Black Metal: Beyond The Darkness
Black Metal: Beyond The Darkness is a knowledgeable, serious and earnest book of interviews and essays on the form. Musicians/bands, zine writers and artists are covered and a general attempt at examining the philosophies of black metal, like how it has evolved in America for instance (environmental BM?), or how National Socialist ideas evolved. The first essay in the book by Nathan T. Birk is probably my favorite. Birk pulls up his sleeves and covers regional scenes often overlooked at the expense of the Norwegian black circle; it’s really a pleasure to read. Birk covers Greece, Romania, Poland, Italy, Czech Republic and the French Les Legions Noire (not enough on LLN to satisfy my interest though!). Throughout the book a few writers retread the original Norwegian scene but in every case it is only in order to place their thoughts in a context, rarely is there too much Varg killing Euronymous and all that. There are good, thoughtful essays by Brandon Stousy, Neil Jameson, Hunter Hunt Hendrix, Diarmuid Hester and others as well as interviews with people like Jon ‘Metalion’ Kristiansen and Jon ‘Thorns’ Jamshid. Hunter Hunt Hendrix’s essay stands out and after reading it I decided to go back to Liturgy and have another listen, I was still somewhat underwhelmed by the music but I found myself a little more intrigued. The essay is unabashedly portentous and confident and very stylish. I particularly enjoyed the sentence “Hyperborean Black Metal represents the mountaineer’s arrival at the peak and a supposed leap off it, directly into the Haptic Void. A total, maximal intensity. A complete flood of sound. An absolute plentitude.” He goes on “But there he learns that totality is indistinguishable from nothingness” I guess that push into total, white noise and a subsequent underwhelming totality/nothingness is a familiar experience for most listeners of extreme metal. HHH’s essay is sort of a treatise. He sees Liturgy as part of, or central to the evolution of the form from Hyperborean black metal with its Varg/Euronymous creation myth into Transcendental Black Metal. Unfortunately for me Liturgy is more concept than art equilibrium. The music is nothing like the slicing black/white brilliance of Burzum, Darkthrone or Mayhem. Beyond The Darkness continues with short bios/interviews with artists, including logo artist Christophe Szpajdel, graphic artists like Trine Paulsen and Kim Solve of Trine + Kim and then has a bit on fine artist Banks Violette who created a BM project in collaboration with of Snorre Ruch of Thorns. There is a neat little section of interviews with record stores and distros, even an interview with a buyer from HMV. The layout is nice, paperback but coffee-table book size with some very sharp color photos. Ultimately it’s a great collection, a credible, real book on black metal and where it is today. I say buy!