WHAT IS BLACK METAL?

JONATHAN SELZER, RE­VIEWS EDITOR AT METAL HAM­MER MAG­A­ZINE, EX­PLAINS THIS FOR­BID­DING MU­SIC SCENE

Real Crime - - Black Metal Murder -

“I think black metal means dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent peo­ple, but for me, I’d say it’s a link be­tween the vis­ceral and the sub­lime, rooted in some­thing prim­i­tive but seek­ing to in­voke some­thing an­cient and dor­mant in the mod­ern world.

Purists will say only bands with a Satanic out­look can call them­selves black metal. Its core sound is de­fined by speedy tremelo pick­ing, rapid- fire drums, blast­beats and shriek­ing vo­cal, but most fans of the sub­genre would agree that black metal has al­ways been about more than the mu­sic. It’s an at­ti­tude, value sys­tem and an un­holy at­mos­phere you need true be­lief to at­tain. It’s ded­i­cated to ni­hilism and trans­gres­sion, but tran­scen­dence too.

It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that what was hap­pen­ing with the

Sec­ond Wave that peo­ple like Eurony­mous and Vik­ernes were part of, is it was a tiny scene at the time, so ev­ery­thing created rip­ples. As of­ten hap­pens in nascent scenes, there’s a jostling to lay claim to its foun­da­tions and ide­ol­ogy, of ev­ery­one try­ing to outdo each other. Tie that into a scene en­twined with ni­hilism, mis­an­thropy and anti- Chris­tian fer­vour, but one that also op­er­ated as a cult, and it was a tin­der­box wait­ing to ig­nite.

The fact that black metal is very much alive

30 years or so later is a very pow­er­ful le­gacy, but the fact that it’s also been very aware of its own roots has kept the nar­ra­tive of metal as a whole alive, has proved that some­thing es­sen­tially prim­i­tive can be ex­pan­sive, and has also kept alive the idea of metal as both out­sider mu­sic and mu­si­cally charged. I have been to Ne­se­blod in

Oslo, and if you’re in­vested in black metal, it’s a trea­sure trove. It’s pretty claus­tro­pho­bic, which adds to the at­mos­phere, but the sheer vol­ume of al­bums and para­pher­na­lia on dis­play could keep you there for hours. Of course the base­ment with the ‘ Black Metal’ sign ( as seen on page 24) is kind of like Stone­henge for met­al­heads. So much his­tory sur­rounds it, and whether you’re pro­ject­ing it your­self of not, there’s a power there that you can feel too.”

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