Issue #3: Helpless Prey To Immortality


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Contents:

1. Prologue by Helmholtz

2. The Ritual of Metal Performance in Concert by Helmholtz

3. Stoner Adventures: Vol. Zero by Kaveh

4. Drunk with Fire by Helmholtz

5. Tangerine Dream – Ricochet: Review by Kaveh

6. Music as an Expression of Abstract Form by Kaveh

7. Hessian Politics, Nationalism, and the Design for Hessiandom by Helmholtz

Prologue

The rumble of the tanks commences, and rifles are gripped in tension before the oncoming clouded mass, impenetrable, opaque in blackened, rugose thickness and ponderous hovering. How guilefully it belies its swift feet of Thanatos, blessed by His gas-masked acolytes of apocalypse! With veins strained and fingers tightened, the artillery roars and the charge begins. Springing forward in sprinting action: mors triumphalis! Totentanz! Corps of the modern mighty warrior, disciples of technics thrust forward. Hah! No mightier than Antaeus, when the earth is ripped from beneath him, for before you lies the leveller. There is no Jacob nor Heracles among you,( and pitiful few of the stock of Prometheus, to boot!) nor will any of you sprout a new organ or apparatus to protect you from what approaches. Fools, brave may you be, there is no antidote to reality. Are you resigned?

“GODS OF THE THRONE MUST BE WATCHING FROM HELL”

As the clouded mass devours laughing, with the many limbed dance of chemical swords, cutting down the living in an aura of NIHIL, witness this parley `twixt the heavens, earth, and hells, this divine art! Behold the bodies, intact, bereft of life, helpless prey to immortality, the work of the Absolute! Verily, the wrath of the lion is the wisdom of God. Lo, even through your pitiful ideals, your attempt to destroy without destruction, your war against war, the wisdom manifests and stands undefeated, eternal. You? You could not hope to mar this. You were meant to feed the fire that burns without a flame, the eternal wheels of action, in cold bonfires of deadly gas. Who among you can truly stand up to death? Dare you challenge Yama? Stand before Shiva…

The Ritual of Metal Performance in Concert

If one has ever observed the performance of a band, and the reaction of a crowd at a metal concert of good quality, it immediately strikes them as different from that of the standard musical performance.  There seems to be little effort on the part of the band to reach out to the audience, though not out of nervousness.  If anything, the persona that a better metal band takes on stage is one of withdrawal completely into the realm of the music.  Indeed, at a better concert, the crowd itself mirrors this transformation accordingly.  Additionally, this withdrawal and elevated position of the band in question is not of the rock star manner, exalting in glorification by the audience, and thus ego-assuaging (“Oh, they really love me!“), but rather in a conscious effort to transfigure through the music themselves and the “worshippers“.  This can be easily noted by the intense manner of possession a metal crowd displays in certain contexts, which past simply having the audience groove to a beat, has them whipping their hair and heads in dervish like manner, mirroring the Dionysian rituals of Sufism for one, and additionally sporting the near-combat of the pit.

Part of the distinction between this, and the “telluric“ nature of what Evola saw in a jazz performance (which at the time was also allotted a Dionysian character in music and dance) has to do with the nature of the music itself, and of the actions of the crowd in response.  There is (or should be) a distinct lack of humanism in a metal music and as mentioned before, in the manner of performance.  As in metaphor through texts such as the Bhagavad Gita, the sublime principle of the Absolute often reveals itself on this earth in the form of terrifying destruction, in that case, in the form of war, echoing the difficulty of the Self`s identification with it, and thus realization of the immanence of transcendence.  So in the same way, a proper metal band assumes the form of impersonal manifestations of pure power and aloofness, transforming the concert into a ritual of war.  Consider head banging, for example.  Aside from resembling the revelries of the Sufi Dervishes (as well these being paralleled in the oft cited metal practices of bloodletting and other onstage self-destruction, showing the nature of divine intoxication present as well as embrace and reminding of death and how it has no hold over such a being) does not the action look like a furious bow of devotion, put in the context of battle (in fact, there is a historical war-symbolism {footnote 9} present there!)?.  The mosh-pit is clear war ideally, as well.  Much as metal took the modern techniques and principles of say, something like punk, and forged them into a grand, epic structure (see Celtic Frost), so it takes the Dionysian element and puts it back in a context of self-overcoming and power, the tendency tempered by the sublime nature of self-destruction present in war, death and decay, framed in the context of lucid, fiery intoxication.

These metaphors are still more compounded when one considers even further the nature of metal stage-performance.  The shrouded nature of the face covered by long hair (as if by a monk`s cowl), the defiant gaze outwards, the intense concentration upon the instrument as if conjuring and summoning forces through it, the violent whipping about with an tool of music that oft looks akin to a battle axe…. These performers ideally embody the persona of a magus, a warrior, an Olympian God, or the divine mirrored in a raw, unrestrained and sublime force of Nature.   There is distance, a lack of humanity or furthermore a supra-humanity.  The name Dead, for example, was by no means idly chosen.  There is no mistake that his behaviour on stage and in person as well mirrored that of a force of nature, rather than attributing any form of true personality to him.  He was not he, he was a force.  This is part of the essence of black metal and most good metal in general: the individual is not emphasized but rather de-emphasized, unless the individual is exceptional in one sense or another(as the hero of a Romantic poem or an ancient epic), and truly god-like.

At the very least what lies here is potential, as much of the form has coalesced naturally and would perhaps not need much further improvement.  In the context of a true Hessian society, the metal performance can be a source of incredible ritualistic significance, even more focused and intensified than it is presently.  Art has in it all the potential to be made into a form of worship and spiritual experience, and the prism for a religion of Life and Transcendence.  Let us journey to the stars!

Stoner Adventures: Vol. Zero

The experience was a mixture of amusement and impatience as I watched Helmholtz lie down and roll around on the kitchen floor. It was a typical early spring college residence house party with all the common signs: drinking games, random socializing and constant music which we managed to keep at decent quality despite the occasional interruptions by the females. A generous portion of Sativa was cooked in oil and used to bake and consumed about 20 minutes ago and I had yet to experience the effects though I could witness them in a few others. After a short discussion within the elite hessian council it was decided that four of us (one sober hessian included) would take a short walk to the ravine outside.

Almost immediately after stepping out a sharp contrast was felt between the chaotic atmosphere of the party where everything and nothing was going on and the relatively reverent calm of the outdoors. Passing by buildings, the structure of the sub-urban town cried insignificance. Short cubes of light and brick randomly scattered along the path created that well-known sterile aurora of safety and comfort. Every household was a kingdom and yet in an infinite sea of kingdoms every kingdom was little more than a peasant mud hut. Every so often attempts at creating significance through architecture presented themselves in the form of plagiarism from well known classical patterns picked up and clumsily slapped onto the facades, as if trying to attach themselves to the greatness of historical precedents. Instead, they managed to cheapen the greatness of classical design, giving more reasons and justifications for the modern architect to continue his ceaseless quest for deconstruction, making facelessness the norm. What a fucking mess!

Bare trees reaching out into the night sky resembled veins infiltrating into a body, rounding their outer perimeter, maximizing their contact with their sources of nourishment. The fractals of life displayed themselves unmistakably upon interaction with the environment, using repeating patterns as building blocks for spreading into larger combinations, yet respecting the integrity of their form on every scale. As we walked out of the city and into the ravine, they slowly but surely established their dominance over the landscape: tireless, amoral, competitive and eternally determined to grow further. What we traced in the sky was the evidence of a daily battle for dominance and light. The continuous war was spreading upwards and upwards, and at the highest peaks of the branches, a glorious celebration of victory: a dominating peak of symmetry that might as well be Yggdrasil itself. This is where I realized that we had officially stepped into the green zone as we were swallowed into the belly of the exhaling creature before us: The Forests of Dol Goldur await!

As the dirt path into the woods sloped downwards, our vision in the moonless night revealed little more than silhouettes in the depths, sharpening our other senses. The left side of the path hinted at a smell of humidity and then I recognized it: As we walked down to the center of the ravine we were hypnotized not by what we saw but by what we heard; perhaps the oldest form of music in the world. As the stream before us rolled onwards, a repetitive phrase was chanted. Every motion in this phrase was evidence of slight shifts of unevenness in the surface beneath, to the extent that I could picture the shape of every stone in the path. The sound had a round texture, no collisions here, only a continuously smooth motion by a formless adversary, chiselling away at the edges of its harder opponents with infinite patience until all was as he willed: all was smooth and round in the riverbed. A miniature heat death scenario created by the restless agents of entropy. As we stood in reverence and meditation and joined this sonic display of meditative fluidity, we were separated from the flow of time. A complete freedom from temporality laughed sardonically in the face of an ever changing world. Whether we stood there for aeons or a micro-second was suddenly irrelevant as we were experiencing the force of being in its purest form, this mysterious drive towards what we have been pursuing_ that we have been hopelessly attempting to describe_  suddenly manifested itself and the road was visible, clear as the darkness before us, yet still unexplainable. A consciousness beyond consciousness, an intelligence beyond intelligence, a new step in our evolution not defined by necessity to survive but pushed forward by the drive of the very force of life itself_ by what we might come to recognize as “the will”, so jubilant and triumphant in its leaps that it throws all caution and hesitation to the side, creating forms out of the infinite lucid chaos that surrounds it. This is our religious pursuit. This is the only reason why our existence could possibly matter in the greater scheme of things.

And yet, the manifestation of truth itself was swallowed up by chaos as we were once again surrounded by fractals of life. Separation from our contemplative coma came swiftly and suddenly, though the value of the experience was only the enhanced spark of the thought process, now buried within, calling us towards the objective. As I stood up (I did not realize when I started kneeling before of the river) we all walked onwards without a single word, amazed and baffled. Further down the road at an open field, where a soothing breeze cooled the skin, leading a group performance of the LBRP was spiritual indulgence: an un-flexing of the mind and a worthy worship of what had bewildered us all.

The rest of the journey was mostly silent, except for the marching rhythm of boots on a dirt path: steps (perhaps unintentionally) in perfect unison, admiring the glowing scenery. A long round path lead us back to the gates of civilization where lighted signs attempted fruitlessly at grabbing our attention. Their insignificance, this time, was recognized when judged against the hammer of the will versus necessity. They were purely based on necessity; this didn’t make them “bad”, just utterly temporal and forgettable. Walking back to the house party, to the questions of “Where did you guys go?” and the music of King Crimson was bittersweet. Listening to music and laughing at the silly shenanigans of friends for the rest of the night was a decent treat for a tired and intoxicated body, yet deep down we each held on to our own truths like small treasures dug from the depths.

Drunk With Fire

There are moments in which all things seem aligned perfectly, this perfection radiated by the prism of a particular event which itself references the eternal, and of all united.  The sky was being set upon by a rolling horde of red and white clouds, Olympian, towering into the heavens, as I was leaving work near the shores of Lake Ontario.  It seemed these battle-brothers of the air came to add splendour to the coming events of the night, watchful, steadfast and terrible warrior-guards for the works that were to be performed in the city below.  Even the very dwellers of the regions above would come, for a night, to witness the work of Man.  Few of that race of curious beings could command their own inspirations to flock down from the lofty regions to the lower places (still less in these times), and yet, for this man`s work, it seemed Beauty and Power themselves were compelled without question to descend, incarnate and incorporeal both.  And I, a man in this moment struck with fortune by Destiny, was to come across this work, this meeting of the heavens and the earth, at once celestial and terrestrial and ascending both even beyond themselves.  The 9th Symphony of Ludwig Van Beethoven, awaited, or rather, I awaited it.

It was an event which truly made me realize the meaning of the word “transfiguration“.  As my friends and I settled into concert hall, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra emerged.  Looking upon them was no impressive sight, a great deal of them greying and portly, dressed unimpressively for such an occasion in mere black dress shirt and trousers.  These mortals were to play the work of a god?  I was a bit wary, and as the preparations began, some female member of the audience shouted out her love for the conductor.  The solemnity or even feverish enthusiasm I had hoped for was not exactly present initially, but I ignored this.  The work of Beethoven is not a religious experience to everyone, it would seem.  But then silence took the hall, and the playing began.

Immediately, conductor, and orchestra as individual entities became meaningless and void.  Everything quieted into a tension and was swept off into the regions above by the opening of the first movement.  This is the sound of overcoming, of ascent into the realms of joy, and of full feeling of all reality, overwhelmed and barely keeping control in a lucid intoxication of pure strength.  This first explosion gives way to a more measured but still strong and joyful second movement, of which is all too well known.  The passion becomes more tempered and controlled, as if by a wilful blacksmith, having composed himself in creation of a grand work.  And the sword this smith forges races across the planes of emotion themselves, flattening all resistance in joyous dance of war.  And then, it strikes him, sorrow, weeping, or the closest thing we mortals can approximate to it, this sublime feeling.  It is the final dissolution of self, when at first sadness strikes, as if the birth of a child were to be harbinger of one’s own mortality.  But the doubt flowers, and the sorrow is transmuted, and the love of continuity strikes forth into an ever-opening flower in adagio!  The flower-body bursts into thunderclouds of battle, severely striding the air as an eagle searching for its prey, and it comes upon lightning, transmuting itself with further recognition into light, and then blazing into the theme it sought from its own transfiguration: FREUDE!  Finally, the very choir of Olympus and Valhalla on high take up arms in song of this theme, and the stone faced statues of the gods both laugh and rage in terrifying beauty and power, and melt the very perception of reality itself into surreal clearness, as the strong notes fade in and out through corridors of realms we cannot perceive.

And so, in a final blaze of divine light, the beauty ends.  I walk home off the subway, drunk with fire, joy, and more lucid and more possessed than any point in my life.  It did not matter what I did for the next day or so, as I spent them in contemplation of the threads of reality unravelled in melody, through the Master’s work.

Tangerine Dream – Ricochet: Review

Tangerine Dream’s discography is notoriously a gold mine for the average music geek. Although the analysis of the group’s sound has been the subject of a previous review, the attempt here is to have a brief walk through the meditative journey in the state of awe that introduced me to the strange world of not only Tangerine Dream, but ambient and electronic music in general. A relatively lesser known gem from their early virgin years, Ricochet is their first live album. Like much of the early German electronic music, this album displays an intensely ambitious and curious state of mind, and yet simultaneously there is extreme care and delicacy taken to ensure the accuracy of the tones, equalizations and pace. Not a single note goes by uncalculated. Electronic voices that are being introduced as part of a whole new soundscape are thrown against the absolute sonic void. The band fully takes advantage of this for creation of grand spaces, and yet the album ultimately succeeds not just because of the use of (at the time) groundbreaking technique, but also because it manages to display a universal state of focus and unity.

The slowly rising and falling ambience that develops in the beginning, gives one the impression of passing through a membrane into an alternate dimension. The melody that develops after this is akin to the expression of an observer standing atop a mountain peak, yelling the song of existence into the infinity that lies ahead and below. This repetitive pattern can seem simplistic at first, but once fully absorbed; it reveals its beauty in a language not dissimilar to what one might hear on classics such as Radioactivity or Dunkelheit. New voices join this pattern, accompanying it to its logical climax before concluding to a quiet interlude. What follows is a rise of a pattern more energetic than the last. It is as if with the logical evolution of the first motif and its eventual fade into silence, room was given for the rise of a yet more powerful movement. This piece ends with a variation of the initial motif, modified to fit the new pace, displaying the ultimate unity of the piece (each half reaching the same truth through different paths), concluding the first track of the album.

The second track builds to its climax more slowly. The nature of the sounds that are layered in this piece leans towards a heavier use of the percussive (electric pianos) rather than sustained strings. This adds more movement to the piece and gives the music a more galloping nature. Instead of still meditation, here one is riding through fields, valleys and hills of strange natures and colors, discovering new bits of information in the form of long slow overlays of melodies as they appear and pass by through the rush of the gallops, creating counterpoints. Where the first track displayed transcendence through contemplation, here the same goal is reached through a constant forward movement, rolling on to conquest (heroic action). It is important to note that much of the technique used here has been copied and ripped off by various “trance” and “euro-dance” musicians, placed out of its journey-like context in a repetitive boxed cage, set to monotonous techno beats and utilised for its sense of motion to entertain people at night-clubs. When hearing this song for the first time, my experience was a mix of both a joyous discovery that electronic music has the capacity for such great ambition and a sad realization that it can fall to such vapid depths when used solely for entertainment (a clever observer would draw parallels with metal here).

As the second track slowly fades, one gets the sense that the journey has not ended, but only it is the observer that has departed from the ride as the rhythm of life continues to move and evolve into the landscape. It is now our challenge to join this rhythm of life and continue the ride, into infinity!

Music as an Expression of Abstract Form

-“Adagio molto e cantabile resembles the form of a continuously blossoming flower, never-opening fully but constantly growing and flourishing.”

-“Quick bursts of speed in Dirty Rotten LP are unrestrained explosions of power, as if in a sudden state of apotheosis one is empowered to take a war-hammer to the fabric of society, while chunks of concrete collapse all around.”

-“Nespithe resembles some sort of alien life form: Gelatinous in texture, tentacles spreading out, constantly mutating.”

Presented above are paraphrases from various music-related discussions with fellow Hessians. We often get the sense that our favourite pieces of music possess a distinct and unique quality that we frequently try to describe in terms of a frame of mind, atmosphere, temperature, colors, textures or other non-sonic features. The fact that certain types of music have the ability to stimulate the mind to this degree is a testament to the quality of the work presented. Connecting with the music in this sense represents the ability for communication on a different level compared to a common and simple devotion to a catchy tune. There are exceptions but generally most popular music focuses on creating memorable songs through familiarity and repetition. This divergence in approach can be interpreted as a contrast between passive consumption and active participation. It is, thus, fair to assert that the more expressive the experience of cerebral imagery, the richer and more communicative the music is. This also explains why it is often said that learning to appreciate classical music is a skill that one has to learn (though the same rule can be extended to any other form of music that manages to communicate with the listener on this higher plane).

Both biologically and through experience, we are trained to use our five senses in a complementary fashion to create as full an awareness of our surroundings as possible. Because of this, even when certain messages are received only through one of the sensory receivers, due to previous experiences, we are able to fill the gaps and imagine a full reality. This is a well-known effect, used often in traditional arts and recognized by Aristotle as imitation. A powerful painting or sculpture allows you to envision not only the view, lighting and textures, but also the sounds, motions and even smells that you might encounter in the presented landscape. Even more interestingly, in case of literature no direct sensory experience is communicated; only pure information. The brain then has to create the entire experience based on the given data. In case of music, sensory information can be given through experiencing voices that remind one of specific spaces and surroundings. Early electronic and ambient musicians, for example, took advantage of this very effectively (in case of early Kraftwerk, using only the manipulations of electronic instruments to create sounds resembling real ambience). At this point, however, it is vital to remember that music can go far beyond creating ambience. What constitutes “form” in music can be explained in visual and textural metaphors and narratives. But the reality is that music simply stands on its own as an abstract expression of the human mind whose true essence cannot be expressed in any language other than the language of music itself.

If music is a language then sound is its alphabet. Detailed discussion of sound frequencies and their influence on the development of tonality, melody and harmony is an entirely separate topic in its own right. It suffices to say that an infinite range of expressions can be built within a limited range of wavelengths audible to the human ear, in the same way that infinities of literature can flow out of a limited number of letters. Aesthetically, sounds are characterized by changes in volume (amplitude), spectral envelope (commonly referred to as equalization or tone), attack (percussiveness vs. lucidity), reverberation and a range of other effects. Thus we come to recognize Black Metal as fluid sounding, while the syncopated gallops of drums and guitars in Speed and Death Metal are often recognized as solid staccato. The fact that we use the same material textural adjectives (fluid, rough etc.) for something as immaterial as music shows that the forms themselves are absolute and abstract ideals that are able to manifest themselves in different ways.

It is essential here to point out that one of the most common mistakes made not only in music, but in all arts is the confusion of the roles of intent and form. Form is only meaningful as a tool for the expression of intent, but because of the rigid classification of music into different genres, it happens often that a “type” of music is chosen, and then the intent (if existent at all) is poured into the mould of the form, creating a rigid and lifeless product. There is also the contemporary approach, shunning the existence of intent as a forced phenomenon and encouraging a more “natural” approach by allowing the beholder to find intent through interpretation, ignoring the fact that human will and intent itself is part of “nature”. This is why originators of most sub-genres of metal are hailed as the greatest in their respective styles, not just because they invented something new or shocking but because the sheer power of their intent drove them to create a form that is befitting to that intent and ideal, and it is the ideal that we admire while imitators labour at recreating the form without understanding the ideal.

…And ultimately it is the ideal that eternally pushes forward against the forces of temporality. We experience music momentarily and temporarily as it passes through time. What music loses in permanence, it gains double in the ability to go through ups and downs, creating contrast, symmetry and proportion across the constant flow of the fourth dimension. This gives the musician the ability to mimic life in a more vibrant, dynamic and dare I say – Dionysian way. Thus comes the invention of the dance, this involuntary rejoicing with the spirit of music, testament to its vir.

Hessian Politics, Nationalism, and the Design for Hessiandom

The fellows behind the International Day of Slayer website not too long ago discussed with various metal academics and journalists the idea of metal hereditary culture, as opposed to a metal culture of an elective kind.  It is enough to say that metal and the non-musical tangential elements associated with it have espoused a near religious conviction in the genre and in metal as a concept.  This does itself take a myriad of forms, from the classic stereotype of drunken meathead headbangers, to the pure madness and inspired chaos of the 90s Norweigans, to deeply involved occultists and neo-pagans, nationalists, anarchists, libertarians, liberals, or just the plain apolitical, to the tech-nerds and RPG-gaming type, etc.  Those into metal can range from purposefully anti-social, to lacking social qualities, to some in fact very polite people generally speaking, whom one might not even be immediately inclined to define as a metalhead.  One is lead to ask out of the various profiles of metal listeners, what kinds of hereditary cultures would in fact be likely or even possible.

We often observe the majority of metalhead behaviours to be unimpressive.  I’ve often been to metal shows where all present sit close to the walls and nurse their beers.  Too many of them are fat, passionless, slovenly, incapable of interesting conversation, or dedicated to anything more than that which is a social scene for them.  Indeed, make no mistake, the lack of enthusiasm and involvement in most local metal scenes is token and evidence of an attitude that cares about the music only as something to pass time, and provide a social gathering.  Make your project, drink your beer, adorn yourself with patches and shirts, and maybe attract some bovine specimen of a woman that all too often seems to attend these events.  Mention achievement, prod them with desires of overcoming, attempt to speak of the magic of the artform, and you my friend will get shrugs and glazed eyes (and never, ever expect anything more than a “support the scene and underground!” speech when discussing the quality of local bands).  Metal has genius, but because of its’ iconoclastic (though becoming more acceptable) nature, it attracts people who are undermen of the lowest kind, who are not even capable of holding down basic jobs, people who desire low-lying things but can scarcely achieve even those.  It attracts the failures, however many successful forays into higher planes our genre can boast.  As far as I’m concerned, they can enjoy their beer-guts, heaps of plastic dime a dozen garbage, half-assed misanthropy, and paradoxically crowdist attitudes.  Those are not the foundations of a culture, but merely the sub-cultural satellites of Western modernity, just as decadent, degenerate, and spiritually void.  There is no greatness to be found in long-haired geeks staring at computer screens.  I doubt such types would be capable of developing a hereditary culture of any substance, seeing as most will be childless, working 9-5 jobs if they’re even employed, and completely dependent on society while cursing it endlessly.

The type of metalhead that will found a culture is one who harbors a desire for a civilization other than this one, the seeker, the one who has heard Burzum and in it, a magic apart from our age.  I identify as the root of this society those with a warrior-poet spirit.  Not simply pleased with intellectual gymnastics, they seek to test themselves, to expand in Faustian style into boundless space, not content to waste away in basements or endless social banality.  They are not “smart” in the typical “I play guitar and discuss why Christianity sucks” of most metal “philosophers”, but yearn for a new spirituality, a new portal to higher power and being, that which metal has constantly shown to seek.  These read the Illiad, the Kalevala, the Mahabharata, the Aenid, the Tain, and see a world of adventure that this society lacks, a world that is bursting and overflowing with the sublime beauty of the sacred and the profane.  Within metal, they see a new mythology, a new set of legends and art to embolden our lives with, and to show us higher paths.  I’ve been fortunate to know such people, few though they might be.  These, I dub Hessians, those that draw power from metal and seek overcoming in life.  These are people I’ve sparred with mentally and physically, lit fires and drunk under the moon with, raced through the forests with, with whom I’ve practiced rituals towards transcendence and spoken with on the eternal long into the night.  And still, these are people who seem to walk in this society, able to operate in its doings without being of it.  These people, I stake my hope in for hereditary metal culture, and this discourse goes to out to those who also have that spirit.

Before I go on, I will say there are other avenues for those who consider themselves Hessian.  The prospects, as I will go on to elucidate, for a hereditary Hessian culture and nation are difficult, and perhaps quite impractical.  I respect the opinions of those who would prefer to go with that which they believe works better than this.  By all means, shine with your own greatness!  If you feel nationalism can revitalize a people and turn them around from multiculturalism and decay, if you feel you’d rather take the reins of the world’s politics and remake them in your own image, if you feel that a sensible conservatism will be enough, or an eco-socialism to defend the environment and eliminate material struggle, that this is too elitist or not elitist enough, by all means, go with your own way.  Metal will have done something for you too, and all greatness and striving is to be exalted!  But, this still stands as a call to other hearts, as a great work to apply those hearts to.

When we look at the modern world, we see it is poor in its spirituality.  It is centralized, and yet increasingly atomized.  Everyone goes on, thinking themselves the greatest and most unique individual in the world, and in remaining in this delusion exercise the most common fallacy of humanity: hubris.  In taking themselves seriously, they take what they do less seriously.  They defend all their actions, rooted in sense of self, changing their views day to day to justify themselves.  A great vacuum dwells in the lives of these people, who are as changeable as the wind, and yet seem to follow that same pattern of simple impulse, constantly retreating to material gain, worlds of the virtual, the lives of others, and everything that will love them unconditionally, in short, a world of constant masturbation.  And in this flurry, worlds eternal pass them by, uncaring.  This is a world at a technological height, exercising tremendous power, controlled by an urge towards utopianism, docility, and easy living.

This is the antithesis of what the Hessian seeks.  The design of the Hessian nation, in the tradition of philosophers such as Nietzsche and Evola, will be oriented not towards utilitarian ends, but the common will of it’s people towards greater experience, the will to power recognizing higher being as the greatest power, the highest wine, the eternal rose.  We will continue to actualize the Indo-European Faustian (in the Nietzschean/Spenglerian sense) virile spirit.  We will strive to establish a tradition and bloodline of ascendancy, through the pen, the lyre, the sword, and our gaze to the heavens.  There will be warriors of action, monks of contemplation, the greatest artists our priests, and the keenest minds of even our keenness, our leaders.  We will unite a spiritual elite based on kinship of the soul, and from there create our nation.  We will take our actions seriously, and ourselves less so, as we strive for the furthest embroilment and involvement in the intricate webs of action, and thereby reality.  We seek the Lost Wisdom.  We will strive for the internal liberation of pure action.  We will find our absolute selves in battle, or lose ourselves in the Godhead, towards the shrouded infinity!

The elitism on which this nation is founded must be a stringent one, but it must be organic, not arbitrary.  Purely quantitative attributes such as IQ are useful indicators, but if we are truly strong and trust ourselves, should we not trust qualitative experience?  The banding together of comrades who recognize something of a brother in the other’s spirit and actions in life will serve as the foundation, and this must be the only criteria for the bloodline.  We must be honest with ourselves, and have no greater joy or sentiment than for our transcendental goals, or else this will not work.  We will know each other as perceptive, strong-willed, adventurous and able to achieve and overcome by our deeds, and our words.  The kinship that binds such a nation will be less than the mutual ego-masturbation of most social circles, but instead, built on the knowledge that all work towards the same end of the society, the goals of continued overcoming and higher, more complete being.  The practical aspect of this can be simplified to honest recognition of one’s own attributes and the attributes of others.  In combination of these two, a true elite can be formulated.  In fact, using two pitfalls of the modern age, those being overpopulation and globalization, the seeds are already sown for the selection.  We have a wider pool to draw from than ever before in history, and a more tight-nit and ready available communication and connection between these.  Those who found ANUS, found it for a reason.  From the kinship of spirit will come refinement and a physical manifestation through blood, a Hessian nation.

From these basic ideas and attitudes, social norms, customs and conventions will flow naturally.  Nietzsche quoted an old Chinese proverb in saying a decaying society has many laws, and there’s eternal truth in this statement.  The more exhaustive in word the law code of a society is, the less people living in it truly understand the spirit and form of it’s essence.  An example would be the Judeo-Christian principles that were adapted into European civilization.  We start at the onset with a tenet such as thievery being wrong, being linked to the materialistic traits of the Judaic Old Testament, however still bearing hallmarks of higher religious principles behind it.  Conceivably, stealing often presupposes the lack of strength in a person’s character to make their own way (though I’m not setting a norm here and rather trying to explain the elements behind such law that would encourage transcendent motives in a society), as well as defending the rights of those who’ve worked for what they’ve gained.  A healthy society would not need, for example, laws against stealing music (a controversial topic, who’s exploration here is hypothetical), because it would be seen as simply an extension of the original law, and its necessity understood.  In terms of punishment as well, consideration of weregilds and social stigma must be brought up, as in Norse society.  Certainly, no government would sentence you to death for killing someone, but by custom and norm, a few things would be understood.  Firstly, depending on the nature of the killing, people may trust you far less and be far less inclined to deal with you, to the point of shunning.  Secondly, it’s understood that it would be just for the family of the slain to kill you, given you have not made proper restitution.  This sort of law is not enforced by a state, but understood in full by the people of the nation, and as such it needs no coercion, nor enforcement to be enacted.

So, what kind of norms, customs, and laws might we expect to flow from these principles, in a Hessian context?  We can see a political system emergent which is very much beyond Left and Right (in so far as each goes back to the secular humanism and individualism of the Enlightenment).  On one hand, we can expect very libertarian principles such as a lower taxes (due to a minimization of government beauracracy and law enforcement), a lack of drug, seatbelt, bike helmet, smoking, and alcohol laws (if you commit stupid behavior, it’s your own fault and no one will protect you from it), freedom to bear arms and more nuanced self-defense cases in law (rather than legal formalism, contextual enforcement of say, for example, murder trials where it is clear that the killing was done for the better), legality of such activities as dueling and street fighting (given some conditions, of course), legal abortion (not from a rights perspective, but to eliminate defective children) and so on.  Essentially, in a society where the individual and maintenance of the state of living is not the highest principle (nor some utilitarian collective) and transcendent experience is, people would care far less about these, and as well, social norms and custom (based on a lower population, less atomized and more closely knit society and family) would teach certain values which would often make law enforcement unnecessary.  Natural selection and a eugenic quality would emerge from a lack of many of these laws.  On the other hand, we can expect strict enforcement of principles related to the environment (polluting industries, if they’re even allowed to exist, get a mob of teenagers sacking them at night, as well as heavy taxes), efficient land use, properly grown and cared for whole foods (I doubt anyone would buy factory farmed meat or pesticide infused vegetables in such a society anyway) and exclusivity of the society.  While the population control mechanisms should once again be intuitive and in custom (bad form to have a family over 2 children, unless you’re exceptional among even these elites), programs related to breeding and heredity might be cultivated by the State.  The people and in fact State will have no problem ejecting, banishing, or outright killing people who put themselves at war with Hessian society.  Indeed, why deny them the dignity of dying for what they believe (we can assume prisons will be obsolete then as well, haha)?  While drugs might be legal, driving under impairment or doing a stupid activity that harms another under impairment might bring quite stern punishments.  Drugging someone else will essentially involve the death penalty (10 cent option by the way, a bullet in the back of the head), as will any attempted unjustified murders.  For repeated theft, we can expect either labor camps or banishment.

Additionally, we might derive some duties from these social norms and customs, necessitated by the founding ideals of the nation.  Rudimentary combat training, skills, and weapons should be possessed by all, in addition to a separate warrior caste (which would replace the police force, as police boredom = police brutality, they often having no transcendent spiritual principle to keep them from it).  In the case of invasion, the entire populace should be able and ready to fight the enemy.  The elite nature should also necessitate a spiritual devotion to one’s craft, competition, well roundedness aside from one’s specialization, and as noted before, an honest assessment of one’s own capabilities and the capabilities of other’s.  Essentially, we should hold even the average of our nation to a high standard, since indeed, our average will be higher.  Except in cases of extreme genius and specialization of Beethoven-esque quality, the physically apt should also be intellectually competent at least, and vice versa.  As a metal listener, I’m almost ashamed to answer to people that I both a musician and an academic, as this seems to be the stereotype of a lot of young metal listeners of the more intelligent kind.  Being these things is not a bad thing inherently, but a Hessian society cannot simply be composed of university professors and composers.  Division of labour, calling, and vocation is required.  I’ve been fortunate so far to meet Hessians who are carpenters, architects, mathematicians, scientists, and so on, so variation does exist, and there are indeed those among us who can work practically.  We do have to remember that a nation needs variation in its components and there is no shame, and indeed much honor, in doing some quite practical.  This is not to say we should not expect a high level of understanding and devotion merely because someone is say, a warrior and not a general.  All levels should strive for elite status and excellence.

Going hand in hand with this, issues such as gender roles and homosexuality might be made quite plain.  The increasingly effeminate nature of the homosexual culture would be shunned, and likely, such people could either be accepted provided they keep private about it, or made clear to leave the nation to one where such practices are accepted.  Generally, given the nurturing, emotional nature of women, it would make sense for them to be suited to child-bearing and raising, or if not, for at least one parent to be in the home.  Certainly, we would not exclude women who show prowess in a variety of skills to partake in them, but we might balance this allowance with wisdom from such as Nietzsche, Evola, Spengler, and most great traditional societies that have been likewise, patriarchal.  We should understand that in most cases, the spiritual fulfillment and natures of men and women are fundamentally different, which should not prevent us from finding the optimum for both in a Hessian society.  At the very least, the societal disunity promoted by modern concepts such as feminism should be shunned, and a view towards the organic function and transcendence of the civilization should be paramount here, as in all things.  We should again understand the working of society as a unity of parts who are increasingly differentiated from each other, especially as it grows in complexity, and this should explain caste and gender role in a light different than that of the humanist paradigm of oppression and inequality.  Perhaps to proper elucidate this, we should consider for example, the function of a leader.  I once made mention of the etymology of the word “worship”.  The archaic spelling of this word, “worthship”, denotes that the object of worship provides something to the worshipper.  As Carlyle, Spengler, Evola, and Nietzsche have written, heroes, leaders, generals, provide something to the ones that follow them.  Aside from the purely practical aspects of a good leader providing material wealth and prosperity for his people, there is the spiritual aspect.  A good leader directs the souls and energies of his people upwards, exactly as a conductor might lead an orchestra into the higher spheres of symphonic beauty.  This is not to be confused with Bonapartism and demagoguery, which descends to the people.  This, in antithesis, draws the people upwards, emboldening them, being their bridge and gateway to the highest places.  With this in mind, we should note that where one is ruled by another in a proper, healthy hierarchy and elitism, it is for the benefit of all that this is done, and not a mere aggrandizement of self and ego.

Many traditional societies existed with similar tenets and ideals within different periods of history, however, all have come to the same end of decay and decline.  While we can admit the cyclical nature of life and civilization (and indeed, does not overcoming one cycle only bring further cycles to overcome?), we should “seek to make a final end”, so to speak.  Without resigned fatalism, we should strive for the highest and the best, that which will stand the longest.  Whether or not we can do better than the aeons before us, we should endeavor to learn from them and attempt to exceed them.  Bearing this in mind, we would do well to heed Evola’s warning against slavish imitations of past forms.  In a parallel example within the metal genre itself, instead of imitating older forms and coming up with an inferior “old school” cliche, one starts with an intent which the aesthetic shapes itself around.  Likewise, here we can see where the old forms decayed, and indeed in these we should seek to exceed them.  The cyclical view of civilization is with respect to basic, abstract patterns and movements, and a proper rebirth would indeed involve criticism and reworking of that which decayed, to achieve the same end that the greatness before us attained, as opposed to merely taking its form.  Power has been abused, no doubt, in many periods of history, and Marx does not stand alone in his criticism of the decayed ruling classes of his time; Carlyle and Evola stand there also, ready to dispense with shams.  However, we do not look forward to an inevitable God of Progress, to greater and greater comfort and ease.  In short, health is the aim, vitality, greatness, the highest states, and everything is secondary to attaining these.  Old forms will be cast aside, new ones adopted, but the essence of what we seek is eternal, and only the trappings and shape changes.  It will not be given up for lack of practicality, fear of failure, or of not adhering to “tradition” in the lower case, particular, and transient form.  The experience of power and higher attainment is the goal, and older forms of practice are only a guide to this end.

The next concern is actualization of this society.  A merely theoretical state might be pleasing for the unambitious, but there must be no mistake about the attainment of this being a reality, a Great Work to attend ourselves to.  The creation of a nation, society, government in physical form upon this earth, of an elitist nature and reviving the noblest aspects of Faustian striving, should be the first goal and duty of anyone who considers themselves Hessian.  Leadership will be shown through the ancient principle of auctoritas, creating a ruling aristocracy of merit.  Courses of action and decrees will be debated among by a council of those who’ve shown the most initiative and wisest decisions, those who naturally, our elite people have elected to follow, the ones who follow the ideals of our society most closely.  One of the ways this will succeed without having to use massive beauracracy to attempt to keep it incorruptible, is to devolve a good deal of power to the local levels.  It can be assumed that the people who will come together to form such a state, are devoted enough to have risked otherwise normal lives and relationships with others to enact higher principles.  This lessens the chance of mere mob rule, and combined with a lower population and more local power, can ensure for a true meritocracy to emerge.  We might also elect to have a hereditary ruling family, one that will have shown itself worthy by wresting the right to rule through once more, auctoritas.  It would go without saying that should this power fail in its duties, its legitimacy is left open to attack by anyone who can lead better.  The main difference between this form of government and present democracy is first, more permanent rulers, not limited by terms.  Secondly, the level of the populace is that of a higher elite than the present, and being lower in population levels and overall more well knit, communally speaking, actions will be considered much more thoroughly, and decisions will have much more immediate and meaningful consequences (leading to once again, deeper consideration).  Thirdly, because of the nature of this culture, means of making change considered ruthless in other cultures, will be far more tolerated here.  A corrupt ruler slain by an aspiring, virile usurper will not be mourned, nor the slayer scorned.

And when and how will this be created?  Situations like peak-oil and various apocalypse scenarios seem to provide the most immediate answer, in so far as providing a destabilized situation in which organized opposition to and hindrance of a Hessian Lebensraum will be minimal.  Politically, supporting secessionist, (some, based on compatibility) anarchist and nationalist movements represents a related cause and concern there, in so far as combating the very globalization which makes the founding easier yet more difficult.  Essentially, this will dictate a generally more classically right wing approach in practical politics to secure the existence of this nation.  Granted both the type we wish to attract and the additional unlikelihood of the populace at large to support these views, a popular political movement is questionable, but rather, in the style of writer Brett Stevens, a support for policies which are more popular than the elitist ANUS mold, but saner than most mainstream opinions.  Conservatism in general can help lay the groundwork for this creation, following a general model of decentralization and acceptance of more popular forms of higher ideals.  This does not however mean a compromise of core ideals, but however, an alliance with politically expedient and generally honest and genuine movements that dwell in a more exoteric realm.  Political alliances will be inevitable, and while conservatism, anarchism, libertarianism, and nationalism are not perfect matches, the decentralist and separatist tendencies inherent in them will be indispensable for the creation of this state.

An eventual and gradual gathering of Hessiandom will have to occur over time, and the best place for consolidation is a North American area of some kind, given the relatively lower population density and unexploited land mass, making it easier to claim land and defend it (lower population density indicating generally less numerous opposition).    Even in the absence of a large apocalyptic event, short of some unifying event (another space race, for example), this civilization is on an obvious decline which will make the present society at some point dissipate and give this plan its opportunity.  Indeed, this creation in such turbulent times and large land space might not even necessitate an initial act of violence, and indeed, while in principle Hessian values clearly show no bias against violence (haha), in the initial stages, given the nature of technological advantage in the modern age, starting a war/genocide against the infidels would not at all be wise.  Better here would to establish cooperation with other traditionally minded groups in an initial 13 Colonies scenario, so to speak, where a union of states with differing interests exists in order to safeguard each states’ right to defend its interests against aggressors.  We might take influence from Men Among the Ruins and have this front of traditional minded folk, a sort of Sacred Imperium (titling it so if we wish to avoid possible references to 1776 and anything thereafter!).  Here as ever before, it will be necessary to operate once again not on ideological checkmark lists but on the firm trusts and kinships of the spirit that friendships of the like mind have formed.  This is not and will not be a populist movement, and there will not be mass recruitment, or indeed, real recruitment of any kind.

However, granted, it is necessary to put this in perspective.  I am not in the business of ordering definitive decrees from above.  Instead, this is a tentative call of an outline to those who share the same concerns, goals and desires.  By all means, much like the massive thread of the same topic on Metal Hall, this is a brainstorm outlining probable and possible characteristics of a Hessian society, however, with one particular vision presented here as an attempted synthesis between creating an ideal and attaining it realistically.  It is open to criticism and debate, and can be improved and filled out.  This is not meant to be an edict proclaiming a definitive and unchanging absolute concept with which to mold  and corrupt susceptible young recruits with, but an invitation to the like-minded, those who know themselves to have these desires, a call to men of Tradition and higher men alike.  The true leaders will not proclaim themselves as such, but will show themselves to be.

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Issue #2: A Fine Day to Die!


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Contents:

1.  Prologue by Kaveh

2.  Until the Light Takes Us: A Review by Helmholtz

3.  Cirith Ungol – King of the Dead:  Review by Helmholtz

4.  Vio-Lence – Eternal Nightmare: Review by Kaveh

5.  Remembering Ronnie James Dio (1942-2010) by Kaveh

6.  On Metal and the 3 Metamorphoses by Kaveh

7.  “Die Fahne Hoch” – The Prospective New Flag for Hessiandom by Helmholtz

8.  The Essence of Metal Mythos: Nothing Too Sacred, Nothing Too Vile by Helmholtz

Prologue

Here I sit, atop a hill looking down into the infinite darkness beneath me. A fortress of mountains surrounds the valley. Shapeless figures below shift and move slowly, awaiting the inevitable. Above me grey clouds twist and turn, slow and sluggish, creeping along, powerless against the whims of the breath of the wind, and then heavily collide. The night is pregnant with blood, lusting after the piercing rays of a red dawn. Awaiting the breakage, my fingers run through the mane of my stallion. My other hand clenches the hilt of my sword in anticipation. Ecstasy and fear are one and the same – and I await them both impatiently.

The crushing weight of the moment envelopes my being, and yet I am lighter than I have ever been. And then I begin to levitate, leaving the field, dashing through the clouds, catching the sharp blades of sunlight before daybreak. The sun is harsh; it cuts through me, leaving my bare soul before its killing gaze. My being is torn as all frailty within me takes flight. All that is unworthy of this moment takes flight. Ecstasy and fear, joy and dread are one and the same – and I embrace them all fiercely.

“Now the morning advance from far east

Now the sun breaks through dust-clouds and haze

Now a forest of spears appears on the hill

And steel shines bright in the sun’s first rays”

And I descend and descend, galloping down the hill speedily, cutting through air and earth, cutting through the fabric of existence itself. I am one with my sword and my stallion; we are all but a single creature, thirsting for blood, reveling in the joy of the hunt. About me, formless figures are cut down in massive numbers. I have become more than human. I am a gift-giver. I am the bringer of all that makes life worthwhile. Ecstasy and fear, joy and dread, life and death are all one and the same – and I have become them, all and one!

Die!

Until the Light Takes Us: A Review

It is above all a good thing that an English language documentary by a relatively disinterested third-party has been produced on the Norwegian black metal scene and the events surrounding it in the early 90s.  Most wonderful about this, is that the makers of the film, Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell, though having done an excellent job arranging this, let the objects of the documentary speak for themselves.  There is no politically correct summary to properly interpret the ideas presented here; they are left bare of any ornamentation, to observe.

My particular viewing of the film was with a few fellow Hessians, on a late winter’s night in the city, in a local mid-sized cinema.  While the theatre was not packed to the brim, there were certainly a good deal of people who showed up to see the film, many seeming to be curious outsiders (though there were many as well who were clearly metalheads).  Opening cuts of the film featuring Fenriz staring luridly off into the Norwegian landscape, coupled with nauseatingly schmaltzy ambient/indie/pop bastard fusions, gave the initial impression that this would be a humanistically “sensitive” take on those tough, grim Norwegians.  This initial pessimism was vastly swept to the side when the film showed depth on a number of levels regarding the main actors of the dramatic sequences of the 90s.

Through countless venues of information, we get the sense that Fenriz is a bit of a fool and a joker, that his poetic brilliance of earlier times, both lyrically and compositionally, were perhaps an accident, or the brightly burning flames of youthful ripping into pure action, subsiding through tiredness and lack of anything but impulse.  This film seems to portray a much more complex picture of a tragic, downfallen individual who seemed to be just as far-seeing as his work had suggested, but easily discouraged and sickly, even his humour seeming a desperate mask for his dissatisfaction.  He speaks almost as a twisted Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, overladen with honey, when he speaks of his love for art which is “wealthy and troubled”, portaying “the exhaustion of easy living”.  Touched upon very strongly is the deep friendship that persisted and still persists between him and Varg, in spite of the differences present between the two.

Varg is where the film is really centered about and finds its best voice.  With infinite charm, but iron resolve, we see his values declared firmly and without hesitation.  In a moment showing just how uncensored the film is with regards to politically incorrect opinions, he describes baptism as a Jewish ceremony to kill the pagan soul within a child and call a Jewish soul in.  In an infinitely humorous scenario, one audience member in the back of the theatre was so bold as to clap loudly at this.  He stands strongly against globalism, corporatism, Christianity, and everything that weakens his culture, and relates, for lack of a better word, awesome anecdotes of shooting at the first McDonald’s that opened up in his town with his friends.  Whatever one’s opinion may be on the man’s music, his resolve and his values have stayed like iron, and he seems in passionate pursuit of them, even cheerful in this determination.

These two aside, other characters come into play, often being varying degrees of comic relief, but sometimes presenting interesting information and reflecting in word and practice some of the worship of life through darkness found exuding through the music of that scene.  Hellhammer, whom many have come to see as a PC mercenary  (having retracted some of his more controversial statements on race at times) “for any cunt wot asks me, yeah?” , seems to speak boldly enough in this film, where he proclaims his admiration for Faust having actually killed a homosexual.  Abbath and Demonaz, though decently spoken, seem to have reverted to the rocker archetype and want to distance themselves from the whole ordeal.  Frost, never key to the movement in the first place, stutters and stumbles in his ideas, and makes “performances” that more resemble temper tantrums.  As an added point of probable ironic arrangement by the makers of the film, every time Fenriz expresses his distaste for the continued commercialization of the genre, we see Frost lapping it up in the limelight.

One negative point I do have to make upon it, is the poor choice of background music.  Occasionally, the ambient music used as a soundtrack was rather evocative, but as mentioned before, sometimes quite schmaltzy(dare I say, emo?).  In a further situation of annoyance, the actual black metal selections were often the most aesthetically “rocking” ones.  Why “Ea, Lord of the Depths”, when one could play “My Journey to the Stars”?  Or why the most “Dethroned Emperor” sounding parts of “In the Shadow of the Horns”, when we could have been treated to the Romantic drama of “En As I Dype Skogen”?  Since when was “Deathcrush” Mayhem’s greatest contribution?  I can only attribute these selections to the filmmakers’ respective indie background, likely reflecting an affinity for stuff that resembles lo-fi garage rock.

While I can agree with certain contentions had with the film (the analysis of the music itself in depth and black metal as a standalone culture was lacking), overall this is certainly worth watching, and beyond that, supporting by actually seeing the film and paying for a ticket.  Black metal is an immeasurably  important development in metal, and led towards the culture solidifying into almost grasping the wispy tails of transcendence.  Spreading a more educated and even-handed view of the genre, as presented here, is key.

Cirith Ungol: King of the Dead – Review

This is a fast becoming known obscurity among those into metal, a sonic relic of the 70s persisting well into the 80s, equal parts Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and Rush.  In this archaic lexicon of technique (by the time this album was released, Slayer had already released Haunting the Chapel, speed metal had begun to boom, and the origins of death metal and black metal had crawled forth), some rather evocative and adventurous (and quite subtle for older heavy metal)music is created.

The previous album by this band, “Frost and Fire”, had been much more rock influenced, occasionally veering into heavy metal territory.  Lyrically, there were some tales of the fantastic there, but once again a banal heavy rock attitude of the sex, tough attitude and drugs variety permeated most of the lyrics.  This album is an altogether different affair, having a neoclassical flair in the fluid nature of the melodies, and leaning much more towards thematic development structurally than a verse/chorus scheme (an admitted influence from Rush in their early days).

I’ve read somewhere that Cirith Ungol is mentioned in the liner notes of a Celtic Frost album, which would make sense as they both gained a great deal of inspiration from the Swords and Sorcery style of literature, Celtic Frost from Robert E. Howard, and Cirith Ungol from Michael Moorcock (being more in depth than the fantasy teenage comics that the phrase is usually associated with).  As well, the mammoth nature of their riffing is shared, possibly the Black Sabbath influence in both.  This by no means makes this album as glorious an affair as any of Celtic Frost’s earlier work (little is), but there are parallels even beyond that.  By this album, the vocalist Tim Baker had added to his goblin-like Halford vocals, a slight bellow and sense of pacing that resembled slightly that of Tom G. Warrior, adding a great deal more of power than his odd vocal style is given credit for.

At any rate, this album has many secrets to hide within its’ ostensibly less heavy exterior (in comparison to the rising trends in metal at the time).  There is actually a certain concerto-like delicacy to the variations on theme of the lead guitars, never frivolously ripping out solos, but always linked inextricably to the unity of the piece in a subtle development.  Indeed, an interpretation of the ubiquitous “Toccata and Fugue” show that this is far from shred metal, having great care for pacing and restraint, and reveals itself to be a take with more of the emotional depth that Bach himself had composed it with, than mere showmanship.

The melodies themselves are clearly a Rush take on Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, being doom-laden power chord dirges, or moving forward relentlessly in palm muted single picking, always with either a glowing haze (the added touch of open arpeggiated chords) or sometimes a jagged angularity, skittering about snake-like, adding a further mystique and aggression.  Also to be praised is the efficiency of theme and development, creating engaging journeys out of melodic economy.  The melodies themselves belie something of the general sound of a lot of 70s metal: melancholic sounding, almost a touch nostalgic, but in a way perhaps related to the Baroque era choice of the interpretation, like the melancholy of the passacaglia form, being a purposeful and thoughtful brooding rather than resignation and despair, hinting at something more divine than mere melancholy.

While this is not necessarily essential listening for Hessians, it’s damned interesting heavy metal apocrypha and has many rewards for the careful listener.

Vio-Lence – Eternal Nightmare: Review

For those who like to follow the chronological evolution of metal, there is little that compares with the emergence and transformation of Speed Metal during the 1980s. Starting as heavy metal mixed with hardcore punk and thrash, the genre went on to influence a number of up and coming death metal bands. While Vio-Lence were relative late-comers to the genre, their sound did much to display the hybrid nature of the genre at its origins. Their full-length debut “Eternal Nightmare” has since been characterized as an influential Speed Metal classic. Here we shall dissect the music to find out how much of this characterization is true.

The music can be described as speed metal with an ear for what gave Thrash and Hardcore Punk that chaotic edge. The vocals are the most obvious part of this twist, diving head-first into the maniacal ranting style that you would expect to hear from bands like DRI. The guitar playing technique, however, is sharp and precise with a generous dose of galloping staccato resembling much of the characteristics of late Bay area Speed Metal, even though it occasionally dives into open chord patterns interrupted by pinched-harmonics more typical of the hardcore punk genre.

What this album really has going for it is a virile sense of viciousness. Most of the riffs are built on short bursts of power chords which quickly get mutilated, reverse themselves, or jump to different keys. The songs often tend to start with what seems like a standard verse-chorus structures, however, in case of the more successful songs they manage to alter away from such monotony and open up the horizon into further and further mutations and variations of the same riffs which is quiet pleasant to the ears of anyone familiar with the use of these methods by later death metal musicians. All of this done at the tempos typical of Thrash and hardcore Punk gives one the impression of rushing bloodlust.

Where this music suffers is where a lack of overall focus becomes evident in structure of the songs. It is clear that the band is attempting to play with the Speed Metal/Thrash aesthetics and build them up into (relatively) lengthier pieces filled with a greater number of riffs that would become a narrative. Unfortunately these attempts tend to be hit and miss at times and occasionally the transitions seem fragmented, linearly and arbitrarily arranged as opposed to an organic build-up into peaks of frenzy.

While occasionally suffering from a lack of focus and therefore missing the big picture to some extent, this album manages to carry through with its sheer enthusiasm and passion. Perhaps it is not an extremely influential album to the genre as death metal was well under development by 1988. However, it is definitely a passionate, enjoyable and memorable attempt, taking the basic elements of speed metal and pushing them in a different direction than where the genre eventually ended up at.

Remembering Ronnie James Dio (1942-2010)

When growing up with metal it often takes a long journey for a follower of the music to grasp the entire history of the genre in full. There are certain bands, musicians and characters along this journey that manage to stand out and stay with you even as you stop exploring the specific sub-genre relating to that artist. Having that in mind, it is safe to say that Ronnie James Dio was one of the most universally respected and beloved vocalists and front-men among metal fans of various dedications and disciplines.

Having started his music career long before what we know as the birth of heavy metal, Ronnie James Dio joined Black Sabbath in 1979, introducing much of what we recognize as the grand and over the top gestures common in Heavy Metal. He later moved on to create his own band, Dio. Though structurally clearly belonging to an older and more rock-like class of heavy metal; the charm, passion and honesty present in his music, lyrics and delivery made many of Dio albums to be considered classics among fans.

Music aside, there were certain character traits which made Dio stand out from the majority of his contemporaries. He never allowed himself to be mixed up within the circus of the American mainstream media, and therefore never came across as a burn-out media clown or a doofus old rock-star type. In fact he always seemed to be vey aware of the shallow nature of the music industry and the media, and he always retorted with an uncompromising iron fist. This made him an excellent spokesperson and representative for true hessians much in the same way that Bruce Dickinson is today. When all is said and done, Dio had an epic vision of fantasy in music and an immovable power of will. And for that we salute him. \m/

On Metal and the Three Metamorphoses

In “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”, Friedrich Nietzsche speaks of the three metamorphoses that a spirit goes through in its transcendent struggle to become a creator. The first stage is that of submissive discipline, patience and resistance to the urges, marked as the spirit of the camel. The second stage is that of the warlike rebellion against the superficial, absurd and the corrupt decree, against every “Thou Shalt”. This is marked as the spirit of the lion. And finally appears the spirit of the child, which due to its purity, is truly free and has the ability to create new values and goals, something that even the lion is incapable of.

Looking at Metal through this filter, it can be observed that the majority of the span of the subculture has been within the realm of the rebellious lion. Metal has been saying the sacred “no” to the dragon (to use Nietzsche’s own metaphor) which is all the weak and destructive values of Judeo-Christianity as well as the more modern incarnations of such values in the form of secular humanism. From the early horror movie-inspired works of heavy metal to the nihilistic genre of death metal, this spirit has been sharpened, while fixing its vision ever more closely upon the very root of what has spawned the very creation of the dragon: fear of death and a willingness to distract oneself from it at any cost. The polite social restraints regarding political correctness, individualistic altruism and avoidance of all mention of death, are put aside in favour of a cold merciless stare at the state of the world, an often Dionysian approach to life, and an almost joyful sense of play when discussing the subject of death, as if realizing that the true key to freedom from fear of death is indeed facing it rather than ignoring it.

The spirit of the lion is essential for the freedom from cowardly social constraints. However, its inability to give rise to any lasting value from the ashes of the sickness that it destroys leaves most of its followers in a fatalistic state of mind which can eventually lead to failure. The typical obsession with death, fear and gore which is prevalent to metal can then turn inwards, creating a sense of loss and hopelessness, mostly evident in (but not limited to) the sub-genres of doom metal and grunge. It is only within the final stages of metal’s evolution that signs of the spirit of the child can be seen. Black metal (along with some death metal) does not only declare a war-like statement against the existing corruption, but also begins to set up a series of values and traditions, hinting at how a society built for the strong (mind and body) would look like, and this is perhaps why it is the most controversial and misunderstood sub-genre of metal. Within the cryptic voices of the most formative pioneers of the genre, is embedded the code for the rebirth of heroism (as one might find it in the actions of the Heroes of “The Iliad”).

Today religions often have an exoteric face that has a more simplistic worldview, usually working on the basic modes of reward and punishment. This often panders to the plebeian general populace, whom because of their lack of dedication to transcendent principals, often integrate the rituals as just another part of their daily lives (God is just another boss to please so that one can reap the rewards later). The esoteric side of the religions, on the other hand, attracts those who want to take up a spiritual path and evolve into higher planes of existence. There is no promise of heaven, only a high spirit and a sharp mind. Parallel to this, mainstream metal has acted as the exoteric side of the culture, exploding in waves of popularity (trends), while the esoteric values that have created what constitutes true beauty have remained intact, growing and evolving steadily, and as always, in the hands of the few. For Hessianism to continue to fulfill its promise as the hidden mystical element within the metal subculture, it needs to stay mobile and active but most of all it needs to stay disciplined.

There is an argument to be made regarding the fact that metal, as a sub-culture, never experienced the disciplined hardships of the spirit of the camel. Having just risen from the hedonism of rock ‘n roll, it is only too easy to roll backwards in the comfort of what is known and accepted. Therefore, it is important that we become hard. The emergence of the will and the spirit of the child is only possible through overcoming oneself. Once one has controlled the distractions and urges that seem to have become the focal point of current modes of thought, then it is possible to stare away from the self and interact with the surrounding world in a meaningful way. As the current system slowly degenerates and becomes a cultural wasteland, the waves of the next revival will be only in the hands of the children who dare to be heroic.

<Die Fahne Hoch: The Prospective New Flag of Hessiandom

We at Hessian.org, present to you the prospective new flag of Hessiandom, which much like the genre itself (as noted in the article of this issue on mythos), borrows liberally a variety of virile and strong symbols from antiquity, esoteric traditions and literature, and philosophy in order to compose a system of its own artistic/religious prisms to radiate life’s vital force:

The background is red, a colour which holds nearly as much significance in metal as does black; blood (your own; whether pulsing vitally or spilling in defiance, the carcass of an animal, your foe’s) sunset and sunrise (“when the whole sky is red like blood”), the transitory decay of autumn, heralded all by the sanguine-hued shade.   Fury, vitality, glorious decay and fading splendour, rising and setting…..

Atop it stands the Sanskrit letters for the word Vir, (Common in Indo-European languages, and having it’s legacy in the English words virility and virtue, via the word’s presence in Latin), meaning overflowing vitality and power in creation and destruction.

At the bottom, there stands a mountain peak, evoking an austere heroic ascendancy, the kind of which is found from Hellas to the North in depicting the place of the gods (be it Valhalla or Olympus), and stands as a challenge for those seeking transcendence.

At the centre, there is a sigil of a serpent encoiled around a sun.  This sigil takes its meaning from Nietzsche’s “Thus Spake Zarathustra”, where Zarathustra is given by his followers a staff upon which there is exactly this symbol; the serpent signifying wisdom, and the sun signifying life, in tandem showing the pursuit of life-affirming wisdom as an ideal.

Finally, flanking the central sigil, there are wings, evoking virile flight over the “Spirit of Gravity”, flight to the union of devilish and holy elements (Abraxas) and thus transcendence, and the victorious nature inherent in the proud eagles of civilizations past such as Rome (as well as holding a similar place in classic and even the most exoteric metal).

May this standard exert the power present in it.

The Essence of Metal Mythos: Nothing Too Sacred, Nothing Too Vile

Reverence and irreverence are both omnipresent concepts in metal, quite paradoxically.  Religious and Latinate language are commonplace, as well as Christian symbols (indeed, as far back as even the very name of Black Sabbath), all in a seeming effort to denounce Judeo-Christianity and a false “afterworld”.  Having demolished and destroyed that which comes from the world of light, it puts in the place of this over-arching after-purpose often a Nietzschean, Pagan, or occultist outlook , all of which offer deep reverence towards life, a hunger for experience, a desire for Being, disregarding dualistic ways of perception and morality.  Consider the classic lines from Morbid Angel’s “Immortal Rites”.  It seems rather than metal being a rejection of all things religious (as it is too often made out to be), it is a yearning for a deeper spirituality, for true religion.  The obsession with the occult and pre-Christian is not simply a convenient weapon to arm oneself against the corruption of values that many found abhorrent in Christianity, but a path in its own right towards different ones, towards Being.

This often takes the form of a myriad of symbols from various mythologies, both ancient and modern, which all share in common a sense of the mystery beyond our immediate perception.  We have in Celtic Frost occult dabbling, blended as an epic seamlessly into the virile war-lust of Robert E. Howards’ Conan mythos, creating in the process something not unlike the musings of his Kull the Conqueror character.  The austere, sublime, ego-shattering influence of Lovecraft’s writings abound from the work of Metallica to Morbid Angel.  Absu takes liberally from a variety of sources, everything from ceremonial magick to Celtic and Sumerian mythology in enlivening the mind, whilst fellow Texans Averse Sefira engage in the rich poetry of Qabalic occultism to underscore concepts of pure action not dissimilar to those found in the Bhagavad Gita.  The spirit of Nietzsche permeates the essence of metal with the “beyond good and evil” ideal, as well as the necessity of hardship and violence in the quest for anything noble, a furious elitism, a disdain for weakness.  Obvious ideas of Romanticism (“the past is alive”) live in black metal, and heavy metal of old (as well as in some death metal), always alluding to Classical and pre-Christian symbolism.  This longing for everything pre-modern (or alternatively, a fascination with the future and the reality of our present age, thus for the non-modern or against at least the way the modern world is presented)is a wish to cast aside illusion, praising the beauty of reality’s sword unsheathed from its ugly scabbard of modernity, to stand in reverence of its cold, naked sublime nature.

This intense, and by nature of the increasingly globalized world, eclectic fascination with mythology can be mistaken unfortunately for comic-book geekdom (hunched over nerds, forever sub-chronicling and under-archiving knowledge of increasingly esoteric and trivial matters), and the manifestation of those lacking power who wish to appear powerful by identifying with powerful symbols.  In the modern world more than ever, appearance is reality, and convenience is king, and as such, it’s easy to suspect that someone who talks loudly and boastfully of masculine feats, listens to music that dwells much in the realm of the fantastic as far as it’s vocabulary goes, or is generally antisocial is doing any of these things because of a deficiency on his own part, being assuaged in the mind by an outward constant signalling of symbols that should identify him as the opposite of what he knows he is.  Alas, such characteristics analogously can make those into metal seem like losers who turned to a culture they could succeed in, as opposed to competing in the “real world”, which they failed at.  I do not suggest that Hessians as a rule, do or should lack social skills, or are failures.  However, seeking a black sheep persona to attach to oneself is no doubt appealing in a world of unfettered status displaying.

One antidote to the aforementioned problem was the infamous acts of the Norwegian scene in the 90s, which should need little in the way of introduction, having passed into legend for metal, and further and further into the mainstream consciousness.  These in of themselves have begun to constitute something of a legend for people into metal (having happened now some two decades ago), something by which your affirmation or denial of can mark you in a rather iconoclastic manner.  Let it suffice to say that the actions of war in pursuit of ideals that the youthful black metallers of the time had taken separated the wheat from the chaff, and scorned any idea that metal was safe or an adornment.  At least for a short while, the virility of metal was no longer in abstract, but actualized fiercely and glorious, basking in the glare of the burning churches.

And then the ones who burnt the churches proceeded to praise Satan, Thor, Baphomet, the Self, etc.  Worship, replaced with worship.  Metal’s true essence was never about a humanistic rebellion against Christianity not being Christian enough.  Euronymous himself hoped for radicalized and militarized Christians to bring blood upon the earth in warfare.  The mindset of those who mattered within the music was never about justice, as is further evident by the nature of the personas adopted by metal musicians in their songs.  The ghouls attacking the church are not righteous saviours of the downtrodden, but slayers of the weak and gore-toothed demons of darkness.  The vengeance is a laughing one, necessitated not by the wickedness but the weakness of the ideals they attack, and justified by their own strength.  It is contempt from above, not resentment from below.  Theatrics can be continually argued as the source of this imagery, but even if so, this is a sublimated version of a desire to act upon those values in some significant way.

The worshipful nature of metal mythos extends then not to an idealized God of love and perfection, but a more complex and metaphorical approach through various occult symbols, gods, and nature.  That naked sword of reality is God, nuanced, manifested in infinite facets, a fractal.  In the same way that art, religion and the occult are all in a sense sciences of Being, all themes in metal’s greats are reflections of this principle in some way.  From the millions of ways one can interpret “Only Death Is Real”, one can derive already the great omnipresent sense of inevitability in metal, represented so often by the massive, heavy nature of the music, calling to mind amor fati, the ceaseless forward movement of the eternal universal chain of cause and effect which we are but a small part of.  All the reference to decay, death, finality, destruction, depression, all this “negativity”, is the Sublime in life, and as such teaches us in a way so subtle as to shake our very being, the massive nature of life’s infinity.  It shows us the route to power, to true experience.

However, true experience is to be found in the particular, as the particular is the road to this universal.  One cannot simply get up one day and decide life is joy, and leave it at that.  The purity of experience that one attains through particular methods of enlightenment along this path is irreplaceable, and requires deep thinking, and immersion.  Varg, Euronymous, and Dead will all be immortal in some sense, because they gave themselves so fully and totally to these particulars, just as a Buddhist will reach enlightenment through his techniques, an occultist crossing the abyss through his rituals, a monk of some mountain monastery through his contemplation, etc.  Let the riffs boom through the fastness of your mind, and let the movement of your mind and body echo through eternity.

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Issue #1: Onwards to Golgotha!

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Contents:

1. Hessianism: Our Mission by Helmholtz

2. Worship, Religion, Art, and Metal by Helmholtz

3. Black Metal as a Spiritual Exercise by Wahn

4. Visual Arts in Hessian Culture by Kaveh

5. “Because You’ll Be Burned and Died” by Helmholtz

6. Review on Midnight Odyssey’s Firmament by Kaveh

7. Review on Tangerine Dream’s Alpha Centauri by Helmholtz

8. Kshatriya: On the Warrior Tradition by Helmholtz

Hessianism: Our Mission

Musical genrification is for the most part a modern idea; certainly in past eras there were divisions of music based on form (canon, fugue, toccata, symphony, string quartet, opera, concerto, suite, etc.), use (sacred vs. secular, listening vs. dancing), and of course style (Romantic, Classical, Baroque, Neoclassical, Serialist, Twelve-Tone).  Form of course denoted musical characteristics, use denoted the audience and purpose for which it was being played, and style reflected changes in approach to musical thought as a whole.  Baroque music very strongly reflects the precision and harmony of the Absolutist and newly scientific ideas that were popular at the time, Romantic music with its’ focus on long breathed melody is at once more personal, but no less reflective of the vastness of the world, and is reflective of an overall distinctly more wildly emotional view, and so on.  Style, however seemed to happen for the most part in waves, mirroring certain thought patterns, ideas, more often than not that were manifested in the literature of the time (“Sturm und Drang”).  The form of the music, more often than not, mirrored visibly a particular wish of expression, and different styles were visibly different on basis of this.  Classicists were against the over-emotionalism of the Romantics, the Neoclassicists rejected what they perceived to be as chauvinism and excess in the heroic Wagnerian music and associated Romanticism, etc.  Music was very much a manifestation of the ideas behind it, and in a given era, most musicians influenced by the same idea would have music that on the level of form would be quite similar.  There was certainly for example, no war between the “Schubertian” school and the “school” of Beethoven.   In retrospect, we look at both as emblematic of Romanticism, and they were both influenced by the same currents in thought and literature (Goethe, for example).   The closest conflict to this (“The War of the Romantics”), was based on two fundamentally different thoughts on what music should be, the different musical forms (absolute vs. programme music) representing either music as an adjective to reality, or music as an entity unto itself.  Music that was influenced by a different mode of thought was clearly defined as such, and audible as such.  This intensely philosophical distinction is very rare if at all present in modern popular music.

The classifications we make today are based largely on instrumentation, texture, and image of the musicians themselves, as in truth much rock, pop, and rap all share the same chord progressions and for the most part follow the same structures.  As such, the music itself (lyrics, visual aesthetic, production are all secondary here, to musical composition) is really only incidental in consciously reflecting different mindsets that would divide modern genres.  Indeed, rock and rap have a more visibly rebellious image than pop music, based not on musical fury or breaking norms, but in fact repeating chord progressions that date all the way back to even Celtic/Germanic folk music, with either distortion, drums, and grizzled vocals, or careless, slang thrown rhyming, and syncopated beats.  They use the same chord progressions and structure (though progressive rock is probably an exemption as far as the rock category goes), and yet the general public have different perceptions of them entirely.  The focus is more on the musicians themselves as well, more so than ever.

As such, it is understandable why people brought up to think in this mindset, would confuse the essence of metal with its accidental elements: distortion, volume, loud drums, and indecipherable/offensive sounding vocalists.  But of course, in an era of musical division based on these things, this is the case.  What if, however, we analyze music based on composition( melody, phrasing, and structure)?  Furthermore, what kind of thinking does the music of metal represent?    We’d understand in both cases that metal for the most part represents a very different school of thought and style of music than anything else in the modern era, save some progressive rock, ambient, and electronic music.  We’d see that the hypnotic and fluid nature of the tremolo riff allows metal to construct melody in the same way that the music of the Berlin Electronic School (Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream) did, coupled with the pulsing of the blast beat, creating ultimately the capability for phrasing outside that of rock.  We’d see the thunderous motifs of metal, the “epic” nature of the style, has only one real precedent: Wagner.  We’d see music that constantly attempts to be larger, vast, that attempts to portray immensity and inevitability through narrative and thematic development.  They’d see ego-destroying yet Will-affirming philosophies, hearkening back in direct quotes to Nietzsche, approaching the world in the manner of the Bhagavad Gita:  the realization of pure action, revelling in Being, both sacred and profane.

This sort of understanding of particular musical forms as manifesting certain ideas is very largely a dead one.  However, we at Hessian.org wish to combat this.    We believe at Hessian.org that as metal has gone from its’ inception to today, it has developed a culture.  We furthermore believe that this culture reflects certain positive worldviews that should be identified and supported.  Finally, we support culture and civilization (as distinct from the State, which is a part of the aforementioned entities) out of metal, under the Hessian moniker.  This will include support of everything from Hessian cultural events, Hessian organizations, and perhaps even Hessian nationalism.  In our view, Hessianism represents the possibility for the rebirth of a spiritual warrior tradition, that it’s music, lyrics and aesthetics hold a code for this kind of behaviour, if not only in the directly physical sense, but in an attitude affirming life as struggle, therefore obeying not morality but eternal principles of reality, and giving oneself to life in a religious manner.  Sacrifice, self-affirmation, and ever onward into Being.

Worship, Religion, Art, and Metal

Friedrich Nietzsche famously said within one of his earliest works, The Birth of Tragedy, that life and the world were only justified as an aesthetic experience.  This is to say, the only justification life needs is its’ beauty.  Certainly, one could argue that man, as all living creatures do, exists to survive and procreate, but we are unique from other species in our ability to contemplate and enjoy that which is not directly sustaining to us.  Consider that a magpie might collect shiny objects, but no animal would stare at and contemplate a statue, painting, book, or piece of music for hours on end.  The archetype of the starving artist is a completely unique principle to man.  This is not to say that there are no evolutionary antecedents to such behaviours, but to establish that the full development of these into something completely and totally unrelated to direct survival is an attribute that man solely has.  People have created art and worshipped gods even in famine, in war, in disease and all sorts of debilitation.

What is the root of this?  The answer lies in our larger cognitive faculties.  With the increase of our perception, we are able to be aware of the fact we are aware.  This means we can mentally separate ourselves from everything around us, and begin to create ideas, that is to say mental representations of what we sense.  Idea and memory are important because they allowed us to construct abstractions, that is to say, data corresponding to the outside world that is not at that moment directly being transmitted through the senses (this is of course a dual edged sword, and is the source of much beauty in man, and much error).  One could remember that certain prey behaved a certain way, that certain terrain had certain predators.  Of course, limited memory and learning is a faculty many animals possess.  The difference in man is the active component, the ability (or at least the perceived ability, many a Zen master might argue) to consciously delve into the myriad libraries of data in the mind, and retrieve the immediately useful parts.

In perceiving various stimuli, at the most basic level of things, the ones that are most pleasing to us (eating, sleeping, sex, etc.), are ones directly related to our survival, and the survival of our species.  This is equally true in all animals, and pleasure is the reward the brain secretes for the attainment of these.  Each of these is completely satisfying in of themselves, as there has been selection towards this end.  With the advent of the human brain however, there is an evolution beyond things being satisfying in of themselves.  With abstraction, mental representations of all sorts of different experiences we’ve had have the opportunity to meld together, to merge into each other, to coalesce in the mind.  As well, memories of more than just pure satisfaction and pleasure emerge.  A cliff that one of our ancestors stood over might have a striking mental presence because of various associations: the height from which one could fall and die, the view it gives to the ocean from where one can get fish and from where storms brew, the danger of the winds approaching, etc.  Edmund Burke would have dubbed this “the sublime”, that is to say, that which has the power to overwhelm us.  Obviously, from a purely biological standpoint adrenaline from danger and challenging situations would factor into much of the feeling present, but one has to regard equally now the realm of abstraction, which is not present in other animals.  All of these senses and perceptions are being mixed together and creating something apart from just that which is tangible, or perceivable.  This is where reverence arose, from the sublime, and from the naturally pleasing, the beautiful.

Within the realm of abstractions, was something created as a symbol for everything that is perceivable. This was called life when language later arose, and was the total sum of all experience and everything perceivable.  All other things, man could directly experience and enjoy.  Play and competition, which would have evolved by this point, could be directly experienced through running, throwing stones, wrestling, who could bring home the greatest kill, etc.  Sex, eating, sleeping, companionship could all be directly experienced and enjoyed.  Life, however, this total interaction of the sublime and beautiful, the abstractions, perceptions, senses, etc, could only be regarded in abstract.  This, I argue, is the basis for art and religion, the desire to make this abstraction more presently felt, shared outside mere thought and made manifest into the most tangible, solid form available.

Now, in investigating that claim, one must delve into what religion is meant to be, what art is meant to be, where the two are similar, etc.  I think that one way of addressing this question is in the etymology of the word “worship”.  In Medieval English, before standardized spelling, one word could be spelled many ways.  A recurring spelling of the word “worship” was “worthship” .  This denotes a different meaning to the word, the concept of worth.  It would not be too far of a stretch to suppose that this implies worship as the act of finding worth in something.  Logically speaking, this would make sense, as one generally praises things that one has an appreciation for.  This is entirely different from much of the modern mental imagery associated with the word “worship”, which is relegated to denoting submission, and often emphasizes the control the object of worship has over the worshipper.  This however switches the emphasis to the worshipper, denoting that he does in fact find worth in the object of worship, that this is by no means a one sided act of submission, but that the object of worship provides something to him.

I posit the object of the idea of religion, to be a giving of thanks, and praise for existence, that is to say, a celebration of existence.  In worshipping a god, one is not merely praising a creator, but his creation more so, the way that the creator is known.  While there is very literal deity worship, it has had far more admittedly symbolic interpretations in the ancient Hellenic and Vedic civilizations for example.  This was best illustrated by William Blake, in a passage of “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”:

“The ancient Poets animated all sensible objects with God or Geniuses, calling them by the names and adorning them with the properties of woods, rivers, mountains, lakes, cities, nations, and whatever their enlarged and numerous senses could perceive.”

Note how in pagan religions, all natural forces have their own deity, be it lightning, fire, water, sky, etc.  All of these are elements that were present in day to day human life, and of course still are.  Consider as well that in the Greece of antiquity and classical civilization, morality was a question that was more debated by philosophers than set down by religion.  What then was religion?  Religion was a set of rituals, festivals, sacrifices, etc.  It gathered people together in united thanks for their existence.  Religion was an appreciation and celebration of existence, divided into separate parts represented by various gods, from forces of nature to parts of the human spirit, as in the Dionysian festivals.  Likewise, in the Vedic understanding of the universe, all the gods and indeed everything that existed was simply a manifestation of Brahman, which was the undivided reality, the only true thing that existed.  Worshipping gods was once again worshipping various aspects of reality.

In truth, how different is this from art?  From this same abstraction of life that yearns for a symbol, I posit that the artistic motive emerged as well.  Particularly, this is most evident in the most abstract of arts, music.  Surely, poetry and literature contains its’ praise of things in life, paintings depicting and glorifying everything from battles to family life, and sculptures  showing the human form in all of its’ glory reflect the desire to praise life, but in music, this praise finds its’ greatest voice, because of how deeply connected its’ ebb and flow, tension and release is to the actual human perception of life.  Music more than any of these shows unity and change, because it is not static, but in constant motion, and is far more abstract than mere words.  In this further abstraction of method is the key to its’ superiority, as emotions and thoughts are hardly as concrete as words, or as a physical image.  Music does not tell you what is happening; it shows you.

In the sense of life-affirmation and celebration, art and religion share a common purpose.  Traces of this can be found in even the most exoteric parts of modern Judeo-Christian religions, and even in the most banal of entertainment.  Note however, traces are not necessarily the fullest form, nor the most beautiful.  Certainly popular music and literature might exult certain aspects of human experience, and as far as religion goes, there is certainly something in the thankfulness given to deities for the experience of life, as this can be a positive affirmation of life.  However, both end up having limitations, in crudely or crassly depicting life’s beautiful and sublime unity of “negative” and “positive” elements, or by simply drawing attention to the most obvious, sugary parts (which does not limit it of course to typically “good” things, but as well a certain masochistic, “shocking” nature).  As well, too often it draws us towards individualism, the self, which I would consider inferior because instead of focusing outwards on reality (for aesthetic or practical purposes), we instead focus on the instrument which observes it.

In keeping with the purpose of life being the aesthetic, rather than the merely practical or “divine”, it’d make sense for things like religion and art to exist.  Observing the two, art is not always seen as being on par with religion however.  Certainly one could ask many practical old men, who built industry, worked hard for their money and were rewarded well in return, be it with job security, or with an eventual rise to the position of heading a business or corporation, and they’d often be of the opinion (especially the former immigrants) that religion is something of exceeding importance, a serious matter, while art is entertainment, something to be enjoyed, but not something to worry overmuch about.  Where the symbols of God and afterlife are taken literally, as they have been in much of Christianity for the past two millennia, this is a view consistent with the idea that the life to come afterwards is eternal, whereas the present one is fleeting and temporary, and while it is to be enjoyed, is only a test to see if one’s worthy of the eternal one.  As such, in this view it would make complete sense for religion to be more important than art, as religion is linked with the eternal, whereas art is of the earth, and temporary.  This however, is a distortion of the true religious ideal, in my view, the full out creation of illusion rather than an interpretation of reality through the symbolic.  For better or for worse, however, this view is sinking into obscurity.  Atheism is certainly on the rise, and has been intellectually fashionable in varying ways since the Enlightenment.  There is certainly the commendable aspect therein that it rejects illusory afterlives and anthropomorphic divine beings of eternal reward and punishment.  However, this view in throwing out literal theism, also threw out the symbolic interpretation of reality which accompanied religion, in most cases.

Linking back to the varying importance of art and religion depending on the era, Romanticism was an example of art holding an equal position to religion, or even higher in many a case, and as well, an interpretation of reality that was symbolic yet distant from the literalism and morality of Judeo-Christianity.  Art was elevated to a religious significance, and stormy climes and vast wilderness replaced the gods as things of worship.  There is a common misunderstanding that Romanticism was heavily individualistic, and this is understandable at a cursory read of Byron or Goethe, with such concepts as the Byronic hero.  There is, as back in Classical Greece, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment before it, a heroic affirmation of man.  However, look at the vilified characters of Romanticism.  Faust, Conrad, Mazeppa, Childe Harold, and Manfred are no regular beings.  They are deep-suffering, and are men of greatness, searching for things beyond that of the common man.  The heroes of Romanticism are no regular men, so this apparent individualism is hardly all encompassing, that is to say, humanistic.  Romantic painters, such as Caspar David Friedrich, emphasized lone individuals against boundless nature, as in The Monk By The Sea or Wanderer Above The Sea of Fog.  The concept of the sublime was key to Romanticism, and the sublime was worshipped through depictions of the wilderness and amoral, austere nature.  All of these themes could be equally represented as well in the music of the Romantic era from Beethoven onwards, with its’ longer breathed melody and much longer set pieces than the Baroque and Classical eras before it, also being far less precise rhythmically, given to much more freeform patterns.  This all reflects the affection, the sentiment and distinctly personal love for the impersonal, the divine, the austere, the grandiose: Nature.  Romanticism’s allure however, passed, most likely with the First World War.  The unprecedented death toll and destruction enforced by the frightening new world of technology made man filled with dread, fearful, and in this fear turned to bitter cynicism or rampant hedonism, as reflected by the Roaring Twenties.  The world danced its’ cares away in jazz clubs, trying to forget the world outside.  Intellectuals gathered in coffee houses, dousing themselves in absinthe, and spiritual crises erupted all over Europe, as noted in the writings of Herman Hesse.  As we know, the Great Depression soon followed.

So, with modern atheism, and the passing of Romanticism, where do art and religion stand today?  Both seem to have become increasingly exoteric.  In higher and higher circles of the “elite” (mainly those who pursue the arts academically, and others who consider themselves “artists” as an identity marker), we do have art which seems to be increasingly esoteric; consider the twelve-tone technique in music, or a urinal as a display piece in visual art.  This requires another article altogether, but let it suffice to say that this apparent esotericism is mainly a status marker.  To the masses, rock, pop, hip-hop and such appeal, cheap romance and sci-fi novels, television, essentially anything that has immediate visceral engagement.  Consider however, the Romantic era, where Beethoven and Wagner were certainly popular in all circles and classes of society, ever since concerts became public events rather than private affairs put on by the nobility.  Romanticism certainly seemed to have wide-ranging appeal, loved by elites, mercantile class, and commoners alike.  What the current model of art resembles is more the time of the Baroque and Classical era, where the arts were mainly enjoyed by nobility, and more so, the educated nobility who could appreciate the intricacies of what was being done.  Certainly, Bach played his music in cathedrals, but his music was not at any other time really available or enjoyed by the public.

So, where today lies the art that is both visceral yet high reaching?  Progressive rock was quite popular during the 70s, and managed to do both, with conceptual albums, constant references to classical literature and music, and a high degree of technical finesse.   Unfortunately, after bands like Yes, King Crimson, Rush, Jethro Tull, and others had recorded their first few albums, it fell rapidly into the status marker pseudo-esotericism of other “high art”, and became an endless show of technical display, rather than the unveiling of life’s beauty through structure.  Needless to say there are bands today that evoke this beauty in the progressive rock genre, but it was never a genre that was solidified as a movement, and those bands are few and far between.  The electronic music of the Berlin school was for a time quite popular, namely that of Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, and Kraftwerk.  Having roots in progressive rock, they shared much of the same aspects, while having a novel enough aesthetic to grasp many people’s attention.  Indeed, being further from rock music than the movement it was spawned out of, classical comparisons were inevitable, and musicians such as Klaus Schulze admitted of a deep influence from Wagner.  Ambient and electronic music are still to this day, viable genre options, but in a reverse of the progressive rock situation, it has become quite easy to loop a smattering of notes for 12 minutes straight and dub it “art”.  This genre too is susceptible to obvious displays of its “uniquity”.  Punk has massive popularity, but this has become increasingly shallow since its’ inception, and while there were no doubt intellectuals involved in the movement, the music itself, while explosive and engaging, was quite simple in structure, and the aims of it were often expressly political, falling in line with one ideology or another.  Even noticeable exceptions such as D.R.I., Fearless Iranians From Hell, Black Flag, Minor Threat, and others, address life on a much simpler level, perhaps akin to folk music, but not high art.

As the name of this site might indicate, and indeed the title of this article, metal was going to come into play at some point.  A history of the style and its’ remarkable aspects is available here, done much better than I ever could do.  However, to summarize, it does have a distinct combination of the visceral in its most extreme, and the high aspirations of that more traditionally recognized as art.  Its best compositions reflect classical music and progressive rock more than anything else, instead of riding sweet spots in a rock/pop style.  The integration of various melodies are like piecing together scenes, ideas, feelings, and weaving them into a tapestry, constructing a system of wondrous chambers, and showing a story through its flow.  It is not quite the seamless and constantly developing melodic flow of classical music, but the basic ideas are the same, of a narrative composition.  In fact, I would suspect part of metal’s popularity is the fact that it balances complex and unfolding structure with comparatively simple melodic components.  This would be a similar reason to why the Russian composers such as Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky are so popular, because they focus more on memorable and clear melody than they do on development of themes.  It is in a word, easier to follow in a lot of cases (this aspect of it could change, for the better or the worse).   In addition to this, the genre has pretty wide reaching popularity, and even the most banal exoteric aspects of the lesser bands in the genre do reflect the core of it: finding the beauty in life through the sublime, the overwhelming, the terrifying.  Its’ very aesthetics and concepts reflect this, from Hellhammers’ maxim “Only Death Is Real”, to the lyrics in Burzums’ “Dunkelheit”, from the warrior spikes and demonic costume, to the near devotional worship appearance of a row of Hessians headbanging.  Even more popular groups such as Iron Maiden and Metallica reflect something huge, ancient, unknown, and as a result, adventurous.  They manage to communicate a profound idea in a manner that is immediately more recognizable than the over-abstraction of modern “high art”.  In short, there is a genre template, an idea, that is expressed differently in each style of metal, but each refraction as it were, leads back to that same idea, however distantly distorted it may have been from the starting point.  Having this idea gives a certain unity to the genre as a whole and arrives at the possibility of it producing some sort of culture unified towards this idea.  Perhaps not in a sense limited to the metal genre proper, as this site’s use of the term metal is far ranging, but with the metal understanding, what was previously the Romantic, Faustian, Dionysiac spirit could once more be elevated to a religious significance, that same all embracing, life celebrating spirit could be rediscovered in all forms of true art throughout various genres and put into practice through the understanding of metal.  Art could become a religion, with life as its god, through the Hessian culture.

Black Metal as Spiritual Exercise

One of the many consciousness benefits attained through intensive study of certain meditation disciplines (such as Zazen) is an awareness of and competence in dealing with pain. Although this might sound grim, the basic idea is not. Zazen for instance requires, if practiced seriously, sitting quietly in the lotus posture for 90 minutes. Serious zen students (myself included) do this regularly (perhaps 4times a year) 5 times in a day (with breaks) on top of our usual weekly meditation regimen. These are called zen nights at some dojos and one cannot complete a zen night without having to quietly sit, meditating on ones aching body. At some stage during the zen night, physical pain will peak and the student will have to exert their will. Attention is brought onto ones breath and eventually the physical pain will fade. One enters a new and to many unknown level of consciousness.

Many of the individuals I have known who have for extensive parts of their life been deeply absorbed in black metal have a certain strength and ability to confront problems other individuals lack. Black Metal, like zazen, is a spiritual exercise. Our genre teaches people to go beyond immediate thoughts that might arise in difficult circumstances, to concentrate on the situation until it even becomes beautiful.

This willingness to struggle is a fundamental feature of any high culture. Not to sound chauvinistic, indeed, Friedrich Nietzsche himself opposed war for the very simple fact that it acts as a distraction from what is really important: self cultivation. Self mastery. Our society has lost touch with this principle. If you look at anything from cuisine to the most valued cultural achievements of our time you will find an element of artificiality that is based upon molding the world into what is convenient. Not to say that this is a reason to reject all of “modern society” – I take off my hat to anyone who has understood the historical origins of this very interesting experiment – but this patent observation does call for a solution. The rare and gifted individuals always exemplify certain degree of artistic and personal perfection that they try to tacitly communicate in their work. People today, regardless of how stupid or intelligent they are, have generally forgotten to appreciate the pursuit of perfection. From politics, through film to the music industry, all of which resemble each other in that they are far away from anything that could be called a meritocracy, are nothing but attempt to conform to the most convenient behavioural patterns as experienced by the majority of people. This spiritual sloppiness has found itself all the way to the hallowed halls of learning. Psychology as a discipline has even defined the healthy individuals based on studies of ordinary men and women as opposed to the exceptional. Our philosophers, people like peter singer, confidently claim that “pleasure is the only thing of intrinsic value” The ideal human being today is the ultimate couch potato and Friedrich Nietzsche knew this when he wrote that “democracy is the tyranny of the evil men”

Black metal as a genre stands “as a stone in the stream of our time” to use the words of Evola.
And what makes some music better than others? How do we justify our proudly explained elitism? Black metal is not friendly. We are not a culture that wants to be happy. It is the eternal that we are after. Musicians that will write albums still heard in generations to come, individuals so healthy they will outlive most others, minds so absorbed in the history of though that they cannot be called subjective. In the words of DJ Goat of KCUF radio: “Reach to eternity and you will find the end: the end of life, the end of vision, the end of existence itself.” To us, this is the most beautiful sight. It is this union of good and evil that makes black metal a spiritual exercise. We strive to be immortal and revel in its impossibility.

Significance of Visual Arts in Hessian Culture:


As a fan of metal, I always found the imagery that was associated with the music to be fascinating. An important ritual when buying a new album was looking at the album art while listening to the music for the first time. Of course the focal point of the culture has been first and foremost the music itself, but proper use of images have played an important role in mirroring the abstract forms created by the music. Much like in other counter-culture movements, there is certain imagery which is immediately recognized and associated with metal in the mainstream media. This could cause the art form to become an increasingly cliché and cartoonish parody of itself just as much as it has the potential to enhance and enrich the culture towards higher art.

Just as Baroque art was intensely theatrical and attempted to rule the dominion of all senses, so is metal extremely grand and sensational in its gestures of the will to power. What is often described as “heavy” and “epic” does not (and should not) necessarily translate into any specific aesthetic qualities such as “loud” or “lengthy” music, but rather hints at a virile sense of seriousness towards life and a fearless look into the abyss of nature and reality. Once glanced upon in this light, it becomes clear that the underlying values of the Hessian culture are limitless in their potential and that at the hands of competent creators; these values have the capacity to trigger a total artistic and cultural rebirth. Requirements for such a movement include (a) strong intellectual leadership and (b) active artists and craftsmen of various creeds to solidify the voice of the movement in all of its various incarnations.

A Study of Precedents:

The attempt here is to classify and revise the examples of existing works of art associated with metal in the hope that with the emergence of certain patterns one can discover the intention and purpose behind them. This can help give the novice a new set of standards which could be learned from, followed and eventually overcome.

Logos: While metal rarely copied classical forms directly (in the way that neo-classical or colonial art did), it largely took aspirations from both classicism and romanticism, integrating their content into its seemingly modern context, both musically and visually. This is very much visible in the logo design of many bands. The logos are almost always symmetrical. They often form imposing figures with a central focal point unfolding into complex patterns raining out and downwards. Use of a central figure in this manner creates an impression of significance as the form is often placed at the centre-top of an image and is viewed as the ultimate source of power. This technique has much precedence in religious Architecture as well as the design of occult sigils. It is worth mentioning that metal uses these principals without necessarily replicating the actual forms.

It is also worth noting that massive and trendy use of intricate logos by various bands that otherwise do not share the Hessian culture has led some noteworthy bands to discard this tool altogether (e.g. Burzum). Nevertheless, the medium remains as a strong mode of communication and a symbol of many a classic outfit in the history of the death and black metal genres.

Logos

Album Art: Though there are (and have been) certain modes of fashion that have been popular among metal-heads, Hessians in general do not largely identify themselves with their personal appearances. Album artwork, therefore, remains the most important tool for a band to establish an image. Throughout the history of Black and Death Metal there have been several approaches to the presentation and the ideas behind artwork:

The Past is Alive: References to Antiquity are often observed in the form of direct use of Medieval, Renaissance or Baroque paintings or the images of ancient artefacts and ruins. By using this type of imagery the artist creates a link between their current work and certain values that existed in ancient societies. By Romanticizing history the Hessians create a link between themselves and their ancestral past. Humanity, therefore, is not viewed as separate individuals, but rather as a continuous link of existence that has always faced different challenges and continues to do so.

pastisalive

I am the Spirit of the Air: The worship of nature in its lawless beauty is an essential value of the Hessian culture which has been explored mostly in the Black Metal sub-genre. If using elements of antiquity is a result of the Classicist traits of metal, then use of elements of nature is rooted deeply in its Faustian and Romantic traits. Of course nature is not necessarily just the forests, planes and the mountains. But there is a dangerous beauty present in the atmosphere of such places that awakens the soul to become one with the vastness of the universe. This is also where the use of occult symbols largely comes into play as it displays a connection to the elements of nature which is far beyond the industrious resource-based manner in which the world is looked at these days.

spiritoftheair

– Only Death is Real: A society that is solely based on individualist and materialist values (be they socialist or capitalist, religious or secular) often fails to pursue heroic goals. The inward values of such societies tend to be the appeasement of every individual. Since every individual is temporary, death becomes the ultimate evil. Its reality is escaped and denied whether by narratives of afterlife, or by the pure distractions of temporary pleasures. This is where metal comes in and forces society to face reality yet again: We are only piles of organic material, and we are all going to die. The only value of our lives is what we accomplish with them! It is much more exciting to face the seemingly ugly realities of life along with its beauties than to drown oneself in distractions. Images of decay re-affirm that death is not the antithesis to life, but only a part of a giant cosmic balance that we have yet to discover.

deathisreal

Further Possibilities: Hessian Architecture

Over the last few decades metal has continuously evolved and at some point during the early 90s it came to terms with its true motives in a much more self-conscious manner. As it stands, Metal has managed to set a blue-print for a cultural rebirth in modern times. From this point on the possibilities of further development are literally infinite.

Perhaps the most powerful form of visual expression is that of functional built forms. Sensible and powerful architecture along with sculpture represents man’s ultimate mastery over his dominion as he literally rebuilds the three-dimensional landscape in which he lives to his liking. Of course this gives rise to the question: What kind of landscape do we find desirable?

There is no simple answer to this question as the function of a place largely dictates the quality of the designed space. But throughout history there have been general norms and trends that have guided the general atmosphere of our built environment. The quality of a space is based on values that we inscribe to our existence within that space. The current outlook to architecture is either based on the profit motive resulting in the desire to assign as little space to as many people as possible, or it attempts to use shocking irrational and spacey forms to astonish the viewer upon first glance. There are definitely works of artistic merit in modern architecture, however what is often missing is (a) the value of craft and (b) a sense of permanent and natural beauty. While we are attempting to get away from the extremely rigid and industrial architecture of the 20th century, it seems that the lack of any sense of convention or true connection with the land leads us to build environments that seem cold and soulless even when they are attempting to be affectionate and cozy.

detsomen

When one imagines the values assigned to the Hessian culture (courage, virility, Romantic connection with nature), there is not much desire to make an environment seem overly safe and tame. Indeed there are many metal album covers displaying ancient ruins, medieval buildings and feral landscapes reminiscent of the imagery of J. R. R. Tolkien novels. In other words what brings joy to a landscape is the existence of a sense of adventure and a balance between the tame and feral elements. It is only after standing at the edge of a cliff that walking back into the woods feels safe.

This does not mean that it is necessarily to build in the wilderness (thought it would be an interesting aesthetic choice) but that comfort does not take precedent over being ambitious and creative. Likewise, it is not necessary to copy the form of ancient structures, just the values that made them great: proportion, geometry, scale, relationships between fills and voids and an overall sense of what constitutes sublime and holistic beauty in pure forms.

“Because You’ll Be Burned And Died”: Why The Over the Top Appeals to Us

There is a clear difference between honest and ironic enjoyment of something.  Often, I’ve found myself listening to Sarcofago and becoming viscerally involved in it, and yes, smiling or laughing a bit.  I’ve found similar cases while listening to Judas Priest’s Painkiller as well, for example, screaming to the heavens with Rob Halford on my speakers with a near face-splitting grin.  Am I laughing at how silly metal is for not understanding that masculinity and virility are taboo in this society?  How silly they are for their reckless abandon and lack of restraint, like children?  Do I come back repeatedly to Absurd’s work because I get a kick out of terrible musicianship?  Is metal naught but the punch line to a “so bad it’s good” joke for me? The answer is not because it makes me laugh derisively; it is a joyous laugh.  There is some humour present in these situations, but in truth this humour is only cause for further joy.

In the case of Absurd and Sarcofago, both the musicianship and English is terrible.  Certainly there are other bands who’s musicianship and English were terrible, as I’m sure we could pick this out in any number of bands who were simultaneously young, untrained and not English-speakers.  But why are these two bands renowned as they are, over others?  First off, in spite of playing poorly, the music itself had an ear for melody.  It was a case of poorly trained musicians trying to play very evocative music, whether robust and melodic in Absurd’s case, or visceral and innovative in Sarcofago’s.  Secondly, the poor playing itself lends a bit of charm to the entire endeavour.  The beauty inherent in this poor playing and bad English is that these factors, coupled with the evocative music, show a band who’s spirit is so enthusiastic and ideas are so good, that their minds jump beyond what they can actually do at the time.  Is this not infinitely superior to the legions of technically perfect bands with no original or good ideas?

On the other hand, let’s take “cheesy”, classic heavy metal.  Any number of bands will do, be it Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Fates Warning, or more recent efforts such as Dantesco.  Each of these present music that is proficient, has a beautiful sense of melody, and an epic sense of song development, inspiring reckless adventure and wonder in both lyrics and music.  However, in every case, one might laugh at how over the top in its virility it is, and might declare it silly.  This is an attitude that tends to (but does not always follow with) self-awareness, and reflects a particular attention to appearance.  It is this attitude that the bands themselves lack: they are not self-aware.  They are focused on the music itself, and say to hell with what anyone else thinks.  They love what they do, and they have a particular reason in mind for the aesthetics and melody others find cheesy.

In a third case that encompasses both Absurd and Sarcofago yet again, there are times where the primitivism of certain metal bands connects with us on such an intensely visceral level , that it’s unignorable.  Consider the music of Celtic Frost, for example.  I will not deny the epic nature of their song structures, but the individual riffs were so simple, that there was a time I denied their greatness as a band.  Then it struck me: the riffs here seem too primitive to even be rock music.  They sound like the ancient battle horn sounds of some obscure barbarian empire contemporaneous with Rome; the Scythians perhaps, being barbaric, yet majestic in their roughness and simplicity, and from these primal intervals, they constructed an utterly ancient symphony.  Consider as well, Ildjarn, excluding of course the ambient work, and masterpieces such as Eksistensens Jeger.  Forest Poetry and Strength and Anger each had almost a haiku-like nature to each song.  There was a stark minimalism that relied on efficient use of primal intervals that would evoke strong reactions in the mind precisely because of their musical solitude with little other reference.  There is meditation and iron focus in the furious actions of such music.  Somehow bands like Bone Awl and Akitsa never quite got a handle on this, despite the abundance of comparisons, and despite attempting to use the same aesthetic.

Next time someone makes mocking scorn of the caveman approaches of some black metal, or the over the top nature of any metal you truly enjoy and find power in, promptly ignore them.  They are incapable of giving themselves to something fully.

Midnight Odyssey – Firmament

In music, phrases like “Atmospheric” and “Ambient” tend to refer to techniques used by the musician to envelope the listener into a meditative state of mind and thus allow for the journey to happen in an alternate, transcendent state of being. In the context of black metal, bands like Burzum and Summoning have been pioneers in introducing this practice to “awaken the fantasy of mortals”. Out of Australia comes “Midnight Odyssey”, persevering this approach and building up on it with layers of sound which invoke images of grand infinite space.

The guitars are thin with high treble and reverb while the layered keyboards fill the sonic void in both the mid and low end of the spectrum. As a whole, the music is heavily coated with these resonating layers, and while perhaps not harmoniously as adventurous as it could have been, it provides a very wholesome and satisfying texture. The songs are at their best when they take their time, slowly adding layers and building up. There are two fully ambient tracks which tend to be more reserved and contemplative compared to the wildly Romantic nature of the rest of the album.

At a time when the chaotic flame that gave rise to the original black metal movement seems to be dying down even in hearts of the most prominent musicians of the genre, “Firmament” is a breath of fresh air, fearlessly dashing into the void of the unknown and embracing the monumental weight of being. For that, it deserves to be praised.

Tangerine Dream: Alpha Centauri

Ambient music, like Punk or Black metal, is extremely easy to replicate in technique.  In fact, one can make lesser forms of all three of those genres using merely four chords, simply changing instrumentation, and likely using the same four chord melody throughout many of their songs. In each case, one can appear to be making distinctly different forms of music to the average idiot.

But doing droning four chord melodies in the name of minimalism does not amount to art, there needs to be more.  Tangerine Dream, though I do not suggest changing style can change quality, approaches the genre of organic and droning ambient music recently emerged from Germany with their “Electronic Meditations” release. This genre has combined origins in the German proto-Electronic music, Psychedelic, and Progressive rock scenes; collectively known as Krautrock. Tangerine Dream approached this brand of ambient in a fashion that produced brilliant fragments of melody, which starkly differentiated itself from the standard droning common in most current ambient music.  As to whether such an approach is good or not is relevant to the medium through which it is utilized. As I said before, style does not dictate quality.  However, it does create parameters within music. The question is whether the change is a good or bad one.  It is my belief that this particular influx of progressive rock influence is a good salve to the four chord drone problem; it inspires different structural approaches and more creativity and length within melody.

However, this album far predates mainstream Punk rock, certainly predates the 80’s Hardcore punk style, and definitely predates black metal.  Also, being released in 1971, it has the distinction of being quite an early release in the ambient genre.  “Alpha Centauri” is a thoroughly unique affair when compared to later releases by Tangerine Dream, as made relevant by its obvious Krautrock heritage.  Instrumentation involves more guitar work and percussion than say, “Phaedra” would.  Also, while the release has lengthy melodies, it is not quite the endless melodic flow of the previously said album.  One can still tell it is a Tangerine Dream release however, because those elements that would become more present on later albums are present here, albeit in nascent forms.

At any rate, I digress. We shall speak less of the various categorizations that I have applied to this album, and instead discuss its quality.  Already the name suggests something stellar; the album’s name-sake being the closest solar system to ours.  Thoughts abound in the mind of the various celestial bodies; planets orbiting distant suns, and the hostile surfaces of these heavenly giants.  The first piece, “Sunrise in the Third System” begins… reverberating, slightly discordant light guitar picking sounds, and from the void of sound comes the powerful, slow, deliberate, and majestic wave of organ chords.  Occasionally, electronic sounds sweep across the piece, entering and leaving quickly, dashing across the majestic plodding of the main melody.  The lengthy theme then continues onwards, harmonizing in a protean way, and changing the mood from curiosity, to awe, to ego-crushing contemplation.  There is a representation of something so massive, awe inspiring, utterly ancient, unseen for millennia, but something that nevertheless is eternal.  It is permeated with the sense of discovery.

The organ’s slow waves fade out, and the next piece begins.  “Fly and Collisions of Comas Sola” enters in with the same sweeping electronic sounds as the previous piece had.  The piece then revolves around a five chord main melody, upon which the flutes and guitars play variations.  The electronic sweeping sounds become in some cases a hindrance to the listening of the melody.  Around nine minutes in, percussion comes into play, and the Progressive rock heritage of this release is heard as a drum solo emerges and is played until the end of the piece, along with the melody.  It is a good piece, and the variations played upon the main theme are pleasant.

In my copy (and in the original pressing of the album), the final track is the title track, “Alpha Centauri”.  Over 20 minutes long, this piece reflects much of the same majesty and size as the first piece did.  It begins with electronic work and quietly emerging cymbals, all resounding in a void; echoing, and stating the sheer magnitude of what is being expressed.  After two minutes, a peaceful organ line begins and continues throughout the piece, and once again, the lengthy melodies emerge.  The flute plays gentle variations to harmonize with the main melody and, as the piece continues, howling voices and sweeping electronic sounds gracefully arch above the skeletal architecture of the song.  The piece mainly continues in this fashion, until the end, after which the peaceful, playful sounds of flute and organ give way to chanting sung vocals and an utterly majestic ending organ theme.  This is what the first piece promised, and with this promise fulfilled the theme fades. Thus the album closes.

Ultimately a beautiful and well composed album, I recommend this especially for people who enjoy the grand and majestic aspects of Death metal, Black metal, and Romantic classical music, as this work bears much in common with those genres. Progressive rock fans may enjoy this unique take on ambient music as well.

Kshatriya: On The Warrior Tradition

I see many soldiers; could I but see many warriors!” – War and Warriors, Thus Spake Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche

To put it metaphorically, in political philosophy war is compared to a game of strategy (like chess); in eschatological philosophy, to a mission or the dénouement of a drama; in cataclysmic philosophy, to a fire or an epidemic.

These do not, of course, exhaust the views of war prevailing at different times and at different places. For example, war has at times been viewed as a pastime or an adventure, as the only proper occupation for a nobleman, as an affair of honor (for example, the days of chivalry), as a ceremony (e.g. among the Aztecs), as an outlet of aggressive instincts or a manifestation of a “death wish”, as nature’s way of ensuring the survival of the fittest, as an absurdity (e.g. among Eskimos), as a tenacious custom, destined to die out like slavery, and as a crime.” – Clausewitz’s On War, introduction by Anatol Rapoport

Chaos is a human description of seemingly arbitrary and random sequences of action.  True chaos or randomness is of course illusory because of the nature of cause and effect, which dictates direct physical determinism of some kind, no matter whether you support the quantum theory or no.  Present action is directly necessitated by preceding action.  Certainly, this has no purpose in direct human terms…save further action (O Krishna).  As such, reality’s appearance to humans is often and necessarily different from its’ true structure.  One such case, and indeed the premise of this article’s focus, is conflict.  What we call conflict is an essential part of reality, from the basic struggle between weak and strong nuclear forces in the very fabric of matter, to a human concept such as war.  Despite the negative connotations one might apply to this word, the existence of conflict as a destructive element is not as clear-cut as one might think.  Consider of course, the previous example of strong and weak nuclear forces.  The constant struggle between the two allows matter to neither pull itself apart nor implode on itself, thus creating a universe where it can form.  The existence of conflict on one level can give birth to greater creations on higher levels, as shown in example by the fact that without this particular conflict existing, matter would not exist, and life would by extension not exist.

Moving onto the premise of this article, war is one such function of conflict that applies to the realm of human behaviour.  Indeed, war is even known to the chimpanzee, and in cases as irrational by most human standards as one tribe being larger than another, regardless of abundance of resources.  While Clausewitz’s definition of war as an extension of politics certainly covers a great deal of the matter, it is not, as the second of the two opening quotes above show, the ultimately exhaustive view of its true nature.  He does very correctly point out in showing war to be a political act and instrument, that wars are fought to reach a goal.  Historically, resources have been a very large part of this, but conflict runs deeper, into differences of ideas, insults to honour, and sometimes sheer trigger-happiness.  The prevailing pre-World War I attitude, for example, in Europe was that the war would be like a cleansing wind to that which was rotten.  This attitude was even reflected in the writings of Herman Hesse, a pacifist.

A popular argument to make in the present era is that of world peace, or the idea that someday, given our efforts, all wars will cease eternally.  Thus, point upon point is raised about how war is always avoidable.  The fact of the matter is that whether or not a civilization is rational enough to prefer peace to war, a world situation where all countries simultaneously and persistently desire peace is impossible, short of massive and constant drugging, because there will always be nation or group of people that subscribe to something other than that civilizations’ definition of rationality.  For example (and this is by no means a critique on the religion in question, but an observation), Islam demands “submission to the will of God”, over the whole world.  This inevitably lends itself to imperialist concerns, as evidenced by Mohammed’s conquests after the creation of the faith, and the ever present push by the Ottoman Empire towards Europe.  Ideology will always exist, and there is inevitably one that will demand assertion of its interests to the detriment of others.  Indeed, on the flipside, America fights wars all over the world under the ideological banner of democracy, once again with an implicit idea that all non-democracies must become democracies.  Go throughout history, and these ideological wars are common.  This is without even counting resource wars, which are even more common, and likely to become more so with overpopulation occurring at an ever increasing rate within the century.

War has existed, because it has had to.  If nations did not defend themselves against aggressors, they would fall, as war is a necessarily two sided struggle.  The act of merely raising ones arms in self-defense against an aggressive country denotes war already, without this, it is merely occupation, annexation, massacre, and so on and so forth.  To be antiwar in the strictest definition of the word, therefore does not necessarily mean one is anti-violence, as one could quite conceivably be content with passively being slaughtered and massacred by an aggressor.  Of course, this is not what most people mean.  At any rate, conflicts between humans consistently arise on the micro levels of society, so it should only make sense that similar behaviour occurs in the macro level, between groups.  To seek an end to these conflicts is not necessarily a healthy endeavour, as it excludes the possibility of using force to end destructive behaviour.

Moving onwards, most aesthetic concerns in human civilization, such as the arts, games, etc, i.e., non-practical in the most direct sense, have their roots in some practical origin.  Practical of course here is used in a subjectively human sense, meant to denote the root of all life’s biological purpose, that is to say, to survive and propagate.  Everything we’ve enshrined as an excellence (a pursuit worthy and fulfilling in of itself), arose from some practical concern.  Our very civilization and human behaviour arises from sublimations of deep-rooted biological motives.  However, despite all this they have become recognized and celebrated as things worthy in of themselves by ourselves on a conscious level, despite whatever other levels of the mind might be thinking.  Nobody will deny that we eat to survive, but are we thinking of how well we are surviving while we eat?  No, we’re considering the texture and taste of the food, and taking pleasure in it (or not, depending on the situation).  As much as subconscious motives exist, our ability to analyze them and our own thought processes has created another level of reality not experienced by any other creature we know of.

As Buddha, Schopenhauer, Hinduism, Nietzsche, Evola and many philosophers and religions have proclaimed, life is desire.  All things are a Will towards something.  Julius Evola analyzed this by identifying all traditions as having established a difference between a transient world (that of desire), and an eternal one.  This would be identified by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel as Being (eternal world) and Becoming (transient world), but the idea goes back as early as Plato, if not further.  Generally, these traditions have the leaders as a sort of spiritual bridge, a guide towards the world of Being, and service itself is seen as a way of emptying the ego in order to be more in touch with Being.  Depending on interpretation, this idea of Being is surprisingly universal; in Zen, extinguishing of thought and therefore desire, in Advaita Vedanta Hinduism, moksha and realization of all the universe as a manifestation of Brahman as opposed to duality, renunciation and sacrifice in Christianity and subsuming oneself in the Other, Nietzsche’s eternal return, all these are essentially the idea of breaking all distinctions and realizing all as one entity, thus tapping into the eternal, omnipresent reality.  The caste system, and by extension warrior tradition, were ways of manifesting this, because they were ways of ordering the people, ideally towards this world of Being, with the leader as a “bridge”.

One could identify this sort of pursuit, in light of life’s biological purpose, as aesthetic or what have you, but it would seem our ability to dwell in abstractions, in the aesthetic rather than practical, is markedly human of us to do.  Certainly, in terms of “purpose”, reality’s “purpose” beyond the biological seems to be as stated above, naught but further action.  Objective consideration of purpose seems to dwell in the same place as the “afterworldsmen” of Nietzsche, those who take literal interpretations of heaven and afterlife, and spend this life longing for the next.  As such, a purely objective consideration of purpose (ultimate purpose, what people “should” do)  distracts us from dwelling in the present life that exists now, prevents us from realizing what Nietzsche and religions before him in their most holistic and positive would say is the true perfection of reality, always omnipresent.  Tradition, religion, culture, and art, are not purposes per se then, but ways of achieving this understanding of reality, Being.

Given the consistent “Us vs. Them” attitude of humanity, conflict is one inevitable part of this reality we inhabit.  Now, we can perhaps surmise in a classically Cartesian sense that reality is all illusion, but that’s not going to stop it now, is it?  Even should it be, it would seem logical to engage oneself as best as one can with that which is before them, save one having trained themselves to ignore everything about them.  If this is indeed the result you desire, go about to it, and be sufficient unto yourself, as this article concerns other things.  However, if one wishes to exist in this world as part of it, one must embrace all present elements.  It should as such seem logical that among other things, ancient civilizations developed a warrior tradition, for if conflict is constant in reality, should not those natures best suited to this element of it find their road to Being in it’s throes?  Even this aside, in a completely practical consideration of the need for defence, it should make sense for there to be experts in the martial disciplines to lead in times of war.  In both cases, we adapt human needs to reality, first the human need for devotion to something greater than themselves, and secondly the human need to act in the interests of their own life and livelihood.

This warrior tradition has been manifested in various forms in almost all civilizations throughout history, and especially in the East traditionally has been viewed as a deeply spiritual practice (Buddha himself was of the kshatriya warrior caste, and Evola picks up on how this is shown in early Buddhist writings in “The Doctrine of Awakening”).  The idea of a warrior monk or deeply meditating samurai is a meme in modern thought for this reason.  Even in the West this sort of association occurred, for example, all the order of chivalry and crusaders, be they Templars, Teutonic Knights, or what have you.  As shown in Ukraine, Christianity, though having no inherent warrior tradition of its’ own always develops one when coming into contact with more virile cultures (the Cossacks and Eastern Orthodoxy for example).  In a non-religiously associated way but still bearing hallmarks of the warrior tradition, there was the Prussian practice of mensur which endured well into the mid-20th century.  Indeed, Teutonic warrior tradition continued from long before Frederick the Great, all the way up to National Socialist Germany, but were clearly erased with the de-Nazification process (particularly with the current legal clause forbidding the portrayal of the military as heroic).

Technically, one could look throughout the world at special forces groups and martial arts as being continuing carriers of warrior tradition.  In particular, the martial arts are very much a continuation of warrior tradition, or the best of that that can occur outside of a caste based system, in that they combine a life-encompassing spiritual approach to combat, as well as dealing thoroughly excellently with the technical side of combat and breeding superiority in this regard.  Were we in a more nationalistic, culturally focused world, the special forces, or the Marines for example, might constitute a warrior tradition in of themselves, but at this point seem more like highly advanced career soldiery, as the spiritual component is lacking.  One could say the martial arts are lacking as well, precisely because there are fewer institutionalized places to apply them, than the way they once were in the times of the samurai for example (This should of course not dissuade anyone seeking spiritual discipline and martial rigor from pursuing these).

The main problem with modern warrior tradition is that by definition, the modern era has rejected Tradition (core values around which a society orients itself to achieve Being, as stated by Evola), and by proxy the concept of nationalism, and as such there is a distinct lacking of orientation for such a tradition, that inspiration “from above”.  The problem is not so much racial population mixing, as there have been periods of this during very virile past civilizations.  Indeed, all modern nations are hybrids to a certain extent.  The problem inherent in the modern view, however is that all humans are equal and interchangeable.  Evolutionarily speaking, the differences between certain peoples is the environment they have inhabited, and as such, everything, from selection of the population to more personal things like culture, developed with respect to these.  It should be obvious as a result that cultures would be different, having responded in different areas to different stimuli.  Each culture’s values, where they aspired to the world of Being in whatever manner they did, perhaps shared some similar cores, but were expressed in radically different ways.  These differences are not to be taken lightly, as they provided a heavy rootedness in the people who lived by them.  Rapid shifts in demographics would mean rapid shifts in traditions, and possibly values.  In the ancient sense, this would mean radically changing the very character and nature of a civilization, which to those in the past was as dear as their own lives, being their medium of engagement with Reality.  At present, any such singular tradition is lacking in a way that’s anywhere close to the definition of past ages.

Therefore, we can surmise that without Tradition, it is difficult to have warrior tradition.  Fortunately, one of the main tenets behind Hessian.org is the idea that Hessianism represents a rebirth of this kind of spirituality, and more specifically, through the already existing and thriving metal subculture.  Yes, for all the beer-guts out there, the epic nature of the style attracts people for a reason beyond having something to do.  As covered in the articles in this issue (specifically “Hessianism”, and “Worship, Religion, Art, and Metal”), the operating theory of this site is that metal culture has the potential to be its’ own culture, as there are implicit values and worldviews within, ones that are very relevant to the idea of warrior tradition no less.  As the site continues its mission, we will attempt to be a focal point for this, highlighting bands and thinkers in metal which can act as rallying points for this kind of energy.

In the meantime, purely practical considerations are useful as well, and it is possible to codify a hypothetical set of practices for this tradition, based on knowledge both ancient and modern.  Perhaps the nature of warfare has changed dramatically from the ancient to modern era, especially with the concept of guerrilla warfare, but this to the warrior should only present a greater challenge, and not something to shirk from.  Remember, this practice adapts to reality, and at present, guerrilla warfare, and “cowardly” methods such as the rifle, the tank, the missile, etc, are reality.  Therefore, it goes without saying that finding a way of best training both mind and body to this particular set of circumstance is ideal.

Physical considerations effect mental ones, and vice versa, so to have both in shape is key.  Sluggish minds breed sluggish bodies, but this is equally true in reverse.  Taking up a martial art certainly is a very wise decision, but training beyond that is important as well.  Ideally, in addition to technical practices of martial arts, one should train in heavy lifting (deadlifts, squats, bench press, overhead press, rows etc.), body weight manipulation (push ups, pull ups, chin ups, dips, etc) and sprinting .  This will build explosive power, strength, speed, flexibility, and tangentially endurance at lower loads of intensity.  Join a local gym, buy some weights, but do engage in these.  Core strength is absolutely vital to any sort of physical movement, and swiftness has always been an asset in combat.  The ability to deal with shocks to the nervous system, and the ability to respond quickly is key, so in addition to the exercise prescribed above, periodically exposing oneself to extreme stimuli, such as showering cold in the morning, or fasting occasionally, mentally prepares one to deal with a variety of situations.  In that same vein, meditation is key, as a still mind is all the more focused on its surroundings.  The art of contemplation is by no means to be left at the wayside, and this is something understood as far back as the Mahabharata.  Of course, raw ability needs to be coupled with technique.  To that end, martial arts should be pursued, as well as marksmanship (though be aware of the legal implications of self-defence with a weapon in your area).

For those who seek this path, there is always one consideration to remember.  Being, involves detachment from self, but detachment is not quite as simple a word as it seems, so perhaps the proper word here is transcendence.  This means to understand self as a manifestation of reality, and to dwell in that which is eternal (attainment of this is more difficult than the explanation).  This means that you have to cast aside your aspirations of status, and ego in of themselves.  The devotion of one to a tradition, discipline, or ritual is meant to purify our experience in the eternal wheels of action, to embroil ourselves in the patterns of this world that retain permanence.  To war, to kill, to strike, to take blows, to endure, are all worthy actions in context, but woe to he that seeks this path out of pride, for that one will simply feed the Will, not ignore or ride it.  Onwards!

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Restart

Hails Hessiandom!

Within the coming weeks, Hessian.org will be up and running again, presented in a new format.  Expect frequent “issues” of material presenting the Hessian perspective, and promoting Hessian culture.

TOWARDS THE SHROUDED INFINITY!

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A hessian guide to the proper care and maintenance of your records and sound equipment, part III – sound equipment and storage

To finish this guide, we’ll review sound equipment and the proper manner of storaging your CDs, tapes and vinyl records.

Sound equipment

stereo

We won’t stop here to review all kind of sound reproduction systems available in the market, for that would take many lines of text. A general rule that can be said about sound equipment shall, instead, be mentioned: that is, when you buy a new piece of equipment, give it a try at the store. Bring one of your CDs and check for the following:

– Bass and mids response.
– Speaker response @ full volume, although many stores won’t be so enthusiast about that test.

The ideal would be for you to buy one of those multi-unit hi-fi equipments that can be mounted on top of each other. Those usually are the best, for the reason that you can buy each unit from different sources and assemble your own, personalized system.

Your system needs to be dusted periodically, optimally once a day, to prevent particles of dust to reach any delicate part of the equipment, such as the lens from the CD player or the tape head. I’ve found that keeping a disc inside the CD player and a tape inside the deck while not using the stereo prevents this, in part. Also, be sure to put a piece of cardbox on top of the ventilation holes of the equipment so that dust and others don’t penetrate through them. Just make sure that you take the cardbox out when you’re using the stereo! Those ventilation holes are there for a reason, and if you obstruct them, your system may malfunction out of the heating of the components.

Your CD unit should be cleaned periodically. Electronics stores sell a kind of special CDs with little brushes on them that are made specially for the task of cleaning the lens of the unit. Using those with a once-a-month frequency can greatly augment the lifespan of the CD player.

For the tape deck, regular cleansing of the head with isopropyl alcohol is recommended. Buy a box of cotton buds and use it to apply a small amount of alcohol on the playback and recording heads. If there’s oxide, apply the cotton tip until it is removed. Give it a few seconds to dry out. Also, in the same way clean the tape guides and capstan (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, refer to this diagram). The pinch roller should also be cleaned in the same manner, this time using a mixture of water with a pinch of washing-up liquid. Do not use alcohol for the pinch roller, as it is made of rubber.

Demagnetisation fo the tape decks is also recommendable. With use, the tape heads and guides tend to accumulate a magnetic charge that not only can interfere with the appropiate playback of the cassette, but an also destroy its high frequency content (remember what we learned about the sour relationship between tapes and magnets?). There are cassette-shaped, battery-powered demagnetisers available in commerce. Those should be applied to your decks once a month.

On vinyl record players, the following tips should be followed:

– The stylus should be cleaned with a special kind of brush. This should be applied along the cantilever, in the direction pointed by the stylus. See here
– As stylus wears out, it eventually needs to be replaced. Have yours checked once a year by a specialist – usually someone who sells record players and related equipment. He will tell you if your stylus needs to be changed.
– Place your record player on a stable, solid surface.
– Dust it every once in a while.

Storage

cds

This one is simple: keep your vinyl, CDs and tapes in their respective cases, and always store and stack them vertically, that way you avoid the deformation of the cases and the disc itself, in the case of vinyl. Obviously, the environment in which you store your records should have respectable temperature and humidity rates and be as clean as possible.

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A hessian guide to the proper care and maintenance of your records and sound equipment, part II – analog

In Part 1 of this guide we gave a brief list of tips for the care of the digital formats of audio reproduction, this being the prefered medium for hessians, but not by far, because members of the metal culture have a natural preference for analog formats, such as tape and vinyl. Other musical subcultures share this inclination with headbangers, whether out of audio resolution considerations (electronica fans seem to be of this camp) or simply out of an undescribable mystic feel that the listener captures out of enjoying or simply owning an album on analog format. I’ve seen that most hessians prefer this for the last consideration, that is, the special aura it invokes.

Not that there aren’t any practical considerations for prefering analog over digital formats. Tapes, for example, are sturdier than CDs, which give them an advantage on physical resistance. Besides, tapes permit multiple recordings as long as its sound quality lasts (which depends on the type of cassette…more about that later).

As you all most know, the main disadvantage of analog formats is their wearyness. Since sound reproduction in their case involves the use of either a head or needle which is mechanically attached to the source of the recording, the latter slowly experiences a wearing of the surface layer where the audio is recorded, resulting all of this in a progressive loss of sound quality.

Yet, as with CDs, there are certain tips that can help increase the lifespan of your tapes and CDs in order for them to provide the maximal amount of listening time and enjoyment.

Tapes.

all_tapes400

Tapes were (and still are, for some) tremendously practical for the active listener, in great part due to its portability and endurance. Besides, who didn’t start out on its metal journey without a Black Sabbath or Iron Maiden cassette on one’s walkman? Few, I guess.

– First of all, keep your tapes from extreme temperature and humidity conditions. The recommended range is within 59 and 77° F and 40% to 60% relative humidity (that is, not wet, but not too dry either).

– Keep your tapes away from any sort of magnetic field. Those include not only magnets, but also home appliances such as refrigerators, speakers and anything containing an electric motor.

– Keep your tapes evenly wound, otherwise they get easily stuck on their casing and it may bring problems to sound reproduction, screwing with the tape itself and your deck as well! If your tape has a see-through casing, you should easily see uneven woundings in the rolled tape. If not, then try to roll the tape by hand to check if it presents difficulties or if it gets stuck. Solve the problem by fully rewinding your tape several times until it gets looser. If the tape is stuck in the casing, it would be better to do the process by hand, carefully so that you don’t break it. Also, be sure to rewind tapes completely after each use to maintain high performance.

– Don’t leave your tapes in the car or other places where they may get direct sunlight or excessive heat. Remember the first tip.

– It’s recommendable that you make quality copies of an original so that the latter lasts as long as it possibly can.

Vinyl.

vinyl+006+(Custom)

The LP and EP formats are a favorite for hessians and the one that carries most “mystique”. A lot of it has to do, in great part, with nostalgy: after all, in the classic era of metal the LP was THE format for albums that got released at the time, and most cover art was done specifically to fir into the large sleeves of LPs: if you want examples, you should look into Iron Maiden’s, Morbid Angel, Carnage, Dio and many, many others…the list goes on and on.

However, this particular medium requieres a lot more care to it, as vinyl is a very delicate material and the discs have some significant weaknesses that, with the arrival of the compact disc, were no longer an issue for listeners.

– First things first: clean your records throughly. That is by far the most important detail you should think about. Not only the disc’s lifespan depends on it, but also its sound quality. Playing dirty records can eventually cause permanent damage to the disc, not to mention that the stylus on your record player wears more rapidly. Distilled water is recommended by many sources to be ideal for cleansing of the plastic in the record, it being a non-abrasive liquid, doesn’t leave any residues and the bottle is inexpensive. Besides, it disperses static charges and counteracts the increased conductivity from the pick-up of salt deposits form finger prints. Nonetheless, water isn’t enough. Surfactants are used as additives to enable water to be a grease solvent. Clean with a soft, anti-static cloth. Discs should be cleaned before and after each performance for the best results.

– Handle your vinyl records as follows: keep finger contact with the edge and the labeled surface of the disc, never with the grooved surface. Remove the record from the jacket with the inner dust sleeve by bowing the jacket open by holding it against the body and applying a slight pressure with a hand. Hold a corner of the inner dust sleeve and pull the record out. Avoid pressing down onto the disc with the fingers as any dust caught between the sleeve and the disc will be pressed into the grooves. Remove the disc from the inner sleeve by bowing the sleeve and letting it slip gradually into an open hand so that the edge falls on the inside of the thumb knuckle. The middle finger should reach for the center label. Never reach into the sleeve.

– Use inner sleeves made of polyethylene. Do not use record sleeves made of PVC. Paper made sleeves may scratch the surface of records.

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Hessian.org status

We’re sorry for the lack of updates, folks. We’ll be back sooner than you think with more and better articles and posts.

Thank you all so far for tuning in.

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