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Literary influences on metal

Re: Literary influences on metal
January 11, 2010, 06:59:34 PM
In regard to postmodern literature, I think we should see metal as a reaction against a postmodern world.  Whereas postmodern art, theory, and literature more or less seek to deconstruct, and to some degree to affirm the banality of the everyday, metal strives to overcome this by hearkening back to ancient times and values.  Postmodernism is more a cultural analysis.  Meaning, cultural analysis is postmodernism's ultimate aim, whereas metal wants to overcome and ignore culture to find a sense of higher beauty.

That is the key distinction I see: for example, visual art in the postmodern world does away with aesthetics almost entirely; it does not concern itself with 'beauty', and instead seeks to find something to replace it in the everyday, that being some pseudo-philosophical concept that ultimately goes nowhere.  In fact, traditional beauty is often regarded as tacky and undesirable in the postmodern world.  Looking back to Duchamp, and later Warhol, and now Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst, we see the trend has moved toward appreciating commercialized products, or indistinguishable replicas, as beautiful objects, either for their aesthetic appeal or their shallow cultural criticism.  There is no content, really, but people can be convinced to appreciate them and accept them as art.

In any case, what I have briefly described above is pop art, which has deep ties to 'conceptual art, which we might want to regard as a counterpart to liberalism and hipsterdom.  But look at the term: pop art.  It is the same as pop music, a result of a valueless, postmodern world in which we seek to appeal to the lowest common denominator not by creating something beautiful, but by creating a synthetic beauty to appeal to the masses.  This is not the goal of metal, or any greater art.

I will acknowledge that postmodernism has its interest in the darker side of things (nihilism, atheism, death, and so forth), but it is always linked to a sarcasm that is absent in metal.  If we can see any bands related to this sort of ideology, it would be those such as Deicide and Slayer and other death metal acts who mock the traditional symbolism valued by Christianity.  In black metal, however, as well as a good amount of death metal, the quest for beauty, not to mock the valueless and the mundane and thereby catch itself in it, but tocreate value in a world which is inherently valueless, is what qualifies it as something more than 'postmodern music', though it was created in the same era.

In short: yes, metal is certainly influenced by postmodern literature, but we should see its inability to escape this contemporaneous ideology as its downfall.

Re: Literary influences on metal
January 11, 2010, 08:59:28 PM

Romantic literature's largest audience is teenagers and young people?  that's quite the claim!

... then i will rephrase this like this:

From all the literature popular among teens romantic and SF/fantasy literature may very well be top of the list. Or, the biggest number of fans of romantic and SF/fantasy literature are of young age. Not to mention comics, be it classics of the genre as Conan.
Hope it's clearer now.
It's not some sociologic study of mine, just a personal conclusion based on observation and talks. I wouldn't know the case in US, but i can assure you that all my friends that were into reading during high-school had a big and sometimes exclusive appetite for those genres. A mature reader normaly has exhausted these titles already, being drawn by other takes. If this is right or wrong it's not the issue.

Yes, sorry for that, I started reading it already. Seams a good read so far.
(I oftenly hear metal music characterised by some guys as "noise", as inconsistent, arbitrary and chaotic)


just some fast observations: 1. metal is a form of pop(ular) art. (anti-pop(ular) art is still pop art) 2. metal may be postmodernistic in it's effort to bring togheter tradition (classic, neoclassical) and modernity (rock culture, underground etc). same thing happens in modern literature and art  (the come back to contiguous storyline, or to figuration, in visual arts, for example) 3. to make art ignoring culture is still  a stand towards culture.

Re: Literary influences on metal
January 12, 2010, 05:50:15 AM
just some fast observations: 1. metal is a form of pop(ular) art. (anti-pop(ular) art is still pop art) 2. metal may be postmodernistic in it's effort to bring togheter tradition (classic, neoclassical) and modernity (rock culture, underground etc). same thing happens in modern literature and art  (the come back to contiguous storyline, or to figuration, in visual arts, for example) 3. to make art ignoring culture is still  a stand towards culture.

All of this is true.  Metal is pop music and postmodern art.  What is important, though, and what seems to me is its goal, is to overcome a postmodern world.  Metal (the metal upheld by anus; other acts are a different story) sees through it, and actually tries to work against it, whereas someone like Andy Warhol simultaneously mocked culture while contributing to its downfall, and the fall of the appreciation of aesthetics in visual art.  Look at Derrida, too, though he often seems to go out of his way not to make a clear point.  'Deconstruction', attributed to him, though he claimed no attachment to the term, can be seen as the summit of postmodernist theory.  While metal deconstructs, often quite violently, the beauty of it is that it does seek to establish value by looking back to the heroism of the ancients.  That's where I think it takes influence; the post-modern ideas seem sort of forced upon it.  It's in the romanticism that we find its true merit.

Re: Literary influences on metal
January 17, 2010, 03:59:36 PM

At the risk of turning into this, who are some other fiction writers that have had a direct and perceivable influence on the development of metal and why?

Not a fiction writer but quite often cited is Charles Baudelaire.
Necromantia - Les Litanies de Satan article here
Celtic Frost - Tristesses de la Lune
Morsüre - L'Irrémédiable
Nomed - L'Examen De Minuit, L'Amour Et Le Crâne, Toute Entière, Abel Et Caïn, Sépulture
Peste Noire - Le Mort Joyeux, Spleen

Re: Literary influences on metal
January 18, 2010, 04:08:02 PM
Sci-fi like Heinlein, Herbert and Dick was widely read, and Iron Maiden have a bulk of material based on their work. They do, however, manage to make an interpretive mess of whatever literature they touch, as usual. Huxley's futuristic works, especially Brave New World, possibly induced the fear of decadence and hedonism that infuses a lot of death metal, and which which their middle-class parents were probably involved.

Re: Literary influences on metal
March 09, 2010, 05:48:00 PM
Lovecraft, on the other hand, was the master of indescribable horror removed from morality; entities and concepts outside of humanity's normal frame of reference are right at home with death metal.

And there's the other face of Lovecraft's prose, contained mostly in his Dream Cycle stories which recounted the glory of imaginary civilizations buried by time and dust, yielding to degeneration embodied by the eldritch abominations (TM) he wrote about later in his life. At the Mountains of Madness was a masterful combination of both themes, cosmic horror and existential epic, in that it wasn't really about Lovecraft's alter egos exploring unspeakable horrors, as much as a story of the last specimens of a long gone race, studying the annihilation of the world they belonged to millennia earlier.

Quote from: Lovecraft
...poor Old Ones! Scientists to the last—what had they done that we would not have done in their place? God, what intelligence and persistence! What a facing of the incredible, just as those carven kinsmen and forbears had faced things only a little less incredible! Radiates, vegetables, monstrosities, star spawn—whatever they had been, they were men!

Plus, I'd go as far as to say that the gloomy guy's stories remind me of how Quorthon and DMD from Absurd employed their vocals in terms of technique. Quorthon could barely reach the correct pitches at times, and DMD had a distinctly punkish 'Cherman' voice. However, both had an extremely good grasp of what they wanted to convey, so the delivery was in itself powerful, regardless of any shortcomings. Lovecraft's purple prose is similar: some will laugh at his language, but every time you read a passage about something particularly rugose, or squamous ichor for that matter, you feel those eldritch abominations (TM) lurking somewhere near. Death/black metal's loud and noisy aesthetics work kinda similarly.

Re: Literary influences on metal
March 29, 2010, 04:49:29 PM
I can't read Lovecraft without feeling Poe, Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker in all of it.

Re: Literary influences on metal
March 29, 2010, 07:38:27 PM
I can't read Lovecraft without feeling Poe, Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker in all of it.

I can't read Lovecraft without getting bored and just picking up the 1818 version of Frankenstein.

Re: Literary influences on metal
April 01, 2010, 05:53:38 PM
All the old Romantics had that odd cross between science fiction and occult poetry that Mary Shelley really touched on. Coleridge, Wordsworth (with his ode to mythic imagination), Blake, even Sterne.

It doesn't mean we cannot enjoy the more "Venom" styles of Lovecraft and Poe!

Re: Literary influences on metal
April 10, 2010, 12:12:29 AM
I think this thread's topic is vital for true appreciation of metal in general; for if you are not interested in literature before you listen to metal, you will be after being throughout engrossed in it. Someone once said that Metal is akin  to very ancient techniques of communicating history, lore and the like. Bards would sing entertaining songs which included references to cosmology and pantheons of their indigenous culture. Skaldic poetry, especially the ones recorded in the Poetic Eddas are entertaining pieces that consistently refer to culturally important tidbits which are often footnoted at the bottom of the page. If you imagine hearing these epic songs by a campfire, able to speak that language fluently, those references unknown to you will probably be researched in some way after the song on your free time so long as the poem inspired you enough to look further into those meanings.

Practically apply that system to your memories of being a teenager listening to Morbid Angel. Who or what the fuck is Tiamat, Kuthulu, The Sea of Absu and so on? Ia Sakkakh Ia Shaxul Ia Kingu Ia Azathoth? Azazel lend to me your wings of twelve?

Or maybe early Enslaved, a personal favorite: Draw sword and fight with wargod WOTAN? What happened in the year 793... what was so important that they wrote such a powerful song around that concept? Such an eerie track as Yggdrasil, or the dark folklorish atmopshere of Life beneath the Hammer - what are they singing about when they say things like Thor reigns his golden arrows upon us?

These are ancient techniques that even predate literature itself, since literature is written... and the concept of entertainment used for cultural awareness is still pretty much going strong... but the strongest prevalence of this is in METAL. The song was the first form of literature you could say, or pre-literature.

As for the written ideas, I see different parallels between different types of metal.

N5BM, especially the newer bands remind me of reading La Morte D'arthur.
Raw, Darkthrone-Craft type of Black Metal reminds me of Poe and Shelley
Brutal Death Metal reminds me of Byron
Pagan Metal is like reading the Eddas
Drone/Doom/Black/Indie/Shoegazing/Emo is Jane Austen, Mary Wollstonecraft and the ambiguity of Virginia Woolf
The early works of Absurd remind me of reading hard boiled detective novels like Farwell, My Lovely or Devil in a Blue Dress (ironic for the latter right?)
Doom Metal always reminds me of Lovecraft.
Old Behemoth remind me of W.B. Yeats a lot and I don't know why.
New Behemoth reminds me of Marvel Comics.
Emperor reminds me of Renaissance literature, especially with the whole courtly hierarchical systems, rather long sonnets and the woodcuts for the literature and such.
That's all I can think of right now though.

Re: Literary influences on metal
April 11, 2010, 12:53:57 AM
Sorry to be tangential, but what is this ridiculous claim that Metal is "a form of pop(ular) art"?  Any defense that anyone could possibly make of that sentence would always devolve into "all modern attempts at art become pop(ular) art by definition", which ultimately renders the original statement entirely meaningless, which truth shows the original statement to be either incorrect or meaningless.

I could not regard anything which absolutely disregards any notion of "popularity" (i.e. good Metal, the only kind of Metal which we should be talking about here at the DLA) as being "pop(ular)" anything.

In the grand scheme of all things "pop(ular)", Metal ranks only slightly higher than Classical music, Golf, and Theatre.  It doesn't appeal to any established trends outside of its own tropes; it does not seek to generate new trends (in fact, it generally aims to steer clear of "trends", and the very notion of "trends", entirely [unless you're Fenriz, in which case you're obsessed with trends]); it reiterates decidedly unpopular perspectives and concepts (Death, Reality, Nihilism), and shuns decidedly popular perspectives and concepts (Love, Happiness, Liberalism).  How is any of this an attempt to appeal to the masses ("mass-appeal" being the definition of "pop <blah>", or "popular <blah>" - <blah> which attempts to be "enjoyed"/consumed by the masses)?

The next time anybody tries to place Metal in the same category as that awful woman's unmade bed I will personally execute the perpetrator.

Re: Literary influences on metal
April 16, 2010, 09:55:21 AM

Value affects not this issue. The genre, as it is not born in a high class context, a high cultural one, it is not but a will to higher forms. Mere "peasants" so to speak, are even the most creative individuals in the genre: autodidact, of regular genealogy and so on. I call high art the classical music, and decadent high art the nowadays cultivated circles of same domain.

Black Metal has low origins (heavy metal, punk etc)  and high expectations (neoclassical). It's dynamic as a genre is a bless. But this very quality makes it "pop"-ular. That's in its nature. If something like this would breed in this decaying nest of nowadays high culture, that would be something else... .
Underground art is also popular culture. Socialistic or not, that is modern or not.

(no hints at pop-art intended, wich is after all, a decaying high cultural invention, maybe to revitalize itself, at one point)

Re: Literary influences on metal
April 16, 2010, 04:01:43 PM
To be fair, it is popular art pure and simple.  It is created to be sold quickly and mass produced by corporations.  Even if we say the artists are not into making money, they almost all allow themselves to be a part of these systems of releasing albums to the market place by specific dates, and then touring the material with a bus load of T-Shirts and other garbage.

The music itself transcends its peers in the genre, but its methods never escape it, and the most damning evidence that metal is popular art is that the trappings of that genre are always what will destroy good metal in the end and have.