The “Nature” of Metal: A Naturalist and Apolitical Realism


From its very inception with Black Sabbath metal has always placed a special emphasis on a realism that looks beyond human “nature” and its caprices. We can safely ignore the hedonist tendencies of certain styles of metal imitators and detractors who musically, ultimately took more from the rock and hippie attitudes than from metal. It is also important to clarify that most modern bands, especially past the 1994 mark,  are followers and imitators who were not born into the music out of a deeper mindset. In a rather tongue-in-cheek manner, they enjoy the music’s aesthetics while they jest about the lyrics and apparent driving motives of extreme underground innovators, naming them conspiracy theorists or deluded savants, because what the greats say goes against their own culture-dictated values. They ignore that Beethoven, the original creator, is born not when he starts to write great music (which happened at a relatively young age) but when he finds ulterior motivations(circa the sketching of his 3rd Symphony); transcendental visions of a greater humanity born out of fraternity and the individual struggle for self-improvement through suffering push his music towards new landscapes until the day he dies.

Black Sabbath is metal incarnate because not only is it from them that the genre evolves musically, but the very essence of everything that makes metal what it is is reflected in their lyrics. A curiosity for occult knowledge or mystic experience through various means, the so-called worship of power and an apolitical realism that attacked the establishment and that in its time was confused (and probably marketed) as hippie flower-power are all manifest in the band’s first few albums. The three elements ultimately boil down to the search for a truth that lies beyond human construction. Of course, because we are humans, all we have is our human brains and our human motivations — this is something we cannot escape. So what is there left to take a hint from? Nature. The same nature that gave birth to us as a species. The nature that produced an environment which gave rise to our own human “nature” (two different uses of the word nature, for those not paying enough attention).

Nature worship is misconstrued by cynics as either an extreme and retrograde cultural suicide that proposes we abandon the cities to go back to living in caves as wild animals, or simply a kind of replacement for any religion as a different set of beliefs that at the end lead you roughly towards the same goal. What a proper nature worship really entails is not a blind respect for other living creatures at the expense of human well-being, but rather an enhancement of the latter through a mindful and knowledgeable understanding of our relationship to the rest of nature as an ecosystem. In other words, beyond this bubble of social constructions that leave us oblivious or simply make us insensitive to the full extent of the consequences of our careless actions three or four generations into the future (think of uncontrolled population growth and greedy depredation of resources in order to get more money, yet another human illusion to maintain greater mirages).

Realism is here referred to not as the selfish conception driving a Machiavellian politics, but rather the philosophy of forming opinions and taking decisions based on a nihilist but profound understanding of the relative situation of ourselves as  humans. The profound understanding is a necessary appendage to the nihilist mentality because otherwise it can very easily degrade into hedonism or other kinds of short-sighted foolishness. An understanding of the inherent necessities we have as humans, both physical and psychological, can lead us in a very few particular directions. As I see it, we either embrace the rest of the ecosystem as something to worship and live in as vital to us in our everyday lives and long-term decisions as a species, or we develop the technology to live independently from it. So far, we are at a crossroads where we are at the brink of destroying the balance of this planet’s system  beyond repair, and we do not possess the technological means to live without Earth: precisely because our motivations have been too short-sighted, driven by immediate or selfish profit.

Rocket’s engines burning fuel so fast
Up into the night sky they blast
Through the universe the engines whine
Could it be the end of man and time
Back on Earth the flame of life burns low
Everywhere is misery and woe
Pollution kills the air, the land, and sea
Man prepares to meet his destiny

Rocket’s engines burning fuel so fast
Up into the black sky so vast
Burning metal through the atmosphere
Earth remains in worry, hate and fear
With the hateful battles raging on
Rockets flying to the glowing sun
Through the empires of eternal void
Freedom from the final suicide

Freedom fighters sent out to the sun
Escape from brainwashed minds and pollution
Leave the earth to all its sin and hate
Find another world where freedom waits

Past the stars in fields of ancient void
Through the shields of darkness where they find
Love upon a land a world unknown
Where the sons of freedom make their home
Leave the earth to Satan and his slaves
Leave them to their future in their graves
Make a home where love is there to stay
Peace and happiness in every day.

The direction from or mentality with which we approach problems is a non-trivial factor in the resulting answer. If we approach the matter of how we should conduct ourselves from the top-down viewpoint that what matters is this or that political scheme as a result of our “rights”(more human constructions) or needs only, and without acknowledging that our needs depend on and arise from our the rest of nature on Earth, then we will always lose sight of the whole picture. This human-only vision traps us in a political/theological game which gradually becomes more and more alienated from the real struggle for survival played against and within our place in the universe.

Metal was given birth by those who despise petty human society and is continued to be upheld as the greatest art there ever was by those who have come to this ultra-human vision. To us, every vacuous formality is a burden, every accepted social deception that is taken for granted by the herd can be confusing because we are expected to follow it despite the fact that even the sheep know it’s complete bullshit. Most sheep know it, but they know it is in place for everyone to be happy and shielded away from each other, but most importantly, from reality. True metal stands against all of that. Not as a statement of individuality like most modern bands who care about being politically-correct and are given free reign to pose as some sort of social-cause rebels, but as an acceptance of the harsher truths of reality and how they make the upsides even more intense and worth living for.

“This beginning then reaches out to future historical outreach, especially by teaching what humankind does not wish to comprehend, in spite all the immense hardness of history, does not want to understand, something that perhaps only latter days will learn after reaching the nadir of destruction and devastation — that life need be understood not from the viewpoint of the DAY, of life merely accepted, but also from the view of strife, of the night, of POLEMOS. The point of history is not what can be uprooted or shaken, but rather the openness to the shaking.”

–Jan Patočka, The Beginning of History

Only Death is Real

Blind lies rise
Eternal sweet fire
Killing /blink
One with soul
Remains unseen
Licking throne of gold
Soul of bricks
Plague of deaths
Hate rise/fill my eyes
Those with no eyes
Blind to see (him)
Those with no eyes
Come feel inside
Souls of fate
Those with no eyes
Blind to see
Breath now, worship (him)
Remains seen
Warm caress of fire
Breaks the pulse
Close your eyes

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20 thoughts on “The “Nature” of Metal: A Naturalist and Apolitical Realism”


    Didn´t Black Sabbath sell out like Judas Priest or late period Metallica ?
    If I’m not mistake even SR Prozak dismissed their Master of Reality album yet favored Sabotage as essential.

    Is there anything really worth keeping by Sabbath after 1976?

    1. If I say something good about Morbid Angel, would you think I am talking about the band in Blessed are the Sick, Gateways to Annihilation or Illud Divinum Insanus?

      I do not know when or why SR Prozak did so. But musically, Black Sabbath peaks with and is relevant up to Master of Reality. When we talk about Black Sabbath and its importance as a foundational act,we are obviously talking about their beginnings. but for the purposes of this article, there is no harm in taking Sabotage in.

      1. Evelyn says:

        But what about the period with Dio on vocals, ain’t that worthy of praise too David?

        1. Worthy of praise, perhaps, irrelevant to the conversation. Extra.

          1. Lord Mosher says:

            Jacula was an Italian occultist and dark prog-rock band named Jacula back in 1969 and a few of their guitar oriented songs have like a proto-Helhammer sound. I wonder if they were an influence on Black Sabbath or early proto black metal in Europe, (Hellhammer, Samael). Here is one of their tunes:


            1. Cynical says:

              Jacula was a hoax; the original 1969 recording of that song didn’t have the guitars. Those guitars were added in a mid-2000s re-issue.

              1. Negru Choda says:

                Just like the moon landings huh?
                Impossible to make it to the moon with no ipads and stuff.

                I have the vinyl recording and the guitars are there buddy.

  2. aikalopa says:

    Another interesting article David!
    Much to think about, perhaps
    and lots of ideas

    1. Incessant Ballerism says:

      Right? Or what about the assertions here? >>>

      1. That Fudali has a particular ideology that affects the SENTIMENT of his music changes nothing that has been said. His music and much of what he expresses fits into this. The tendency towards epicness, a quasi-fantastical epicness and tales of valour, whether they want it or not, are more of a total divergence from the modern world, not a Che Guevara- like revolution in an attempt to reform society.
        That some metal artists WANT to see reforms doesn’t mean their music is about that. As Varg once said, his music has nothing to do with whatever political stance he has. His music is for art, not for ideology. His words, btw. And you would be able to tell that from the music as well.

        1. morocco says:

          Right, even though he said he wants his message specifically heard by ‘whites all over the world’…

          1. Yes, “even though”.
            It´s sad that many cannot see the difference and separation that is stated, intentional and obvious.
            You see what you want to see.

            Following the Voice of Blood has the related themes. But the album is an album about honor, about valour, and about protecting one´s own circle. What you may infer given Fudali´s political postures is a different matter. You may either take art for what it is or you may choose to be a cynic and infect it with all the sorts of extra musical relations you want to project onto it despite the evidence and the artist´s denial.

            1. morocco says:

              Sorry man, racism is racism, I’ve been told to ‘fuck off’ by the NS camp in the past, because it’s ‘their’ music.
              Well so be it, I don’t want this rubbish anyway. Don’t pretend you don’t realise: there’s a lot more to music than just the music.

              1. Yes, there is definitely a lot more to music than just music, for sure. But to reduce Fudali´s art to ¨racism¨ speaks more of your fear than about his work with Graveland. The music is not just music, but the music is also a separate entity from that which produced it. Also, Graveland´s music stands up on its own, even if you disregard any ideology. Because the music itself is not about any political ideology, like I said before, if you go to the music, it´s a music that, like any metal, addresses a violent and perhaps dark nature that from some perspective is courageous and wanted.
                Everything human is relative, you must escape this social justice vision to understand this. Metal escapes this and sings about all these things. There is plenty of metal about war as well. You must learn to separate the artist from the art, otherwise you are just go full ad hominem.

                Don´t be angry. Breathe and try to think instead of ¨feeling¨ so much.

                1. freudian says:

                  People will hate Varg’s music for “ideological reasons”, but no one seems to have a problem with Transilvanian Hunger. Not necessarily implying that the poster above is one, just an observation…

                  1. I may be a little confused about your statement, you mean Varg and Hvis Lyset Tar Oss.. and then Fenriz with Transilvanian Hunger.

                    I do think this guy hates on the music based on the ideology at large of the artist. Nobody is denying that the music is influenced by his thought. But the music is not less great because of it. People in general have trouble reasoning. They think too little, but they like to “feel” about everything.

                    1. freudian says:

                      What I meant to say was Varg’s lyrical contributions for Transilvanian Hunger’s 2nd half.

                    2. Ah, perhaps because like me, most people don’t know that bit… thanks!

    2. What exactly about it?

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