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Hagalaz’ Favorite Black Metal Covers

Posted in black metal, covers, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2016 by blackmetallurgy

So I’ve been planning on doing a thing on black metal cover songs for a long time but never got around to it, and by this point I’m sure there are some on my original mental list that have slipped my mind. But here is at least part one (there’s no Bathory on here, for starters. Mainly because I’d have done Emperor’s cover of A Fine Day To Die but I wanted to do the Mercyful Fate cover).

My personal favorite covers tend to be those in which a band puts their own spin on the original, incorporating new sounds into an old song, so that’s what I’ve tried to stick with here. And so without further ado, some personal favorite black metal covers of mine in random order!

Emperor – Gypsy (Mercyful Fate cover)

I remember reading in The Slayer Mag Diaries that Metalion didn’t like this cover, I think because of what Emperor did with the keyboards. But the added keyboards give the song that symphonic and majestic feel that is distinctly Emperor, laid over the straightforward, traditional metal of Mercyful Fate, and personally, I think that’s what makes it fantastic. Well, that and Ihsahn singing falsetto.

 

Watain – Watain (VON cover)

HERE IS. WHERE HE KILLS. Watain’s cover of the song from which they took their name is great fun, not least of all because Von sounds absolutely nothing like Watain has ever sounded a day in their lives. It’s always a good time to hear a band play something completely out of their ordinary style, and I’m less likely to get all whimsical and teary-eyed like I do when Watain covers Dissection.

 

Shining – I Nattens Timma (Landberk cover)

By all means, if you do not know Landberk’s original of I nattens timma, you ought to get out there and listen to it. It is, I think, actually creepier than Shining’s cover, with a more music-box feel to it and creepy flutes. However much I really like the original, though, I absolutely adore Shining’s version, which is how I fell in love with Niklas Kvarforth’s clean singing voice.

 

Dissection – Elisabeth Bathory (Tormentor cover)

There is literally nothing about Dissection covering Tormentor that isn’t cool. Of course, Jon Nödtveidt will never sound like Attila in the opening voice over, and Dissection’s approach to the song is, unsurprisingly, not as atmospheric or low-fi as the original. But rest assured, they’ve certainly Swedish-ized it, and only in the best possible way.

 

Thorns – Cosmic Keys to My Creations and Times (Emperor cover)

Thorns’ cover of Emperor’s Cosmic Keys is totally weird, and completely wonderful. It’s all the Emperor riffs you love, but slowed down to doom speeds and with a spoken-word voice over rather than the shrieks of the original. Slow-building and immensely heavy with a steady, almost tribal-sounding drum beat in the background, Thorns’ creepy, apocalyptic-feeling approach to the track is proof of how lucky we are that Samoth and Snorre were kicking around in the same prison for a bit.

 

Agalloch – Kneel to the Cross (Sol Invictus cover)

I remember seeing Agalloch play this live and being shell-shocked, because at the time I hadn’t heard the original, but I had studied medieval lyric poetry, and all I could think of was this. Anyway. That’s weird. Both versions are fantastic, of course, but it’s interesting how Agalloch’s blackened version seeps the hopefulness out of the original.

 

Melechesh – Babylon Fell (Celtic Frost cover)

Melechesh’s cover of Babylon Fell adds a Mediterranean flair to Celtic Frost’s blistering original. The drums in particular are really cool on this track, with the syncopated drumbeat shifting slightly away from the original. Likewise, they use several different vocal techniques, making for some interesting layering (I am, unsurprisingly partial to the shrieks). And of course, there’s some sitar in there as well, lending this cover an Eastern feel that complements the title and lyrics.

 

Dimmu Borgir – Burn in Hell (Twisted Sister cover)

Okay, so this is once again me posting Dimmu post-them being acceptable to a lot of black metal people, but once again, I don’t care. They covered Twisted Sister, and Burn in Hell at that, and it’s fun as shit, and ICS Vortex is as on par here as he ever is.

 

Limbonic Art – De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (Mayhem cover)

Limbonic Art’s symphonic take on De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is super cool- the vocals are inspired by Attila’s while still having an original flair to them, and the added keyboards give the song an eerie, almost gothic effect, complementing the original beautifully while still maintaining its own sound.

 

Celtic Frost – In the Chapel, In the Moonlight (Dean Martin cover)

I didn’t realize that this song was a cover until just recently. Now that I realize that it’s not only a cover, but a Dean Martin song, I find that not only awesome but also hilarious. This can also go into the list of Totally Metal Songs to Play at Your Wedding, which is now also going to be a list because I just thought of it. Celtic Frost also definitely put their own spin on this one, considering that it, uh, does not sound like Dean Martin.

 

So there you go! That’s a start of a list, at least, and probably needs more added to it, so don’t be surprised if there’s a part two lurking in the future. I’m working up a review of the Metal Threat Fest Warm-Up Show with Destroyer 666 (!) as well as some other things, but the posts might be more sporadic over the next couple of weeks while I finish up the summer session of school.

Until then,

H

 

 

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Towards the Pantheon: 20 Years of In the Nightside Eclipse

Posted in anniversary, black metal, norway, true norwegian black metal with tags , , , , , , on December 27, 2014 by blackmetallurgy

I’ve said it once, and I know I’ll say it again, but Emperor really might be the best black metal band ever in my book. Their musicianship is brilliant, and the fact that they were able to compose such masterpieces so young is absolutely astounding. And nothing quite shows off what the young band was capable of like 1994’s In the Nightside Eclipse. Melodic, thunderously heavy, and as off-putting as it is lovely, Emperor’s debut full-length is an album that sits pretty near the top on most fan’s lists of the greatest black metal albums of all time.

While many bands have done the symphonic black metal thing since Emperor’s heyday, none have managed to pull it off quite as well as Emperor themselves. Because the keyboards and symphonic bits are not just embellishment in Emperor’s music in the same way that it is in the music of so many bands- the symphonic bits are integrated deeply into the fabric of the music itself, causing the songs to exhibit a shared genotype. Although In the Nightside Eclipse is not as cohesive as the later Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk in terms of the album sounding really seriously like a freaking symphony, you can definitely hear the start of something approaching that theme-like approach on Nightside.

The cover art is every bit as magnificent as the album itself, featuring goblin-like creatures wielding all manner of nasty-looking medieval weapons and storming towards a castle. The Death figure from the band’s demo, Wrath of the Tyrant, oversees the festivities, and the bright moon casts its shadow over roiling clouds and dark mountains. Fittingly, the setting looks a lot like Norway, with its craggy peaks and spear-like evergreens, and considering that the inside artwork (at least that on my CD version) depicts a Viking battle, I’d say that the culture of the frozen North is pretty much stamped all over the Satanic emanations of this album. For me, the most awe-inspiring aspect of the artwork is the way the landscape is bathed in the moonlight, a mix of frosty blue and purplish hues that I have come to associate with Necrolord’s work.

An HD wallpaper rendition by aerock36 on deviantart.

An HD wallpaper rendition by aerock36 on deviantart.

From fanarttv.com

From fanarttv.com

Nightside also contains some of Emperor’s most instantly recognizable tracks. Of course, “I Am the Black Wizards” is probably the fan favorite, a rad 8-bit cover by Darth Eniak having made waves on YouTube. And when I saw Ihsahn perform at Maryland Deathfest and he soundchecked with the opening riff to that song, I will admit that I sort of had a moment of fangirl madness. My favorite track on Nightside, however, is probably “Inno A Satana;” the classical-inspired riffs in the song emphasize what I love most about Emperor, their majesty and sheer musicianship.

2014 marks the 20th anniversary of what is easily one of the greatest black metal masterpieces ever created. Emperor’s debut full-length spawned a slew of imitators, but none have ever quite managed to compare. I was lucky enough to find a mint-condition LP of In the Nightside Eclipse earlier this year (the Back on Black edition), and I was overjoyed, as Emperor was my main reason for purchasing a record player. And now I’m going to go listen to it some more, because it’s never not a good time for Emperor.

-Hagalaz

The Big Four (or More) of Black Metal

Posted in black metal, black metal history, mayhem, musings, norway, sweden, true norwegian black metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

The other day, Metal Sucks did an interview with Cannibal Corpse’s Paul Mazurkiewicz and the topic of the Big Four of death metal arose. Mazurkiewicz claimed that the Big Four of death metal, if there was a Big Four, would be Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Deicide, and Suffocation. I am not sure; personally, I think Immolation should be on that list somewhere, though I would hate to kick anyone off of it, especially as I am quite the novice in terms of death metal knowledge.

Someone in the comments then decided to do a Big Four of Any Kind of Metal You Can Shake A Stick At, and came up with the following Big Four for black metal.

  1. Immortal
  2. Darkthrone
  3. Emperor
  4. Dimmu Borgir

Now, it is my personal opinion that Dimmu Borgir does not belong on that list. I am not one of the people who hates Dimmu; rather, they were a gateway (HA. See what I did there?) band for me to get into black metal waaaaaay back in high school. Their old stuff is particularly spectacular, and I think they were very strong up through Death Cult Armageddon. Nevertheless, I don’t think they belong on that list. There is already a symphonic black metal band on that list, and nobody, but nobody tops in Emperor in that respect.

Why Mayhem and/or Burzum is not filling that fourth spot on this person’s list I don’t know. But then herein lies a problem- both Mayhem and Burzum should be in the Big Four of black metal, and so should the other three. And then we are just considering Norway, and only considering the second wave of black metal. Blut Aus Nord has had far reaching influence both in and outside of France, as has Von from the U.S. and Swedish staples like Nifelheim. So, without further ado, I give you (I am taking into account here influence and innovation- I think most black metal bands nowadays can be traced back to these guys) my personal Big Six of Black Metal (with justifications).

1. Mayhem

Seriously. Anybody who does not acknowledge Mayhem as godfathers of the second wave of black metal is kidding themselves. No, they have not been as prolific as other black metal bands (see Darkthrone, holy crap) and have often gone far down experimental roads that have left even the biggest fans scratching their heads, but no one can deny their status as progenitors of the second wave. I mean, Euronymous invented the black metal riff. De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas has topped just about every list of the greatest black metal albums of all time, and some of the most brilliant minds in the genre have played in the band. Fenriz claims Live in Leipzig as the album that birthed the second wave of black metal, and Mayhem has been lauded and admired in black metal scenes the world over, especially for their crucial early work. Mayhem should not only be on the list, they should be at the top of it.

2. Darkthrone

Whereas Mayhem has not been all that prolific in album releases (but have in bootlegs the combined weight of the entire band), Darkthrone has been one of the most abundant bands in the scene. Over the years they have released fourteen full length albums, and several demos, EPs, and compilations. Although their early stuff, particularly Transilvanian Hunger, has sometimes been called generic, there is no denying the influence of Darkthrone on black metal as a whole. The title track of the aforementioned album is, of course, one of the most instantly recognizable songs in the entire genre. Darkthrone’s attitude is also a reason for including them on the list; though late to the party (they were playing death metal until someone told them what was up), Darkthrone has maintained their stick-it-to-the-man, punky attitude in a way that most of their contemporaries have not. To this day, Fenriz works a regular job at the local post office, makes time to correspond with fans, and is an ardent supporter of the underground scene. Their later work has been very experimental, seeing the band dabbling in rock and roll and punk, but their attitude has never waned. Darkthrone does what they want, and in doing so they have never let the spirit of the early second wave die.

3. Immortal

When Immortal came on the scene, they were met with skepticism. How trve were these guys playing black metal so largely influenced by thrash, who write songs about the weather rather than Satan? Today, however, I think that there is little question of Immortal’s importance to black metal. Immortal reminded us that there is more to darkness than the Devil, such as freezing rain and driving snow, the grim, cold darkness of winter, and the stony bulk of impassive, towering mountains. Their fierce tremolo picking and relentless blast beats even sound like winter, and the ferocity and beauty of the season comes across in their work. Not to mention that their corpse paint, Abbath’s in particular, is some of the most instantly recognizable. Immortal has, in many ways, become the face of black metal, and considering that they seem to be genuinely nice guys, they make very good poster children. Immortal was the first black metal band (well, besides Dimmu) that I really got into, and they have a very special place in my grim, frostbitten heart. They earn their way onto the list for daring to take a different approach and proving wrong all those that doubted them.

4. Burzum

Another innovator of the early scene, Varg Vikernes deserves a spot on the list. Though I’m not a big fan of him as a human being, and I assume there are others out there who feel like me, you really cannot deny his contributions to black metal. If black metal’s most important aspect is the atmosphere as Fenriz claims, then Varg deserves to be lauded, because Burzum pretty much invented atmospheric black metal. His early work is repetitive, but has just enough subtle variation to never get boring. Astoundingly simple, yet beautiful and haunting. Burzum also incorporated the “necro” sound of low-fi recording like its contemporaries, but almost using it as an instrument to help create the desired atmosphere. Without the atmospheric stylings of Burzum, black metal as we know it today would sound completely different. Varg’s implementation of Norse mythology and culture into his music is also representative of the pagan influence on black metal, which has been taken up by other bands such as Vreid and Enslaved.

5. Emperor

…And then there was Emperor. I don’t think I really need to explain how awesome Emperor is, but I will justify putting them on my list, inasmuch as it needs justification. Every once in a while you hear a black metal band and it becomes very apparent that the members of said bands are skilled and serious musicians. Emperor is one such band. Although it is perfectly acceptable to have earned your chops jamming in your garage there is something to be said for musical training, and Emperor soars to new heights in the complicated nature of their work. Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk was my first Emperor album, and it blew me away. Why? Because the album acts more as a symphony than a modern popular rock album, with certain melodies repeating themselves at various instances throughout the record and a coherent feel to the whole thing. Emperor’s crafty use of keyboards in their music is never silly and always stirring, and their melodic passages make the soul sing.

6(66). Dissection

Last but not least, I would have Dissection. Dissection were contemporaries of all the aforementioned dudes from Norway, but are strikingly different as a result of being from Gothenburg, Sweden, the capital of Swedish death metal. Influenced by that scene, Dissection’s music is melody-heavy in a way that the early Norwegian bands are not. There are guitar solos and there are folky acoustic interludes. Dissection is about as far as you can get from the bleak fuzz of Burzum or the heavy, Venom-influenced Mayhem. Nevertheless, Dissection’s influence in Sweden and elsewhere has been vast. Melodic black metal lines are still used prevalently today by bands like Watain and Naglfar (both countrymen of Dissection), and this more accessible approach has also been inspirational in other scenes like France and the United States, though both I would argue have over time developed their own sounds. Unfortunately, because they were not in the Norwegian black circle at the time that black metal took off, Dissection has not received the attention in the best of lists that I believe they deserve.

***

And there you have it. That is my Big “Four” of Black Metal. As you can see, this list is not definitive. My list comprises older bands, bands that were highly influential but still primarily second-wave. I have not taken into account the first-wave, with staples like Venom and Sarcofago. Many third-wave bands like Deathspell Omega and Funeral Mist have also wielded tremendous influence in the scene, and there are big holes in this second-wave list where bands like Marduk, Beherit, and Ulver should go, yet in an effort to keep the list short, this is what I came up with. Also, considering that the Big Four of Thrash takes into account commercial success as well, these early bands are perhaps the most notable in terms of names that people know (I certainly had heard of Emperor and Immortal before I had delved far into black metal). The list is by no means perfect, but I feel like it addresses some of the most powerful of the original innovators, without whom bands like Deathspell Omega might not even exist (can you imagine what DsO might sound like if Burzum had never happened? Certainly different).

In an effort to get more people talking on this thing, what are your Big Four (or more) of black metal? Do you agree that these bands should be on the list? If not, who would you kick off? Who would you add?

Stay grim, my friends.

-Hagalaz

A Note on the Grammatical Construction of “I Am the Black Wizards”

Posted in black metal, norway, true norwegian black metal with tags , , , , , on September 13, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

**Edited because it was an interview with Samoth, not Faust. My bad. -H**

The other day I was reading Metalion: The Slayer Mag Diaries, and I came across an early Emperor interview. In it, Samoth explains the title “I Am the Black Wizards.” Now, I have always assumed, as I assume that most people have assumed, that this was a grammatical mistake made by young men whose first language was not English. However, according to Faust, the lyrics read:

“…How many wizards that serve me with evil, I know not. My empires has no limits, from the never ending mountains to the bottom lakes I am the ruler and has been for eternity’s long. My wizards are many, but their essence is mine. Forever they are in the hills, in their stone homes of grief. Because I’m their spirit of their existence. I am them.” (emphasis mine, all tense issues sic, taken from Slayer X).

So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Mortiis’ (he wrote the lyrics) use of the plural in this sense is, in fact, correct. The speaker refers to himself as the essence of multiple black wizards as opposed to a single black wizard; thus, he is all of them at once.

I don’t know if that had flummoxed anyone else out there or if it was just me, but there’s the explanation if you want it. The title is grammatically correct, and it’s an interesting philosophical statement as well.

[Also the 8-bit version. Because why not?]

-Hagalaz

Black Metal Videos

Posted in videos with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

In keeping with the theme of over-theatricality from my post on Cradle of Filth earlier this week, today we will address black metal videos. This has been on my mind lately, as Marduk has a new video out (strange, huh?).

The black metal music video is an extremely weird genre. In a subgenre as opposed to the mainstream music business as black metal is, music videos almost seem counterproductive. And yet, they show up. Sometimes they are very good. But not often.

In the black metal scene there are certainly the classic videos, and those I don’t want to look at much today. Primarily because you’ve probably already seen them, and in my efforts to bring you to new horizons, I want to show you things you may not have seen.

[You’ve probably seen this, but I’m putting it here in case you haven’t, because you must]

Immortal is perhaps as good a place to start as any, as their videos are legendary for being silly (see above). Immortal is a shining example of the fact that it’s difficult to make a serious music video if you’re dressed up in corpsepaint and leather. You just look kind of ridiculous, even if you’re being serious. The best part of Immortal’s videos, however, is that the music is still Immortal, and therefore, still amazing. Their most recent album, All Shall Fall, had a video accompanying the title track that they released when their DVD came out (which I still need to get). It, while still full of classic Immortal goofiness, is a very good video.

[My favorite part is the fact that Demonaz makes a cameo. Made my little black heart sing]

Also always ready to contribute to the silly black metal music video department is Dimmu Borgir. They are both blessed and cursed, I think, to be the biggest band related to black metal on the market. And attention from the mass media calls for music videos. Unfortunately, they tend to turn out like this:

[This may be the silliest thing they’ve ever done. Which is impressive]

Their most recent album, Abrahadabra, which bummed me out in a number of ways but isn’t the point of today’s post, came accompanied by a music video for the track “Gateways,” which, with its lack of forests and abundance of white, looks less like a black metal video and more like a commercial for everyone’s favorite dairy drink.

[Got milk?]

Satyricon is probably most famous for their “Mother North” video, which is fantastically cheesy but also really cool. They have also released videos for their later works.

[“Ahem, ladies. I’m drumming. BUSY.”]

As you can see, little has changed- there’s still scantily clad women, and Satyr’s glossy, shiny hair. This video depicts Frost destroying a drum set in all his glory (he is amazing. I am not completely bummed that he won’t be playing with 1349 in a couple of weeks because 1349, but he would have been the icing on my metal cake).

My searching in black metal videos also taught me that apparently Emperor made videos. This is strange to me. Emperor would not have struck me as a band that would make a music video (but then again, neither does Marduk). But they have, however, and you would think that they would be no less dramatic, but still somewhat subdued.

[You’d be wrong, though]

Well, they were young, and besides, I still think that Emperor just might be the greatest black metal band ever. They can do what they want, in other words, and still be perfectly fine because my goodness is that a good track. This video is more of the kind I’d expect from Emperor, however.

[Same band. Different kind of awesomeness]

Marduk has released a couple of music videos, too, and they are equally strange. First there’s this. It often gets an 18+ rating on YouTube, which is confusing to me as it’s pretty much just Mortuus rolling around in the dirt and screaming a lot:

[It’s plenty disturbing, but I don’t know that there’s anything 18+ about it]

And then there is the new video, which is a little cheesy in the way that black metal videos will be, but Mortuus in particular is on his scariest behavior.

[Hello there. Yikes]

Also dramatic are the kids from Poland. I’m not going to show any Behemoth videos because they are easily stumbled upon, but this video I have seen less interest in, and that’s weird because it is a lot of fun.

[DUDE. Check out them horns]

And remember Hate? The guys I went on about a couple of weeks ago? They have made videos too. Here is one of them, for which I will issue a warning because it contains some artistic nudity. But I promise you it is one of the unsexiest things ever.

[Unless, you know, vomit is your thing]

As you can see, the black metal video market is alive and well. We’ve come a long way from the performance vids of Immortal, but the theatricality has, if anything, gotten more grandiose. At the same time, Marduk’s video for “Throne of Rats” seems to serve as proof that black metal videos can be decidedly unfunny and serious if gone about it correctly, as well as showing that sometimes all you really need is some moist dirt and a bloody vocalist. The videos themselves do a great job of demonstrating the precarious nature of black metal, always straddling the line between the silly and the sublime, even if the silliness is often unintentional (I have my doubts about the Immortal videos, though).

Until Sunday.

-Hagalaz

Swedish Black Metal (Part III)

Posted in black metal history, musings, sweden with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

**Edited for clarity, typos (I took French, not German. My apologies for my misspellings), and slight modifications. Thanks to X for additional info**

Previously, I discussed the reason that Swedish black metal has been largely ignored in the metal world (Swedish death metal) as well as how it developed a unique sound (again, mostly death metal). In this installment, I will address some common themes found in Swedish black metal. And also I haven’t discussed Satan yet, and he’s kind of a big deal. So with that said, let’s press forward, shall we?

Themes of Swedish Black Metal

I. Satan 

I don’t know how I made it this far into this thing without discussing Satanism, but it’s long overdue. Black metal has always had an interesting relationship to Satanism that is more or less pronounced depending on where the band is located, who is in it, etc. So let’s dissect it a bit, shall we? (No pun intended. Well, not with too much intent.)

Norway

The Norwegian scene often gets conflated with Satanism, primarily because of the church burnings. In the early 90’s, Varg Vikernes set a lot of churches on fire, which people in the media took to mean that he was a Satanist due to the large scale “Satanic panic” that had been going on for a time, alleging that Satanists were committing horrible crimes. He’s not, although he claimed to be in the early days (and now vehemently denies any association with Satanism, just like he likes to vehemently deny a lot of things). He seems to lean more towards paganism, and was torching churches as a statement against the Christianization of Norway. But unfortunately, he was about 500 years too late, and people were understandably confused.

[Not a Satanist]

Plenty of bands were using Satanic imagery as a stick-it-to-the-man kind of thing, but few of them viewed it with any level of seriousness. Dead of Mayhem was fascinated by Satanic ritual but doesn’t seem to have actually practiced it, and some bands that claimed to be Satanists in their early years (i.e., when they were teenagers) eventually abandoned that train of thought.

[Like Emperor’s Ihsahn. This song is perfect, by the way.]

That’s not to say that there weren’t a few practicing Satanists in Norway. Euronymous from Mayhem claimed himself a theistic Satanist (see my earlier post this week and GO VOTE TO HAVE EURONYMOUS’ FACE PUT ON A PLANE: http://www.halehelter.no/), as does Infernus of Gorgoroth (theistic Satanism viewing Satan as a deity as opposed to the atheistic Church of Satan which promotes individuality and self-gain without the religious stuff). All of them seemed to think atheistic Satanism was stupid, with the exception of the couple of them who were atheistic Satanists.

The main theme however was anti-Christianity, which everyone could agree on. The pagans were sore because they were forcefully converted, or their ancestors were, the theistic Satanists were sore because… because Christianity, and they were all teenagers who were struggling to find an identity, which Satanism facilitated through its focus on individuality.

Sweden

Sweden is different. The Swedish black metal bands did, and still do, take their Satanism VERY seriously. Apparently there was a Satanic “black circle” in Sweden as well, though I’ll be damned if I can find anything on it. Satanism had a hold in Sweden in a way that it never did in Norway. While everyone in Norway was running around panicking about Satanists, who were often not actually Satanists, lighting churches on fire, the Swedish black metallers were actually Satanists and were generally behaving themselves.

There seems to be two major schools of Satanic thought in Sweden. One is anti-cosmology, maintained by the Misanthropic Luciferian Order (MLO), or the Temple of the Black Light. Their big focus is on Chaos, and bands with a link to them are Dissection and Watain.

[This album in its entirety describes anti-cosmology better than I ever could]

Dissection has especially close connections with the MLO. Jon Nödtveidt was one of their first members, I believe (though not a founder), and he sported a “MLO Warrior” patch on his battle jacket. Also, one of Dissection’s bassists actually quit the band to focus more on his esoteric studies. Dissection aptly labeled themselves “Anti-Cosmic Metal of Death.”

[Anti Cosmic Metal of Death]

There is also a camp of Satanism in Sweden that seems to follow the more traditional approach. Marduk is one of these. When the band started in 1990, Morgan claimed he wanted to create “the most blasphemous band in the world.” While he claims now that that was just something he said when he was seventeen, Marduk has continuously churned out Satanic themes.

[Some of them less mature than others (a cover, yes, but nonetheless. This is one of the reasons I love Marduk, though)]

Although I can see parallels between the two, Marduk’s Satanism seems to not be as centered on anti-cosmology as just good ol’ fashioned anti-Christian Satanism. They use a lot of Biblical imagery, and they’ve upped the ante on that ever since Mortuus joined the band.

[Mmm. That’s such a tasty riff.]

Mortuus’ (who goes by Arioch the rest of the time) utilizes much of the same kind of Satanic imagery in his other projects. Arioch has famously said that to him, black metal is “music with a Satanic, destructive message, or a devil-worshipping message. That’s it, nothing else.” (Blabbermouth interview).

[Triumphator is mind-blowingly good. I’ll elaborate more on Arioch’s stuff later]

Of course, Nifelheim also uses Satanic imagery (and I totally forgot them in my first edition of this thing. Ah well. I guess they fall in the same camp as Dissection).

[“Storms” also show up a lot, I’m noticing.]

And of course, these guys. Though I hear some of them are LaVeyans. (Shhh.)

[Not any less serious about the Satan business, just in a different way]

Of course, that’s not the only theme. There are also…

II. WOLVES

Wolves seem to crop up a lot in Swedish black metal too. It may be because they tie in well with the Satanic themes- wolves as opposed to sheep, for example, a metaphor that E of Watain once put beautifully. Wolves are also majestic, and at least here, they are endangered (I am unsure of the wolf population in Sweden). They are pack animals, and they are vicious and excellent hunters. I’m sure you’re getting the gist.

[Watain really likes wolves. A lot. Lots of their merch has wolves on it, including the awesome hoodie of theirs that I want]

[taken from Watain’s Facebook]

[Fairly straightforward.]

Marduk also has an insignia that’s a pentagram with guess what on top of it?

[Yes, that’s my shirt and yes, it’s on me. It was a Marduk kind of day.]

And Morgan has yet another side project, thought less black metal, whose name has nothing to do with wolves.

[Or everything, rather.]

Also, apparently Lord Ahriman of Dark Funeral is in another band called Wolfen Society. I have known of this band for all of three minutes, and they’re actually based in Ohio, but it only helps to prove my point. Where there are associations with Swedish black metal, there are often wolves.

Even Amon Amarth has a song about wolves, but now I digress. Besides, there’s another point I haven’t addressed yet, that point being…

III. War

War is another big theme in Swedish black metal, although it, like the other two themes, is not limited to the Swedish scene. Of course, “Black Metal ist Krieg” according to Nargaroth, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that war is a common theme. There’s the concept of an army or a band of brothers type thing too, which goes along with wolves in the pack mentality as a group of individuals working together to form a single destructive force. Watain uses the slogan “Black Metal Militia,” and Marduk refers to their fanbase as the “Marduk Legion” and often has war imagery in their songs.

Marduk in particularly loves their war history. They’ve devoted concept albums to Vlad the Impaler and his conquests and Third Reich history. …Anyone see where this is becoming potentially problematic?

[They like tanks. BIG ones.]

Because of the small yet noticeable presence of neo-Nazi black metal, using Nazi imagery can often cause people to start talking. Panzer Division Marduk caused some fuss- I’m guessing Marduk lost some fans who thought they were Nazis, and the NSBM bands were stoked because, well, not a lot of them get big (for obvious reasons) and they thought they had finally gotten one of the big names in black metal on their side. Until Morgan dismissed the claims in an interview, which pissed off the NSBM folks and lost them too. Plus, to be fair, the whole album… kind of sounds like that. It’s short, it’s sweet, it’s to the point, and it’s a little repetitive. It sounds exactly like machine-guns firing, however.

[War and Satan. It’s a thing.]

WWII imagery seems to always come up with the Swedish bands- though their music has nothing to do with it, Watain got in a lot of trouble once for something involving swastikas. Their response? They’re not Nazis, because those people lack vision and are too short-sighted.

Ponder that a second. Watain are not Nazis because Nazis are not nearly evil enough.

*cough*…Anyway. Marduk has never quit using WWII imagery and the like, and personally I don’t think they need to. They’ve shot down the rumours that they’re a Nazi band. They just really like big tanks. And that’s okay. It is also worth noting that these guys are from Sweden (I suppose.)

[…And that’s the first and last time you’ll ever see power metal on here. *shudder*]

[I’m sorry. Here, quick! have some Bathory as a palate cleanser]

Though these are by far not the only themes that exist in Swedish black metal, they are some of the more prominent ones and crop up a lot, often in conjunction with one another- both war and wolves can be linked with Satanism. Which can, incidentally, be linked with Bathory.

So next time will be the last installment, I think. I’ll get to the new bands on the scene in depth, finally, because holy crap there is some great stuff coming out of Sweden right now. Until next time.

-Hagalaz