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Metal as a divided culture

Re: Metal as a divided culture
February 29, 2008, 07:52:13 PM
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Then again, maybe it's just my natural suspicion acting up.  I can't help but notice that heroic excess is integral to the tradition of the vir as heroic forbearance.  I've never found any evidence to disprove my belief that if you scratch and ascetic, you'll more than likely find someone who is afraid to die.


It's good that you mention asceticism. While I believe that idealistic abstention from various phenomenological constructs for a set time period is valuable in that it provides one with a clearer consciousness (the opposite of "hitting the bong while listening to Hvis Lyset Tar Oss"), it should necessarily be succeeded by a vibrant return to reality.

Meditation and the accumulation of inner strength are prerequisites for any heroic endeavor given the modern environment; this is a concretely nihilistic statement in that it involves eliminating meaningless and extraneous distractions. One must also make the distinction between distractions and temptations; Nietzsche was quick to note when writing on the ascetic ideal that the asceticism of the philosopher and the priest are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Schopenhaeur, on the other hand, was in full of support of an absolutist approach to asceticism, since in his view the Will is intrinsically evil. In a sense, he was attributing morality to a non-moral essence. Nietzsche later expounds upon this and corrects it, but Schopenhaeur believed that suppressing the Will was a means by which one triumphed over it. In reality, this is life destroying, and the only true way one can triumph over the tribulations of the Will is via the Will itself -- the Will to power.

Schopenhaeur gets a lot of praise around here. His contributions are important and worth discussing, but couldn't 'suicidal' black metal be seen as a pessimistic form of black metal, in the same sense that Schopenhaeur is considered a 'pessimistic' philosopher? The only difference, aside from the Glen Benton committing-suicide-at-age-of-Christ-proclomation-goes-unfulfilled rhetoric that comes from these bands, is that this form of pessimism is anachronistic. If Varg is Nietzsche, then Malefic is Schopenhaeur.

Maybe this means we're going backwards. In any case, hearing a guy garbed in a black robe spouting hateful diatribes about the meaninglessness of life seems to be a lot more bearable to me than Tom Araya in 1985 kicking off Necrophiliac by introducing it as "a love song about an older woman you find six feet under." Let's face it: As great as the album is, the lyrics are a step removed from Alice Cooper. A member of Possessed mentions his love for drunken debauchery in an interview and Seven Churches still sounds great, but suicidal black metal? Fatalistic!

Having said all of the above, anyone have any musical reasons for disliking Xasthur and Leviathan? They don't exactly blow me away and I don't think they're important bands, but if you have a good argument as to what, structurally, makes these bands worthless, I'd love to hear it -- and, consequently, be persuaded by it!

Ildjarn claimed to hate all of humanity, too.

Re: Metal as a divided culture
February 29, 2008, 09:11:31 PM
No one ever claimed that the lyrics and opinions of the artists were paramount judging grounds for a piece's relevance/worthiness. The ideas behind it can be silly, sloppy, lackluster, "dedrateR," fatalistic, deviant, weak, fundamentally divergent, incoherent, boring, tedious, heinously self-parodic (Mütiilation and most of the LLN), anal-retentive, self-defeating, absurd and just plain ridiculous, but if the aesthetics and structure of the music itself lend it fertilely to the imagination, isn't that truly the only prerequisite for "powerful music"?

This is why I can enjoy Von, Sarcófago and early Bathory: despite the nonsensical, rudimentary "evil" bewitching the lyrics department, the music behind it actually evokes said evil in a manner far more brilliant. Most music composed with a bedrock of weak, stupid ideas is inexorably tepid.

Xasthur and Leviathan are very structurally rockish. Even worse, they fail to develop any interesting motif recombinations.

Ildjarn is the perfect example of a man letting his music do all the talking, while he, until recently, hid his views from everyone.

Re: Metal as a divided culture
February 29, 2008, 09:11:55 PM
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Having said all of the above, anyone have any musical reasons for disliking Xasthur and Leviathan? They don't exactly blow me away and I don't think they're important bands, but if you have a good argument as to what, structurally, makes these bands worthless, I'd love to hear it -- and, consequently, be persuaded by it!


I'd say the biggest structural weakness is the lack of any concept to anchor structure in.  There's nothing there, no reason to do what the music does, structurally, so the end result, to the careful listener, is always going to seem incoherent and amorphous.  What they're relying on is your memory stepping into the void where concept should be.  They know you like Burzum and Darkthrone, so they give you bits and pieces of recycled Burzum and Darkthrone and hope you fill in the gaps with remembered sentiment.  

Basically, they distract your attention from the hand rifling through your wallet.

A related strategy is that of Opeth or Blut Aus Nord.  These bands make glaringly obvious gestures of novelty that are intended to distract attention, not only from their conceptual emptiness, but from the painfully conventional slog that makes up the vast majority of their albums.

Re: Metal as a divided culture
February 29, 2008, 09:13:11 PM
xasthur - i've only heard 'nocturnal poison'. it's masterful at creating an oppressive atmosphere (which in itself isn't great) but it doesn't progress well melodically. i mean the riffs are great, but some of them don't fit well together and overall it seems to suffer from a lack of rhythmic tension (even as ambient).

i think there was some promise here. he should of reworked this material for a few years and perhaps practiced with live drums.

Re: Metal as a divided culture
February 29, 2008, 09:35:24 PM
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I'd say the biggest structural weakness is the lack of any concept to anchor structure in.  There's nothing there, no reason to do what the music does, structurally, so the end result, to the careful listener, is always going to seem incoherent and amorphous.


That's exactly how I feel about Xasthur's music. It seemed to me that theoretically, based on the elements used to create the atmosphere, it should sound good. However, it really just goes nowhere, and I think Malefic overdoes the low-fi production in a way that makes the music sound annoying rather than "raw". I really tried to like his music (mainly to justify buying two albums), but the songs are just too pointless and meandering to take seriously and enjoy. I think he tries way too hard to create an atmosphere like Burzum, but to me it comes off as completely contrived.

On the other hand, I actually think Leviathan pulls off the atmosphere really well, particularly on "Tenth Sublevel...", and makes some very interesting music. I don't take it as seriously philosophically as a band like Burzum or Ildjarn, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the music.

Re: Metal as a divided culture
February 29, 2008, 11:05:10 PM
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I'd say the biggest structural weakness is the lack of any concept to anchor structure in.  There's nothing there, no reason to do what the music does, structurally, so the end result, to the careful listener, is always going to seem incoherent and amorphous.


I think this is true of a lot of Xasthur's music, but not all of it. Most of those eight minute and beyond pieces seem to blur together with no dynamic shifts or sense of purpose, but then there are songs like A Gate Through Bloodstained Mirrors and Walker of Dissonant Worlds which resolve a bit more logically; I even sense some of the first movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata in the former, towards the end, and happen to think it is at least somewhat evocative/effective. Maybe he just wants to hold my attention long enough with Burzum-esque riffs so that I short-sightedly heap praise upon his prolific catalogue for being a return to the old way, but the music is still more emotive than Carpathian Forest or some other obnoxious black metal caricature.

The biggest problem with these musicians, though, is the overwhelming mass of albums and EPs released on a yearly basis. This does cheapen the entire pursuit.

Opeth and their ilk, on the other hand, are another animal altogether. I, without hesitation, equate them with Linkin Park and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Re: Metal as a divided culture
March 01, 2008, 12:41:22 PM
Regarding depressive/suicidal black metal, I think there has to be a sort of conclusion. Dead's  conclusion was to kill himself. He did not make 10 albums singing how sad he was and how he wanted himself and everyone else to die. He was a depressive man but his lyrics were not depressive but just very nihilistic and misanthropic. Varg's conclusion was to change his style. Though countless bands may have spawned imitating 'Black Spell of Destruction", Burzum's music simply moved into the next level.

Re: Metal as a divided culture
March 09, 2008, 05:03:07 PM
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“Dark metal started underground, and the real sincere stuff is still on indie labels or self-released,” he says. “I’d rather go see any of the local metal bands than sellouts from the mainstream who try to imitate [dark metal]. Bands like Pantera and Anal C-nt are for rich suburban kids who desperately want to pretend they’re ‘alienated,’ when really they’re just looking for something guaranteed to p-ss their parents off. Some kids think all you have to do is gross out your audience, and you’re playing in the devil’s league.”

Hello, Satan: Black Metal in San Diego


Sorry to interrupt the chatter, but I thought this neatly explored the original idea of this thread.

Re: Metal as a divided culture
March 10, 2008, 12:02:58 AM
It is true that black metal produced recently is based on extension of one element from past to such degree that it became a style. Leviathan/Xasthur sounds like Pink Floyd, and it's an element that I founded for the first time in black metal on Hordanes Land. Not entirely prog, but just Pink Floydish.
But bands like all that "DSBM" or Wolves in the Throne Room introduces something more foreign to black metal. It's alt/indie rock influence in sound and structure but also in ideology.

Re: Metal as a divided culture
March 10, 2008, 01:47:00 AM
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Sorry to interrupt the chatter, but I thought this neatly explored the original idea of this thread.


I have observed this very phenomenon in action. Those I know(self included) who were significantly into or a part of the Metal underground beginning back in the early to mid 80's are generally still into or a part of the same on some level - the music, idiology and culture are a part of their current lives, worldviews, etc.
Those who were the hangers-on, the fad-chasers, the Pantera-ish safe/suburban types have all fallen by the wayside, and are ensconced in their hideously mundane lives of backyard barbeques, homely wives, overweight children, and Coldplay.

An admitted generalization(with exceptions of course) - but one based very much in fact and reality.  

Re: Metal as a divided culture
March 10, 2008, 05:59:30 AM
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I
But bands like all that "DSBM" or Wolves in the Throne Room introduces something more foreign to black metal. It's alt/indie rock influence in sound and structure but also in ideology.


Yeah, I'm glad others are starting to recognize that this music is not black metal in essence or in form, particularly Wolves in the Throne room. Everything that is weak, sterile and modern in "Indy-rock" is present in this music, and even on a purely technical level, the stuff sounds like emo, plus distortion, heavy reverb and blast beats.