Jazz, Jazz-metal and the future of a hybrid

Our society is fascinated by outsiderness. This neurosis comes from the fact that we exist by the support of a civilization we see as going down a bad path, if we think about things at all. Our outsiders look more askance at this society than we who must maintain it, but they also do so from within it, so they are both critical of and dependent upon it. This creates a need for not a new civilization, but a new psychology of civilization, and it is mostly commonly engendered by song: poetry, jazz, prose or violence.

Jazz is “America’s music.” A hybrid of the blues and public-school training in European classical harmony, it nonetheless is not unique, because it has existed on every continent at some time in their growths. It is a universal language, the free and open jam, and appeals less to theory — despite being heavy on theory — than it does to an impulse of the soul which wants to start playing first, and then figure out how to cram the symbolism of emotions into song. Even so, when we speak of jazz we speak of the American variety.

Because jazz is extreme compared to pop music, and both in its day and today an outsider music, and because it went through a ring cycle from innocent complex pop music to nearly total psychoacoustic noise with the extremes of free jazz, we see it is parallel to heavy metal and hardcore punk. Both of those as well are falling from grace, exiling themselves from a comfortable modern existence to be extremes. Both of those totally reject society. Where jazz is cool alienation, and an attempt to find itself through degrees of emotion, metal and punk are a rejection of human emotion and a hot alienation that points to the hard, cold historical record — the abstract. Jazz is earth and metal is sky.

As metal expanded through its own cycle of growth and decay, its growth mirrored the process jazz underwent. At first, metal was just a heavier form of rock with more phrasal composition as evidenced by the long melodic riffs of Black Sabbath, but then it became a “serious” art form with speed metal, after the 70s stadium metal wrecked its credibility but good. When that “serious” social consciousness art wasn’t enough, it became crypto-symbolic art with death metal, with an extensive philosophical interpretation required to get from “only death is real” to a philosophy of abstraction to rival Plato.

When death metal got itself established after a painful birth from fragments of thrash/hardcore punk and speed metal, it found itself as an art form embracing simplicity and yet structure, shying away from mainstream consonance or even harmonic structure. Its structure came entirely from worship of the riff, or rather the way death metal bands would string together seemingly unconnected riffs that made sense as the piece culminated, like poetry unifying disparate symbolism. Death metal was unlike the harmonies of heavy metal, or the rhythmic culmination of speed metal, but it was pure structure in arrangement of complex riffs, and the distinct phrasing that made each one both evocative and complementary to others.

Because these riffs operated independently of scalar or chordal structures, death metal was compared to free jazz by the savvier elements of the music press. Much of this comparison occurred before death metal was fully defined, when the more jam-friendly elements in hardcore (Black Flag’s “The Process of Weeding Out” most notably) and more dissonant, theoretically detached elements of grindcore (Napalm Death’s opus of microsong disrhythmic chaos, “Scum”) were noticed by bored, underpaid and desperate writers looking for a story. Death metal being half-hardcore, half-heavy metal, the genre rotated to face jazz for a golden period of about five years.

The first real salvo in this battle was fired by Atheist on their first and second albums, “Piece of Time” and “Unquestionable Presence.” The increasing mixture of jazz crept outward from the rhythm section to the point where the second album embraced much of the aesthetic of jazz, especially the fusion-tinged variety that used intense dynamic variation to resemble a soundtrack, more like Al DiMeola’s “Cielo E Terra.” Atheist embraced the same jazz direction, but added to jazz what punk and hardcore had, what made them “hot” and not “cool”: that inhuman, abstract, theoretical structure that allowed them to stitch riffs together on the basis of phrasing and melody alone, leaving behind the artifacts of tonal context needed by most people to orient themselves in the composition.

If emotional is cool, abstract is hot, and it fits better with the raw anger of death metal, because rage without some idea of how it might manifest itself to soothe its source of irritation becomes impotent and self-serving. What makes jazz cool is its acqueous descent into pure organic emotion, a casting aside of all structure that lets the psyche move with total freedom, given a few rules to keep its motion consonant — like a morality of sound, it throws out conceptions of hierarchy and shared goals and lets the individual freestyle it, but imposes some rigid rules. What makes metal hot is that it throws out that coolness, and imposes an order that transcends human limitations, giving rise to speculation about the motion of empires and epic ideas in collision, like a heavenly war of symbols.

Atheist fused these two outlooks, and in doing so, unleashed a revolution in metal. First, the clones came, but since metal is hot and not cool we pay no attention to them. Next, other bands picked up on this revolution and put it to good use. The two remaining explicitly jazzy death metal albums came from the Netherlands and Florida, respectively, and further advanced the science of jazz-metal. Longstanding death metal/speed metal hybrid legends Pestilence had been growing increasingly toward a greater display of musical skill, including conventional means such as harmony, and after going halfway on their third album created a jazz/metal fusion for their fourth, “Spheres.”

Spheres split a room full of metalheads into people who hated it, and people who loved it. With guitars plugged into MIDI samplers outputting in a range of voices, and offtime tempos marching past with unpredictable variations, Spheres was difficult to grasp as a listening experience much less a piece of art, but many did enjoy it so much that fifteen years after its release, it has been re-released with new live tracks. Metalheads at the time were fascinated that one of their own, from a genre so alienated it was not listed on any mainstream music reporting or labels, could go toe-to-toe with the progressive and jazz bands of its day. Others were appalled at what they saw as an attempt to reduce what made metal unique, and make it more like the conformist music of the mainstream.

Cynic’s “Focus” came out the following year and further divided the community. It did not enwrap its guitars in synthetic sounds, but chose to do that for the vocals, creating an otherworldly but rarely forceful effect that jarred with the assertive psychology of death metal. That coupled with Buddhist-influenced positive lyrics, a tendency toward light interludes, and lush keyboards backing guitars made the album rejectable by most metalheads. Riffs resembled those of the first Atheist album, making many jazz-metal diehards wonder if it was an evolution in artform or production.

While these four albums were the most evident manifestations of the jazz aesthetic, jazz influences abounded in works from other bands. Morbid Angel, known for their otherwordly seizure of souls through intense music, showed a familiarity with jazz technique especially in percussion, but without being jazzy. Demilich created a monstrosity of lead-picked intricate riffs that resembled the most avantgarde of jazz fusion, but with the subtler rhythmic introductions of death metal. Gorguts showed more of a classical influence, but balanced with lessons from avantgarde jazz.

As the death metal experiment with jazz ended, many reflected on the similarities and impossibilities of the two genres. Jazz and metal are both outsider music; both reflect a perception of persecution by society at large, it being supposed to be ignorant of some principle, and offer up radically different solutions. Jazz, it might be said, is a nurturer; death metal, it might be said, is a reality check. While the two overlap somewhat, ultimately they don’t overlap in ideas, and this carries over to aesthetic. Death metal sounds abstract; jazz sounds emotional. Death metal builds a tension for dynamic release through structuring of phrase, where jazz develops phrase to emphasize an underlying harmonic pattern.

Much as Ornette Coleman rebelled against jazz and created free jazz, metal (through hardcore, most notably Discharge) rebelled against the structure of pop songs and created through its new freedom of abstraction a language of expression. Ultimately, its rebellion was that in a world of humans singing about individual fascinations and neurosis, it would be an expression of the structures of the whole. A pattern language of ideas and consequences, death metal is intensely structured music in the way classical is, using narrative composition to unite disparate elements in a storyline, like a poem. Jazz is more like the visual arts, showing exactly what occurs and winding details together in an anti-narrative.

Since the death metal flirtation with jazz, two paths have been taken to resolve this paradox. The first recognizes that death metal’s structure is closer to progressive rock, and incorporates jazz into progressive rock with death metal riffing, as Gordian Knot (featuring Cynic members) or grindcore-influenced acts like Dillinger Escape Plan have done. The second recognizes that jazz’s rhythm can be used to wrap heavy metal-styled riffs into the jaunty, bouncy aesthetic of jazz/funk based music, and this has exploded forth in bands from Candiria to Mordred to The Red Hot Chili Peppers. The problem with both of these approaches is that they must distill death metal to rock in order to proceed.

It may be that a fusion never happens because the genres are too different. Jazz is inherently aesthetic-heavy, because it lacks structure to differentiate its songs; metal exclusively differentiates its songs through structure, and is uniform in aesthetic. Where metal is structured music, jazz is unstructured to permit wide-open jams, but the result is that sets tend to run together and, outside of aesthetic innovations like switching instruments or making the musical elements more bizarre, it has nowhere to evolve, where metal as an inherently storytelling format still has room to expand. But by the same token, metal is pulled downward by its attachment to an audience shared with rock, who will often try to make it into something more like the mainstream even as its most intelligent creators pull in the opposite direction.

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Ambient metal

People frequently ask “So what is an ‘ambient metal’ band? Have you actually seen one? Are there any metal bands out there who, if asked, would identify themselves as ‘ambient metal’?” To understand why the term is used, it is important to examine first why bands do anything that they do and second, what the term “ambient” means in the context of history.

Bands are assembled of individuals who together, in some form, decide what their output will be and create it. While much of this is a spontaneous project, there is behind-the-scenes transfer of information through shared musical influences or ideas and concepts the band members collectively find useful. It is unlikely that four guys with guitars sat down one day and said, “We should be the next cutting-edge thing. I know – let’s do ambient music, but on guitars.” A more realistic version is that a band formed and started playing with some ideas they found intellectually or musically stimulating.

The earliest human music was strictly rhythmic; the next generation of change brought linear melodic music; the generation after that used harmony and syncopation to integrate the two, and this slowly gave way to the furthest evolution of form, in which melody as the primary content expression was given context by the most complex understanding of musical devices yet known. Despite its seemingly technical origins, this music achieved an acme of expressiveness in artistic outlook. Human culture is still waiting for another artistic movement with the patient spirit and yet unbridled passion of Beethoven, Bach, Strauss or Wagner.

In the media age of the 1950s-1960s, the previous popular forms of Christian hymns, blues, country and polka were whipped into a single entity and called “rock music.” It has the populist features that classical music lacks: repetitive beat, droning pentatonic harmony, and constant dynamic intensity. It is cyclic music of an unchanging character. This linear constancy reflected the literature and ideals of the early industrial age, or modernism, although presented in a postmodern (“non-hierarchical”) aesthetic concept, until punk music distilled rock music to a few chords and shattered the illusion of uniqueness to any given rock band.

We might call rock “discrete music” because it aimed at a simple, 1:1 ratio between simple and gesture in the music. While earlier music had used pentatonic scales, including accidental or “blue” notes, blues and rock standardized on the pentatonic scale plus a single blue note; most rock is major, harmonic minor, or blues scale composition because these allow a flexible harmony in which no notes are specific to major or minor keys, meaning they can be used over different tonal centers without any notes that sound bad against a chord. Rock standardized the song format on a simplified version of English sea ballads; rock standardized constant syncopated percussion; it also standardized topics and a role (sexual initiation of teenagers). It broke away from the classical idea of phrases which periodically harmonized to exclusively use chords — descending from the guitar’s role as a rhythm instrument in ensembles, minus the ensemble — which caused rhythmic strumming within a narrow tonal range to replace the many notes and changing time signatures of what came to be called “lead rhythm” phrases. Borrowing from Anglo-Celtic, Scandinavian and German folk music, and adding a simplified version of the instrumentation used in German beerhouse bands, it took the lowest common denominator and made a fixed form of it. In short it was the perfect product, but in order to do that, it had to simplify itself into interchangeable parts which each had contextless and thus universal emotional symbolism.

In the 1970s, a countermovement arose in which musicians began looking to new forms for inspiration, and found them in the neoclassical: a merging of classicalist ideas of melody and layered structure with the newfound populist beat patterns of reduced structural changes to prevent intrusion upon the actual song pattern established by melodic architecture. Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, and arguably the first ambient guitarist, Robert Fripp, embraced principles of this ethos contra the simplistic lifestyle support of mainstream rock. In this atmosphere underground metal was born with 1983 luminaries Slayer, Sodom and Bathory. Each put out an album colored by the dark careless phrasing of Venom and wrought in the tremolo strum and ambient offtime rhythmic structures of extreme hardcore. This heritage forms the basis of all underground metal.

The opposite of discrete music, but not yet approaching the complexity of classical, ambient music creates a harmonic texture and relegates percussion to a background role, letting the phrase lead the change of song structure, key and tempo. An ideal ambient composition takes unchanging rhythm and over it layers phrases, creating harmony from their conjoined effect in the way classical music does, making moods “ad hoc” relative to its starting point. Where discrete music focuses on each piece of a song being a thing unto itself, using a universal set of symbols, ambient music invents symbols specific to each song and as a result gives pieces of a song meaning only when existing in the context of others. In this, selected metal and synthesizer music (synthpop, electronica, ambient) are closer to their classical heritage than the distillation of popular memes that is rock. Not all metal and ambient music fits this description; many artists, figuring that their listening audience would rather have something immediately recognizable and familiar in a “new” form, use rock-styled composition with different instrumentation.

Good examples of ambient metal are found in At the Gates The Red in the Sky is Ours and Darkthrone Transilvanian Hunger most prominently, but these are the end product of an evolution that began when Black Sabbath began imitating the phrases of horror movie soundtracks in streams of power chords. The first three Morbid Angel albums, anything from Burzum, the first two Sepultura EPs, and Sarcófago I.N.R.I. all exhibit ambient tendencies, among many other albums. Not surprisingly, these bands tend to write about topics that are not “universal” in the sense of common to all human beings in the way morality is surmised to be absolute, but write from a perspective outside that of the human, as if showing us interactions of people and nature in a dispassionate, nihilistic universe which delights in conflict and interconnection more than symbols held up above nature itself.

As any change in musical style points to a change in thinking patterns, the rise of ambience in metal signifies a falling away from mainstream views — which tend to be discrete, moralistic, utilitarian, and universalist — toward a naturalistic and scientific view of reality. The linear is broken; the complex and multithreaded view of causality that ancient civilizations had, in which no single event led to change, but a collaboration of events, has been restored in the music itself, as has a belief in varied dynamics, implying a greater narrative range. In this light, it is impossible to see this music as anything but an ongoing revolution, even if the names used here are still foreign to most of the bands producing it.

Ambient music and its relation to metal

The genres grew up simultaneously and converge in the current generation
by Alex Birch

After Burzum started producing pure electronic soundtracks to Pagan mythology, Fenriz from Darkthrone decided to go avant-garde and composing electronic space explorations, Ildjarn left his Discharge-empowered poetry and began producing synth-layered soundscapes, and Beherit, in an attempt to revive the band from the dusty archives, set out to create simple but haunting digitalized neoclassical harmony, many metal fans previously only accustomed to the sound of raw guitars, slamming drums, dark basses, and tearing screams from the abyss, now began taking great interest in what the electronic genre had to offer. To the surprise of many, electronic music was close to the compositional and aesthetic roots of metal, acknowledging new bands using ambient and metal to fuse a blend between two modern instrumentations.

am-bi-ent (am’be-ənt)adj. Surrounding; encircling: ambient sound; ambient air.[Latin ambiens, ambient-, present participle of ambire, to surround : amb-, ambi-, around; see ambi- + ire, to go; see ei- in Indo-European roots.]

– The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

As shown by the etymological explanation above, ambient music is an artistic medium trying to achieve an atmosphere or a particular surrounding, based most commonly on electronic sounds that are looped until the listener feels a certain mood and place arise within the mind. Usually the artist takes use of a basic synth-layer, using that as a base for a melodic or harmonic development. The synth-layer can collaborate through assonance or dissonance with another layer, in order to create balance and expand the instrumental possibilities. Tribal beats or other forms of percussion may be used to set a rhythm along with the flowing electronic waves, but most commonly these are left out completely. On top of the basic flow of key tones, the ambient artist experiments with melody and harmony, which we as listeners recognize as thematic communication. The melodies are often looped for a certain period of time, in order to achieve a form of transcendental, hypnotizing effect. Only by listening to the music continuously without interruption, perhaps over a time span of 30 minutes or longer, can the intensity and the thematic realization reach a high-end point.

Due to its very nature as music, ambient is ideal for meditation, as it means long listening hours, often with a calming and soothing effect for the mind, body, and soul. Its instrumental simplicity adds up to this, but the compositional method is often very complex. The artists can integrate different kinds of sound effects to create additional musical experiences: rivers flowing, people screaming, distorted political speeches, and even computerized sounds from a car or a machine, to further enhance and set the mood to its relative course. The leading melodies often intertwine with the basic synth-layer, ending in collaboration between rhythm (“pace”) and harmony. Some artists are able compose entire songs only by manipulating a few synth-tones, co-ordinating them into different patterns or cyclic key melodies, and as a result achieve an echoing effect in harmony. Percussion-only, like one tribal beat played against another, may also create an ambient-effect of great use — the possibilities lie within the ideas of the composer. Not surprisingly the ambient genre is a very experimental one, fusing metal, folk, jazz, and even classical music, into an organic symbiosis.

Ambient music can be seen as a structuralistic form of music, meaning the listener must recreate the compositional structure within the mind, in order to understand the ideas communicated through the musical medium. While popular music and most of the metal created today, are built around the concept of musical progression through key choruses that function as leading melodies, ambient music often lacks melodic development and instead tries to achieve an atmosphere by slowly building up harmonic tension over a large time span. The listener is forced to maintain a close relationship to the variation in tonal, melodic, and harmonic presence, and forge all partial developments of the music into a central motif. While this may sound academic, it is often very simple: by paying attention to the music you’re listening to, following the progression of the composition itself instead of the melody, you will automatically gain an understanding of the underlying structure within the music.

This does not mean that the structure in ambient music “exists” in the objective sense of the word, but that it functions as an assessment of the how the music is structured and what it tries to tell us through ideas. This, along with the fact that ambient music is created to achieve an atmosphere, makes it a very esoteric listening experience, almost like a religious ritual or an intense philosophizing thinking process. There are many kinds of ambient music and, like in metal music, certainly not all subgenres are relevant in the categorizing of the main genre. What they all share in common is a free compositional method of creating music, breaking the boundaries of verse-chorus-bridge-thinking and using the rhythm as a pacesetter and not as determiner of melodic or harmonic progression. This leaves the field open for the artists to create different patterns of ideas without being restricted to a linear beat, like in rock or popular music.

The relationship between ambient and other forms of music may seem far-fetched, but is in fact something that has helped it gain a larger listening audience outside underground circles. Metal music, like ambient, is built around the compositional idea that originates from classical music: long and intense pieces communicating an active life experience, through the inherent variation in musical structure. The free boundaries of harmony in classical music, are in ambient used to let go of all sense of percussion and instead form a continuous rhythm by regularly looping melody and sound effects, until a consecutive working arises and determines the overall thematic and musical base, on which to build upon through progression or deconstruction. Like with classical and metal music, ambient is through its free composition able to take use of partial experiences, and merging these together to form a central motif. While most rock and popular music is built around one key melody without significance to experience, classical, metal, and ambient music can only be understood when interpreting the melodic/harmonic and structural changes in the pieces, and construct these together inside the mind of listener, into a solid whole representing and describing an overall ideal, sensation, feeling, or experience.

The links between metal and ambient music are therefore multiple, and when leading bands within black metal realized the decay of the genre as a whole, they quickly turned to what must have been seen as an obvious next stage within creating neoclassical music: pure electronic textures, free from drums and conventionalities, trying to revive classical music through modern instrumentation. The ambient veteran Klaus Schulze proved that this was fully possible by releasing his album entitled “X”. In it he composes pieces functioning as musical biographies of famous German artists like Georg Trakl and Friedrich Nietzsche. While the first pieces are entirely created using the infamous synthesizer (an electronic instrument creating musical output by mathematically or by hand, manipulating keys and sounds by different musical techniques), Schulze gradually integrates classical instruments like violins. In the final piece he takes use of a full symphony orchestra and manages to create music where the classical meets the modern ambient sound techniques. The result is beyond what any artist within the ambient field so far has achieved.

Other ambient projects like the old-school synthesizer masters Tangerine Dream, began experimenting with the possibility in letting concurrent synth melodies function much like a symphony orchestra works with counterpoint, leaving out most percussive determiners and thereby form a music driven by a free melodic progression in sound. Post-techno projects like Polygon Window instead went the other way and tried to create harmony by working with tribal beats and looping them concurrently, so that a meta-harmony was taking shape as both rhythm and key melody. Early artists like Screaming Corpse would even strip the music of all melody, instead collaborating with sound effects in order to fuse different collage into central motifs. Buzzing sounds and distorted screams passing a digitalized filter, would function as instruments themselves, experimenting with echo-effects and extreme reverbing techniques.

This method of composing music was later developed into what we today refer to as “industrial ambient”, meaning a form of music that by working with machine-driven beats and sound effects replicating mechanistic and robotic parts of modern society, achieves a post-industrial form of electronic music. Similarly many projects take use of sound effects from nature, which nowadays is called “nature ambient”; samples of thunder, running water, moving glaciers etc. together with electronic instrumentation, in an attempt to describe an experience related to nature and its process as organic system. Amir Baghiri demonstrates this when forming melodic motifs by using water drums to evoke the soul of nature with its own organic material. Neoclassical ambient artist Biosphere can also be added to this list, manipulating sound effects from nature with cold and bleak soundscapes, forging a timeless atmosphere set out in the freezing northern Europe.

However, the most common form of ambient is that of long and simplistic synth tones, balancing between different tonal heights and variation in intensity, slowly building up a meditative state of mind within the listener. Lustmord and Lull are two classic examples of this compositional method: no percussion, no beat, no central melodic or harmonic motif, only hour-long sonic textures forged by the most simple of tonal variation. The theme is only understood by listening to the whole piece from start to finish, paying close attention to the underlying structures in the music and placing them in context with the central compositional idea. Metal works the same way: the understanding of the music is only apparent to the listener who follows the structural progression and not simply trying to find any “truths” within the aesthetic alone. Classical music is even more free from boundaries than metal, and requires a high attention span in order for the listener to follow each small harmonic change, and realizing its relevance from a larger contextual “truth”, which is assessed only within the mind of he or she who listens, but nonetheless is a result of an assessment of what the medium is trying to communicate.

Sometimes the entire musical picture is disintegrated into monotone sound waves, like a radio transmission being converted into pure synth layers, moving back and forth between two levels of intensity, much like the waves of the sea meets the shore. Post-Beherit project Suuri Shamaani composed music this way, following a logical progression of its previous attempts in creating solid and flowing music without as little rhythmic restrictions as possible. Inspired by synthpop masters Kraftwerk and the previously mentioned Tangerine Dream, Suuri Shamaani gained a new presence within ambient music with its desperately bleak, dissonant, organic, over-simplistic instrumentation. Fenriz’ side-project Neptune Towers was following the same lead when breaking apart the sparse beats found within the music of Tangerine Dream, and instead using the synthesizer to both shape rhythm and harmony around improvised melodies, thriving on free contextual motifs connected to the organic space of universe.

Similarly have some ambient artists been trying to use instrumentation from more traditional elements like heavy metal, to explore the possibilities in letting metal, ambient, and classical music collaborate on a common idealistic basis. Canadian ambient project Ashtorath and the more well-known artist Robert Fripp, found new life in the electronic genre when integrating classical harmony and metal instrumentation, like piano and guitar solos, even taking use of violins to achieve a neoclassical atmosphere.

While the composition behind ambient music has been complex as in the case of Klaus Schulze or Tangerine Dream, the simplicity of the instrumentation has remained as a hallmark for most of the material created within the ambient field. The veteran and official founder of the concept of ambient music, Brian Eno, stated in the liner notes to the album Music for Airports, that it had to be “[…] able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.” His music was built around this idea: simple key notes balancing on equally simple central motifs, both working as background meditation, but also providing the listener with a deeper contextual depth that only could be found by paying close attention to the structural core of each piece. In this sense, ambient music is both passive and active, as the mind of the listener concurrently experiences a background and a leading theme. This was nothing new to the metal fans that started to listen to Klaus Schulze and Neptune Towers after the outbreak of populism within the genre after 1996.

Metal music follows the same compositional method as described above: what to most people sound like “noise”, is to the regular metal listener a clear and distinctive form of music close to the classical ideals. This is understood only by seeing through the “noise” generated by the guitar riffs and the slamming drums, and instead paying attention to the underlying melody, structure, and thematic presentation. Still the metal artist is able to take use of the “noise effect” by manipulating it and turning it into an aesthetic pleasure – an important part of the musical experience as a whole. Classical music almost completely breaches the boundaries of passive/active switching by its continuous flow of partial melodic development, but similarly has the ability of being understood as both an overall tonal advancement towards a certain key motif, and as partial context in melodic detail: the focus on the partial and the whole becomes a clash that can equally by seen as the switch between the passive and active listening experience. As listeners of classical, metal, and ambient music, we both interpret the active experience and the “passive” one automatically generated, by letting the mind making a continuous re-assessment of the overall advancement of the music. This is how we are able to remember certain key parts in a musical piece, from over an hour of perhaps 40-50 different melodies; we’ve registered the overall tonal variation and from there on, remembered the partial textures built around the central motif of each piece. This can be compared to the sense of hierarchical memory by which our brain often functions: you read the word “Burzum” and think of keywords linked to that phenomenon: “ambient”, “Odin”, “Discharge”.

Is should be somewhat apparent after this reading, that ambient and metal music have a lot in common, and that the narrative basis in metal music made a logical progression away from blues/rock standards, instead trying to conquer new grounds by leaving the standardized format and migrating to an open and free composition closer to that of classical music. With that migration, the blockheads that still today are producing four-chord-cycled riffs, were left behind and still to this day do not understand nor comprehend the genius in Neptune Towers or later Burzum and Beherit. The metal artists proved once again that their ideal was an elitist and romanticist one, creating art after experience and ideal, and not after commerce and popularity. Ambient was the choice for many serious black and death metal bands when the genre became crowded with too many populists, and since the ambient field was both close to classical/romanticist ideals, and offered a modern way of reviving ancient wisdom from centuries far left behind, it was seen as the only step towards a more unrestricted musical area, filled with the passion and atmosphere that defined the best of black and death metal. Today most serious metal fans also listen to classical and ambient music, knowing these three genres contain a lasting artistic expression towards natural and traditional ideals, free from conventions found within blues, rock, and popular music, breaking new boundaries as further possibilities are explored, along the way on the journey to the stars.

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Why “Christian metal” is an oxymoron

Any genre of music can be said to have an ideology, or ideological range. The musicians and fans had to pick the music because it sounded like something they wanted in their lives. With a really dumb genre, that would be distraction or posing like a slacker or a pimp. With more complex genres, the aesthetics and organization of the music suggest ideals people desire. For metal, the aesthetic — finding beauty in dischordant darkness — and organization — a “riff salad” that narrates like a poem — suggests a rejection of the human perspective for a more holistic reality.

It is this style of metal, from its first riffs derived from the modernist-classical-lite melodies of horror movie soundtracks, which, by eschewing fixed “meaning” for a sense of fitting together as a whole and having an architectonic clarity as the songs, shows us a world from the perspective of a movie, or a scientist, or history: the camera pans back and we no longer think of individuals involved as being important in their own right. We think of the story, the situation, and the outcome, but with our knowledge we cannot be limited to an anthropocentric position.

This is how, without even reading the lyrics, we can tell what metal has in the way of values and worldview, which if you believe in them enough to think they’d make a good organization for civilization, you call an “ideology.” The ideology of Britney Spears is “what the hell, who cares”; the ideology of jazz is cosmopolitanism; the ideology of techno is vibrant distraction; the ideology of classical music is a respect for intensity and attention span. All forms of art have some form of ideology, although sometimes it is hard to recognize because it is subtle or, in many cases, non-challenging (see “Britney Spears” some words ago).

The Metal Ideology

With a little more analysis, we can enumerate the metal ideology as follows:

  • Feral naturalism – Horror, predation, violence, and battle are praised for their intensity as experience and their power. Morality is thrown away in favor of this appreciation for the mechanisms of reality.
  • Technofutilism – As in horror films, technology and social institutions are useless for dealing with the problems we face.
  • Realistic individualism – The wisdom of crowds is feared and seen as false, since they pander to each other (poseurs, sell-outs). However, the individualist is realistic and so knows that everyone in a crowd is an individualist, and that’s how a crowd forms.
  • Nihilism – Morality is a human imposition, as are value and purpose. Nature doesn’t care what happens to us, and neither do the gods. We’re in the driver’s seat and whether we sink or swim is 100% up to us.
  • Holism – There is a frustration with the tendency of modern society to break down experiences and concepts by using exclusive logical OR operations in a categorical context; it is either a truth OR an opinion, but can’t be both, and so on. Metal is a genre of logical AND, in that it sees all of our judgments as attributes and reality as the only arbitrer.
  • Ludic, absurdist materialism – In a metal view, we are only fleshy bodies and we can have transcendent thoughts, but we will always be what we are. From that, we can clear aside pretense and enjoy life, which is inherently absurd, gross, terrifying, crass, insane and beautiful, the most rational design ever, rewarding.

Evidence for each of these assertions can be found in metal lyrics, imagery and through a thoughtful perspective on the sounds and structures used in metal songs. You could claim “the past is alive” and “only death is real” as good starting points, but even early Black Sabbath lyrics have the romanticist, naturalistic, holistic and nihilistic tendencies that create the above values system. In this, metal bands are not dissimilar to European Romantic poetry and classical music, which was also post-moral, saw the individual as a means and not an end, nationalistic, and playful.

Christianity, on the other hand, is more complex because it is open to wide interpretations. Narrowing in on what most people believe, we can see it has several basic tenets, originating in its idea of individual equality in the eyes of God. To a metalhead, this interpretation of Christianity seems anti-nature, because we are not equal in ability and any interpretation of equality is a human imposition that does not exist in nature; further, metalheads distrust the creation of alternate realities like God, heaven and hell. Not all interpretations of Christianity have these tenets, and some in fact are closer to what metal believes (the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Johannes Eckhart or Arthur Schopenhauer come to mind). But for the mass religion that conquered much of Europe, these are its beliefs:

  • Dualism – Christianity believes in a second reality that exists outside of this one. This reality, in which there is pure moral “good,” is called Heaven and we are supposed to impose it on earth; Hell exists in this same spirit realm.
  • Morality/peace/benevolence – In Christian lore, the best possible method of living is one that is peaceful, as that way you do not interrupt others. To a metalhead, this is ridiculous because people can be doing things that while not explicitly immoral cause bad consequences, and so of course you interrupt them.
  • Discrete individualism – Christian dogma supports the idea of the individual as absolute in that they are to be granted as much freedom as possible, and can be judged only by God, and should be forgiven when they screw up. This is to a metalhead imposition of the will of the Crowd on the individual and a type of slavery, as it retards those who do have a clue from acting to keep the clueless from dominating via superior numbers.

The common root of these Christian beliefs is humanism, or belief in the predominance of the human form and its incarnations, individuals. The Christian God is shaped like a human; Christian morality rewards never harming or killing humans even if they’re doing insane things; Christian morality emphasizes how we’re all equal. We can see how the elaborate dance of morality and theology supports a much simpler human truth, which is the desire of the ego of each one of us to be independent from forces which can humble it with reality. We want to be free from the consequences of making bad decisions and the social judgment of others, because either can show us to be incorrect or to have a weakness, and that scares us in a social setting and makes us lose social status. The root of Christianity is affirming the ego’s power; the root of metal is affirming the power of nature and by unintentional consequence, decreasing the supremacy of the ego.

Romanticism

Romanticism, the parent belief of metal, originates in a more naturalistic time before beliefs like Christianity separated the self-valuation of the human individual from nature, and gave them an imaginary reality (morality) with which to compensate. Although Christianity means well, the unintended consequence is that it makes people more selfish because instead of just trying to live their lives, they are now trying to prove and justify their worth in a moral context. The resulting drama creates many social problems because it ultimately boils down to a denial of reality in favor of individual withdrawl from reality, and it creates neurosis and ego competition.

For this reason art — which tries to affirm our bonds to reality, or through unitivity remove us from false worlds and the withdrawl into our own perspective — has been at odds with society for at least a millenium, perhaps longer. Where social control, power, law and religion require external affirmation for the individual to justify themselves, art confronts the accepted vision of reality with a fantasy that is metaphorically more accurate than the “scientific” and “objective” beliefs of a dying society. Art reconnects us with cause/effect reasoning by taking us out of a false context, and through a new context, showing us where our values lie.

Both Romanticist art and metal are therefore in conflict with Christianity as 99% of its audience practices it, and they have run into additional conflict through Christian propaganda trying to emulate the original art forms. When a Christian or secular humanist (atheistic version of Christian morality) sees metal, which is a value system that not only denies their own but makes it look like an arbitrary fantasy into which people escape their fear of mortality and failure, they have a tendency to do what any good propagandist would do: make their own version of the art in question, and then point to that new creation which did not emerge from the artistic movement but was imposed upon it, and use its existence to claim that consensus does not exist in the artistic movement.

We call this imposed, false, externalized metal “Christian metal” because its defining factor is that it is Christian. It is not a genre, but can appear in any genre; it is an ideological tag with a parallel in neo-Nazi music in that what matters most is its message, and it uses metal as a conduit for that message, instead of wanting to create metal for metal’s sake and therefore explore the values of metal.

A History of Christian Metal

Metal is a romanticist movement which was inspired by the classical era of European humanity, including as part of its view many Romantic philosophical ideals which are pre-Christian in their derivation and anti-Christian in their values.

  • Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath were originally a blues band who later shifted to metal to reflect an interest in the occult. After three albums in which massive drug use and public outcry over their beliefs battered them down, they created an album which had several pro-Christian songs. This does not necessarily reflect their beliefs, nor is likely to do so, but illustrates the confusion and doubt they encountered at the time and the religion of their youth to whose programming they returned. Further, their songs which had a “warning” about the occult were a product of their having an interest in occultist themes, but not necessarily a propagandistic outlook on it (where in contrast, every single “Christian metal” band that has ever existed has taken a preachy, condescending, demagogic tone toward their audience).
  • Metal – Metal, in Black Sabbath and related bands of that era including King Crimson, Led Zeppelin, and Blue Cheer, reflected a tendency toward darker worldviews which could best be described as Romanticist in the spirit of the literature, art and music of the post-Renaissance in which artists disaffected with the humanism of the time sought a greater meaning than a moralization to existence through art. Poets like Keats, Wordsworth, and Shelley were a revolution against a secular Christian movement in which, despite little talk of afterlife and spirituality, a tendency existed for the first time in European art to preach a secular morality to which one adhered or drifted into the ambiguous, obscure and “evil.” The works of those poets and others from the modern Romanticist movement were invoked by the similar themes of early proto-metal bands, including a fascination with the morbid and with ancient times, a desire for transcendence within the world itself, a ruthless sense of self-discipline and heroic character, and a desire for more significance in life itself more than a concern for post-death salvation.After some years of heavy metal, the movement had solidified much of its artistic technique but had degenerated into hedonism, and fortunately was able to merge with the more dogmatic punk to form the first generation of speed metal. These bands were alarmingly preachy and leftist and as a result quickly self-destructed, prompting the extreme side of metal to go “underground” and dispense entirely with morality and, in the lead of heroes like Bathory and Slayer, who arguably invented the next generation, to preach an imaginative, Romantic “Satanic” outlook which like Black Sabbath was more fascinated with the occult than with preaching its values. The music of Slayer for example uses metaphorical Satanism to describe the errors and horrors of war, disease, violence and crime. Following these bands was a genre made more alienated by the increasing failures of society to recognize its error, and made somewhat bitter by the increasing resentment rising from a society (America at least) that in 80% of its members found an affinity for Judeo-Christian beliefs. Death metal and following it, black metal, as a result were more violent and more dogmatic toward Christ and Judea; part of this was inherited from their “hidden” ancestors in hardcore punk music, who as part of their alienated nihilism recognized religion as the social control mechanism which many of us allege it is.

    From the No Right to Disagree With Us Department:

    The national poll of 1,000 American adults conducted April 26 through May 6, 2002 found that 17% of Americans – or about 35 million adults – hold views about Jews that are “unquestionably anti-Semitic.” source

    With the state of metal now, virtually every formative band in the underground has taken a negative stance on Christianity (and many have attacked Judaism and Islam as well). This is a result of the evolutionary process within the genre detailed above. Times have changed since Black Sabbath, and to a perceptive youth of today the strengthening role of religion and secular moral symbolism derived from religion is not only clear but alarming. Consequently, the most popular metal genre ever, black metal, is unanimous in its destructive impulses toward Christianity and its parent religion, Judaism from the middle east.

  • Why Christian metal is destructive – The Christian — or to a philosopher, humanist, whether secular or ecclesiastical — worldview is the underlying outlook of our society. That means that anything which is not Christian or secular humanist is the rarity, not the other way around. Christians confuse a lack of symbolic agreement with Christianity — saying “I am a Christian” or similar — with a lack of agreement. Essentially, secular humanism and Christianity are the same philosophy and they’re what all but a few people in our society take for granted as “correct.”With this in mind, it makes almost no sense that Christians would attempt to subvert metal for their own dogma, yet they attempt it because symbolically, metal is threatening to the Christian outlook because it endorses a theory in which good and evil are necessary balance, yet does not endorse true “evil” (selfish, deconstructive, callow acts). We should be cynical toward the Christian metal perspective and question it at all times, because it is paradoxical for the following reasons:
    • First, if people should write about what they really believe in, why should they spread the dogma of a religion that they didn’t invent?
    • If they really believe this religion, then metal – as a movement with overwhelming occultist, nihilistic, fascistic overtones – is something they should avoid. Why would they choose to join a genre which contradicts what they believe?
    • Is there no greater “trend” than the 2,000 years in which Judeo-Christian religions have been gaining prominence in the west? What is “un-trendy” about following the same religion that at least 80% of the people in your country follow?
    • Why should metal desire “a lot more of the youth” to be interested in it, if conformity is not our goal? Metal is like many genres self-selecting, and does not aim to be broad. By your logic, we should start making music like Britney Spears (except with a Christian message!) in order to get a wider audience.
    • How can one “truly feel” something which one has to be taught in order to regard it as true? A man raised alone in the forest may invent a religion, but perhaps not the whole dogma of Christ.

    There is obviously more to be said along these lines of questioning, but it’s not necessary here. I’d like to close by mentioning something else: that every single “Christian metal” band that has ever existed has been a poor copy of a “secular” band. Even the most popular, “Believer,” were a ripoff of an Atheist album coming out a year earlier. The separate nature of “Christian metal,” and that the genre itself draws a clear distinction between “secular” and religious music, demonstrates how Christians view “Christian metal”: a tool for preaching acceptable lyrics into a genre that has otherwise on the whole rejected Christ.

In 1990, ninety percent of the adult population identified with one or another religion group. source

In our current time, Judeo-Christianity is not only dominant in social thinking but has become secularized and dominant there as well. Prior to Judeo-Christianity’s arrival, concepts such as “morality” and “equality” and dualism were rejected by the inhabitants of Europe as insane or alien. After years of slowly working its way into that culture, Christianity became the dominant religion through its influence among the poor, the downtrodden, the pathetic, the less-capable and the spiteful. Currently, Judaism and Christianity are the dominant religions in America and most of the Western World. For example, both presidential candidates in the last election spoke extensively of their relationships to “God” and of the “morality” of their ideas, including vice-Presidential candidate Joseph Liebermann who considers himself “the moral voice of the Senate.”

“From these two religions we find at least all of our last ten presidents and their ancestors, and among the believers we find the owners of every major media establishment in the country as well as most of the smaller ones. Virtually every Congressperson has prominently featured in his or her campaign propaganda the Christian or Jewish nature of his or her morality, and most television anchors will make reference to secularized Christian moral concepts or the Judaic “God” in the midst of a supposedly objective broadcast. Before Judeo-Christianity, these concepts did not exist in the Western world; their sole origin is in the religions of Christ and Moses (who were both born Jewish).

This article is not an attempt to smear the people ensnared by these sick ideas; on the contrary, I view them as “victims” also in that their consciousness has had a control mechanism implanted within it. This goes for secular people like yourself, who in good faith sit down and write me a letter like the one quoted above in which you espouse humanist ideals of “individual choice” and “belief.” In the cases of believers however, those ideals do not exist; what does exist is conformity to an ideal of social control, and metal rightly rejects it.

Christians see themselves as very tolerant of people of other faiths, with 81% of Christians saying that Christians in the United States are “very” or “somewhat” tolerant of people of other faiths. People who are not Christians agree with this view for the most part, but not nearly as many of them are fully convinced of Christian tolerance. Only 54% of non-Christians see Christians as being tolerant of people of other faiths. source

Another Form of Humanism: Satanism

Satanism in black metal, death metal, “doom metal,” heavy metal, evil metal, speed metal, thrash and grindcore/metal hybrids arises from the need of metal musicians to understand emptiness in the universe and find a metaphor for its acceptance, a trait in evidence in death metal, black metal, heavy metal and ambient metal to extremes. Much like Romantic poets John Milton or William Blake explored the occult, evil and Satan as metaphor, metal bands find Satan a tempting metaphor for a society against which you can rebel without escaping its psychological trap.

Many of society’s abused denizens, looking at the over-the-top exultation in Satanism, Evil, deviant or degenerate behavior in metal, find themselvs turning back in disgust: “Awk! These kids are just trying to piss me off – contrarians, they only want to invert what is, and to create attention for themselves.”

One could not be more wrong. Contrarians wish to behave “badly” to grab the attention that comes from swimming the wrong way up the stream, but to get that attention, they depend on a cousin of pity: the belief that those who choose a different path are lost and looking for the others to bring them back in to a hearth of comfort and goodness. In short, a contrarian affirms the belief system she is rejecting.

Satanism, as practiced by death metal and black metal bands, does not involve an inversion but a surpassing of moral norms and social custom. To understand this, one must first understand the nihilism of metal bands: they do not believe there is “good” or “evil,” but see events as disconnected from any form of absolute other than their inherent function – that is to say, metal bands believe that events do not have a face value and instead view existence with a scientific eye that traces a complexity of causes, reactions, and similarities but does not attempt to ascribe any of it to absolute forces except logical tendencies.

Where Satanism exists for metal bands it functions as metaphor in following the footsteps of the Master: in each mythology where he touches, the Satan-figure is the youthful and ambiguous rebel who rejects what has come before in favor of his own path, and despite his consequent exile from society, finds truth in what he has created and found. The cry from Milton of Satan’s independence – “I will not serve!” – echoes in a genre that insists on finding out its own answers, and creating its own paths, on an individual basis. Unfortunately, that leads to the ego-basis of Christianity and secular humanism, and shortly afterwards, the sickening morals that constrain begin again.

Resistance

You can strengthen the genre of metal by resisting this form of social control in form of boycotts, public awareness of its true intention, and a refusal to accept it as metal. If it is played on the radio, call in to speak the truth about its agenda. If a friend plays it on a stereo, speak out against the controlling mindset of the music. If someone tells you that it’s “open-minded” to accept music that attempts to destroy the philosophies of the genre to which it theoretically belongs, tell them that art does not reprogram human souls toward giving in to a fear of death, and that true metal will liberate them from their fear of existence.

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Why I am not a Satanist

Both religions have the same core: me first, reality second

Of all the subcultures to emerge following the dominance of rock over popular music, heavy metal and its associated genres remain unique in that they have maintained a counter-culture that targets not just the visible “establishment,” but also all things that hold the core values of that philosophical system; metal is a naturalistic movement opposed to the utilitarian values of modern society, but it has kept its head up and thus far mostly avoided assimilation by not taking an explicitly political stance, but an artistic and metaphorical one.

This outlook has increasing driven it out of the mainstream consciousness, which has allowed it to keep its independence in part by mostly separating itself from the crowd of hopeless people looking for an identity and an easy, one-size-fits-all solution to they subliminal angst they feel about living in a fatalistic and submissive era. Of course, it has not managed this exclusively; some of the biggest sheep, and most profound losers, of our time have been metalheads, even some who have been very influential in the genre. In this way, within the metal genre the drama of the larger society is acted out in microcosm: the few who understand pulling away from the mass which wants what they have, and would emulate it to the point of drowning out legitimate voices in the genre.

What makes the mass destructive is the nature of a crowd, by definition: it is people who come together on the basest pretense and, out of fear for their individual selves, enacts a mass-will upon society at large to remove anything that threatens the herd. When you see a crowd, you are not seeing uniform people, but vastly different people who are disorganized and thus can only accept the lowest common denominator motivation, which is usually as follows: do not criticize me for anything that I do, insofar as I do not violate this basic tenet of crowd-belief toward others; give to me everything that our best people have, as I am participating in the crowd and thus “contributing.” As with all utilitarian systems, this mentality punishes the more capable in order to keep the broader masses from feeling inferior, or that they’re missing out.

Heavy metal music, by its very nature and alienation, recognizes that society operates on two levels: a public level, which comprises the kind of things you’d tell a crowd to make them feel you have their best interests at heart, and a private level, at which actual motivations are acted upon using the tokens of the public level in such a way that their function does not match their definition. It is a lot like hacking, actually; you overload some kind of input buffer with data that appears to be harmless, but contains concealed instructions that the machine, unaware that something labeled “data” might be “code,” executes and hands control to the intruder. William S. Burroughs famously declared, “Language is a virus,” and thus explained the same concept as applies to modern mass-media psychology.

What happens in a computer is that it confuses appearance with reality; the code is reality, but the idea that it is harmless data is the appearance. Similarly in our society we are divided between appearance, which generally consists of happy nonsense to keep you distracted, and reality, which is the relentless pursuit of wealth and a spiritual emptiness that justifies it. (As mentioned here before, this takes us back to a split that the Greeks noticed, between things as they are and their abstractions, which are often mentioned as that which casts a shadow, with the shadow we see being what we know of “reality.”)

Since any tokens manipulated on the public level have dual meaning, and are thus meaningless, heavy metal targetted something more sublime: emotions and self-image. The Gothic, Romanticist, naturalistic and elitist-individualist imagery of even Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin did this, but it flowered from there into a proliferation of forms, each of which took the basic concept and developed it further, all without explicitly knowing why or what was being done. This ignorance of an articulation of what is being done allowed it to be passed, from mind to mind, through the subconscious channel of appealing imagery and concept in personal life, much as it was done in Romanticist literature, art and music: those who found greatness in the past, specifically medieval and ancient civilizations, and could process a melancholy acceptance of death and desire for personal greatness in heroic accomplishment, would naturally find the music appealing.

This is in part because, in addition to imagery, metal music literally sounds like the description of Romantic ideals above. It doesn’t embrace the centralized harmonic structures of rock music, which is Indo-European folk music simplified to the degree of fixing a harmonic center and manipulating major/minor changes for mood, over a syncopated beat so that even the dumbest person can follow it, and it doesn’t embrace the pleasing sounds and casual human vocal noises of pop. Where pop attempts to define beauty and approximate it as a medium, metal attempts to find what is beautiful in that which is, on the level of things that explicitly defined, ugly. If society exists on a level where public discourse is manipulated by private reality, metal is an inversion of that, such that the meaning of public discourse is found within private reality.

Metaphorically, metal almost exactly mirrors Romanticist literature, even down to its fascination with nature and the occult. Loneliness and alienation create independence; obsession with the forces of nature and the power of warfare creates a post-moralistic sense of seeing how life works rather than judging it; wandering into the embrace of Satan affirms the pagan belief that there can be no public level of “good” separated from “bad,” but that good and bad are forces which together create a meta-good, mainly the ongoing process of life itself. These are the values of metal, and they are almost never explicitly spelled out because to do so, in the music, would be to expose the inner workings of the subculture to manipulation by those who have not discovered this meaning on their own; emulation and cheapening would follow.

For this reason, it is important to remember that Satanism in metal is metaphor. Many of the largest proponents of Satanic imagery in metal were Deists and some were Christians, but used Satan in a way similar to that of John Milton or William Blake to describe the individual Will or Ego; when Black Sabbath wrote “War Pigs,” and described how modern society sends its workers off to die in foreign fields for abstract and mostly irrelevant political objectives masking a private reality of profit and power, they concluded it with “Satan laughing spreads his wings” not to praise Satan but to describe, in theological metaphor, what had occurred: humans had confused public reality with absolute truth, and thus been manipulated, and from that, an inner resentment and fatalism expressed itself in the confusion that followed. Satan laughing spreads his wings: a statement of the futility of our time, and in later bands, of the uselessness of religions that conflate Absolute truth with the public level of reality.

In doing this, metal attacked the fundamental Platonic split between the world of appearance and the world of structure; appearance was seen to be aesthetic, and not necessarily related to structure, which was defined by context, something which theological and occult imagery, by the nature of its cosmological outlook, expresses succinctly. While hardcore punk musicians attempted to rearrange the symbols of the public imagery into a meaningful private discourse, metal brushed past and declared the public reality defunct, urging its listeners to look instead toward their inner motivations and animal feelings. However, as with all things, the surging crowd – those who by definition did not and thus could not do it the first time around – sees something it likes and apes it furiously, producing a parody of it by only understanding the level of appearance and taking that appearance as truth, something which belongs to the domain of structure alone.

For this reason, although I have never been a Satanist, I have often employed Satanic and occult imagery in my writing, much as the smarter metal bands have done. In a world ruled by a Christian or secularized Christian (liberal) concept of absolute truth as public reality, one strikes back by upholding all that cannot be ruled by such a petty device, in the process pointing out that such dualistic thought patterns are in fact a simple rhetorical device misinterpreted by the crowd and thus used for its own purposes. In contrast, the crowd embraces Satanism as a truth in itself, and tries through silly literal rituals and laughable posing to be “truer” Satanists that the others, or more “extreme,” or some variation of attempting to find a devotional truth in life. It cannot be done, and therefore these bands and individuals tend to ring hollow to the thinker, and their works — well, let us say that in the years following 1996, there have perhaps been three black metal bands of the caliber of those who occurred 1990-1996, and it is similar in their own times with other subgenres of metal.

I can extend this concept further. National Socialism is popular in some black metal circles, but that is mainly because it’s easier to label oneself a National Socialist and start collecting gear and posing than it is to understand the core concept of National Socialism, which is a feudalistic ethnocultural post-moral revival of classical Indo-European culture. That relatively complex thought gets distilled down to, as Faulkner said, “a hatred of black skins” alone, and thus parodies itself. What kind of idiot believes that African genocide will solve humanity’s problems? Black Sabbath were more advanced in thought with “Satan laughing spreads his wings” than all the goose-stepping fools, or those from the opposite end who make the same mistake, the leftist: they assume that by labelling themselves as egalitarian and tolerant that humanity’s problems will resolve themselves on the level of public discourse. All of them are misguided, and represent waste by the roadside of a path to knowledge.

Death metal and grindcore had its own version of this comedy. Bands like Carcass and Morpheus used intricate descriptions of death and decay as a way of reminding their audience that public reality is a dream designed to deny death, and that when we realize our own mortality, we can comprehend that meaning is not found in public discourse or in liberal/conservative platitudes, but in addressing reality – yes, actual reality, including that good and bad are needed to produce meta-good – we liberate ourselves from illusion and can begin work on the real task. They were followed by unnamed and now thankfully forgotten bands who found an identity in glorifying death, bloodshed, violence, disease, perversity and disgust, all in full ignorance of the original concept. It is not surprising the music of these bands was also of a lesser nature, as their thinking was clearer on a more basic, linear level.

In my view, there is truth to be found in all of these viewpoints, if interpreted correctly. National Socialism and liberalism are not that far apart when we look at their basic motivation; both want to establish healthy cultures where people are not left to the predatory whim of speculative capital. Satan and gore both wish to affirm natural belief over that of the thing-as-named public reality. Even Christians and pagans have the same essential goal, which is to find a larger reason to have values outside the material and thus find meaning in existence. However, our time is confused, as somewhere along the path to this “great” industrial society we have lost the systems of thought that give a whole meaning to the entire process of life, instead of selecting some aspect with which to label oneself and hold up as a shield of “meaning” against death. In a confused time, only a few actually seek truth, while everyone else looks for it as they might a product on a shelf or the best fruit among the ripening burden of branches.

This article is not an attempt to discredit or assault bands who use Satan as metaphor; much like Blake, or Dante, or Eliot, or any number of artists, their quest is legitimate. It should serve, however, as an introduction to the theory of metal as an art form, and an explanation of why there are so many mediocre imitators, of “Satanist” or leftist or NSBM variety alike, and only a few leaders, and thus, a mandate for future thinkers in this genre to start with the leaders and not the followers. Metal remains under assault by both public culture and public “counter-culture” (an anti-establishment affirmation of public cultural beliefs, in trendier form) alike, and thus must keep an intellectual and artistic lead or it will be assimilated and left with Slipknot, Korn and Creed as its tombstone.

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Interview: Mr Blaash (Where’s My Skin? Zine)

Those on the prowl for interesting literature about the metal movement may be familiar with Mr. Blaash of Where’s My Skin? zine. His misanthropic commentaries on metal, death, life, self-mutilation and guns are gratifying to those of us who have experienced enough alienation to hate any form of sociability. Blaash kindly granted an interview between reloads on his MP5 during a streetfight in Houston.

How did you get into black metal: was there metal before it that you liked, did it alone appeal to you, or did you find it through a non-metal genre?

Hm. When I was a little blaash, back in the 80s, I found early bands like SLAYER, early METALLICA with Cliff (no remorse, no regrets, we don’t care, what it meant), early MEGADETH (its black Friday!), a little POSSESSED(7 churches), early SABBAT (a history of a time to come – from the UK before they turned UltraGay), and a fucking healthy LOUD dosage of RIGOR MORTIS ( DEMONS).. from there I instinctively turned to the glory of death metal, with DEMIGOD, XYSMA, FUNEBRE, PHLEGM, IMPETIGO, BOLT THROWER, CARCASS and so on.. mainly by listening to a radio show at like midnight by Wes Weaver (now of INFERNAL DOMINION) called Sweet Nightmares… around the time of my first issue oh, lets say 92 or so, I was introduced to the TAOG EHT FO HTAO demo from IMPALED NAZARENE.. I immediately made contact with the man and from henceward I followed with IMMORTAL’s “Fullmoon..”, MARDUK’s “dark endless” and COF’s “principle”.. it culminated with the first slicing as I heard the EMPEROR split with ENSLAVED.. truly an honour to have heard such albums before they have long since “progressed” or some such thing.. it is a shame that the younger generations (rightfully perhaps) spit upon these bands because they were introduced to the LATTER releases, instead of realizing that back in 93 or so that these were skullfucking releases at the time..

Describe what black metal sounds like to you.

As it should – Extreme, in at least some sense of the word.

Describe what black metal communicates to you.

Ah – An aura of violence followed by an intrinsic self destructive honour; that it is still within our grasp to end our own existence or that of another… feelings of no self worth, but with the knowledge that one does not need to have any.. perhaps this is sounding a bit confused; but for me it fuels the fire of negativism in my person; of continuing a fight with the knowledge that in the end I will lose; but that is not the point; the point is the struggle itself, and how many I plague, harass, molest, spread the seed of propaganda onto (heh or into)and/or horrify/depress or encourage others to do so….

What “is” black metal?

As with any form of medium; propaganda – a weapon to encourage negativity in the extreme to others…

How did you get into writing, and why did you choose to do Where’s My Skin?

When I was a young maggot I always had the penchant to write.. I used to write cynical opinions about world events.. I especially liked the LA riots (the darkies were outraged about something, so they destroyed THEIR OWN neighborhood.. shouldn’t they have at least destroyed somebody elses) and also Maggie Thatcher, and CNN (I really think they start the wars, just to have something on TV)…As I delved further into the scene, I ran into some killer zines like billy nocera’s COVEN zine and others.. however, I also ran into shittily written pieces of fucking nonsensical crap – I could not tolerate the extremely poor grammar and just outright usage of the same ‘its brutal man’ reviews. Fuck I couldn’t fucking stand it. Theres nothing wrong with a shitty looking zine – hell look at mine; but at the very least compose it competently.. a good current example would be HELLISH MASSACRE from Sweden.. also TALES FROM THE EIBON (france), tho needs A LOT OF WORK… seems to be showing improvement..

Do you believe as did Georges Bataille that human life in part consists of looking for a good method of expenditure, meaning a means of expression that culminates in the depletion of the life itself?

I believe this is simply a metaphor for ‘finding a goal’ in life. To find ‘meaning’ – be it rape, serial killing or an accounting position at KPMG.. as one attempts to reach these goals, he is confounded (and/or arrested or shot, depending on what goals one pursues)… and eventually dies. Bataille was quite a healthy pervert and an esoteric/violent thinker, from what little I know of him. Would probably great to trade stories with over whiskey.

Let us consider in particular how concepts are formed; each word immediately becomes a concept, not by virtue of the fact that it is inteded to serve as a memory (say) of the unique, utterly individualized, primary experience to which it owes its existence, but because at the same time it must fit countless other, more or less similar cases, i.e. cases which strictly speaking are never equivalent, and thus nothing other than non-equivalent cases. Just as it is certain that no leaf is ever exactly the same as any other leaf, it is equally certain that the concept ‘leaf’ is formed by dropping these individual differences arbitrarily, by forgetting those features which differentiate one thing from another, so that the concept then gives rise to the notion that something other than leaves exists in nature, something which would be ‘leaf,’ a primal form, say, from which all leaves were woven, drawn, delineated, dyed, curled, painted — but by a clumsy pair of hands, so that no single example turned out to be a faithful, correct, and reliable copy of the primal form. We call a man honest; we ask, ‘Why did he act so honestly today?’ Our answer is usually: ‘Because of his honesty.’ Honesty! — yet again, this means that the leaf is the cause of the leaves.

– F.W. Nietzsche, On Truth and Lying in a Non-Moral Sense

Is there any division between love and hate for you?

Well. They’re spelled differently. Hows that?Hm. Both are strong emotions…. I myself am trying to move to that cold, negative feeling that one gets when listening to the ANTAEUS interludes from CYAWS.. of simply Not caring. Par example “No I don’t hate that person, because that would mean I care about them – I just want them dead”… I realize in our pseudo nihilistic coalition it is necessary to have those with passion (and strong emotion like hate); those who enjoy their work – these men (women?) will be the brutal, sadistic serial killers that truly define us.. while we just sit back and guffaw when we read about the newest missing daughter’s breasticle found in her mothers shoe…

Most art in this postmodern time outside of black metal seems to focus on finding a convenient way to express the idea that human life is valuable. Why is it artistically, politically and socially valuable for you to think otherwise?

The morals of the current American society have attempted to teach this; however, I believe it is having the opposite effect.. the morally deviant can obviously see the hollowness of this deluge; hell, even the supposed xtians are doing the opposite these days..I have always been wary of society and socially accepted principles – I see nothing but mediocrity and hypocrisy .. that is one reason I have embraced the path of self destruction and disdain for the majority of society…

Do you think armed political uprising is in the American future?

No. Big Brother has too much of a stranglehold.. if we in turn manage some decent domestic terrorism, it will only serve as a carte blanche for the government to act in silencing us further.. still. It would be interesting to bring down the wrath of oppression – as it nominally, at the least, brings forth rebellion and then violent repression.. so.

What is your preferred method of killing humans?

Havent killed any, so unfortunately I cant give a first hand account and/or description and high points/low points of such an activity. However, I am very, very prone to projectile weapons.Again, those with the passion to properly enjoy this activity should be on our payroll; but me, hell, I just want to get the job done; I have a bar I have to go to afterwards anyway.

You live in one of the most ethnically- and culturally-diverse cities on earth, Houston. What do you like about Houston, and what do you dislike?

I can see you giggling as you write that statement. What the fuck .. we have a dangerous VietCong Mafia, 4thWard NigsAplenty, the BlackHand Messican mafia, and more Nigerian cabbies then I can shake my willy at.. there is NOTHING to like.. fuck. The only interesting thing is that there are Europeans (women) that come here, due to Houston being a port city. It is a nice break from the fucking Huge FuckinG MOO-Cows we have runnin’ around here that pass for women. Shit.

Isn’t it fucking hot as hell there?

Prozak – I’m gonna kick you in the groin for that one when/if I see you at the SatanTonio Fest in December. Fuck yeah its like breathing in a nuclear cloud – I don’t fucking care if its sunny in all of the south, we’re in a fucking sewer in Houston – the humidity makes it feel like youre in a sauna – to boot, it rains a lot, and then its SUNNY at the same time – great for blinding you and making you sweat your ass off. I guaranFuckinGtee satan thinks that even Houston might be a good training ground for some of his potential executives.

What do you like and dislike about Texas?

Likes –
Waco – hehe. Killed us some ATF agents we did. In the name of god too. Hehe
Guns. Lots of em.
Not too many Yankees – The northern aggressors
Space – nice, open non populated, flat space.
Cheap consumer goods – food, clothes, cocaine, whiskey, porn etc

Dislikes –
COPS – there are four fucking kind of cops in Houston alone that can shoot me – the Department of public safety (they have cowboy hats and BIG guns), Houston police, Houston Constables, County Sheriffs, METRO police.. shit
THE WEATHER – see above
The sports teams – they all choke/suck and I still watch them
THE WEATHER
The women – MOO.. they have trained the men to like them and think its okay theyre fat, overweight and whiney. The men feel They Have To Like Them because that’s ALL that’s around here. Shit they showed some pics of dallas women lookin’ all hot and slutty like – I bet they weren’t from dallas.. I’m exagerattin’ a bit I suppose – but its especially horrible in Houston.. when you can get a .99 cent hamburger and a .79 64oz coke and NOT do any exercise.. shit. You get an inflated heifer

Of course.. I ll plug them here I suppose

Are there any local bands you find excellent?

KATHONIK – most underrated band of houston – the front man for this band has been around for 10 fucking years, 4 demos, an unreleased (never will be) older album and a newer cd (that still needs proper releasement) – killllller razor in your face black with a touch of doom.. http://kathonik.cjb.net
ADUMUS – hehe. I know you don’t like the keyboards, but heh.http://come.to/adumus
BRUTALLY MUTILATED – old style IMPETIGO worship
BLACK BONED ANGEL – satanic celtic frost Johnny cash
TO SCALE THE THRONE – basic straight forward mid paced black..www.geocities.com/toscalethethrone
INFERNAL DOMINION – ex IMPRECATION .. fast as fuck brutal satanic death
THE DRUNKS – VIOLENT WHISKEY ROCKNROLL – excellent live shows.. good cover of witching hour..
UNCHRIST – newer band – good demo release – kathonik members
HIDEOUSLY DEFLESHED Uhm.. I liked their vocals – that is what saved me from just walking away from the stage in boredom…http://www.hdsproductions.cc/
I’m sure I forgot someone.. I suppose I’ll just get thocked for it.

What do you think distinguishes Texas as a locality from other areas, aside from climactic and geographical concerns?

We have a lot of satanic Hispanics? I don’t know. For some reason, I’ve noticed, even when in other countries, that I state I am a Texan first… I guess its because I’ve personally become enamored with the right of Texans to shoot and kill anybody attempting to steal property at night. Or the “trespassers will be SHOT” signs I see on open roadside (where I’m sure some redneck with a sniper rifle is just waiting for a city boy to try to piss on it)… just the fact that we up and stole this land fair n square from the Mexicans two centuries ago and that we joined the yankee coalition of states as a Favour to them. We have our oil, NASA (for space defense) and our own ground/air forces, so I don’t see a problem with becoming the United Texan Front or something…

Do you think there will be another truly great band from Texas?

You mean besides RIGOR MORTIS and ABSU .. and NECROVORE (I ‘m unfamiliar with this band however, but it is greatly appreciated it seems)…I think so. The climate and road construction leads to so much rage I figure it will manifest itself in another project. Who this might be.. I don’t know.

What are your feelings on Texas seceding from the Union?

See above.

do you think metal music is a form of rock-n-roll?

I am not a metal geetarist per se- but many I know seem have all started out with the older bands of rocknroll and such… and many still admire the technical proficiency of said artists.. I would like to say we’ve defined our own sub genre that cannot be categorized with simple rock bands; however though that argument may hold true for younger dragoons within the metal ranks, it might not hold much veracity with the elders of this genre – mainly with more experience there usually comes further education into other forms of music etc..

What is most important in a metal band, composition, production or attitude? Can these be separated?

1st Attitude – what is the goal with the propaganda – to just make racket and keep mum and dad awake at night. too much jerkin’ off so may as well try the geetar? Play in a rock band to get chix? Which is it?

2nd Okay – youre an evil motherfucker trying to seduce young jedis to the darkside, now what? Can’t play an instrument to save your life eh? Well fucking learn the basics before composing the propaganda – badly formulated propaganda encourages Ridicule..

3rd Production – low production means youre heavy – bad production means youre raw and kult – good production means you did it ABYSS studios and sold out.

When you hear something for the first time, how do you analyze it? For what do you listen?

Drums … I like blasting violence THEN.. vocals – horribly painful vocals like FUNERAL MIST, BETHLEHEM or ANTAEUS (live or rehearsal) can easily encourage Violence and Suicide.Lastly, geetars.. I can’t stand solos.. so unless its horrible I judge these last.

Do you believe the values and beliefs of artists shape the music they produce?

I would like to think so – ive noticed a change as of late.. in the early days of WMSitude, I used to ask bands the equivalent question of their beliefs and the reflection into music… most early bands (death, grind) simply liked playing aggressive music.. with the advent of black metal, it seems that it is Very Important that life imitates the music they produce.. and that is what I prefer.. THOUGH, there were some early satanic death and VIOLENT porn/rape/gore bands that were totally fucking into mass murder and of course endless sodomy of young pigtailed little catholic school girl anuses… so…

Does this explain “Christian metal”?

I have no logical explanation for xtian metal. IF this is to exist, I want more like David Koresh – he played that thar geetar, fucked everybody’s wives, and then done and shot and kilt some Federales…

In your opinion, what is the symbolic value of “Satan” to a modern society and those who wish to reprogram it?

It is an easy symbol to recognize as negativism… easiest put – the baphomet, the upsidedown cross, etc, represent to normal society something “bad”. It is then those who are wearing it that bicker/personalize what it means to them..

Do you believe “terrorism” is a valid way to describe the tactics of America’s current “enemies”?

Yep. Good for them. Fucking smartfucking towel heads. I comment on this greatly in upcoming issue h8te, which will be out in November.

What zines do you read?

I just got FINAL SOLUTION from spain – good interviews in that one; correct mindset for writing.. I naturally have a liking towards the JenOside33 issue#1.. heh. I like older DESCENT mags and also NORDIC VISION (its pretty)… HELLISH MASSACRE is number one on my list right now.. its gonna take a lot to get me away from that one.. IMPAIRED (mKm’s zine) was huge.. I would like to get hold of 666 zine from france…

Do you think black metal ever had a clear direction, or is that something we assume looking back into the past?

The latter. Too many of the so-called visionaries of the black metal elite got themselves stabbed or put in jail. The propaganda machine splintered into different factions, and thus we stand where we are now.. a re emergence of nihilism and flesh mutilation… not a bad thing. But it does seem to be circular…

Do you believe history “exists,” or that each age invents an interpretation of previous events to justify its position?

Heh, I believe those who Won The War Write The History. If you got fucked, well, history will put you as getting fucked, even if you put up a helluva fight. Yes, we do manufacture history as we need to, but not like the good ole days in 1930s germany. Man did they come up with some good shit. And also W.A.R here in the US has some need ideas on history, and its placement of the Zionist Occupational Government and the Gubment Cheese Getters (darkie)

Is there any “hope” for the human species?

Hope for what? I’ve read some of the manifestos at http://www.anus.com/anus/ideology/index.html …very interesting and I can admire the thought put into rationalizing Stupid Human Tendencies… But honestly, it doesn’t concern me… Shit will continue in one form or another after I’m gone, and you’re gone. So why do I care for the future?

These idiots who failed at that bank robbery in Norfolk, NE – how did they manage to do such impressive shooting yet utterly flail when it came to taking the till?

HEHE. I was happy to finally seem some people killed in a bank robbery.. but again. I would prefer if it were authorities. No, nobody is innocent, but if youre going to go on a shooting spree, go on a SHOOTING SPREE. If you’re gonna rob a bank, GET THE CASH. I heard there were like 4 or 5 head shots.. so I guess they just panicked, and started putting bullets in peoples heads. First way to get on the bad side of the law.

Are there any historical figures who have impressed you?

Ho chi minh – gotta like anybody who fucked the French right? (sneak and surround French man drinking wine in valley called dien bein phu)Joseph Goebbels – Nazi Minister of Propaganda.

What was the last book you read that made a lasting impression?

I live off the horrible gore of this man alone – Edward Lee. If you don’t know him – you must – fuck all other horror out there – this is The Shit.The last book I read was Sex Drugs and PowerTools – fuckin’ Christ. Check out whatsaheader.com for more info also heheh movie rights were given to them…http://www.necropublications.com/titles/sexdrug.htmI rarely indulge in the reading of any of the nihilistic writers.. though I suppose I should since I consider myself mostly nihilist.. ennui once again stunts my growth…

Awaiting the intention is neither a reflection upon the “goal” nor an expectation of the imminent completion of the work to be produced. It does not have the nature of a thematic grasping at all. Nor does retaining what is relevant mean holding fast to it thematically. Handling things is no more related merely to what it handles than to what it uses in relevance. Rather, being relevant constitutes itself in the unity of awaiting and retaining in such a way that the making present arising from this makes the characteristic absorption in taking care in the world of its useful things possible. When one is “really” busy with… and totally immersed in it, one is neither only together with the work nor with the tools nor with both “together.” Being in relevance, which is grounde din temporality, has already founded hte unity of the relations in which taking care of things “moves” circumspectly.

A specific kind of forgetting is essential for the temporality that constitutes being in relevance. In ordre to be able to “really” get to work “lost” in the world of tools and to handle them, the self must forget itself.
– Martin Heidegger, Being and Time

Black metal was born right as the internet began being popularized in American and European homes. How has black metal been changed by the net, and vice versa?

Well now I can find anything out it seems by just typing it in the google search engine. That’s both good and bad.. now I have the information, but I cant hoard it and feel self important when I name drop.On the other hand, every bob, akhmed and zimboobma can make a cDr and put it on their webpage so now we have Afrikkkaner Black SpearChucking Metal.. sheesh. It allows for ridiculous crap that would have been stifled because it would not have been cost effective. The internet allows stupidity to be free of the righteous pain it should attain; after all, stupid should Hurt…

Is there human consciousness outside of the brain? In another phrasing: is the brain where the body, mind and soul exist, or is there another world in which these functions exist?

I am of the notion that there is something after my brain receives too many 9mm hollopoint bullets fired from a SWAT team members mp-5. I think it will equally suck.

Why do you think people go hogwild for religion? What do you suggest instead of religion to take care of the same need?

Sigh. Nothing. Too many persons are weak and need a crutch, or are hypocrites who have learned that just coz you say youre xtian, hell that means you can fuck your daughter and the dog in a 69 position and sell it on the internet as long as you ask forgiveness on Sunday. .. and give the minister a copy of course…It is convenience – religion is already set up; humanity as a whole is lazy, and is predisposed to go with what is at hand. Me, I’m gonna go jerk off. That’s what I feel about religion.

Where does one buy CDs and related stuff in Houston?

Sound exchange. http://www.soundexchangehouston.com/ Used to be a KILLER place called SOUND PLUS.. but sadly, it died a couple years ago.. that’s where I was first able to get Osmose releases (first and second IMMORTAL etc) WITHOUT paying Osmose prices (though it was still 20 bux for imports..)…

What do you think of the art of suicide bombing?

Good fucking Job. Good idea. Hell. We need some of those kids. Why the hell don’t we have our own suicide bombers. Damnit. Somebody get the Procurement Department on that one.Man. Tho.. I would at least want a good ole fashioned 12 hour orgy of catholic school girls BEFORE I go meet allah….

What lies next for your zine?

Issue H8TE young Prozak, Issue H8te. Finally to be released with a 12 page (I think) diatribe dedicated to hatred… examples taken from the school yard, from work and from terrorterrorterror… yessirrree bob. I guarantee you this will be just as shitty as before, with the same fucking horrible humour and tasteless porn and violence and bloodletting. Bands also.. confirmed KRIEG, WATAIN, MALICIOUS SECRETS, URGEHAL, HORNA, ARKHON INFAUSTUS, DAWN OF AZAZEL, NECROPLASMA, ARMAGEDDA.Who am I waiting on: AZAGHAL, HELL MILITIA and TEMPLE OF BAAL..And theres always issue 9…

I’ve always been impressed by the mix of metal, mutilation and machine guns. How did you come across this combination?

Death metal to me should have been simple – propaganda encouraging death. Most accessible are sharp knives and guns. Thus, logically, I should incorporate the instruments of death with the metal of death neh? Black metal brings to mind suicide and violence, with a little perversion to boot. Thus, some black metal causes blood to drip from my flesh. That goes in the issue, as it relates to black metal. You forgot porn too. I am one of the most perverted motherfuckers out there – and I guarantee you, if youre into metal, youre into porn – the two just go hand in hand.. so you see, its all a marketing strategy (heh)Yeah right. That’s why ive sold I think less issues then well.. not a lot of em. That’s fine. My goal is not to have many copies floating around.. I assume that those who want to read this shit, will find it.

Do you think there’s been a demographic shift in the black metal movement during the past few years (since 1998) to a younger audience?

Yes. See way, way above. Younger persons in the extreme scene have the benefit now of being able to pick and choose, and also ignore the first monuments that came out in the early 90s. Not a problem really.. but now also with all this CDR trading replacing tape trading and these high tech doodads that allow music to be taken from sites.. it leads to a proliferation of short term shit – what I mean is, yes, of course, there are those who will take this propaganda to heart; but there are those who will take it for a short while, and then find yet another form to entertain them; what I mean is that they leave their crap around for us to step in; before hand, in the days of Paper, one had to write and send tapes and such – it cost money ; nowadays, one can put ones fecal matter on a webpage and spread their e-coli music as such.

If you have any hopes for the future of metal as both a musical movement and a political/social one, please detail them here along with anything else I forgot.

It’s all in issue h8te son. You do us a service, mr. Prozak – I gather both a smirk of approval to an all out heil prozak with the material you have written and continue to produce – a true architect of propaganda you are, and should be bestowed the mandatory schoolgirls for slavery and sodomatic rites.

Mr. Blaash
http://wheresmyskin.cjb.net/

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Interview: Cory Allen (Acerbus)

Acerbus have for some time been the enigma of the Texas scene: music that takes the furthest extension of death metal extremity known to humanity, the technical deathgrind genre, and expands it with a progressive and conceptually advanced edge that leaves most typical listeners of any genre standing open-mouthed. Well-versed in conventional music, Acerbus are exploring for new ground, and we were lucky to be able to talk to guitarist Cory during a break from his rocket science experiments. “Can the man behind the mask answer a few questions?”

What do you see as the distinction between art and entertainment, if one exists?

I definitely think a dichotomy between art and entertainment exists. I believe that art is a mental expression through your physical self, releasing any number of emotions, creative ideas, or in some cases rather scientific musical ideologies based on charted biological responsive “information.” I believe that entertainment is more based around the ever-popular biological survival ticket, or the dollar. Entertainment is something that 47-year-old men sit around in boardrooms concocting trying to blend the perfect ideas to entertain the masses and rake in an easy 1.5 billion in 2 weeks. You know, prime time television shows, game shows, reality shows, family movies, blockbusters, etcetera.

Do you believe art begins as a conception independent of its medium, or is it strictly configurations within the medium that inspire an aesthetic appreciation?

I believe that this varies from individual artist to individual artist. Speaking personally it’s a mixture of the two. Without a doubt it’s more of an inspired aesthetic appreciation and vision yet independent conceptualism does play its roll in some of my song writing. As in extremely awkward things that related none what so ever, not even related percussivly to music induces a spawning of musical ideas.

Do you think it’s possible that a band make significant art with only a handful of power chords?

It all depends on your definition of “art”. It’s like a space-time continuum paradox similar to Schrodinger’s Cat or Einstein’s mouse. I mean, the most beautiful and amazing piece of art to me could be garbage to you, so it’s possible or impossible depending on your perception of what art is. Short answer Yes with a capital N and long answer No with a capital Y.

Are emotions part of the logical process of the mind in your opinion, or are they of the mind?

I think that emotions are stuck somewhere in our time-evolved mammalian primitive minds. They are thoughts that cause nothing more that problems and weakness yet they are necessary so that the human DNA strand will survive and not kill itself off. It was VERY smart and sneaky of our DNA strands to slip that anti self-destruct mechanism into our biological programming.

Are you a materialist (no other words besides this one) or do you have any forms of transcendent mystical belief?

In no way am I a materialist. I do have what I believe is a very open minded transcendent belief. A belief really consisting nothing more that knowing that there are an infinite amount of possibilities and a complete void of fact behind any of them. Even if there were “facts” remember what a very smart man once said, “There are no facts, only interpretations.”

Marijuana seems to be a divine substance to many. So you think this is an accident of nature, something we’ve conditioned ourselves to find, or an accidental property of the substance – or another possibility?

I was actually discussing this yesterday. Once again, there are millions of scenarios containing endless amounts of speculation within each but I will tell you about an interesting theory that I had on the subject. Say the earth is a living organism. Thriving physically and possessing an extremely advanced consciousness that of which is beyond our imaginations or comprehension, i.e., growing wood on its surface for its experiment “humans” to use to build devices to help them live easier therefore longer. It distanced itself the seemingly PERFECT distance from the sun so with its what we see as annual rotation calculated its experiment could live comfortably under the climate conditions. Basically, the miracle plant is just another thing that the earth has grown for us as it watched its experiment get more and more hostile toward one another and boxed into ridiculously small reality tunnels. The growing of the plant by the earth provides its experiment with calmness, happiness, heightened physical pleasure and expanded thinking modulation to help shatter some of those miniscule sized reality tunnels that the humans that are too scared of their own existence want you to reside in forever. But hey, it actually doesn’t sound that far from the truth does it? (You know you read too much philosophy when you answer a question with a question! HA!)

What would your ideal lifestyles be, if you were exempted from the problems of resource scarcity?

I would begin by eliminating 90% of the population, which would be a huge step in the right direction of an ideal lifestyle. Other than that, all I would really yearn for is to be alone in a huge building consisting of a giant music and book library, a state of the art professional studio and a musical instrument library consisting of every instrument in existence. I suppose a gigantic INSIDE pool heated to 98 degrees would be in order as well. I love water. Looking at it, being in it (when it’s clean), drinking it, and thinking about it. It’s pretty amazing to me. It’s the mystery substance!

Do you think some bands are better at aesthetics than music, and should be lauded for opening doors that musically competent descendants will explore? (Think: Venom)

My answer to that question is a rather repugnant one in that I do not approve of artists that rely strictly on aesthetics because 9 times out of 10 that reeks of gimmick. Yet as you noted bands of that illustration have opened doors for artists who have created relevant and meaningful art. Therefore, I think that the grandfather artist (ones of aesthetic dependence) should not be glorified simply due to the fact that their gimmicky “act” unbeknownst to them happened to influence an artist of substance to create something momentous.

What do you see as the ideological, musical and social roots of the death metal movement?

I think that bands such as Deicide, Suffocation, Carcass, Morbid Angel (barf), and Napalm Death fundamentally established the foundation of the death metal movement. Actually, I think almost every new band’s ideologies and “social” roots (not something I enjoy at all in the death metal world) are still somehow based and JUDGED (its VERY harsh these days) on what thoughts the revolutionaries first had. It’s as if these bands created a steel mold for the rules of the genre and all that really happens even after 10 years of existence is bands just filling that mold and ever so slightly expanding on it. That’s definitely something I try to focus on during song writing, to try something new for the genre, and by new I don’t necessarily mean undistorted jazzy fills and adagiated bridges but just in a compositional manner or how the over all conception of the endless possibilities of an instrument are conceived. I think that some people that have yet to get up and peek out of the top of that mold that they’ve been sitting in the bottom of for the last few years will be jaded by this but I think the genre will dry up, get old and fizzle out if some people don’t start having an open mind about the genre’s amazing possibilities and its future and if someone doesn’t have the gallantry to take a chance on expanding the genres limits. You know you can only eat your favorite food everyday for lunch for so many years before it become bland and uninteresting. Music needs spicing up ever so often just like food.

In your opinion, what are the primary musical differences in form between black metal and death metal?

First, touching lightly on the more prominent definitions of the metal genre, and what I would look at as somewhat stating the obvious to any competent individual, I think that DM’s energy is generally fueled more by gore and technicality and BM’s energy is usually fueled more by rage (as blind and unguided as it may be sometimes). The vocal style usually sticks out like a sore thumb as DM vocals prefer the guttural growls or pig noises and BM vocals usual prescribe to the high screechy or I just slammed my genitals in a sliding glass door vocal style. BM guitars are generally consisted of standard tunings, which goes along with the high screechy vocals, where DM bands enjoy the tuned down sound (which in my opinion has become rather ridiculous these days. ACERBUS tunes to CFA#D#GC which is two full steps down on each string and that isn’t really considered that low in comparison to some bands in modern times), once again the deep guitars are coinciding with the vocal style.

Now to get slightly more in depth with my segregation descriptions, I will try to expand more. The musical stylings that I hear in BM songs are primarily composed of mutated minor chords. Quite often I find BM bands utilizing natural minor chords, which lacks a major seventh. While “eerie” or “whiney” sounding it provides no real power or emphasis to the root note of the chord. Harmonic and Melodic minor chords are intermingled with the natural minors to provide power and still retain a “dark” sound. These Harmonic and Melodic minor chords are used to strengthen the minor keys, there for giving way for some dark powerful sounding riffing. As far as an individual riffing style I think audibly there is an obvious sound that is generally more “open” and “breathing” even a somewhat dissonant and definitely more disharmonious sound with a tendency to move in shapes and patterns based on a full note chord to a two and a half step dropped minor chord reverting to the previous full chord with a slight half step rise minor alteration then reverting back to a lower minor chord plus and uncontrolled arpeggiation to follow with implied and increased attack to end and finally execute one performance of a riff. As far as a BM orchestration goes, I think BM focuses more on long-winded repetitious movements using the vocal pattern as lead point of which to follow and adhere to, almost defined as a somewhat deranged classical definition of the term symphony.

I think that the majority of death metal band’s riffing focuses on using diatonic chords intermingled with modulated minor pentatonic single notes tremolo picked scales to provide a constantly powerful, even, and bludgeoning barrage of whole note patterns and movements. Unlike BM, DM bands are not partial to letting songs “breath” or become “dissonant”. DM bands are usual very heavily infatuated with a song structure that has no musical “holes”, or a lack of sonic intensity at anytime in anyway. Unfortunately, I think during composition a lot of DM bands lose sight of the meaning behind the word orchestration. Ive noticed that a lot of DM bands just seem like the write 50 riffs, put them into a hat and randomly pull them out in no order yet string them all together using drums fills.

Today there are plenty of modest and worthy laboreres among scholars, too, who are happy in their little nooks; and because they are happy there, they sometimes demand rather immodestly that one ought to be content with things today, generally — especially in the domain of science, where so much that is useful remains to be done. I am not denying that; the last thing I want is to destroy the pleasure these honest workers take in their craft: for I approve of their work. But that one works rigorously in the science and that there are contented workers certainly does not prove that science as a whole poesses a goal, a will, an ideal, or the passion of a great faith. The opposite is the case, to repeat: where it is not the latest expression of the ascetic ideal–and the exceptions are too rare, noble, and atypical to refute the genreal proposition–science today is a hiding place for every kind of discontent, disbelief, gnawing worm, despectio sui, bad conscience–it is the unrest of the lack of ideals, the suffering from the lack of any great love, the discontent in the face of involuntary contentment.

– F.W. Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals

Is there such a thing as musical novelty? (a combination of notes striking or distinctive for purely musical reasons, with no other implications) or do you attribute what is commonly identified as such as being more of a stylistic novelty?

Yes, but I don’t think it is as much a musical novelty as it is a programmed effect that has thwarted us as time and “standards” have evolved. It’s almost more of a comforting thing to the ears of the close-minded more than a stylistic redundancy. Over time people have been “programmed” to recognize what sounds “correct” and “incorrect” in music, and really all other aspects of life as well. It’s quite a shame but its true. Certain progressions of musical notes or chords have been labeled “incorrect” because to most people they sound “ugly” (minor chords, several notes played at once which are out of key with on another), while others are considered beautiful (whole note chords, several notes played in octave). They both sound beautiful to me, just different. Who are we to say that certain notes grouped together are right or wrong? My interpretation of this ridiculous dilemma is that it clearly seems as if this musical decision coincides with the rest of general human ideology. Humans are always trying to label “beautiful” or “normal” people/animals good and “ugly” or “different” people/animals bad. This reflects onto all aspects of general human thinking so why not let it bleed into music as well? We are brainwashed into thinking that what is disharmonious is “bad” and what is harmonious is “good”. Some people might think its preposterous for me to make a statement such as this but I think its preposterous for people to be trapped in a musical box which has been assembled by their “peers” and guaranteed by record labels which focus on the business of music rather than the music of music.

In ancient Greece, poetry was considered incomplete without accompanying music which united the significance of the words with the significance of certain tones and musical shapes. Is there any relevance of this idea today?

I think so. Music completes life. Certain songs complete and are appropriate for every, and any occasion. The choice of this music is, of course, up to the individual and will never be the exact same for any two people. I’m generally awake 19 or 20 hours every day and there is literally no more than two hours or so of my day, everyday, that is void of music. Working in a music store definitely contributes to my habits.

What inspired you about the deathgrind genre, or was it a culmination of other influences?

It has been countless influences, and the influences that influenced the people that influenced me. As Einstein said, you must honor the gift of evolution that is life, which has been worked on diligently for millions of years. People often tend to look that fact of existence over. I try to take the same approach to music, it seems like great men in the past have already done all of the really hard things in music for me and I think that now, anyone who picks up a musical instrument is on easy street in comparison to these previous achievements. Do you know off the top of your head who invented the first sound recording device?

I will try and stop from getting to far away from the question at hand and get back to my most prominent influences. I guess in the very beginning, 6 years ago, when I was 14 years old and had picked up a guitar for the first time, I was worshiping 3 bands. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Primus, and Deicide. I loved the sound experimentation and groundbreaking abstracting of music that Hendrix had, I loved the sense of humor and unconventuallity of Primus, and the aggression and technicality of Deicide. Those are the bands that made me want to pick up a guitar and that eventually drove me to create a band of my own that I wanted to contain all of the things that drew me to my early influences, in one single band. Now days the only thing that REALLY inspires me is avant-garde classical composers, i.e., Philip Glass, John Cage, Steve Reich, Kronos Quartet, ect.

What do you normally listen to in your time off from being death metal terrorists?

Actually, I enjoy listening to almost every genre of music. I really like Modern Psychedelic music, tons of obscure Classical composures, truck loads of Jazz and all of its sub-genres, of course Metal, Electronic music, Meditation music, Noise artists, and International (there are some really amazing eastern musicians). The list really has no end. What I’m listening to from each genre always changes but I can give you some things that are currently finding their way off the shelf into my CD player.

Kronos Quartet – “Black Angels”
Tan Dun – “Ghost Opera”
Suffocation – “Peirced from Within” and “Effigy of the Forgotten”
Jonas Hellborg/Shawn Lane/Jim Sipe – “Personae” and “Zenhouse”
Uncle Moe’s Space Ranch – “self-titled”
Clinic – “Walking with Thee”
Godspeed You Black Emperor – “Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven”
Philip Glass “Glassworks”
John Cage “The Seasons” (Margaret Leng Tan’s toy piano piece is amazing!)
Flaming Lips – “Soft Bulletin” and “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots”
Autechre – “Gantz Graf” and “Tri Repeatae”
Gyorgy Ligeti – “Ligeti Project II”
Medeski Martin and Wood – “The Dropper” and “Uninvisible”
John Zorn/Mike Patton – “Hemophiliac”
Pat Martino – “Live at Yoshi’s”
John Adams “Naive and Sentimental Music”
Primus “Pork Soda” and “Sailing the Seas of Cheese”
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – “Body and Soul”
Anoushka Shankar – “self-titled”

That’s what ive listened to heavily this week, but like I said the list is ever changing and I have a ton of CDs or so, so I’m always listening to something different.

Is there such a thing as political ideas expressed in art, or do you see there being a necessary connection between political ideas -> social ideas -> perceptive concepts?

There are political ideas expressed in art and rightfully so. Political ideas need expressing so why not use one of the most affective methods of convoying ideas as your medium?

I know you bastards read philosophy; what are your favorites? What did they express that was not seen articulated elsewhere?

Yes indeed. I guess a few favorites are Friedrich Nietzsche’s “Thus Spake Zarathustra”, Immanuel Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason” (if you can make it through this book, read it again and ponder each line he writes, as each sentence holds at least a paragraph’s worth of metaphorical ideology. I own the Cambridge edition, it is abridged appropriately and edited in a way which makes the text easier {well I should say possible for most people to understand} for those who haven’t taken a Kantian philosophy course.), and while it is sort of a culmination of such topics as physics, philosophy, non-Aristotelian logic and semantics, I enjoy Alfred Korzybski’s “Science and Sanity.” I enjoy most titles by Robert Anton Wilson dealing with philosophy/consciousness expanding. While I believe most of his books are nothing more than other peoples’ ideas funneled down and regurgitated so people with “lesser intellectuality” can understand them and begin the process of consciousness expanding. Normally I would disagree with this method of funneling information/writing but he actually notes when he is taking from someone else’s thoughts or literature so that makes it valid in my eyes. His books are fun to read, he makes good points and has a great sense of humor. Stephen Hawking’s book, “A Brief History of Time” is good for the most part. I could go on forever here but I will list another good one, Carl Sagan’s “Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.” To answer your second part to this question would be a whole other interview. The ideas expressed in these books that were not articulated elsewhere are so deep, vast and lengthy that a summarization of all of these individual ideas within a few pathetic sentences typed by myself, to me, would be an insult to the writers who I look at as some of the intellectual iron men of writing. Although, I believe a quick summary to someone who is interested and has never read or heard of any of these books is due. As basic and stripped down as it can be put, the over all point of all of these books is to force the reader to look at life in a different light. Metaphorically speaking, your mind is like a parachute. Closed you will die, open it will save your life and you will float above as you watch the others hit the ground screaming.

In spiritual practice, which is more important: coherence with natural schema of patterning, or symbolic adherence to human desires?

I think both are equally unimportant. Both are nothing more than a subconscious choice that is made of how a person perceives and interprets his/her own reality based on how their brain programs cropped and filed away the information of spirituality that has been directed to them and imprinted in their brains based on what experiences and information (or misinformation, really) they happen to come in contact with during their life that has consequently shaped their perception and beliefs according to these random events.

What do you think about Falun Gong?

From what I have read or been told about falun gong it’s really nothing more than Chinese yoga for people whose reality is based on pseudoscience. I know it involves physical postures accompanied by mediation which will supposedly promote mental/spiritual well being. I read an article in a magazine once with the “leader” stating by mastering falun gong you can obtain such metaphysical abilities as levitation and other supernatural powers. In my eyes, falun gong is as ridiculous as any other type or brand of a spiritual salvation that is defined by one living person (on an upside, at least their “leader” isn’t fictitious). Master Li, the “leader”, is the only person who can define the ways of F.G. therefore the ideology immediately causes me to burst into laughter and look at F.G. as nothing more than another man (Li) who is probably semi-intellectual who uses shills to control the minds of the mentally weak and needy. To me, the idea that a carbon based life form is to be looked at as a bringer of salvation is hilarious, pathetic and simultaneously horrifying in the fact that there are about 2 million people in the world that prescribe to the theory of falun gong. It’s a shame our species has bred beings that believe one of their own kind could be their bringer of salvation and are so mentally weak and distorted that they are sucked into a thin, as in lacking of content and containing no scientific relevance, vision of salvation in hopes of obtaining “supernatural” powers for no more than time and a likely weekly fee. I think the first step in demystifying any method that promises to bring salvation is if biological survival tickets (money) fit into the equation. I would imagine that a being that brings salvation would not be of biological content therefore would have an absent need for our (note the first word after the parenthesis) biological survival tickets.

Do you have any opinions of pornography? Do you feel it turns humans into symbolic structures in the same way religion does?

I think pornography is humorous. Not really from the point of view of the female who is baring her hide but from the male’s perspective. I think guys and women alike who enjoy pornography are either not aware of certain aspects of their existence or the worse scenario, are aware yet don’t care. Males tend to drool, stew, fantasize and obsess over pictures of naked females and critique their body in comparison to their personal preferences. Here is where the humor comes in. What males don’t realize whilst they enjoy porno is all they are doing is acting as the primates that they are, filled with a genetic structure that does not want to die out therefore possesses the constant need and want to reproduce. For example, when a guy says, “that bitch is hot”, unbeknownst to him he is thinking “the fat distribution and reproductive organs of the opposite sex in my sight seem extremely healthy and from what I’m perceiving visually has the ability to provide extremely healthy children for me.” When a guy looks at a pair of naked breasts he quivers, when in actuality that thought of lust running through his mind is nothing more that his deeply rooted and distilled thought that these mammary glands (plump breasts) will provide perfect sustenance for his offspring therefore promoting the longevity of his DNA strand, which is the most important aspect of a living organism. Apply this ideology to all other focuses of lust and there is a similar truth such as above behind each one. Peacocks spread their feathers to show the females the array of colors and the amount and fullness that their feathers possess which is a trait of a healthy male that in turn attracts the female, just as the human male works out, combs his hair, and wears becoming clothing etcetera, to attract the female. Unfortunately cars, money and so on are signs of power and well being which also attracts the human female. This is where the humor in pornography lies for me. When some pathetic male is gawking at or masturbating to a photo of a naked women he has no idea he is simply bleeding for his master, the DNA strand that is programmed to reproduce at all costs. Just as it is stereotypical for a male to feel and act “Zen-like” and feel necessary to reminisce of his previous nights copulative affairs with other males. He is satisfied physically that he has fulfilled his biological purpose in life and must tell the other males in his “tribe” of his affairs to gain a top dog status. Watching or hearing of these events provide me with endless laughter and entertainment; therefore the idea of pornography is extraordinarily humorous to me.

Another counsel of prudence and self-defense is to react as rarely as possible, and to avoid situations and relationships that would condemn one to suspend, as it were, one’s “freedom” and initiative and to become a mere reagent. As a parable I choose asociation with books. Scholars who at bottom do little nowadays but thumb books–philologists, at a moderate estimate, about 200 a day–ultimately lose entirely their capacity to think for themselves. When they don’t thumb, they don’t think. They respond to a stimulus (a thought they have read) whenever they think–in the end, they do not but react. Scholars spend all of their energies on Yes and NO, on criticism of what others have thought–they themselves no longer think.

The instinct of self-defense has become worn-out in them; otherwise they would resist books. The scholar –a decadent.

I have seen this with my own eyes: gifted natures with a generous and free disposition, “read to ruin” in their thirties — merely matches that one has to strike to make them emit sparks — “thoughts.”

Early in the morning, when day breaks, when all is fresh, in the dawn of one’s strength — to read a book at such a time is simply depraved!

– F.W. Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals

What activities do you have outside of music?

I don’t do a lot that doesn’t relate to music in some way. I enjoy drawing, writing text in a style I call “metaphilosophtry”, which is a mixture of metaphor, philosophy and poetry. I love reading philosophy, physics, and psychology books and really enjoy psychotropic experiences. Not sleeping much and drinking lots of coffee fits in there. I rarely go “out” as I hate loud noises (yes I know its sort of contradictory to being in a band but loud music is the only loud noises that are enjoyable to me) or being around people. Other than that there isn’t much I do that doesn’t have to do with music in some way or another.

What do you do to relax and have fun?

Well, there is the obvious, I play in Acerbus, I write music at my home and record various guitar or keyboard pieces on my digital studio. I try and have an intellectually stimulating conversation with someone every now and then. I’m quite the hermit and often refer to myself as a “misanthropic nihilistic introvert”. I love studying and thinking about the psychology involved with musical notes and progressions and I suppose the previous question will answer the rest.

If music is a language, what distinguishes certain pieces as impressive relates to the poetic content they express. Is there a difference between content and form in music?

I definitely think that certain progressions or orchestrations in musical notes, patterns of notes or chords will draw out certain emotions or trigger thought patterns that are unique to each listener. This is where my main interest in music lies. With every piece of music I write I keep in mind how it (the piece) will affect the listener on individual levels as well as in cohesion with the rest of the composed piece. I hope this is subconsciously apparent to people who listen to Acerbus. When people come to me after our shows they will tell me that we just sound “different” and that they cant quite place their finger on what it is but we just sound “different” to them. Hopefully this is a result of my psychological study of music at play since I write music utilizing certain aspects and attacking the listener’s ear in such a way that their brain cant help but to register these sounds on their musical spectrum as “new”, hence people telling me Acerbus just sounds “different” to them. Hopefully this method is at play but one can never be absolutely sure.

What’s wrong with humanity?

Do you want me to write a 2000 page essay here? I’ll give it to you as stripped down as possible. Humans have “evolved” to a biological life form that holds horrible traits called narcissism, ego, deceitfulness and personal dogma. America has arrived at a point where everything is based on biological survival tickets (money) and milking and flexing the primitive aspects of humans for all that their worth. Everyone in America (99%) has the mindset as follows: me first, I’m right you’re wrong, I am not successful without loads of money, I must outdo everyone else in the world on every level to retain top dog status, I’m the most important being on the face of this planet that would shrivel and die if I were to cease to exist. It’s sad really because life would be grand if everyone would drop all of this self important hogwash and read a book about, or at least an introduction to non-Aristotelian thought. Unfortunately, this will never happen so I say it would be in our best interests as a species to destroy all existing political and social parties and try to start over again with an actual democracy instead of one that spoon feeds its residents the illusion of freedom, the illusion of choice and the illusion of safety.

if you could be one non-human species (imagine reincarnation or other “magical” occurrence) what would it be?

I’d settle on being a viperfish. There are amazing and undiscovered things in the deep sea that would provide an infinite amount of eye candy for me as I enjoy looking at things and pondering on them. Having photophores that cause light to emanate from your body using bioluminescence would be amazingly amusing. Knowing reality as an air breathing life form would make living underwater very interesting. As an added bonus viperfish are extremely gnarly looking so that is a definite plus for me as well.

Which book would you most likely have written, not being already given to a career in musicianship?

Without a doubt I would have written, “Prometheus Rising” by Robert Anton Wilson. It’s a great book that anyone on any intellectual level can understand that will help him or her expand his or her reality tunnel resulting in higher intelligence, understanding of their self and others and awareness of one’s own biological nature and an introduction to the ways brain programs work. All things I think humanity could use sorely at this current time.

What do you think of the Austin scene? Do you think a city’s collective attitude determines what music will emerge?

I’ve gotten asked this question EVERY interview I have ever done since Austin has the reputation for being the “live music capitol of the world”, which is total bullshit (there is probably at least 200 bands that play in clubs all over Austin every night, it doesn’t mean that they have any real musical substance to them), so forgive me for not elaborating in great lengths one this one. Let me say this, we play a lot of out of town shows and most of the people that are into underground metal in Austin are in bands. I think the attitude of a city has little effect on what bands will emerge. I see where bands from certain areas have certain “sounds” but I think that is probably just a factor due to a psychosomatic suggestion that bands from certain cities hold a certain sound that must be emulated. I’m sure bands from the same areas experienced the same influences and I would imagine that would have something to do with it as well.

Do you see yourselves as expressing the ideas of your environment, or reacting to those ideas? (not to be confused with reactionary opposition, or an emotional/irrational response of rejection)

I guess I create music based on my influences, perceptions of what I think is musically divine, my own thoughts and on what ways I think that music can and needs to evolve.

Do you plan to have a family and “normal” life, if the opportunity rises?

No. An American “normal” life is nothing more than the lowest common denominator.

When you are playing, do you visualize the difference between the shapes you are touching/pressing on the fretboard, or do you have another method of preparing for the radical sweeping fretruns that seem to be easy for you?

This is a hard question to answer, but I will do my best. I hope my response remains coherent to everyone because I know exactly what I’m talking about but it’s difficult to put certain brain/body functions in to text form. When playing I visualize geometric patterns on the fretboard that are segregated in a grid-like pattern (as in each fret contains 6 lines which can be looked at in cohesion with all others as a giant piece of graph paper, each line holds a tone and is programmed into my brain accordingly) with the boundaries for each possible note change being each fret and string. This method of playing is extremely critical during my four fingered tapping solos. Most times when I play I do it in a sort of subconscious manner, I just kind of let me hands go to work. The best comparison is typing on a computer keyboard; each key is assigned a certain character just as each string is assigned a different note. Certain words you type, after typing them a few times become natural and this allows you to type in a fluid and fast way. This is just like how I play guitar. After I write a guitar riff the hand movements that are necessary to create the sound of the riff become like a stamp. Once it’s forged all you have to do is apply it and its there in perfect relief. The assemblage of many riffs, rhythm, transitional or lead, form together as one giant hand pattern or in other words about 40 different “riffs” or stamps compiled will create one giant “stamp” or song. I think that is the best I can explain it. I hope it made sense.

When you interact with normal people, how much do you self-censor what you’re going to say?

Unfortunately I do. I don’t censor what is considered “foul” language but I majorly censor what I would like to say intellectually. While people are talking they generally want their opinion to be heard and they don’t want to feel inferior. If I say something to someone that is what I consider a slightly deep thought, people will most times not understand you and think your just trying to be a “know it all”. So whilst in conversation with people whether it is friends or strangers I just strip down what I’m thinking so everyone understands and no one feels left out forcing them to lie their way through a topic since humans can’t stand admitting to not knowing something. I consider doing this a social Valium, but I never said I had the best social skills.

If you make people feel that they know something, they will adore you, if you make people realize they know nothing, they will loathe you.

What does Acerbus do to prepare for a concert?

We all stretch our muscles, tune our instruments, and arrive at a mentally self-confident state of readiness. Larry prescribes to the athletic abstinence of all physical indulgences theory for several weeks before any show or recording. I suppose that is all.

Have any labels woken up and signed you yet?

No. I have sent promotional packages to countless labels but every response I have gotten has been that we are too “extreme” or “out there” to bring in a large quantity of sales therefore the labels are unwilling to take a chance. I guess I’m out of touch with the metal community because I thought in the early nineties when Suffocation, Carcass and Deicide were breaking new ground being as extreme as possible was the name of the game. I don’t mean this in an egotistical way at all but I’m not worried: I know we will get signed eventually its just a matter of when and who is willing to take a chance.

What do you see as the primary differences between classical music and jazz?

Another essay style answer is in order here but I’ll try and keep it to a few sentences. This will probably only be funny to 1 out of 10,000 people but here it goes… I’ll try and be “the minimalist” while answering this question about classical music. HAHAHA! Man that’s funny in a cheesy way! Anyway, most Classical music is very refined and often referred to as “educated” music that is based on theory and what is “correct” (except for my favorites), while jazz is a style of music, while still well refined, is characterized by improvisation and experimentation. Hopefully everyone reading this already knows this fact but the alternate definition to the word “jazz” is miscellaneous or unspecified things. There we go, short and sweet and without speculation as promised.

What are the most significant musical innovations in the last fifty years, in your opinion?

This is another hard question to answer, but I’ll give you the most prominent things that stick out in my mind. The invention of several instruments (electronic and others) has done music well. The fact that in the last 20 years musical genres seem to have been mixed up a lot more. Unfortunately, this genre mixing has not been good all the way around but it has produced a few gems. It’s like mixing paint colors together, if you do it right you get vibrant unique colors. If you do it wrong you get brown. I can tell you some artists that I think have really pushed the limits of music as a whole in the last 50 years. Philip Glass (whom I happen to be listening to as I answer this interview), Steve Reich, Jimi Hendrix, John Cage, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, John Zorn, Primus, John Coltrane, Black Sabbath, Thelonious Monk and the Kronos Quartet. These are just a few but I think that they have all have had a profound impact on music over the last 50 years.

Do you feel ambient music brings any theoretical change or alterations in form to popular music, and, if so, what do they signify in the mental processes of artists in this time?

Slightly, and by that I mean everything has an effect on everything. Any slight alteration or event will affect an infinite number of reactions that will cause change throughout the world. Introducing new musical ideas or genres will work in an identical fashion.

Is history cyclic, linear, or linear within cyclic? Please explain.

The thought of history being cyclic is not feasible to me. Charting reoccurring events and loosely comparing them to more recent events suggesting the idea that history is cyclic is very similar to people who believe in psychics or faith healers. Weak-mindedness and deluding myself into believing coinciding similar facts cause factual relevance in certain events is not something I’m a fan of. Believing that history is linear within cyclic patterns sounds like someone who is one the edge a cliff preparing to jump off but just can’t quite do it yet. I think history is linear and I think people that believe history is cyclic could probably be diagnosed with infophobia and need to get hobbies, try pseudoscience it will be right up your alley.

How do you reconcile the view that art is a matter of individual interpretation (#2) with the idea that all listeners are affected similarly by certain musical combinations (#1)?

A sense of relief falls upon me to discover that the perceiver asks for further information on questions that have what could be seen as contradictorily answers. I will attempt an explanation using metaphor with promises that my answer remains coherent. Imagine bottles of paint and a mixing palette. Each base color in the each bottle (red, green, blue, yellow) is pure and unaltered such as an un-interpreted message to your brain. Any disturbance to this pure thought or “pure color” (which represents and un-interpreted brain message) will cause the same amount of change to the final interpreted message (“mixed primary paint colors” or a thought that has been altered by your minds own personal perception. ) in the outcome. So, the fact that I stated that “art is a matter of individual interpretation”, resembles how everyone’s “final perception” or, a thought that has gone through your brain programs thus the outcome will vary based upon each individual’s “reality tunnel” or, the way they perceive reality. Now, when I say “all listeners are affected similarly by certain musical combinations” I mean that if I can find musical combinations that actually change the original unperceived signal (which is the same for everyone), then the outcome will be slightly different, yet different in the same way for everyone. I will explain again in a different manner to promote the illumination of my point. Imagine having 10 painters that are all using the same paint bottles. You tell them to mix the colors on their own palettes and to each paint a landscape. Therefore, each painter s final picture will be different based upon his or her perception of a landscape. Now to change each painter’s painting without changing their interpretation of the landscape we would change the base colors from red, blue, yellow and green to black, purple, orange and brown which would cause the same change to each painters painting without changing their perception of their landscape.

There’s too much to talk about, and I’ll keep asking questions forever. Is there anything else you’d like to add for benefit of broadcast to the world?

Thank you for reading the entire interview, I’m glad you made it all the way through! Thanks to SRP for writing an interview that owns questions of substance and once again I appreciate anyone spending the time to read this. Anyone should feel free to contact me if they wish: Acerbus@angelfire.com

Thanks Again for your time!

Cory

-ACERBUS-

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Interview: Quorthon (Bathory)

Black metal and death metal legend Quorthon of Bathory took some time to answer our questions while he was busy recording the Nordland series of albums. Among all the interviews we’ve done, this may be the most focused and articulate, with one of the most passionately intelligent figures black metal has ever produced.

The dominant influences on the earlier Bathory work appear to be Venom and Slayer. Were you listening to other music at the time, including hardcore punk like Discharge?

I think it is very easy for people to be making that kind of connotation, simply because those two acts in particular are perhaps among the first ones that comes to mind when the roots of extreme metal is being discussed. But actually, I have never owned a Venom or Slayer album. And I don’t give a fuck if people believe that or not.

I know some people believe the change of style for BATHORY, in terms of the music and lyrics around 1988-1990, happened because we must have got turned on from Manowar. That’s another total misconception. I have never owned a Manowar record. And I don’t give a fuck if people believe that either. Not that it matters though.

I have of course heard Slayer (an act, which by the way does have all my respect for being original and for sticking to their roots in much of what they do). And I have heard a handful of tracks by Venom.

In 1986-1988, BATHORY had a drummer who was heavily influenced by Manowar. He didn’t enjoy any other type of metal, but he was somehow sold on Manowar. It wasn’t like we decided to copy what they were doing. However, the typical heavy Manowar beat seemed to perfectly suit my new ideas for lyrics at the time. The way it came about was this; in an effort to get away from the whole “are they true satanists or not”-discussions that went on in the media at the time (sort of drawing the attention away from what was truly important, the music), I felt I wanted to replace the whole demonic & satanic bag with something that was pure from christian and satanic bullshit.

The pre-christian Scandinavian Viking and vendel era seemed perfect for lyrics and arrangements. Had BATHORY been a japanese act, we might as well have picked up the Samurai culture. Had we been an Italian act, it could easily have been the Roman empire era. Now, we happened to be a Swedish act and the Viking and Vendel era seemed exciting in terms of writing music and lyrics. The heavy Manowar beat that this one-time BATHORY drummer came up with one day in the rehearsal place, is a Manowar contribution. But I wonder if that’s enough to be called a source of inspiration or influence.

My personal reason for forming BATHORY was I wanted to create a mix of the atmosphere of early Black Sabbath, the energy of early Motörhead and the pace of early GBH. We were just three shit kids coming out of school at the time, with absolutely no knowledge at all about any other acts. Remember, Metallica released their first album around the time we entered the studio for the first time. Slayer too released their first album at the same time. We were totally in the dark about any underground movement in Europe. It wasn’t until way after we had already released our first album that we learned about tons of others acts in Europe and elsewhere playing basically the same type of primitive and dark extreme metal that we were making.

Around the time I formed BATHORY, I was listening a lot to an album by early GBH I believe was called “City baby in attack of the rats”. We based half of BATHORY’s initial sound and style on that GBH album. I may have listened to some Discharge, but I don’t remember any of their songs or any of their titles anymore. The “Ace of Spades” and “Iron Fist” Motörhead albums also meant very much when we formed BATHORY. So did the first handful of Black Sabbath albums.

Bathory has always stood above other bands by having a melody connected firmly to a rhythm in the anthemic style of most great metal bands. How did you learn to play guitar, and what methods do you have for conceptualizing the songwriting process?

I don’t think I worry too much about whether to include a melody line or not in a song. That will come along in a natural fashion. I have always said that a song and a lyric writes itself. I really don’t think too much about the actual writing, the arrangements or even the playing. It’s second nature by now.

I don’t know if having a melody line in a song would place BATHORY “above” other bands, but sure it does add something special to a song. Extreme noise and brutalities are always fun to do. But if you’re trying to tell the audience a story, which we do a lot in BATHORY, I think a melody line will add atmosphere and personality to the story.

I don’t see myself as a guitar player. I just use the guitar for writing songs. I may use the bass or a piano when writing other times.

I always write the music first. The lyrics will be added at a very late stage. The mood of the music will determine what the lyrics are to be about. Very seldom will I change anything in a song just because the lyrics might have turned a certain way. In the end it all works out somehow. It puzzles me as much as anybody else.

On Blood, Fire, Death an epic sound is present through the use of longer songs with greater symbolic significance to their movements and motifs. What inspired this change from the dark, heavy and primitively simple music of Under the Sign of the Black Mark?

Probably from reading biographies on masters like Wagner and Beethoven and their works. I began to listen to classical music shortly after forming BATHORY, and from 1985-1986 it was all I would listen to. I had been playing various types of rock in various constellations since 1975, so picking up Wagner, Beethoven, Haydn and others really broadened my musical awareness extensively. The motif signature naturally comes from the world of opera.

Around 1986, I realised we were actually just writing albums full of religious hocus-pocus, satanic rubbish and demonic crap. I was not a Satanist and knew absolutely nothing about occultism or demonic affairs, so I asked myself why should I really be writing about that shit. I mean, we actually got to make albums, so why not try something different. That’s when the idea to bring the whole pre-christian Swedish Viking era into BATHORY came about. Not that I knew any more about that period in time, but it was at least a fresh source to draw stories from.

When people ask me today, if I am ever ashamed of the early albums and the lyrics they contained, my answer is “no”. We’re not ashamed of anything, we all go through stages in life when one thing may be cool for a period of time, and then something else comes along that inspires you in a different way.

Originally, we picked the whole demonic bag up because we didn’t feel we could write the same sort of lyrics that the big boys would write. We didn’t know shit about riding down the highway on a Harley, drinking whisky out of the bottle while fondling all these loose women. We knew nothing about that life, so we picked up influences from the horror comics we had been reading while growing up, magazines like Vampirella and Shock, as well as all the horror movies we had watched as kids. It was all very innocent. I wouldn’t have known the devil even if he jumped up to bite my ass.

Thus if being-toward-death is not meant as an “actualization” of death, neither can it mean to dwell near the end in its possibility. This kind of behavior would amount to “thinking about death,” thinking about this possibility, how and when it might be actualized. Brooding over death does not completely take away from it its character of possibility. It is always brooded over as something coming, but we weaken it by calculating how to have it at our disposal. As something possible, death is supposed to show as little as possible of its possibility. On the contrary, if being-toward-death has to disclose understandingly the possibility which we have characterized as such, then in such being-toward-death, this possibility must not be weakened, it must be understood as possibility, cultivated as possibility, and endured as possibility in our relation to it.

– M. Heidegger, Being and Time

Do you think later Bathory was aiming more toward being a progressive or epic heavy metal band, where early Bathory had a good deal more punk/venom-style metal influence on it?

We didn’t have any ambitions at all to be any of that. About being progressive or epic, we weren’t thinking in those terms. It was just a natural evolution, it wasn’t planned or calculated. It just happened. It is so very easy for people in the year 2002 to sit back and name certain periods and labelling people and bands. When you have history and all facts at hand, people tend to file and classify past in a way we never did 20 or 15 years back in time. My recommendation to anybody who has problems getting a good view of all the styles and sounds out there is “- Don’t bother – just enjoy. It’s just fucking metal.”

How have your tastes changed across the years of making music?

Probably in much the same way we all change as people. We develop as we widen our perspectives. This is true for music as well. I’ll listen to everything from Glenn Miller to The Beatles, from Wagner to Sex Pistols, from Nick Drake to Beethoven. I hardly ever listen to metal. The only metal I will listen to, is vinyl that I bought 20 or 30 years ago like Mountain, early Kiss, early Saxon, early Motörhead or early Black Sabbath. I haven’t bought a metal CD in ten years. The last metal CD must have been Motörhead’s “Overkill”. The last CD I bought of any kind was last summer, George Harrison’s “All things must pass (1971).

Do you think that ideology changes the worldview of an artist, and that this is reflected in their music?

I have personally never allowed for any personal ideologies to influence my music or lyrics. For some years German metal media would say BATHORY was glorifying war and the holocaust in the lyrics. This is not true. We were writing about war and the holocaust in the very same way we were writing about all the other things we have written about; incest, the nuclear arms race, the world wars, the environmental issue, female BATHORY fans, serial killers, religion and fuck knows what else. In other words, as facts, not glorifying. I am not religious and have no political ideals, so for myself personally, writing lyrics is just painting with words and creating a scene.

Black metal today has gone through a shaping process of which Bathory was part. What do you think are Bathory’s contributions to the methodology of metal making?

I have absolutely no idea about what’s going on out there. I am not going to shows, I do not read the metal media and I do not buy or listen to any modern metal albums of any kind. If you’d play me ten tracks by ten different top extreme metal acts I couldn’t tell you what you’re playing. I wouldn’t be able to tell you where even one out of a hundred extreme metal bands comes from. People seem to believe that I have great knowledge and full view of the scene. I tell you, I know nothing. Nothing. Period.

The funny thing is, a lot of people insist that BATHORY’s so called Viking period had a greater impact on today’s Black Metal scene, than pure Black Metal of the early 80’s. The good thing about evolution is that what’s called Black Metal today, may not remind too much of what Black Metal was 20 years ago. Black Metal, Death Metal and all types of extreme metal, will develop further. The ones who get the most out of a diverse scene and constant evolution, is the audience.

As far as BATHORY’s contribution is concerned, back in 1986-1991 we used acoustic guitars, harmony backing vocals, intros and outros as well as sound effects to create that specific BATHORY atmosphere. Many bands have been copying that so thoroughly in the past 10-15 years, I believe this special atmosphere itself could perhaps be our greatest contribution.

From what I heard of your solo work (band named “Quorthon”) it seemed you were moving into a genre where you could use the broad style of rock music to fit in a number of melodic but hookish pop songs. Is this a return to your influences, or a changing of taste?

It’s funny that some people actually believe that the solo records is what I really want to do and that I only kept on working with BATHORY because it would sell like crazy. This is not true. I have written everything from extreme brutal metal to string quartets, and neither of the solo albums I did gives a more true image of what my inner music is like than anything else I have written.

Everything on the first solo album was accidental. I had absolutely no ambitions or plans. What happened was, I said I wanted to take a year off from music. Then the record company told me that I perhaps should think about a solo record, just to keep myself active. Now, that’s a very interesting situation. Not too many guys get to make a solo record. Myself, I had no idea what it would sound like. The offer to make a solo album was a challenge too exciting to ignore. So I wrote some pure guitar based crunchy metal rock material and went down a small studio for a week and a half. I brought with me a guitar, a bass and a drum machine with only one intention and that was to make a record that wasn’t going to be anything like BATHORY. Not that I didn’t like working with BATHORY, I just thought it was a good opportunity to “kill” the very erroneous image of “Quorthon” which had developed in fanzines and within the metal scene in general. People thought I was a neo-nazi satanic Viking who drank blood and ate infants, who lived in a bats cave in the north of Sweden and tons of other stupid things. I figured, if I produced a solo album that was miles from BATHORY, incorporating a little rock, blues and even punk, perhaps the most fanatic nut cases would be scared off.

The second solo album came about because people wrote me and said they were now very interested to see what I would come up with on a second solo record. So I wrote a lot of material, mixing The Beatles, Sex Pistols and Mountain plus punk. I have no plans for a third solo record, but having said that, I might just as well record a third solo album in future if I feel like it.

When you see bands today making black metal in the style of the nordic generation after 1987 (inspired by your Blood, Fire, Death and Sarcofago’s INRI in my supposition) what do you see as the possible future directions for that style of music?

Like I said previously, I do not think in terms of “genuine” or “true” metal versus “not-so-genuine” or “untrue” metal. My philosophy is; the more versatile and innovative a scene is, the more the audience will get out of it. It would be a very poor testimony if a scene were to contain only one style of music played exactly the same way, with the very same type of lyrics and image and so on. I think it’s more “posing” to be copying a certain style of clothing, wear make-up and use the exact same production as tons of other acts simply because it is the flavour of the day.

As far as the future of extreme metal is concerned, I do not worry at all. I know there will be tons of great bands in the future as well. The scene will be forever. There will be new names, new styles and new topics. The dark, evil and demonic will always be a part of the scene. The mythological themes will be there as well. I agree it would be interesting to see what else will happen as far as topics are concerned.

Do you think the world is on the edge of great change? If so what will change, and what is forcing it to change (what needs to change)?

I really don’t bother about the world or society at all. I’ll be dead in 30-40 years and neither people, politics, religion or society interests me at all.

Is the metal underground an effective way of distributing niche music according to its artistic integrity, or a justification for the kind of independent distribution needed to move relatively small numbers of CDs?

There’s more than one way to look at the underground distribution; firstly it will allow for acts to target the very type of audience they’re targeting specifically. Secondly, people interested in a specific type of music will be able to easily get a hold of very special CD’s and vinyl through underground distribution network.

Let’s face it, some extreme metal productions will never reach sales figures around 10 000-20 000 copies. A lot of acts will be happy to sell 5 000 or even 3 000 copies. With such a small quantity of CD’s sold, few record companies, even pure metal companies will even touch certain bands. The underground will be able to distribute albums made during less expensive circumstances, albums that still will have a lot to offer in terms of interesting arrangements etc. So in that respect, I think that the underground is doing a pretty tremendous job.

But the underground is also exploited by pirates, assholes, haemorrhoids and parasites. There are more illegal BATHORY CD’s circulating in the underground than genuine official BATHORY albums released. There’s fake “BATHORY live albums” out there, I have heard of “Quorthon rehearsal” cassettes and “lost recordings” on CD, and this absurd list just goes on and on. I will occasionally email these mailorder companies and underground metal shops, and tell them that they are distributing BATHORY fakes and illegal crap. Also, I will tell them that not only are they violating international laws of copyright and publishing rights, they allow the bootlegging pirates and haemorrhoids to use their network for criminal purposes. That’s not underground, that’s theft and breach of trademark laws etc.

I have heard of some really awful quality bootleg BATHORY CD’s and feel sorry for the fans that buy them for 15-25 dollars. All they get is crap quality copies of tracks released on our Jubileum volumes. The fans could easily just get the genuine thing from us directly. I came from the underground and I hurt like hell when I hear how young fans are being exploited this way. Any underground shop or mailorder dealer who will help in distributing bootleg crap is killing the underground.

Do you have any spiritual beliefs, or strong ideological concerns?

Nope, not a glimpse of spirit in me at all.

It seems to me that most metal musicians start their lives more antagonistic to society as a whole, and eventually as they age begin to acknowledge the need for a society but a dissatisfaction with its design. Do you have any comments here as general observations?

I am sure a lot of people will mature with age and realise down the road the need for a functioning society. But that probably has less to do with social awareness or a philanthropic pathos. It will have a lot more to do with the fact they’re beginning to pay taxes and want to see some results for their money paid.

How do you compose a song and, how integral are the lyrics?

I will just strike a guitar riff and continue from there. If it sounds good enough to work on further, I’ll write a song in an hour or so. A day, a week or a month later I may listen back to it and just taste a few words and see what comes out of it all. I rarely plan before writing a song what it should be about. All that will come along the process. I’ll say it again, I think the music and lyrics writes itself. I’m just a tool used by the demons of music.

Is Twilight of the Gods a rock opera in the style of the who, progressive bands from the 70s, etc?

I don’t know where that rock opera thing came from. I guess people had no idea what to call that kind of heavy bombastic arrangements 10 years ago. It wasn’t Black or Death Metal, so some people felt compelled to come up with some label for it. But to call it a rock opera is laughable. “Twilight” is no mot a theme album in any way, no track two off “Twilight of the Gods” has got anything to do with eachother, they are all individual tracks with totally different stories.

“Requeim” is more a theme album than “Twilight”, because it contains with the subject of death in all forms may it be suicide, murder, culture death, genocide or death in war or by cult.

How do you unwind/relax, or, what do you do for recreational purposes? (what do you enjoy besides music)

I’ll read a book or stride my Harley-Davidson motorcycles and go for a ride. I used to build a lot of plastic models, paint a lot or collect war memorabilia in the past but not as much these days.

Is it possible to return to metal with a different style after one has become one of the founding names of a certain style?

Depends what you mean by “return to metal”. I am the same metal underground shit kid today that I was 20 years ago. I’m still playing as brutal a guitar as I have been for 20 years. So it can’t be that I’ve been all of a sudden sliding back into a metal slot for some reason. It’s not like I have been travelling the world with a can-can orchestra since last time around.

I can’t see what a “return to metal” should point to. If there’s no BATHORY album out for a period of 5 years (as was the case between “Blood on Ice” and “Destroyer of Worlds”), some will call that a comeback. That’s absurd. Just because you’re not in people’s face all the time, it’s not a come back to have a new album out even if it’s more than a year between it and the last release.

People are so stuck with labelling acts and individuals, calling things and circumstances by so many names and whats more just to make life easier for themselves to live, it makes me sick.

The Odin mythos present in Blood on Ice, Blood, Fire, Death, and Twilight of the Gods seems to derive inspiration from the Nietzschean/Jungian view of the human psyche and the culmination of some of its historical inabilities. Do you think these ideas are gaining prevalence at this time, or becoming more obscure as society degenerates?

“Blood on Ice” was a saga based loosely on the Siegfried legend and an original story by Robert E Howard. The “Blood Fire Death” album really has nothing to do with Vikings at all except for the title of the track “Oden’s ride over Nordland”. But that’s not really the issue. It’s not important if an album or a track is or is not about this or that shit. The important thing is if it gives you the kick inside.

I think people see and hear more things then I really meant to put on them albums. The “Blood Fire Death”, “Hammerheart” and “Twilight” albums has been linked together as the “viking-albums”, the same way the first three albums “Bathory”, The Return” and “Under the Sign” has been tied into a trio. I gave up years ago trying to talk people out of all that crap. It’s just atmospheric metal, I don’t really bother much about the depth or context etc.

I really don’t remember why I picked some stuff up from Nietzche 10 years ago, I wasn’t reading much by him. It may have been through Wagner. I think cults, theories and views of all sorts will exist in much the same way for as long as there are people around.

Please insert any commentary on the questions, issues addressed, things missed in the interview, or general concluding remarks you may have.

We’re just right now finishing a 14-15 track new album to be released in September/October this year. Look forward to it and take care.
Hail the hordes !

Quorthon

In a sequence of words, i.e. by a chain of symbols, something new and greater is to be represented: rhythm, dynamics and harmony again become necessary on this level of expression. This higher sphere now governs the more limited sphere of the individual word; it becomes necessary to select words, to put them in a new order; poetry begins. The spoken melody of a sentence is not just the sequence of the sounds of the words; for a word has only a quite relative sound, because its character, the content presented by the symbol, varies according to its position. In other words: the individual symbol of the word is constantly being re-defined by the higher unity of the sentence and the character this symbolizes. A chain of concepts is a thought; in other words, this is the higher unity of the accompanying representations. The essence of the thing is inacessible to thought; the fact that it has an effect on us as a motive, as a stimulant of the will, can be explained by the fact that the thought has already become a remembered symbol for a manifestation of the will, for a movement and a phenomenon of the will in one. But when it is spoken, i.e. with the symbolism of sound, its effect is incomparably more powerful and direct. When it is sung, when melody is the intelligible symbol of its will, it reaches the summit of its effect; if this is not the case, it is the sequence of sounds which affects us, and the sequence of words, the thought, remains something distant and indifferent.

– F.W. Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy

Thanks to Black Mark Records.

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Interview: Sanguine A. Nocturne and Wrath Satariel Diabolus (Averse Sefira)

Among the bands who originate from areas outside of Northern Europe, there are few as controversial and yet artistically rewarding as Austin, TX’s Averse Sefira. Having their genesis in the era before credulous emulators gagged the black metal community with sound-alike hardcore music dressed up as black metal, Averse Sefira create black metal art in the older style, inspired by Norse and Brazilian black metal from the late 1980s and early 1990s, which puts them at odds with most of their contemporaries who like to make the more generic, less musically-complex “black metal” that has become popular in the years since 1999. Undaunted, the warriors of Averse Sefira have forged ahead on a path of creating mystical, sublime, and unrepentantly vicious metal music which is closer to its influences than competitors.

Additional guest interview questions here, courtesy of Tyler Gebar.

What drew you to black metal and not jazz or punk or ambient or baroque, or more properly stated, what drew you to black metal more than these other forms (thus forced a decision)?

SANGUINE: I have always felt called to Metal and I have always had a sound in my head that I have pursued since I was able that became clearer to me, held meaning and expression the closer I came to Black Metal. It was a journey through the initial fallout of the Genrefication, a journey through Thrash Metal and Speed Metal, Death Metal and Grindcore until one day I was played Black Metal. Then it became clear, an epiphany if you will. I understood the Sound. As I immersed myself in the Sound I began to read and understand the meaning contained within the Sound. That meaning was what I had within me my whole life. Nothing else in music that I have explored has ever merged the Within and the Sound in such union. Classical, ambient and industrial for me are close runner-ups in achieving the union, but there are mindsets within those forms that I find alien and incomprehensible, just as devotees from those camps often never understand the Hessian completely.

Averse Sefira is one of a half-handful of north american bands who create something other than three-chord punk disguised as black metal. What drives you to take a mental vision and project it through music, instead of creating a variant on known musical patterns? How did you collaborate on this vision, and what was the course of its evolution?

WRATH: In regards to initial architecture very little was based on anything else besides instinct. Sanguine and I were ardent followers of metal in general and accordingly we endeavored in what seemed correct and effective at the time. Very often people ask about our affinity for Voivod, which I find interesting considering they were not an influence at all. Most listeners hear an odd timing structure or a false stop in metal and they immediately reference the more technical bands when in truth our chief influence was Immolation in regards to structures. Even with that in mind I do not feel we share a sound in common. Sanguine learned to play traditional folk guitar long before he played extreme music, and both of us had an affinity for classical music as well. I think our decision to draw upon a wide palette of influences rather than aspire to be a variant of one specific band our style gave us a foundation that allowed for continuing innovation and exploration. I don’t quite understand the desire to be a band that is a blatant reiteration of another established act whose work will always remain superior. Why not just be a cover band? It involves less initial planning and more immediate gratification (such as it is). I savour the idea that we are rarely dismissed as sounding like any one band. If you read our reviews, we are compared to Immortal, Voivod, Marduk, Immolation, and everything in between. To address the “three-chord punk” aspect, this seems to be a symptom of minimalism being mistaken for an elementary approach. The two are anything but synonymous yet it opens the door for uninspired amateurism, most of which is thankfully and quickly ignored and abandoned.

How was the energy that inspired you to become formative in Averse Sefira different from other energies you had felt?

SANGUINE: Black Metal is like lightning striking you, the resultant chemical and electrical disruptions alter perceptions and break down barriers between the Terrestrial, the Celestial and the Void. Averse Sefira being an eruptive living presence is a magnification of these disruptions. It becomes a symbiotic relationship sometimes guiding, sometimes being guided.

When did you first get into music, and what are your memories of what attracted you to it? Also, when did you first hear metal and what did you like about it? What was the progress of your moving from outside to inside the genre, as first a fan and then a musician?

WRATH: My first interest in music was classical, from when I was about three years of age. Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bare Mountain” was a genius work that first sparked my appetite for “evil” music. Beethoven and Mozart were also standards, along with Alice Cooper. By about 1986, however, I was anxious to find something more—by this point I was an angry, hyperactive, hormone-addled youth who still wasn’t even old enough to drive. This was the point when Metallica, DRI, Anthrax, Celtic Frost, Slayer, Sodom, Bathory, and Iron Maiden began to match much of “the noise inside my head” (to paraphrase our ever-trenchant guitarist). Here was music that had spirit, conviction, aggression, and, oddly enough, hope. Thus I discovered a paradigm that became a soundtrack for the years ahead, years which continue forward even now. I was a mere fan until I was fifteen, and then I took the plunge and began to learn guitar. Our first band formed before any of us were truly proficient but there was much in the way of raw talent.

In time every moment is conditioned by the previous one. Here the ground or reason of being, as the law of succession, is so simple because time has only one dimension; consequently in it there cannot be any diversity or multiplicity of relations. Every moment is conditioned by the previous one; only through that predecessor can this moment be reached. It is only insofar as that other was and has elapsed. All counting depends on this nexus of the parts of time, and its words serve merelyt o mark the single stages of succession; consequently, the whole of arithmetic depends on it, a science that teaches absolutely nothing but methodical abbreviations of counting. Each number presupposes the preceding numbers as the grounds or reasons of its being; I can reach ten only by going through all the preceding numbers; and only by virtue of this insight into the ground of being, do I know where there are ten, so are there eight, six, four.

– Arthur Schopenhauer, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason

What music besides black metal inspires you most profoundly?

SANGUINE: Primitive chants from earlier times and Classical music. At extremes, these two forms are radical expressions of the Void. Music is a sensual and encompassing experience. The most meaningful displays of it envelop the listener causing a bubble of separate reality to form. This subset of reality wires into every fibre of being and folds the dimensions of existence until the intersection of the mundane intrudes at the end.

What attracts you to a band first – is it instrumental aspects, textural aspects (vocals, tone) or structural?

WRATH: It really depends. Often it is a combination of the elements, though I am quite a seeker of unique and convincing vocal styles. This is how I got into Antaeus, Old Wainds, Funeral Mist (the vocals on their latest are unreal), and even Immortal actually. I like bands that right upon first listen come across as a sum of their parts. This is in the end how ensemble music is intended.

What do you believe is the root of artistic conception? (examples: some say it is simply recontextualizing two forms not normally superimposed upon one another, and that this is the root of all creativity; others say it is simply a sound; some argue the mechanism is understood first; all may be explaining their own phenomenon without getting close to an objective theory)

SANGUINE: For me the root of artistic conception is the expression of the DDIIVVIINNEE. For those who cannot get around such a word being used, insert “the Void.” The artist is called or taps into the Void and finds continual ways to channel and express it. This expression can come in the form of straight religious contextualization or it can be channeled through ideology; although there is much evidence to support a feedback loop between the two (ideology vectoring religion, religion vectoring ideology.)

Music is formed of sound, art of visual impulse, warfare of the physical and words of the abstract; what realization impelled you to join all four disciplines in your artistic concept?

WRATH: From the band’s inception it seemed that total committal and immersion in the art was the only option. We have always prided ourselves in our conceptual completeness. Different facets of this paradigm are expressed in different venues as the visual design and auditory aspects predominate the albums themselves, while the physical component only writhes and poisons in a live setting. This is a form of psychic alchemy; we combine the needed elements to devise something precious and otherwise unattainable.

In music, does the recognition of signal define form, or does form define signal? Could this be a matter of approach, or is it hardwired into human consciousness?

SANGUINE: The answer lies somewhere in between. Developing children across the world will exhibit “music making” or “songwriting” occurrences in an informal manner. They explore rhythm making and melody often without initiation by the parent or group or exposure to more formal musical induction. At some point, all that is naturally occurring within our primal systems, gets written over when someone sits us down and says “this is what music is.” The conditionings leafed over what exists within us takes over and for the most part we become dependant on approach.

In chaos theory we speak of dimensionality as levels of abstraction of repetition of detail; it works in a similar way to computer compression algorithms, which note repeated patterns and assign them a token which takes up less space than the original pattern. Usually the patterns being compressed or abstracted are organized around divisions into two, as for every recognizable thing it can fragment into two halves or recombine a self and an other. How do you think this applies to methods in black metal songwriting for getting closer to a dominant theme or melody without repeating it?

SANGUINE: Humans individually exist within an internal matrix of approaches, thoughts, attitudes, and emotions, all converging and swirling at different points, creating strange relationships and associations along the way. (Not to mention how the act in groups or modify their behaviour based on who they are in contact with at any given moment.) They seem to gravitate towards twos and fours. This might explain the confusing numbers of meat attracted to the binary morality of desert religions. There is something internally pleasing about these even numbers. Conventional 2/4, 4/4 time signatures dominate most song structures and are easily grasped by the Passives and is easily wielded by those seeking conveyance on as broad a band (even if selective) as possible. Perhaps it forms a silent mnemonic system that reinforces the themes?

Music writing seems to be tied inextricably to Newton, in that if something goes up, it must come down (or vice versa.) There is also a high instance of “riff A goes three times and on the fourth time put in riff B.” The only beings that have come near to writing music interwoven with Quantum Physics are Acerbus. I am amazed that people are even able to write music at all, and I have no idea how they do it. I operate with modular components that I call “sets.” A set is usually two or more riffs that compliment each other in somewhat of a logical fashion, there is a great deal of the process based on that great unquantifable: “feeling.” Being modular, these components can be dropped in anywhere in a song and form the basic themes for the composition. They can repeat any number of times with variation imposed as required, say when the song is approaching summation, set A returns, but is played backwards, lower, whathaveyou.

I also think of the songs relative to the shapes that the themes form around. Things like StiGr.39s or the distorted bones of a skinned xtain, celestials on fire, these images are evocative in translation to musical form. One thing I am experimenting with is structuring sets akin to DNA constructions: riff sets on the guitar forming one helical half combining with riff sets on the bass forming the other helical half and the drums acting as sugars linking it all together. Perhaps the construction of an automaton or golem is also an appropriate metaphor: part is bone, part is muscle, part is flesh and part is the electricity powering it. Something that the occult bands often aspire to, or should, is to try and capture in music the essence of what they are summoning/conjuring/opening, not just play Rock and say that it is the embodiment of ritual. Although again, that would explain the obsession with twos and fours… Black Metal is after all, Black Magic but music.

The first time I came to men I committed the folly of hermits, the great folly: I stood in the market place. And as I spoke to all, I spoke to none. But in the evening, tightrope walkers and corpses were my companions; and I myself was almost a corpse. But with the new morning a new truth came to me: I learned to say, “Of what concern to me are market and mob and mob noise and long mob ears?”

You higher men, learn this from me: in the market place nobody believes in higher men. And if you want to speak there, very well! But the mob blinks: “We are all equal.”

“You higher men” – thus blinks the mob – “there are no higher men, we are all equal, man is man; before God we are all equal.”

Before God! But now this god has died. And before the mob we do not want to be equal. You higher men, go away from the market place!

– F.W. Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Do you think that the pre-1996 (Nordic) blackmetal bands held this view? If so, was it their primary view – a summation of their beliefs – or one of the symbols they used to communicate their beliefs?

WRATH: In the time of their greatness, I believe the seminal acts of the region followed these ideals indeed. Regardless, it was their promotion of such things that spoke to us and inspired us to make our own bid as a band. I agree that much of the message was symbolic. The traditional idea of music in general is using art to convey meaning. At their best, the “black circle” bands were very effective in marrying these elements. It is the model under which we have laboured since our inception- symbols standing for greater motives.

How does nature respond to change, in your broad and esoteric experience?

SANGUINE: Nature adapts and ultimately overcomes and destroys, albeit very slowly. Witness the grass growing up from underneath sidewalks, or the tree that has grown over the gravestone. Nature has a much longer longevity than humanity and thus can act at its leisure. Humanity is doomed to scurry around trying to kill immortality in pursuit of its own immortality.

Why are there suddenly so many black metal bands? (this question dates from 1998)

WRATH: The simplest answer seems to be that it has become a trend, though I think a more accurate answer is that more than ever people justify themselves by the attention they get from others. We live in a society full of reality TV shows and we watch complete morons blunder into pseudo-celebrity. A large problem with the current underground (and again I refer mostly to the internet scene) is that everyone claims to be a society-loathing misanthrope who has no interest in the world at large, but then an alarming majority of these people demonstrate just how much the culture they deride has gotten to them. I am constantly amazed at how often I encounter christianized mentalities and the thin rationalizations used to justify them. Getting back to the main point, nobody in metal is interested in making music for oneself anymore. It becomes a process of picking a recombinant band name, writing some recombinant songs, then imploring people to buy a copy of your brand new CD-R. As a side note, I would really be impressed to see a new Black Metal band who went to the trouble to print cassettes and include an inlay card if anything because it would prove that they cared about making an effort.

Although Mayhem’s “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” is arguably more musically conventional than Darkthrone’s “Transylvanian Hunger,” both possess a spirit that is difficult to quantify in the typing that allows us to divide genre and lineage in popular music. What is this essential quality and why is it that some bands have it and others do not, to varying degrees?

SANGUINE: The Void calls to some and the others simply see what the chosen do and mimic it thinking that they bear truth as well. Both albums represent the moment of death for Black Metal in triumphant explosion, an attempt to shut off Black Metal from those who would soil what it offers. The gate was never fully sealed and Black Metal and the Void continue to call and pull a select few to it. There are those that hear the call more clearly, it remains one of those “unquantifiables.”

The bottom line is that bands with severity of conviction are closer to the Void than bands that want conviction or claim to have it because someone else says they do. The “I don’t know what art is but I know what I like” argument raises its head, although in this case it becomes something along the lines of “explaining why one band channels the Void and another one does not is difficult to quantify, the surety lies in the listen, how the space between the solar plexus feels when the album begins to turn.” Once again, “feeling” is important. Feeling and conviction. To borrow from MkM, what is projected in your art must come from every fibre of you being, it has to be your essence, you have to vomit it out for all to see.

The philosopher F.W. Nietzsche posited that western society is collapsing under a wave of liberalization that began with the adoption of Christianity by the Roman empire, a wave that has continued into the secular sector. Where do you think the original black metal impetus in Norway stood in regards to this issue, and where does black metal now stand regarding it? What is your personal view of Nietzsche’s summation?

WRATH: So few people are savvy enough to recognize that christianity is a way of thinking, now more than ever. One can still be christianized and never say a prayer, set foot in a church, or even believe in Jehova. It is christian to demand that everyone be treated with the same regard and merit even when it is unwarranted. It is christian to rationalize behavior that stands in flagrant opposition with professed beliefs, the most common example in the underground being anti-christian yet having a christian significant other (most guys take what they can get without question). It is christian to compromise even when it is clear that the ends will not justify the means. Whether or not the Norse bands were truly adherent in their ideals, their music and words stood firmly against this. Too few really read Euronymous’ mission statement and understood its intent. The Norwegian movement was meant to put a stop to the open door policy of the current scene and implement a new variation that was not intended for everyone. Here again we return to the idea of elitism and why it is so necessary. As previously addressed, the traditional underground still holds these values closely for good or ill, as it is often rigorous to do so when glad-handing scensters continue to get in the way. I agree with Nietzsche’s outlook in this regard; it is particularly true in the US where christian sentiments have long subverted more sensible and functional means and values. Things here no longer run smoothly, as “being fair” or worrying about “people’s feelings” undermines common sense when it comes to getting anything accomplished. Conversely, the whole model is illusory in that so few who enforce these conventions truly believe in them. They assume the person next to them does, however, and thus they adopt a position that will ensure the least amount of judgment or sanctions. This, in its most rudimentary sense, is Christianity- servility for the promise of a nebulous reward.

You were one of the first people in America to embrace black metal, at a time when most metalheads still referred to black metal as “faggot music.” What vision did you grasp that others could not see?

WRATH: More correctly, I like to think I was part of a handful of people in the US to first tout Black Metal in a public forum, mine being a radio show. I did indeed hear many “faggot music” comments (and still do, interestingly enough). As we have since established in this discourse, what enthralled me was a combination of the projected ethos, the aesthetic, and the overall atmosphere that permeated the classic recordings. I saw it as a new renaissance, a step forward, and our best hope for revitalizing a stagnant underground (which, for what it’s worth, happened to a point) . Then again, I always preferred Deicide and Morbid Angel to Suffocation or Cannibal Corpse so it is fair to say that conviction and innovation always got my attention.

I know you’re aware of occult, philosophical and musical leanings of many cultures. In your cross-cultural studies, what common threads have you found that are most applicable to the formation of human ideals?

SANGUINE: There are universal occurrences of a pantheon of gods tied to the cycles of Nature and the machinations of the Universe. There are many universal occurrences of guidelines for living, set up along the lines of balancing “virtues” and “taboos;” these idealy would ensure the survival of the society if adhered to. Societies themselves almost universally had classes for priests, classes for warriors, classes for merchants and artisans, farmers and so on. Everyone had a place and was essential to maintaining continuance. If you were not part of the society, you were the sacrifice that kept the sun rising and the next cycle beginning. These days, society is not going to collapse if you eat pork, or foods that are specially prepared. These days, there is not always a place for people. These days the divisions between tribes are being purposely blurred so that everyone thinks that everyone is the same, everyone can be anything they want. These days everyone seems content to be useless.

What do you think is the major difference between first-wave Norwegian black metal and the current crop of worldwide “BM”?

WRATH: When the Norwegian scene was unearthed they were not a part of a worldwide movement or an internet community. It was a question of standing on merit, talent, and vision. Very few of the bands forming now have this spirit, but then again they no longer need it. Black Metal, particularly in the states, has become a very tolerant and coddling entity. Ten years ago, legitimacy was not about how long one had been visiting a metal message board. At this point it is simpler for someone to simply announce that he has a band and wait for the accolades to roll in, rather than working towards something that stands as an accomplishment unto itself. The Emperor wears no clothes, and has not for some time now. Many would be surprised at my involvement with other projects, bands, and entities in the underground. My name is always present but there is no need to call additional attention to myself. I am proud of what I contribute and this is more than enough, and if there are praises to receive then I want to know I have rightly earned them rather than assume I deserved them before the fact.

The one most relevant [cultural factor] here is language. In general, scientific discourse adopts as its ideal univocality — one word, one meaning. Closely related to this goal is the belief that a language exists, or can be forged, that is purely instrumental. Clearly and unambiguously, it will communicate to the world what the speaker or writer intends to say. Roland Barthes (Rustle) has ironically called this the belief that science can own a slave language, docile and obedient to its demands. Anyone who has seriously studied how language works is aware, however, that it shapes even as it articulates thought. There is now an impressive body of work exploring how metaphors, narrative patterns, rhetorical structures, syntax, and semantic fields affect scientific discourse and thought…language is not a passive instrument but an active engagement with a vital medium that has its own currents, resistances, subversions, enablings, pathways, blockages. As soon as discovery is communicated through language, it is also constituted by language.

– N. Katherine Hayles, Complex Dynamics in Literature and Science p. 5 (1991)

Backing up a bit, in the mid-1980s Bathory and Celtic Frost stunned the world with a form of metal that was both the simplest yet created, in terms of its basic and grinding power chord riffs, and most complex, in that it staged itself like an opera, unifying a visual presentation with a concept with a musical form. This is similar to the use of music in ancient Greece, where it was believed that music by itself, without an accompanying storyline and theatrical presentation, was only partially complete. What do you think brought this view back into the intellectual currency of the West?

WRATH: It seems that those individuals grew up with a healthy fascination for their origins and heritage and quickly realized that this existence was no longer within reach as it had been long-erased industry and judeo-christian mores. What better way to resurrect mythos and wonder than by projecting it through infectious yet markedly aggressive music? For our brand of art to carry any real value it must convey meaning. In our case, the personas and music we have devised are much larger than ourselves; Averse Sefira is an entity in its own right. Immersion is what makes the music live, what makes a spindly guy in a bullet belt into a fire-breathing demon called Quorthon or a tow-headed nice guy longhair into a guitar-shredding grunt machine called Tom G. Warrior. Art is meaning, anything else is just entertainment. The earliest purveyors of this genre understood this and they insisted on creating something that transcended the workaday existence and the conventions of the world they were forced into despite their desires for more and better ways of being. This is why Averse Sefira will always appear in paint and spikes, we will always strive for involved design and presentation, we will always be all-inclusive in our presentation. Music is the foundation but in Black Metal aesthetic will always be important, no matter how minimalist it may be. Those who claim to play Black Metal but still don’t understand this paradigm should form AC/DC tribute bands and play onstage in street clothes.

I understand that unlike many black metallers, you embrace both higher education and a personal sense of honor. How does this jive with the post-1996 attitude of many fans and third-string musicians that black metal should be about “total darkness and hate, and total suicidal agony”?

WRATH: Black Metal should be about total darkness and hate, etc, etc, but perhaps not in such absolute terms. It is fine to tout such ideas assuming one understands why it matters. The problem is that most of the individuals who are quick to assert these concepts do so in lieu of anything productive or artistic. Any coward and/or moron can regurgitate “widely accepted” platitudes as an excuse to not bring anything useful to the table. Fatalism is easy because it negates accountability, and in the interim ideals like honor, fortitude, imagination, conviction, and solidarity fall by the wayside. The result is that those who speak loud and offer little have begun to overrun the movement. They have plenty of empty rhetoric, and somehow this saves them from being singled out and isolated from the beginning. It is a symptom of the 21st century that the lowest common denominator defines the trajectory of things, and it seems that Black Metal is not immune. For our part, the aforementioned “strength and honor” aspects of this music are what make it worthwhile. Those we know and respect in this movement also believe and practice within this paradigm, and accordingly they are the ones we call allies. All others should be honest with themselves and return to listening to hardcore.

What was the best part of college?

SANGUINE: I think the best part of college is the appreciation one gains ex post facto for how much was truly useless and how they would do things differently. It is kind of bittersweet, the experience. I enjoyed it but in hindsight it was not unlike a rodeo with textbooks. There is a great destruction involved on many levels.

It seems to me that death metal started with grand ambitions (Altars Of Madness, Legion) and then lapsed into the same mindless three-chord bashing that has always characterized bad metal bands; black metal was a breath of fresh air, but now so many of these bands have adopted the cloak of “Transilvanian Hunger” and are doing the same thing. What engenders this cycle? Should it be “stopped”?

WRATH: It seems so many people have looked at a band like Darkthrone and believed that the key to the music was to keep it one-dimensional. They never realized that in minimalism it is often implication that completes intent. Why is “Transylvanian Hunger” brilliant while some other three-chord album is not? This is when the esoteric takes hold and makes what would have otherwise been a repetitive and poorly produced album into a seminal work. However, when other bands ape this approach the results are transparent and poorly produced albums, period. You will not encounter many individuals who are willing to invest the time in finding their own voices and sharpening their crafts. We live in a twenty-four hour society where everything must be fast-tracked and brought to market while the commodities are hot, hot, hot! Thus we witness and endless parade of idiots who think that they need to commit their Black Metal band to CD-R tomorrow, and Darkthrone isn’t hard to mimic, so why not do that? Our drummer actually summed it up best when he observed that while most everything on the first Deicide album is easy to play, he never could have thought up any of it. It’s no surprise that Emperor turned around and alienated all the aspiring imitators with “Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk”. They wanted to be sure to shut the door on that kind of thing. So, for a short answer yes it should be stopped. I also think Darkthrone should stop grandstanding and find something else to do.

What do you think is the lineage of black metal, and what are its major influences outside of the genre (or even outside music)?

SANGUINE: Do you remember the time, before the Great Generefication, when it was ALL METAL? At some point, someone said, “THAT’s Speed Metal, THAT’s Death Metal, THAT’s Thrash Metal, this new stuff’s called Grindcore,” and in the murky depths of fanzinedom, some one said, “Sodom, Venom, Bathory, Sarcofago, Pentagram, Beherit, Blasphemy, Mystifier, Master’s Hammer, These guys are BLACK METAL! (Well, these are the guys that were doing Black Metal originally; Immortal, Darkthrone, Bvrzvm, Emporer, Mayhem, THESE guys are {True!} BLACK METAL!”

“Why is this Black Metal? What makes it so?” the Incredulous asked.

“Because it’s SATANIC!” the Generifier said.

“So that makes Decide, Morbid Angel, Incantation, ad nauseum, Black Metal bands.”

“Oh no! They are Death Metal bands! They have a more chromatic chord base, double bass blasts and low, growling vocals.”

“Ah! So what make these new bands (that are Satanic/coming out of Scandinavia) Black Metal?”

“The guitars are more melodic, they blast with a single kick, and the vocals are pitched higher. And they have paint and spikes and burn churches some of them. The Death Metal guys wear jeans and sneakers, ‘jogging suits’ and look like everybody at shows”

“I see, so it is an aesthetics and form delineation that makes something Black Metal and not Death Metal.”

“No, it is also their ideology, these guys are warring against Christianity, they are searching for their lost Viking roots, blah, blah, blah.”

“So how can you play Black Metal then Don Diego?”

“Because I and my band are hailing Satan and writing songs about Satan’s triumph over the Earth and killing christians.”

And so on. I agree with that theory: that what everyone initially agreed quantified and qualified a band as Black Metal was a Satanic theme, concept or aesthetic. When the whole Norway/Sweden/Finland “scenes” erupted, that same Satanic element was very strong. At some point this split and fractured; varicose offshoots running amok touting National Socialism, Medieval Satanism, Paganism, Vampirism, Genocide, Nihilism, Forests, Misty Fog, etc; one could graph the ebbs and flows. Some of these arteries have hardened and with every form, conventions solidify and one can now safely describe bands by “they sound like.”

And at this point it all really matters not at all. The lineage of Black Metal is well known as legend with even the wettest behind the ears able quote from “Lords of Chaos:”

“Once upon a time, there was Euronymous, Dead and Count Grishnack. Dead begat the germ that is Black Metal. Euronymous became jealous and killed Dead for this germ [er, ah he committed suicide.] Count Grishnack killed Euronymous for, well perhaps just to get the next phase going.”

IF that is so and Grishnack burned the chruches to wake up Norwegians, perhaps Euronymous’ death was to awaken Hessians, get them thinking about what this is really about.

The great majority of them, the ones that “made the Metal community at large aware of Black Metal,” I still want to feel that they believed in something, that they adhered to an ideology. I want to think that they weren’t just doing it as a joke and now they can go back to their Nine Inch Nails. Many have abandoned what they initially raised high banners in the name of, and many still raise high banners so long as they look right and play music that sounds ‘just like _____!’ It seems like so many have lost their faith, for Metal has its religious qualities, that one can wonder sometimes if there has ever been any meaning to this music, this form. The fact that there are some adherents, some faithful still out there, that to me will point to a common truth wherefrom this movement sprang from. The lineage of Black Metal is now legend, and I feel that it is served better in this manner. Where it is going, what is done with it to keep it vital, thriving and mutating, is of the utmost importance.

Movements pushing ideologies have crept in through Metal, the fanbase appearing as an untapped resource that many would like to exploit, be it financial, material, physical, political, religious. Movements within Metal have arisen and now seek to creep outward, to effect and depose the JCI society that seeks to ruin and despoil what is being accomplished. There is a great war of hearts and minds being waged by those who want to keep Metal regarded as “frivolous.”

There are important leaps in meta-philosophy and meta-culture being made by enclaves of Hessian think tanks. I say it “meta-” because unfortunately such efforts will never be recognized as “legitimate” by the current JCI society. Hessians, as a meta-culture, truly global and post-moral, operate in a closed system making plans for what should promise to be a better future; unfortunately, this knowledge will always be suppressed and disregarded, “the rants and ravings of fringe elements and radicals.” Such accusations are made still, mostly by an unwashed mass with the mean age of 20. The potential within these nay-sayers is still there but still suffer from the conditioned thought of the society around us. Ten plus years ago, I think that Hessians were not as accomplished thinkers as they are today. Ten plus years ago, the message put forth was “Party! Let’s get out our aggression {until we cave to society’s demands!} Oh shit, there might be nuclear war! That’s bad!” Today, the message has changed: “Society is broken and must be set on fire. From the ashes we can rebuild and move forward in a more productive manner, but doing so requires the fetters and fears that bind us be cast aside so that we can act beyond the constraints of morality, act unhindered.”

American society has never fully accepted evolution as a theory, where Europe seems more scientific in outlook. Does this affect cultural and personal views of metal music, art and how to make it?

WRATH: American society has never fully evolved either, so how would we begin to grasp such theories? Of course our remedial culture stunts creation of art just as European culture propagates it. If you look around you, the American underground has all but succeeded in turning US Black Metal right back into Death Metal. What does that tell you? This is why the European bands and their mentality appeal to us. We have further cultivated a sense of this in our travels and travails in that region, and sometimes I cannot believe we are still on the same planet. Some have asserted that we wish we were a European band and all I can say is that they have been paying attention.

360.00 Universe itself is simultaneously unthinkable. You cannot think about the Universe sum-totally except as a scenario. Therefore, for further examination and comprehension, you need a thinkable set, or first subdivision of Universe, into our systems.
362.00 Our original definition of Universe is a finite but nonsimultaneously occurring aggregate of all human experiences, which is, therefore, a nonceptual total Universe. It is logical to proceed from this definition to discover the patterning characteristics of the first conceptual division of Universe into a structural system. After we subdivide Universe into systems, we will make further reductions into basic even experiences and to quantum units. We will then come to the realization that all structuring can be identified in terms of tetrahedra and of topology.

– Buckminster Fuller, Synergetics

Do you watch television and/or movies?

SANGUINE: No TV. I would like to still watch movies, but I feel great pressure from within to make better use of my time and life’s energy, so I generally abstain.

People have accused you of being an elitist. How do you answer that? Also, what is your feeling on the similarities and differences between “musical elitism,” or really elitist meritocracy based on personal artistic output, and an enlightened sense of anti-social Darwinism?

WRATH: Those who feel I am an elitist are usually standards-bereft bottom feeders who are beneath me. Is this not for what Black Metal was intended? The modern iteration of this genre was a reaction to Death Metal’s increasing lack of ethos and liberalized sensibilities. Decrying elitism is yet another facet of our tailspin into the lowest common denominator. Musically and socially, elitism is more necessary than ever yet there are so few genuine adherents to this mindset. Most people would prefer to be hypocrites or apologists rather than invest in the rigors of aspiring to something better. It is not a question of perfection, it is a question of consistency. It is no coincidence that as a band our appeal is selective, as this is what elitism requires. Pleasing everyone is for the MP3 bands of the world.

What technological development of the last 30 years do you fear the most?

SANGUINE: Microwaves, anything that disrupts the body’s electrical systems.

How does religion and/or popular social views affect the composition of music?

WRATH: It seems to drive quite a few bands to trivial output. Again, as mentioned previously the biggest problem with the metal underground right now is the social aspect. Bands want attention and validation more than they want to set artistic goals these days. This is definitely putting the cart before the horse, but that is to be expected in the post-MTV generation. Simply having a band is never enough. When we began Averse Sefira, we never had the slightest inkling that it would become something about which anyone beside ourselves would care. Witness the fact that we ultimately released our first album on our own after rejecting a few thin label offers. For us it was never about acceptance or popularity, and even now we are often surprised and even skeptical of the response we get from listeners. Purely artistic goals are increasingly uncommon in metal, and in part I would agree that society is to blame. In terms of religion’s effect, please refer to my earlier comments on chrisitianized people in metal.

Do you think digital computers provide any models, fragmentary or mimetic, of human consciousness?

SANGUINE: Yes, in that they both have to be programmed and once programmed, there is a great chance for corruption, viruses and crashing.

Some have said the Christian vision of the “soul” is nothing more than the ego yearning to assert itself despite mortality. Do you think this is true? The ego is also paradoxical, in that it is both useful and, if too much of it occurs, destructive. Is there a general principle that can be derived from this?

WRATH: I think the soul is the navigator of the physical body, but as such when the physical meets the end the navigator is extinguished as well. Were this not true then we would not grieve so when those close to us die. What difference does it make if there is an afterlife or not- we are here now. All I know is that dualists forever debunk their own assertions in their failure to deal with death in ways that do not involve fear or grief. What is there to mourn if another life directly awaits on the other side?

The soul seems to be the sum of its parts, both tangible and intangible. One part cannot exist without the other. In terms of ego, you are correct that it is both an asset and a liability. I myself have ego to spare and I find it can lead to garnering great friends as well as bitter (if completely ineffective) enemies. In the more traditional sense, too much responding to drives, desires, and needs leads to both excess and even chaos. Chaos is sometimes good and necessary, but it is well advised to be aware of your own role in its midst.

As humanity poisons Earth, it may be necessary to engage in space travel where individuals will not only be cut off from the world for journeys taking most of their natural lives, but also will be cut off from any kind of parent culture as it disintegrates while they are in space. If these space travelers wrote philosophy or music, what ideas do you think would be emphasized?

SANGUINE: Unfortunately I think they would try to keep the ideal of “goD” going as long as they could. There would also be a biological push to replicate in as many and different combinations as possible so as to ensure genetic existence. To this, all conventions of matriarchy/patriarchy would have to dissolve and notions of conventional pair bonds would have to be cast aside. Everyone would have to breed with everyone else, the idea being that “the best and brightest” have been evaluated and chosen as such “the species” (or amalgamation thereof) would survive and promulgate. Given the limited supplies and space restrictions of a space going vessel, birth cycles would have to be regulated. A new culture would rise and the aspects of it, philosophy, music, etc, would have to revolve on the axis of breeding, “what are we going to do when we land?” and Christmas…

In many ways, Americans are shown by media archetypes how to grow up very quickly on the outside, leaving the structure behind emotions and logic relatively unformed. What do you think are the benefits of this form of extended youth?

SANGUINE: On one hand, delayed development benefits those that will have a greater purpose the close Geburah comes. These will be prepared to pilot the new society towards the halls of tomorrow. Extended youth on the other hand hinders those that embrace the nailed son of monkeys and pigs, for these, there is constant forward pressure into the meatgrinder of JCI society. Things of status are sought and warred over, devotion becomes measured by the material. They squander their youth early in a mad rush for adulthood and when they arrive, they have transfusions of bitterness, guilt, and hate to replace all that once was within them.

Nietzsche also spoke of “eternal return,” or the concept that our lives are lived once and a representation of eternity in the human consciousness would be a perpetual cycling of the memories of that life — this vision was offered in direct contrast to the christian vision of a single life followed by an eternal life of stasis in pleasure. In this writing, the battlelines were drawn between those who believed in another world – the dualists – and those who believed the present was all that existed and thus real-world achievements were more important than symbolic or religious assertions. Do you think this is accurate and on which side of the equation do you fall?

SANGUINE: If we reoccur eternally along the same path, with everything up to the revelation being eternally fixed and immutable, would it matter? The transition between cessation and genesis would necessarily cause the memories and experiences of the same former existence to be wiped away; there would be no acknowledgement of what is already known. The burden of such retention would begin to wear upon the bearer to the point that and endless suicide loop could very well mutate. Nature after all abhors not only vacuums, but closed systems. Until it breaks however, it would be fantastic.

WRATH: I would agree this is fairly accurate, discounting the idiots who say, “well I dunno” when confronted with questions about the meaning of life. I fall very strictly into the latter category, in that I believe the only guarantee we have in the course of existence is that we are living on this plane and we have a certain limited amount of time to make the most of it. This is a shared idea within the band, which is why we do things like abandon gainful employment in the name of touring, etc. I believe one simply cannot put a price on life experience.

Do you believe in the soul?

SANGUINE: After a fashion, yes. I also believe in a spirit. I think these are component parts that make humanity somewhat different from other meat. Not better, but different.

Do any higher powers exist for you?

SANGUINE: Sometimes.

There are a great many matrices and states (altered or not, conscious and unconscious) that interconnect and overlap within and without a single human at any given time. At least there are for myself. Think about how often there are three songs playing in your head while you are driving almost from rote while mentally composing an essay or letter and carrying out a conversation, all on three hours of sleep. And you still marvel at sunlight drifting through clouds. There are multiple attitudes and thoughts you have towards a group of people or a single person, friend, enemy that you have when alone. These same orbits change when interacting with that person or when you are part of your own circle. They change again when you are forced into a job and a group of people that you have nothing in common with, save civility. All this to say that there are many levels of existence, the stark material cannot be the sole.

Egalitarianism and the soul are argued by some to be necessarily codependent concepts. can you explain your views on this subject?

SANGUINE: They want all things to be equal because they want everyone’s soul to be equal, important, and matter just as much as everyone else’s. The glorious truth is that not everyone makes an equal contribution, not even those who contribute a great deal, thinking that it is quality not quantity that matters, makes them a “better” person (but only to themselves, not in the sense that they are above anyone else!). The glorious truth is that not everyone matters. The glorious truth is that 5.9 billion souls are in need of immediate harvesting and those that are left will just have to figure out how it really works.

Many have for years stereotyped metalheads to me as angry, socially abusive people obsessed with negativity and rejection, usually from reasons of low self-esteem. Another variant of this behavior is that at a party, often the loudest people are the ones with the greatest need to make their presence known. I never believed this, although I noted many people who fit this description in the metal community; however, it seemed that post-1998 this percentage exploded and most of the smart people attracted by the promise of early modern black metal (1990-1996 Scandinavia) left the genre. Is this consistent with your experience? Why do you think this trend has come about?

WRATH: I wouldn’t say the smart people are all gone, they just have better things to do than argue about Sabbat with tech-school dropouts. I think one of the most damaging aspects to the genre was the way nearly all of the Norwegian front-runner bands managed about two worthwhile albums apiece and then launched into tangential bids for commercial success. Credibility was compromised, populism took hold, and kids who wanted something more radical than mallcore crept in. At this point it seems that we have too many people who were supposed to have been listening to Iron Maiden and playing Dungeons & Dragons coming in and acting as self-appointed authorities on all things black and evil. Most of them are wounded, stupid, aimless, talentless, or all of the aforementioned. Refer to my comments about not qualifying oneself before demanding patronage. This doesn’t apply to the European scene as much — their dead weight is harder to readily identify and a few among them have proven to be ingenious frauds. At least they try harder.

What Texas bands do you enjoy?

SANGUINE: Acerbus and Absu. I also enjoy former greats such as deadhorse, Rigor Mortis and Pain Teens.

Our entire historical cycle comes many years after the fragmentation of the Greco-Roman empires, but if looked at in the whole, is a progression from simple melodic lines to a sense of absolute melodic freedom; if looked at from a meta-level, it is a progression from music being symbolic of an artistic process (e.g. applied in theatre as did the Greeks) to music being symbolic of itself, at which point it communicates nothing other than what is inherent in the notes themselves. Clearly to the Greeks this would have been degenerate; the question is whether the cycle comes around to what they discovered, in which musical devices are fully known and thus the only question is how to use music as a language – which of course, requires the language _describe something_. How do you think black metal fits into this?

WRATH: It seems that much of Black Metal, indeed in the way our band crafts songs, falls into the “dissonant, smaller pieces” category. In our work, the music is definitely treated as language, though I don’t agree that all bands have a handle on this aspect of the creative process and as such we have the degenerate examples of music that is symbolic of itself. It is no coincidence that we are forever asked, “What are your lyrics about? What is the concept about?” Our goal from day one was to commute ideas through musical structures otherwise what is the point? It is not unlike the difference between talking simply to do so or talking to communicate an idea. In Black Metal the wheat is easily separated from the chaff when a band is asked in an interview to discuss their message or intent. When the answer is the standard vulgar, all-capitals diatribe against christians, society, and any band with musical value then it is clear they are not about communicating actual ideas. This is serviceable for the purposes of novelty but it will not endure, nor will it garner the type of audience worth having. I think that at its best Black Metal communicates volumes of ideas, both universal and esoteric. Consider a song like “I am the Black Wizards” and its portent; this genre offers so much opportunity for transcendent ideas and ways to express them. The palette is incredibly broad and thus ideas of alienation, misanthropy, aspiration, passion, hatred, and wonder have been aired in ways unheard of in any other musical form. The important commonality is that all the best bands set out to communicate. Think about Emperor at the end of their career- what is it that they were trying to say then, other than they wanted to cease? The Greeks definitely knew what made art significant, to be sure.

If you could fight in any war, which would it be?

SANGUINE: I am torn between WWII and Vietnam. WWII was the last great war of the old ways; the heroic ideal as I identify it today was at its peak in so far as its iteration in that age. Vietnam is the first modern war and there is still much to be learned from it. Vietnam was the war that reminded Amerika of its guerilla warfare heritage still struggling to implement lessons learned in a recent past. WWII hearkens back to better times; Vietnam can teach lessons for our current paths.

Do you believe the universe created itself, emerged from a precursor state or was synthesized by a mechanism not describable in causal states of any kind thus far known?

SANGUINE: The recent detection of polarized echoes from the Big Bang seem to indicate that the Universe was born out of an indescribable mechanism, however there had to be some sort of existence of the raw potentials for such genesis. Endless feedback and circular scenarios.

What do you think is next for black metal: will it continue on essentially a linear developmental curve, or will it mutate into another genre? Will it ever reclaim its original intensity?

WRATH: That is a truly difficult question. The issue at hand is that there are two undergrounds- the traditional and genuine, and then the loud and posturing popularity contest that has risen to the surface like a bloated corpse. With this disparity in mind, it becomes hard to predict much of anything. Many bands are still holding the banner of the “old ways” high, and these are the bands with whom we align ourselves. Perhaps the illegitimate side will mutate, considering their brand of “black metal” is effectively old death metal and NWOBHM. The simplest way to describe it all is that the underground went back underground, and as such the intensity and passion was never truly lost. It has become more incumbent upon us all to keep the best our genre has to offer away from those who would malign and misappropriate it. These days I hesitate to discuss bands I enjoy in public forums as I fear it further spoon-feeds the novelty-seekers and arrivists.

For some, there are two kinds of art: one that describes or laments the current world, and another that brings forth a heroic spirit of change and/or rearrangement of mental processing through which the user then sees the world. Which of these is your preferred mode of artistic cognition?

SANGUINE: That which inspires transformations within and without. There is too much “art” that is just “there;” purposeless, useless but for the mercy of the meat that embraces it as “valuable.” To them, everything is equal.

Black metal has become redundant both ideologically and musically in recent years. Many would say that ideology, or perhaps the pretentious portrayal of a facade, has become more important to black metal musicians than injecting the true spirit of their unique perceptions into the raw force of music that they craft. Do you believe that this is true, and if so, to what do you attribute this decline?

WRATH: I would say this is as true as not. That is a slippery idea because it is subjective. Some bands present with concepts and music that demonstrate their lack of understanding, but at the same time they believe in it so would that count as a facade? My standing complaint is that only a small portion of bands bother to fully understand the nature of the art before forming their own bands and then propagating their mistaken interpretations. Sanguine and I were metalheads since the mid-80s and still we took our time in forming Averse Sefira because we wanted to do it right and not have an early career that was riddled with missteps. So in regards to this decline you mention it seems that the urgency of getting on the bandwagon is probably the biggest culprit.

The song structure of your music often bears similarities to the thematic writing of classical composers. Do you enjoy classical and romanticist composers, and how do they influence your work?

We enjoy it very much. Classical music was some of the first music to which I ever actively listened, starting at about age three. Sanguine is actually an even more avid fan than I, and he attends concerts regularly (which is something I need to get back to doing myself). He also listens to a lot of film soundtracks that have orchestral arrangements. Beethoven, Wagner, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, and Mozart are all part of our musical landscape. Much of our arrangements, particularly on the last two albums, have been written with this paradigm in mind. It seems that black metal draws upon classical much more than other forms of extreme music.

I have read in past interviews that your albums “Homecoming’s March” and “Battle’s Clarion” form a complex narration of mysticism inspired by material found in Kabbalic mythology. The albums seemed to interpret the exile of certain sefira from the realm of god, who rebelled against their creator in the ultimate act of attaining freedom (correct me if I am dead wrong on this). To be honest, I have yet to discover how “Tetragrammatical Astygmata “and “Advent Parallax” fit into this plot line. Do these albums continue the conceptual leanings of your early releases?

Interesting question, I’ve been wondering the same thing myself. For one interpretation of the first two albums, I don’t think you’re wrong. Initially, all the albums were to fall under an umbrella of themes, with multiple trails of thought weaving together (linked together songs, placement of songs, embedded shallow numerology) to allow every song to have a place in a “correct order.” As evolution has occurred, progression taken place and gateways passed through, old forms have been shed in favor of a refinement of original purpose.

Conceptually, the key themes from the first two albums are the same as the key themes of the latter two albums, just dressed differently. Creation springs from destruction in an endless cycle until the cycle is broken. The celestial becomes the terrestrial as the flesh melts away and becomes spirit. The “I” at whatever level of consciousness(es), must come to grips with the process of change and the consequences of transformation. Shaatialn.

Whereas “Tetragrammatical Astygmata” found beauty in the roar of the infernal; the dissonance seems to have been restrained upon “Advent Parallax”. However, the anthemic melodies paint broader strokes, and are much more pronounced. Was this a calculated progression, or did the change occur naturally?

The vibrations of “Tetragrammatical Astygmata” reflected the flesh while describing the spirit. “Advent Parallax” vibrates the spirit while reflecting the flesh. There was hidden purpose in the intertwining of these frequencies, a purpose not yet revealed. There was a natural calculation that produced progression. It’s all part of chasing the dragon. The dragon is either caught and the last seal of understanding is broken and there is nothing left to accomplish or the pursuer is broken in the pursuit, devoured by the dragon and there is nothing left to accomplish. In the end, there is only the void. Only death is real. Thyapihlon.

What particular forces introduced you to the metal genre, and what were your initial reactions to it?

I was driven by “the noise inside my head” as Sanguine has always called it. I started at post-infancy with a fixation on bombastic classical music and Alice Cooper (more for his aesthetic than anything else) and then moved on to progressively louder and scarier things. Actually, I was still very young when Motley Crue broke out with “Shout at the Devil”, and I flatly rejected it because they looked like ugly girls and it struck me as gross and stupid. Thrash and proto-death/black reached me more immediately, however, and so I quickly became an adherent to all the well-known acts like Sodom, Celtic Frost, Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Voivod, etc. Right about this time I realized that this music was all I really ever wanted out of life. It was not just music but a way of being. I have a lot more to show for myself than just metal, but without it my reality would be a much blander and unexciting one.

Several people seem to recognize that the filth of the human race is clogging the pores of our land, and in effect devouring the environment at an agonizing pace. How do you feel about environmental concerns, and those who advocate major change in order to stabilize the planet? Also, do you feel a deeper bond with nature than most around you?

Eliminating two-thirds of humankind from the globe would be a good start. I myself refuse to breed and I wish more people felt the same. I have an appreciation for nature, yes, though I would be lying if I said I had a deeper bond. I spend most of my time in cities as this is where most of my necessary doings occur.

A splurge question, if I may. Reality is said to be the perception of your surroundings through your senses. However, the same stimulus can be interpreted in a vastly different manner by the individual than that of their peers. Do you believe that what the senses experience is subjective, that these experiences define reality, and if so, how do you believe one must measure the validity of their actions?

I suppose due to our exploration of metaphysics Averse Sefira invites many existential questions. I believe in the idea of a consensus reality where everyone can agree on certain perceptions that are known to be true- the sky is blue, the sun is hot, we need air to breathe, etc. Of course past this consensus there are many vastly different realities in which people live, some to their own delusion and detriment. But I would not agree that reality is wholly subjective any more than its governing factors of time and space.

In conclusion, are there any particular words of wisdom or notification that you would like to impart upon your fans who frequent this website?

I’ll take the opportunity to announce that “Advent Parallax” will soon be out on LP through The Ajna Offensive. Support this excellent label. Also, www.josasmith.com is where one should go to see the works of Jos A. Smith, as his work adorns the cover of “Advent Parallax”.

The Egyptian Culture is an embodiment of care – which is the spiritual counterpoise of distance – care for the future expressed in the choice of granite or basalt as the craftsman’s materials, in the chiselled archives, in the elaborate administrative system, in the net of irrigation works.

Contrast with this the fact, symbolically of the highest importance and unparalleled in art-history, that the Hellenes, thought they had before their eyes the works of the Mycenaen Age and their land was only too rich in stone, deliberately reverted to wood; hence the absence of architectural remains of the period 1200-600. The Egyptian plant-column was from the outset of stone, whereas the Doric column was wooden, a clear indication of the intense antipathy of the Classical soul towards duration.

– Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West

All photos copyright © Averse Sefira and Noektrymn.de.

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