part II, the time has come for this author to travel across the Atlantic and take a closer look at the contemporaneous development of power metal in North America, commonly referred to as United States Power Metal (USPM).
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Traditional Black Metal

The term ‘traditional’ black metal used here denotes not the ‘orthodox’ movement of imitation or gimmick bands lacking any musical ideas of value, but rather points to the living and evolving movement now referred to as the death-black styles coming forth organically from punkish speed metal voices. The definition does not exclude the developments of the nineties which led to the musical distinction between a purified black metal and the older speed metal. However, this distinction represented only, or mainly, the Scandinavian expression of the genre separating itself from the more common tropes. More raw and unclassifiable bands within this distinction were forgotten in the wake of relative popularity of the Scandinavian stylings quickly became tired trope. The network of original underground minds seeking unique expressions of an undefined darkness became an incestuous cesspool. Unfortunately, this is today misleadingly known as ‘orthodox’ black metal.
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Exploring Metal Music Through Active Imagination Techniques

Active Imagination is one of the pillars of Jungian therapy[1] , and simply consists in engaging with the symbols of the mind in a way that allows us to contemplate them or even engage with them. Outside the stale therapeutic environment of clinical psychologists, we can discover emotions, situations and characters inside of our minds (and presumably in the collective mind) by using the same technique in a slightly more unhinged and less sanitizing direction. We can use the musical, lyrical and visual contents of metal albums which are more often than not intended to be mythical, and are thus a great source for archetypal projections.
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Black Fluxions

In his quest for accuracy and rigour eventually leading to his contributions to Calculus, Sir Isaac Newton borrowed terminology from an area of classical mechanics called Kinematics[1]. The terms fluent and fluxion incorporated eventually came to be known as variable and derivative. Each set of terms has its advantages in describing the object in question, highlighting one or another aspect. Fluxion in particular is quite useful in poetically illustrating an ‘instantaneous rate of change,’ and may serve us outside the realm of pure mathematical abstraction to bring attention to such immediate movement at each point in time. So, while the change from a measure to the next, from an idea to the next are changes in fluents, there can be said to exist fluxions in music which describe movements across a separate dimension —that of the inner experience. But such a transposition into the realm of musical description is only metaphorical, if useful to expand perception, and should be taken as a flexible mental aid.
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