Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Spider's web II

A few posts back, I wrote that Black Metal is a culture, a spider's web of significance where ideological and aesthetic strands are closely interwoven and mutually dependent on each other.

Nonetheless, vast differences in ideological perspective are apparent within the Black Metal genre, often related to the local culture of the place of origin of the band in question. Thus, Eastern European bands (Drudkh, Hate Forest) often have a strongly nationalistic orientation, an orientation which for example is not so apparent in Californian Black Metal bands (Weakling, Leviathan, Xasthur) and "orthodox evil" French Black Metal bands (Blut aus Nord, Deathspell Omega, Haemoth). The ideology of some more artistically inclined Black Metal artists is more likely to be extremely liberal (tending towards anarchism) than highly intolerant.

The ideological orientation of Black Metal bands is interwoven with their aesthetic orientation: if a Black Metal album features a lot of folk, the chances are that the ideological orientation of the band is nationalistic, intolerant and paganistic. Folk music in Black Metal signifies the Volk, the national heritage (a completely different meaning than Folk music has in Free Folk, or for Bob Dylan for example). Misanthropy, which is an important theme in Californian Black Metal, is tied to a very specific Californian Black Metal sound: Black Metal with strange song structures, bizarre parts, and an accent on mood and ambience - as if hatred of Man goes hand in hand with the destabilization of 'normal' song structure.

Without doubt, the ideological and aethetic differences are causally linked to the different uses of Black Metal in these specific local cultures.

I can of course only guess what uses Black Metal has in Lebanese society (check this interview with Ayat, or the information "Dark Ritualistic/Barbaric Black Metal" band Kafan on FMP), but one can be sure that they are very different from the uses of the genre in the Ukraine or San Fransisco - if only because the political and religious situation is vastly different. Even the name of Kafan points towards the importance of the local context of the band in question: "Kafan" is the shroud of the dead Muslim. And also Ayat's statements that "Every prejudice westerners might have regarding Arabs is correct" and the stress on the irreligious nature of the music provide insight into this Black Metal scene's relationship to local society and culture.

And what to think of Iranian Black Metal? Wikipedia suggests that these bands are rather nationalistic, but I can only imagine what it must be like to make music of Satanic origin in a fundamentalist country. And Iranian Black Metal cannot derive meaning only from it's relation to local culture, but must also derive meaning from the relation of that local culture to the wider world, and specifically to the West - origin of Black Metal, focus of hatred for Shi'ite Fundamentalists.

"However, Black Metal culture is not woven as neatly as spider's webs usually are... Perhaps they're more like the webs of spiders on drugs: chaotic, tangled ... it is an eccentric, centrifugal genre after all".

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