| up a level
from the testing-your-metal dept.
[This may be review for those familar with Diedrik Soderkind's The Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground.]
A recent Beast Bay newsbite cited a brewing Heavy Metal phenomenon in Malaysia that drew concern from government officials, seemingly harkening back to the Satan scare in the 1980s and backward masking lawsuits, with artists like Judas Priest and Frank Zappa taking irrational heat. The article drew my attention since the phenomenon in question was "Black Metal," a significantly different beast from domestic Metal, primarily in ideology and real world impact. The obvious argument made by any rational individual to the assertion that "Dreamer/Deceiver" by Judas Priest caused two teenage boys to attempt suicide was: "Hey, this is Art, folks!" Rob Halford of Judas Priest was more concerned about missing his afternoon Tea than warping young boys' minds.
Not so with Black Metal. These guys aren't playacting.
Named after a seminal album by Venom, one of the bands from the 1980s New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Black Metal stylistically traces its roots to both Satan- and Crowley-influenced rock such as Black Sabbath and Celtic Frost (see the Black Metal/Death Metal family tree), and also to 1970s Art Rock a la Emerson Lake and Palmer. Ideologically, it is a logomaniacal mishmash of Odin worship, White Supremacy, and a very transcendent physical Nihilism that openly advocates the burning of Christian Churches, murder of strangers and suicide.
A defining moment in the advent of the genre was the burning of the Fantoft Kirk, a 15th century Christian Church in Norway, by a 16 year old female fan of the band Burzum (a Middle Earth word for "Darkness"). When the image of the blackened embers of Fantoft was printed in Norwegian news, "Varg" Christian Vikernes, a.k.a. "Count Grishnak" of Burzum, made the newsphoto the album cover of his second album, "Aske". An interesting note: the church has surprisingly been restored.
I have found specific details concerning the crimes committed, and the names and personal details of the criminals difficult to locate on the internet. I recall that burzum.com carefully recorded daily copycat crimes as far away as Russia (where I recall Orthodox monks were slaughtered with knives allegedly bearing inscribed praises to Satan). A FAQ states that 45-60 churches were burned in Norway alone. Lords of Chaos details a quite a number of murders, but I do not have that text at hand.
While I do not advocate the horrors committed by this movement, I and a number of sound minded others (such as black metal record label blackmetal.com) are propelled by a strong interest in this music and its scene. My personal feeling is that the role of the artist is not so much to express himself, as to express that which humanity feels but lacks the creativity to express. These devastating [primarily] Norwegian performance terrorists are expressing a growing angst among the forgotten feral misfit youth of the world, primarily toward Christianity and the politics of power which have become commonplace in modern society.
I see this phenomenon as a wake up call to humanity -- as if Charlie Manson wasn't a wake up call 30 years ago. It's time to wake up and smell the plutonium.
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