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Unblack Metal

Discussion in 'General Metal Discussion' started by AchrisK, Jun 29, 2007.

  1. thisisaformicatable

    thisisaformicatable New Metal Member

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    Relatively, it's much more polished and melodic than the music I tend to enjoy, especially as extreme metal goes. Incidental Darkthrone comment related to the topic:

    What the fuck is UNBLACK? Must be some posers with too much time on their hands. Would YOU mix Christianity with metal? Or sing about the ice cream truck? Probably not, because it's NOT RIGHT. What if Elvis only sang about fishnets? It would be funny - but NOT RIGHT. You don't have to be an angel to know right from wrong, hehe

    - Fenriz, 2004

    Such an explanation seems to suggest an incidental connection, that perhaps the imagery is neutral so for unblack bands to appropriate it is perfectly natural. The paint supposedly has roots in Norse (read: pagan) folklore, which at least should raise an eyebrow. I guess this is the same context issue discussed previously regarding sounds; there's nothing inherently "evil" about black clothes and corpsepaint and bullet belts and weapons, but this imagery has been given strong symbolic meaning by black metal bands, and unblack bands know this. This is why the relationship between the two genres seems to require either the disrespect or contempt of black metal - unblack metal bands dress as they do for the sake of a miscomprehended tradition, looking cool, or as parody.

    I've given Tophet a preliminary look, I'll share some thoughts that are subject to a better understanding of the piece. Musically I see nothing wrong, nor do I see anything that personally interests me. I don't listen to this type of black metal enough to say anything about it other than that it seems competent without being anything groundbreaking, how it stacks up against similar artists in this sense I couldn't say. The tone is extremely aggressive and violent, needless to say, and the message matches, at least on the surface. This record doesn't seem to try to convince me to love Jesus, but takes more of a fire and brimstone approach - God is going to kick my ass, and Frost Like Ashes can't wait to help him. I can see a potential reason this band hasn't/won't catch on in the black metal scene, namely because their music is an attack against the scene and those in it; the band laughs as the followers of Satanism and Paganism are destroyed in a gory fashion by a vengeful Christian God. So it comes across less as evangelism (although a preachy tone is not absent) or a cautionary tale but as a near-masturbatory glorification of the vengeance that shall be wrought against us blaspheming black metal fans. Lots of images of the final battle between good and evil, lots of detailed accounts of the fate of the sinners. This is unblack metal of the repent-or-die variety. The slaughter-oriented portrayal of Christianity is sure to be uncomfortable for believers and non-believers alike, and makes the use of black metal imagery all the more puzzling.

    It all comes across as an exercise in poetic irony: using the enemy's weapons against him for enhanced effect. I don't know if this is the intention, the band seems to use the separation of art and craft approach, dividing music from message in a way that they believe allows them to respect the artists they are envisioning in hell. It's a contradiction of much greater immediacy and interest than the often discussed one of NSBM's roots in music developed by African Americans.

    I'd assume to a Christian this music has the potential to be powerful, but it's not hard to see why this band wouldn't find acceptance on that side of the scene either. Why does a band make a conscious effort to associate themselves so closely (in music and image) with a scene that they are philosophically so vehemently opposed to? Until this question is answered, this band and those like them limit their fan base to those who give as little thought to it as they appear to. These are skilled artists with interesting ideas who appear confined by their musical tastes.

    I'd like to hear an artist on the other side of the spectrum, a more nonviolent take on unblack metal (perhaps taking a musical approach similar in tone to Burzum's more contemplative works, for example). Anything like this exist? Metal-archives only lists sixty-some artists in this genre so I'm not sure how far the diversity and depth of it reaches...
     
  2. AchrisK

    AchrisK Weakling

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    You're right about FLA being potential offensive to Christians and non-Christians alike. I haven't read through their lyrics, but my impression is that they emphasize the "this is how it is and God will have the final victory" idea, as well as showing the more wrathful side of God, possibly to illustrate to those who would disrespect God, that he is not weak. I do not think they delight in the death or punishment of the wicked, per se. But they may reference it to make their point.

    I should read the lyrics :)
     
  3. thisisaformicatable

    thisisaformicatable New Metal Member

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    That pretty much seems to be all they do, such as the triumphant track "Shattered Gods" wherein the vocalist laughs amid lines such as:

    Baal and Anubis, Belial and Osiris
    Molech and Lillith, Odin and Ounis
    I will throw you away
    Like a menstrual rag
    You are nothing more
    Than menstrual blood!


    Also interesting is the way they lyrically present their ideas through a black metal method. "Desecrator" lists unconnected blasphemies in a way typical of black metal, and is in fact a typical black metal song by all appearances until the double-take moment at the end where perspective is revealed ("I’d hate to be you!"). Biblical Jewish practices are itemized so that they mimic the occult rituals described by black metal bands:

    Drinking of blood and tasting bitter hyssop
    Enlightening the soul
    Accept this sacrifice
    Disemboweling what’s inside
    Laid in a watergrave and from this death we rise


    In general the focus on the bloody details makes the effort come across as parody, "sheep in wolves' clothing" if you will. They imitate what they attack, and that's what makes it interesting.
     
  4. AchrisK

    AchrisK Weakling

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    Look into Antestor. They have a more sorrowful tone throughout. They are among my favorite bands which could possibly be classified as unblack. They have actually been called Dark Metal and been compared to Bethlehem in that regard. I have not heard Bethlehem. I would recommend Antestor's second release, The Return of the Black Death. I love their first, Martyrium, but it is probably less focused, as it was written and/or collected over a longer range of time. Their third and fourth, which came in the form of an EP (Det Tapte Liv) and a full length (The Forsaken), are almost fully a different band and don't have the same vibe.

    But another point... or maybe question. What lyrical theme or mood do you feel is appropriate for an unblack band?

    The way I see it, Christians are humans, and Christianity is a worldview that can be accompanied by so many themes or moods. Do people think that Christians are only supposed to be "happy" or "loving" or self-righteous or biggoted or superior or what? There is much pain in love. Yes, there is joy, but joy is not happiness. Joy more accurately is a type of peaceful confidence that underscores everything. It's more to keep an individual from being engulfed by despair, than to induce a silly grin. A Christian can and will experience the conceivable range of emotions and moods and feelings. A song by a Christian may address any range of these topics from varying perspectives. I am not sure why any musical aesthetic should be considered off-limits or inappropriate.
     
  5. thisisaformicatable

    thisisaformicatable New Metal Member

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    Ok, thanks.

    Whatever works. The thing is, the sounds of black metal don't exist in a vacuum. Unblack metal bands don't just happen to take tremolo picking and screaming and make Christian music, they are aware of where the music came from and what it represents. When you dress like this:

    [​IMG]

    Or like this:

    [​IMG]

    Or like this:

    [​IMG]

    You are doing a lot more than adapting a musical aesthetic. The art of these bands has a relationship with black metal beyond the purely aural. They aren't just experimenting with new ways to express Christian ideas, they are actively and consciously using an anti-Christian medium to do it. This is why unblack bands should address this connection, like Frost Like Ashes does to an extent: if the parody or attack is not acknowledged as such it comes off as confused at best or blind, thoughtless hypocrisy at worst.

    There is potential in the adoption of the black metal aesthetic by Christian bands, in the atmospheric effectiveness of underproduced tremolo riffs, or the emotional expressiveness of anguished Varg-style screams. Bands could, and perhaps already do, use these elements in a way that do not connotate hostility or parody, and I think this is where greater hope for high quality Christian metal lies. Unblack metal is in many ways a dead end concept, there is either an increasingly tedious and ignored assault against black metal or moronic hypocritical reproduction. I want to listen to Christian music that moves me, and unblack metal thus far hasn't been in the same galaxy as Psalm 9 - never mind Ave Maria.
     
  6. Rabid Headbanger

    Rabid Headbanger New Metal Member

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    LMAO at the jewish stars. :lol:
     
  7. Tallerthanatree

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    Yes, Antestor is very good. The Forsaken is pretty polished, and could have been much better, but still worth getting. I want Return of the Black Death, which is considered their magnum opus, but its very hard to find nowadays.


    ^ This pretty much sums up how I feel on the whole Black vs. Unblack issue.

    Your loss I suppose.....
     
  8. AchrisK

    AchrisK Weakling

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    Regarding Lengsel - Solace

    Are you sure you were listening to something from the Solace album? They have a new album called The Kiss - The Hope which I have not heard, but from what I read, it's nothing like Solace.
     
  9. Death Aflame

    Death Aflame voice of dissent

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    What's more 'black metal' than subverting the norm, going against the grain or being the lone wolf in a sea followers? In this respect Christian BM seems far more 'tr00' than the myriad of satanic/pagan/occult acts in the genre simply because it inverts the inverted, attempts to deconstruct the norms and destroy the monopoly of meaning within a genre heralded for individualism. Ironically, this in itself seems to adhere quite well to much of the ideological goals of black metal. Whether the music itself is worthy is an entirely different matter, of course.
     
  10. SionsBrother

    SionsBrother KotOR

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    Actually, that makes sense
     
  11. knives

    knives Member

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    Wow. That was a brilliant post...
    Something for the unblack haters to think about :loco:
     
  12. skeptik

    skeptik Member

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    It's an interesting thesis, but I don't think that it stands entirely. There's still the fact that it's touting a doctrine diametrically opposed to the precepts of the genre, regardless of in what shade it comes (namely vitriolic hatred of heretics).
     
  13. Tallerthanatree

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    I like what I've heard from the new one, but its not even in the same league as Solace.
     
  14. knives

    knives Member

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    Yes, it certainly does differ completely in that way, in that most black metal is opposed to orthodox Christianity.
    However, I don't see why that should keep a band with Christian beliefs from playing music that relates to their beliefs...
     
  15. skeptik

    skeptik Member

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    How does Black Metal relate to Christian beliefs?
     
  16. knives

    knives Member

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    I apologize, I said that in a way that was confusing. What I meant was, since they are Christians, it makes sense that if they play black metal, they would project their Christian beliefs in their lyrics.
     
  17. skeptik

    skeptik Member

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    Well obviously, but that still doesn't explain how Black Metal is a better avenue of expressing their beliefs than any other genre, or if it's a good one at all, and how it would have to be manipulated in order to make it a suitable vehicle for expressing that type of ideology.
     
  18. knives

    knives Member

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    I don't personally think black metal is any better a way then playing thrash, or praise, or rap. I also don't think that it needs to be manipulated at all to express Christian ideology...I really don't think that there is anything inherently wrong with corpse paint, or many other black metal practices...In my opinion, the origin doesn't matter, it's what's being done that counts. An example of this would be how many Christian praise songs are actually derived from bar tunes.

    I have to get off the computer now, so I will check back on this discussion tomorrow.
     
  19. Death Aflame

    Death Aflame voice of dissent

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    Indeed but the problem I think lies within the unavoidably hypocritical values of the genre. Black Metal supposedly praises opposition and individualism while denouncing flock mentalities. This results in a group of bands/artists attempting to subvert the status quo of societies at the macro level by displaying their hatred for such institutions/ideologies as christianity (organized religion more generally), commoditization and what they view as cultural deprivation. Thus, bands in the genre end up (however inadvertently) spouting the same or similar ideas ad nauseam and hence, creating a flock in and of itself. However, when a band comes along that endeavors to subvert the values of the BM genre itself (the next logical step for such fatalist ideologies) they are treated with utter disdain. Christian BM is just one such movement.
     
  20. Manic Ferocity

    Manic Ferocity Active Member

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    Interesting point. It's something I should've considered when arguing with Dodens for three pages straight that black metal can have any lyrical theme.
     

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