Liberty or Death is our main dilemma on this sadistic article: whoever is not willing to die for his freedom, is not worthy of it.
Freedom and apocryphal rites of bestial devastation are foundational imageries commonly associated with metal. On this article, we will try to face the Thing that Should not Be, understand why ‘to live is to die’, crush our enemies, see them driven before us and hear the lamentations of their women.
Starting on Malkuth, the foundational argument is that some bands are effete gay scam artists, not in the sense of a deeply ecological virtue which is more affectionate than sodomizing the weak, but more in the sense that they revel in an overload of instant gratification that is constructed by the promiscuous use of sugary melodies. Their aim is that we can consume their musical product, yet, funnily for most reviewers, similarly to sugar and coffee where you cannot enjoy the first by itself, you cannot enjoy Mastodon by itself either, without doing something else, such as getting paid for it or being a Metalhammer-brainwashed teenager, else you will get diabetes. In the words of Warrel Dane: Consume. Conform. Look:
Fallujah – Undying Light
This band on a surface level has everything needed to please: it’s post-metalcore for the uninitiated and is tossed aside like a bag of crisps after more concentrated listens. Typical Metalcore screams with whiny “personal” lyrics meet djent rhythms and jazzy arpeggios. This is firmly entrenched in Hardcore and contains no actual Death metal at all. A lot of the melodies are taken directly from the Hipster Black metal movement and serve as a distraction on top of the syncopated rhythms. The arrangements as usual for this style are completely random and make no sense save for a few choruses across the album. What ultimately fails Fallujah is the inability to express profound sorrow and their inability to form coherent songs. The Red in the Sky Is Ours could potentially give this band the necessary ideas to make the music that they wish to make, but they should go nofap for a month first.
Gorod – Urethra
Standard Technical Death metal openly embraces Post-Rock sensibilities modern Hardcore. The shouted Soilwork vocals lead the way as traditional Death metal vocals are almost cast aside. The songs tend to alternate between clean played and unrelated bouncy rhythms that have Emo melodies playing on top of them all presented in the hyperactive technical style. At times there are the faster dissonant riffs associated with tek-def but it all leads back to the sing-along melodies that are good for children. Gorod never knew what metal was in the first place.
Liturgy – The Ark Work
This band is poisoned by their sense of self-importance. Compositions are a mixture of random styles which even a 7 year old could do. It is imaginative at parts, but a careful listen, without looking at the accompanying artwork, reveals it truly random and disregarding of the golden mean. I don’t care if it’s labelled as black metal. Even if it was labeled avant-garde, this is FAKE. This composer is either a fraud or a pretentious asshole. He would do well to start attending church and repent.
Rivers of Nihil and Cum – Where Owls Know Morrigan
Songs go nowhere. Saxophone is thrown in the mallcore emo post blastbeat caesar’s salad. Gojira vocal rhythms cannot give it any memorability. Verily, this album is pathetic.
Only happiness and Christmas eve shopping satisfaction there. As we lie on the sofa. Forever. Rotting. Existing to work and consume entertainment. God-forbid if art takes something away from our perfect lives!
Listening to this band made me drink the conium. ~ Socrates
The question arises, why did fellow proto-metalhead Plato espouse the use of the Dorian mode over the Ionian in his perfectly autistic society? Because he considered that the somberness of the first can help build more energetic human beings instead of the latter, which made humans slothy and overly happy. He would have been shocked to witness how passive and boring metal written by poseurs can be. Some of the above bands tend to overly abuse the major scale and melody in general without providing effective context for it. From a hermetic perspective this resembles an imbalance of the magnetic fluid, the yin, feminity and estrogen that manifests into Assiah as Turner syndrome or Rivers of Nihil. Let us not forget that virtue is a median. Which explains why Blind Guardian made the best European power metal records in comparison to the other flower-power bands. Instead of being super happy like Helloween, they opted for theatrical exchanges of minor and major, within songs that made sense, whose overdubbed guitars are more triumphant than Liturgy attempting to sound regal, rock riffs are more evil by double guitars and there are emotionally heavy parts where speed falls that are not self-pitying and serve as small climaxes.
Witness how the song fluctuates back and forth, changing between minor and major, keeping interest and underlying statements. It is exemplifying of fantasy’s heritage in metal and a victory of warrior spirit. On the other hand, this is not the ultimate work that one can associate with metal (or Tolkien, *cough* Summoning *cough*). But in truth, Blind Guardian exhibit a greater degree of compositional freedom by being true to the principles of metal even if they have Queen influences, by being original even without a saxophone and by being emotional without being emo.
Notably, without the compositional freedom we speak of, the bands that were sadistically reviewed cannot achieve the most important crown of metalhood: being heavy. Heaviness is exemplified in a progressive metal context, in parts such as in “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”, where everything crashes down and we scream ‘fuck yeah!’ with beer on one hand and horns on the other!
Alas, most people want fireworks, melody and intrigue, that’s why non-metalheads are attracted to more melodic metal genres, without understanding the metal spirit within them though. But metalheads want chromatic sequences, celebrate Oi, I could finally get into this album!, ‘this is a difficult listen but you can’t really put it down’. Whereas mundanes would become angry or bored while listening to Incantation, much like they would be when listening to classical, metalheads like investigating the sound, not just the vocal lines or happy emoticons – nevermind the superb and passionate vocals of Attila Csihar and Eric Adams. We focus on guitar and the instruments themselves – and then we play guitar and unleash a sea of mediocre releases making it difficult for everybody to find good music but that’s another topic.
What is that makes this music so pleasing and instrumentally interesting then? It is what makes Wagner so pleasing as to make fans exclaim that he is a god and religion in himself. One fan once managed to start a war and kill millions of people while listening to Wagner. Imagine if he had also listened to Morbid Angel and not the other way around.
What makes metal gratifying is freedom in musical language by blaspheming against rules of harmony: in metal, disharmony and chromaticism are rampant, parallel movements are allowed, fifths are everywhere, verily a harmony teacher’s nightmare, but it sounds right. Because the basic underpinnings, motives and repeat of motifs alike are conforming to ideas of beauty. Looking back, similar techniques (e.g. parallel fifths) might have been used in Gregorian chants, Wagner corrupted his harmonies to indicate conflict of moods but metal compositions push further, even to the extremes of noise. Metal is rebellion within the laws of nature. Chaos within Order. That’s why it defies utopian ideologists, postmodernists and fanatics who want the world to change according to their wants and their corresponding art, which has limited place within metal, defies all rules of aesthetics and it usually sucks:
Archspire – Relentless Mutation
This record, is the epitome of random stuff stitched together, like Frankenstein and even then it manages to be boring. Passion represented in the dark scales is consumed within itself. Those guys added so many elements together and they didn’t exploit them to even change the fucking tonic when it drones too much! The singer is annoying. Rap and metal with growls is too much, especially when you top it off with jazz scales out of the blue.
Deathspell Omega – Synarchy of Molten Boners
Take a lot of riffs. Put them in the machine that makes minced meat. Behold, something that doesn’t make any sense. Even fans admit that they cannot listen to that mess everyday. Perhaps because it simply consists of ‘innovative’ tricks to attract attention to a horrendous product which makes even less sense than their lyrics.
Those people diverge fully, yet they don’t make anything that the human brain can perceive as beautiful. Like Liturgy they need cool covers and an aura of hype, a badge of ‘virtuosity’ to market themselves. Strip away all of that, like Fenriz advocated and you can see the fraud.
Gorguts – Obscura did everything the above bands wanted to do.
This is exactly what I try to illustrate in this article. Here, musicians sacrifice their past, standard tuning Selves, in order to rediscover their technique. In return, the gods grant them compositional freedom, freedom that goes places, not freedom to pretend you are special. See the violin breakdown on the album, how well it fits and complements the second song.
This is primitive tribal ooga-booga on the surface, but dig in: you will find it’s classical!
What exists in the latter bands is beauty. Similarly, what Plato would say, is that all of those bands are different, yet there is an underlying common element that makes them beautiful. This element is the idea of beauty. By learning to recognize this form, when meditating on other forms that give us satisfaction, such as the forms of virtues, we gain a glimpse into the central idea from which they all emanate: the Form of the Good.
What makes Unleashed and Gorguts sound supreme to the gay BDSM slave groups, although they all play loud music, is their conformance to the principles of beauty, which is painted by chaos. The breaking of certain ‘rules’ of classical harmony, gives the artist the ‘freedom’ to make something good out of the bad.
Feel no pain, but my life ain’t easy I know I’m my best friend / No one cares, but I’m so much stronger I’ll fight until the end / To escape from the true false world / Undamaged destiny / Can’t get caught in the endless circle / Ring of stupidity / Out of my own, out to be free / One with my mind, they just can’t see / No need to hear things that they say / Life is for my own to live my own way
In the song, “Escape” by Metallica, we see that a great metal band defines freedom as a goal and an attitude to wage war against stupidity and be whole within oneself. This is reflected in the song which defies typical melodies to be free, yet at the same time it is whole, as those little liberties enhance the composition. Lyrically, we see a brave individualistic spirit, yet on the surface not different than the one in pop or rock music.
So, what kind of freedom are we talking about? Can slavery to habit or to one’s impulses be considered freedom? Surely, we need satisfaction, but how satisfying satisfaction is when it commands every choice, narrowing down existential potential?
On the song “The Thing that Should Not Be”, Metallica paints a dark picture of humanity being something insignificant compared to large incomprehensible forces. We see here metal slowly progressing towards annihilation of anthropocentrism through increasing tritones and chromaticism. More freedom yet at what cost? What does this piercing of the veil of our humanistic illusions reveal? Will the mystic annihilate himself in the Eternal Flame? Let’s find out!
Metal is obsessed with the works of Howard Philips Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. It is influenced by their works to the point where it carries their philosophical disagreements within. Thus, studying them may lead into a further understanding of metal music itself.
So, Howard versus Robert, or civilization versus barbarianism, the main antithesis between the viewpoints of those writers. Lovecraft stands for defiance of the human role in the universe and led metal to the worship of the Old Ones. Howard stands for the greatness of man leading to the apotheosis of heroism and barbarity. Both of them, manage to keep the titanic Dark Gods at bay, until the stars are right once more. And both may agree that civilization is something fragile.
Lovecraft had hopes for civilization. On the other hand, Howard was focused on its negative aspects. Perhaps we can make an association between the Great Old Ones and the Titans as perceived in contrast to the Olympians, gods of chaos versus gods of order, although this distinction is simplified to the point of disgust.
Maybe the Great Old Ones are the titans of determinism. Freedom is an illusion, as our every thought is the result of a previous action – this is an effect of unconscious existence. Under certain circumstances the Dark Gods residing within our unconscious can emerge, possess us and act in ways that our persona would not approve. This samsaric wheel of determinism may lead to the conclusion that, as Laplace once claimed, a being with the powers to see everything about all entities in the universe can foresee it’s future, since we are all but clogs in the universal machine.
Lack of freedom to manifest through word and honor in a civilization of hypocrisy leads to chaotic despair, as revealed in the instrumental apex of a swansong of an album that suffocated melody in favor of metal:
When a man lies he murders some part of the world
These are the pale deaths which men miscall their lives
All this I cannot witness any longer
Cannot the kingdom of salvation take me home ~ Cliff Burton, To Live is to Die
The freedom that we demand is interrelated with consciousness. And we become conscious and therefore honorable, by depriving ourselves, of thought, need and habit and by facing fear to broaden experience and maximize potential. It is like science; you want to uncover the truth, thus you must know. Yet we are humble creatures, men, weak, die easily, specks of sand in the cosmic sea. We are armed with reason, but this doesn’t mean we know how to wield it. As Lovecraft would say, if we had different eyes, if we were different extraterrestrial organisms, maybe we could perceive more of matter and energy patterns than we do right now – even our science understands that colors that we see are just our subjective interpretations of a fraction of the total spectrum of possible wavelengths that we happen to perceive and translate them into color, even animals see the world in a different way. What can we do if all knowledge is based on that which we cannot prove? How will we face N I H I L I S M?
Should we express ourselves like Silencer? Should we express wrath against the Creator – and the form of Beauty – like Deathspell Omega? Or should we try to find a reason to continue and grow and make something beautiful, like Gorguts did before their estrogen levels increased?
And there, in the time when the Oceans of Chaos drank our modern Atlantis, our civilization decaying in this Dark Night of the Soul, hither came Conan the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandaled feet. Experience of life can provide challenges to practice the swordsmanship of our mental and emotional capacity. In order to fight against the lies we tell ourselves, we must understand the weapon with which we fight, and the weapon is us. As a dark but fashy figure said, man is infinitely small, but man is infinitely great.
This epic feeling, made epic by death and darkness, is at the heart of lytrosis from pain, unleashing a return unto the world, breaking the chains of atrocity.
When you know who you are, you can select your influences and express what you really want, in the freedom that metal provides. If you respect the boundaries of the human brain that has evolved to find beauty in certain patterns, your music will speak to other people. And your visions might enhance their lives.
ΓΝΩΘΙ ΣΑΥΤΟΝ, ‘Know Thyself’ is the foundational Delphic command:
As in a mirror, he ‘looks at himself again and again before performing an action; he looks at himself again and again before saying a word; he looks at himself again and again before harboring a thought’. It can easily be seen that by following such a path a man naturally transforms himself into a kind of living statue made up of awareness, into a figure pervaded by composedness, decorum, and dignity’ ~ Julius Evola, The Doctrine of Awakening
Throughout this battle for self-knowledge, aspects of our self, put up resistance. Our main fear and arch-enemy is fear of death. And thus, we return to our basic dilemma. Liberty or Death.
Liberty comes through self-sacrifice.
It is better to die fighting than to live as one vanquished ~ The Buddha, Prince Siddhartha, Mahavagga, 2.15
The blood of heroes is closer to God than the ink of the philosophers or the prayers of the faithful ~ Julius Evola
It is death that will bring us back
To the One that brought us into creation ~ Macabre Omen
Tags: archspire, bad music, blind guardian, deathspell omega, evola, Fallujah, gorguts, Gorod, liturgy, macabre omen, metallica, Nevermore, plato, Rivers of Nihil, sabbath bloody sabbath, smr, Socrates, The Red in the Sky is Ours, Unleashed