BLACK METAL SECTION: DECRYSTALLIZING REASON
By: Dipesh Gautam
What once was is now away
All the blood…
All the longing and pain that ruled are away…
We are not dead…
We have never lived
-Det Som Engang Var (Burzum)
I am questioned, often by others and at times by myself: “So, what happened?” I have no answer to what “actually” happened. I am just like the others, those who have not witnessed anything, the ones whose acquaintance with the fact is limited to the electronic media where truth and hypes have similar face. You and me, we are just like blindfolded sheeps sitting in front of our computer sets and accepting what they tell us to be the fact as truth. Dead shot himself and Euronymous was murdered by the Count. What brought about this is beyond my subject here. What I can say is people knew nothing about Black Metal until all the wrongs happened. Until churches were set ablaze and until people were being murdered, no one gave a shit. Black Metal hit Scandinavia like a sudden wave. In about 7 years, Black Metal witnessed both its beginning and end. That is what I can affirm for sure.
Still, some may disagree with my statement that Black Metal is dead. But, come to think of it. If you carefully listen to Black Metal bands after 1995, each new band seems to be following what was once created by the tr00 artists. There is nothing remarkably new. There has not been a single significant Black Metal release since the mid 90s, and even if there were any, they lay under the shades of the mainstream Black Metallish bands. After the 90s, there were just bands that copied the progenitors and produced mechanical music. Then, there were more bands who copied them. While some bands had no creativity at all, others compromised their creativity for popularity and wealth. Among others, I’d not fail to mention Dimmu Borgir here. Dimmu’s second release, Stormblast, if not the best, certainly is one of the best Black Metal albums of all times. It is the emancipation of novelty in Black Metal, one of the forefathers of the genre ‘Symphonic Black Metal’ as we know it today. Look at the present Dimmu Borgir. With the new release In Sorte Diaboli, they have proven that their music is just as formulaic as their three word album titles. They have not produced a single worthwhile album since Stormblast. Talking about our metalhead newbie’s favorite vampiric-gothic band Cradle of Filth is not even worth it. The ones who created Black Metal are now too old (and not cold enough). Fenriz, from Darkthrone said that he had stopped playing music since 1995. The quality of Darkthrone’s later releases confirms his statement. Bands like Gorgoroth and Dark Funeral haven’t still grown up from their childish satanic gimmick which will help attract more thoughtless kids into Black Metal. After masterpieces such as ‘Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk’ and ‘In the Nightside Eclipse’, Emperor was not able to create anything worthy and finally broke up for good. While Ulver and Behemoth changed their direction, Satyricon wandered directionless and started producing techno Metallish albums. Mayhem, after De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, is as worthless as any other gothic EMOcore band.
People say Black Metal buried itself in its own grave. They say Black Metal failed because of the arsons, murders and imprisonments. I dissent with those people, their justification and reasoning. As for me, it was not Euronymous’ murder or Dead’s suicide that led to the downfall of Black Metal. I can’t completely disagree with the fact that the events that happened in Norway partly contributed in the collapse of the Black Metal scene then. Had Dead or Euronymous been alive or had the Count not been in prison today, we could have seen more of THE Black Metal era. But, art had to continue anyway, irrespective of the artist. This art sadly, died with the artists.
So, what stabbed Black Metal? Why has Black Metal been dormant and meaningless for all these years? My answer is acute. Black Metal died because of poseurs, it failed because of the hordes of imitators trying to emulate what once was art. Black Metal was a war. This war didn’t end because the warriors died; it ended because the new warriors didn’t understand the meaning of war itself. Art and creativity have no bounds. Ideas flow in all of us like a perpetual stream. It is just how much of our creativity we can employ into our art. The ones who started Black Metal knew what Black Metal actually stood for. It was not just music; it was a revolution, it was a war. It was a wave that swept everything in an instant. This genre was far from how we associate it with Rock or Metal today. It was rightly alienated music with its values and ideals far more extreme than the music itself. It opposed the ethics of Rock and Roll and even Metal itself. Associated with European Romanticist movement, it was a group of people with “will stronger than death”. There were people who embodied the spirit of nationalism and heroism. There were people who lived with the sprit of Nihilism over their lives and died for it. It was once a scene where popularity was a synonym for failure. Getting popular by playing music was totally against what Black Metal stood for back then.
“Companions, the creator seeketh, not corpses–and not herds or believers either. Fellow-creators the creator seeketh–those who grave new values on new tables.” -Friedrich Nietzsche (Thus Spake Zarathustra)
Emulating art is the representation of artlessness. Being a follower is closing your mind, your outlet of thoughts and ideas. Black Metal failed because of these artless followers. While there were only a few progenitors of Black Metal, millions of imitators started trying to be the next Burzum or the next Darkthrone. Kids who had no idea about the art and ideology behind Black Metal started claiming that they were playing Black Metal just because they followed similar musical footprints. There were bands that started playing Black Metallish music to get rich, to get laid and to get popular, to find another hobby in their desolate and worthless lives. They created music entrenched in mediocrity and added theatrics to it for the sole purpose of making themselves popular. They failed to understand what Black Metal stood for; they forged all the blood and sweat that had been poured in to construct this genre. When every lowlife fan had a band or a side project, the genre was definitely going down the drains.
These were the people who destroyed the meaning of Black Metal and turned it into Mall Metal just to fulfill their hobbies. The relapsing scene has also seen many Black Metal musicians who do not care about the philosophical side of Black Metal and claim to just play the music. These are just immature fuck heads who have no idea of what Black Metal stands for. The music created by these musicians, for me, is meaningless. Another trend developing today is producing polished Black Metal albums with high production quality which is another futile approach to make Black Metal popular among the normal mass. Though I would rate most of the Black Metal bands coming out these days as boring and monotonous, there are still a few decent Black Metal bands left. Graveland, Xasthur, Blut Aus Nord, Astrofaes, Drudkh and 1349 are among some of the new and relatively better Black Metal bands in existence. Graveland and Averse Sefira are among some bands that don’t just play the music but have some brains and some meaning to accompany their music. Whenever I hear about any notable 90’s black metal band’s new release, I can’t help speculating whether they would create something remarkable this time. Strangely, the release always turns out to be mediocre or even worse. In this scene filled with the flock of imitators, instead of listening to the new wave of so-called Black Metal, I now choose to embrace what once was: Epic releases such as ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’, ‘In the Nightside Eclipse’, ‘Hvis Lyset Tar Oss’ and ‘Under the Sign of the Black Mark’.
I’m not finding an excuse for the deeds of the BM musicians. I’m simply implying that these deeds were just a part of history. What really led to the downfall of Black Metal was the failure of the newer generation to understand the art and ideology associated with Black Metal. Black Metal is a world of Nihilism, a sphere of reconstruction through deconstruction. Black Metal, for me, is something more than life and I think I speak that for every conscious Metal aesthetic. This is neither the music for moshers and headbangers, nor for those who are seeking to get high and have a great time. It is against you: the ones whose morals and ethics mean nothing except failure. It is against your values that are taking you down through a spiral of a futile and meaningless existence. Mediocrity has no place in Black Metal. Black Metal is blasphemous music totally against what you think and do. Stay away from the mediocre Black Metal; else stay away from Black Metal altogether.
Reject mediocrity in the tr00 Black Metal scene.