.Editorial - Black Metal ist no longer Krieg
Metal Reviews

Release year: 2009
Reviewed by Goat

"Once upon a time, as Black Metal ruled, the blood was strong, the hearts were strong, the future seemed to be ours.
But nothing more remained, because Black Metal died - gone the days of pure underground, of spirit, pain and fire."

(Nargaroth - Possessed By Black Fucking Metal)

Say what you like about Nargaroth's Kanwulf (or Ash, as he now prefers to be known) and the various controversies that have arisen around him - heck, criticise even his mangled grasp of the English language - but it's hard to deny that he has a point. The vinyl version of the demo which that song came from was limited to a hundred copies, each containing a section of tape - if all hundred owners got together and somehow managed to reassemble the various pieces in the correct order, the right way around, they could hear an exclusive song. That, my friends, is Black Metal in a nutshell. The mere idea that a hundred people from around the world care enough to go to all that effort merely to hear a single song which is, most likely, not worth the effort - that sums up the genre, the passion, the devotion, the mystery, the sheer misanthropy for the human condition that people have nothing better to do with their lives - all part and parcel of the pure Black Metal experience.

Nowadays, that pure experience exists only in the deepest, darkest underground, threatened to near-extinction by the all-conquering sense of self-righteousness which internet-fuelled popularity and the political left and right have brought to Black Metal. What I am suggesting here is that modern Black Metal has gone from being the noblest, most heartfelt and interesting music that there is into a commercialised pastiche of itself. It was once at the forefront of the underground in even experimental terms, a thing so powerful and genuine that people committed serious crimes over it; now, even the headline figures have sold their souls to exterior forces. The news this week that Keep Of Kalessin are going to make an entry in the Eurovision song contest is one post-millennial abomination which even the band's fans are finding hard to defend. Let's be fair, you can hardly call Kolossus "Black Metal" anyways, but the mere fact that they feel their sound will appeal to the sort of irony-hunting crowd who watch Eurovision speaks volumes. If, as is generally accepted, changing your band's sound for financial gain is the definition of 'selling out', then how much more so is going on Eurovision? It's beyond the pale! Whatever next, Nachtmystium on the X-Factor?

No doubt, to bring my next example before the court, everyone reading is aware that Burzum ubermensch Varg Vikernes has been set free from prison and is preparing to release a new album. How many are aware, however, that after some comments from the internet and the Norwegian media, Varg 'Churchburner' Vikernes has changed its title? Whatever you thought of him in the past, his identification with Nazism, his attempts to escape from prison, even his whiny and self-contradictory blog, few would deny that the Count has turned even more pathetic than usual lately. His press release where he detailed the forthcoming White God album was full of contempt for modern Black Metallers, accusing them of acting like 'stereotypical negros' and 'homosexuals'; of course, people reacted as you'd expect, only for Varg to make another whiny post. Interestingly, whilst he defended his homophobia there (apparently to accuse someone of being homophobic is in fact being homophobic yourself) he apologised for the racism and ended the entry with a smiley face! He's now so affected by the attention that he's changed the name of the album. Yes, Varg cares what we think, my fellow liberal internet users! The man who murdered Euronymous and smiled as his guilty verdict was read has caved to the forces of political correctness! How the idols fall. Not that any of us have any respect for the chin-scarred moron outside of his musical output, but it's a sad failing on his part to go from being a figure of such notoriety to, well, what? Ann Coulter has more integrity than that, you'd never find her changing her 'art' merely because a few liberals didn't like it! It remains to be seen whether the newly-titled Belus is actually any good, of course, but judging from Varg's loss of credibility things aren't looking up. Not that he's alone in attempts to avoid the wrath of the mainstream and become acceptable in polite company; when even the British National Party is attempting to deny their fascism, it's no wonder that others are following suit.

"The band's lyrics are influenced by Indo-European mythology and legends, H.P. Lovecraft mythology and philosophy of F. Nietzsche, conservatism. HATE FOREST were always far from politics, religion, denied any modern world values and ideals."

So reads the press release from the recent announcement that Osmose Productions would be re-releasing all six full-length albums from defunct Ukrainian Black Metallers Hate Forest, and it’s hard not to raise a quizzical eyebrow at the choice of wording. Although the band lyrics are influenced by conservatism, they’re far from politics and modern world values? Come off it, small ‘c’ conservatism was a modern political viewpoint the last time I checked, unless they do things differently in the Ukraine, but of course we all know that the band weren’t considering that at all when the press release was written. Instead, they took the outrageous (for them) step of making contact with the Metal "press" to not just help spread the news of these reissues, but also to subtly deny the one main charge levelled at them and many other Ukrainian bands over the course of their careers – that of Nazi sympathy, of National Socialist beliefs, something hard to deny from a look at the band’s discography: a song named Aryosophia on the 2001 EP Blood & Fire alone pretty damning. A quick bit of research will find similar statements released by other bands connected to Hate ForestDrudkh and Blood Of Kingu. I thought the extreme right were proud of their views, but when put between a rock and a hard place, or in this instance between nationalist pride in your superior white bloodline and the commercial concerns of a record label, money will win out every time.

This lust for lucre isn't restricted to Roman Saenko and his various musical outpourings, of course. The Nationalist Pagan/Folk band Kroda were recently assaulted by members of Antifa before a gig in Warsaw, and their subsequent statement was a masterpiece of ridiculousness, claiming that their group is "out of modern politics" before stating towards the end:

“If that brainless goblins consider scientific terms "Aryan" and "Race" associated with "fascism", if traditional European Runes and Sunwheels are "nazism" – so let them not even try to discuss the themes of Black and Pagan Metal at all.”

Oh, really? Bad enough that you consider “Aryan” and “race” to be ‘scientific’ terms, but denial of their association with fascism is even worse! The sad truth is that Kroda have a point, a very good one that gets ignored too often. The humanitarian aims of left-wing politics have no more place in Black Metal than the selectively-intolerant right-wingers' views - there is nothing in Black Metal which supports egalitarian values, and there is nothing which supports the superiority of one race above others. Both seek to create new worlds - the Truest, purest Black Metal is Satanist and nihilistic, promising nothing but annihilation for all, the destruction of all worlds without any hope whatsoever. By becoming popular the genre has lost this purity of hatred and opened itself up to those that want to reshape it in their own form - "Black Metal with an agenda" has become the ruling force, to the detriment of all.

What is this agenda? Well, leaving aside NSBM for the moment and looking across the political divide, the left-wing's attempts to force their own values on the genre have resulted in the toothless likes of Wolves In The Throne Room and Panopticon whose philosophy is environmentalism and tolerance rather than hatred and misanthropy, the Red/Anarchist Black Metal that my colleague Charles has recently been highlighting which forsook the icy bite of true Black Metal in favour of leftist preaching. It's all well and good, but it's as much a perversion as Christian Black Metal or National Socialist Black Metal and should be recognised as such, away from what Black Metal represents in and of itself. I have no reservations in revealing my own left-wing political beliefs, but I don't see why they have to be brought into every aspect of my life, and I certainly don't reshape the art I encounter to better reflect my personal views. We must not forget that Black Metal is an art form, and yes, enchaining it with political views that distort its original philosophy may give birth to new expressions in the short term as Metal journalists keen for the next fad promote the likes of Red/Anarchist Black Metal. In the long term, however, the radical and confrontational musical nature of the genre will be damaged - if not destroyed - as it is made acceptable for all listeners, whether left-wing, right-wing, or even the mindless hordes sat in front of the Eurovision song contest watching Latvian dance groups.

So, how to combat these outside forces poisoning the well? Let's be honest, this is shutting the stable door and watching the horses fleeing over the hills, but for once, let's admit that political correctness has no place in Black Metal. We all soon got over the shock of discovering that Amon Amarth advocated the rape and pillage of Christians, so why the fact that a band exists named Aryan Terrorism should be a worry is beyond me. Let's admit that there's scarcely a band connected to Black Metal that doesn't have some measure of - call it dodginess. Emperor's Samoth burnt churches and Faust murdered a homosexual, Dissection's Jon Nödtveidt was an accessory to the murder of a (separate) homosexual, even Thorns' Snorre Ruch was involved in Varg's murder of Euronymous. These bands are all quite acceptable in many circles, much more so even than, say, Nokturnal Mortum would be - the beliefs apparently matter more than the deeds to the trendy crowd. They revel in the edginess of the random violence of Black Metal, much as they would with Gangsta Rap, yet actual political statements horrify them, intruding on their safe worldview and sanitised ideal of what music should and shouldn't say.

Let's lay it down as law, if in the confines of this editorial only: Black Metal ist krieg, waging war on all, and Black Metal that isn't krieg, that doesn't wage war on man, god, musical boundaries and every living creature whatever colour or creed isn't proper Black Metal - there's more spiritual closeness between Transilvanian Hunger and La Masquerade Infernale, between De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas and 666 International than there is with something like Panopticon's Collapse or Eldrig's Mysterion. They may all be great albums, but the spiritual difference is greater than that of the music itself - Arcturus and Dødheimsgard are no more trying to convert you to Anarchism or Ariosophy than Darkthrone and Mayhem are.

Black Metal itself, this cold music that preaches nihilism and despair, despises everything and promises nothing except the annihilation of all life, is close to death, and unless there's a revival in its fortunes soon then "Black Metal" and everything that phrase signifies will truly become what the political subversives and the commercialist sellouts want it to be: a commodity, a tool to be twisted into whatever form suits its makers, just another genre of music instead of the near-spiritual experience it once was. Let other genres become the moral battlegrounds for those who mistake politics with music, and allow the creative spirit of Black Metal to flourish, unencumbered by right or left. Art deserves to be created for art's sake, and I fear that if this essential purity at the heart of Black Metal is lost, we all will suffer for it.

Killing Songs :
Goat quoted
Other albums by .Editorial that we have reviewed:
.Editorial - The Curious Case Of Udo reviewed by Ben and quoted
.Editorial - Music Album DLC reviewed by Ben and quoted
.Editorial - Know Your Role: The Music Producer reviewed by Ben and quoted
.Editorial - Music Video Monies reviewed by Ben and quoted
.Editorial - Drums Of Doom reviewed by Ben and quoted
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