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.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pretenders


The lesser arrive/Pretenders... to fortify ego/To devour and prolong...

I hate giving space and energy to anything I deem substandard, but I've been asked repeatedly to weigh in on Liturgy, so let's get it over with. First, I don't consider "post-metal" and particularly "post-black metal" to be much more than imaginary. The "post" label implies that these bands have moved past metal, so they are no longer actually METAL and therefore of no concern to me. I'm forced to take notice, however, when a pseudo-intellectual who looks like Kurt Cobain tries to write himself into the pages of black metal history by adulterating its meaning to fit the non-agenda of his shrill little band. It is revisionism at its most transparent and a weak display of narcissism besides.

Averse Sefira formed in 1996, and even then we considered ourselves something of a fringe act, mainly because we hadn't been present for the flashpoint that became the movement as we know it. The idea that some novice would come along a solid decade later and try to co-opt an entire cultural phenomenon for his own transient ends is laughable. This same novice never had the guts to truly become a bearer of darkness, and yet he wants to inherit black metal? The ink on those pages is already dry, and it cannot be altered or erased. "Kurt" and his kind will continue to try, but the joke is on them. With each misguided album, with every pretentious word, these pretenders succeed in putting even more distance between them and the source. They don't like black metal past what they think it will get them, and they certainly don't understand it.

As I've said before, there was a reason for corpse paint and spikes at the height of the genre. They not only created the personas necessary to carry out the mission, but they also signaled that the rest of the world should look elsewhere for pandering entertainment. Now Liturgy, along with a slew of equally ridiculous entries, have attempted to strip black metal bare. Their version is comparable to a newborn infant - naked, struggling, and unable to survive on its own. The pretenders need black metal as it was originally intended in order to create false mystique and apply a fancy label to their squalling, but they also want it to become something that it simply is not, and they will not succeed.

So keep lying to yourself, you hipster pixie. Your "manifesto" is nothing more than a dorm-room fantasy. Your hands are clean, your will is soft, and you will find no home among us.