Saturday, December 24, 2011


Let's try to do this with small words only.

Small words are lonely. The more they're made from the simplest parts, the more they're surrounded by words made up by sounds similar to them, the more lonely they get because they are lost in a semiotic sea. A word like "extravagance" shines a charismatic light amidst the puny syllables that surround it.

Coroner were a Swiss trio that came about in the mid '80s. They started out playing thrash, similar to German thrashers but perhaps with more fluid guitar bits here and there. With each record they mixed up their thrash until it sounded little like thrash at all. They followed this road to its end in the span of ten years. For a techno-thrash band, they put out a lot of records and for the purposes of this text we're going to deal more with the tra-je-cto-ry than any one record itself.

You see, Coroner have gotten back together. They've been playing around Europe and they've been clear that that's it, there won't be a new Coroner record. I saw them live in downtown Athens a week ago and a lot of big thoughts in big words I've had about them, a lot of in-tu-i-ti-ons have been jolted into place by that show, and their meaning is surprisingly simple.

The reason Coroner do not want to put out a new record is because of said career arch; They're finished and they know it. They did what they set out to do. It's not often a Heavy Metal band starts out with anything but their masterpiece. Coroner started out promising and increased expectations until their end, so it's a good idea for us to examine what it is exactly they wanted to achieve. All that I've got to say about Coroner can be gleaned in my recount of the live show.

Coroner do not move about a lot on stage. The light choices are a cold blue, a bright green and some times, an orange. The blue suits them best, though the orange is good for when they step outside of their pa-ra-di-gm. It is very telling that they brought along a keyboard player to recreate exactly the effects they put in their latter-era music. Coroner aren't half-assing their reunion shows. They want to show exactly how their music was meant to be experienced. This means Coroner are still very proud about their material. They aren't a sloppy middle-age Candlemass doing pub-rock renditions of once mighty Epic Doom Metal hymns. They're playing everything as well as they ever could. This is important.

Coroner's selection from their records is also telling. They played only two standard thrash numbers. "Masked Jackal" was part of the set, and their early opus "Reborn Through Hate" was part of the encore. These choices are apt, because not only are these two songs some of the best thrash metal ever recorded (especially the first track), they're also the only necessary demonstrations of the thrashy side of early Coroner, much to the chagrin perhaps of younger listeners in the crowd, their blood boiling in their revivalist tube jeans and cut off denim jackets. Coroner are very aware of which parts of their work are worth showcasing, and to what extent. Pride again, but also, a desire to convey a progression and an end.

Thrash bits aside, the mood of the rest of the material we saw was consistently bi-polar. This is where I describe what Coroner sound like, in small words. Heavy Metal - and especially thrash metal - has these riffs, see? Riffs are melodic phrases that are played over and over. Riffs are catchy and fun. People like riffs, and they really love thrash riffs because they're very dense in rhythm, they make the body move. By the time Coroner got to thrash, everyone was in competition about who can make the busiest riff. Coroner played this game too, early on, and their method of making riffs busy was to put between chords these beautiful neo-classical scale runs, arpeggios and other flashy guitar pyro. This was a novel idea for a thrash band, and Coroner could have tried to ride it for a longer time. But instead, by the third record, Coroner got to chopping these riffs up into little pieces. The whole of the mother riff is the same complicated, scale-heavy riff they always did. But they no longer play the whole thing in sequence. They break it up to little pieces and instead play the little pieces to death, in a circle. A, B, C, A, B, C, D, A, B, C, A, B, C. Coroner are really tiresome to listen to.

The bi-polarity comes from the solo sections in their music. While the chopped up half-thrash (and this is an important term, historically) riffs are very punishing to the senses to the point of, let's say, a boredom that is close to a trance (like some electronic music), the solo and melody breaks are very fluid and beautiful, full of color and a desire for life. Then it's back to the grind.

This is the style Coroner perfected from record three to five. The voice on top is raspy and rhythmical as well. The bass guitar is usually in lockstep groove with the guitar. The drumming started out typically thrashy, tom roll heavy and busy and by the end of their trajectory, it had become a very very simple kick - snare - crash stomp. The simplest drums you can imagine behind these chopped up riffs. Whereas a band like Pantera grooved with their half-thrash to convey exactly a 'Walk', a macho stomp, muscles taught, beer belly proudly jiggling, confused sexuality and bravado, Coroner groove in reverse, like an external machine, a body on automatic, neverending process. What is it processing? What is driving this machine, and to where? Internal conflicts.

So this is what Coroner sounds like. But what do they feel like? What did they feel like live?

There was a point of synaesthesia which prompted thoughts of this article (and more about how the article is constructed) that is worth conveying. Wait. Smaller words. There was one moment in the show where lights, sound, people around me and my own sense of my body came together and made me think. And I wanted to tell you what I thought. Yes, yes.

Coroner prefaced "Semtex Revolution" with their awkward English "this is a song about feeling paranoid, about terrorists, about looking at the word strangely". Blue lights washed over the stage and people started doing their half-thrash dances (which is really something to enjoy, if you ever find yourself in a techno-thrash concert. The riff meters don't line up, spines are strained!) and words were said over music and it hit me then: this is remarkably lonely. The music is very lonely. People are having some strange type of fun below and they're all together in this room, but in reality what this music is communicating is solitude. Everyone's on their own. We might enjoy the same thing right now, but not all in the same way. This is not a Manowar concert, there are no metal brothers in arms here. This is more modern, actually. Even the people on stage are not playing as one. They're playing the same thing, in lockstep, actually, but they're not becoming one.

Coroner had gone to great lengths to have a very clear live sound. Four people on stage and you could hear exactly what every one was playing. This is important (and rare, oh boy is it rare). It isn't because they play as a unit so much as it is because everyone is playing alone. The lyrics of Coroner songs are also telling.

Let's look at Internal Conflicts, sans the usual italics. These lyrics do not need italics:

"I will crush my skull when I feel like doing it
I will break my bones when I feel like doing it
I will cut my veins when I feel like doing it
I will shred my skin when I feel like doing it

Self destruct

I will smash my teeth when I feel like doing it
I will slash my face when I feel like doing it

Self destruct

But I never will touch you"

People were singing along and headbanging below to this, it was surreal. I was singing along and headbanging to this, seems so strange now. But I was completely alone. I wasn't thinking about whomever it was that drummer and aesthetic leader of the band, Marquis Marky, would never touch. I was thinking of those I will never touch. Diagnosis: Modernity. Solution: Self destruct. Status: Body Destroyed, Brain Intact. Process: Still Thinking.

Then and there, the a-e-sthe-tic choices of Coroner finally clicked for me. Of course the riffs are chopped up and repeated to the point of exhaustion/ecstasy. Have you seen a lonely person move around in their room? A time-lapse of loneliness, perhaps? Of course the lyrics are mantric chants where most of the words are simple and interchangeable. Have you seen an autistic child move back and forth? Of course the solo sections jump out with lust and desire, because in spite of themselves, the autopsy is inconclusive. The corpse still longs to live. Hence, Coroner reunited and toured the world, twenty years late from a ten year career to tell this story again. And why? It's because the follies of modernity have not been assuaged. They never will be. Coroner (the entity, the spectral wisdom behind Heavy Metal), face unknowable, masked with duct-tape and gliding backward towards you in a concrete parking lot, manifested in that live show. There was no dark wisdom passed, there was no ritual blood spilled, there was curiously nothing at all to mark its passing, but at that moment where light and crowd and lyric and rhythm collided, I felt like the teenager Helm again, alienated from a world I thought I understood too well and which misunderstood me totally. I felt as if looking outside a window to a world without a future. I felt as if an atomic bomb might fall and devastate Europe because of a geopolitical sequence inconsequential...

There I go again with the big words.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I wear the cat skin gloves

Dark sorcery against death eternal. I shall not rot in the sun, yet my invert method will never be communicated. I stand in solitude because to co-exist requires alligiance to one side and hate for the another. I do not want to spend myself in hatred of anything, nor do I want to love. I would have it so that the Other did not exist, were not a concern. Darkness swells in and makes the bravest fires suppress into tiny points of light swimming in a mute ocean. Surely if other travellers exist, their faces cannot be seen anyway, just shapes and vague, spectral movement. What use are reminders of distance anyway? Just as well, I know it inside my heart that I am above them, I have no desire to present an argument for it, thus it is self-evident. All that is true is self-evident in solitude.

Heavy Metal starts and ends with an ambiguous scream, every listener interprets it in the range from triumph to anguish according to their idiom. It does not matter what the interpretation is as long as the source of it is clear. Many times the sentiment in Heavy Metal lyric has been expressed "if you don't feel it, you won't understand". A dividing line has been drawn, perhaps the line, on the trajectory of the globe's tall curve becomes a circle, and inside the circle stand some men and the occassional brave woman. These individuals, in an uneasy alliance, inspect each other and wait. In certainty they know that one of them will soon step over the line and be ostracized for it. At the end only the self remains in the circle, but the circle is not small, it spans the whole of creation. No one else in sight. There's power there. I'm sure you know what else is there. The more I contemplate the killing art of romance the more I realize that in lieu of the high toll that the mistress calls for (go on, guess what she wants from you) the listener attempts to assuage her with the more bearable currency of solitude. "Already dead, see? Alive forever!". For the sorcerer, exhaustion is ecstasy.

Trapped alone in an empty world, taken by the love of death, only esteemed faculty being that of the imagination, it turns to dreams of immortality. What a combination.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Brocas Helm and Cirith Ungol

Let me tell you about Greek metalheads. Greek metalheads are weird but they don't remember. They listen to weird metal and they think it's normal. I'm a Greek metalhead that listens to weird music and tries, once in a while, to remember that its weird. My fascination is not lessened by this realization, if anything it is augmented. I like weird. I do not feel I am like other human beings. Do you? I don't think anyone feels as if they're normal, yet we pretend. There is usefulness in pretending you're normal, socially.

What is normalcy? I suspect it has to do with opinion bias. Let's say you have this tiny opinion, a small thing, no, not an opinion, more an intuition. Let's say your intuition is that Men Are Strong and Women Are Emotional. You're not exactly certain where this intuitive thought comes from. You express it all shy like at first and see how your reality around you deals with it. Unbeknownst to you, that little intuition was planted there by the same society that now will validate it for you. Yes, yes, good boy. You look up to certain individuals, they may be peers or parents or other figures of control and authority. When someone smarter than you confirms one of your small ideas as correct, when they pat you on the ass and send you on your way to plant the seed, you feel wonderful. You no longer have to think about this little thing anymore, since it's verified as true. File under 'solved'. Perhaps you're here on this blog for this same reason. Well I've got nothing normal for you, I spit on your normalcy, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

So, the construct of normality is based on what a society expects of a society. It feeds itself, it perpetuates reality in order to function. That society-image that is constantly enforced is not necessarily connected with real events, only interpretations of events (certainly, men and women exist, certainly men and women are different. That's as far as any tidy epistemological review of the genders can go. The rest is interpretation). What I'm getting at with my second grade sociophilosophy here is that no matter how many people agree on a conception of the 'real world' and of 'what is normal', their shared fantasy remains a fantasy. There's many different groups with different reality-fantasies, they all consider the out groups as wrong and their psychological well-being hinges on the suppression of the Other. War's always in fashion.

But why would people do something so risky as to interpret reality? Can't we all agree to look at the real reality straight in the eye? Wouldn't that make sense?

There is nothing more terrible as unfiltered reality. The razor of Occam will cut you in half. The Nooumenon, if accessed, will destroy our sense of self, our will will dissipate into aether. When we realize everything we know is wrong, everything we believe is unfounded, nothingness takes the place of somethingness. What is worse than death? Oblivion. You haven't died, you never existed. There is no going back when time hasn't even started.

People need to make sense of reality. Reality is non-sense in its core. People therefore wrestle sense out of non-sense, because non-sense annihilates. People need to agree with each other that the sensical frame they're put all this nonsense in exists, much in the "are you seeing what I'm seeing, g-good, this means I'm not dreaming this" reflex. Domestication of wilderness.

Yes normalcy is a fantasy. We all remember this deep inside. The dread of non-sense, of in-humanity, of non-causality, is at the core of the being. A shadow strikes in the absence of light and molds terror into insanity. Don't go that far out in the darkness, now. At best, take a sideways glance into the wound, let's say from morbid fascination, for higher inspiration. That's what we've got art for.

And from all the arts, oh the weirdest of them all is Heavy Metal! (this is false but go with it). Romantic chaos core yet the product of modernist means. It has a classicist conceit but not half the talent of any b-grade classical composer. It has roots in rock n' roll but there's no swing to it. It's an ape trying to become God through imagination. Heavy Metal is trying, like anything else, to establish a reality, a normalcy, but it's just so misshapen, so ill-wrought that any way you look at it you have to notice it: there's a lot of nonsense in Heavy Metal. There is power in those ambiguous spaces, and so often we try to hide them, we're embarrassed for them.

Greek metalheads. My nom de plume on the internet is 'Helm'. It doesn't come from Brocas Helm, but it also comes from Brocas Helm. I was introduced to Brocas Helm by people who consider them, Omen, Manilla Road, Cirith Ungol, Warlord, Manowar to be Gods. I capitalize because I am literal. Have you heard of the weird fascination of European vinyl collectors with fabled US metal? It's a weird thing, but I've come to a small understanding of it over the years.

You see, Greece in the late '80s and early '90s was a country under American cultural influence. American cinema, American comics, American music, American television. We grew up with Rambo, Batman, Robocop, Conan. I remember my childhood fascination with American entertainment vibrantly. My age and grasp of English wouldn't allow me to understand all of the cultural signifiers inherent to these imported arts. I instead would appropriate their strengths and discard their weaknesses and place them in the same mythical mindspace where artifacts of a higher cultural ethos also wandered. Robocop would and could team up with brave Odysseus, on his long voyage to Ithaka. Hercules was both a character in marvel comics and a demi-god of courage and roid rage. I saw no incongruity to this absolutely weird mix of small gods. The only god that never featured was the Christian one, his essence too mystical and complex for my young mind to ever bother fathoming. What do you mean he's one but he's three, and why did one of his three die to save my soul? No thanks. The only aspect of the christian god my child mind could roll with was that he existed before time. My small Greek child mind saw time as eternal, no beginning, no past, no end. As far as little Helm was concerned, Robocop has existed before time too. I didn't like the part about how God created time though, I though that's bull. Human beings created time, they were the ones telling me I will grow from a child to a man and from a man into a corpse.

In the same way, the early adopters of Heavy Metal music here in Greece, after the initial culture shock of the British innovators, seeked US steel as if it was of inherent higher quality by virtue of it being from the US. It didn't hurt that the US did create amazing metal and in great quantities. In their broken-English understanding they stripped away irony from almost trash-culture influenced US metal vinyl, and with irony together something else shed away: ephemerality. In the strange universe where Conan arm-wrestles Thesseus, these weird little records, product of America's 5 year long fascination-cum-appropriation of the 'next new thing' (Heavy Metal) became much more than they appeared. The US moved on, but Heavy Metal in Greece stood still. It became ancient, timeless and the records they became masterpieces of pathos.

I'm not joking. Brocas Helm and Cirith Ungol are a big deal here for (a lot of) metalheads over 25. Perhaps for the American reader this sounds weird, and that's because it is. However inside Greek cult-and-true metal circles, it's not weird, it is normal. It has become an enforced fantastic-reality, and to be True of Steel and Spirit, you have to swear by Robocop and Apollo both that you find it absolutely normal as well.

I'm not going to deny what I am. I've listened to Cirith Ungol and Brocas Helm for so long they sound normal to me too. I can swear the Oath too, I can converse with my similars. But it's very useful to step outside of one's mindspace once in a while and appreciate how weird all of this is, because there's a power that's often forgotten there. This is what this article is about.

Still on board? Great. So, what's the fuss, why search for strangeness in Brocas Helm? Well, because if Brocas Helm are normal, and if Cirith Ungol are normal, and if Warlord are normal, and if Manowar are normal, that means all these things are the same, and must be appreciated in the same way. This is problematic, and it is how the myth of 'US metal' came to be. These bands couldn't be any more different from each other and nobody should be expected to like Warlord like they like Manowar. The (not so) secret brotherhood of True Metal hinges on the idea that this all makes sense, a linear, masculine sort of sense, brought by Apollo with his thunder perfect mind. But instead these bands are really weird. Queer, one could say. It's worthwhile looking at them from this vantage.

Brocas Helm's first record, 'Into Battle' is my preference, but for the purposes of this text, we shall investigate their second offering, 'Black Death'. A nice anecdote I have to share that makes my case is that a close friend of mine who comes from a black metal background decided to give Brocas Helm a listen at some point. He doesn't have an early start with obscure US steel so he only had second-hand impressions to go with. He listened to the record and told me that found it very interesting how not-at-all-like-US-metal the record sounded. Listening to US metal fans praise Brocas Helm to the heavens, he expected really muscular, tight and complex power metal, but instead he found strange, reverberated psych rock and stop-starty rock and roll and drug folk and a bongo-drum freakout topped by a thrash maelstorm and all sorts of weirdness. When he told me this I put the record on (well, I double clicked on some mp3s) and tried to listen with his ears and he's right. This music is misrepresented. I don't know exactly why yet, but it's a shame it is.

The production makes everything swim in uncertainty what with it's endless reverb waves. Guitar phrases come and go, letting the bass underpin most of the melodic movement in the song. Playful rock and roll licks are elevated into something altogether individual by unorthodox twin-lead harmonies. Songs are short and the energy is fierce. The vocalist sounds like he comes from a bar rock band. There's choruses of twisted chanting midget vocals, reverse-taped keyboard leads, there's medieval-sounding flutes and there's extensive neoclassical solo bass. Lyrics are always short phrases that make less sense the more I read them, their tales of fantasy much less to do with Tolkien and much more with the pulpy writing of... well, the usual suspects. There's a song to give courage to new capitalists joining the fold after the fall of the Iron Curtain. And there's humour. Is this US metal? How the hell did this become integrated into any normalcy, how did liking Brocas Helm become a perquisite for belonging in any masculine subculture?

Hell's Whip is one of my favorite tracks from Brocas Helm. Let's take it as an example and discuss its morphology.

0:00 - 0:12 Intro with a staccato medieval-sounding bass+guitar phrase with cymbal embellishments. This choppy sort of riff characterizes Brocas Helm. It sounds like Greek traditional island music if you ask me.

0:13 - 0:44 Sound effect of thunder. Sound and fury! The verse riff below is a more robust variation of the intro, still staccato and march-like (no groove to speak of) with palm mutes and then singer contradicts the whole thing by hitting a faltering falsetto note at the end of the verse, made even better by the endless reverb wash. Studs and leather! Hell's whip flashing! Coming down on meeeeee heheh

0:44 - 1:15 Open chords underpin the vocal melody here, a common rock trope to strip down the riff to let the singer be, but of course the drummer chooses this spot to put all his fancy fills in. Oh and then the bass guitar pops through the mix completely. It's like the band refuses to commit to a single mood and stick with it all together, there's a discussion between the members as the song goes on. They make the less dense harmonically passage sound the busiest. When you're not paying attention, almost all Brocas Helm songs are achieving the same mood, all the time. When you're paying attention, Brocas Helm songs are achieving many different moods in different combination at all times.

1:15 - 1:32 Of course everything comes to a dead stop and we get the reprise of the intro. Usually after a chorus a metal band will play their awesome power riff to drive the hook deeper, but this is Brocas Helm's idea of an awesome riff. This staccato minstrel melody, you can almost see the wee men dancing around the fire to it.

1:32 - 2:00 ABCABC, there's also a sound effect of what sounds something like howling wind but could also be a jet engine in the background.

2:00 - 2:15 repeat of intro, with a very distant and cavernous guitar harmony somewhere in there, sounds like an afterthought in the mixing stage.

2:15 - 3:41 The band finally lets loose completely outside the ABCABC structure suggested above. Sound effects of breaking class (?) and a barbaric clash of double bended leads and double bass until we enter the solo proper. Of course the solo is underpinned by an amazing riff that other bands would use as the main hook. Has there ever been so many sound effects in a Heavy Metal song?

3:41 - Out of nowhere and with no flow at all we are presented with a final reprise of the intro theme and the song ends. This music is weird as well with the standards of Heavy Metal bands. I love it, and I'm certain those others that love it do so in earnest, but let's remind ourselves how outside even Iron Maiden's concept of song construction (which is weird in itself) even one of the simplest Brocas Helm songs is. If we like this, we like weird music. If we like weird music, let's be sympathetic towards weird human beings. Let's not make a fantasy-normality out of weirdness, let's embrace it. I posit that if there's any lover of strange Heavy Metal like Brocas Helm that also has a problem with minorities of any type, of non-privileged out groups, they need to listen to their music closer.

The rest of 'Black Death' is wonderful and varied (if you're paying attention). In some songs you can barely hear the vocals. In others the lead guitar is obviously and intentionally completely out of harmony. There's a song in there that sounds like everything Venom ever wanted to achieve but better (see if you can guess by the name which it is). There's a high-energy anthem that sounds so anachronistic for *any* Heavy Metal era it surely must have existed outside of time as if the notation for it was found carved on some monolith. There's sword-unsheathing sound effects that are so reverberated that they sound more like octave-shifted toilet flushes. Towards the end you'll start thinking the sound design of this album is perfect and you wouldn't have it any other way, don't worry, that's weird, but it's okay.

And Cirith Ungol. Ooh, Tolkien name, M. Whelan cover of the Albino sorcerer-king, surely this will be more normal sounding proud and powerful US metal, right?

Well, the rhythm guitar sounds like a hoover running at half speed, the bass guitar has a round wet tone that's top in the mix. The drummer's sense of meter is not exactly terrible, but let's instead say that if the drummer went in to record these songs to a click track without accompaniment, this would be a drastically different sounding record. And the singer, oh, the singer. Double-tracked troll screeches (usually in pitch though!) that could not have existed in any other rock n' roll subgenre but in Heavy Metal.

Cirith Ungol are more often talked about as an acquired taste than Brocas Helm, but I do not see the difference. Cirith Ungol play extensive '70s-esque epic compositions, where Brocas Helm alternate between stilted minstrel melodies and storm-and-fury two-minute proto-thrash (though thrash was over by '88 when 'Black Death' was released). Cirith Ungol attempt a famous J.S.Bach composition, Brocas Helm put neoclassical bass runs under rock and roll riffs. Cirith Ungol write about the death of the sun, Brocas Helm throw glasses at the wall for Hell's Whip. Where's the difference? They're both completely unorthodox, and they sound nothing alike.

Cirith Ungol's second record discussed here, named 'King of the Dead' is truly a gem of weird metal. By the time this record had come out, Metallica were setting the bar with 'Master of Puppets'. Ungol's offering could have come out in 1974 instead, though had it come out then people would have exploded. The songs are long and the changes meticulous, there's almost constant guitar harmony and the solos are harmonized even further on top. It sounds like a chamber music quartet of hoovers, playing either carefully planned and composed minor thirds or wild improvised solos in parallel. Some of the songs in here are as perfect as any Heavy Metal I've ever heard. 'Cirith Ungol', 'King of the Dead', 'Master of the Pit'. I wouldn't change a single note here. The tone is uniformly dark and apocalyptic and unlike Brocas Helm, there is no humor at all here. I think in their fantasies, Cirith Ungol were creating a classicist masterpiece here, though the end result owes more to the combination of disparate influences they exhibit than any one overarching tendency.

My suggestion is that you listen to these records. If you've never listened to them before, I envy you. Try to not hold them to preconceptions of what '80s metal should sound like and you will find your definitions enriched by their inspiration. Don't let anyone tell you that their truths are self-evident. They're not, you have to work for it, you have to do your part for their mess to cohere aesthetically. Especially in an age where the 'old school metal revival' seems to mean 'sounding like Iron Maiden', it's worth to keep in mind just how weird metal could get even in the '80s.

If you've been listening to these records for two decades, well, listen again (can't hurt, can it?) and have someone in the room with you while the vinyl spins, preferably an outsider to metal. Let them give you their impressions on say, 'Death of the Sun' when two screeching trolls carve the End in your eardrums in perfect stereo splendor and then the riff goes nowhere, is dropped for another sound-alike riff in a different tempo and feel and then an inexplicable solo swims from left guitar to right guitar. Their vantage will remind you that you're a weird human being, underneath it all and that they're weird as well and we shouldn't be so hard on ourselves that we need to appear as normal to justify our tastes.

Don't play them 'Toccata in D minor' to justify how 'metal music is directly related to classical music, see, see?' though.

Techno-thrash has not died, it never existed.

There's this new band Vektor. They're good. They have a new album out soon. This short post isn't about that however, it is about how people are describing their music online. From a download blog:

Have you ever wondered how would a thrash metal band would sound if they structured their songs in such complex ways as in a tech death band?

This is really hilarious in how backwards it is. Is it really such a stress of the imagination to think that even when thrash metal were new and trendy twenty-so years ago there would be ambitious people that would push it in terms compositional and technical? Do we really need to compare a retro-thrash record that is more involved than say, Exodus to technical-death metal to get the point across? Did Watchtower never put out records? Mekong Delta? What about Voivod?

Here on the press release concerning Vektor's new album, he find the following quote:

VEKTOR’s arrival sent shockwaves throughout the metal world that were felt in all corners of the globe. Having established themselves as pioneers in a genre thought by many to be exhausted of new ideas

Is the exhausted genre in question thrash metal? Is it retro-thrash? Because it certainly isn't techno-thrash, where much more was left to be said and wasn't as bands rushed through to become progressive metal bands in proper. Whatever is left to do in techno-thrash is not pioneered by Vektor, though their contribution is worthwhile.

Do a good deed today, play a great techno-thrash record, and let someone you know that the genre existed for a pocket of time in the late '80s / early '90s before it becomes all-new and all-shiny again in our infinite regurgitative regress.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Just a thought.

Well, 'a thought' in Helmland means three dense paragraphs.

Here's why some people can't get over Heavy Metal or other romantic arts. In a time where a popular use of political ideology (for the lower-middle class and up) is to restrict the expression of desires that are deemed unreasonable and vent the resulting frustrations towards so-called applicable goals, the arts that have aligned with modernist concerns (that is to say, which are in the service of sociality & humanist progression) are also expressions of this same method. These arts are potent perhaps but they do not often speak for the desires deemed unreasonable. And even if they are keen on inner darkness, they tend to portray it as a psychic wound, in a curious way both Christian and agnostic, a repentance for sins that have been judged as such by nobody in particular. These arts recognize their own sense of ethical responsibility, because Ethics and Morals are grown-up talk, such symbols give power to puny arts.

Heavy Metal, and other similar arts are inverted. With their pretensions of such ancient antiquity that they become perpetually almost-out-of-time, they are unashamed to speak about all the desires of life (and death!), to glorify them even. In the negative zone, what lends power to symbols, is art itself. This isn't to say that there aren't moral weights inherent in Heavy Metal expressions, it's just that the creators of Heavy Metal so fervently pretend that these weights are meaningless, that they are useful as a means of fantastical liberation for those that listen and vicariously live through this music. It is a startling thing for many to realize that there is power in feeling like a misanthrope, a misogynist or misandrist, like a racist homophobe: to feel like the feeling behind all these -isms without aknowledging the word that the -ism is describing. To feel like a beast, then. Unreasonable. Inhuman. Any such socially barred concept, because it is barred, holds some small means of liberation were it to be allowed back into the whole of the human psyche. The trick is to realize that the symbol is powerful while the word is meaningless. A causal chain of logic broken, links from the chain now become portals to different worlds.

Heavy Metal doesn't make us better human beings, it makes us cognizant of the span of our sentience, and therefore the width of our afflictions and strengths. Whenever someone goes on about how Heavy Metal is escapist music that lets them step outside their dreary realities, all I can think about is how if they still think there is a reality to begin with, they haven't yet understood what art-as-magic does. There is no return to the corporeal. "I want to know", cries the young longhair to the entity in the darkness. Can't go back to not knowing. If you meet any retired-metalheads, now ashamed of the sexist, horrible music they once listened to, slay them where they stand. They have mistaken art for conversation.

Monday, August 8, 2011


I appreciate a band who has the gall to print their name
and the same title of the record twice on their cover

1984 Roadrunner Records
Lord Petrus Steele (R.I.P. 2010) Vocals / Bass
Keith Alexander (R.I.P. 2005) Guitars / Vocals
Motherfuckin' Louie (still alive) Drums

It is not true that humour has no place in Heavy Metal music. What instead will forever stand outside its range is levity. Weightlessness, the feeling of suspension from one's sense of reality (and fantasy is the reality of the solipsist) is anathema to those concerned with the pressure of gravity, the inner pull to personal truth and eventual self-destruction. Trapped in the killing vector of the black hole in the center of the universe, in the endless time in the in-between, this twilight, radioactive half-life of distance do you have time for petty jokes, fool?

Of course not. You are cursed. Levity is for the children (as opposed to the wisest of all: teenagers!) that have yet to realize they are alone. They the cursed make curious art instead, ironic in the sense that they are underpinned by the lack of underpinning, the aesthetic of suspended animation. The only thing worse than being a child is being a man-child, the product of arrrrrreeeeesssted development. Heavy Metal is often accused of this, what with dragons and skeletons and blood and guts, but how the morbid joke at the chaos core of romance is comfortably sidestepped: Heavy Metal is in on the joke, but the joke is a heavy burden, man.

Levity doesn't belong in Heavy Metal, but sadness shall prevail. Heavy Metal is hilarious, life is hilarious and then you are born dead, you traject and you die. Close your eyes and consider the vast darkness of the universe. No, seriously, do it. If you cannot, this ceremony is not for you, you are just a bystander writing a critique of a critique. You are unwanted. Wimps and posers please evacuate the premises. The rest of us (me), eyes closed, blackness in mind, add the counterpoint: A black star in the sky pulls everything towards the center, slow crush. We (I) are a tiny nothing compared to this vast force, yet we resist. Where does the power come from that keeps us upright, why this lust for continued existence, why not give in to gravity and crumble into nothing? Because. It's hilarious, isn't it?

That's the morbid joke in the center of this American proto-thrash band named Carnivore. You probably know them by a different name and you probably took them more seriously than they ever intended to be taken under that secondary guise but that's not really very important at this point in 1985. The sideways vagina dentata on the cover of this record grins, because all Petrus Steele had to offer the world really has been achieved on this debut. Another sad joke, isn't it, to peak so early, before you even get your shit together. Then you put out more records and you're more successful, but you know the deal inside: it's all diminished returns. Then twenty years later you're doing live one-offs back in the ol' Road Warrior getup to recapture the essence of that first, killing joke. You traject and you die.

But enough about death (for now, always, for a time). This record is about fear of death, ergo, life! Here's a joke: this record is basically akin to a jazz record where the band is reinterpreting jazz standards, only with Venom as jazz. Such irreverence! And like that one jazz record most music nerds hold in high regard, I like it more than the source material. Recombination wields strange glamour some of the time. There really isn't much to say about this record from a morphological standpoint, not because it's not well made (it's actually quite perfectly done, this is the Poetry of Subculture, and these are one hundred records after all) but because what's on offer is already a bit passe by 1984. Metallica's just about to release Master of Puppets but they've already peaked with Ride the Lightning a year earlier and that record sounds absolutely sci-fi compared to Recombinatorial-Venom on display here. There are however a few - very funny - musical innovations worth reporting here, and so I shall report, although they wound the high-concept flow of this piece. If for no other reason than because they wound the high-concept of this piece. It's hard not to get snarky when writing about Carnivore. It's hard not to bite into something, that is. What's available most readily usually is one's own flesh.

Morphologically, this record is not very much about riffs, it's about changes. This comes from Venom, and through them from earlier forms of rock and roll. There's a vital power in singing two bars over E chug and then going to the fifth for another two bars, alternating between hell and earth (heaven, the octave, as is funny and proper, is absent). Carnivore play very fast and there's a lot of double-bass but underneath all that they're on the Kill 'Em All stage, their music is naive. The glaring exception to that mode is their slower passages (punctuated by cowbell, of course), where their Black Sabbath worship can easily be spotted. That aspect of Petrus Steele would be explored so very thoroughly on future offerings, but on this debut it's a rare occurrence, rare enough to be a punchline. As any great comedian, they know that the vital humours are excited by sudden variance, by the illogical. It's funny when someone trips and eats gravel because human beings are supposed to walk upright and to not make such simple motor mistakes, you know? Likewise for a raging thrash band to bridge from their raging thrash to a chorus of "God is dead" while a cowbell and Cure-like-clean guitars chime in, is illogical. It's funny, but it's not a joke. Even morphologically, Carnivore are all about this effect. The constant double-tracked vicious vocals of Petrus Steele (rolling his r's all the time, of course), mixed high and pulling heavy duty on narration sound less threatening and more like a character because well, they are a character. But if all you can do with this character is laugh at it, you idiot, you're laughing at yourself and you don't even know it. You're already dead and you don't even know it.

Here's some psychomusicomorphology and I'll burn in some music-critique-hell or another after I realize-I'm-already-dead for it, surely. This record feels uncomfortable sometimes because it's too well-played. What I mean about this is that I get this curious feeling when I listen to it that the leader of the band (possibly Petrus Steele, but it'd be funnier if it was someone else, like Louie the drummer) seems to be pushing everybody else too much. There's so much effort here to make the double-bass line up with the rhythm guitar chug, so much attention paid to make the record sound not-sloppy but instead linear-muscular, that it becomes a bit pitiful (and therefore funny) on some level because the musicians here are struggling with playing above their level. Visionary-dictator decreed it vital to his cosmology, and there probably were a lot of takes to get this record to sound as together as it does. I bet live they were a different proposition. This is a big separation from early Venom but - tellingly - not later Venom. Carnivore had a full soul from day one.

So what is it that this band is saying that requires all this hard work, isn't this about a joke in the end? Well, the whole record is a lyrical highlight for me, I could just post any song and discuss that but you know what would be funnier? What if I posted every lyric of every song instead? (don't worry, I'll do only the first three tracks as they have a conceptual arc) Yes, yes, excess. What did you expect, for me to cater to your attention span? I piss on your attention span. If you're squirming in your seat now, you haven't realized that you've been asked to leave many paragraphs earlier. You thought you were a man but you now realize you're a child! Cooked in the fire and served with a side of irradiated radish, infant!


They live beneath the ruined city
Call the subways home
Anxiously wait to see the sun
And a land as of yet unknown

Gone below to escape
The death of the nuclear winter
Ice and darkness
Due penance for the sinners

Six generations 200 years later
Their ancestors crawl from their holes
Hungry and frightened and barely surviving
They're tired of living like moles

This record starts by setting a scene of post-apocalypse. "The Terminator" had come out only a year earlier, you can hear the sound effects of Skynet robots shooting lasers in the intro. "They live beneath the rrrrruin'd city..." With the first rolled r, we know what's up (only we're wrong, but that's the thing with Carnivore). Humanity has destroyed itself, the monument towards actualization of modernity that is technology has self-imploded. This sin against what we learn later is the negligence of carnal, primordial self-interest, will to power, receives fitting penance of two hundred years of nuclear twilight. Then, a new-but-old breed of man emerges, he is our √úbermensch, to him is the love letter of this record.

Up on the surface a fate worse
Than dying, meeting
The end of the food chain
Teeth yielding pain

I sense that living human beings
Dwell below my feet
An important source of protein,
You are what you eat

Post Armageddon, neo-barbaric,
The nuclear warriors due battle
to satiate our hunger
We breed human beings as cattle

The character is at his most cartoonish in the first track, as if Petrus Steele is shielding himself from 'serious' scrutiny by painting with the broadest strokes first. Those that persist for later songs will get a more personalized version of the nihilist philosophy later on. For the initiated however there's a positive trait to how broad this record starts, this is, I dare say, something of an anthemic starter. How many times I've sang "postarmageddon, neobarbaric nuclearwarriorsdobattle!" along with Petrus I can't count. In some ways, Carnivore were my Judas Priest, if you get my meaning. It becomes increasingly difficult to sing along fully with latter parts of this record, however. The joke bears heavier and heavier.

Hunting in packs ready for the attack
We eat our prey raw-rabid animals
Frothing and ripping the carcass
We're stripping our own yes we're cannibals
Eat or eaten beat or beaten
I am on my life rest assured, a predator

Broken splintered bones, boiling blood
Torn and bleeding skin
Blackened burning flesh melting fat
Amputated limbs
Eviscerated, lungs torn out
Heart ripped from the chest
Decapitated, a meal of
Vagina and breasts

The second aspect of Carnivore rears is head here, the 'slow part'. They sound at their most menacing here but the cowbell+Black Sabbath thing mellows out as the record progresses. Again as I said, Petrus Steele has the tendency to be more frank when the music is slower (is this a more general realization? Does fast metal inspire more arrogance and force and therefore more distance between lyric and personal reality? Is this why doom metal fans are so taken with their slow metal and its dirgeful testimony? It might be harder to lie without muscular, linear speed metal to back you up with bombast. In this sense perhaps Skepticism are the most honest metal band there ever was. "And Stream brought meanings, and stream brought words..."). The truth of this particular Carnivore-breakdown can be found in the introduction of the misogynist theme, as we go from "I am what I eat (I eat hu-mans)" to "I eat vagina and breasts" which means "I am lonely". Joke's getting heavier...

Eyes plucked from sockets, gaping holes
Through which picking brains
Phlebophilia love of blood
Life spills from the veins
I detect the scent of prey by
Her menstruation
You have been chosen
The main course

Petrus Steele impresses us with his medical dictionary here and then delivers some of the best Heavy Metal writing there ever was. Congratulation indeed. If you're laughing at this, I sympathize. If *all* you're doing is laughing at this, you're missing the point. Well, I guess that's the encapsulation of this whole text and the essence of Carnivore, really, but I'll keep going. Forever, really, I'll keep going forever and then I'll be dead.


Greetings and felicitations children of technology

Drool dripping out
My tongue hanging south
Saliva flowing free
My eyes full of lust
My balls gonna bust
Give yourself to me
Thirst I can't quench
Come here you wench
There's something that I need

I'm a meat eater
I'd like to meet ya
I know I'll reach ya

When you thought there'll never be as embarrassing a Heavy Metal Lust Song as the early versions of Metallica's 'Hit The Lights', Carnivore up the ante. This is such an one-two linear, muscular, DUMB metal song, it's perfect. "I'm going down, dive! dive!" ENTER SOLO and then woman fake-orgasm moaning? This isn't funny on purpose you fucking ironic pig. Have you known real loneliness? I've sang along to this song many times and all I'm singing and all that Petrus Steele is singing is "I'm lonely, I'm lonely, I'm horny, I'm lonely :((((" over and over again.

The hunger I feel
Makes you a meal
Oh girl you sure taste sweet
By my hair pull me there
Guide me to your treat
Spread your legs I'll seed your eggs
Oh, feel me deep

Note the interesting turn from the first song to the second. The act of sexual-cannibalism, the 'vore fetish' as it were on the surface seems like a selfish reflex. To eat the mother from inside, to consume all that is nourishing to the point of un-logic, to the point of sense-death. For the sorcerer exhaustion is ecstasy. In-human, Un-holy. However Petrus Steele here introduces (knowingly or not) the idea of sexual - cannibalism as an act of insecurity, of self-loathing. What he's presenting in the above passage is not wanton self-fulfillment at his partner's expense, it is servility. Virility is a facade in Carnivore, underneath is a fear of women and a desire to please. If you've made it this far, you know this is going to get funnier/sadder, ultimately human. This is a very human record, this 'Carnivore' caricature is very very human. I feel him utterly, and I'm pretty sure you do as well.

Oh, you don't?


Lick me she begged she pulled
Down my head I love to eat pussy
A taste so fine like sweet april wine
I won't trade for any money
did you cum I eat and run I live for sodomy

:( :( :(


I live to war it's in my blood
If I want it I take
The men I've killed the children slaves
And all the woman I've raped

Between my legs I've got
What it takes to be called a man
Fighting, feasting
Fucking all I can

Moonlight on horseback till death we will ride
Northern winds pushing us towards suicide
Mars god of war masturbating in rage
Wild libido I've freed from its cage

The reality here is that what it takes to be called a man is the desire for self-destruction. Not to rape women and hold child slaves, but the desire to destroy oneself. Your only human power is that of overcoming. The ultimate overcoming is to kill oneself not out of sadness but of ecstasy-in-life. There's a philosopher that's all about this, I can't remember his name...

I eat the brains from my enemy's head
I proudly wear their scalps
I burn their towns to the ground
To me the prisoners bow
Muscle, sweat, long hair and dirt
Leather, fur and chains
My uniform torn and worn covered with blood stains

Testosterone mates with adrenaline
Bearing a son of insane aggression
Woman will never know or understand
the power men feel to kill with their hands

For what it's worth, I think Petrus Steele is serious here and at one point in time believed this to be a real dividing case between the sexes. Caricature aside, this is a read of gender norms and sexuality that might seem unfounded today for a person that is well-read in sociology, psychology and history, but what if you've mostly read that one philosopher whose name escapes me at the moment?

The issue is not whether Peter Steele is right or wrong, it is on what he chose to manifest in his Heavy Metal record. Again, the key to appreciating this is not to indeed feel like a strong chauvinist male pigdog that fucks and feasts and rapes what they can (I have no such experience, and I doubt those that do would care what Carnivore have to offer to them. They don't need fantasies, they're living them) but instead to feel powerless and alone. When people go on about the ethics of art, the moral obligation of art as they see it from their privileged consumerist point of view I want to throw up because that's not what art is here for. Art never told anyone how to live their life (or as a correction, it shouted to everyone on how to live their life and then nobody tried to do this at all). Art is here to make manifest desire and desire can be senseless and idiotic but is most importantly above anyone's petty moral scrutiny. Desire comes before anything else you've ever felt, pay it some respect even if you can't bear its full weight. Who can? Isn't it funny that we have inside us a black hole that pulls the outside to crush the inside? Funny, funny, funny. Loneliness and alienation are funny too. Feeling ill at ease inside your own material shell is hilarious. Being misunderstood by your peers and family is a riot. Sudden death is the ultimate punchline, but this'll also do:

After the war I come home weak and sore
I fall into your arms
We lie by the fire
You feed my desire
With me, safe and warm
Outside the wind blows cold
Inside the embers glow
Shelter from the storm

Years been away I fought night and day
For my land and my king
Woman it's true
I do battle for you, you my everything
When on the fur I make love to her
How her body sings

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Dark Quarterer

Quarter are mighty. In their own special dimension they are probably the most important Heavy Metal band there is. Fact is though that this dimension is not well populated, as they're relatively unknown. That is wrong and unfair and therefore this article is fair and just. I don't often try to sell bands to readers on Poetry of Subculture but this'll be as close as I'll get because Dark Quarterer are still active (unlike most other bands covered here) and most importantly are putting out wonderful music that's very much worth the attention.

This Italian band reputedly came together circa 1974 but they waited for more than a decade before they put out this, their debut album. Though I can only theorize as to why such a delay was necessary, my theories are to do with the basic troubles of say, procuring a multitrack sound board in Italy in the late seventies to record your Heavy Metal record. In 2011, and especially for say, a reader from the US, those sorts of problems might be considered positively banal but hey, Italy's right next to Greece and it still isn't the easiest or cheapest thing to get together the resources to record a debut here, so I can sort of understand it. There's good in the bad, however, because Dark Quarterer probably benefitted from spending ten years in the proverbial woodshed. Their sound is a parallel evolution from the rest of 80's Heavy Metal. I'm getting the feeling that they started out as a progressive rock (or pomp rock) act and got into Heavy Metal exactly as it was emerging in the early eighties. There's a curious meeting of influences here, half Manowar, half Genesis. Not to scare anybody off though, this isn't to say that the record is confused. I'd say, from an aesthetic point of view that Heavy Metal (that is to say, Manowar) "won" in this mixture. This debut is resolutely concerned with the high spirit, the illogical romance, the almost magical potency of sound that can be captured only through low cultural trends that nobody important really pays attention to. The many parallels between progressive rock and metal aside, it's certain that bands like Genesis and Yes were aimed for public scrutiny from their conceptual beginning (progressive rock doesn't work in cryptic light) whereas Dark Quarterer were so obscure that even when this record first came out it sounded like a curious relic. 20 years later we'd have trouble to imagine a record with such an unrefined sound at all, it's an almost impossible mixture of peaked treble, dueling bass and guitar, reverb-heavy vocals, clearly recorded live without many overdubs, mistakes included and all. It somehow works, though this is a sound that makes the listener work for it. Modern mastering practices dictate that everything must be clear and fried, bass kicks go there, distorted wall of guitars goes here in the front, there is no bass guitar. That is the current sound of metal and against this calculated and safe extremity Dark Quarterer sound as aged as they are. No, not even aged, this record's probably confounding for people that expect a mix to make any sort of sense. It's a fossil. Like a vestigial organ of an older permutation, it survives as information. Like a wing on an animal that chose to crawl on the ground for the easier nourishment of worms, it withers with every generation, atrophying to nothingness in disuse, all but for a memory of where once its blood had traveled. But wings exist to take to the air and so even 20 years later, the promise of Dark Quarterer pulsates with raw life. It takes work, but there's magic here.

Concentration is key. Dark Quarterer hold within their sound the performing quality, the easy fingers of a progressive rock band from the 70s. They do not play in the stiff, monophonic manner that was in vogue in Heavy Metal the year this record came out. Instead they flirt with after-the-beat accents, syncopated rhythms, chromatic enrichment of their phrases. These things come naturally, they flow through their songs as if to say "This is the only way to compose and perform Heavy Metal". Dark Quarterer, in a curious way, then, hold in their ranks highly prized Heavy Metal virtuosos: far from the stereotype of limp-wristed egocentric shredders wanking away in the limelight. Instead, capable performers that translate their personal desire through the focus of group concert. Nobody is overplaying on their own, they overplay all together, all the time. Most bands of that era would wait for a solo section to attempt a humble counterpoint between main melody and their embellishment. Dark Quarterer, with a gusto that makes it seem more easy than it is, navigate through parallel melodies, key changes and bright variation of their main phrases that would be the envy of various self-declared serious composers. They're just a power trio, and all this is achieved with sweat running down foreheads, with a manic urgency that signals a personal end, with a passion that can only manifest when someone is for real.

Every moment of this record is epic in the sense of the word that predates the conception of "epic metal". I am talking about goosebumps and emotional elevation. Pathos overflows. Their dazzling singer, Gianni Nepi, whose high-pitched scream one would expect to dominate, is in conversation with every solo, every drum fill. This band sings in concert and when one is finally used to their song and their antiquated sound and their quirks, it is moving. Their antiquity becomes a return to the sky, their oddness becomes their idiosyncrasy and you love them for it. You are in their universe and you are listening to the greatest Heavy Metal band there ever was. I guess this is what happens when a talented band takes ten years to record their debut?

In records of this caliber there usually isn't any filler. The opener, "Red Hot Gloves" destroys barriers and its monstrous brother, "Colossus of Argil" sets siege but it is "Gates of Hell", the third track, that conquers me, finally. Follow the music along with the words:

I have decided
To live as a rebel
Without showing
Never my face smiling

Without giving my help

To live as the worst man
And slandering all my friends
Hating who is loving me

Don't try to change me
I don't believe it may be
Let the evil be my food

I have decided
I don't ask your pardon
And every time I take my revenge
For all the good around me

And I shall dress myself

In red and black
As Blood and Death
Before the last breath
Gates of hell will open

And I shall fly
Into the deeper place
To usurp Lucifer's Throne

These words in the hands of a simple Heavy Metal band would be adorned with the arrogance of those that have lived nothing. Not to say that anyone in the band has had the experience of sitting on the throne of the underworld, but here's the thing: when Dark Quarterer were singing this on their debut, they were old men already. This isn't a lyric from a teenager that somehow made it to the debut a couple of years later. They mean this shit. Where the premise of this song by a young Manowar would be performed with a lofty, aristrocratic morbidity, here instead Dark Quarterer present it with a Doric stoicism. Heavy Metal is about skeletons and demons, blood and violence, right? Dark Quarterer rise above the popular status of their genre. The funeral drum beat emerges from the sound of the beating heart and signals a melancholic pride about ones damnation that even the damned mourn but willfully carry. This has been the choice and let it be remembered forever that it was a horrid one, cursed and lonesome. The solo after the chorus seals with its fervor the passion and honesty of this admittance. This song has been for me one of the greatest of the genre and it has opened my eyes, when I heard it years ago, as to the potential of Heavy Metal. I've returned to this song again and again, no less impressed and no less affected. How high a somewhat clumsy lyric can be elevated through passion and performance and emotion. As I fantastically pursued the path of this damned protagonist and at the same time, felt repulsed by the shards of dark matter that surround its chaos core: lord of light, usurper of Lucifer's throne - I wondered how that life would be.

This song, with its kind way, shaped me. It shaped me in a way that peers, school and family rarely managed. It urged me to confront the worst aspects of my character and realize that choice is much less the issue than it is to bring to the light the dark glamours that influence every one of them. It's not a song about what is right and wrong, it is a song about desire and tragedy. Fantasy, at least, should be free to travel all trajectories of choice, it shouldn't be ridiculous to wonder how that life could be. There's a lesson in everything deemed ridiculous and unworthy of attention by modernity.

That is the power of Heavy Metal for those that love it: It tears away the many layers of identity and found labels and all the other bullshit we citizens flatter ourselves with and it takes us back to when we were children and our spectral wings had not yet atrophied. It makes us face the limits and the desires we have yet to conquer. The promise in Dark Quarterer - and every great Heavy Metal band has in its premise a promise - is that it will hold inside it that memory, even 20 years later when we are old men. It will never lie to you or let you forget. That the song ends as it starts - with the sound of heartbeat - tells us so. We should remember that we are still alive and we should be glad for all the good things around us, yet as the long shadows of aspersion are cast and contours of a madness take shape, concentration is the key, the awareness that every story we imagine can be for a time, ring true. The lessons found in fantasy.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Unholy - Second Ring of Power

Outsiders are afraid of Heavy Metal.

This might be a thought you haven't entertained in a while, reader, if you are on the inside. But there's truth there. Especially during the formative experiences that shaped us into a metalheads, at some point every one of us decided to take something of a sideways step from normalcy.

It could be said that the shift is minimal and phenomenologically, normals and not-normals act much too similarly. It could be further said that normalcy is a manufactured medium that society pays lip service to for utilitarian reasons and otherwise disregards 'behind closed doors'. It can be finally argued that this whole "I choose darkness" thing is a non-choice, that odd people find odd escapes deterministically, but this piece is not a debate on free will (for once). What interests me is to explore and clarify what was sacrificed in that perceived move outside the norm and what was gained for it.

Life in modern capitalism can be seen as an endless pursuit of carnal vanity. What is achieved through the purchase of pleasures is undone by definition daily: pleasure is fleeting. You are not done with food after you've tasted great cuisine nor are you done with sex after satisfying your lust once. You are not done with life just because you lived it briefly. One must chase the specters of fulfillment, defined endlessly by his consumer profile of the twenty-thirtysomething well after that time has passed and then suddenly, they're old and soon, dead. 'Spirituality' sounds like such a mumbo-jumbo, new-age term, doesn't it? It is instead the opposite, resolutely old-age. This is difficult to conceptualize if you've grown up watching The Simpsons endlessly point their finger to their own finger.

The pursuit of life's pleasures, even as it is encouraged by market tendencies and reinforced psychoactively through media, is always a risk. It takes a certain... animal-like obliviousness to see, desire and take, again and again. It's schizophrenic how that tendency in humans is discouraged by the ethical apologia of capitalism that is protestantism, yet the achievements of that tendency are glorified. The modern consumer is at once encouraged to be servile and community-minded and yet reap the benefits of pleasure like a trained killer, eager to strike. It's a curious state of existence that will ring true for some readers, to be surrounded by potential pleasures and yet feel paralyzed by the fear of their indulgence. I... I don't really want to kill anyone and steal their pleasures. And if I look to the left and right I see capable specimens place their hands at the small of the back of life and pull her in closely, though barely just acquainted, with such entitlement, without thought. Envy, yes?

I theorize that that fear is characterized by loss of control. Orgasm as death, gluttony as a brief madness. I will not however theorize as to what brings a man or woman in fear of loss of control at a formative age, it suffices for now to accept that such a fear exists in some. People such as this (and such as I) have this wrongheaded notion that those that desire and take automatically do so in full control of their capacities and faculties. This, experience shows, is not so and it is exactly in the surrender of higher reasoning that one may best explore pleasure. The trained killer is not trained after all, it comes naturally... But this initial envy-fueled recollection is never discarded because it builds on fear. The fear inside is that we're fundamentally broken for not being able to achieve what seems natural to others. Counter-definition of capacity and imperative, society tells us what to think.

The picture that comes to light is exasperating on many levels: to be pulled towards passions by definition unfulfilled, to be pulled off of a course that is at least dictated by one's sense of control, one's center, until one is old and withered and ultimately, dead. The fates laugh. All the while around one's life of slow motion, the rest, the more capable conquer and pillage without thought. Doesn't that feel like a waste?

Some philosophers and artists (and other sensitives) over the ages have felt it to be so, at least. Of all the higher strata of intellectual discourse that can offer alternative paths for the despairing youth, it's a cruel joke that some of us were most affected by the low regurgitations of Heavy Metal bands. But be it so, there was also a strength traded for lost clarity of thought from Nietzsche to Virgin Steele and from Castaneda (as the case is) to Unholy: These old philosophers and mystics are not scary anymore. The great Heavy Metal ghost is. Miraculously, as much as they have tried to cheapen it (and it could be argued that we have only barely survived a decade's worth of concentrated effort to defang Heavy Metal and market it to outsiders), it still is. Outsiders are afraid of Heavy Metal. It might be third rate philosophy, but spikes and chains and blood and darkness make up for it.

Did I hear that voice

or was it just a hallucination

And what about those shapes

For fourteen days I haven't slept

Still my shadow the secret of my life


By going through a long period of depression

I reached a permanent state of enlightenment

I'm the master above you bunch of slaves

I'm the Demiurge, creator of this universe

Master of not-doing

I, myself not fooling

The God of not-being

Everything as it is seeing

Near my death I saw

the white Gate of Death calling

There I didn't fall in

Let self die

Loosen souls dimension

For the sorcerer exhaustion brings ecstasy

For normal people, ecstasy brings ecstasy instead.

Unholy are a perfect band in this way. They're completely inapproachable to the outsider. Which isn't to say they're not alluring, it exactly means that they are, in fact. But they can only be approached on a bended knee, in their own terms. They will never be trendy (though it could be argued they made attempts at a more mainstream sound with each release) They sound demented but strong, no, the word I'm looking for is in-human. When some men become as beasts and rape life's pleasure, other men will become gods and denounce all earthly things. What is left when the soul dies? Surely something must remain the darkness at the candle's rest. Perhaps it is likeso, those whose eyes are accustomed to the light miss the world in twilight, but those who purposefully move from the light to the darkness keep the remembrance of the overworld as they descend into a different world of possibilities, of magic, of solitude.

I'm entertained when I read reviews of Unholy records and people go on about how 'weird' this music is. It's not weird at all. The people in Unholy were a bunch of teenagers from Finland, they were not gods. They probably were shunned by some girls. They dabbled with drugs. Their hair was real long. They kicked a member out of the band because he joined the Army as the Demiurge shall serve no man (elementary, yes?) and you probably know a few people like the dudes in Unholy, right? One of them is writing to you. None of these people are fundamentally different from the beasts, yet they pretend. They make fear into a weapon. Outsiders fear us as we fear them. As long as we are in-human, we will never futilely chase pleasure, as long as we are dead, we shall never die.

Conservation of energy: what must be sacrificed to achieve immortality, is movement. Become like stone, like a statue and you will never die. Center your energy and cruelly guard it until it is cold, entropic, imperceptible. In eternal darkness, time dies.

But flesh is not like stone. Have you ever stood up for six, seven hours straight? Muscles ache, one must endure. What is traded for everlasting life, for this neverending day, is an eternity of small pain. That is what the music of Unholy describes: small pains for eternal glory. Those of the outside will never understand.

This is why Heavy Metal still inspires fear: they seek pleasure to delay their thoughts on inevitable death. When death finally comes they are like pups, bargaining with the perfect end. "I... I don't really have to leave, do I? I was having such fun." But we bargain with death from day one, give him pain daily so that when he comes, his spectral visage is chartographed, or, has it come already? Is he here? I can not tell in the darkness if I have ever lived. In-human. Un-holy.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

If you enjoy this blog

You should also read this one. The piece on the Fates Warning is very well done. I secretly dread having to write in earnest about these records, it could be said that the rest of Poetry of Subculture is a warm-up to that, and here the blog author Zero has not only tackled them in his first post, but done an inspiring job of it too. Inspiring as in, only-person-on-the-internet-to-do-it-justice-so-far inspiring. Honestly, I'd recommend this blog even if due to unforseen circumstances this were the only post on it, though naturally I hope for the opposite. I am very interested on what other records will be discussed and in what way.

As I often say, I do not write here in order to make friends or socialize and it seems to me often that when bloggers cross-post there's something unhealthy about the resultant back-patting, yes, why thank you, you too, splendid splendid. But I honestly do believe Zero's writing is deserving of your interest so I hope you'll excuse me the exception.

Burzum - Hvis Lyset Tar Oss

I have nothing to offer you that is real. This isn't a review of a record. It will neither confirm nor contradict your bias as to the quality or character of "Hvis Lyset Tar Oss", Burzum, or the person behind these names. You will not leave Poetry of Subculture any more secure in your preconceptions, nor will you feel wiser & tolerant for having briefly weighed a different point of view against yours.

It's startling to me now, when I allow myself to consider the reasons people write about externalities such as rock and roll records on the internet. It wasn't always so, naturally. I have just forgotten. As a teenager reading Metal Hammer magazines and fanzines the intent and function of the reviewing process was automatically clear to me: I am reading this because I trust the writer's taste and I have this pocket money to spare on a couple of records, eventually. I might not buy the record this particular review is raving on about, but I am at least massing relevant information to the genres of interest to me and building a cohesive internal map of Heavy Metal. I am domesticating this wilderness. Decades later I will be drawing up little historical/aesthetic maps of Heavy Metal and posting them on the internet and in the comments there shall be a discussion about Judas Priest and irony. But years before that, my scavenging in reviews will not only lead to purchases and the primary enjoyment of music, but also to a secondary boon in self-characterization. If I know so much about Heavy Metal, then surely that's worth something in some social circles. My hair has become very long and my stare austere. What do you mean you haven't yet listened to Ostrogoth's "Full Moon's Eyes", you pretender? Do you realize that men have died so you can sing that chorus? Return to me when you are of a higher level.

The reviewer also I automatically understood, once: they are communicating their love for their field of study - empowering in itself, for a love unrequited becomes a stone on which paranoia will build. "Do I really feel it if I cannot express it?". The love's acceptance is so intoxicating in fact, that it may outlive the love itself. One may become a professional in writing love letters. I have received this promo CD, it is not bad nor it is especially good, yet something inside me compels me to write pretty words about it. People will respect me for it, I shall hate myself for it.

The reviewer is also reaping the social benefits of being learned in a field, in any field. Most people know even less than nothing, so, longhair'd dark-eyed gazers in the dark, you'll do for teachers too, perhaps for a while. They're exerting power over their students, they're reaping the benefits of many lonely days spent searching in warehouses full of moldy LP's and poring over mail-order lists. Do you realize the sadness in a man in his forties writing record reviews about new metal cds? Someone has to do it! I concede to them that the trade of some power for this sadness is a fair one.

So I became a knowledgeable person in Heavy Metal also and I reaped, perhaps, some similar benefits for my risky commitment, a trade for a small sadness. It has been a few years since I last thought of myself (and of the reviewing process) in this light. I have forgotten the use of all of that because I realized that life's running out and the risk of being "a record reviewer" is too large for the dubious benefits left to be gained. It is because my love for Heavy Metal is true that I felt I had to stop. Abandonment of something loved being a source of much pain for my particular psyche, it could never be a choice I could be proud of, so instead of dropping the whole thing, I re-purposed my efforts in my love for this music outwards and initially became a commentator on foreign blogs and forums (where I thought, I had no power), trying to achieve communication that stepped aside from the usual social gaming that metalheads engage in in open forums. My alias of "Helm" was never meant to become a persona, it was meant as a diversion from the ego. I didn't want to make new friends (who call me "Helm" instead of Telemachus) or to be respected for my knowledge or opinions on all things Heavy Metal. I wanted my output to provoke response on a specific level, one I found lacking in the discourse surrounding metal music. I wanted exposition and risk. I wanted people to talk about their own truths, not the communal truth. This was to be a small return for past power and some social integration granted to me for wasting so much of my childhood internalizing Heavy Metal records. I think I've had a couple of girlfriends that liked my metalhead looks and austere gaze, after all.

I succeeded for a time but failed, ultimately, in this endeavor for 'metalhead expressionism' for various reasons having to do with that I am after all somewhat socially impaired and a difficult person to extend good will towards. It became clear that what I was attempting to do was doubly difficult to achieve on foreign soil and that I should instead pretend as if I have built a castle like all the other reviewers do and have the faithful flock to me (after all when you click on through to the blog, you are preemptively giving me a position of authority). I find this funny and sad because it is a diversion. There is no wisdom here, there is only an open question and I require your answers. What is Heavy Metal to you? This is what it is to me. Please let me know. That's what this blog is here for.

This is a reminder then that I am not a grand wizard, I have nothing true to say, and I do not need admirers or antagonists (pretty much the same thing). If you've read up to this, both in this text on on Poetry of Subculture on the whole, you probably suspect as much. I hope you can forgive me every time I speak with a voice of authority and still remind me that you exist and are different to me. I have created this blog not for gathering of power but for the discourse of it. I am a man with just a lantern for possessions, I sleep in a tub, so on. I will not carry the allegory further, cultured ones.

There's nothing to say about this record. It doesn't exist. It has never existed. I have forgotten the stories surrounding it. I do not know the name of the one who summoned it, nor do I know where he's from. I do not listen to it and see, in my mind's eye, treetops of a northern sort or any other cataloged flora. I see spectral leaves, iridescent in the darkness, lit as if from inside, stretching towards the stars, pointing towards the unknown. All your life you have been taught you are a mirror that reflects the radiance of authority and educators, that your societies give you meaning and purpose. That your imaginations and dreams are byproducts of your socialization. Art such as this stands perfected, dead, forever, a testament to the fallacy of that modernist model of life and the radiance of inner ambition. What you desire is what all life has desired, you have been taught nothing in your waking hours but appropriation, construing and deconstruction in a confused tongue.

We look at the tree bark and we touch it and we can discern a volume and a presence, but as we are ephemeral we can only measure worth in ephemeral ways as well. How will this tree serve me in my lifetime? It may provide some shade today. Tomorrow it may be firewood. My body can be nourished by this and all other products available to me while my mind wonders in increasing horror towards the end. This record also, I hear a racist murderer recorded it. It may provide entertainment for me today, and tomorrow I shall have an animate discussion on the internet about whether such a racist murderer deserves my hard-earned patronage for his artistry. I measure myself in ephemeral currency, and I shall soon be dead.

The trees I dream of when I listen to this record have existed for so long, they are from before time, before 'to exist' has been the sought prize of the lightbringer, he who taught men to measure all things in terms humane by stealing from the gods. The notes, a length of string cut from the thread of destiny. The harmonies like quantum reverberations, in many universes alike but different only slightly (and noisy!): not one might gave this any conscious thought, they are just there. And rhythm, at last there we find the man, endlessly restless and driving towards something, some destination. What is that destination? Tomhet.

There is no desire that this music communicates besides the quest for teliosis, the love of death itself, the shedding of the ephemeral. There is nothing real here. The naked screams that tell tales, so blatant as to be rarely mentioned in 'reviews' and almost never directly referenced by the legions of followers of the product dubbed "Burzum", never seemed to me the voice of human anguish. They originated there, surely. But now, millennia after this art has existed, if there is any pain here, it is fossilized. If the tree's roots grow and encroach upon the domain of weaker plants who lingered too much in the shade, their cry would be similar. If the rock, sundered by mindless lightning has a voice, it is this as well. If there was a human once, that screamed words into a microphone, he is long since gone. Nobody knows his name. Isn't it strange if you are in your twenties and you feel as if you're older, perhaps illogically old? Perhaps you have died before you were born?

The man that made this music didn't have anything to say to me about race or politics. If we wanted once, some structure to the chaos he inherited, I am certain that he himself views his ramshackle temple to consequence, to logic, as a humorous, sad thing. Instead his art, it says all there is to say in wordless speak. I am sure that that man wonders, why do people keep asking him for answers when he has posited the only question worth pursuing in his art? That so many believe words-in-a-row doesn't lend any truth to them. Belief is not truth. And yet they keep asking, drawn like moths to the flame of death. What can you tell us, murderer, about anything, anything at all? You can with your blood power, make a discussion about guitar pedals vital again, you can make it real? The only thing we fear is death, therefore death is real.

Hvis Lyset Tar Oss doesn't fear death, it welcomes it as part of the circle. It is therefore, not real in any way we use the word today. You have been given back what knowledge you've always possessed. Is it enough for you, this inspiration? What of its implications, can you count how many ends this thread leads to? Can you feel it in your heart or do we really have to talk about small deaths of introvert teenagers in a privileged society where boredom is the ultimate despair? Will that make this real? Don't you know about all that already?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Saviour Machine - Saviour Machine I

Self-released in 1993
Jeff Clayton: Guitars
Eric Clayton: Vocals
Dean Forsyth: Bass
Samuel West: Drums

Shadows may follow the man
One thing is leading the others
Follow the veil in my hand
Nothing deceiving my brothers
Look into my eyes, walk into my vision
Drift upon the streams, enter vast dominions
Welcome to my dream

Heavy Metal seeks to impose a reality. Pathos and drama presented as a spectacle meant not only to entertain, but to ensnare the hypothetical listener. Though we defecate most of what we consume, something must linger, time after time, something builds inside and affects in such a way that we cannot be said to have a capitalist transaction with it but instead an uneasy symbiosis.

The curious thing about the many realities that live inside us is that as roads to awe, they return endlessly in on themselves. Though there are higher places they might lead to briefly, they are not real, that is to say, they can not be communicated as a reality, they cannot be made stable and they cannot be graphed. The wilderness cannot be domesticated. The ultimate end of romantic art is a vague sense of inspiration, for what? Towards what?

It is no wonder that when pressed for it, most listeners of extreme music (or Heavy Metal in particular if you prefer) cannot quantify what it is they take from the music. They often attempt to divert the argument by exclaiming how if they were to try, words would cheapen that unquantifiable "it" that they return to. Whereas this might speak as to the lingual limitations of metalheads (or modern pop culture consumers broadly), it also betrays that there is something there that is worth protecting, something that the speaker feels tenderly about and that they will take special note not to blemish with easy talk, a fire they will not disgrace with lesser offerings. Can the gods, in 2011, still be angered by impudence?

As I've mentioned in the past, Heavy Metal music is so potent for a certain breed of teenager introvert because it seems so insular, so determined not to be scrutinized by outsiders and those who are false of spirit. Whatever meaning and inspiration the young listener takes from their favorite Heavy Metal records, they must wrestle the ghost, their "summoned entity". Look on the cover of "Live after Death" and tell me if you can battle the reanimated horror on the cover for his secrets of life and death. Do you dare?

Heavy Metal is not an easy friendship. If it were a bond it would eventually be akin to that of brothers (as the Manowar-speak, for all its gross commercial application, is not chosen in error), for as brothers quarrel and antagonize, they are also tied with illogical bonds of blood. To discover the potency of Heavy Metal, blood must flow. Again I am reminded of a thread on a metal forum where a man of at least three completed decades was railing against some other, more Dionysian black metal fan, whom exclaimed they like their beers and pussy in their metal. "Such things have no place in metal" he replied sternly, wizard glasses pressed closer to his eyes, "it is only meant for dark occult magickal studies". Do you realize how much a person has to suffer for Heavy Metal to say this, straight-faced, to the world? How much his early experience of growing up and his interpersonal relationships have been colored by the solitary ingress that some undead beast on a metal album cover inspired?

If you wonder how metalheads can be at once so elitist and insecure, start by examining their priorities in their teen age, as compared to their peers.

The paradigm of the mad alchemist up in their tower, concocting strange mixtures they only when they have felt them perfected do they intend to make public is another one I often employ. There's a mad brilliance in going through all the trouble to make a dense, unparsable artifact of romance, drop it in the culture flow, watch it sink like a stone to the dark depths below and then exclaim with pride "many will drown for years to reach the beauty I have created, and this is just as well!". I've been listening to, writing about and composing Heavy Metal for what is increasingly more of a candidate to be described as a "long time" (you know this once you realize more than half your life, and certainly all of the life that was worth it, has been spent around molten steel) and at the above description my heart still resonates warmly. It is I, I will dive into the mirror pool and I will unearth your beauty, or I will willingly drown and be forgotten, that is my gut response.

I believe most artists are secretly jealous of their listeners who reach the closest to the inscrutable core of majesty that they have - perhaps - by accident conjured. You, the close listener and appreciator of Heavy Metal, are neither friend nor brother to the musician that has created it, you are an usurper. They will begrudgingly tolerate and accept you for your patronage, perhaps. And if you show some free-standing merit of your own they will call you friend perhaps, but be certain, romance is a cruel mistress, it yearns for holocaust. The mad lover will kill every suitor first and then themselves to slide between her thighs.

As love will die within the force
That drains is from the grail
She drinks the blood of prophets
And she drinks the blood of saints
Between her legs they crawl in torment
For the souls they lay to waste
Upon the altar, the sacrifice begins
The dragon takes another, and feeds upon his sins
To live and breathe again

I have argued that Heavy Metal is a solipsist reflex. What beauty is there that you found, you stole, so on. Capitalist terms can and have explained the transaction of such art. Where did you buy your first Heavy Metal record, anyway? Did you climb a mountain for it? Did you cross unknown lands? Of course not. However romanticism has a slightly different aspect to it that cannot be explained in the words of commerce, one cunningly complementary to the main thrust of pathos, the lust for death, that is so infinitely marketable. In order to kill one must create. The romantic desires power to affect, to shape the outer as a testament to the control of the inner. This world must burn, must be raised to the ground and then the destroyer shall rebuild it in great splendor. This betrays that the outer shell, so distrusted and maligned by the dark hearts dreaming in the darkness, now in their thirties and still dreaming of 'occult studies' in their small bedrooms while their mother sleeps just a cold wall away, is something of importance. The romantic desires the world to enter them, they desire for themselves to have a place in the world. They only way for the romantic to achieve anything, really, is through sacrifice. All art for them is a sacrifice, even if the smoke that rises to the night sky, heavy with the vitality of burned flesh is meant for an unfathomable shade, a spectral god that nobody can really identify, a symbol of the great self.

Come before the sacred heart and sacrifice the mind
Come before the silent invitation to the signs
Let us enter frightened ones, suppress the need to hide
Let us cross the river's streams unto the other side

Out in the distance of all time and space
As the Force of the Entity reigns

The process of creating art is in this light a process of diminishing the self, cutting off the offering to burn, and then instead of waste in dissipation (which, in lack of monetary returns, is the only way the Capitalist can describe the act of creation), the hope is of impregnation of the outer world. It could be said that the only reason society tolerates the mad shaman, the reclusive poet and the drunken writer of low repute is because in the end, in how they offer to their higher, dreaming selves, they offer to everyone else as well. The act of creation, even if meant in the narrowest egotistical sense, is inescapably a step outside the self. It is illogical as it is economically counter-intuitive.

Heavy Metal often is concerned with satanic or demonic forces and much is made of that. The most popular modern interpretation of what the impulse for bands to glorify dark forces might signify is comfortably capitalist. Praising satan, the light-bringer, is to praise individuality and personal accomplishment. All these satanic bands can be read as if they're rational egotists, effectively creating monuments to their own imagined greatness. If you can sell it, then it must exist.

Elements of this reading I've often endorsed and felt to be true with stipulations. However in discussing the curious case of Saviour Machine, a band often considered to be 'christian metal', I have to discuss how the exception underlines the rule. What if in the glorification of any higher force (as satan, or the old gods surely are) is more important than the identity of the entity and its ethical demeanor (if any)? Is there truly such a great difference between those that glorify Azazoth and those that plead for communion with the Pantocrator?

White metal and black metal, the difference can be argued to be an aesthetic. It is the small mind that immediately rejects one of two siblings because they are wearing the wrong colours, in the end they are so much alike. The impulse of both is the offering to awe, a minor transcendence that connects all living beings through hope.

Follow me in madness, follow me in fear
Touch me in your silence, rape me in your tears
Let the sea sadness free the chosen one
Legacy of horror, manifest the son

If there is a God that Saviour Machine are calling towards in their debut album, its face is obscured by the killing light, much like Apollo, much like the great devil, Satan, much like the visage of the sun itself. Tributes to the eldest of all gods, do they bring us together or tear us apart? Saviour Machine do not urge you to join a church, nor do they have any judgment of non-believers to offer. Their faith is in freedom itself, an existential teliosis. Their burnt offering cannot be described in commercial terms because it has not moved me to either endorse any superficial creed or belief system. It has only inspired in me to keep on living, to create in turn and offer what I can, hoping to unlock something of myself I dread to realize exists. It can be said that Romance, the most selfish of fervors, leads to this.

There's no ephemeral salvation here (if anything this is a tortured record) but an inspiration of more lasting impact. The language used is universal, the symbols employed can be understood by any man of any creed. The message is as clear as it has ever been: to find oneself one must risk, they must create, and to create one must sacrifice with no small desires of immediate returns, only that though many drown in the darkness of their ingress, the few will find a way to unearth their capacity, a freedom that has been given back though always possessed.

Without hate, without pain
Without suffering insane
Without death, without fire
Without lies that feed the liar
Without war, without games
Without fear to take the blame
Without fame, without power
Without drugs to heal the coward
Without violence, without rape
Without sickness, without plagues
Without judgment, without crime
Without hope, without time
Without two, without three
Without torture over belief
Bring us love
Let us see
Set us Free

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Hard drive failure

Now, if I were a superstitious man...

Anyway, transmissions will resume shortly.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Fifteen years of accumulated spring cleaning

click for bigger psycho-mnemonic cartography

In sight of a theoretical moving out, I've finally started making practical steps. I've wanted to let go of the plastic for a while now, so that's what's left. If you were ever in doubt on my commitment to essentiality, here you go.

I felt remarkably little remorse throwing out the CDs themselves. CDs aren't beautiful. I kept my meager vinyl because it is. I plan, in my new place, to create a wall-of-art with the more striking of the cd booklets, but then again, I might not do that at all. I've lived a long time in this house/room and it had been overcompressed with little trinkets, toys and memorabilia for the larger part of that duration. When I get a new place I intend for very spartan interior design, at least for a couple of years.

Goodbye to plastic. That which was worthy has long since been digitized.

Here's a few interesting thoughts that came with taking out the trash:

1. Curiously, some of my CDs have been breeding in the piles. I apparently have two "Lost Paradise" CDs by Paradise Lost, two "Invictus" copies by Virgin Steele and two of "Red" by King Crimson. Also three different print copies of Psychotic Waltz's "A Social Grace", but at least I remember how that happened. Not the rest.

2. Fuck, I bought a lot of trash when I was younger. I have Exxplorer's "coldblackugly" in here somewhere (and Symphonies of Steel, thankfully, but still). Probably the most putrid thing in here was however, and somehow twice, Jag Panzer's "Dissident Alliance". I do not remember having bought either of them.

3. I had a *lot* of cover compilations from various magazines. Turns out I remember most of the songs on them extremely well. I must have listened to them nearly as much if not more than I did real records. I'd never do that nowadays.

4. Melissa is still the best heavy metal cover.

5. I have absolutely none of the collector genes my brother and father seem to have in spades. For this I am thankful for a couple of reasons. One is that I do not enjoy the feeling of nostalgia, generally. In an indirect way this is also connected with how I'm trying to take positive steps forward in my life (the moving out is just part of that mindset) and being tied down with fifteen years of CD weight is something to be liberated of, definitely.

6. Once I got through the CD piles, I started tearing down posters and removing small items of no consequence that had accumulated through decades of teenage entropy. I threw away bad comics, I gave bad books to my dad (as he cannot bear the thought of throwing away books), I seriously didn't stop until I ran out of garbage bags. I wish I had more of them, actually. It's a good feeling. I'll finish up this project in the coming week. I intend to leave this room as bare as I arrived in it.

And in a neat little pile, as these things go.