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Tag: Black Metal

The PC Metal Inquisition Continues

The metal media appears to have taken up a new crusade recently—the rooting out of thought crime in the music scene and interrogating all potential dissidents.

The metal media appears to have taken up a new crusade recently—the rooting out of thought crime in the music scene and interrogating all potential dissidents.

Earlier this year, the black metal band Inquisition faced a media storm worthy of their name and had to endure media harassment for alleged Nazi ties. Most of the story originated from a rabid leftist blogger who wants the metal scene to work harder to include transsexuals and a “reformed” skinhead who alleged the band made pro-Nazi statements in his presence.

This is all it takes for a witch hunt to now be ordered against a metal band.

Now the press has found a bigger target for the self-righteous indigination–the Guitar Hero favorite and purveyors of cheese Dragonforce.

In an interviewwith the Vice music affiliate Noisey, Dragonforce founder Sam Totman undergoes an interview that’s more akin to a kindergarten teacher harranguing one of her students for sticking bubblegum under his desk.

Totman is repeatedly askedt to “explain” why an old band of his had “racist” and “homophobic” content:

NOISEY: So, I wanted to talk to you about something that happened way before the new album. I was digging around a little bit and found Demoniac, the band you were in before Dragonforce. I really want to know what the fuck you guys were doing.
Sam Totman: Hah! We started that, me and my friend, back in New Zealand in the 1990s. It was when I was 18 or something. We were having a laugh basically. We just sort of thought “Oh, let’s play some black metal” because we didn’t know any good singers so we couldn’t do any other kind of music except for black metal, death metal. It was just kind of a big joke really. Our first record was all serious, Satan this, Satan that, and we did quite well with that. The second one kind of turned into NOFX crossed with black metal, and then the third one got into power metal so it was like power metal crossed with black metal, and no one really got it basically.

In fairness I don’t know if NOFX ever sang about “killing faggots” and raping children and killing black dudes. That was what I saw when I looked up the band.
We had some strange characters in that band and everyone kind of wrote their own songs, so any dodgy ones weren’t anything to do with me…

I can’t get over the lyrics honestly. Has nobody ever pulled you up about that before?
Nah.

Really?
Not really, no. Nobody really cared about that band anyway.

I mean, it took like five minutes on Metal Archives to find all that. You guys have really young fans, and you’ve got songs about raping “old fags” and killing “queer cunts” and that’s…not so good.
We had a bit of a twisted sense of humor. We were just having a laugh.

Things are a little different now than they were in ‘99. I don’t think it’s really that funny. What if a 12 year old kid goes on there and thinks “Oh, so Dragonforce thinks it’s cool to beat up gay kids”?
To put it simply, it was us having a laugh and all the dodgy stuff like that was mostly our old drummer. It was just a laugh and it was a long time ago so it’s not really a big deal.

And the interview continues on like that for its entirety. Totman says it was just them joking around, interviewer keeps demanding an apology. Nothing is resolved.

One noticeable shift from the treatment of Inquisition is how Dragonforce were treated easy in comparison. Another major metal outlet even published a defense of the band and dubbed the lyrics of their past band youthful stupidity. Both the previous band, Demoniac, and Dragonforce both have the same Asian guitarist and this might sufficiently satisfy claims that they aren’t racist.

For a genre that likes to glorify itself as outside the norms of conventional society, those norms seem to be sweeping through the scene and ensuring that everyone keeps to their dictates. While the lyrical content of Demoniac was certainly not tasteful, the majority of metal lyrics aren’t high prose either. The point is now how the media demands penitence for any past transgressions and assurances that it will never happen again.

Just like the proverbial kindergarten teacher with her bubblegum terrorist of a student.

Like the rest of society, expect more victims for the PC metal inquisition in the next few years.

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‘Black’ Metal

What makes them so special that they have been embraced by the larger public that holds contempt for metal? Meet the band members–who are all Black pre-teens living in trendy areas of New York City.

There’s a decent chance you’ve heard of the latest metal sensation Unlocking the Truth. After one viral YouTube hit, they have landed a seven-figure record deal, played at major music festivals, and are now even getting their own documentary.

What makes them so special that they have been embraced by the larger public that holds contempt for metal? Meet the band members–who are all Black pre-teens living in trendy areas of New York City.

You could say they’re their own version of “black” metal.

It is shocking to see one group of kids go from being an oddity on the streets of New York to Coachella in literally a matter of a month. It’s is obvious that they owe their success due to the tastes of White liberals.

While the three youngsters are certainly skilled for their age, their music is basically a more generic take of Mastodon and isn’t anything special. However, most will admit that it’s not the originality of their music that got them signed, but the mere fact that it’s played by “adorable” black pre-teens.

I’m positive that there are a dozen such bands composed of White pre-teens who are equally as skilled and equally adorable. But they aren’t black and they can’t be used to make a point. The idea that blacks are musically superior to Whites and invented all music is constantly forwarded in contemporary society. Unlocking the Truth (what a name!) brings this full circle by performing implicitly White music that mainstream society doesn’t like. This band makes metal appealing to SWPLs, who would otherwise be listening to eunuch rock and Hip Hop. SWPLs are fine with aggressive Black music, just not aggressive White music.

Thus, we have ugly Brooklyn hipsters cheering on the boys as they play on a city street and SWPLs forming an ironic circle pit as the band plays at Coachella. They don’t want Bolt Thrower or Watain playing before them because they’re too serious, too White, and too threatening. They want Unlocking the Truth because they’re ironic, Black, and “cute.”

Let’s hope they’re not the beginning of a horrific trend and this is just a flash in the pan.

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The Persecution of Varg Vikernes

Black metal musician and European traditionalist Varg Vikernes is under attack again by the French government after they couldn’t tie him to terrorism charges last year.

Black metal musician and European traditionalist Varg Vikernes is under attack again by the French government after they couldn’t tie him to terrorism charges last year.

Instead of charging him with an actual crime, they’ve pulled out the hate speech card and are accusing him of inciting animosity towards minority groups.

In a sane society, these charges would be deemed ridiculous and laughed out of court. Unfortunately, we live in an insane world and Varg now has to fight prison time for merely stating his views. In another sign that the government is simply persecuting him for voicing dangerous opinions, his original court date in October had to be postponed after Vikernes’ lawyer only received the 1,000 page indictment right before the proceedings were set to begin.

If convicted, the man behind Burzum faces up to five years in jail and 45,000 euros in fines. Luckily his supporters have raised funds for his defense and his lawsuit against the French authorities for harassment.

The charges stem from alleged posts reportedly made by Vikernes that were deemed too offensive to Muslims and Jews and merit jail time and forced poverty. He was first arrested for terrorism charges last July after French police raided his residence and found legally acquired firearms. The charges had to be dropped due to the flimsy nature of the accusations.

The tribulations of Vikernes reveal how far authorities in Europe (and to a lesser extent in North America) will go to persecute people with Identitarian views. They see Vikernes, nationalists, and other traditionalists as a threat to their system and that is why they relentlessly pursue individuals with views similar to ours.

But in some ways being seen as a threat is better than being ignored. Varg is an incredibly popular artist relative to his past and views. He is seen as a musical innovator and a pioneer of a genre that has made in-roads to the mainstream. He is able to convey his views to an audience that would otherwise remain unexposed to them through his music.

This is why he is considered a threat and his presence in France remains a sorepoint for the reigning government.

Regardless of the outcome of his trial, Vikernes remains unbowed in his ideology and will continue to voice his concerns.

Here’s to him beating the charges and continuing to make worthy music.

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The Inquisition of Inquisition

Bring out the pitchforks – they’ve found more (possible) Nazis in black metal!

 

Bring out the pitchforks – they’ve found more (possible) Nazis in black metal!

Inquisition, a rising star in the scene, has recently come under fire for potential NS associations and their choice of lyrical content.

The Seattle-based band has become one of the more popular acts in the genre. From earning top accolades in mainstream publications like Pitchfork, to opening for more established bands like Behemoth — Inquisition are starting to receive a significantly higher profile than many acts with a similar style.

This can explain why metal outlets are suddenly starting to attack Inquisition for their transgressions into unacceptable territory. The thought that a popular metal band might be Nazis is beyond frightening for these people and is something that desperately needs addressing.

Metal Injection, a popular metal website, reposted and commented on a far-left blogger’s piece who investigated the potential links between Inquisition and National Socialism.

The results: they have a song called “Crush the Jewish Prophet,” they reportedly hailed their tour bus driver for having Nazi tattoos (which convinced a Canadian Indian band to flee black metal altogether), and they’ve done business in the past with record labels renown for anti-Semitism and other dangerous ideas.

The conclusion: they’re probably Nazis and you should refuse to listen to their music.

I eventually decided to delete them from my music library and stop listening to them entirely. I do still find myself asking whether this was necessary. Fascist or white supremacist rhetoric is not central to their message or lyrics, which tend instead to focus on the conventional black metal concern of Satanism as expressed through astrological and cosmological imagery. Perhaps the band is canny enough to realise that openly expressing their views would limit their appeal or get them into trouble; perhaps they ascribe to the wider metal world’s liberal conviction that music is no place for politics. In any case, I usually hold to the idea that it’s OK to enjoy art and media with problematic elements, or which has been created by objectionable or even bigoted artists, as long as we acknowledge those problems and don’t shut down criticism of them. But for me, personally, a line has to be drawn somewhere. Art created by Nazis, fascists and/or white supremacists is on the side of the line I do not wish to set foot in.

And to this blogger, that position is more than an intellectual stance – it sends a message that “hateful” ideas will not be tolerated in black metal. Apparently the genre is in desperate need of creating a “safe space” for subalterns to feel welcome.

While the rhetoric of neo-Nazis and/or white supremacists within black metal is often mainly focused against Jewish people, it is naive to think that violence will be used solely against one group if this rhetoric is tolerated, especially when hatred of marginalised groups such as people of colour, LGBT people and disabled people is accepted even within mainstream society. Even a band like Inquisition that doesn’t openly espouse fascist rhetoric can still cause harm to members of persecuted groups. Gallant’s story shows how Weirbach and Stevens’ open expression of admiration for the Nazis led to the First Nations band Gyibaaw turning away from black metal, closing the door on an opportunity for that group to counter the genre’s overwhelmingly white demographic and tendency to champion or tolerate extreme right views. If we give our money to musicians with fascist leanings, we don’t just support them financially, we send a message to them that their extreme views will not cause them to be criticised, that their views are therefore acceptable. The same act also sends the message to minority groups that we care more about music than about making sure that fascist and white supremacist ideologies are not tolerated or allowed to spread. In a sense, we choose our own enjoyment over people’s safety, over their right to live free from fear of ideologies that call for their destruction.

I urge anyone who cares about making metal a space which is open to and safe for marginalised groups of people to, at the very least, abstain from paying for Inquisition’s albums or live shows. I wouldn’t want to force anyone to stop listening to the band’s music entirely as I have done; this is obviously a matter of personal choice. But please do consider whether it is worth it to add to the popularity of a band that holds these views- not just Inquisition, but any band in black metal or the wider genre who subscribes to fascist, white supremacist or Nazi standpoints. There’s enough excellent music out there being made by musicians who do not align themselves with dangerous, hate-fuelled ideologies.

What is incredibly ironic here is how black metal is a music style that bills itself as hateful, violent and outside of the mainstream of society… but can’t can’t tolerate ideas that are too extreme according to mainstream critics.

However, this policing in the genre isn’t an organic development, but a result of an influx of hipsters and other outsiders becoming more involved in the scene and wanting it to conform to their tastes.

They like the edginess of black metal – just not the fascist elements that make it too edgy for comfort. The author of the piece wants to replace the quasi-fascism with post-modernist leftism that only a few, limp-wristed pseudointellectuals would even understand and support. It basically would become a safe outlet for their own extremist fantasies.

But the vast majority of black metal listeners are attracted to its feral nature and anti-mainstream outlook that allows people with truly radical views to have a place. It’s inherently masculine and violent, but the PC crowd would neuter that attraction and turn the music into just another choice for SWPLs to listen to on down days.

Unfortuanately, their influence is stronger now and Inquisition has been forced to give an interview with Decibel (arguably the largest metal publication in the world now) to state that they’re not National Socialists. The meandering response was done probably to ensure that they stayed on the lineup of their current American tour, which is giving them access to a larger potential fanbase:

So, all this stuff, as controversial as it is, is interesting to me. But it doesn’t mean that I’m out affiliated with a movement that is seeking to physically destroy any type of race, and I’m not out, you know, spreading fliers and propaganda of, you know … “do away with this and do away with that.” If I have done that through Inquisition, it’s a metaphor against religions. Black metal is a symbolic or metaphor of the free will, independent thinking, opening the mind to greater things than just looking straight into the religions of all cultures that men themselves have created. And that’s what it’s about. And national socialism, to a certain degree, is all the opposite of that. All of it. Right? So, I could keep going somewhere down there, but you may have other questions that… could kinda trail onto other things, so I’ll let you do that.

But that hasn’t stopped the attacks. The ex-skinhead tour bus driver who accused them of hailing him for his swastika tattoos did an extensive interview with Decibel as well and spillt more dirt on the band:

As the tour went on I saw Jason interact with people I knew from the past that I knew had direct connections with the Blood And Honor organization (a white power group). I then became suspect of them. I then saw Jason [the frontman of Inquisition] having a discussion about National Socialism and Odinism with a youth. I stood to the side and listened and was convinced Jason was aligned with right-wing extremist ideology…

When I got back on the bus Tom asked a few questions and we started talking about the World Church Of The Creator. Tom started to tell me that he had connections in Everett, Washington. I indicated that I knew guys from Everett. That’s when Jason spoke up. He didn’t say much in that conversation except that he watches Nazi propaganda videos and Triumph Of The Will and loves that stuff and has dreams and fantasies that he wishes that would happen. I’m looking in the mirror and watching Gyibaaw’s [the Indian band on the tour] response and they are scared.

What it all boils down to is that personal thoughts (that are not even reflected in the lyrics) are open for attack and that any random person can fuel a media firestorm against you if you matter enough. This is almost like the Donald Sterling case… except these guys wear corpsepaint and sing about smashing Jesus. The new era of thought police can affect both those who wear suits to work and those who play extreme metal in spikes and leather.

Fortunately, there have been no direct consequences for Inquisition so far besides media smears. They are still on tour with Behemoth and their record label has not indicated any intention of dropping the act from their roster.

It would be a top-down move if Inquisition faced the consequences of any individual in the bourgeois world if they were accused of similar associations. Burzum, Graveland, and Nokturnal Mortum all enjoy strong record sales and critical appreciation in spite of far more explicit NS links.

The vast majority of black metal fans don’t care about their band’s politics and some even have an interest in ideas that go beyond nihilism and misanthropy. The Neo-Nazi movement of today certainly shouldn’t be the end result of that interest, but it can lead to an awakening in white racial consciousness and a desire to be in touch with one’s traditional roots.

Hopefully, Inquisition’s inquisition turns out differently than the typical purge of Western dissidents.

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This Is Europa

Martial industrial might just be the sole genre specifically created for right-wingers. I have a hard time conceiving leftists listening to music that praises war, violence and authoritarianism without a massive amount of cognitive dissonance in play.

Martial industrial might just be the sole genre specifically created for right-wingers. I have a hard time conceiving leftists listening to music that praises war, violence and authoritarianism without a massive amount of cognitive dissonance in play.

Some of martial industrial strikes me as a tad degenerate and simply playing with fascist imagery for its shock value and an attraction to its less savory aspects.

Triarii is one of the better acts in the genre and makes music that I’m certain any of our readers can enjoy. Hailing from Germany, Triarii’s sound is triumphant and hearkens back to an era where man did not need to heed the code of turning the other cheek. There’s a heavy classical influence on the German act and their music could easily be turned into a fantastic soundtrack for a epic film that should exist.

The music project certainly plays with provocative imagery and influence. They’ve composed a song dedicated to the memory Arno Breker, the famed Third Reich sculptor, and have another song inspired by the works of Savitri Devi. Their compositions are also known to feature sound clips from fascist speakers and the lyrical topics typically center on values and traditions that are well outside of liberal ideology.

A good example of this is “Europa,” which is an ode to the noble continent as his “mother” and “kingdom.”

If Black Metal represents the feral side of European man, then Triarii and the other great acts of martial industrial represent his pursuit of technological achievement and ordered society.

There’s little of the harshness and nihilism that some other acts in the genre parlay in Triarii’s latest work, Exile, from 2011.

Featuring top-notch production and songwriting with a strong taste for melody, Triarii are able to capture a sound that expresses a gripping narrative and setting without the need to conjure up contrived lyrics to describe it. Their music eschews pop song structure to follow a more unique form that better allows them to generate the emotional context of their songs and weave a storyline within their sound.

Triarii’s work can be enjoyed at any time, whether at the gym or reading a book, and is highly recommended for those who are seeking music that is in line with both their aesthetic and metapolitical views.

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When the Gods Hear the Call

Black Metal shares the fate of all complex and multifaceted phenomena that transcend their narrow genre identities and, similar to Hegel’s philosopher who is able to “grasp an era through thought,” are always ahead of their time, either by affirming, or by totally rejecting the spiritual foundations of the time period in which they live. Both require an ability to examine it from a distance. As the unquestionable product of Modernity, Black Metal paradoxically issues a death sentence to the Modern world. The latter is the case not only with respect to contemporary Christianity: it is the antithesis to everything that is believed to be of any value for an average representative of today’s Western society: from the conventional notions of the good and the beautiful to the metaphysical Being itself. In other words, Black Metal, at a glance, is the very embodiment of an active-nihilistic phase in a metaphysical process of transvaluation of all values heralded by Friedrich Nietzsche.
This is the second reason why Black Metal is mostly defined apophatically, that is to say, from negation. I have already mentioned the first reason for this: despite Black Metal’s prevalent description as a subculture, it is more accurate to define it as a counterculture the goal of which is to terminate the entire Modern era. Many sociologists would disagree with my assertion, because some of them share the idea that early Christianity was the only fully successful counterculture in European history, which overthrew the values of the previous era, whereas the adherents of Black Metal, both genre creators and ordinary fans, are totally integrated into the current social system, support its cultural codes, and never question that which is truly vital for its existence axioms. 

THE CONSERVATIVE-REVOLUTIONARY POTENTIAL OF BLACK METAL ART

I. Black Metal: a Subculture or a Counterculture? Methodological Foundations

Black Metal shares the fate of all complex and multifaceted phenomena that transcend their narrow genre identities and, similar to Hegel’s philosopher who is able to “grasp an era through thought,” are always ahead of their time, either by affirming, or by totally rejecting the spiritual foundations of the time period in which they live. Both require an ability to examine it from a distance. As the unquestionable product of Modernity, Black Metal paradoxically issues a death sentence to the Modern world. The latter is the case not only with respect to contemporary Christianity: it is the antithesis to everything that is believed to be of any value for an average representative of today’s Western society: from the conventional notions of the good and the beautiful to the metaphysical Being itself. In other words, Black Metal, at a glance, is the very embodiment of an active-nihilistic phase in a metaphysical process of transvaluation of all values heralded by Friedrich Nietzsche.
This is the second reason why Black Metal is mostly defined apophatically, that is to say, from negation. I have already mentioned the first reason for this: despite Black Metal’s prevalent description as a subculture, it is more accurate to define it as a counterculture the goal of which is to terminate the entire Modern era. Many sociologists would disagree with my assertion, because some of them share the idea that early Christianity was the only fully successful counterculture in European history, which overthrew the values of the previous era, whereas the adherents of Black Metal, both genre creators and ordinary fans, are totally integrated into the current social system, support its cultural codes, and never question that which is truly vital for its existence axioms.

As attentive readers of Ernst Jünger know, almost everything — no matter how “subversive” or “irreverent” — can be incorporated back into the system as “manifestation of freedom. Therefore, Black Metal may be considered only a subculture, which is exaggerated in many infamous parodies that reveal the infantile and ultimately primitive character of the self-proclaimed “true blackers” who cannot cope even with their parents. Undoubtedly, these observations are not groundless, and are basically endorsed within the movement itself, which developed its own ways of social regulation in order to expel the so-called “untrue” posers from their community, i.e., trendies and money-makers that appeared after the scandalous events in the early history of Black Metal.

However, I would like to emphasize the fact that the given survey is not sociological; otherwise, I would have to put a full stop right after stating that the Black Metal scene degraded a long time ago, which means that there is no place for wishful thinking. In other words, I will discuss not what Black Metal currently is, but what it is supposed to be according to the pioneers of the Black Metal movement and those who stayed devoted to the latter tradition. Therefore, I consider Max Weber’s Verstehende Soziologie (Interpretative Sociology) to be the only suitable sociological method that seeks to understand a certain cultural phenomenon from within, describes it on its own terms and operates within the notion of the ideal type. The latter gives the opportunity to avoid biases of positivist thinking and legitimately apply the heuristic mental constructs derived from the empirical data for the purpose of better analyzing reality. The most famous example of the ideal type is the “Protestant ethic” used by Weber as a key for exploring the emergence and the essence of capitalism in his renowned work Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905), which provides a fruitful alternative to the popular historical-materialistic explanation of Karl Marx. Accordingly, our ideal type is called “Black Metal Art” or simply “Black Metal.”

As such, this method is quite akin to the philosophical-hermeneutical approach developed by Martin Heidegger and his disciple Hans-Georg Gadamer who rejects the very term “method” as a natural-scientific remnant in the Geisteswissenschaften (human sciences). According to Heidegger’s philosophical interpretation focused on the classic concept of the hermeneutic circle (“to understand the whole, we need to understand the parts and visa versa”), the task is not to find the way out of the circle, but rather to enter it correctly, since this circle is that of our existence. Put simply, we (“Dasein” as “Being-in-the-world”) always understand certain phenomena in this or that way, so our sole duty is to explicate our assumptions or, in Gadamer’s words, our “anticipation of perfection.” The latter is what I am going to do in this paper, although I have to admit that in some cases we deal with such a high level of self-reflection demonstrated by the Black Metal artists that the researcher gratefully turns into a mere commentator: consider the first-ever DVD “Opus Diaboli” released in May of 2012 by the Swedish band Watain to experience the difference between the interpretation of Watain’s vocalist E. and those given in most Black Metal documentaries, interviews, and thematic investigations. The vast majority of such sources still are very disappointing or insufficient.

II. Aesthetics and Metaphysics vs. Ideology and Politics of Black Metal. The Principal Directions within the Black Metal Movement

What is the starting point for this research? Since the times of Aristotle, it has been obvious that the shortest way to the essence of a thing lies in its definition. But, again, mostly negative definitions of Black Metal exist. They do reflect the greatness and intensity of this phenomenon but say little about its main idea. For example, the epochal and countercultural significance of the latter can be easily inferred from the well-known attempts to clarify the essence of Black Metal such as, “it is not another musical genre,” “it is not mere music,” and “it is not entertainment/business.” Another set of negative definitions due to the nihilistic orientation of Black Metal is also widely recognized: it is believed to be anti-religious, especially anti-Christian, antisocial, misanthropic, blasphemous, and so forth.

Likewise, all intellectual efforts to articulate what Black Metal is rather than what it is not usually end up with an appeal to a certain spectrum of moods and emotions (“dark,” “melancholic”), sometimes–to certain highly metaphoric concepts (“evil,” “ugliness,” “war”) or to Black Metal aesthetics known as part of the well-established phrase “Black Metal Art.” This expression, however, raises further questions since Black Metal is represented as l’art pour l’art only if the latter means something like Supreme Art that bears explicit occultist connotations, which is the very opposite of this approach. If not, one is welcome to enter endless debates regarding the basic principle(s) of Black Metal ideology, which are mostly centered on Satanism.

Depending on what one considers the object of negation or the enemy against whom the War is being waged (“Black Metal ist Krieg”), there exist different ideological trends within the general Black Metal movement, which regularly cause sharp disagreements between its members: radical nihilism and atheism that stand behind Satanist imagery and sometimes overlap with LaVeyan Social Darwinism; the Occultist trajectory, which is often connected with the Left-Hand Path; Theistic Satanism (the religion of Deus/Diabolus Absconditus) that borders on Gnosticism and similar teachings, on the one hand, and archaic Pagan cults, which may be linked to “Aryan Luciferianism”—on the other; variations of Heathenism, from Pantheism to Vedic hymns, which are mainly developed within such subgenres such as Folk Black Metal or Viking Black Metal, and even Christian “Unblack” Metal, not to mention other innovative Black Metal bands often focused on their own “philosophy.” Naturally, we may legitimately wonder which direction is more representative of the movement or, in contrast, should in no way not be associated with it as one that transcends the limits of this ideal type.

Another way to fill the gap between the apophatical definitions involves pointing out the mystical or even a religious feeling that is typical of the Black Metal Weltanschauung, its special “spirit.” A reference to this theophanic experience that underlies rational explanation, among others, can be found in the interview with the French Black Metal band Deathspell Omega:

Some of us had a religious upbringing indeed, and these obviously went through the initial phase of global denial, whereas others were raised under the sign of rationality. That we eventually all experienced a shattering theophany is something very hard to explain in rational terms. There’s of course cultural arguments, anyone who went through long universitarian studies has been given keys—and this despite the fact that most universities in the occidental world are actually strongholds of humanitarian egalitarianism—and we chose not to ignore these keys, whereas most people do as they prefer to remain in harmony with the current Zeitgeist.[1]

Such purely phenomenological descriptions could have dissolved genre boundaries, yet we feel that Black Metal has its positive core which strictly differentiates it from the related genres and may be formulated very simply. Therefore, even though only the National Socialist Black Metal (NSBM) scene and its rarer leftist analogues are notable for direct political involvement, Black Metal as a countercultural movement with great ambitions but carefully guarded borders is political par excellence, political in Carl Schmitt’s sense of the distinction between the friend and the enemy, which translates into the ultimate degree of association and dissociation between “us” and “them.” A highly selective approach to potential membership in the Black Metal community, of course, is more eloquent than inherent in any genuine aesthetic formation, prioritizing artistic expression and detesting the rigid and external ideological clichés, whether political or otherwise.

At the same time, such Ukrainian Black Metal bands as Nokturnal Mortum, Kroda, Drudkh, or Hate Forest, which at present comprise one of the most acclaimed NSBM scenes in the world, if not the most, even though they may introduce themselves as simply patriotic and concerned with traditional heritage preservation (another esteemed Ukrainian one-man band Lutomysl was described in a recent interview by Pavel “Lutomysl” Shishkovskiy, who envies people “whose only problems boil down to the presence of Jews or blacks,” as NEONSDSBM [2]), can hardly be regarded as such that impose restrictions on ways of expression in order to meet ideological needs. Above all, they gained recognition all over the world owing to their musical masterpieces.

In a narrow sense, Black Metal as a total war against the Modern world cannot be free of the political implications either, although most crimes in the early history of Black Metal were committed due to personal, not political reasons [3]. Similarly, one may single out both the left-wing and the right-wing tendencies since the very birth of the Black Metal movement represented accordingly by Satanist Øystein Aarseth “Euronymous” of Mayhem, who sympathized with left-wing extremism, and Varg Vikernes of Burzum as a scholar of Old Norse religion, an adherent of Paganism, and an authoritative figure in the contemporary right-wing circles (among his influences are Knut Hamsun, Oswald Spengler, and Julius Evola), who distanced himself from Satanism and the whole Black Metal scene after its newcomers had started exploiting the original ideas and aesthetics invented by the pioneers merely for their shock value or for commercial purposes. Retrospectively speaking, it is no wonder that Euronymous was killed by Vikernes in 1993, which is regarded as “the beginning of the end” followed by the split and the growing commercialization of the scene (consider Nargaroth’s song “The Day Burzum Killed Mayhem”). On the other hand, I would not say that there is an irresolvable conflict of these two tendencies, or that there is no such metaphysical position that integrates them on a higher level.

Indeed, it is possible to oppose the Modern world and its symbolic incarnation, Christianity, both “from the Left” and “from the Right.” Furthermore, although liberation, nihilism, anti-clericalism (remember the famous Norwegian church burnings), etc. are mostly associated with the Left, even those Black Metal groups that stick to the Left-Hand Path (for instance, Polish Black Metal band Behemoth) do not necessarily correspond with the political Left, both classical and Cultural Marxism. Often quite the reverse is true, or they go beyond politics. This ambivalence is also visible on an aesthetic level: the “right-wing” symbols of the Empire, King, God, etc. are no less popular than the “left-wing” concepts of Homelessness, Void, Rebellion, and so on.

Benjamin Noys, who also addressed the issue of politics in the Black Metal movement, used as a case study the interview answers by Sale Famine of the French Black Metal band Peste Noire[4] which was not an accident. Famine, who believes that left-wing Black Meal is contradictio in adjecto, underlines the chthonic and, as a result, the nationalist character of Black Metal and glorifies “the dark European past,” declared the synthesis of both approaches in a very transparent manner:

Black Metal is the musical memory of our bloodthirsty ancestors of blood, it is the marriage of Tradition, of old racial patrimony with fanaticism, with the rage and the rashness of a youth now lost.” [5]

Likewise, Famine describes his nationalism as fundamentally twofold, “temporal” and “spiritual,” which correlates with being a citizen of France (“medieval,” “rural”) and of Hell (“Sieg Hell!”)[6]. Noys fairly draws a parallel between this focus on the chthonic aspect of Black Metal and the telluric grounding of Carl Schmitt’s Partisan. Finally, searching for the roots of this ambiguity in Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy is also absolutely correct: the greatest European nihilist was simultaneously the greatest elitist, aristocrat, and traditionalist who looked ahead to the beginning of the new Golden Age. That is why Nietzsche referred to himself as “the first perfect Nihilist of Europe who, however, has even now lived through the whole of nihilism, to the end, leaving it behind, outside himself”[7], that is the first anti-nihilist as well.

In addition, Nietzsche was the greatest aesthete and stylist who erased the very distinction between form and content by making even the superficial details ideologically relevant and meaningful. The latter sheds light on the reasons why the expression “Black Metal Art” means something incomparably deeper than, for instance, “Black Metal Ideology” or “Black Metal Politics” and has the potential to reach a metaphysical level. At this point, an appeal to the Conservative Revolution—another complex cultural phenomenon that has much in common with Black Metal—becomes inevitable.

III. The Grand Invocation: the Conservative Revolution as an Act of Ushering the Gods Back into the World

Conservative Revolution and Black Metal are similar for at least two reasons. First, both have countercultural value. The only difference lies in the fact that what requires additional reconstruction in the context of Black Metal belongs to the explicit objectives of the conservative-revolutionary theory, which may be unequivocally derived from its name. Conservative Revolution was a broad ideocratic movement that evolved in Germany during the 20th century’s interwar period. It was also known under the name of the “Third Position” or the “Third Way” because it was impossible to classify it as ideologically Right or Left. Some of its principal players have already been mentioned: Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, Oswald Spengler, Edgar Julius Jung, Carl Schmitt, Ernst and Friedrich Georg Jünger, Julius Evola, Ernst Niekisch, Martin Heidegger, Armin Mohler, and others. The global aim of the conservative-revolutionary movement was formulated by Hugo von Hofmannsthal in 1927 as part of his legendary speech delivered to students in Munich. He argued that the Conservative Revolution is a phenomenon previously unknown in European history that strives to terminate not only the era of the Enlightenment, but also that of Renaissance and Reformation. In other words, its goal is to construct the New Middle Ages.

This necessity of revolting against the course of history was proclaimed in Julius Evola’s work Revolt Against the Modern World: Politics, Religion, and Social Order of the Kali Yuga (1934), which, to a great extent, was nothing but a radicalized and politicized version of the major text The Crisis of the Modern World written by René Guénon, the founder of integral traditionalism, in 1927. In the chapter called “The Doctrine of the Four Ages” of his work, Evola writes:

Although modern man until recently has viewed and celebrated the meaning of the history known to him as epitomizing progress and evolution, the truth as professed by traditional man is quite the opposite. In all ancient testimonies of traditional humanity it is possible to find, in various forms, the idea of a regression or a fall: from originally higher states beings have stooped to states increasingly conditioned by human, mortal, and contingent elements. This involutive process allegedly began in a very distant past; the term that best characterizes it is the Eddic term ragna-rokkr, “the twilight of the gods”… According to Tradition, the actual sense of history and the genesis of what I have labeled, generally speaking, as the “modern world,” results from a process of gradual decadence through four cycles or ‘generations.’[8]

In his later book Men Among the Ruins: Post-War Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist (1953), Evola defined Conservative Revolution as “the return to the starting point,” “to the source.” Naturally, in order to secure this grand historical coup, one has to rely on the means available in that very Modern world. This insight gave birth to the shortest formula of fascism “René Guénon Plus Tank Divisions,” which may be found in The Morning of the Magicians written by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier in 1960. Indeed, back in 1921 Thomas Mann considered Conservative Revolution in his Russian Anthology as a political projection of Nietzscheism understood as a synthesis of “conservatism” and “revolution,” “freedom” and “bonds,” “faith” and “Enlightenment,” “God” and “the world” and compared it with the Russian messianic idea as two totally different phenomena united, although, by their common “religious nature, religious in a new vital sense that has a great future.”

Therefore, second distinctive feature of Black Metal and the Conservative Revolution comprises the fact that both movements are not only anti- and contra- but also meta-phenomena, which reject the narrow genre and political identities in favor of the higher goals. Conservative Revolution is always positioned as a metapolitical movement and, speaking in Ernst Jünger’s terms, as “the absolute revolution” that ruins tradition as form but thus realizes the sense of tradition. This is the so-called “metahistorical” and “dynamic” approach to Tradition written with a capital “T,” which was introduced by Julius Evola as an ability to sacrifice forms in the name of principles. Furthermore, another similarity between Black Metal and the Conservative Revolution is that both ideal types are portrayed as a special recognizable “style,” that is, ultimately as an aesthetic phenomenon.

The merger between the aesthetic and the political elements in the conservative-revolutionary movement, which was noted with displeasure by leftists who were always afraid of “irrationality,” Walter Benjamin, in particular, was undoubtedly carried out beyond decorative purposes in mind. It was aesthetics that was meant to be that magical key used to “re-enchant” the world and reintegrate the autonomous and disconnected fields of politics, science, religion, ethics and, again, aesthetics, which replaced the hierarchic medieval universe subordinate to one transcendental principle. However, conservative revolutionaries mostly spoke not of God but of gods in the plural; the generally acknowledged metaphor that signifies re-mythologization of the world is “the return of the gods” or “the return of the sacred,” which was especially anticipated by Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Jünger.

“Merely” waiting for re-sacralization of the world, however, is not a rule and corresponds only to the current phase of metaphysical transvaluation of all values. This phase was preceded by the active-nihilistic period of titanic domination, the reign of Prometheus, who symbolizes the elemental powers of technology. According to Ernst Jünger’s observation made in his essay “On Pain” (1934), we live in the time when the new orders have moved far ahead, but the new values have not become visible yet:

We conclude, then, that we find ourselves in a last and indeed quite remarkable phase of nihilism, characterized by the broad expansion of new social orders with corresponding values yet to be seen.[9]

This means that Übermenschals Sieger über Gott und das Nichts,” the Superman as a victor over God (the ruined old order) and Nothingness that replaced the latter, enters the final phase of the battle with Nothingness itself. At this stage, both Jünger and Evola developed the concepts of apoliteia, right-wing anarchism and the differentiated man that rejects the Modern world not out of nihilism, but because it does not meet the ideal of the new sacred order. Of course, this stage is temporary: Evola’s right-wing anarchist and Jünger’s Anarch are always ready to seize the opportunity to build a new Empire.
Structural similarities between Black Metal and the Conservative Revolution are also obvious. Armin Mohler, who published a monograph Conservative Revolution in Germany: 1918–1932 (1950), which started the tradition of academic investigation of the conservative-revolutionary movement, singled out five main directions within the latter, three of which became exemplary: Young Conservatives (Moeller van den Bruck, Edgar Jung, Oswald Spengler), National Revolutionaries (Ernst Jünger, Ernst Niekisch, Hans Freyer), and the völkische movement that made the greatest impact on National Socialism (the famous doctrine of “Blood and Soil”). Accordingly, Young Conservatives mostly developed the organic imperialist models; National Revolutionaries were on extremely good terms with the destructive forces of the industrial civilization, and the völkische resemble the contemporary Pagan Front.

In his profound examination of the conservative-revolutionary recollections in the Black Metal movement, Alex Kurtagic primarily emphasized völkisch ideas [10], which is justifiable. At the same time, I would say that the most representative of the Conservative Revolution was not the völkisch but rather the national-revolutionary movement. Its members, Ernst Jünger, in particular, elaborated on the main metaphysical sentiment of the Conservative Revolution, that is the unity of freedom and the necessity presupposed by the concept of German voluntarism, in the most detailed and accurate manner. This metaphysical standpoint corresponds with the Gnostic Anti-Cosmic trend in the Black Metal movement, which is also notable for strict dualism between one’s divine will and anything else (“Death against death”) and does not seek the sacred within the limits of this world. A well-known description of National Socialist metaphysics by Hendrik Möbus of the German NSBM group Absurd (“the most perfect synthesis of the Luciferian will to power, and neo-heathen principles and symbolism”) would also be relevant in this context, although he is more closely associated with the Pagan Front. Incidentally, his conversation with “Velesova Sloboda”[11] is the most interesting and professional discussion of the classic conservative-revolutionary topics by any Black Metal musician that I have ever read.

In conclusion, I would like to quote the words of Erik Danielsson of Watain about the revolutionary essence of true art and the necessity “to get deeper and deeper” while exploring the horizons of the genre:

If you want to do something groundbreaking in something as sinister as black metal—if you want to correspond with dark energies that exist beyond this world, you cannot have a mere interest in black metal. A passion for a music genre is not enough to change the course of musical history or the history of the world. To me, it’s not strange there aren’t more bands like us because individuals of that sort are very rare. If you have an extreme source of energy flowing inside yourself you either end up in prison, sharing a high place with a politician or you do what we do.[12]

It is difficult to disagree and overlook the parallels with the aspirations of the most devoted and bright members of the conservative-revolutionary movement. After all, Mohler’s academic research was nothing more than a way to gather the new extreme front in post-war Europe under an alternative name after discrediting the National Socialist project and any other movements dangerous for the system, including Black Metal in its purest manifestations. Is it surprising that one day the representatives of these metahistorical and countercultural directions will join their forces as the “contenders in the larger game”?[13]


  1. Ajna Offensive, Deathspell Omega Interview.  ↩
  2. Interview with Lutomysl at Orthodox Black Metal.  ↩
  3. Kevin Coogan, How Black is Black Metal?, Nachrichten Heute  ↩
  4. Benjamin Noys, “Remain True to the Earth!”: Remarks on the Politics of Black Metal, Hideous Gnosis: Black Metal Theory Symposium I; Edited by Nicola Masciandaro (Charleston: CreateSpace, 2010), p. 105–128.  ↩
  5. Nathan T. Birk, Interview with La Sale Famine of Peste Noire, Zero Tolerance  ↩
  6. Ibid.  ↩
  7. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power; Translated by Walter Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale; Edited by W. Kaufmann (New York: Vintage Books, 1967), p. 3.  ↩
  8. Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World: Politics, Religion, and Social Order of the Kali Yuga; Translated from the Italian by Guido Stucco (Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions International, 1995), p. 177.  ↩
  9. Ernst Jünger, On Pain (New York: Telos Press Publishing, 2008), p. 46.  ↩
  10. Alex Kurtagic, “Black Metal: Conservative Revolution in Modern Popular Culture,” The Occidental Quarterly Online, republished at Counter-Currents.  ↩
  11. Hendrik M. (Absurd) im Gespräch mit der Redaktion von “Velesova Sloboda”  ↩
  12. Darren Cowan, Interview with Erik Danielsson of Watain at Blistering.com  ↩
  13. Ibid.  ↩
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