Back in 2010, Melechesh’s previous album (The Epigenesis) made its way onto our “Best of 2010” list. I don’t know what to make of that, but this year’s batch of Melechesh doesn’t live up to that hype, despite sticking to the band’s signature mixture of streamlined extreme metal with older substyles and (importantly) a Middle Eastern folk garnish. The problem here is a common one – directionless, flat, almost random songwriting. Whether or not this afflicted previous works by the band is hopefully something someone more versed in their past might be able to shed some light on. (more…)
We get a lot of comments here, but a frequent type — and they are nearly identical — is this:
This site has really gone to shit. Instead of doing articles about true underground metal, you’ve got all these stupid articles on tobacco, whiskey, SJWs and beer.
This is a variation on an old argument that splits the “No True Scotsman” logical fallacy in half. If you recall, that fallacy takes this form:
Person 1: Christians do not spit on their enemies.
Person 2: The pope just hocked a loogie onto the Queen.
Person 1: He’s not a true Christian, just a pro forma one.
Sometimes fallacies are not fallacies per se but a description of a common trope of language used to deflect an argument. When used wrongly, they fail, such as slippery slope, which is a real argument but is frequently used by ham-handed idiots (“If we legalize heavy metal, people will turn to Nazism next!”). The No True Scotsman argument is a fallacy when used to enforce a broken category, but not when it points out the exception strengthens the rule. For example, most Christians will not spit on the Queen, and that pope might just be out of line.
In the case of metal, trueness exists. It refers to people who understand metal on its own terms, instead of re-purposing it for their own social needs like hipsters do, and uphold that worldview and values system which we might call a “culture.” On the other hand, some are quick to call “untrue” anything which does not fit a selective stereotype of metalheads as being only about music and a certain lifestyle. These types are not scene-policing, but bullying others into accepting lowest common denominator behavior.
Wearing denim vests with patches, drinking trendy beer and buying lots of metal albums is not what metal is about. It’s false signaling to allow useless people to join the community because doing those things is easy, where living and understanding metal — a form of art with its own outlook and philosophy, like most artistic movements — takes some effort internal to the human being. And that is what most refuse to do. They do not want to internalize learning and share themselves and limit their own reckless impulses. They would rather have a surface-level conformity that gains them entrance to the group, and to do that, they need to spit on anyone who thinks metal is more than credit card payments, goofy clothing and being drunk all the time.
I tend to reply to such people with these:
Feel free to send in articles or ideas.
So far, none have taken me up on this. How can results be so consistent? It’s in the psychology: their psychology is not about what they say it is about, which is articles about metal. Their psychology is in putting others down by claiming those others are untrue, only so that they can in turn claim they are true for these token conformist attributes. They will never contribute… because their contribution is angry, pointless criticism. They will never do more than that. You will find whole forums (NWN/FMP) full of such people. They are hipsters of another stripe.
They remind me of another type of person that I call “the California personality.” This type is very common among bloggers. They are equal parts self-promoting and defensive, with a totalitarian intolerance of anything that seems to them to be critical of them or their choices in life. The California personality will always tell you how amazing their life is, and how they’ve made choices that magically worked out in defiance of conventional wisdom. If people think it is unsafe to walk the Cass Corridor after dark, the California personality went there and not only was safe, but met a famous artist and partied till dawn drinking artisanal wine. If people think you shouldn’t build your house on a fault line, the California personality lives in the fault and has a precious, sunlight-kissed bungalow (which is highly energy efficient).
The California personality will fool you for some time. You will look at your own life, and wonder why you don’t get such great results. They, on the other hand, appear to be picked by the hand of God to succeed in everything. But over time, you start seeing cracks in their narrative. The great house actually has lots of leaks, which is why they’re selling it. The artist they met in the Cass Corridor held them hostage until dawn and drank all their artisanal wine. Their statements are not merely rose-colored, but outright lies. A California personality goes through life always justifying their decisions as successes, after the fact, when often they are simply chumps making poor choices but are good at making those choices seem appealing to others.
The same mentality infests the hipsters, tryhards, poseurs and “trve kvlt” types in metal. Their own lives are ruins, but they want to hide that by putting down your life. They contribute nothing, but want to pull down your contributions. Like lifestyle bloggers (especially the odious “mommy bloggers”) they want to show you their great-looking children, quirky recipes and fantastic decorating choices, but are hiding a vast inner despair as their marriages fail, careers stall, and total lack of ideas creates lack of personal direction. These people are not here to do anything, but to partake in the doing of others. It’s why they are best mocked and pushed aside as this article hopes to do.
As half original work (a short EP) and half live document, The Confessional of the Black Penitents seems more compilation than unified album at first glance. I wouldn’t be surprised if the live tracks were added in an attempt to increase the supposed ‘value’ of this EP, but this is one of those cases where the commercial intent of a tracklisting decision seems less important than its overall effect on how I engage with the tracks themselves.
Varathron does admittedly stick to the stereotypical “Greek” aesthetic on the original half of this EP – in this case, a combination of contemporary black metal technique and production with elements of older metal and rock. After an extended intro, the two lengthy tracks that form the core of this half tend to explore this by alternating more overtly extreme sections with slower sections similar to older works and frequently interspersed with melodic guitar leads. These tracks showcase a strength of organization and a tasteful, limited incorporation of modern metal elements in a fashion similar to that of the band’s previous album. Based on this, and compared to other bands in the Greek scene, Varathron has aged gracefully, avoiding the contrasting pitfalls of endless repetition, excess streamlining, or overextension in the name of artistic progress or even just diversity.
The live half of this recording could serve as a general survey of Varathron as reinterpreted through the band’s modern lineup, although it is lacking in the band’s 2000s output. With three of its four tracks sourced from the band’s earliest days, it showcases the often slower and sparser approach of the band’s earliest days. Even the faster, blasting components showcased on the original tracks here make some appearance, so the main difference appears to be that in their ‘classic’ era, Varathron focused more on the rhythmic and percussive elements of their music. The other live track comes from 2014’s Untrodden Corridors of Hades; this rendition does much to render it closer to the older material in sound, which helps highlight the similarity of their songwriting. The production also helps to unify these tracks – while rougher than a proper studio environment, it’s still intelligible and in some ways more polished than that of the original material.
The new studio tracks, at the very least, make The Confessional of the Black Penitents a fine purchase. Fewer will go out of their way to acquire this EP for its live component (although it is apparently Varathron’s first official live release), but it too has value, as it provides an introduction of sorts to the band’s older material.
On October 16th, 1995, Napalm Records released Summoning’s second album, Minas Morgul; it is arguably the first release by the band to showcase their signature sound. Minas Morgul is heavy on repetition, ambiance, and cheap keyboards, but in spite of its minimalist elements (or perhaps because of them), it’s a surprisingly sophisticated work. On full display here is Summoning’s ability to convey an overarching mood or idea without resorting to extreme aesthetic shifts or overstuffing their tracks. In the process, Summoning often leaves behind conventional black metal technique but never abandons the themes at the core of their music – war, wandering, fantasy, triumph, and so forth. The band’s next album (Dol Guldur) refines much of the technique and production surrounding this approach, but Minas Morgul is still an excellent album 20 years after its debut.
As reported in local news, the entrance to the club — originally a tiki-themed club now repurposed to be one of the most important black metal venues in Germany — was set ablaze in the night by SJWs who identified with “Antifa,” originally an anti-fascist organization that now works alongside other SJW groups. These groups publicly claimed responsibility for the attack and issued the ominous statement, “This fall we have some catching up what was missed in the last few years!”
Interestingly, Blackland Club was not a Nazi club. It allowed black metal bands to play there and by all accounts, most of the bands who performed at the club were not political in any way. SJWs attacked under the excuse that it provided a platform for Nazi bands, ignoring the fact that most black metal bands have extremist philosophies that make the Nazis look like Williamsburg Democrats. The club became a target because it did not adopt the SJW line that those who do not expressly reject certain beliefs must be destroyed. Some of the “evidence” compiled by SJWs includes that people there wear Burzum tshirts.
This type of phenomenon — a witch hunt organized by an internet hate mob motivated by SJW ideals — was last seen in the Disma debacle where SJWs pushed Disma to apologize for possible pro-Nazi statements by one member. The point of the apology is that it humiliates the person, and shows everyone else a broken and contrite citizen who acknowledges that he has been disciplined, which instills fear in the rest of us of the same happening to us. That is the point of all this SJW scene policing: to create fear and through that, compliance and control. SJWs have made their demands clear: support our ideology or we will destroy your career. This is the power of having an internet lynch mob to deploy against non-conformists.
As political instability in the US and Europe accelerates, we are likely to see more of these clashes as SJWs attempt to unify their ranks. This reveals SJWs are involved in metal only incidentally because their actual purpose is to be involved in politics, and they want to use heavy metal as a propaganda weapon in that fight. This is why their increasingly shrill, intolerant and dogmatic voices are infesting metal, punk and rock as happened when record label Run For Cover Records cut ties with band Whirr over “transphobic” — meaning not fully approving of transsexualism — messages on Twitter:
Last night, the Bay Area band Whirr posted a series of negative tweets about G.L.O.S.S., a punk band whose lead singer is a transgender woman. (The tweets have since been deleted, but an archive can be found at Stereogum.) Among other things, they tweeted, “g.l.o.s.s. Is just a bunch of boys running around in panties making shitty music,” and compared G.L.O.S.S. to the Buffalo Bill character from The Silence of The Lambs.
While this is clearly vitriolic, it is not any more vitriolic than what is regularly posted on metal bulletin boards on the internet. But it does provide an opportunity for SJWs to create a “teachable moment” in which they destroy someone’s life to remind the rest of us to toe the line or we, too, will be on the chopping block. One label created a religion out of this division, and said, “We have zero interest in working w/ hateful people.” That they have in turn created a hateful echo chamber seems like too much thinking for them, but the result is that the metal/punk scenes are polarizing: there are those who are SJW, and there are those who SJWs consider their enemies for not being SJW.
This behavior is not specific to SJWs in metal. Everywhere they go, the commandment is the same: Destroy the unbelievers. If you deny their ideology in public, they will seek you out not to disagree with you, but to try to get you fired and otherwise socially ostracized. It is their one weapon, the threat that they will declare you something the media thinks is bad (“Nazi,” “racist,” “sexist,” “transphobic”) whether or not there is any truth to it, and you will be unable to participate in our liberal-leaning society as a result.
Amocualli – Aztec folk metal from Mexico
Arkan – Islamic folk/death metal from France
Kartykeia – Hindu/Vedic folk/death metal from Russia
Melechesh – Mesopotamian folk/black metal from Israel (ethnically Assyrian and Armenian) now based in the Netherlands
Myrath – Oriental folk/progressive metal from Tunisia
Rudra – Hindu/Vedic death metal
Skinflint – folk metal from Botswana
Tengger Cavalry – Mongolian folk metal from China
As usual, the SJW story does not add up because SJWs are ideological fanatics and not realistic members of society. Western Civilization continues crashing into the abyss and no one will do anything about that, so they focus on nice low-hanging fruit like convincing all of us to support the right of transsexuals to listen to black metal too, even though no one had ever attempted to deny them that ability. The best way to combat this is to end the perception that SJWs speak in any way about whether someone is “good” or not, and see them for what they are: lonely fanatics in their lonely apartments, raging at the world for not granting them more power.
On a small ship in the Sea of Sardinia, I watched my companion cautiously. I had just seen him kill two men, one with a silenced pistol hidden under his battered sweater, and the other with his bare hands. We had changed cars five times since I left the airport, walked through a dozen train stations and busy stores, always leaving through the back door with a whispered command: Hurry!.
Now our journey had taken its final stage, leaving the coast on a small boat and nipping through a series of coves, always watching land, water and air for any who might follow us. As I wondered this, a ripple on the horizon announced another small boat approaching. On it was a solitary figure, menace and fire in his cold eyes.
I gathered up my notebooks and prepared to meet the obscure and sinister personality behind Italian black metal cult band Infamous…
Is there any point to making black metal — or any music like it — in 2015?
Black Metal is a radical form of expression and, in my opinion, the most expressive form of musical art. It is an essential need to express myself!
It is my belief that this form of art can be conceived and understood only by “particular” souls. Surely, if you try to get rich or famous with this music genre, you have done everything wrong! Black metal is not for the masses and not for the bourgeois defeated by their lives. Black metal is a fire that burns inside of you! It is a weapon against weakness, a spiritual enlightenment, and the hammer that smashes this world of worms and disgusting merchants.
If you don’t feel this inside you, maybe you should change genre!
Your latest, Rovine e Disparazione, seems much closer to traditional black metal than previous works. What prompted this change?
I think that the reason of this “change” is linked to the departure of Alessandro. With his keyboards, he created a great amount of “mystic” atmosphere in the first releases, especially in Of Solitude and Silence. The guitar riffs and the other songs structures, instead, are born from the same inspiration and move in the same way of the previous works.
So far, there are three Infamous releases — Of Solitude and Silence, Abisso and Rovine e Disparazione — of which this reviewer is aware. Can you tell us what you intended to do with each one, and how it turned out? For example, did you hope to create a new style of black metal, refine your own style, or expand upon earlier ideas (of your own) or introduce new ideas?
Each song which makes part of the three different Infamous releases is born thanks to a precise inspiration aiming at translating my emotional state in music.
I have no ambition to start a new subgenre of the black metal style. What I really like is the most traditional way in this kind of music and I’m going to follow this traditional path, but with my personal sense of melody and “aesthetic.”
Many times, some reviewers have compared my project with other bands of this world. What is interesting is the fact that, at the end, they have recognized that Infamous sounds personal!
I mean, what is important is not to create a new style but a good and emotional song in a traditional way. In short, the creation of a perfect synthesis of traditional and personal music, which is not necessarily innovative!
This is sort of a silly question, but people will wonder, so I ask. There seem to be two versions of Of Solitude and Silence: a CD-R with an excellent cover, and a pro-CD with a more “regular” black metal cover that looks like a quicker job. How did these two editions come about? Is this album still in print? If not, will it be re-editioned?
The first edition was published by a small underground Italian label (Novecento Produzioni) and limited to 200 copies. No one wants to print a Pro-CD in Europe in this small quantity. However, this first edition is definitely sold out. The second edition was published by the excellent German label Obscure Abhorrence in Pro-CD, limited to 500 copies. It is true that the artwork looks different from the first one, but the reason is that they were created by two different persons… I prefer the first artwork but also the second is not bad!
The second edition is still available from the Internet site of the label or directly from me!
What I really like is the most traditional way in this kind of music and I’m going to follow this traditional path, but with my personal sense of melody and “aesthetic.”
In addition, recently, the Italian label Bylec-Tum has published, on limited tape format, the third version of this album with a series of exclusives bonus tracks.
Can you tell us where Infamous was founded, by whom, and who is in the band? Do you perform live or is this a studio band only? Do you choose anonymity for any reason other than longstanding black metal tradition (musicians calling themselves Quorthon, Warrior and Angelripper)?
Infamous was born in the Sardinian hills in the torrid summer of 2009, with the recording of the first demo “Torrid Summer Misanthropy.” Infamous is a one man band, obviously it is impossible to play live…
I choose semi-anonymity; S.A. is the acronym of my name and surname.
I thought that it would have been more serious to avoid the grotesque nicknames typical of the Satanic B.M. scene.
What are the influences on your style, both metal and non-metal, and both musical and non-musical? Are there influences from any punk genres in your work? Since the question will inevitably be asked anyway, is there an influence from Ildjarn on your work?
I’m surely influenced by “modern” Finnish Black metal. For me, this is the most important scene and I’m heavily influenced by the sense of sinister melody which is typical of their style.
But this is not my unique influence. When I was more young I listened to tons of Oi!, R.A.C., and other metal sub-genres. I think that Oi! and R.A.C., in particular, have forged my compositional style and my sense of “melody.”
Now, I turn my attention to your question, concerning Ildjarn. I was really shaped by his previous works, especially by his first demos and the first full-length. I listened to his art hundreds of times… Together with other Norwegian 90s bands, Ildjarn is one of my preferred bands!
In line with the non-musical influences, I think I am influenced by all my open-air activities like mountains or woods trekking, fishing and sports in general. I consider myself as hunter of natural landscapes. Obviously, this aspect has a huge impact on my music!
Do you listen to Ottorino Respighi, an Italian composer from the last century? The style of Of Solitude and Silence reminds me of his most popular work, “The Pines of Rome.”
Um… no! This is the first time I have heard the name of this composer.
Maybe, at the time of Of Solitude and Silence Alessandro took his inspiration from this composer, but I don’t know…
Why did you switch to title(s) in Italian? Abisso and Rovine e Disparazione are in Italian in contrast to Of Solitude and Silence which is in English. Do you write lyrics in Italian as well?
Of Solitude and Silence, outside of the title, has songs half in Italian (“Rex Verminorum” is in Sardinian language, a local variant of the ancient Latin) and half in English.
Abisso has only the title in Italian language. Each song, in fact, is written (from the session musician WLKN, not by me) in English.
Starting with Rovine e Disperazione, I have begun to use only Italian language because it is more easy and spontaneous for me; while, English language is more “melodic” and easy to insert in the music but, obviously, is not my language.
What influences your sense of melody? It seems unique, like a mixture of black metal, folk, Oi and sentimental 1980s Goth-pop, but also with its own inspiration that’s nowhere on the map.
As I have mentioned above, I’m influenced by Oi!-R.A.C. and Black Metal, but not by “1980s Goth-pop.” I think the Northern European Oi! scene of the 90s is my second main influence, obviously after Black Metal. Maybe, a little bit by Neo-folk but in my music, at the same time, there are not large spaces where I could insert neo-folk. It is possible that in the future this component will be increased.
What do you attempt to capture, express or communicate through your music? Or… is this even the goal of music? Is music communication or decoration? What is the goal of your art?
When I started, I was interested to vomit my hate and my need of destruction for this rotten world.
Infamous was born to give voice to this emotional war, misanthropic destructive hatred and the contemplation of nature, especially its beauty-purity.
Now, everything is evolved into an anti-modern propaganda and into a search of values for resist to this decaying world!
Do you think there is a sound in black metal that is specific to Southern Europe? And to the countries individually such as Greece, Italy and Spain?
In my opinion, each population has its land and each land has its traditions, sensibility and so on… According to this view, it is perfectly normal that every nation or geographic area has a common way of expression. Generally, everyone can distinguish a Norwegian disc from a French release, and a Swedish album from a Greek one!
I consider myself as hunter of natural landscapes. Obviously, this aspect has a huge impact on my music!
I think that Italy has developed its own personal style which is not very similar to the other Southern European scenes. However, it is undeniable to admit cultural and stylistic convergences with the rest of Southern Europe.
Personally, I love old and contemporary Greek Black Metal!
Do you have a long-term plan of what you want to achieve from album to album and as a body of work?
Ahaha, absolutely not! Inspiration to create music comes suddenly and, for me, it is impossible to have a long-term plan!
Rovine e Disperazione consists of five tracks named after either “Rovine” (ruins) or “Disperazione” (despair). Why did you decide to do a sequence like this? Are these numbered tracks part of the same song, or impressions of the same thing?
Rovine e Disperazione is comprised of different songs about a single concept!
The concept of this album concerns the disgust for the modern world, its spiritual decadence and the ideology of materialism (“Disperazione” I, II). It is the rebellion that has the aim of embracing a superior and heroic way of life, based not in the cult of the decadence, but in the traditional (pre-Christian era) values of Honor, Strength and Spiritual rectitude (“Rovine” I, II, III)!
This is my manifesto for the maximal resistance against the modern decaying world!
In the booklet, there are two important phrases (written in Italian) to understand this concept:
“Lascia agli altri le vie dell’infamia” = Let the others go through the ways of infamy
“Vi siete inchinati abbastanza davanti ai mercanti, ora ergetevi! Sfidate i ratti e i vermi che stanno ai vostri piedi!” = You have bowed enough to the merchants, now it’s time to stand up! You have to defy rats and worms that are at your feet!
Do these have any influence in your musical world? Ancient, Varathron, Burzum, Sentenced, Sacramentum, Landser, Summoning, Kvist, Eucharist.
Each band that you have mentioned has had an influence on my music. However, the most important influence comes from Finnish bands like Sargeist, Horna, Satanic Warmaster, Hammer, Nekrokrist SS or non-Finnish bands like Drowning the Light, Mutiilation, Xasthur and many others…
How do you compose a song? Do you start with a melody and develop structure/arrangement from that, or do you start with riffs and add melodies to them? Or is there an idea, lyrical or visual, before you start even making the music?
First of all, I compose music, starting from a simple riff and then slowly, or sometimes very fast, the rest emerges spontaneously. When a musical composition is definitely ended, I start writing texts; generally, each text follows a concept!
This is the path that allows me to recognize immediately if a riff has the emotional power to be part of a song…
For people new to your music, how should they get to know Infamous and how should they stay on top of band news, contact, and music?
You’ve just recorded a new album, Tempesta. What is the theme of this album? How does it differ from the past? Where did you record it, how long did it take, and did you have other musicians involved?
About the concept for Tempesta, in the booklet you can read this:
Tempesta (Storm) is a radical hate declaration against all the subhumans defeated from the disvalues of this decaying modern society. I hope, therefore, a “Storm” that will destroy everything that continues to infect our blood and our minds.
The main enemies in this concept are the economicist view, the bourgeois way of life and modern human weakness in general!
Tempesta follows a natural and spontaneous “evolution” of the classic Infamous style!
On this album you can hear a more powerful sound, an atmosphere of struggle and victory that extols to the revolt! The recordings lasted half a year at various sessions, and I used the voice of Filippo Magri in “Tempesta II”, who is a friend and someone I respect!
Your previous album, Rovine e Disperazione, seemed to take a more Ildjarn-influenced direction as opposed to earlier works, which had longer melodies and remind me of Varathron Walpurgisnacht if it were expressed with a stronger, more naturalistic mentality. Does Tempesta continue this pattern?
In this album I think that the Ildjarn influences are implemented, especially in “Tempesta II” where percussion is heavily influenced by the Norwegian artist. Also for the harsh sound and radical extremism of disgust against the modern man, Ildjarn represents a landmark!
From the progression from early works through Tempesta the general atmosphere of mysticism, which refers to the idea of a primordial nature in its purest form, is partially changed. I have radicalized certain sounds and the general attitude and probably now everything sounds more agressive. This is a natural and spontaneous evolution.
As I understand it, this release is limited to 100 CD-Rs. Why did you choose to go this route, as opposed to a larger label? Will you ever seek a label to do bigger re-issues of your discography?
Yes, only 100 copies!
This is a radical anti-commercial choice!
I’m not interested in big productions!
This is the path that allows me to recognize immediately if a riff has the emotional power to be part of a song.
I consider that nowadays those who want to listen a CD, generally, can download it from internet…
Then I took a radical decision and I chose to produce everything by me; every step is taken personally and the choice of the number of copies to be printed is now proportionate to the copies that I can sell. Simply, if I had printed 1000 copies, 900 would remain collecting dust in my basement.
Few are willing to buy original CDs, especially for bands not yet known. This happens a bit “everywhere” but in Italy the situation is even worse.
Why do you think black metal is in such a slump these days? Vattnet Viskar and Myrkur get a ton of publicity, and good underground bands get ignored; is this related?
Everything is for sale in this world and if you try to be famous you have to spend some money! This is the only key to a successful career! You have to consider your band as a company and your music-art as a business. I’m about to throw up as I write this… But this is the truth!
Obviously I am not interested to take a part in this circus, I never dreamed the fame and do not want to look like a rock star. All this is so pathetic! I would destroy all this! I use my music to sing my hate against those that spoil the Black Metal and trying to making it a cute, harmless and fashionable music genre.
Melodic primal black metal band Infamous, along with cohorts Solitudo and Warnungstraum, will release a three-way split on Eremita Productions in December 2015. The bands — each in a variant of the traditional black metal style — have contributed a total of 50 minutes of material.
Limited to 200 hand-numbered copies, the 6-panel digipak will feature the nature-oriented and feral artwork which customarily adorns Infamous releases. For those who have enjoyed this band’s evolution into more Ildjarn-styled territory, with the warmer melodies familiar to Southern European black metal, should anticipate this release with joy.
I guess Peaceville really doesn’t know when to quit with the compilations and reissues (or that at least they’re a viable way to make more money off known famous works), since they’re also rereleasing Mayhem’s Live in Leipzig. This is specifically the 25th anniversary of the concert documented, as opposed to when it was first ‘officially’ pressed and sold to a mass audience some years afterwards. The CD version of this rerelease also contains a contemporary recording of the band in Zeitz, Germany. See Peaceville’s site for more details.
Whether Live in Leipzig is at all worth your time depends, perhaps, on how you value the various ‘eras’ of Mayhem. It is likely the easiest way to experience the band’s ‘classic’ lineup, featuring both tracks that would eventually make it onto De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas as well as somewhat revamped older tracks from the band’s early, proto-death metal days. As a listener, I find the most value in the polished studio work of Mayhem’s formal debut (because I value Atilla Csihar’s contributions), but the looser intrepretations here are worth at least a few spins.
Since the early 1970s, the music industry and the social scene behind it — comprised of those who use external appearance to signal social success — has been trying to find some way to counter the authenticity of metal. While rock and blues stars appeared to be rebels, the truth emerged over time that most were very conventional in their outlook except for hedonism.
Heavy metal on the other hand rejected the founding myths of our society since the intellectual shift so-called “The Enlightenment,” in which people decided that social pressure to enable the individual to be “equal” whether right or wrong, good or bad, was more important than social standards. Heavy metal pointed out that our perceived enemies are scapegoats, and the real problem is that the enemy is us, and that people are delusional and happy hippie flower power is another variety of the bourgeois deliberate ignorance of reality that promotes social decay.
In recent years, the same people who were hippies back in the 1960s — the conformity of appearance non-conformist and then going to work at a bank and retiring as a fat Baby Boomer — have returned as “social justice workers,” or SJWs. These people, together with an industry that realizes it can sell more re-branded indie rock than it can discover compelling metal bands, have created a new style that culturally appropriates the appearance of black metal while injecting it with the same messages of self-indulgence, self-pity, victimhood and pacifism that the hippies bleated about back in the day.
Enter “blackgaze”, the buzz term for a new school of bands taking black metal out of the shadows and melding its blast beats, dungeon wailing and razorwire guitars with the more reflective melodies of post-rock, shoegaze and post-hardcore. It’s a geographically loose scene and its bands have been embraced by the indie media, which means you’re now as likely to hear black metal at ATP as in the Carpathian mountains.
Alert readers may note the “post-rock, shoegaze and post-hardcore” attribution, which Death Metal Underground has long identified as being the origins of this material. In other words, it is not black metal, but indie rock playing “dress up” as black metal. The quest of the industry for a safe rebellion goes on.
Folk metal band Primordial vocalist Alan Averill inveighed against social justice worker (SJW) academics who recently witch-hunted “racism” and “sexism” in folk metal, claiming they are johnny-come-latelies using the authenticity of the metal name to draw attention to their careers. Writes Averill:
I don’t know whether to be bothered sharing this shit…..I think what these fuckwits fail to understand, or rather as usual intellectual ghost hunting is the place that ‘folk metal’ takes within the overall timeline and context of metal. The imagery and themes of folk metal are distilled from metals’ pre-occupation with fantasy not necessarily from a historical or factually based context, nor does it have to be. The language of for example Viking mythology has been perfect for metal since Zeppelin wrote ‘The immigrant song’.
Folk metal essentially took the place culturally in metal from where power metal left on in the late 90s and early 00s. Often it has more to do with role playing, gaming and fantasy….just with furry boots.
Claiming that is is somehow racist because it borrows from pre christian European history is just pointless and reductionist, bands do not have to apologise or justify singing about their culture and as I said most of it is through the prism of fantasy and myth because the imagery is simply perfect for heavy metal.
Sexist? again rubbish, I can think of quite a few ‘folk’ metal bands who have written tomes and hymns to the goddesses of the ancient world, both Cruachan and Waylander from Ireland spring to mind. You can find the same reverence for the feminine in nature in not only my own band Primordial (who are not folk metal but have connections to that scene) but also in bands like Enslaved, Wardruna, Our survival depends on us, Dordureh, Fen, Eluveitie, Negura Bunget among so many others (yet this is conveniently ignored) . Not to mention the band quoted as starting the whole genre Skyclad, even a cursory glance at their lyrics and imagery will suggest the opposite of this study. Again just a cherry picked argument from someone hunting ghosts.
Not to mention the fact that if you have ever attended a pagan metal show in Europe or the USA (and I’ve been at loads) you will find a very very healthy % of the crowd are women and often on the stage, the general feel of pageantry and joviality in this scene is least of all full of the macho behaviour these authors are looking for. It’s a young excitable scene which likes to play dress up, dance around and drink a beer or two…
You want ghosts? go ghost hunting somewhere else
I once lectured about Black Metal here in Ireland…to a room full of people full of agendas and opinions and angles for their own conspiracies and prejudices. My opening line
‘You can’t intellectualise a punch in the face’
…..you weren’t there and I am going to tell you how it was so shut up and listen.