Archive for the books Category

Book Review: Confessions of a Heretic by Adam Nergal Darski, et. al.

Posted in black metal, blackened death metal, books, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 26, 2016 by blackmetallurgy

I actually got Nergal’s biography, Confessions of a Heretic, last year when it first came out but I didn’t finish it. So, when I planned to see Behemoth again in April, I decided to reread it in the spirit of things. The book centers on Nergal, of course, and is very comprehensive; while Behemoth plays a large role in it, the focus is always on Nergal and his relationship to the band, and he always speaks from his own perspective instead of speaking for the other guys as well.

Confessions of a Heretic covers the entirety of Nergal’s life up until roughly the release of The Satanist and the book. Nergal candidly recalls his childhood (accompanied by an adorable picture of him as a baby), the early years of Behemoth and its growth into well, a behemoth, his flirtation with super-stardom and relationship with Polish pop diva Doda, and his battle with the cancer that tried, and failed, to take him down. Throughout this review I keep finding myself saying “candid,” and that’s really the best word for it, I think; Nergal is always straightforward, always passionate, and never flinching throughout the entire book. His worldview is expansive enough to allow for Behemoth to grow into one of the biggest extreme metal bands in the world and to allow him to socialize outside of his typical circle without ever feeling as though he has compromised his position. Nergal vehemently states at several points that he keeps “one foot in the underground,” that he will never forget where he came from, and that Behemoth will always maintain their ethos.

While the entirety of the book is fascinating, there were a few parts that excited me in particular. First of all, I was very interested to read about Nergal’s relationship with his native Poland. It’s a rocky one, unsurprisingly; lots of people, myself included, have deep resentment for the places from whence they came, especially if they never were made to feel as though they belonged there. However, despite his frustration and stubborn belief that Poland could be so much more than it is, Nergal has remained in his home country, deciding not to follow his older brother’s footsteps and go somewhere else. “The band is located in Poland,” he says, then later, “Poland is my home” (103).

Another part of the book that I found really interesting was Nergal’s decision to commit apostasy (Chapter 12). Of course, as the interviewers argue, there was never any real question as to whether Nergal was a good practicing Catholic, but he was determined, despite multiple attempts at dissuasion from the priest who had to approve it, to formally break from the Church. Apostasy has always been interesting to me as a non-Catholic. I think it must be freeing to have it formally done; a priest says “Ok. You’re not part of the Church anymore,” and it’s a formal thing rather than saying “I no longer believe this” and then panicking for the next decade of your life, not that I have experience with that. Ahem. But this chapter was really intriguing to me, because, as it turns out, it’s not that easy to commit apostasy, and I found Nergal’s determination to do so, anyway, even if it was just symbolic, inspiring.

I also found it interesting to learn that Nergal has legally changed his name to Adam Nergal Darski (76), and his reasoning behind doing so. Everyone, it seems, calls him Nergal or Ner anyway, with the exception of his parents, and he decided to change his name legally. “I became Adam when I was christened. That’s what they called me without asking for my opinion. I became Nergal because I wanted to. I chose that name knowingly and consciously,” he says, citing a change of name as another break from his christening (76). I find this really interesting in light of reading Richard Cavendish’s book The Black Arts (I have all kinds of opinions on this thing that I won’t go into here) and the idea of true names and the power of names, and the efforts magicians go to in order to protect their true names, etc. It’s not entirely the same, of course, but at the heart of it, it is- names have power, and being able to make a conscious choice about what yours will be is important.

Other fun things in Confessions include stories of Nergal’s run-ins with the paparazzi (he is good at avoiding them; think action-movie-car-chases), his relationships with women and how they have changed over the years (he is very aware of his good and bad qualities, and it’s cool to hear him so openly discuss them), and his statement that he clearly knows nothing about wine since he likes whites, which, as a devoted red-wine-drinker, I agree with. Also, the infamous Kentucky Bible-tearing incident is covered, so you get Nergal’s perspective on that as well.

In a more general sense, Confessions was translated from Polish into English, and at times the language feels a little stiff, which tends to happen in translation. By no means is it distracting, and the prose is smooth, but there are times in the book when I really wish I could read Polish, because I feel almost certain that there are words and images that cannot be conveyed in English.

The format of the book is also unconventional in that it is entirely question and answer. Confessions is written in an interview format, with Nergal’s friends Krzysztof Azarewicz and Piotr Weltrowski asking the questions and Nergal providing answers. What’s really cool is that Azarewicz and Weltrowski have known Nergal for a long time, and so they aren’t afraid to ask him personal questions and rile him a bit, and you get the feeling that they are still friends after the fact. I think this is why the whole book feels very candid, like a discussion amongst friends, which makes it overall very refreshing. The English version also contains a well-written and thoughtful forward by Randy Blythe of Lamb of God.

In terms of the physical object itself, the book is nice. It has one of those covers that will appeal to weirdos like me who really like textures, and has cool photo pages and artwork (the artwork looks a lot like woodcuts from the kinds of things I study). My only complaint as a book nerd is that it’s a big book and the pages are glued into the spine, so I don’t think it will enjoy a super long shelf-life without some repairs.

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The cover, complete with bonus cat feets.

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Overall, I really enjoyed Nergal’s book. As I said, at times it felt a little stiff, but I think that was because of the translation. It was really fascinating to hear about so many aspects of Nergal’s life, and to see how his pride, his stubbornness, and sheer force of will have carried him through so many trials. That being said, Nergal also remains humble in regards to what he does, continually placing his band above himself, showing a willingness to understand and try to overcome his failings, and in how grateful he is simply to be alive. I’ll leave you with this quotation, because I think it’s important, from when the Azarewicz and Weltrowski asked Nergal what he thought of Satyricon opening the skiing world championships and Gaahl working in the fashion world (134): “Black metal, first and foremost, means individualism. It also promotes freedom without limitations.”

So there you have it, from Nergal himself. You do you, no matter what, and do it as hard as you can. Black metal is, ultimately, about no compromise.

-H

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Fun Facts to Know and Share (Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult Edition)

Posted in black metal, black metal history, books, czech republic, finland, mayhem, norway, underground, united states with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2014 by blackmetallurgy

So I have been reading Dayal Patterson’s Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult when I have downtime, which unfortunately is not often enough. It’s a fantastic book for a number of reasons, which I will go into when I do a review of it, which will happen when I’ve finished it. One of it’s greatest features, however, is how many bands it covers that don’t get talked about in these huge black metal compendiums (Gehenna, Lifelover, Graveland, and Von, to name a few). While I’m only about a quarter of the way through the book, I have already learned several things that I did not know before about bands that I either have come to realize I know very little about, or that I thought I knew everything about. For instance:

1) When Tom G. Warrior of Celtic Frost was growing up, his mother was a diamond smuggler and would leave him for weeks at a time when he was a small child. She later had a complete breakdown, and little Tom had to live in filth and destitution in a house with over 90 cats. There was no other family around for him to go to, and everyone in the town knew about his circumstances and did nothing. This living hell created the anger that fueled Hellhammer, and is a big part of why Tom G. Warrior doesn’t like to talk about his early band (36-37).

2) Von was sort of more of a legend than a real band, as they were originally only around for about five years. They never had any real output during that time; their demo stuff was later leaked, and they had no idea they were huge celebrities in the underground. They have like three albums called Satanic Blood (113-115).

3) Beherit is from Lapland. They win the award for trvest place to live (117). Also, Nuklear Holocausto, Beherit’s vocalist, is really into Buddhism and other Eastern philosophies (121).

4) Master’s Hammer inverted an entire church on the front of their Finished demo (101)! Also, the title of their latest album, Vracejte konve na misto, was taken from a sign in a Czech graveyard and means “put watering cans back in their place.” Which means that J’s jokes about the album being about gardening are not entirely off the mark (106).

5) And last, but certainly not least, the thing that I, the fangirl who believed that she knew just about everything there is to know about Mayhem, learned is: Necrobutcher was responsible for the vocals on Pure Fucking Armageddon, not Euronymous (132). (Blown. Away. Bigger geeks than me have always thought it was Euronymous.)

***

That’s what I have for now. I’m incredibly excited to keep reading this book, and I will write a full review once I’ve done with it. In the meantime, I think it’s time to change up my blog tagline.

Ave.

-Hagalaz

Metaldudes Cats Book!

Posted in black metal, blackened death metal, books, death metal, doom, DSBM, folk metal, grindcore, neo-folk, post-black metal, release info, thrash, united states, viking metal on March 11, 2013 by blackmetallurgy

It occurred to me the other day that I should totally do a post about the Metaldudes Cats Book. I have been following this project on Facebook since shortly after it started, and the time is nigh for the release of the book! Alexandra Crockett started the Metaldudes Cats Book project in an effort to “’[challenge] stereotypes of masculinity and the metal culture. I think we can all agree that cat photos and videos are an integral part of the Internet. Metaldudes Cats Book combines three loves that have a global reach: Kitties, Metal, and Dudes. A love of kitties binds the entire world together, even tough guys who listen to brutal, harsh music.” [from the official press release on Bloody-Disgusting.com]. Personally, I think this is a great idea. It’s always good to see metal dudes just being dudes; also, cats are awesome.

I'm not a metaldude, but this is my metalcat, Leander.

I’m not a metaldude, but this is my metalcat, Leander.

The book will be a coffee table book and will have pictures of some famous metal musicians with their cats, like Malefic (Xasthur), as well as a slew of pics of the tons of metal fans with their beloved pets. As I post this (and I don’t know why I didn’t do it earlier- I didn’t think of it until recently), the book is in the final stages of its production, and it should be coming out in April. Alex has been holding benefit shows for the book and for no-kill cat shelters, and is always updating the Facebook page with info about how to support local shelters and lost animals, etc. In other words, she is a stand-up lady as well as a genius and artist and you should support her work! If you’d like to make a direct donation, you can do so at her PayPal (aleksan@u.washington.edu) or Indiegogo or you can buy things from her Etsy store. I bought a poster from one of the benefit shows (it is really nice. Printed on cardstock) as well as buttons for my battle jacket and Leander’s battle jacket. It also came with a thank you note signed by Alex.

It's a nice size, too.

It’s a nice size, too.

Buttons!

Buttons!

I’ll be posting more about this project when the book comes out, because I’m totally buying one. If you’ve got some spare cash, consider supporting the Metaldudes Cats Book. Because everyone knows cats are totally metal.

-Hagalaz

[info from Bloody-Disgusting.com and the Metaldudes Cats Book Facebook]

Review: Hellbent for Cooking: The Heavy Metal Cookbook

Posted in black metal, black metal history, books, death metal, doom, Reviews, thrash, underground with tags , , , , , , , on January 14, 2013 by blackmetallurgy

For my first post of 2013, I figured I would write a review of Hellbent for Cooking: The Heavy Metal Cookbook, which I got in the mail yesterday as a late Christmas present. The book was compiled by Annick “Morbid Chef” Giroux (also known as “Sat-Annick” of the Canadian doom metal band Cauchemar), who began soliciting recipes from bands all over the world in an attempt to create an international cookbook with the additional goal of proving that not all metal heads subsist on pizza and Bachelor Chow. She also attempted to include bands that were less known but none the less deserving, like Sir Lord Baltimore, who allegedly invented heavy metal but never got the props for it, and Grimorium Verum, Ecuador’s first black metal band.

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With 101 recipes, this cookbook is quite the compendium. The cover claims that they are “basic” recipes too, which seems to be true- the ones that I have looked over closely seem mostly straightforward and pretty simple to make. Of course, there are some recipes for more experienced cooks in it as well; L’Impero Delle Ombre’s Focaccia Pugliese recipe, while completely awesome looking, does call for you to make your own dough. However, some of them are a simple as King Ov Hell’s Shellfish Crossfire, which is pretty much stir-fried prawns.

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What 101 recipes looks like.

The recipes themselves are very nicely laid out over two pages with the name of the recipe, the band that submitted it, and which country they come from at the top of the first page. Ingredients, cook-time and portions are all listed along the left hand side with instructions in the middle of the page. Giroux also adds her own notes on most all of the recipes, with comments on how to substitute for less common ingredients as well as slight alterations that can be made to the dish. The right page contains a large, colorful photo of the finished product as well as a short bio about the band that contributed the recipe underneath, which is nice since there was a concentrated effort on Giroux’ part to make sure some lesser known bands got in the book.

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Lots of yummy looking lamb dishes!

It’s also a very thorough cookbook, containing appetizers, beef, poultry, lamb, pork, vegetarian dishes, desserts, and even a few cocktails. It also contains a short list of cooking supplies at the beginning of the book that tells you what pots and pans and cooking utensils you will need (“weapons of mass nutrition”) as well as some tips from Giroux about food preparation, like how to chop hot peppers carefully or how to freeze food. The table of contents is very user friendly, and the back of the book contains an index of the bands too, in case you remembered the band but not the submission. Very accessible and helpful, then, for someone like myself who is just learning how to cook.

Table of Contents. There's quite a bit in here, and it's easy to navigate, unlike any of the other black metal books I own

Table of Contents. There’s quite a bit in here, and it’s easy to navigate, unlike any of the other black metal books I own

The recipes themselves for the most part look absolutely delicious. There are a crapton of yummy-looking lamb dishes in here, some awesome looking deserts, and some great looking pastas. There is also Funerot’s Pizza Cake, which… sounds like something a thrash band would devise. Thin Lizzy submitted a delicious looking jambalaya (I absolutely LOVE Cajun food), Tankard’s Beer Pizza Crust made it in as well, and Mayhem submitted the national dish of Norway, Fårikål (Hellhammer’s recipe, thank the gods). And of course, Slayer Mag favorites Sadistik Exekution’s Black Metal Berry Pie, which looks absolutely phenomenal.

It also contains Pizza Cake.

It also contains Pizza Cake.

Black Metal Berry Pie.

Black Metal Berry Pie.

All and all, Hellbent for Cooking seems like a great little starter cookbook as well as a fun fan object for metalheads. I’m hoping to make something from it this weekend- I have a party to go to, and I’m thinking some of the vegetarian options or the appetizers will be really good to make. I’ll also update on here if I make anything from it, just like I did when I cooked some of Vegan Black Metal Chef’s stuff, to give you all a heads up (I still can’t find any truffle oil).

One of my favorite pictures. There's also a lot of humor in here

One of my favorite pictures. There’s also a lot of humor in here. Yes, my blanket has cats on it

Seriously seriously going to try to update more. Until then.

-Hagalaz

Review: Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal & Grindcore

Posted in books, death metal, grindcore, Reviews with tags , , , , on July 8, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

I just finished reading Choosing Death: The Improbably History of Death Metal & Grindcore by Albert Mudrian. The book is exactly what it sounds like- a history of death metal and grindcore. It details the grungy beginnings of both genres as well as the ways in which they intersect (which are far more numerous than I ever realized), the time when death metal and grindcore *almost* became popular, and the struggle that both genres have had in their attempts to remain relevant and interesting.

My friend Jamie’s criticism of Choosing Death was that it is a good book, but if you don’t know much about the bands and people involved it can get confusing really quickly. I concur- I know about the genres, of course, but I can’t imagine what it would be like to read this book if you weren’t familiar with them. Like I said before, they cross over in many ways, many of which I had no idea about. The four main bands, however, are Napalm Death, Carcass, Death, and Morbid Angel.

[One of my personal favorites]

I knew about the ties between Napalm Death and Carcass, but I didn’t realize that Mick Harris was responsible for getting many death metal bands signed. I also didn’t realize just how many death metal bands in the U.S. swapped members with each other. Because of all the band-cest going on, it can get kind of confusing, even if you do know the bands being referenced. It is really cool to see how the scene grew up, however, and how closely related the two scenes are. For instance, the book discusses the struggle that Napalm Death often faced as to what direction they would go in. Attempts to perfect the mixture of hardcore punk and death metal that made grindcore what it was caused numerous problems for the band, and often led to people leaving.

[Of course, everyone who was in the death or grind scene in England in the 80’s was a member of Napalm Death at some point. It was like a rite of passage or something]

Other aspects of the book that were particularly interesting to me was the background information on the producers and record labels that made mass distribution of bands like Death and Carcass possible. Earache Records was kind of like the underdogs who stuck by their bands until an ill-fated collaboration with Columbia in America. Many of the producers seem to have been really cool people who loved the music and the scene and were concerned with maintaining its integrity, but you also meet some unsavory characters along the way whose hope was to commercialize the music and try to get a death metal album on the Billboard charts.

[Good luck with that]

The Swedish scene gets a bit of attention, primarily in the form of Entombed, who have a particularly interesting story behind their personal issues with being signed to a large label. The book also discusses some later bands, like Arch Enemy and Opeth. Even black metal is mentioned a bit, but only for one or two pages and only for context; for instance, black metal becoming the new thing instead of death metal (I am skeptical that this has actually happened; it seems to me that both are thriving) and Darkthrone trading in their death metal roots for corpsepaint and spiked gauntlets.

[Some early Darkthrone]

The book ends by addressing the issue of whether or not either genre can really progress. It laments the endless supply of cookie cutter death metal bands (and there are tons out there), and suggests that grindcore cannot become experimental without changing what makes it grindcore. Bands like The Locust are suggested as the most experimental it can get, but I think that the new Napalm Death album (you can read my review of it here if you’d like: https://blackmetallurgy.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/review-napalm-death-utilitarian/) proves that it is possible for grindcore to still remain grindcore while incorporating new approaches (like having John Zorn play the saxophone on your album).

The pictures in the book are also really cool, as they have an old school ‘zine feel to them. They are black and white and cut and paste with several pictures often layered on top of one another. Also, the chapter headings follow this same theme, often with Xerox streaks on them as though they were simply photocopied and bound together.

     

My final estimation- Choosing Death is a very detailed history of the death metal and grindcore scenes, and is packed cover to cover with information. That may be my only criticism of it- it’s a bit overwhelming at times, even to someone who is familiar with the bands and genres. That being said, someone unfamiliar may find themselves hopelessly confused at times, although the book does provide a handy “cast of characters” list at the beginning of the book to help guide you (be sure and book mark that page for future reference while reading. It’s astounding how many death/grind guys have names beginning with “M”). The design and layout of the book are very cool, and I love the way they incorporated the DIY look. There was not as much on the Scandinavian scenes (although there was a fascinating section on Slipknot, which incorporated the band members’ views of death metal as well as death/grind musician’s views of them), but I guess I will have to get the Swedish death metal book to get my fill of that. If you are looking for a detailed account of the rise of two of the most endearingly obnoxious extreme metal genres and their glory days, give this one a look.

Later,

Hagalaz

Review: Lucifer Rising

Posted in black metal history, books, funeral mist, mayhem, Reviews with tags , , , , , , on June 17, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

Gavin Baddeley’s Lucifer Rising: Sin, Devil Worship and Rock and Roll is another book that my friend loaned me for research on my black metal paper. The book is largely about Satan and Satanism in pop culture, so the references to metal are supplemented by the surrounding events in the larger cultural sphere at various times. Although this book deals less specifically with black metal in particular, I much preferred it to Lords of Chaos.

from OpenLibrary.org

Mr. Baddeley clearly did a lot of research in the writing of this book, and his sources span a large amount of time. During his writing of the book he actually became a card-carrying member of the Church of Satan, and Anton LaVey allegedly told him that he was a “smart cookie.” Despite his own personal alliance with the CoS, however, Baddeley presents his information on other Satanic organizations without being derogatory. It’s easy to see where his opinion lies- he’s super snarky- but he tends to be critical across the board and is always more informational than anything. He’s also not dismissive of theistic Satanism in the way that I felt that Moynihan was in Lords of Chaos either, which was one of the things that made me bristle when reading that book.

The interaction between the music aspects of the book and the pop-culture references is really cool. For instance, the take-over of heavy metal in the 80s is put up against the backdrop of the “Satanic panic” witch-hunts in the United States, in which it was believed that cults involved in a Satanic conspiracy were practicing ritual abuse on and abducting children. Likewise, Baddeley looks at the connection between Satanism and many of the more famous serial killers- and undermines the argument that they were Satanists in most cases. The book also details the rise of the Church of Satan in response to the hippie movement and talks about the Process Church and their music.

[Some re-recorded Process Church music by Sabbath Assembly. This stuff is cool.]

Incidentally, one of the Process Church’s magazines used the same cover art as Funeral Mist’s Devilry EP, which I thought was interesting. One of the best parts of the book, I think, is the intersection where metal and pop-culture cross over.

From Encyclopedia Metallum.

Another cool part is, like in Lords of Chaos, the interviews. Baddeley talked with LaVey quite a bit. He also interviewed many other major Satanists in pop-culture, like Kenneth Anger, as well as the leaders of some Satanic organizations. There is also, for us black metal geeks, a late interview with Euronymous, who discusses his own views of the Devil and black metal.

From GunShyAssassin

I was a little confused as to what Baddeley meant when he talked about “black metal.” Of course the first and second waves are black metal, and Venom, but he did seem to be a little less exclusive with the term than I am. What other black metal bands were contemporary with Venom? I don’t know, and so that was a little confusing to me. Other than that minor confusion, however, I didn’t have any problems with this book. Baddeley is irreverent while maintaining an underlying seriousness. He’s snarky and I like that. His opinion of Moynihan also seems to be much like mine, which I will admit made me feel a little smug. Moynihan was an interviewee as well, which was kind of cool because you get to see the man not necessarily attempting to be objective like he was in writing his book. It’s easy to see where some of Moynihan’s biases lie and helps to contextualize some of the weirder parts of Lords of Chaos.

The illustrations were also really cool, and I was happy to see that the cover illustration was actually done by an American. I at first thought it was H.R. Giger, but I was wrong. It’s cool to see some Satanic artwork from my own home front. I also really loved the historical bits in the beginning, particularly Baddeley’s discussion of the gnostic cults, as that is a kind of Satanism that is very fascinating to me. I will need to do some more reading on this, clearly.

So if you are looking for a book on black metal in particular, this book may not be exactly what you need. Lords of Chaos, for all its problems, does actually address the scene itself a little better (though if you want straight from the source, pure, unaltered black metal you should read The Slayer Mag Diaries). As far as widening the scope, though, Lucifer Rising is the way to go. Unlike Lords of Chaos, it doesn’t get so close that you can’t see the forest for the trees at times, and Baddeley places the metal scene in context with the larger representations of Satan in pop-culture, helping to show how the two interacted with each other. It’s a fun and interesting read and I highly recommend it.

Until next time,

Hagalaz

Review: Lords of Chaos

Posted in black metal history, books, Reviews, true norwegian black metal with tags , , , , , , on June 4, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

(Sorry this post is late. We were out howling at the full moon, and it didn’t get finalized until just now. Also, I learned how to do captions!)

Recently, I wrote a paper on black metal and the environment (Scandinavia and US Cascadian black metal in particular) that I still need to upload parts of. The point, however, is that in my research I had to resort to whatever few primary texts were available for black metal, one of which is the much maligned Lords of Chaosby Michael Moynihan and Didrik Søderlind. Varg Vikernes and Fenriz have both shown quite a lot of distaste for the book, dismissing it as sensationalism or claiming that words were twisted, etc. In order to do thorough research, however, I have to show that I am well read, and so that means citing the available, well-regarded sources (well, well-regarded by people who aren’t members of the early 90s Norwegian black metal scene). Now that school is out, I finally had time to sit down and read through the whole thing.

Pic taken from Wikipedia

The first half to two thirds of the book is pretty good. If you know the early 90s Norwegian black metal scene and the happenings therein, it’s pretty much just review. If you don’t know the story/stories, it’s a good primer, although much of the supplementary information I would warn to take with a grain of salt, which I’ll get to in a bit. The thing that really makes the book interesting is the interviews. Now, I would not be surprised if Varg has claimed that he has been misrepresented, or misquoted, or what have you, but my observations on Varg over the years has led me to believe that he just plain talks too much and digs his own grave 90% of the time. There is plenty of him in here. There are also interviews with Faust, Blackthorn, etc., and as the book continues the interviews remain really cool. I found the ones with Ihsahn and Ulver on Satanism to be really interesting.

Mayhem in the Early Days. From Last.fm

I did have some issues with the book, however. After the discussion on Varg and Neo-Nazism (which contains large segments of Varg being downright ridiculous), the book tries to focus beyond the initial crimes and scandals of the early 90s, looking at the way black metal has progressed in the world since. Here, I think, is where it falls apart. The author wants to push this idea of “resurgent atavism,” which claims that the ancient gods (in this case, the Norse gods) are more archetypes than gods, and that they are manifesting in modern society through these kids committing these violent acts. To me, this just sounds like a handy excuse for naughty teenagers, complicated by the fact that he refers to this “resurgent atavism” in conjunction with the Nazis- something about the theory that they were Wotan reincarnated. It seems to me like this just gives more ammo to the Nazi kids that the author, in my opinion, spends way too much time on.

It also leads to some strange divergences. The latter part of the book is all about this resurgent atavism, and it gets weird at times because they start discussing things like the Lords of Chaos, these boys in Florida who raised a lot of hell and have absolutely nothing to do with black metal at all. They weren’t metal fans. They were racists, but one does not imply the other and vice versa. They also talk some about the Electric Hellfire Club, which is fine but which isn’t metal. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it seems like they get sidetracked from their original premise by trying to force these incidents, which have little to do with each other beyond the fact that it’s all teenagers being jerks, under some kind of umbrella with black metal. And that’s where it falls apart for me.

The discussions on Satanism were particularly interesting however. I really enjoyed reading perspectives from Ihsahn and Ulver, and some of the outside sources were interesting as well. There was one interview with a Christian preacher that was fascinating- he was not judgmental of the Satanic bands but rather has a curious perspective on theistic Satanism as a form of Christianity. I was a little frustrated with the author’s treatment of theistic Satanism as opposed to atheistic Satanism- he projects this feeling that anyone who holds a belief in a higher power is stupid and childish and consistently refers to spiritual Satanism as “medieval.” As someone who has never been able to be an atheist, that’s a personal beef, but he also does little to separate the theistic Satanists of the sort like Watain from the kids who “sacrifice” people because they watch too many horror movies. That’s not the same thing, and it gives a false impression, I think. As a whole this section was really good, however, and it’s interesting to consider how the Norwegians in particular seem to be moving more towards Viking lore and away from the Satanic.

However, anymore, where there is Norse imagery there is fascist imagery, and the book gives a somewhat disproportionate portrayal of the NSBM scene. Absurd and Satanic Warmaster are, I think, the only NSBM bands anyone cares about, and the interest in Absurd probably has little to do with their music (I didn’t realize that those kids who killed their classmate were Absurd. I learned that). The NSBM scene, while it does exist, is marginal in the larger black metal subculture, and no one takes it very seriously with the exception of NSBM bands themselves. Which is why they got so livid when Marduk laughed at their allegations that they were an NSBM band. NSBM bands have very little credibility. The book’s focus on Varg goes hand in hand with this issue, and they get a little carried away here.

Absurd’s logo. [Encyclopedia Metallum]

If I were to make suggestions for changes in future additions of the book, I would endorse adding more well-rounded info in the section where they talk about black metal’s influence throughout the rest of Europe. Peste Noire and Drudkh didn’t exist when Lords of Chaos was first written, but I think bringing in these bands with clear nationalistic bents but no overt Nazi tendencies would really contribute something interesting to the discussion. I would also follow up on Jon Nödtveidt- as it stands, he’s mentioned alongside a less than flattering quote and then they talk about how he killed someone. Some more info about how he felt remorse for what he’d done and how he came out of prison a better person would be nice, lest people think he’s another Varg. Besides, it’s interesting to be able to compare him, Varg, and Faust all up alongside each other.

Lords of Chaos needs more France. [Earsplitcompound.com]

Final thoughts- if you are a black metal fan and know the story of the early 90s Norwegian scene, the beginning of Lords of Chaos will largely be review for you. You should really consider checking out the interviews, however, as they present all manner of interesting perspectives, such as the preacher, alongside some of your favorite musicians. If you are new to black metal or want to know more about it, the beginning parts seem very accurate based on what I know of that time in black metal history, and you will get an opportunity to hear large parts of it straight from the mouths of the musicians themselves. Be aware, however, that the NSBM scene is misrepresented as being something much bigger and more important than it actually is- very few black metal bands are involved with anything neo-Nazi. Though some will flirt with the imagery, it’s usually in a blasphemous context and is not politically motivated. Also take the sheer amount of crime stories that the authors pack in there with a grain of salt. They get really excited with their resurgent atavism thing, and they go off on a bit of a tangent.

Lords of Chaos is a very interesting book, despite the fact that many of our favorite musicians don’t like it. For people doing research on black metal, it’s something you need to cite, through I’d stick to the interviews and the early parts- despite their determination to not sensationalize things like the media did in the early 90s, the authors get a bit over-excited with the Nazi and crime stuff and it becomes a little less reliable. The interviews themselves make it worth reading, however, and it is something you should familiarize yourself with if you are a black metal fan so that you can decide for yourself what is good and what isn’t.

Marduk review on Thursday…

Later,

Hagalaz