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Black Metal: Evolution of The Cult
07:13 am


Feral House
Black Metal
Dayal Patterson

Apparently yesterday’s “Cyber Monday”—a great American tradition, right?—was the single biggest online shopping day “in history.” (That’s how it’s being reported this morning, with a straight face). As someone who positively loathes the holiday season, the rampant consumerism, the hoards of mindless shoppers and all the rest of it, I think I have something DM readers might be interested in, and even if it’s not exactly your thing per se, it still might make a seriously rockin’ gift for someone you know. Especially for someone who really hates Christmas…

First off, to show you how objective my opinion truly is, I didn’t even know this book existed until it arrived in the post on Saturday. I did not seek it out. Secondly, it’s not on a topic that really tends to interest me all that much, either. But there it was, right in front of me. It was weighty to hold and a quick perusal said “definitive” to me loud and clear, obviously an attractive quality in a book. It looked interesting. It appeared to be very comprehensive. It’s a nicely produced object, too. It was calling out—in a voice that sounded oddly just like Mercedes McCambridge’s—“Read me, read me,”

It was thus that I promptly dropped whatever it was that I was doing and spent most of the day Saturday and part of Sunday between the covers of Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult by Dayal Patterson (Feral House). It’s a fascinating overview of Black Metal written by a seriously otaku expert on the genre. At nearly 500 pages, it’s instantly the defining book on Black Metal, even a kind of minor masterpiece of the rock book form, featuring dozens of interviews with the luminaries (would that be the right word?) of the Black Metal scene. I got totally lost in it. I mean, hey, who doesn’t like books on extremist musical sub-cultures?

I got something from this book that I didn’t get from Didrik Søderlind and Michael Moynihan’s Lords of Chaos—which was more the tale of the church burnings, suicides, murder and general mayhem of the Norwegian Black Metal scene. Lords of Chaos, a classic in its own right, was a sociological examination of Black Metal, even a bit of a “true crime” book, whereas with Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult, I came away with a list of albums that I had to hear. NOW.

My idea of what Black Metal sounded like, frankly had a lot to do with the personalities and the criminal incidents that many writers have focused on. I had never really listened to it, just read about it. What was presented to me, well, it just struck me as idiocy—drunken Viking idiocy mixed with a healthy dollop of goofy Lord of the Rings playacting and blasphemy. Blasphemy? Really guys? Blasphemy was kinda cool when John Lydon or Crass did it, but the idea of a bunch of Venom-obsessed Vikings on a bender singing about how they hate God and worship “evil” and stuff just struck me as something I’d never be interested in listening to in a million years.

I’m not saying this is necessarily accurate—it’s partially accurate to be sure—but it’s the idea that I had of the genre. All very interesting from a sociological perspective, but when I read Lords of Chaos, I didn’t rush out looking for any of the music. After finishing Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult, I couldn’t wait to hear some.

Thank you, Internet. The first thing I listened to—and I turned this shit up so loud it felt like there was wind in the room—was Mayhem’s 1994 album, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, an iconic album generally agreed upon as one of the pinnacles of the Black Metal art form, an unholy grail if you please. Owing to the fact that to describe this music with adjectives like “Satanic” or “evil” would be utterly pointless when you can just hit play, crank this as loud as your speakers can possibly go, or right at the pain threshold if you’re wearing headphones.

Holy shit, right? Two of the members of this band were dead before this album even came out. One was the vocalist, a fellow called “Dead” who blew his head off with a shotgun, the other was the guitarist, “Euronymous” who was killed by the former bass player, Varg Vikernes, AKA “Count Grishnackh.”

Vikernes, who spent years in prison for the murder (and who has been in the news again recently for inciting racial hatred and glorifying war crimes) released this utterly demented one-man band album, Filosofem, under the name Burzum. I’m not endorsing this guy’s repulsive political views in any way (or that he named himself after an orc from Tolkien), but Filosofem, like De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, is an utterly mind-boggling work of art. It’s music that feels like it’s devouring you. It probably helps not to understand what he’s singing…

In any case, you can see what kind of fun I had with Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult. To me, there’s no gift better than new music, or a book like Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult that draws back the curtain on a musical genre perhaps previously overlooked, providing plenty of grist for the rock snob mill. Am I likely to become a raging middle-aged Black Metal fan? That’s perhaps a little far-fetched, but as I fan out through some of the groups that seem the most interesting according to the author, I’m liking what I hear. I think most serious music fans who would get this book as a gift would appreciate it as much as I have. It’s a winner, one of those books that leads to further (rewarding) discovery. I really can’t recommend Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult highly enough.

Below, Burzum’s closest thing to a single, “Dunkelheit,” the epic opening track from Filosofem. How the fuck did something like this ever get on VH1???

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Richard Pryor invents Black Death Metal in 1977
12:35 pm


Richard Pryor
Black Metal

From the first episode of The Richard Pryor Show, the comedians’ ill-fated NBC series (only four episodes were produced). Imagine seeing this at 8pm on ABC in 1977! Mind-bending!

From archieoogley’s YouTube description:

Pre-Spinal Tap Mystical Hobbit Rockers? Check.
Druidic cloaks? Check.
Smoke machines? Check.
Pryor utilizing the long-accepted habit of slurring your words to get past censors? (See ‘Louie Louie’ by the Kingsmen for history’s best example) Check.
Pryor throwing giant bags of drugs and pills into his all-white teenage audience? Check.
Pryor using a gas gun to kill the first few rows? Check.

And finally, Richard Pryor taking a machine gun to his fans, killing every white teenager in the place? Double-check.

Jimi meets KISS meets Funkadelic meets King Diamond meets Sunn O))) meets Sigue Sigue Sputnik meets the Cowardly Lion meets Dawn Davenport? You just can’t beat it.

You’ll see a very young Sandra Bernhard in the audience. They cut to her a few times.

Thank you, Lee Richard!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Black Metal Satanica

Black Metal Satanica, as you might have already surmised from the title, is a 2008 documentary on the second wave of Scandinavian Black Metal music and its practitioners. Church burnings! Self-mutilations! Grave desecration! Suicide! Satanism! Murder!

Something here for the entire family. I wanna party with these guys…

Delve into the history of Black Metal with this comprehensive documentary covering the origins, the lore, the lifestyle and the contemporary scene of the Viking-based musical genre, from Scandinavian melodies to self-destructive behavior. Director Mats Lundberg’s interviews with key figures shed light on the different Black Metal factions. The film features music by bands including Watain, Vreid, Shining, Svartahrid, Rimsfrost and more.



Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment