If you do not assert the truth, idiots come in and talk endlessly about their vision of it, which other idiots accept as truth, and soon a circle jerk starts where just about everyone thinks the lie is the truth. This is what happened to writing about black metal.
As the genre attempts to recapture itself from the theorists who will convert it into an esoteric sub-field of either Marxism or economics, new books emerge such as the Black Metal Theory (BMT) series advanced by the same people behind the symposium Hideous Gnosis. The latest from that group, Floating Tomb: Black Metal Theory, collects writings published on BMT “focusing on mysticism, a domain of thought and experience with deep connections both to the black metal genre and to theory (as theoria, vision, contemplation). More than a topic for BMT, the mystical is here explored in terms of the continuous intersection between black metal and theory, the ‘floating tomb’ wherein black metal is elevated into the intellectual and visionary experience that it already is.”
Early death metal band Morpheus Descends is back in the action, with future tours lined up and a re-issue of its complete recordings heading to stores. The compilation From Blackened Crypts combines the full-length Ritual of Infinity with the two EPs that followed, Chronicles of the Shadowed Ones and The Horror of the Truth along with other rare recordings.
The box set includes, in addition to the 2CD digipak, two new and unreleased tracks wich will see issue as a separate 7″ entitled From Blackened Crypts and a DVD entitled Visage of Malady which contains tons of live footage as well as interviews with the band, accompanying a 11×17″ double-sided poster and 24-page booklet. The tracklist is:
1. Oozing from the Urn
2. The King’s Curse
3. The Way of All Flesh
4. Corpse Under Glass
5. Immortal Coil
7. Proclaimed Creator
8. Accelerated Decrepitude
9. Submerged in Adipocere
10. Enthralled to Serve
11. Ritual of Infinity
13. Accelerated Decrepitude
14. Triformed Limbs
15. Stigmatic Crucifixion
16. Residual Kill
17. Cairn of Dumitru demo 93
1. The Cruciform Hills
2. Cairn of Dumitru
3. Autumn Bleed
4. Signs of Gehenna
5. Moupho Alde Ferenc Yaborov
6. Begging for Possession
7. Valley of Undead War
8. Shaitan the Unborn
9. The Horror of the Truth
10. Corpse Under Glass (Live Reunion-Martrydoom)
13. Triformed Limbs
15. The Cruciform Hills pre-release ’94
16. Residual ’91
17. Autumn Bleeds ’93
In the early 1990s, before Wikipedia and Metal-Archives destroyed knowledge by standardizing it, zine editors were like guerrilla truth-fighters. At their day jobs, they stood in front of copiers while a colleague nervously kept watch, running off thousands of sheets that they then stayed up until dawn stapling and preparing for mailing. Everyone who could be a fanatic took his or her turn firing off publications.
Heathen Call comes from that same spirit. Its goal is to write about heathen music, which is the intersection of folk and metal with sometimes ambient/soundtrack overtones that focuses on pagan/ancient topics and aesthetics. If the medievalism of Dead Can Dance or the Ren Faire seemed like fun, but with the vicious realist approach of metal, that would be the heathen underground. In this issue, Heathen Call covers long-running folk band Changes, black/folk metal band Gjhallarhorn from Ukraine, heavy metal band Akashah, and black metal band Grafvolluth. While this slants the content by weight toward the metal, the most interesting part is the Robert N. Taylor interview with Changes in which he discusses the challenges of staying realistic in a world dedicated to frivolous distraction to avoid seeing its inner emptiness. Changes formed in 1969 and in theory would have been included in the great folk music explosion, but they did not fit in with the flowers in the hair message of the age. Taylor brings forth not only forgotten history but more fully developed ideas on pagan, heathen and traditional culture than one normally hears.
This zine is spectacularly short and clean. The focus is clearly the content. With elegant but sparse graphics, black-on-white layouts designed for easy reading, and selective content of interviews with questions that get into the depth of purpose and motivation behind these artists, Heathen Call would not fit in with the “what amps do you use?” and “have there been many groupies this tour?” type writing that populist magazines aim for, nor the political dogma zombie recitation of the political magazines. As such, this is a rare animal. It would be interesting to see more interviews with people such as Robert N. Taylor and other thinkers in this area, and getting away from the also-ran black metal bands who are exploring a heathen area tangentially to being participants in the dead, bloated and off-gassing black metal scene, but as a content-based zine Heathen Call provides an interesting, quality read for those interested in this niche spanning multiple genres.
Featuring a list of bands including Deceased, Thanatos, Crypt Sermon, Dawn of Demise, Wastlander, Undergang, Blood Incantation, Magic Circle and Drug Honkey, the zine promises to be a continuation of the past concept of this hand-produced stapled and Xeroxed zine, which is focus on the music from a fan perspective without the nonsense and trappings of the music industry.
All-star metal/punk band Tau Cross — with members Rob “The Baron” Miller from Amebix on bass/vocals, Michel “Away” Langevin on drums, and members of Misery on guitars — has released the first single from its upcoming album Tau Cross. The single, entitled “Lazarus,” shows the style of this new band.
The band describes its sound as “the natural evolution of Miller’s work in Amebix,” and “Lazarus” bears this out — with one important detail that most forget. Amebix continued its evolution recently with Redux, which showed classic Amebix tracks with a Metallica Ride the Lightning treatment paired with atmospheric and ancient tribal sounds. Where Tau Cross picks up however is after Amebix Monolith, which sounded like old Amebix run through a filter of AC/DC and Motorhead. “Lazarus” returns to that point but brings to bear the full technical power and songwriting wisdom of these experienced composers.
Death metal fanatics may be hoping for a version of Amebix No Sanctuary or Arise with more technical instrumentation, but Tau Cross takes a more heavy metal approach but updates it with the high-intensity rhythms of punk and then a unique songwriting approach that can only be described as spirit or intent more than technique: a cosmic metaphysical outlook much like that of Tangerine Dream paired with a Celtic tribal feel that would make Absu drool. The problem that Miller and Away face in their “day job” bands of Amebix and Voivod is that those bands have already made a name for themselves in crust hardcore punk and progressive heavy metal already, and those expectations bestow too much baggage for material in another direction to be released under those names. So far, “Lazarus” is the only track released and it shows only a small slice of what Tau Cross will be, but there is promise in this continuation and outgrowth of the Amebix concept to a new level.
The ongoing rebellion against censorship in the name of social justice #metalgate continued this week when metal fought back against commercial assimilation. Commercial assimilation and social justice censorship have the same root, which is a desire to make metal “safe” so it can be sold to more people. This requires metal denying its inherently apocalyptic realist nature.
In the most recent case, doofus retailer H&M got trolled when it offered a new line of clothing with fake metal band logos on it, trying to assimilate metal’s subcultural style of dress so conformist herdsters can look like weekend rebels. A member of a goofy metal band thwarted the effort by inventing bands and histories that satirized the clothing line and tied it to nationalist black metal:
Henri Sorvali of Finnish metal bands Moonsorrow and Finntroll admitted to Billboard and Noisey that he is part of Strong Scene Productions, the “art collective” that set metal blogs buzzing by creating fake histories to go along with the imaginary metal band logos attached to some pieces of H&M clothing.
Sorvali says he and a group of people whom he declined to name launched the joke because they were angry at H&M’s campaign — which includes items like a bomber jacket and pants with patches styled to look like metal logos — because it was “selling people fake, imaginary stuff from a subculture that is based on honesty and being true,” he says.
…”There is so much controversial stuff which is definitely not suitable for mass marketing, and we wanted to bring the ugly side of metal to their campaign, to show that we as metalheads are more aware of the content you are selling people that you are as sellers,” Sorvali explained during a phone call from Finland. “There are so many things wrong with commercializing metal without knowing what they are selling that we felt that somebody has to make a statement about it.”
This counter-troll showed great ingenuity and has retailer H&M backing away in denial. The truth is that society fears heavy metal on two levels: conservatives fear it is eroding social standards, despite those standards having been obliterated in the 1960s and 1990s. Liberals fear that it is introducing unwelcome realism that clashes with their spectrum of belief, all of which is based in the Enlightenment idea of individual human reason being superior to natural order, including logic itself.
We shouldn’t forget that censorship of metal bands for being outrageous was common back in the day:
Politicians caught wind of Eat The Turnbuckle’s European tour before it made its way into Glasgow earlier this week.
Audiences get to listen to their ear-spitting death metal sounds while the members of ETT attack each other with an array of weapons including fluorescent light tubes and baseball bats wrapped in barbed wire.
But despite playing show in Edinburgh, they arrived at Glasgow’s Audio venue only to be turned away over concerns that the police would halt the gig, reports the Daily Record.
While Eat the Turdbuckle seems like a joke band designed to sell records for a gimmick, the fact is that metal’s focus on extremism, or a refusal to ignore the vicious and terrifying sides of life, has made it a target since its inception. Normal people dislike anything which makes them feel as if they are not totally in control of their own lives. Lyrics and imagery of disease, war, apocalypse and evil will disrupt the happy oblivion in which the normal person exists, which was the intent behind heavy metal’s founding: Black Sabbath wanted to interrupt the “peace, love and happiness” apologism for the daily oblivion of humanity, and to inject some “heavy” realism instead. Since that time, metal has continued doing the same when it is at its best, and when it is not so great, has managed at least parodic obscenity that ruffles the feathers of conservatives and makes liberals turn into nagging victim-baiters.
This pattern plays out in more areas than heavy metal. Canadian site Best Gore was censored for its publication of images that revealed both the dark side of life and, by showing that Canada isn’t the paradise under the control of a strong benevolent guiding hand that its leaders want you to think it is, revealing government ineptitude:
Mark was charged with “corrupting morals” under section 163 (1) (a) of the criminal code, for being the first in the world to publish a report on the gruesome murder of Chinese student Jun Lin, by alleged cannibal Luka Magnotta, also known as the 1 Lunatic 1 Ice Pick video.
You can see the video below. If you have not figured out that this video might contain disturbing imagery, you have mental health problems. If you require special tags, warning signs and me to make a statement about how I don’t condone this and think it was a horrible tragedy and all the other fake altruistic boiler-plate salesmanship that political figures normally use, you’re a potato and should go somewhere else.
What most people refuse to accept is that censorship is the norm.
People do not like feeling out of control, and they only feel in control when in denial of all the scary things they can’t control like… death, disease, war, apocalypse, evil, and everything else in heavy metal lyrics.
Consider the case of Girls and Corpses magazine, which has not only been banned several times from Facebook, but had censorship issues in other areas:
We’ve had some problems. We did a Religion Is Dead issue and Ingram, I believe, is in Tennessee. They made us bag the magazine, because we did a religion issue. They said it was because of nudity, but there has never been any nudity in the magazine. They didn’t like that we took on religion. We went after all religions and it was comedic. We had Jim Caviezel in the issue. I did an interview with him. We made fun of all religions. Have a sense of humor. The only one we really tiptoed around was Muslims. We love Muhammad. We didn’t tread there.
Sorry I haven’t posed in a day corpses. I was ‘put on notice’ by Facebook after I posted a fully clothed photo of a female, that offended some loony chic who had her Bible Belt cinched too tight. This “community standards” thing at Facebook is censorship pure and simple. Mostly, the offended party is someone jealous of the freedoms that come with G&C Magazine or are simply a humorless twit. If you don’t like something at Girls and Corpses, feel free to just leave. Don’t go whining to Facebook that we have offended you with our images. If you are too sensitive and have no sense of humor why did you friend us in the first place? Girls and Corpses is an intelligence test. The smart ones get the gag and the dumb ones should just get out… preferably at high altitude.
They make an important point, which is that those who call for this censorship are fundamentally not ideological, but seeking a sense of power. They don’t understand it, or it conflicts with their vision of themselves, so they demand it be removed. Facebook, like any other business, does what it can to provide a safe environment for its customers, which means removing things that make people feel unsafe, like nudity, violence, gore, racial comments, sexual innuendo, etc. These things are not the offense that people actually have, which is fear of the bad things that happen which are associated with these ideas. They see the symbol and, like the superstitious simians that humans are, they figure if they can remove the symbol and by doing so remove the awareness in their own minds of what it stands for, they can be in control and feel “safe.” All of that is nonsense on a realist level, but it’s how most customers an voters react.
What this means for #metalgate is that we should not take SJWs seriously. They are no different than the church ladies and feminists who were complaining about Girls and Corpses or the outraged government servants who wanted the Luke Magnotta video removed. They see it as a threat to their personal power. They need a “reason” why it should be taken down, and so they fall back on using social conventions we cannot criticize, like “do it for the children” or “respect the victim’s family” or ideologies which claim to defend the pitied and helpless, like feminism, anti-racism, sexual equality and the like. We make a mistake when we think SJWs believe any of this stuff. In reality, they are using it the same way commercials use sex to sell beer or tough guy images to sell pickup trucks: they want to create a pleasant image, or at least one we cannot imagine criticizing, in our minds and then use it to sell us the product. In this case, it’s their power and importance, because without their outrage they would have nothing and merely be a group of weird-looking socially-dysfunctional mental defectives.
French progressive rock/death metal hybrid Supuration have released the cover for their upcoming album, Reveries…. Created by famed underground metal artist Dan Seagrave, the cover image displays classic death metal symbology in its gnarled and organic textures in a mythological setting.
Reveries… will see release via Listenable Records on May 29, 2015. Mastered by Dawn Swano (Edge of Sanity), the album “is a re_recording of old songs written during the 90s” according to the band. Perhaps the combination of their newer more aggressive technique, classic death metal imagery and their inventive songwriting will forge a new classic.
For those who are not so narcissistic that they are oblivious to the fact that Western civilization is in full downfall — and only a few hundred years after we fixed everything with the Enlightenment and the French Revolution — the events in politics and the news seem like frosting on a cake. We know everything is in dysfunction, and that our leaders were elected for being entertaining, and that the end is rushing up to meet us. Death metal knew this thirty years ago and black metal formalized it.
The question of “why?” is too big for this article, but it is worth mentioning that some think it is genetic decline. All of the weird stuff in your shampoo, chemicals in the air from strange factories, preservatives in your junk food, toxic carcinogenic truck exhaust, and your genome getting hammered by bad TV and other brain-busters… maybe it all adds up. Perhaps technology is a one-way ticket to doom for all societies, and we’re not the first to invent it, and we’ll die out like the rest.
In support of this theory, I present a series of SJWs. They seem to be cut from the same cloth:
It is not just the glasses, the body weight or weird puffiness of the flesh, or even the fixed zombie stare that comes of repeating the same non-solutions in the face of your society coming apart at the hinges. No, it’s as if they share some kind of genetic similarity, a mutation like Down’s syndrome or Mongoloidism. Is it a virus? Or simply broken-down DNA?
They don’t help by dressing in the most ugly unisex fashion that retains its ugliness on both sexes, or by doing their best to look intently like both victims and V.I. Lenin in that famous “forward into the future poster” at the same time, both assertive and hurt. But beneath all of that, it’s like they are an alien species among us.
The fanaticism is obvious, that’s certain. But so is a kind of doubt, as if saying “I’m beautiful” doesn’t actually make it so. The sort of doubt that comes when reality peeks in around the edges of ideology and says, “Peek-a-boo! All the stuff you’re saying… it won’t fix anything. And you’re miserable and drink yourself to sleep five nights a week, after pigging out on TV dinners and individually-wrapped bon-bons.”
In these faces there is something horrifying. They are not happy. They are not even content, or halfway joyful about life. They are hurt, angry and resentful. They are on a mission to destroy. The world has injured them and they are chronically unhappy, grasping for power as if it will fill the void in their souls (that, alas, eating 412 pies did not fill). These people are a joke. They are miserable angry vandals screaming like monkeys in a desperate attempt to both avoid the obvious, and make themselves feel better about their utter insignificance in the face of it.
Smile for the camera! Smile big and show us what’s inside! Oh wait, nothing but worms and bitterness. Well, then do your best to look like some kind of squash. People like squash. You want people to like you, don’t you? No, you want them to serve you. To bow at your every whim, and bring you pies and bon-bons when the inner weeping gets so bad that a gallon of box wine can’t put it to rest.
“If you live under a rock…” the old cliché begins, but the truth is that you can live in a glass house in the center of the world’s biggest city and still miss the obvious. Denial is the most universal of human traits, and without the application of discipline and honesty we are nothing more than “talking monkeys with car keys.”
Unless you live in denial, it is obvious to you that death metal is in a bit of a recession. That is to say: there are too many bands coupled with a lack of quality in all but a very few, which makes for the inflationary but bearish (negative) purchasing that marks a recession. As warned, rock ‘n roll assimilated death metal, the imitators came in, and now you have death metal flavored rock music with lite jazz mixed in to make it seem progressive and “deep.”
Very few people understand this because very few people stop to consider anything beyond their immediate wants. They want to be listening to good music, so they pretend what they have is good, and by doing so blind themselves to what is good and bad. This is a great way to walk right back down that evolutionary ladder, have your legs turn to nubs and then jump in the sea to become a fish. You have literally undone any higher thinking ability you have.
For those who want their music to be of actual quality, these times are grim. A few bands stand out — Blaspherian, War Master, Imprecation, Sammath, and Demoncy — while the rest fade into the background like hipsters, with each one trying so hard to be unique that it loses sight of the ability to express something deeper than aesthetic re-arranging of known ideas. Death metal bands today are like the guy with the beard, glasses, skinny jeans and snarky t-shirt who has ironically decided to wear an Iron Maiden jacket. He thinks he’s being different and unique and showing what a precious snowflake is, but when the camera zooms out he is in a group of special people who from a distance look like chaos. And that is what they are: they have no purpose, because they have replaced the idea of having purpose with the idea of looking like you have purpose.
By now, I have filtered out most of the human species. Very few care about the topic, being much more interested in their desires, judgments and feelings right now, a state which flatters their sense of self-worth, and very few more can handle the flow of words which would have been zero challenge to an eighth grader in 1950 but are complete bafflement and a threat to the ego to your average citizen in the 2010s. I have also pushed away those who want to be hipsters or other self-aggrandizing people, and been cruel to enough hopes and dreams of delusional people to shock and drive away the love-bunnies, kumbayas and other zombies of the postmodern intellectual landscape. This writing will also disturb those who depend on a system of rigid rules and strict obedience to dogma and money for their self-esteem; it requires humans who are willing to go beyond humanity and look toward reality itself, a.k.a. the results of actions by ourselves and others, for their meaning.
For those who remain: it is worth acting to put death metal back on top. It is surprisingly easy to do so. But you will have to get out of your comfort zones. What you must do will be revealed in the second part of this article, coming soon.
Dredd takes 1950s noire themes and explodes them into a 21st century action film wrapped around a 1980s concept, but does so successfully and produces a thoughtful action film with a subtle but revelatory character study which makes it both fit together as a realistic drama and uphold the standards of its comic book origins.
The film takes place in a 24th century dystopian sprawl that is what remains of the USA. 800 million people live in Mega-City One, where over 17,000 crimes are committed daily. To keep up with the decay, police and courts have been combined into one forces: the Judges. Roughly analogous to medieval knights, these warriors roam the city and find criminals and administer punishment on the spot, including death. One detail that most fail to notice about this film is that in the poorest areas of Mega-City, just about every person is on welfare. In the Peachtrees Tower where most of the action takes place, 96% of the residents are on welfare. This gives Dredd a realistic take on dystopia, which is that it is a dystopia-utopia where good intentions and expanding humanity have led to an unstable situation.
Karl Urban creates from Judge Dredd the most believable film version yet, restraining verbal expression to the minimum but using pauses and body language to convey more nuanced reactions. Dredd follows the Judge as he takes a new colleague, Anderson, into a futuristic equivalent of the apocalyptic Section 8 housing in American cities today in pursuit of evil drug dealers who are terrorizing the helpless residents. This part of the plot feels like a 1980s holdover and my guess is that most of the people who took exception to this movie did so as a reaction to this aspect of the plot. However, the drug angle takes no greater significance in the plot than to introduce wealthy bad guys with infinite men to spare so that Dredd and friends have someone to fight that will result in a high body count which will disturb no one because of zero sympathy for the dead. The movie adds a 21st century comic book feel by incorporating technological and metaphysical aspects to the plot, expanding it from a pure adrenaline action flick to more of a science fiction hybrid, in a slightly less nuanced version of what Aliens and Terminator did, which is to create a realistic situation in which technology fails and bravery must prevail, and thus bring out some depth to the characters. Urban’s Dredd grimaces and gruffly commands his way through the movie but increasingly reveals the complex mentation required for someone to dedicate his life to thankless fighting of evil with certainty of ultimate death, giving us the most believable Dredd yet.
While not all of this film will appeal to those who find comic books one-dimensional, the filmmakers did their best to rein in those impulses while still delivering enough violence and terror to give this movie the impact it needs to be convincing. Eschewing the approach of the 1990s Stallone Dredd, Urban’s Dredd exists in a world that is more noire than superhero: dark hopeless human existence in which the Judges are more pathological authoritarians than happy heroes, and humanity is revealed as the mewling parasite that it seems to be. In the end, the film is both entertaining and compelling, giving this character fullness in an energetic retelling of a tale as much concerned with order versus chaos as the old Westerns and King Arthur era stories that surely inspired the creation of this one as much as its futuristic dystopian setting.