Norway’s Wordless Abyss

Studies have shown that listening to instrumental music while writing, studying, doing accounting, or any other productive task can increase stimulation without the distraction that the words of vocals provide.  But for Hessian, Templar, Heathen and other true metalheads instrumental works can be difficult to come by as extreme metal has not dabbled much into the realms of instrumental savagery.  But thanks to the necrophiliac obsession that many have had with Norwegian black metal and its culture, there are a few enjoyable demos and early rehearsals from Norway’s finest that can provide a motivational grim instrumental experience without demanding too much from the attention of the listener.

Join me if you will for a vocal-less adventure through some of Norway’s best kept foreboding hidden secrets.

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Hipsters Discover That Black Metal Musicians Are Bad

Another scandal!  Yes folks, for the fourth time in the past two or three weeks, hipster journalists and fake metal fans are shocked and appalled that a black metal musician has done something immoral.  Despite black metal being a music genre for 30 years, smelly neckbeard losers and dreadlocked trust fund crusties are figuratively (though literally in some cases) throwing their own feces every time they catch a mid-tier black metal musician doing something not socially acceptable.  This time, the horrific act came from Marduk, whose purchasing of German World War II merchandise from a sketchy online retailer made them too evil for a fest called Stockholm Slaughter (who apparently think slaughter is cool, but just not when it pertains to 1940s Europe).

Because millennials are too dumb to learn any history that doesn’t involve student loans, let’s quickly look back and see if any criminal or immoral things were done by the original black metal bands.  Maybe there’s something that we can learn from  that fateful 1990s Norwegian scene:

Band                   Criminal/Immoral Act

Burzum                Murder, violating parole with a shitload of explosives, arson, Nazism, white supremacy

Dimmu Borgir    Using the N word in an interview/proclaiming the desire to genocide Africans

Emperor              Hate crime murder of a homosexual, arson

Gorgoroth           Rape, battery and torture, violation of Poland’s animal rights laws, homosexuality

Immortal             Arson

Mayhem              Murder, 2nd degree murder, arson, public mutilation, trashing hotels

Satyricon            Rape, arson, rape

Thorns                2nd degree murder

I’m sorry to break this to everyone living in a liberal bubble, but a painfully obvious truth exists:  black metal musicians are bad men.

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Decimation: Atonality in Death Metal

Never has there been a word in metal as misunderstood as atonal, allowing all kinds of ridiculous claims since most individuals confuse atonality with dissonance and chromatism.

There are two ways to define atonality, one being the complete lack of tonal character and being reduced to noise like some of Kerry King’s solos or the works of Merzbow. The other definition that interests us here is the complete lack of functional harmony. In simpler terms that implies not having the root note that commands a certain melody. Without a root note, the notes in an atonal melody are not connected by scales, modes or chords.

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Metal Works as Stepping Stones

Until now, metal works (albums, EPs, pieces, etc.) have been regarded as products, even by those who would assume anti-commercial postures. Why this is so, why the underground metal community still sees albums as products and so judge them in that light, has to do with the history of metal as arising from the general rock business context. Black Sabbath as the foundational metal band followed this path and they were also the first metal band to sell out, though there never was much to sell out. In any case, they did not really know what they had and quickly devolved into rock-ized (standardized) “improvements” on the gold they had struck at first, instead of exploring those new sounds and ideas regardless of the commercial context, regardless of the business prospects (gigs, deals, etc.). We must understand, however, that the ideal of metal beyond rock, beyond trends and commercialism, only arose with the Mayhem cabal. Their commercial activities, it should be understood, were a means to something greater, as can be seen from the meticulous selection of albums that came under the auspices of Deathlike Silence Productions.

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Sin and Despair in Deathcrush

At the truest heart of metal lies a voice embodied, somewhat childishly, somewhat ineptly, but no less clearly and latent with potential, by Mayhem’s Deathcrush. The re-inversion of all values that metal enacts starts with the embracing of what modernity would see as its sickness unto death. The despair and sin of sickness unto death become vital active elements in the morbid minds of those who would vanquish dogmatic preconceptions in the Sky God Religions and their secular humanist counterparts.  Being, in essence a way of connecting back to itself, the ideological blockages set up by this dead-end society had to be faced head on.  Herein lies the relevance and meaning of the present album.  Despair is converted into pure energy, the rules disavowed, the road of sin is tread fanatically as a method of purification —a negative unity of evil towards the beyond, away from human-ness in its modern form, away from mundanity.  For the burgeoning underground, as seen from Mayhem’s perspective, primacy would placed on being and its dark discovery of self, against the presumption of knowing, and the oppressive, futile impositions from above.  All knowing, all value of music, would come from this ‘being’, from a dark exploration of the soul possessed by a cosmic force of destruction.

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NIGHTMARE: LORDS OF CHAOS MOVIE COMPLETED, PREMIERED AT SUNDANCE


It’s actually happening.  After decades of “will they” speculation, directors picking up and dropping the project, rumors of Twilight actors playing Varg Vikernes, and a boycott by virtually every member of the original scene the Rory Culkin led bastardization of Norway’s finest Lords of Chaos premiered at Sundance this week.  In the ultimate defeat, death, and burial of Norweigian black metal- a movement opposed to everything commercial, financial, and mainstream- we will soon see a polished Hollywood narrative of this beloved movement pollution theaters across the globe.

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Mayhem Grand Declaration of War

A common theme you hear in critiquing music is the need to separate the art from the artist for the most objective analysis possible.  This all sounds good on paper, but we are all human, and the flaws that imbues in us make our understanding of all concepts skewed by perspective.  The metal path is one of social outcast and self-discovery through a grasp of the larger whole, and as such we are left with the purest essence of form and function, but still we allow our humanness to cloud our judgments inevitably.  We won’t give the time of day to a record made by some stretch-lobed lumbersexual even if he might have accidentally produced the next necessary evolution in metal, and we like it that way.  We have been proven right long enough by lousy records and “evolutions” of our favorite artists but although we may have erected a necessary safeguard for quality control, we need to analyze if it is constructed of statements and proofs of inherent positive musical traits or our own hubris instead.
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Mayhem – Wolf’s Lair Abyss (1997)

Wolf’s Lair Abyss was the first new proposition by the remaining Mayhem line up after De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, and all the personal drama and loss that it signified.  Needless to say, the pressure upon the band on the musical level- especially of music as a dark art, as Euronymous would have it- was quite high.  Expectations after an Immortal album of far and wide reach were not at all encouraging.  The remainder of the band had to find a way in which they could work from the solid basis of the past towards a unique development that did not come off as an insult or a betrayal to all that had been accomplished.  The solution found by the band here was almost perfect, but it ultimately was only a transition whose eventual development would show if the full potential for growth would be adeptly exploited.  Still, there is much to be said about the unique identity of this brief but memorable foray into chaos.

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Watain – Trident Wolf Eclipse (2018)

Grammy-award wining artist Watain has shamelessly assumed the mantle of “most embarrassing band masquerading as black metal” previously shared by Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth. Where the downfall of those two bands was an overdose of gothic and groove influences, Watain has managed to outdo both in both parody and bastardization of black metal with their previous album’s venture into country musical territory.  With a career built on celebrity guest spots from more capable underground metal musicians, necrophiliac 1st era Bathory Worship mixed with a second rate attempt to mimic Dissection’s concluding album, and a ridiculously cartoonist theatrical performance worthy of a Broadway musical, Watain’s legacy has been secured to forever be “the band that bent over farthest to inherit the phallus of commercialization the deepest” and has effectively decimated any hope of legitimacy the sub genre might have had in the post-90s.  With a brash new attestation in the form of Trident Wolf Apocalypse the truth could not possibly be more clear to any listener with knowledge of black and death metal: Watain are the biggest joke in all of black metal history.

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Poverty is the Price for Metal Stardom

The Talk:

Every metal musician needs to have “The Talk” at some point or another and for some of you, this will be that moment.  In the world of metal, “The Talk” is the soul crashing, dream obliterating conversation where one learns the valuable lesson that you can’t get rich playing extreme metal.  It’s heartbreaking and defeating but better learned sooner than later.  And since a young ambitious musician isn’t necessarily considering the logistics, lifestyle goals, etc. of their future before they drill on that pentagram neck tattoo, I want to make sure readers of DMU are abundantly clear on what to expect on the financial front when engaging in life as a touring musician.
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