No mosh – No core – No trends – No fun

by Cory Van der Pol
July 1, 2014 –

black_metal_alienation

What was the “message” of black metal? Like most interesting things, it doesn’t boil down to x=y format. Instead, we have some images on the surface that we must dig through to find the original idea.

Black metal expressed a love of nature, a dark melancholy, a feral atavism, a seeming joy in death and winter, and an embrace of predation and natural selection as a kind of litmus test for humanity. It loved cruelty, dark and degraded sounds, ancient ruins and ancient cultures. It hated McDonald’s, organized religion, trends, “fun” and social inclusion.

The essence of black metal might be described as anti-social. It loathed every circumstance where social rules — who is popular, who is pitied — took the place of raw personal emotion and a reality-based, nature-informed, history-wide view of actions and their consequences.

For those who love black metal, the genre must be evil. It must embrace chaos and nature and a world outside the “safety” of laws, police, shrink-wrapped products, rights and a social attitude of love and trust. It wants a world in constant conflict with fire to the oblivious and the stronger and nobler rising above the ruins. It wants life to be an ongoing challenge, a battle where great victory and great defeat are both possible. It wants this instead of a mediocre world where everyone is “safe” but there is nothing really to live for, nothing to strive for, only acceptance of the herd.

Black metal rejected the herd. It rejected individualism because individualism — the desire to get ahead by doing what everyone else is doing — forms the basis of the conformity that powers the herd. It embraced instead a kind of individuality of the sensitive thinker in a world searching for meaning that can only be found through self-definition through action.

As more and more people join the great “safe” consumerist society, the wisdom of black metal becomes clearer. It could not save black metal from erosion. It was not destruction of an idea so much as it was subversion of an idea by those who wanted to take part, so contorted the music to fit within a social role where they could be important individualists too. But that has not blotted out the message. Instead it has strengthened it.

No mosh – No core – No fun – No Trends

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10 comments

  • Lord Mosher

    I think the music reveals much of what was happening in the hearts of those early Norwegian musicians:
    .
    “we feel, and it’s a suffocating feeling.
    We look at our world and we don’t like it because it does not match our intuitive vision of how the world was or should be.
    So the past must have been better. Only nature is pure”.
    Within a humanist world, nature is evil, so we will ally with evil.

  • Rattlehead

    I truly appreciate the articles on this site. While I don’t always agree with everything to the letter, it is nice to read some well-thought and carefully chosen ideas to further the author’s points and opinions. So I would just like to offer my thanks and entreat you to carry on.

    That being said, to the point: I grew into black metal like a virus into it’s host. It was slow, but the more I learned of it’s inception, it’s general message, and artistic yet minimalistic approach, it soon became my choice sub-genre. I also loved the fact that within the metal community, black metal was always ousted and criticized as being a sort of “tongue in cheek” joke, or just plain shit, which in my opinion, protected the sanctity of the spirit of black metal. If people could just sit down and quiet themselves, they could truly admire and get lost in the riffs. Each song, while not very complex, painted an intricate picture, well beyond anything death or thrash metal could do (let alone want to.)

    I am American, and while there are few bands (if any, truly) here to ever match the ideals, ferocity, or style from the likes of their Scandanavian couter-parts, you can clearly see by who is popular in modern black metal, that like all metal these days, it has become white washed and sullied by half-assed and half-baked fools with no semblance of the spirit or ambiance that once captured me and many before me.

    We can point fingers, blame one another, the internet, the media, ad nauseum… But it really just boils down to the spirit (the lacking of, or totally bereft, therein). As I’ve said before, without this, black metal is just the joke most people have made it out to be. It stirs me inside to know that metal as a whole has become an empty vessel, ready to be used and exploited the highest bidder. Then again, nothing can ever be untainted; nothing is sacred. C’est la vie.

    What does the future hold for metal? I cannot say with any confidence that it is good or bad. I just know that my Burzum (and the like) vinyls will always spin on my record player, and remind me of a better time… Det som engang var (what once was).

  • carlos ms13

    Lol! At black metal bands from safe, no crime countries, leading their sheltered lives, singing about war and death. Diocletian canceling their u.s. tour when shit gets real, all these bands are cowards, blasphemy can’t even tour because gerry is such a junkie, criminal records? Lol, a night in the drunk tank ain’t PRISON TIME.

  • Roger Wates' Unwashed Dildo

    So black metal is a sort of vacation where you can visit the world outside “safety” without ever having to go there? I don’t think that dressing up and larping in the woods really counts as abandonment and rejection. Escapism might be the best way to describe heavy metal culture: rebellious without having to actually rebel like oh I don’t know going full Walden.

  • Jason Calderon

    Those Norwegians knew nothing about chaos and death. They were a bunch of privileged suburban pussies who came from well-off families. What the fuck did they know about predation and natural selection?!

    Oh, yeah, “great victory or great defeat.” To a black metal fan “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” is a victory in the musical annals of Black metal! I judge it by what it is-an over heralded steaming pile of stinking shit! You can listen to that shit record a million times and it’s utterly forgettable. You listen to the first Deicide album once and it’s memorable and leaves it’s mark on your psyche forever! That was the difference between death metal and the tepid black metal from Norway. Defeat!

    1. Jim Nelson

      privileged well-off families don’t need to know anything about predation and natural selection because they are the result of natural selection. if you are privileged and well off it only follows that your ancestors were rigorously selected for over and over again. The Norsk are the fruits of predation and natural selection incarnate

  • Kingdom_Gone

    Heavy metal isn’t about your street credibility like rap. Most metal musicians come from well-off families and children from white parents do not have a clue about ‘natural selection’ nonetheless. That’s why they probably wrote about it.

    I don’t really like ‘De mysteriis dom sathanas’ either.