Late night thoughts on black metal (Storify link)

I was honoured and slightly bewildered recently when, out of the blue, a couple of dudes approached me online asking me to participate in an upcoming symposium on black metal in Dublin, called “Colouring the Black”. Not just to attend, you understand, but to present a talk on the subject of black metal, based on the perceived strengths of this blog (which honestly I still struggle to see, a lot of the time).

I felt supremely unequipped to do this, to put it mildly. “I only started listening to this shit in 2009”, I felt like saying. “I’m the least kvlt person imaginable. I haven’t worn all black in literally years. What are you thinking?” Nevertheless, the organisers assured me they appreciated my posts here, and were looking for people to give the kind of insights I attempt to articulate. People who love the extremity of this music, but are willing to engage critically with the aspects of it they don’t like. The devotion to traditional genre signifiers that can act as an impediment to innovation. Elitist ideologies that spurn perceived outsiders and seek to exclude them from bands or audiences. The kind of low-key reactionary thought that gets more upset about people trying to make a safe space for people not traditionally represented in black metal, than the fact that far-right and white supremacist groups and fans have had that safe space more or less since the beginning.

After weeks of consideration, I eventually decided against giving a talk there. Even if the organisers think I have something to say about black metal that’s worth feeling, I still feel like a neophyte, a moderately-informed outsider at best. Surely, I thought, someone far more knowledgeable and articulate and insightful about this than me will make the points I want to make, better than I could have hoped to, and then I’ll have to go on after them and look like an absolute shitheap in comparison.

There are still things I think and feel about the music, though, that I feel might be worth sharing. A few nights ago I hammered out some thoughts on the subject via Twitter, and to my surprise the organisers of Colouring the Black asked if they might include these in a collection of writings associated with the event. To make things more convenient I’ve Storified the tweets in question, and have put a link to them in this post. Hopefully, they engender discussion and reflection, and form a small contribution to the symposium itself.

Read “Late night thoughts on black metal” here.

Colouring the Black: A Black Metal Theory Symposium will be held on Friday the 20th March at GalleryX in Dublin. Facebook page for the event is here.


One response to “Late night thoughts on black metal (Storify link)

  1. Only a small fraction of black metal bands have been FAR right{far right is neoconservative, and not many black metal or fans bands are neoconservatives}, there are a smattering of bands and fans that have had fascist inclinations, but not that many. Most are not socialists or social democrats either. Most run the gammut between anarchistic{often misanthropic ones, but not neaccserily ‘bigots”- in a few cases they are or have been ‘bigots”}}, libertarian{left and right libertarianism; or pro- and anti capitalists}, liberal, center right,etc. Do not mistake a common misanthropic nature in much of black metal as neccaserily fascist or bigoted or racist or sexist or homophobic{Ghaal from ‘Gorgoroth/etc” is gay and most of the black metal “community” still respect him; not all do of course},etc. Most bands/members and fans in the black metal scene tend to have a libertarian endge[whether so-called right wing or so-called left wing “libertarianism”}. Some write lyrics for shock value that seem worse{though usually not overtly racist/sexist/etc]….just really misanthropic.
    But theer are various types and degres of ‘misanthropy”- and while it is a very common tendency in the black metal world to be misanthropic…not all bands/members and fans are equally misnathropic and may be of different kinds of misantrhopy{FYI: there is such a thing even as humanitarian/empathic misanthropy}…and different bands/members of bands and fans are of different types and degrees of misanthropy and nihilism{some are not nihilists, just misanthropes and some the other way around}. But not even ALL of them are misantrhopes[at least not seriously, just lyrically/image wise…t shock or to get a catharsis}.

    I’m a big black metal fan and I have “libertarian socialist”{ie: traditional libertarianism} and anarchio-indivdualist and contrarian indivdualist tendencies. I think beyond/above the false left versus right or right versus left binary though.

    So, you’re right, you are a neophyte{nothing wrong with that in itself} as is exampled by your strawman/generalization about black metal beeing a den of sociopathic, far right wing fascist racists/sexists/homophobes/etc types.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s