Metal and Post-Modernity

Article by Bill Hopkins

“We might even say that to be fully modern is to be anti-modern: from Marx’s and Dostoevsky’s time to our own, it has been impossible to grasp and embrace the modern world’s potentialities without loathing and fighting against some of its most palpable realities.”

—Some overweight sociology professor

Metal, like any manifestation of culture, doesn’t emerge from a social vacuum. So much should be uncontroversial. This raises a question in need of reply: What set of ideas and social forces explain the existence of metal? One hypothesis is to view metal as a manifestation of European romanticism [1], the period of European culture from roughly 1789 to 1850. This article suggests a different hypothesis: namely, that metal must be placed against the backdrop of post-modernity in order to be properly understood. In order to make this case, it is vital to understand ‘post-modernity’. Many confuse post-modernity (1960s-) with modernism (1890s-1930s), especially when it comes to art. Thus, a secondary goal of this article is to illuminate post-modernity. I will argue that one key imputes giving rise to metal was post-modernity’s re-engagement with past forms [2].

One naïve view of post-modernity, especially in its artistic manifestations, views it as an elitist movement intent on offending traditional and bourgeoise sensibilities by embracing the ‘shock of the new’ and the absurd: think of the sort of art piece your intellectually disabled 3 year-old could do if given a paintbrush and a blank canvass stretched out on the floor. However, this is to mistake post-modernity with modernism[3]. Modernism preceded post-modernity by decades. It began in the late 19th century and had all but dissipated in time for the lead up to WW2. Not only this, modernism was primarily an artistic movement whereas post-modernity refers to sweeping social and economic changes in addition to artistic ones.

‘Blue Poles’ by Jackson Pollock

As we will see, post-modernity is characterised by a re-assessment of modernism’s ‘shock of the new’. In order to explore post-modernity and its connections with metal more fully, however, we need to take a few steps backwards before going forwards. We need first to understand the broader concept of ‘modernity’ (1789-). What is modernity, such that ‘post’-modernity is contrasted with it?
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Satanists and satans, Act I: Sitra Ahra

A short illustrative story by Lucian Fogaras

Jonas Peter Anderson strode across the deserted alley as the wind blew against his face, making his hair blow and blurr his view. He wasn’t wearing his glasses today as that would not match his personal and artistic projection of the self to the world: combat boots, black jeans, heavy bullet-studded belt, Ofermod Sol Nox t-shirt and a sleeveless black hoodie over it. People said that at his 33 years of age, Jonas should put aside the act, become self-sufficient and stop wasting his mother’s money on beer six-packs, vinyls and luxurious editions of occult literature from Ixaxxar Publications and Theion Publishing. But he did not care —his Satanic identity was more important to him than anything else in this world. Besides, it had been a long time since that fateful day 20 years ago, when he had decided to leave behind his Christian name. He only responded to Agnellus now —unless it was his mother calling him downstairs for dinner, in which case “Jonas, darling” would do. In the world of forums and e-mails, however, the International Satanic Brotherhood knew him as Frater Agnellus.
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Sanctuary – Into the Mirror Black (1990)


Sitting somewhat uncomfortably in between the heavy, speed and prog metal genres, Sanctuary achieved reputable status with their first album Refuge Denied despite having a fragmented and vulnerable identity.  The record itself was a slightly more melancholic take on the style Queensrÿche established on Rage for Order with some carefree thrash moments added in for the more aggressive metal fan. The formula was ultimately more kitschy than timeless, and relegated the band to perennial B-tier status.  (more…)

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Woodlands Fine Cigars (The Woodlands, TX)


Woodlands Fine Cigars [ map ]
582 Sawdust Rd, The Woodlands, TX 77380
281-296-0202, woodlandsfinecigars@yahoo.com

Everyone in Texas knows The Woodlands because it is the future of living in Texas: instead of a gated community, make a whole gated city just outside the sprawling disaster where people can enjoy normal suburban life without the pollution, crime, filth, disorder, noise, and existential tension of the city.
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Equimanthorn – Nindinugga Nimshimshargal Enlillara (1994)


Remember back in the mid-1990s when every black metal musician of repute boasted involvement in at least one dark ambient project? Although the move away from metallic ground towards previously uncharted territories comes across as a farseeing maneuver in hindsight – black metal had after all reached its creative zenith at this point – the lion’s share of resultant products left a lot to be desired. (more…)

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DMU needs you!

Death Metal Underground emerged victorious from the siege at the hands of Tulio Baars and his team of confused, frustrated individuals that carried out these attacks in an attempt to receive validation from their peers. These attacks were characterized by the ego putting itself above all and not the community uniting in order to create something greater than the sum of each ego. Since the start Death Metal Underground has had a myriad number of writers casting aside their self in order to build this resource of Death Metal tradition. (more…)

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Whispers of the Kábeiroi

Extending further into the past, and lying in deeper recesses of mystery, are the cults and legends of the ancient Pelasgians. Their symbols, gods and myths included precede, and in a way bring forth the Hellenic [1], while remaining in a relative obscurity even when the cults were known to be active [2]. Among these obscure cults was that of the Kábeiroi (a.k.a. Cabiri), a group of unknown but powerful beings tracing lineage to Rhea —The feminine Titan of Saturn [3]— and to the vast Sea [4].
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The Importance of Contrast and Structure/Musical Motion through Levels of Consciousness

Article by Salustiano Ferdinand

One of the hallmarks of great musical works is that every note has a purpose to move the mindset of the listener in some direction. Musical structure whether on a small or grand scale is what gives music much of its power and memorability; a focused work that wastes no note and moves with constant intent from distinctive point A to distinctive point B and on will embed itself into the mind of the listener not just for its general sound and aesthetic but in its entirety. Classical pianist James Rhodes said of Ludwig van Beethoven, likely the greatest composer of memorable themes in western art music, that with his works, “Every note was sweated over, every theme worked on tirelessly and chiselled into immortality. The manuscripts of Bach and Mozart look spotless next to the messy, crossed-out, almost indecipherable madness of Beethoven’s. While Mozart hurled symphonies on to paper as fast as he could write, barely without correction, Beethoven stewed and fought and wrestled and argued and raged until he forced what he was looking for out and onto the page.” [1] Sadly, however, the importance and art of structure is often ignored and neglected entirely within metal albums. Too often a death or black metal band is content to choose a tempo or two and proceed to restate the same content through interchangeable means for a length such that they overstay their welcome about halfway through the ordeal.
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