The Forgotten Role of Drums in Metal

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Fenriz as the archetypal metal drummer is perhaps a puzzle to most, perhaps considering his status to be a mere by-produt of Darkthrone becoming an icon. The status of most worthy personalities of metal tends to be double sided in that way. There is the respect for what came before, usually a blind fanhood of what is not understood and is only explainable in terms of some kind of historical relevance and then there is the underground ackowledgement of the musical talents of the artist in question that stand the test of time. The difference in perception arises from the fact that these artists’ greatest merit lies in subtletly. The Subtlety of where to use a specific technique, however rudimentary, so that the music is better enhanced, completed or open to being built on (say the drums got written before everything else).

In drumming in particular, the lack of appreciation for proper arrangement has been greater than in the vocal or guitar departments, perhaps because the only antecedents in this type of percussion come from rock and jazz. In rock, the drums are merely a time keeper and groove-adder. In Jazz, it is typical that they serve that function plus, like all the other instruments, allow the musician to keep masturbating on the instrument with little thought to how this adds to the music as concept and not self-referential indulgence. But in all fairness, there is an old school of jazz in which the music is kept together more neatly and in which the drums play a much more constructive role.

In metal, the drums are not only a support instrument but should blend in into a whole. In fact, ideally, the guitars should be doing this too. The point is so subtle and hard to grasp that even the musicians that acknowledge it have a very hard time translating it into practice. As with all great things coming from a simple concept, it is easier said than done. The most prudent drummers and bands limit the percussion to a function (that in metal is more prominent and important than in rock) rather than the spotlight, and this is at least a first step.

It was the increasing distance between all rock-like perspective in music that made metal approach a more purified and important integration of drums into its frameworks. Works such as Hvis Lyst Tar Oss or Transilvanian Hunger are inconceivable without percussion. That is not to say that the rest of the elements are not good, but they are incomplete without percussion. And so are their corresponding drum patterns without them. Metal had to go back to an extreme minimalism, stripping down every layer to realize the importance of every little element. This Burzum album belongs to end of black metal as an era, but I will place it here even if it appears counter-chronological.

After an initial dive into this primitivism driven (Celtic Frost, Bathory) by gut instinct of the most authentic kind, death metal proper developed and quickly escalated in its use of technical arrangements that went overboard in the sense that they were unnecessary for the point of the music itself, though not necessarily bad. Technicality was set besides essence and communication in importance. The formal music tendencies that are so prominent in classical music started to surface in metal.

A great overlooked exception to this rule was the work of Adrian Erlandsson within the framework of arrangements and indications of Alf Svensson for At the Gates The Red in the Sky is Ours. The fact that these integral arrangements are unmatched in death metal to this very day is a testament to how little understood they are. The fact that the drumming here twists, bends, propulses, stops, counterpoints in a great variety of different drum patterns that while theoretically rudimentary are often technically demanding, especially when performed as  a whole, indicate that a sense of continuity in expression must be kept by the drummer through changes of tempo, time signature and character. What makes this superior to other progressive-oriented albums is that for all this variety, the style of expression is tightly restricted. The reduced repertoire of guitar and drum techniques to the minimal from which it builds its complexity in a language of its own endows it with this distinct personality. Without the guidance of the architect Svensson, though, this band completely floundered in mediocrity soon after his departure.

Today, few bands grasp the importance of the integrated drums let alone being actually capable of translating the concept to a concrete plan and then puting it into practice. As far as I have seen, with very particular exceptions, the most sober drumming comes from the modern tradition that has branched from (old, the only real) black metal. First of all, it may come to those learning it by virtue of studying the past, this makes the grasping of a concept much easier. This does not include the nu-black or post-black camps which represent a departure, regression and deconstruction of metal, a reflection of decadence.

It is rather in the work of Abyssum’s Akherra that we see the role of drums as an essential part of the music. For this, the rest of the instruments must accomodate the drums, not only run on top of it. The naive layering of instruments most bands are used to is precisely what makes them amateurs in this. In proper metal, the drums are inside, not under the music. This is part of what the metaphor “drumming in counterpoint” reflects. Drum patterns that are relatively independent in the sense that they aren’t just there as a support, but come into contact at every moment with the music, bending, yielding and transforming along with the rest of the music.

Such attention to detail goes far beyond just playing slower or faster, stronger or softer when the rest of the music does so. It is not only a matter of intensity or speed in correspondence. The drums must live in symbiosis with the guitars, and not like a running pair of athletes besides each other. Silences and types of drum patterns specifically tailored to different sections are exemplified in Abyssum’s “The Illusion of Pan” in which we see important  decisions taken about the smallest details such as ride strikes in the rhythm of a particular keyboard melody speed, the variations between soft blast beats and other less forward-moving patterns as great inflections and indicators of the song’s pictorial journey that are not as clearly reflected in the rest of the music alone.

This entry is not about judging this or that band over another. The point is the study of drums for the future of metal. The recognition of the evolution in the use of drums throughout the genre. Surprisingly, Black Sabbath Master of Reality shows the kind of thinking that would go into Celtic Frost To Mega Therion in terms of the reduction and powerful use of elements into highly-personalized expressions. In this Black Sabbath showed how far ahead of their times they were. It took metal more than a decade to catch up to them. These musical transpirations in their music were refined through the black metal tradition going through death metal. The best we can hope for is bands today piecing out elements in this way, and being able to identifying what great drumming consists of in metal. But this must start out from the vision of metal as a proper music, as highly-integrated elements which conspire within an indissolubly dependent complex set of relations.

Det Som Engang Var: Significance and Merit

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Much like Darkthrone’s Under a Funeral Moon preceding Transilvanian Hunger or Immolation’s Herein After before Failures for Gods and Close to a World Below, Burzum’s Det Som Engang Var(roughly translatable as “What Once Was”) before Hvis Lyset Tar Oss(“If the Light Takes Us) puts on display all of Varg Vikernes’ faculties as a composer in a way that is still relatively easy for a listener to make out the different things he is doing, unlike the next album where a convergence and purification that only a minority are able to grasp in all its excellence and magnificence. As Brett Stevens commented not so long ago in reference to Immolation’s Close to a World Below, some bands make the same album again and again until they are able to solidify their vision in a magnum opus.

Many metalheads who respect this album may do so out of a respect for how influential it is, without truly understanding that even if this album came out today, after all the others they are said to have influenced, it would still be as impressive and worthy of high praise — but perhaps it would not be noticed by the same people who today profess to appreciate it. Contrary to common belief, its worth is musical, not historical only. This is not very different from people who “enjoy” Black Sabbath or Celtic Frost, but fail to see the monument that works like Master of Reality and To Mega Therion are. In great part this error lies in associating or equating technical prowess on the instrument and an apparent “complexity” of notes with  a complexity of thought and excellence in composition. These albums display an astounding clarity resulting from the exquisitely fused elements of music (harmony, melody, rhythm…) in a way that may strike the unaware as “simple”. Confusing intelligibility with limitation/blandness/simplicity is the greatest sin one can commit against masterworks of music, because the greatest works all share this as a common trait.. While this is even more true of Hvis Lyset Tar Oss, it bears bringing into question the undue musical disrespect of which Burzum in general is the victim.

The album contains tracks that make use of abrasive and extremely dissonant intervals, very consonant and relaxed harmonizations of melodies, synths as support and synths as the main instrument in ambient tracks all together and mixed in different ways and given the spotlight in different tracks. It is, perhaps, this up-front “complexity” of having so many distinct colors that at least attracts the attention of and mention by even those who do not understand black metal. The composition itself is technically nuanced but like any proper work of art, comes off as intelligible to the point of being confused with “simplicity” in its negative connotation. The complexity of the works like Burzum lies in the seamless unfolding of a story, a masterfully woven tapestry blending all sorts of disparaged puzzles and meanings within its frames not unlike Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights. The importance of discussing Det Som Engang Var is that it is here that his thinking  is most easily and obviously seen. Without understanding this album, monumental works like Hvis Lyset Tar Oss and Burzum’s stepping-into ambient(or as he described it, Anti-Black Metal) territory, Filosofem, can never be truly appreciated.

Regarding its little-mentioned lyrical topics that are actually worth mentioning in any integral metal work, they consist on a mixture of melancholy and longing for a grand and fantastic past that exists more in the mind of a romantic than in historical reality (but which makes the values and traditions it longs for no less meaningful or real), and an existentialist questioning of the self’s position in a world of men that makes little sense and which launches the brave man in search of truth behind, or rather past, human constructions. In addition to that, the tendency towards nature worship and an attraction towards the forest as the archetypal home of homes, a safeguard from the evil of men and their perversions motivated by greed and thirst for power, is ever present in Varg Vikernes’ language and allusions. These have also been the target of cynical contempt by the petty minds of postmodernists who are unable to make a connection with nature and are rather too fond of themselves as creatures of a decadent society, leading them to denounce anyone pointing at obvious truths about its breaking-apart.

Restoring the pride and respect that Det Som Engang Var has never had in truth, just as Burzum hearkens to a grand past that has never existed here on Earth but that through an evocation of opposites rather points to an idealist future, so we attempt here to find a direction for future metal to grow in undreamed of ways that do not diverge from the essence of metal and that stand on the firm example of the greats that did exist but have never been duly studied.

Ashbringer – Vacant (2015)

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While most modern bands err on the side of so-called experiments and “open-mindedness”, Ashbringer tries to adopt a conservative posture in a manner that kills music with stagnancy. This may be either a product of a skewed appreciation of the classics or simply a good-intentioned but overzealous drive to keep coherence in check that might arise from an ignorance of music-writing procedures. Such procedures can and have been ignored by people with either great experience and understanding, or savants like Varg Vikernes who display an amazing instinctive talent for musical creation. Unfortunately, there is a myth that drives hordes of musicians of average talent (because that is the definition of average) to attempt to emulate the actions of those who are natural geniuses. Such combination of presumption with an unwillingness to educate themselves give us many sincere but ultimately deficient metal records (see early The Chasm).

In Vacant, Ashbringer present us songs which bear the mark of an intention of maintaining coherence by repeating the same idea and only venturing forth to use the same motif played in several different ways, offering carrying a whole song or entire super-sections mostly in this manner. The extent of these variations are limited to texture change and register change. Correctly sensing that this only creates a static picture seen through different-colored lenses, other ideas are introduced, but these do not bear a clear relation between each other beyond the concordance of similar technique, tonality and consistency in style. Akin to a series of unrelated pictures in a row in an album  without a clear history to relate them, variety is forced, taking the songs out of painful and amateur-like stagnation in a forceful manner.

The few exceptions of progressions and and useful transformations are far and in between and should be saved by the band for future reference (the 5th and 6th tracks which should be one song as the first does not have the material to be an interlude but only a first-section to the following one), and Ashbringer could learn something about the use of related but changing and essentially different ideas. These should be related not by style, but by musical structure and patterns. The suggestion is perhaps a little too German-minded, but it is a more concrete beginning that is easier to grasp. Baby-steps before you can actually black metal.

The combination of true humbleness in creating music with a healthy dose of careful ambition is what is necessary here and in metal in general. A cycle of study, practice, introspection and revision in music-writing is what metal most needs as is shown by the limitations of this sincere but incredibly deficient album. These guys obviously have the intention of creating metal that is both elaborate and profound, technically proficient, musically satisfying and spiritually inspiring. They just need to face they aren’t musical geniuses and turn their heads to a more strict study and observation of the greats on the technical side at different levels of music composition.

Wende – Vorspiel einer Philosophie der Zukunft

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Tagged as black metal and ambient, Wende is a one-man project that attempts to not only appropriate Burzum’s style, but also build on it, effectively using it to express something different.  In this release we find riffs that are not right out of early Burzum, but that one could easily associate with Hvis Lyset Tar Oss. But the approach is not smooth and layered as in that album. There is a diversity of expressions in Vorspiel einer Philosophie der Zukunft but it is presented as a series of pictures which are not necessarily strongly connected to each other in a musical way, requiring the listener to make somewhat of a leap and follow the song by maintaining the emotion and atmosphere in mind. In regards to this organization, this album is more similar to Filosofem, more ambient-oriented. It even has the long dungeon synth sections and songs.

 

Although the subtlety of Burzum is not lost on Wende, and patience is certainly not lacking in this release, the savant genius of Vikernes makes all the difference in the world. The strong link that one can find between Master Vikernes’ riffs and how his songs build up and flow is completely missing here. On the other hand, there are very good riffs that morph naturally over relatively long stretches of time. Riffcraft here is good, but evocative songcraft may fall a tad of the magical offering Varg made to the gods again and again.

 

The synth music in this release  is not allowed to sink into the listeners mind as Tomhet does, slowly extending only to fade away ever so gently. Wende integrated the synth ambient music as sections within metal instrumented songs and experimented with the possibilities this might open. The risks of this decision are not small and the strength of the final creation was visibly affected by it.

 

Props to Wende for not falling into the trap of being a clone of the band he admires. He took it and ran his own way, attached his own ideas, and made what he deemed were corrections of some sort to the weaknesses in Burzum’s music. The intention is worthy of praise, and the end result is interesting. The end result ofVorspiel einer Philosophie der Zukunft is not on par with the masterworks of the Norwegian sage, but it is an outstanding disciples’ effort worthy of attention.

 

Today’s Recommended Playlist

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For those of us who think that life is much more than buying the latest technology gadget we don’t need, watching the latest Hollywood TV commercial disguised as a movie or taking photo “selfies” pretending to be into something you really aren’t, romanticized medieval fantasy, ancient myth and legend provide not an escape from reality, but a highlighting of what is worthy of praise in life and human beings. This is the fantasy of Homer, Tolkien, Virgil or Lovecraft. Underneath the enveloping myth of the story, their stories preserve eternal truths about human nature and show it in a more realistic way than the candy-flavoured, shock-oriented realism of George R.R. Martin.

Today, we shall explore the idealist fantasy that sings to us in poetry of the gods, of virtue, and of the indelible kinship to nature as a whole that man has almost forsaken. In an inverted world in which greed has slowly attained a position of honor and in which ideals, philosophy and non-profitable values are systematically mocked, we sometimes find ourselves in need of a reminder that we are not just deluded madmen upholding untenable precepts of a long-forgotten age or even worse, believers of ideas that have never been in line with reality at any point in history.

Between the bushes we stared
At those who reminded us of another age
And told that hope was away
Forever
We heard the elven song and
Water that trickled

What once was is now
Away
All the blood
All the longing and pain that
Ruled
And the emotions that could be stirred
Are away
Forever

We are not dead
We have never lived

 

 

 

 

Luciferian Rites – When the Light Dies (2015)

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Luciferian Rites play black metal in a style that at first calls to mind middle-period Graveland. The hand-strum technique outlining chords is also in line with Immortal’s At the Heart of Winter and less obviously with Burzum’s technique. Immortal haunts this monument of an album in its most aggressive parts, but it is the commanding voice of Fudali that we hear echoing through the halls. Once the first impression has passed and the inventory of recognizable influences has been done, though, the individual beauty slowly comes out. It does not reveal itself, as this is very subtle music. It is the listener that must tune in, must hang on to the song, the album, and hear as every inseparable and utterly dependent — and necessary — part of its construction works together to create the transcendental black metal experience.

 

Drums play an incredibly important role here, lending an eloquence not even Immortal or Graveland, from whom Luciferian Rites borrow their musical language, show. The Achilles’ Heel of When the Light Dies is that songs start and end in strong statements that only serve as such because nothing comes before or after them, respectively. After a song starts, though, it is carried through a seamless transition of sections whose single riffs appear to be the most simple but that brought together create a magnificent super-riff. This could go on and serve as the song itself, but the band will often take a break in the middle, only long enough so that it counts as one. Unlike most other bands who use this structure, Luciferian Rites does not do this as a means to restart a song that has ran out of gas. Instead, in this brief moment the listener’s attention is brought back from the stupor of the first part of the song into conscious focus, only to renew the journey.

 

Some will say this album is seen in a positive light on this site because it adheres to old school precepts. Simple-minded people prefer simple explanations, it relieves them from the burden of having to think analytically. The truth is much more complex. Luciferian Rites excels in the subtle art of coherent, sensible, and purposeful composition, independently of the style. In their effort to find simple explanations and excuses not to have to face judgement and challenge their own views and the status quo, composition choice is equated to musical style. To some degree this is true, some styles have been built upon essentially flawed concepts (see Deathcore). But it is not true to the extent that we excuse bad composition by calling it stylistic difference, because “we are just different, but no one is superior”. This misplaced humanitarian impulse drives art to starvation and highlights gimmick and novelty acts as the masses of casual listeners turn their heads towards momentary satisfaction.

 

When the Light Dies is a strong candidate to the Mexican metal pantheon, standing in quality besides the best of legendary countrymen Avzhia and Cenotaph. Calling to mind the sensibility of Ancient’s Svartalvheim, Luciferian Rite’s sophomore release expertly builds on the classic works, sweeping aside accusations of retro-worship in a confident gesture of originality.

 

#metalgate defies critics, continues growing

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SJWs tried to deny #metalgate at first. “There’s no censorship. You’re writing about a non-issue.”

Then at some point, the articles kept piling up. In them, SJWs — who seem to share membership in music journalism and record labels to a disproportionate degree relative to bands and fans — continually attempt to coerce metal fans into thinking the right way… the SJW way.

Then SJWs tried another tactic: go on the offensive. No one mentioned that when you shift your position from “it doesn’t exist” to “it’s the worst thing ever” as they did, you have admitted that your first position was dishonest.

In the most recent attack, Metal Injection writer Shayne Mathis attempted to humiliate #metalgate group founder Scott Vogler.

It didn’t work out how he hoped.

Throughout this interview, Mathis repeats himself many times, but does not seem to understand his own argument. There are lengthy pauses as he gropes to understand an idea outside the few memorized tropes he knows. Finally he gives up — several times — and backtracks by saying the argument is going nowhere.

Owned. OWNED.

Vogler does not even attempt to go on the offensive. He simply explains his point of view and is consistent. Mathis contorts, in his high-pitched and wordy rambling speech, trying to make his argument fit the circumstances.

What is interesting is that both parties are using the same argument: social coercion through fear of ostracism is a form of control as powerful as a law.

Mathis says that he is not censoring anyone because he is only shaming them for using racial or homosexual slurs. Vogler points out that this is a form of threat if slurs themselves are a threat. Same principle.

Mathis stumbles and fumbles, tries deflections and redefinitions, but the fact is that his argument is nonsense because it defeats itself. Like all SJWs, he argues from a civil rights perspective but seems to not understand how he resembles the people he sees as oppressors. When the discussion finally returns to #metalgate, Mathis has fallen back on the “agree to disagree” trope. It’s as if he has only a few memorized mini-speeches, and anything else is beyond his understanding.

This is typical of SJWs: they do not actually understand their subject matter. Mathis denies that SJW coercion — doxxing, calling labels and trying to censor bands, harassing venues until they cancel shows, and the journalist conspiracy to exclude anyone who does not agree with them — even exists. When he is called on the threat of social ostracism wielded by the power of media and the presumed moral good of the SJW perspective, he waffles and backtracks.

#gamergate happened because SJWs infiltrated video game journalism and formed a conspiracy of silence to exclude those who did not agree with their ideology. Not those who offend them, but those who merely do not agree. In the same way, in #metalgate SJWs decided to exclude those who did not follow the hipster indie-metal mold and systematically ignored and denied the actual underground in order to replace it with relatively mainstream music. They then used the power of shame and the threat of ostracism to try to exclude non-SJW ideology from metal.

Mathis denies this. Vogler calls him on it. Victory is had, but not by the SJW here.

What SJWs do not understand is that they are not outsiders. They are insiders. Government, media and big corporations all agree: SJW ideology is the best. They want it. They endorse it and write it into law, and defend it with billions of dollars of media time and public appearances.

Metalheads are the true outcasts and outsiders. We do not follow the zombie conformist obedience train of society. We understand that if society endorses something, it is probably a lie. If something is popular, it is probably a lie. We realize that “ideology” itself is a distraction from the real issues in life, and that SJWs don’t actually care about black people or gay power. This is just SJWs using ideology as a justification to seize power.

In metal, that translates into replacing metal with rock. The goal is the obliteration of metal because it does not conform to social forces like SJW ideology.

This parallels the tendency of industry to induce metal bands to “sell out.” Selling out is no different than the assimilation offered by SJW ideology: do what is popular instead of what is right. Accept what society tells you is true, not what you know is true.

As if on the same wavelength, djent fan SJWs made this statement:

People do take the freedom of the internet to say things that they would probably not say to someone’s face, and as a writer, I would never want to step on someone’s freedom of speech. This is about a very real issue in society, and more specifically, in the metal community.

…Metal, and all of its subgenres, are composed of a culture of outsiders. So why are we so insistent on casting out fellow outcasts?

…So until Veil of Maya release a song about how great a guy’s abs are, calling them gay and faggy is out. Don’t do it. Actually, you should probably just take variations of “fag” out of your vocabulary. Just…stop.

Just do you see what’s missing here? An argument. He never says why it’s important to obey the speech codes here, only uses the magical term “homophobia” and assumes everyone will fall down and bow before the religious symbol of political correctness.

This is typical of the SJW movement.

What scares SJWs is that when they are revealed, people stop supporting them. Most people assume that the world is a simplistic place. Homophobia is bad, racism is bad, and if we can cure those, everything is fine. Except that the real problems of our society lie elsewhere and these surface window-dressings are just distractions from what most people experience. Racial discrimination has been illegal for fifty years and government, media and business — those evil capitalists — have thrown their full weight behind eliminating it. The days of oppression are long gone.

When people realize that SJWs are not the side of good, but self-interested people repeating the same ideas that our government wants them to believe, they stop listening to the SJWs. This is what they fear in #metalgate and #gamergate: once revealed as merely self-interested people, they lose their magic get out of jail free card.

For SJWs, their ideology gives them superpowers. All they need to do is find something that is plausibly racist, sexist, or anti-homosexual and they get immediate media attention. Labels and video game studios bow down to them, the mainstream media hangs on their every word, and people get out of their way and hand control over to them through social deference. Your average SJW is not an exceptional person but an unexceptional one, but being presumed to be ideologically correct makes him powerful.

And he lusts for that power, having none by nature. His indie-metal bands are boring. His blogs are screechy and banal. His academic “research” tends to be circular and contentless. The SJW is a failure at life who wants to become a success by toadying up to the “right” ideas.

The change in our society since the 1960s has flipped the script. No longer is The Establishment composed of old, rich, Christian white heterosexual men; in fact, it’s the opposite. Government supports all which is not that former establishment, and has made a new Establishment of liberals, minorities, homosexuals, transgenders and other groups for which SJWs claim to speak. This apparently conservative source explains it well:

This anti-establishment and anti-authority bent is what made heavy metal clash with traditional values Christians in the 80’s. I have never been a fan of metal, even in its heyday, even though I had some friends who liked it. I didn’t find it pleasant to listen too. It’s not the type of music you can listen to and chill. It hypes you up. That is its purpose. I’ve never wanted to be hyped up after a hard days work. I want to relax, but that’s just me. And I also think that its Christian critics were correct in that it was deliberately subversive of Christianity. And while I don’t doubt that a lot of that was more show than real, I still think there were a lot of stupid and vulnerable kids who got sucked up by all of it.

But while Christianity was a reigning authority to be anti-ed in the 80s with its buzz kill message of no drugs and no sex before marriage, Christianity is in cultural retreat these days so heavy metal finds itself at odds with the even more militantly puritanical enforcers of rightthink.

Christianity and WASP-dominance are no longer in effect in America.

Diversity and acceptance of transgenderism and homosexuality is the new normal. It is what our leaders and the power structure approve of.

It is the new version of The Establishment.

When the nu-Establishment accuses you of being “closed minded” or hateful, bigoted, racist, etc. it’s important to realize that they are doing so for their convenience.

In the same way, SJWs are acting as they do for their own interests only. It allows mediocre minds like Mathis to become important for their opinions, even if they can’t think.

It allows women to feel powerful by demanding that men accept these viewpoints, which puts those men in a position of inferiority.

In their view, SJWs are reversing the order of nature by putting the powerful on the bottom and the weaker on top.

Enjoy some satire:

Metal is a threat to SJWs because it points out that SJWs are mainstream conformists pretending to be underground hipsters.

It doesn’t mean to do this, but when someone chooses not to follow the crowd, it makes everyone in the crowd question their own membership in that group. It shows that there is another way.

That is why SJWs panicked at #metalgate.

Notice the panic that Decibel Magazine experienced in response to a recent Burzum video:

In one video he may tell schoolchildren to defy their teachers in order to immunize themselves against toxic brainwashing, while in another he’ll spread urban legend bullshit about Egyptians. It’s a rich grab bag of narcissism, ethnocentrism, the Dunning-Kruger effect and utter tedium.

You may be shocked to find out that he is against feminism, literally claiming it will end humanity, and that he’s a LARPer, but as the man is nearing a thousand videos, and clearly doesn’t have a job, he has thrown out any attempt at quality control, even if it’s a scientifically-unsound rant next to a big bag of fun-sized Twix.

The SJWs of today are the nagging censors of yesteryear. “No one believes that! You are wrong! And you’re morally bad!” they say. This is the same whether they are angry Christians defending their society against Satanists or angry SJWs demanding that everyone agrees with their binary point of view.

Varg Vikernes launches a D&D campaign

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Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) occupies a unique place in European and American consciousness. It attracted a specific type of person who was both nerdly and practical, yet geared toward the same futurism as those who read sci-fi and listen to 1970s space rock. D&D came out of the tail end of the hippie boom but embraced a number of ideals contrary to hippie-ness: it liked social hierarchy, expounded different ability by birth, glorified combat and loyalty to one’s kin and king.

These unorthodox tendencies made D&D, like metal, not acceptable for mainstream consumption even among the mainstream of nerds. While right-wing Christians protested it as somehow leading their children away from God (we’re still trying to figure that one out), the real herd quietly sidestepped it and sneered at it as nerdly fantasy suitable only for “perpetual virgins” who lived in basements and bathed monthly whether they needed it or not. And yet during the 1980s, D&D was also a flag for a certain type of nerd. Video-gaming had not yet created a hardcore audience despite being a fad, computers were ultra-nerdly but expensive and/or led to frequent arrests for illegal activity, and the “media nerd” Star Trek and Star Wars fans were still seen as just another type of celebrity-worship. But D&D crossed all those categories and attracted the type of kid who read sci-fi but also had a wider consciousness of the world than the true basement shut-ins.

Varg Vikernes probably played a lot of D&D in the 1980s. As in the US, most of his peers in Norway were probably delusional media zombies who repeated whatever the movies and the talking heads from the “intellectual” media told them. He wouldn’t fit in there. He might within the self-formed quasi-elite of those who both had the brains to understand and appreciate the nerdy bits of D&D, but also the historical and artistic consciousness to delight in its outright medievalism and sci-fi style post-civilizational thinking. Here’s Varg on D&D.

Listening guide for Burzum The Ways of Yore

varg_at_work

Controversial Burzum mastermind Varg Vikernes gained a new method of being divisive, which is that his recent tracks “Mythic Dawn” and “Forgotten Realms” are sparser and more circular than his earlier work. This invokes criticism of his ambient music work, specifically his most recent album, The Ways of Yore.

While this album strikes me as a quality work, it also has a feeling that parts of it are rushed, and as a result the full conceptual depth of a Burzum album has some rough edges. I present the following listening guide for those who want to experience his newer work at full intensity:

02. The Portal
06. The Reckoning Of Man
04. The Lady In The Lake
05. The Coming Of Ettins
08. The Ways Of Yore
10. Hall Of The Fallen
13. To Hel And Back Again
11. Autumn Leaves

Arrange the tracks in this order. Some are missing; those can be listened to another time. Prepare yourself with the most silent circumstances you can find, which is usually late at night. Turn off the computer, the lights, the TV, the videogames. Slow your breathing until it is regular and you are relaxed.

Place into your mind the vision of a descent down a large spiral staircase. You will be going into a place that is not dark or light, but a place where what we think of as good and evil have been suspended for something far greater than individual humans. This is a space for epic warfare, battles of the soul and perhaps mystic wisdom.

Then, ignore the spoken lyrics. However this album is meant to be experienced, it is best as a piece of music without worrying about meaning outside of the organization of sounds. Ignore the name Burzum. Clear your mind of everything and listen.

Most of the above is generic advice for any listening, but it allows this album to present itself in a new context, which is that of a lack of the two intrusions that normally cloud human vision, namely the self and the distracting world. Settle down into this one and see where it leads you.