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Death metal is religious music in an atheist age

Death metal is religious music in an atheist age
November 25, 2012, 12:15:03 PM
I was pondering the following listeninig to Immolation as the summer sun beemed on my face and the everything was blooming in the park today: If the religious attitude is fundamentally the opposite of the humanistic and existentialist idea that 'existence preceeds essence' then death metal is, ironically, religious music in an a-theistic age. It is religious in its artistic worship of something prior to human existence that is inescapable and certainly no act of human creation: nature, and natural processes. Musically: evolution of songs by the linking of riffs according to gemetrical notions of 'shape' and motion as opposed to the normal way of linking parts in rock music which essentially harmonic. This is what gives death metal its a-tonal and initially unattractive sound until you're used to it; it doesn't rely on harmony to progress songs but rather riff shape. Aesthetically: beauty achieved through the overall sturcture of otherwise nihilistic individual units of information that are on their own senseless, a bit like matter and the physical universe. Conceptually: lyrics and artwork concerned with biology, death, conflict, force, and energy. This is Nietzschean-naturalist religious music: A 'yes' to, and artistic redemption of, life as pure structure, unending process, and will to power. I truly believe a lot of underground metal heads (and other arteests) would have been worshipping the ancient ones in an earlier age or perhaps even God before theistic faith became so outdated scientifically.

Using this logic, any profound art is religious.

I agree.

I've always thought of Death Metal as a higher form of art for its imitation of life, but not in any theistic way; in a way that, just like science, renders theism irrelevant. Over and over again, the religious worship of idols as the givers of life and creators of this world has lead to the ignoring of what the essence of life really is.

Death metal, just like science, lays down the ugly truth of life's both inherent meaning and meaninglessness. I'm so over religion and philosophy. Neither could show the brilliant architecture of organs, cells, DNA, neurons, the human brain. Without science, we would still be ignorant to the phenomenon of programmed cell death, the very mechanism by which all living cells die, which is programmed into our DNA. Without science, we would have never had a way to concretely prove that death is an imperative function of life.

Death metal is non-moral realism, unlike black metal which is like a post-moral romanticism.

I'm sure that riddle contains an oxymoron or two.

There is no meaning that is not given to a thing by an agent: this is the lesson taught to us by Nihilism.  Death Metal can reflect this (fantastically) in that it is unintelligible to those who do not observe it from within; meaning can be derived from the recognition of the essence of a thing, and of the infinite connexions that can be drawn between that essence and any other.

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Without science, we would have never had a way to concretely prove that death is an imperative function of life.

Life tends towards Death because Life arises from Death in the first place.  Any Christian Priest can tell you this - ashes to ashes, dust to dust, etc.  The physical mechanism may not have been known, but the actuality was ascertained by the earliest men: all things must come to an end, and each end is a beginning.  Though "unscientific", this is an entirely valid understanding of the necessity of Death.  I do wish that people would take the time to study their ancestors before claiming superiority : )

Death metal is non-moral realism

I like your dichotomy between black metal and death metal. However I think there is some moral/normative (or romantic, whatever) component to even death metal, or it wouldn't be music i.e. abstract, but rather purely concrete and discriptive sounds: of people dying, or something, accompanied by pictures of human dissection. It isn't completely non-moral. It is concerned with making art out of the brutal non-moral realism that we have at this point revealed in our quest to understand our reality. So the reality that death metal is working in and being composed by human beings in is non-moral, but in the act of being created death-metal is necessarily transcending this because art 'creates' a moral, so to speak. I don't listen to morbid angel and think nihilistically. I feel that reality (spoken off through the riff, the structure, the poetic meaninig of the lyrics etc, the production etc) has been vindicated.

Death metal is religious music in an a-theist age precisely because it takes the religious attitude towards a typically 'non-religious' reality. It is the same essentialist attitude taken by pagans and christians: there is an order that exists prior to human subjectivity, which, because of it's exisential priorty, deserves reverence. However the particular order that exists prior to human subjectivity to the composer of death metal is a necessarily a 'godless' one.

I've always thought of Death Metal as a higher form of art for its imitation of life, but not in any theistic way; in a way that, just like science, renders theism irrelevant. Over and over again, the religious worship of idols as the givers of life and creators of this world has lead to the ignoring of what the essence of life really is.

I thik the religious worship of idols was just a natural outgrowth of the particular understanding of reality that existed at different times in human intellectual history. I don't think it was a purposeful ignoring of what the essence of life really is. It's complicated because there are example of, for instance, the catholic church supressing new and more accurate representations of reality. I'm unsure.

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Death metal, just like science, lays down the ugly truth of life's both inherent meaning and meaninglessness. I'm so over religion and philosophy. Neither could show the brilliant architecture of organs, cells, DNA, neurons, the human brain. Without science, we would still be ignorant to the phenomenon of programmed cell death, the very mechanism by which all living cells die, which is programmed into our DNA. Without science, we would have never had a way to concretely prove that death is an imperative function of life.

I have sympathy with this view point, and the elegant, powerful 'glasses' science gives which so quickly cut to the core and reduce other modes of explanation to lumbering, strained prostrations. When, finally, with a microscope you can see each individual chromosome in a chromosome pair in an individual living cell being dragged to opposide ends of the cell nucleus, and then replicating to become TWO chromosome pairs and see two cells where there was previously one, you can see with your own eyes the physical basis of biological development. When you see each pair of a chromosome in an individual cell being dragged to opposide ends of the cell nucleus without replicating and there being two gamete (sperm or egg) cells where there was previously only one, but with only one individual chromosome in each or half the amount of genetic material in each compared with each cells in the body, and you suddenly realise this could be the physical basis for inheritance, which, by virtue of the behaviour of the chromosomes conforms to mendel's laws and books and books on the outcomes of breeding experiments, other explanations become trivial.

However most individual humans need more than this. And whole societies should not exist without myths, art, and literature on what it all means. They can, but if they do they increasingly become characterised by two goods: sex and shopping. You can't have a society where death has no meaning. Religion has its place. Transcendence has it's place.   

there is an order that exists prior to human subjectivity, which, because of it's exisential priorty, deserves reverence.

Rather it inspires reverence, hence the art of it.

there is an order that exists prior to human subjectivity, which, because of it's exisential priorty, deserves reverence.

Rather it inspires reverence, hence the art of it.

Psychologically speaking I tend to think it's the other way round. BECAUSE it's prior, it inspires reverence. If Being, clarified by science, inspired reverence, then everyone whould be making death metal. They're not, so of those people making death metal some of them are probably people with the 'religious' urge, who are not theists: they are drawn to celebrate what is prior, inescapable, 'natural', essential, and at the root of all individual Being according to a non-theist view. Religiosity is a particular disposition: an essentialist one, or the disposition towards seeing existence as rooted in prior structures as opposed to being 'made up' as the left existentialists like Sartre thought.

Death metal is non-moral realism
I think there is some moral/normative (or romantic, whatever) component to even death metal

I agree. But really there's no hard and fast rule as these genres are like two sides of the same coin. You can even refer to black metal as a form of death metal and vice versa.

Like man and the abyss staring back at each other!