1. Hessianism: Our Mission by Helmholtz
2. Worship, Religion, Art, and Metal by Helmholtz
4. Visual Arts in Hessian Culture by Kaveh
5. “Because You’ll Be Burned and Died” by Helmholtz
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.
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.
– 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.
– 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.
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.
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!