Friday, August 26, 2011

Mail bag

above: Feeling it.
This is the first and perhaps only time I will share a conversation from my email, but Dhr. Bosch brought up some excellent points regarding my last post. His questions are followed by my response.

However, it did raise a question I hope you can answer - you mention corpse paint and spikes, connecting to the peak of the genre, and how (I assume mostly younger/teenage) "Kurts" try to recreate the days of old while stripping it of it's essence. (thus creating something that is not, and will not, be (black) metal). What do you think of newer bands incorporating spikes and paint though? I'm well aware this very much depends on the band in question, but overall speaking, wouldn't a new band (trying to) using this, be nothing more than what Municipal Waste is to thrash? Attempted "retro" and not that relevant at all?

While mentioning teenagers anyway, what about them? They were not there or were too young when black metal originated, they couldn't have witnessed the "glorious" days. Without becoming a "post" band, how do they become relevant to black metal, if that's possible at all?

Mind you - the new generation will be the next one carrying the torch, no matter how cliché it might sound and how saddening it may be. If not, actual black (or death, for that matter) metal might die out... That would be a real pity.

You raise some interesting questions that I have considered in the past. I think the only internally consistent answer, however draconian, is that with few exceptions there should be no new entries in black metal. Once a genre has amassed a set of long-running and reliable bands, there need only be sporadic entries to keep things moving. If you look at death metal, it's still mostly the "big name" players from pre-2000 era who are still making anything worth talking about. Disma is a new entry, but they're all veterans regardless. I've always been an advocate of a simple model for paint and spikes, which we call "feeling it/not feeling it". Bands that "feel it" are the ones who should bear the mark (e.g. Dead/Euronymous, early Emperor, Sarcofago, Watain), while bands who don't should recognize this and not pursue the style in any manner. "Understanding" black metal is a concept thrown around by weekenders, but in my experience there is a huge gulf between those who truly understand it, and those who do not.

So back to the dilemma of being new to black metal, I'd say the current climate demands that aspiring black metal acts work harder than ever before to refine their message, their craft, and their presentation. Averse Sefira did not present itself to the world on day one, and in some ways I almost wish we had waited a little longer, though I wouldn't change the results for anything.

And finally, I agree that there may come a time where black metal and death metal as we know it might die out. That's to be expected though - we've effectively had 40 years strong with metal in general. Losing Dio really raised a red flag for the future of the genre, as there are also no replacements for Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, or Slayer. Even with this gloomy prognosis, we shouldn't forget that a lifetime's worth of output already exists to explore. I have met younger fans who have the same wide-eyed mania we all once had as they dig through decades of incredible recordings. Perhaps we don't really need any new bands after a point, but when we reach that point remains to be seen. In the meantime, I don't want to see any newcomers led astray by the dog and pony show that typifies "post" metal acts. Good bands don't need manifestos; their significance is self-evident.