сука блять! When I first started working on the philosophy of parallelism, I saw a way around the modern fixation on singular cause-effect. It is more complex than polycausality, more like pattern causality, because many things have to be in place for a touchstone event to formalize what has already been in motion.
For example, the classic philosophy teacher (fuck these guys) example of a boy kicking a ball can be stated as monocausality: agent (boy) + action (kick) + object (ball). This appeals to our human sense of being in control, and our natural tendency to treat everything we encounter as if it too were human and thought like us.
In a polycausal view, we can talk about how the Earth is rotating so the ball is actually rushing toward his feet, or some nonsense of this nature, but in pattern causality we see things which must be present in parallel: the extra energy, the sense of safety, the need to self-expression as an outpouring of Schopenhauerian Will, and finally, the ball and field and the window the object in motion will soon smite.
Parallelism describes how we think. We have multiple impulses, and if one does not beat out the others (ex: “omigod! a bear!”) then we take a middle path through the rest, both being moderate and hedging our bets while edging toward what we think might, gambler-style, bring us a big payoff.
For example, when you encounter a pretty girl (or for the modern metal audience, a trans catboy) all sorts of impulses flow through your mind. Your fear impulse is to avoid appearing like a 4chan sweaty basement NEET with an anime collection, your social impulse is to portray yourself as harmless, and your hedging and edging tells you to make a neutral comment, then say something nice and see if she smiles, at which point you can ask for her phone number without being a Redditor.
What is the pattern causality on the Ukraine war? Draw a line through the middle of these parallels — imagine them like the readout on an EQ, little vertical measures of intensity, with you aiming for the sweet spot above the midpoint but not to the pain threshold — and find the outcome: unstable Chinese regime, allied to unstable Russian regime, opposing a bloated and pointless West, while everyone is convinced that the coming instability means war. So: declare small war in advance, then see how everyone reorients.
The most complex pattern causality on this site of course will be the question of what killed metal, and my answer will be that many things had to make a pattern to spell its doom, but ultimately we treated metal like another human. We figure other humans have intent, and always try to discern that for the friend-or-foe 4Fs (fight, flight, feed, or reproduce) question, and with metal, we imputed an intention to it but got tripped up by relativity.
That is, we knew the most recent appearances of that intent, but never got around to tracking the whole in parallel from beginning to future with all the parts inbetween being consistent. Instead, we just looked at what happened right before, and rationalizing from that precedent, made another version of that. Genres decay this way because they accumulate long lists of stuff to include and develop but never have a sense of purpose except, like in democracy, being an equal member of the group. Entropy wins!
Breakaway genres, like death metal and black metal once were, on the other hand cast aside all of the precedent and hone in on a few methods of expression, then explore those. This works until the initial momentum dies, at which point a new generation starts building from where the old left off, emulating the outer form but never understanding the inner form, the why not the how.
To understand a genre, you need to accept the “hidden side of relativity” which states that objects are known only as relative to each other and to the whole context, or all actors in parallel including elemental forces. That is, there needs to be a continuity from its founding to its future wherein certain whys or elements of spirit are found, and those must become the inner impulse, with the outer prone not to “progress” and “change” of bringing in outside influences, but orchestrated by the inner need to express ideas.
Black metal, after all, was about ideas. In the happy 1990s, full of Friends and Seinfeld and our choice to go consumerist-communist since regular Communism just shat the bed harder than National Socialism, we embraced pluralism, pacifism, diversity, and other notions of not picking a choice but simply including everyone and making happy feelings so we could all go off to our corporate jobs together, buy meaningless garbage, and pay esurient taxes so that we could subsidize the inbred White and minority underclasses.
Metal died when it lost its sense of idea. If the standard review is “it’s like everything else with a twist, and okay if you like that sort of thing,” then the new review is, “nothing is wrong with the parts, but they add up to nothing more than form,” and it is the death-knell of a genre. Our musicians and producers are more competent than ever, but most of the music they crank out is worse than anything before.
As a result, you see the usual quirky ironism emerge where bands try to differentiate themselves by doing the unexpected and different with the outer form, but like postmodern novels, these musical works load so much onto the surface that there is nothing left for the core, so you end up with airy blather about transcendental meaning and the divide between life and death on top of songs that are not different than your usual indie rock.
I have always believed that metal, like all human groups, forms an ecosystem. We all have different roles. The gushing soyjacks who endorse just about anything are an anabolic force, or that which expands and synthesizes, where this site forms a catabolic force, or that which kills the bad and thrusts the good into the limelight. This is why most of the industry hates us: we uphold standards.
A light switch has two positions, but you have three potential choices when you encounter one. You can turn it to on, turn it to off, or do nothing. For metal, we want to flip the switch to on for what is good, slam it to off for what is bad, and for those in the middle who are struggling to get to good, do nothing except reveal them as they are. It is important to encourage new and inexperienced bands to be the best they can be, knowing that one in ten will make it, like newly hatched sea turtles racing to the deep sea and safety, despite the predators and undertow that kills most of them.
Ironism happens when equal people need to stand out, so they do the opposite of what is realistic in order to draw attention to themselves. If happiness, success, sanity, health, beauty, arete, and wisdom are thus off the map, like political correctness they filter out the real and focus on the attention-whoring, so you get some kind of acedia-laced quirky personal drama which eventually becomes a recognized sound.
Schellenberg did a totally different study. He analyzed more than 1,000 songs — every Top 40 hit from 1965 to 2009 — in terms of tempo and whether the song was in a major or minor key.
Though there was plenty of dark music in 1965, Petula Clark’s “I Know a Place” is pretty typical of that year. The tempo is upbeat, and like every other Top 40 song of 1965, it is in a major key: “All [Top 40 songs] published by Billboard, every single one was a major-key song,” Schellenberg says.
But through the 1980s and ’90s, the dominance of the major key in the Top 40 began to shift, slowly at first and then quite radically: “By 2009,” Schellenberg says, “only 18 out of [the Top] 40 [songs] were a major key.”
That means that the majority of the Top 40 songs, 22 of 40, were in a minor key — the official sound of complexity and sadness.
As societies go on, they drive themselves further from reality into complexity that defeats all solutions so that people can keep being individualistic. Entropy wins, again. They also embrace the sad as a way of attracting pity, because in a society dedicated to equality, whoever earns the most pity deserves the most subsidies and achieves the greatest popularity, at least in the short term, and it is hard to argue that popular music is the zone for long-term thinkers.
A few housekeeping items: first, this abortion of commercialist terror for the most pro-Communist band out there. Self-parody is not dead; it is not even getting started as we surge deeper into the heart of Late Stage Democracy, where everything is token, signal, symbol, or number and almost nothing considers the qualitative dimension. It has been twenty-six years since Napalm Death last made a good album, although they have “good bits” on every album, you know a cool transition here or tempo change there or a striking riff in the middle, and the rest of what they have done amounts to landfill, unless better bands steal those good bits. One wonders what would happen if Napalm Death locked themselves in a Cotswolds cabin for six months and took all the good bits out of the last couple decades of their work and assembled them into a real album. Bet it would work like musical Jenga.
Next, a brief reminder to attend the Destroying Texas Fest because there will be fun quasi-neo-Nazis there:
They sent Scott west, as part of an undercover squad, to the Destroying Texas Fest that summer. Black-metal bands with names like Satanic Goat Ritual were playing at a club in Houston; several Atomwaffen members would be there.
What you tolerate, you get more of. Any audience adapts any idea to the needs of the audience (The Metallica Effect). Put these together, and what do you get? Take a genre and over time the Crowd will break it down into the same old stuff, then project on it, and soon you have boring droning angry music for people who have given up on everything but getting entrapped by the FBI on interstate weapons charges.
Finally, consider the potentially largest voting bloc out there, people in the grips of evil:
We may not pay Satan reverence, for that would be indiscreet, but we can at least respect his talents. A person who has during all time maintained the imposing position of spiritual head of four-fifths of the human race, and political head of the whole of it, must be granted the possession of executive abilities of the loftiest order.
OK, now put on your scuba suit because we are about to dive deeply into the feces, forever searching for golden nuggets of corn among the onslaught of sludge…
Disordered – Carnal Materialism: this band tries to work newer melodic metal and deathcore stylings into a Slayer-inspired speed/death act and for the most part succeed, making songs that hide their melodic aspects of construction well while emphasizing the melodic phrase that comes about every third riff, but ultimately these are driven by the vocals and drive toward a poignant moment where the melody crosses over its basic harmonic structure to find a simpler reductive pattern, something that repeats enough to detract from its effect on this highly metal-literate release which brings out a number of unique and personalitied versions of classic death metal and speed metal riff styles.
Satanik Goat Ritual – An Ending in Blood: when any subgenre disintegrates, it devolves to its simplest influence, and some years ago black metal reverted to being hardcore punk music with fewer offbeats and more riffs, producing stream of consciousness like this Havohej, Beherit, and Blasphemy influenced string of riffs that show good ideas but barely relate to each other and do not develop a song into anything but a sonic wallpaper of angsty discontent with everything except for Satan, which makes me think they tried playing this in Gitmo but it made more inmates convert to Islam out of desperation to escape the trivial trend-driven society that excreted this.
Immolation – Acts of God: the usual idiots were strong with this one — “it’s just like their first two! a return to form!” — but nothing could be closer to the truth, since Immolation are still caught in the idea of creating grooves and riding them in what are essentially two-riff songs with a few variations tossed in at the end for a turnaround and almost zero thematic evolution, cutting out what made the second album their BOAT (best of all time) and gave us hope for their future; these songs sound tired, obligatory, and propagandistic.
Effluence – Psychocephalic Spawning: noisy squealing deathcore for those who like sump pump vocals and hammering-square-pegs-into-round-holes basic rhythm riffing, Effluence throws in some variations on known riffs and has roughly the right rhythmic ratios in each song, but never gains and manages momentum, so each song feels like a series of breakdowns with riffs which are both related and random competing with each other for a diminishing share of attention, and the free jazz chaos lead guitars do not build this up substantially.
Varathron – The Lament of Gods: “so that’s where it all went wrong,” one might exclaim upon hearing this re-issued 1999 EP, where Varathron decided that “atmosphere” (trans: slow arpeggios, keyboards, whispers) was more important than writing cryptic but evocative songs which brought out a nocturnal spirit in the otherwise befuddled and buzzword-spammed modern mind, basically turning themselves into a Doors tribute band, although the “Sarmutius Pegorus” demo gives a glimpse of early 1990s Varathron attempting to expand into more musical directions, albeit not enough to avoid being somewhat aimless.
Autokrator – The Obedience to Authority: an early Incantation clone that blends Revenge-style war metal in with some Immolation and blistering noise-based drone, Autokrator specialize in pounding verses and pain threshold grinding power chord riffs with drums that chase after their own beats like a technical version of Sarcófago, producing songs that are not intended to go anywhere, only appear like riot police out of the fog and beat everyone senseless, then retreat in noise, chaos, fire, and the wailing of newspaper anchors as their trucks get stolen and their camerapeople anally burgled, this band manages to be aesthetically interesting but does not command repeated listening.
Come Mierda – “Demo 2021”: if you can imagine basic hardcore with periodically imaginative takes on classic riff forms, embarking on about half its work at the pace of Crowbar or EyeHateGod, you have the essential elements of this reasonably listenable but busy punk release that avoids most of the serious errors of underground music and stands above its contemporaries in quality but might not really merit knocking those Cro-Mags and Minor Threat albums off the shelf quite yet.
Recipients of Death – Final Flight / Recipients of Death: purposeful speed metal on the edge of thrash, comparable to Nuclear Assault or later Cryptic Slaughter, Recipients of Death slash out the anthems with a focus on speed metal verse riffs building up to hardcore-style chorus riffs, with enough internal dialogue through riff change along the way to like a miniature progressive rock anthem build up to the point before the final thematic evolution, making it gratifying like pop only because the listener has dug through all of preceding material, which even though it is driven too much by chanting vocals, keeps interesting high with its streamlined and hard-hitting style in which songs become who they always were without starting on an entirely different pattern nor repeating the dominant theme.
Insipidus – Banal Apathy: this seems to be one of those postmodernist metal-selfaware type things where a band makes satyrically bad music in order to rupture a genre while drawing attention to itself for being witty like the loudest voices at the Irish pub, but really this collection of heavy metal and jazz tropes roped into deathcore songs which minimize repetition but maximize randomness until the parts are barely related except by key delivers nothing of enjoyment for death metal listeners, although it will delight Opeth and Anal Cunt hipsters.
Sotherion – Schwarmgeist: the title translates to “spirit of the herd” and that reflects this music, which on the surface is the grittiest underground French-sounding black metal you can imagine, but combines later pop-punk style melodic lead riffing with stalled out chromatic rhythm riffing that deprecates riff shape in favor of a surprise hook ending, leading to noise that fits together reasonably well as songs but neither evokes nor expresses anything but itself like most of these narcissistic solipsistic hominids we call humans.
Massive Assault – Mortar: excellent mastery of Swedish death metal production albeit from the post-digital years marks this album of what are basically heavy metal and speed metal riffs given the cadence of the first Carnage and Unleashed albums, but despite some clever twists never really developing in a song beyond falling into a contrast groove which emphasizes the offbeat only in contrast, resulting in a listening experience that is more nostalgia and cope-hope than belief that this is actually good despite moments of frisson when it seems like the mighty Swedish death metal has returned.
Warloghe – Three Angled Void: take me back to 1997, three years after black metal bedshat and suicided, when people were still busy ripping off Darkthrone Panzerfaust with Burzum technique but before Depressive Soydomatic Black Metal took over by making bad hardcore and bad shoegaze into mates if played in a minor key with Celtic Frost rhythms, back when the music was better but still boring because it had nothing to say except that we should keep holding up the flag of black metal for reasons unknown to everyone, and you get this release of unrelated riffs crammed within the same vocal and drum rhythms like a Google AI emulating black metal while running on a Mac IISE with a glitchy hard drive.
Profanity – Fragments of Solace: technical death metal which is basically deathcore with lots of jazz and progressive inspired riff forms thrown in randomly throughout, missing the real point of Gorguts Obscura which was to knit together the dissimilar in order to find a shared hidden them and bring it forth, this band manages a lot of detail but no complexity and seems like a prolonged conspiracy to distract the listener enough to fool them into thinking they are listening to music instead of charted guitar practice.
Apolion – To Rot or Decay: band attempts to make mostly instrumental album but suffers from writing very boring riffs with no challenge in them only the type of dissonant-consonant or minor key to major key signature notes shift that made indie rock so bittersweet and yet banal once you heard enough of it, leading a listening experience that is both easy to sing along to and enjoy but forgotten when it is gone because nothing was transacted between listener and band; you expected generic black metal, and you got it with a twist, but it was as memorable as listening to ringtones on the subway while some homeless guy strokes out in front of you from fentanyl, meth, and 3,186 STDs acquired through promiscuous back alley anal sex.
Twilight Force – Dawn of the Dragonstar: new bands should pay attention to the quality control and streamlining that this band does, since each part relates to the rest and there is a central theme that is at least challenged and has slight evolution before returning to the chorus, but otherwise you should stay away from this travesty which uses circus music conventions including unsignaled key changes and gangstalking the melodic minor scale like a lovestruck incel not for musical reasons but artistic ones, since like Reddit or Disney soundtracks this is both artistically empty with a spirit of pacifism and egodrama and cheesy like all commercial products since it is designed to make self-pitying life failures feel a moment of emotional reaction and think they are deep, reducing your testosterone and making you want rape vegetables by inserting them into your own anus.
Defechate – Unbounded: gurgling deathcore of the older style meaning that it moves along like an uptempo primitive version of early death metal in chromatic glacial mass while the vocals lead with contrast to the dominant rhythm of the riff, with guitars, bass and drums playing parts of the same pattern, leading through a verse-chorus loop with a few surprises like occasional heavy metal riffs popping up but essentially relying on boring you into chanting along with the catchy vocals, managing to be both pop and sonic wallpaper at the same time.
Constraint – Between War and Terror: if you thought Slayer and Sepultura could have taken their early 90s albums further and focused on writing militant speed metal with bouncy choruses, this could be your bag, since it nails the powerful verse-chorus interplay and aims for little else: songs appear, develop into their loop, then charge ahead with it until it comes time to break it and reverse course before repeating to the end, but the speed thrills of early speed metal with the more proficient riffs of the later years come together into a compelling package even if like Possessed or Destruction the songs exist to self-assert even when traversing their own themes in opposition.
Tundra – The Darkening Sky: vocal-driven relatively boring black metal that moves between punk and something that sounds a lot like English post-punk without ever having the internal dialogue that makes metal strong or the epic shifts in perspective that make any drone or ambient music interesting, Tundra despite having the best name of recent note achieve little other with this late Darkthrone clone than a participation trophy and maybe some vaccine-induced AIDS.
Sulpur – Embracing Hate and Beckoning Darkness: really good art tells us the obvious but denied in an interesting way that connects it to both existential meaning and external patterns, creating a unitive sense of bonding with our world, but really bad art just states the obvious in such a way that we cannot refute it but also have no need for it like this collection of practice of classic black metal riffs melded to a simpering mid-paced rhythm designed for normie socialization not violent Galtonian eugenics applied with a flaming sword and (rented; no point paying for blade sharpening) wood chipper.
Cryptum – Vile Emergence: if your heart lies in speed metal, do not bother mixing in death metal except as occasional technique because the two use entirely different techniques and mashing them together makes music that plods between incongruous parts, such as this emminently boring band who like lots of bouncy downstroke riffs like Exodus but try to meld it with early death metal, ending up only with circular repetition of their inability to choose a path.
Balvanera – Courses of Action: we all hoped that our scenes in the hacker disco would sound like this, stripped down future techno with a 1980s style emphasis on diminished melodies in vocals curving through this like acid in a vat of blood, staying danceable but keeping enthusiasm in check so that it seems more like an echoing rant of an insurrectionary radio broadcast set to beats and disconnected keyboard riffs that play together as if parts of the same vine running up the crumbling sides of an abandoned church, perfect as background music for those who miss Kraftwerk and Joy Division while dropping brown acid in a urine-soaked stall at Numbers somewhere near 3:00 AM on a Tuesday.
Grave Next Door – Sanctified Heathen: “stoner metal” simply means boring blues rock played slow with the bounding riffs of bands like Sleep and Pentagram but using fewer chords, adorned with urgent vocal rhythms that end on an offbeat so they click in the brain, but going nowhere ultimately except around and around a like a stoner locked in his apartment wandering between fridge, bong, and noose in the shower.
Affection – Remnants: in the eternal quest for modern metal that is actually metal Affection makes NWOBHM-tinged speed metal sort of like Metal Church covering Judas Priest Jugulator and layers it in clean vocals — this is a good thing, getting us away from the now overused and hackeneyed death vocals which serve no purpose except to sell Listerine and chamomile — which are more like the Dead Kennedys or The Clash, with not emo but a bit of plaintive lost boy rock in there, making for a reasonably palatable listen that if missed would not be terrible unless that meant you had to listen to the other crap reviewed here.
Helwetti – Helwetti: everywhere I go, the idea of “togetherness” dooms us as people encourage me to do things to keep the group together instead of pointing out what is crap and what is not, but luckily this band falls between crap and not, some good riff ideas and songs that seem to have internal relationships, but like most late blackmetal, this is more like general impressions of an emotion from a dream paired to a decomposing architectural feature once seen in a textbook and there is nothing inspirational to be derived from it, not to mention far too many intrusions of other metal subgenres and even random themes that sound like they came from anime spank mags found in an abandoned crack house.
Demonos – Asger the Collector: this band attempts to combine modern metal with deathcore to achieve a more interesting sound with some space for melodic composition, which although it sounds like Bullet for My Valentine or Panic! At the Disco serves to break up what would otherwise be overwhelming bouncing muted strum rhythm technique, and makes for listenable songs although they go circular very rapidly and depend almost exclusively on a melodic hook with one break or counterpoint at the peak of each song.
Black Sin – Solitude Éternelle: make a circus out of Burzum, Gorgoroth, and Immortal riffs in songs that gesture at some inner meaning but only do that, hint and push, then fall back into familiar black metal tropes as if playing to a half-attentive live audience in the local foodie gastropub who want to hear some pleasant minor-key individualistic fatalism while they consume their barbecue flavor tofu kushikatsu tendies on spelt baguettes with local haba&ntild;ero flavored goat cheese.
Aviterne – The Ailing Facade: one year I went to summer camp and one of the counselors, a weird guy named Jim, used to rape all the boys so we would gather at the ice machine to salve our ruptured anuses with packs of ice melting in the hot summer sun, and we would lean against the ice machine and moan, listening to the motor run and feeling safe for a moment in the all-encompassing sound, and the sub-sub-genre from which this album comes reminds me of that, basically comforting rhythms spelled out in tremolo tugging riffs trudging along with predictable, safe patterns and motions but the only way you know a song is over is when there is a long silence because it is incoherent and like the ice machine will fix nothing and only stave off the pain for a short while.
Haiduk – Diabolica: speed metal riffs made into mostly instrumental music which alternates like later Samael albums between post-rock styled high sustain open chord strumming riffs and rushing single-picked chromatic momentum riffs but really goes nowhere except in fast circles, gradually intensifying without really distinguishing parts as having any meaning, achieving the musical equivalent of a trip to LAX where you find out at the last minute you are the wrong terminal and race through turnstiles and security checkpoints while screaming incoherently only to arrive at the right terminal to find your flight is canceled and you are on a watch list anyway.
Eucharist – I Am The Void: adulthood means you write to spec — that is: you have a particular task and make something which fits those parameters, then worry about everything else as an afterthought — and you do not have the seemingly endless hours of youth to contemplate your emotions and their depth and try to wrangle them into something semi-coherent but aesthetically attractive which gets you outside your conscious mind, which is why older bands have trouble, but Eucharist make a good album that relies too much on songs as little puzzles based on a riff idea developing from foreshadowing to theme and evolution, perhaps with too much concern for vocals as well, going uptempo for much of it to make a good listen that will not make the black metal canon but is still better than just about everything else out there.
Exodus – Persona Non Grata: perhaps Exodus tired of making high-intensity speed metal like Impact Is Imminent and got seduced by the post-Pantera attitude that metal bands should have groove, basically the same cruising rhythm that Sunset Strip glam made famous but given the precision of later metal and a similar reliance on the one-note riff with fill that Slayer used on South of Heaven but without the context, which leaves the band essentially making updated glam which was itself NWOBHM with more of the pace and rhythms of radio rock and 70s AOR, which even though the songs hold together offers very little interest for a metal fan who is not obsessed with novelty and currency.