I like black metal. Sometimes it is the only thing that can lift me out of despair, you know, like even when the sky is blue and the sun is making nice shadows along the fence, and you have friends and family who love you and there are pretty birds singing, but you’re still cloudy in your head with this dumb fuzz of negativity, gloom and nihilism.
This kind of despair is fucking rotten. The worst. All you can do is put on your comfiest clothing and do only the most simple of tasks, the ones that require the most basic of mental process, like putting all the clothes you haven’t worn for a few months in to a pile to consider selling for a little extra cash, but only when you’re feeling well enough to venture on to the internet to do that, lest you over-work your imploding mind and decide that maybe today is the day, fuck it, this is all too much. That’s why black metal is good, for those times, those feels.
But there is another thing I dig about this style of musical expression, and that is its anthropological context, a context I find pretty inspiring: it was originally borne of a group that loathed the cultural and spiritual colonialism they experienced on their land- Scandinavians of pagan origin hating on Christianity for the destruction of their native culture. They were pissed off teenagers, super pissed off, young and pissed off and unsatisfied by metal music, they wanted to push it to the extreme to match their internal darkness etc, and ended up creating something fucking satisfying for anyone else who has a soft spot for metal music and a whole lot of frustration vibrating through their synapses.
But there is something of a tendency within the proponents of this musical expression towards an advocacy of National Socialist ideology (Nazism).
Like today, my bad-mood music pick was a band called Hate Forest. The album is called Battlefields. They are from Ukraine. Amongst the satisfying guitar riffs and growly vocals, there are a few tracks that have vocalists singing what I can only guess is traditional Ukrainian folk singing. It is sad, sometimes gut wrenching. And it is beautiful. I have listened to the album more than a few times since receiving it about 18 months ago. Just the name of the band is occasionally enough to cheer me up: Hate Forest, heh, a forest full of hate, that’s like my soul right now, I’m not alone! ping suddenly I’m smiling.
But I just found out that those guys are totally National Socialists, and I don’t think I can smile about them anymore.
Part of the reason I was depressed enough to put this music on in the first place was because I went to the Reclaim Australia rally. I walked around for three hours watching people argue with and fight each other, occasionally taking photos, but mostly not taking photos because I felt intensely threatened by “patriots” wearing Australian flags and they looked like they wanted to smash my camera. It made me horribly sad. I saw confused idiots and enraged intellectuals, and worst of all, I saw Neo-Nazis shouting over it all, with hate in their eyes and spit flying from their mouths as if they were rabid. It was awful.
Fear of Nazism lead me to the despair that, for me, can only be alleviated by listening to a style of music known for its inclination towards Nazi ideology. Amazing.
Nazism in any context is terrifying in its stupidity. If you look at it in this specific musical context as an evolution from the cultural preservationism displayed by those Norwegian boys who invented black metal, the Nazi feels displayed by bands of the same genre from around the world are a misguided idea about how to keep their culture pure… and one can easily see why this inclination is a thing throughout black metal. You zone out, it’s dark, you are legit full of hatred of the world, and you think it would be easier if everyone lived the way that you did, you’d definitely be more comfortable at least. And you’re so fucking sick of it that you would be fine with people dying, you see everything burning anyway, seeing the corpses pile up would bring a level of satisfaction to your otherwise empty and pitch-black well of a soul. For some metal-heads, this is actualized with a pride in their ignorance and loathing of everything outside the culture they are most familiar with, and then somehow the Jews get involved in their thoughts and BOOM, like big dumb idiots they are speaking with a Nazi vocabulary.
On this subject, my mate L.H. said to me: “But they just happen to make some of the best fucking music”, and I sighed in agreement. We agreed further in that you just can’t take those guys too seriously, because it’s all part of their “brutal” aesthetic; it’s theatrical, and it’s idiotic in its ignorance of the reality of multi-culturalism and the possibility of harmony within that, even with cultural preservationism.
And then look at it from the Australian socio-political context: a group lives in an uneducated clusterfuck out in furthest reaches of white-bred Australian regional suburbia for 3 – 5 generations, they have pretty much lost their religion, they’re not exactly following Christian teachings, haven’t been to church for years mate, and their rituals and ceremonies are now based around sinking piss and going shopping, they don’t understand or like science and they don’t understand or like the humanities, they have no guidance and no solid, sustainable culture of their own so they can only turn to each other and the government to tell them what to do, how to live, and they can only turn to the news to tell them what the government is doing, what the rest of the nation is doing, and they see things they don’t recognise, things they don’t understand. They see things changing. They turn to each other online, find each other across states and across vast areas of farm land and old mines, to talk about these things they don’t understand and decide that these unknown forces are the cause of all their ills. A bunch of dummies riling each other up, spiritually and intellectually lacking, and then they see all kinds of Others and blame them for their low incomes or whatever and then BOOM, like big dumb idiots they’re speaking with a Nazi vocabulary too.
But these ones should be taken seriously, you know, because these guys aren’t being theatrical. It could be partly aesthetic for some, but mostly it’s these humans that might actually go around trying to convince people to kill muslims. Shudder.
Any way you look at it, Neo-Nazism of any kind is proof of humanity’s amazing ability to ignore the lessons of history. Just gotta keep fighting the good fight and be loud about telling the world that Nazism just ain’t right, that violence against other humans ain’t right, that it’s possible to overcome those inclinations through education and reconnection with nature…
But for me, black metal is really good for abating the despair I find myself experiencing when I think about that thing. It’s an interesting situation. Something worth writing home about.
In the unabridged version of this piece, I delve in to Germanic Neo-Paganism, Australian aboriginal culture, consumerism, greed, assimilation, anti-semetism vs anti-zionism, the evolution of black metal in to drone music, and drone music as a spiritual force. Brutal.