Karl: Don't you respect the laws and rules of society?

Count: We have our own laws and we do not care at all about society's rules. 

Karl: You deliberately break the laws of society?

Count: I cannot say that, that is criminal.

Karl: But in principle?

Count: In principle we do not have any scruples at all towards
breaking all the laws of society. Those laws belong to a society that
we are fighting to destroy.

Karl: Do you sacrifice humans?

Count: That is criminal.

Karl: But in principle?

Count: In principle we do not have any scruples towards human sacrifice.

From "Sounds of Death #4 1994"

What makes metal music great is its spirit. Some call it adolescent, and there are definitely attributes of that, but that doesn't explain the whole of it. A good deal of it is a rebellious desire not to be ruled by some centralized, judgmental authority, but there's more to it than that. The authority is a symptom, not a cause. the cause is a desire to find out for oneself and to find meaning in the world on one's own terms.

The world ages with its assumptions and soon it finds itself incompatible with older ways of perceiving it. The edge of the technological age has died, leaving us where we were centuries ago with the added benefits and destructions of modern society. However, in exchange for this work, we have lost organization. We are closer to breakdown.

The order has become too complex for its principles, and thus collapses under its own weight. Bread and circuses keep the pundits distracted.


Immortal and Emperor merged heavily distorted guitar static and drumbeat pulse into a flowing wave of noise which created a bizarre and beautiful ambient space in the midst of grinding metallic dissonance. A television static electric seethe wrapped around the resonating waves of volume, a pulsing living sound. Further distortion was provided by deliberately bad production, which overamplified the music to break it into distortion through which came images of the original work, processed through waves of distortion and deep spaces of interacting artificial harmonics. Flowing melodies pulsed through this living space in alternate phase to the drumbeat, which was usually a fast blast beat on the snare and double bass drums while different rhythms played off the high hat provided structural continuity. Simple melodies drifted through time and musical space, surrounding the reader with a terrifying mutilated noise - musical garbage, or useless chaos - which could provide depth of melody to a listener who understood the sound. Encoded in noise were the anthems of the mystical world, occult and bizarre, entwined in collision like a cacophony of battle- cries from hell.

As the elements of the music got simpler, more of them were layered with variations -- to provide many angles into each element, as Picasso did with his style of illustrating viewpoints of an object from different angles superimposed upon the single, fixed image of the object. An ambience -- a three dimensional view -- was formed. It resembles the motif structure of classical music, just as the original emphasis on longer riffs (as in Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and Angel Witch) focused the music on melodic instead of rhythm with harmonic anchoring, as most of the Beatles-era riffs did. Because metal is constructed melodically, and does not focus exclusively on a harmonic center and the improvisation that goes along with it, metal songs are narrative: composed of different motifs and within those fragments of melody, the pieces as a whole suggest a journey through their arrangement and reveal a melodic three-dimensional construct as they progress.

The implications of black metal for society are obvious, although most people never get past the "They Burn Churches" headline phase. When the canaries in the mine turn against their world in sorrow and destruction, the world's deep illness, denied for so long, is revealed. The people that fear noise and breakdown are those most oblivious to it; to all of us blackmetal shows both the slow destruction of our planet and the necessary erosion of our faith in the quantitative to survive.


Most people feel that in a modern time, our means are corrupt and if we fix those, we can return to the progressive ends which are, after all, just fine even though it's these values that have led us down the path to bad means. However, we'll set aside that for a moment and answer the question: Why do you categorize by genre, subgenre and variant, when you could just describe it all as "metal" and your average voter would understand?

Categories make it easier to describe the general range of sound something is in without rehasing general ideas. Another way to phrase the question is, "Why do we have more than about 200 words?" It's more efficient to do so; instead of saying "go get me a cold thing with liquid inside of it" you can say "grab me a beer, please." Why is there kind weed and creeper and schwag and thai? Why are people born of different intellectual and physical skills, and thus adapted for different professions? For the same reasons there are death metal, grindcore, speed metal, thrash, heavy metal, proto-metal and hard rock: they are specialized for different things.

Metal is "only music" - meaning, an aesthetic form of generalized popular music, and not structurally or memetically different from pop music - to those who do not appreciate its message; to those who want to make it into a social "cult" so they can feel different or better than others, the message is also lost.

It, which like hardcore punk before it is ideological music, is about mindset, about thinking, about a core of ideals that stresses the hatred of the stupid and frivolous, the use of the mind, the power of the imagination, and the weight of history and human anger, struggle. It's classically Romantic, and aspires to the heroic times of I Indo-European cultures past. Metal worships power, and the power of thought, of time. metal worships human power, and has human compassion, but not the lesser forms of love and gift assigned to christian/mainstream happy and "good" forces. Stuff like bon jovi and def leppard is obviously not metal; neither is stuff like offspring or new megadeth or pearl jam or tool or any of the other stuff that gets labeled metal. This doesn't mean (necessarily) that this stuff is (b)bad, but it means one calling it metal comes across as an inauthentic fool.