Traversing the Underground: The Beginning of a Journey

tolkein moria gate

Article by David Rosales.

We often use the term underground following the multiple discussions of underground extreme metal started on Death Metal Underground by Brett Stevens himself. Conceptualizing it here would be redundant and confusing. Instead, we might benefit more from brainstorming that allows for the reveling of authenticity that so characterizes underground music. What we are interested in here is not metal only, or metal as a whole, but rather metal as conducive to realization, breaking of false boundaries, destruction of a false mainstream, doing away with a useless society, and a contempt for a decadent civilization that through negation is blind to its own fatality.

The answer is not in this or that genre, in formal philosophy, or in the bare findings of the scientific establishment, but in their use in service of individual discernment. Music itself, if taken as more than mere sensual distraction, is the intuitive way leading to the shattering of illusions perceived through the senses, instigated by the mundane. This is not mere sophistry,; its most practical result is that in the abstract realizations thereof the mind is free to challenge what before appeared as commandments written in stone. Reality does not belong to anyone; truth is a quest.

baphomet pan shub-niggaurath
Unaussprechlichen KultenBaphomet Pan Shub-Niggurath (2014)
The tumultuous death metal of Unaussprechlichen Kulten captures the rawness of exploring black magic in darkness upon the listeners mind. What is significant about the interest of metal at large in what is hidden, what is occult, is not the morbidity alone, although that is the explanation that even luminaries may conjure and the only one that the rabble may consciously understand. The open door to asocial darkness, to inhumanity, to disintegration, is the contrast between ephemeral and the immanent. However, facing this burning darkness is also a voluntary act: it lies beyond good and evil, where the primal breath of the whole that puts our non-divinity into perspective. Here, the old school death metal expressions within free structures that never overextend and are perhaps inconclusive, nevertheless represent a perfect introduction to an energetic flow of destruction and consumption.

snowland mmxii
Sorcier des GlacesSnowland MMXII (2012)
A well-deserved update of Snowland, Sorcier des Glaces’ Snowland MMXII shines with self-attenuated glow, hiding vibrant vitality. This is the course of nobility after or through darkness. Sorcier des Glaces takes us to the essence of black metal as post-nihilism. What some would confuse with empiricism or mere scepticism, but is in reality free transcendentalism following death, complete nihilistic destruction. The dark light emanating from image and action, from reality and unreality, the delight beyond sensuality in the universe as it is as perceived imperfectly as we see it in the thousand ways in which we tune in to it.

Departure at Sunset
Isa – Отход на закате [Departure at Sunset] (2015)
Risking death by lynching, I’ll introduce this rather inconspicuous and only vaguely metal album as the culmination of this discussion. This lies more in the realm of ambient and is liable to be confused with post-rock when seen from a certain angle. Departure at Sunset captures the naturalist side of metal in a stronger way than do most these days. This is done in perhaps an extreme way that does not befit the always-hidden, the underground spirit of metal. That is, there might be too much sunshine in this for the traditional underground, so that it might seem counter-intuitive for some to see this as more authentically revealing than what sounds traditional. But the trademark old school sound has been hijacked for a long time now, it has been commercialized in what is almost a counter-spell to its original black conjuration. The truth seems to emerge, then, in the opposite, sunlit, ice-clear sounds of this ambient metal that transports us to Siberia as the antithesis to the modern world.

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31 thoughts on “Traversing the Underground: The Beginning of a Journey”

  1. zerothworld’s dust says:

    Hey, i want to ask some digression~
    Why no Blood Incantation in best of 2015?
    and, do you think “Snowland MMXII” is a great second edition?Because when I listening, I’m not feeling the “Sorcery” in that, is that rest with tone/bps/mode?(Snowland MMXII is faster and sharp)

    please forget my grammar

    1. Blood Incantation has potential but right now is more experimental than good. For Snowland MMXII, wait until tonight.

      1. zerothworld’s dust says:

        Thanks for your answer

  2. I blew my head off like Per Ohlin says:

    Just saw this comment on the new Gayjira song.

    An interview of Joe Duplantier by MetalVomit

    Metalvomit: are you still true to your death metal roots?

    Joe: death what? We were never death metal, what a childish concept!
    We’ve always been very open-minded, my favourite bands are actually the Cure
    and Massive Attack, the DM shtick was an idea of our first manager, it
    was kinda hip at the time

    1. weight of truth, burden of mass says:

      hehehe… Gayjira

    2. vOddy says:

      What in Hel?

      I want a source for that interview. It sounds too good / bad to be true.

      1. I blew my head off like Per Ohlin says:

        It was in the YouTube comments of their new song and I can’t find an actual source of the interview, so I’m afraid the quote is unlikely to be true.

  3. ass magma says:

    hey how about you tell us what the music actually sounds like instead of your usual pseudospiritual pontification

    1. C.M. says:

      Maybe because what something *sounds like* is not as important as what *effect* the music might have.

      1. ass magma says:

        think about a book of fiction. the meaning/effect emerges from the characters and story. to only consider the meaning takes it out of the context that gave it meaning in the first place. at that point you may as well be reading non-fiction.

        as it stands there is nothing linking Brosales’ ivory tower theories to the actual music.

        1. Are these reviews? Where does David ever say he is reviewing the music in this article?

          1. ass magma says:

            regardless of what they are, if youre attempting to communicate ideas about music it helps to actually mention the music somewhere in there

            1. vOddy says:

              Besides, the data encoded in the music beyond timings, rhythms, harmonies, melodies, and so on, should be discovered by listeners on their own.
              The potential awe can never be explained, it has to be seen by every one for himself.

              But, discussions about what music is about is interesting – if you’ve actually heard the music.
              If you haven’t heard the music referred to in this article, then it’s quite worthless.

            2. David Rosales says:

              Let me put it this way, different articles on the site are directed at different people. Some older, some younger. Some rather new to underground metal, some veterans. Some with an interest in simple descriptions and buy/don’t buy tags. Others with an interest in philosophy, others with an interest in mystic experience and what not.

              You cannot expect every article to fulfill the requirements for what you want.

              This article is not about describing the physical music, it is not a list of recommendations, it is definitely not for those new to the music or the general concepts.

              If you want more of something else, get off your ass and start contributing, like several of us have done. I wrote with a much more concrete musical detail last year because that’s what I felt was lacking here. And more of that will come. At the moment, I’m onto something a little different. You can be the most productive where your I interest lies. I have no interest in describing standard death metal riff salad for the millionth time in an article that is not about structure.

              1. vOddy says:

                I haven’t heard the music in question, and I am still discovering metal and learning about music theory, so I am not the intended audience. Therefore, what I am about to say may not carry the most weight.
                But for what it’s worth, I think that the article is fine.
                It is the sort of discussion that I like having about music that I have heard, dissected, and analyzed with another person who has done the same.

        2. Roger says:

          I agree.

          It becomes like post modern ‘conceptual’ art where the craft gets pushed into the background.

          1. David Rosales says:

            It isn’t.
            This article is not a review.
            Read my musical reviews and you’ll see the difference.

          2. C.M. says:

            Post-modernism rejects meta-narrative altogether, you’ve got it backward.

        3. C.M. says:

          “to only consider the meaning takes it out of the context that gave it meaning in the first place. at that point you may as well be reading non-fiction.”

          This does not make sense or I’m just missing what you’re trying to say.

          I can express a moral like “revenge is self-perpetuating” without illustrating it with an anecdote. The anecdote helps, but the meaning of the moral is not contingent on a referent. A concept does not depend on its precepts.

          The music stands on its own terms and should not need described in order to be made sense of.

          1. ass magma says:

            ive been thinking about it, and this is what i have to say: the way something is expressed is intertwined with what is expressed, at least (or especially) in art. what is expressed in a work of art is not self evident, it is interpreted from the way it is put together. that interpretation is, to a greater or lesser extent depending on the interpreter, subjective. you have to make a case for your interpretation for it to be meaningful to others, as their perception is not your own. TLDR: an interpretation alone is not particularly useful.

            1. ass magma says:

              at the very least, an interpretation alone is a poor way to introduce new music.

              1. C.M. says:

                These music suggestions are aimed toward people who are *seeking meaning* in music. That the music has some meaning is all that matters.

                Go to practically any other metal website if you are on the hunt for new music in some specific genre to scratch some specific itch, because all they can do is describe what the music sounds like (“do you like band x? Then check out band y!”)

  4. Hræsvelgr says:

    Wow, even the deaf read DMU!

  5. Poser Patrol says:

    Baphomet Pan Shub-Niggurath is a good slab of Sinister inspired death metal.

    Isa sounds interesting to me, being a closet fan of some of Agalloch’s work (and yes, I am a proud LGBTQ activist). I’ll be checking them out.

    1. vOddy says:

      What do homosexual and trans gendered rights have to do with Agalloch or Isa?

      This is a genuine question.

    2. vOddy says:

      Also, you’re not a closet fan any more. Now you’ve come out.

  6. HH says:

    Does an underground really exist when every album is free for everyone to hear in high quality on Youtube?

    1. Youtube isn’t high quality. Youtube’s lossy compression is worse than the MP3 codec’s.

    2. vOddy says:

      Youtube sound quality is absolute shite, man

      Get a lossless .WAV or .FLAC file, and compare it to a Youtube video of the same music. You will notice the difference, especially if the music has lots of instruments on it, like later Ensiferum or Wintersun.

    3. David Rosales says:

      To define underground by “unavailability” is pretty stupid.

  7. ssszzzzmmm says:

    to me that Isa album sounds like a post-rock band playing Summoning songs. the quality of it took me by surprise. thanks for the recommendation.

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