By: Andrew Lyman

From the first moment Black Metal came shrieking out of the mountains and caves of Norway it was something different, something dangerous. The unholy racket and inhuman sounds of an alienated group of Scandinavian youths that knew no equal, Black Metal was more than extremely aggressive music; it was holy war (an immature adolescent war, but war nonetheless). Black Metal was rage against an insanely straight and conservative society. Sprinkle in a few parts Satanism, some Norse Mythology, blind nationalism, a little blood and face paint, and you’ve got an army.

As atrocious and terrifying as the Black Metal scene was with all the murders, church burnings, suicides, sacrifice, and infighting, it is still appealing for being one of the most pure and complete musical movements in history. This was music mad with ideology, possessed with rage, and hell bent on destruction. It also seemed to have a penchant for ridiculous posturing and laughable imagery; stopped short of lampoon by the very real and very serious criminal activity connected to it.

Black metal has become the sad carcass of the once proud enemy at the gates. Black Metal artists as studio musicians? Respectable Black Metal? “Hey man, it’s about the music!” Bullshit. This wasn’t supposed to be. This was supposed to be infernal. This was supposed to be the one thing that no one would ever find acceptable. This was supposed to be the music that stayed hideous, that began scary and turned into pure fucking Armageddon. I’m not saying Britney Spears has Mayhem on her iPod, but I’ll give you fifty-fifty odds she has something by Nevermore on there.

Usually this is below me, but I’d like to make an example of Nevermore. I had to sit through them opening up for Opeth. Nevermore (one of the best reviewed metal bands of last year by the way) is everything that sucks about Metal right now. They are the most offensively flaccid and marginal band I have had the displeasure of sitting through. They are the musical equivalent of white bread in a black leather bag. If you doubt that double bass, death meal growls, and pilfered Swedish riffs can combine with some of the most piss-ass music imaginable, check out Nevermore. While you’re at it, check out almost any other critically acclaimed metal band out there today. They’re all the same. They’ll put you to sleep before the stupid “distant thunder” intro finishes up.

Even the current “Pure Black Metal Exclusively Advisory” bands are weak. They may have the sound, the look, and the facial expressions down pat, but it’s like being in a GG Allin cover band - not only is it stupid, it’s a grotesque Hallmark-ization of something so completely beyond sentimentality.

So what happened? The same thing that will always happen to every idea regardless of how pure or terrifying it is - it got chewed up and shat out the other end, looking vaguely like what it began as, but smelling like shit.

Black Metal worked (if you consider what it did working) because it was so damn small to begin with. There were really only a handful of bands at the beginning. They were just pissed off kids who loved Bathory and Venom, but needed something even darker and heavier. It was the same with punk back when it worked - it was a small group of people doing what they needed to keep from going insane. Then status and fashion and cool get thrown into the mix, and the creative and innovative pioneers are left outside of the very thing they helped create.

So again we find ourselves asking, what now? We either make good music, or we do even more heinous shit to ensure that no one will ever find anything we do safe. The latter I don’t necessarily condone. You’ll have to do one better than rape, murder, arson, stabbing, shooting, and suicide to come out below the original strain of Black Metal, but I guarantee there are still undiscovered avenues that will scare the pants off anyone who goes down them.


There are plenty of decent metal bands around today, you just have to look for them: Opeth, Behemoth, Leviathan, Baroness, Gorgoroth (although it is worth mentioning that Gorgoroth is banned from the US due to murder and arson), and Craft. Immortal is still around. Make good music, don’t just chew up some old blast beats and rip off some riffs, because we can tell that they have no nutrients left in them. Extreme is passe again. Where is it now?

The solution is neither here nor there. It is in you. It is in your community. What are you interested in? What are you good at? What do you hate? What do you love? If you are going completely mad because you feel there is no escape, manufacture one for yourself.






All opinions expressed by Andrew Lyman are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.

© Stay Thirsty Media, Inc. 2006 - 2007
All Rights Reserved

Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Terms of Sale | Site Map


*A PURCHASE IS REQUIRED TO ENTER THE PLAYWRIGHT AWARD CONTEST. Contest ends 2/1/07. Open to US legal residents of the 50 US and DC, who are 18 years or older at time of entry. Subject to Official Rules. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.