ANG 160 Fall 2005
Metal is an expression of an intense feeling of emotional pain that you can
endure with self inflicted pain. It is no doubt a religious experience but not
in the theological sense. It is about depravity, the good and bad aspects of it.
And it is always primarily about that certain, very hard to explain, deep
people feel very “at home” with happy things, bright colours and levity, but
Black Metallers, at the opposite, adhere better to melancholy and
darkness. The maelstrom of all these things related to that –that feeling
almost indefinable– has resulted in extreme expressions in nearly every
possible way. And Black Metal, in a sense, is a way to hold on to life. Probably
most of the individual band members in Black Metal bands would have committed
suicide and/or murder and/or mass murder if not for the music.
first band in Black Metal is Mayhem, formed in 1984. They had their
groundbreaking album in 1991 when Black Metal as an underground cult really took
off. The name “Black Metal” originally came from a song from the metal band Venom,
in the 1980’s. Venom claims to be Black Metal, but many think otherwise.
Metal is ravenously aggressive music. But it also makes aggression disappear.
When the hunger for violence is felt, it calms you to see someone else do what
you would like to do; being extreme. For the musicians, it gives them the
activity of putting all their negative energy into something which followers
will love and agree with.
is a movement which demands one’s pinnacle. Here, the whole package is
important; not only the music, the lifestyle MUST be analog. The music is not a
hobby where being extreme is “only for the show”. It has to be an expression
of a part of the personality. When the musicians cut themselves and bleed
onstage, it must not be done because of the image. It has to be something that
would be done anyways.
pioneer for the genre is Darkthrone. They were the first band to coin the
words “Black Metal” to name the scene. Since the early days of Black Metal,
the genre has changed and has become more melodic for a lot of bands. A
Darkthrone member said in an interview; “We are like Neil Young and the scene
in modern Black Metal is Garth Brooks.” Venom was a punk-rock band with a
satanic image. The occult aura was absent. In the early times of Black Metal,
bands were so few that the existing ones would act like the musical police. When
new bands emerged, they would be judged, and if they were unsatisfactory to the
standard then they would not be allowed to grow. Because part of the idea is to
be thought provoking, and to achieve this you must give out the absolute best of
yourself. Nothing less than excellence is tolerated. This is also part of the
Black Metal mindset; elitism. This came as total surprise to the Norwegians that
the feeling is not exclusive to Norway. Another pioneer Norwegian band named Satyricon
has its own views of the genre. Sharing the idea of searching for the perfect
being, the band aims at being a good band, rather than a good Black Metal band.
To them (and to many followers of the scene) BM is a supremacy over other
1991, Mayhem singer Dead commits
suicide. Guitar player Euronymous, in 1993, is assassinated by Varg Vikernes
from the genius musical solo project Burzum.
After, newspapers printed photos of some of the church burnings in Norway by
some Black Metal enthusiasts. The murder caused a rift between many bands siding
either with Burzum or with Mayhem. But this is only a small part of the story.
what does Black Metal sound like? It is simpler to present what BM is not. The
use of synthesizers as a musical instrument is taboo in the genre as well as
having songs with melodies that people can hum, dance to or make out to. Black
Metal is a raw sound with shrieking, grainy, rageful demonic voice. BM can be a
deeply felt soundtrack to depression, or the electrical fury of total
abandonment into war-like extreme misanthropy. In any sense, it has to remain
true and extreme. As Silenoz, band
member of 8 Dimmu Borgir
–the most selling (out) Norwegian Black Metal band–, says; “You are born
with a brain. Use it instead of letting others use it for you.”
info on Black Metal, look up the bands mentioned or go to http://www.anus.com/metal/about/blackmetal.html
official website. http://www.moonfrost.net/mayhem/
official website. http://www.emperorhorde.com/
(Google “Satyricon”, “Euronymous”, “Darkthrone”)
–Peter Beste. Go see his photos of Norwegian bands: http://www.peterbeste.com/
–And the only book published slightly related to the subject: http://feralhouse.com/titles/music/lords_of_chaos.php