Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Kavalactonic Kutulu

Tiki heads with burning neon eyes, psychedelic patterns on enormous screens which thrash and writhe when no one is looking, shiny lacquered surf boards and a bar lined with bamboo, ceiling lights cloaked in patches of sky. Tentacled professors, communist wizards, addicts and ex-addicts with shaking hands, artists and thinkers deep in samadhi - they drink their kava and make faces as they sublimate into whisps of higher consciousness, fragments of lazy force floating up to Somewhere Else. All of it has the quality of a transcendent absurdity. An ancient tiki sitting next to me turns and whispers reassurance to my dully buzzing mind: "You are witness to a fractal image with contradiction at every level. This place, and you along with it, is a bubbling cauldron of fuzzed-up half-thoughts. Let's see what we can come up with..."

So sit back and enjoy; a krush will do you wonders. It always does.

Like a health-goth version of a William Gibson novel, the architecture of impossibility on display at Krave is clearly meant to mirror the inner Sprawl of the oozing ochre mind, drowning in euphoria and contented emptiness. Equal parts Lovecraft and Ramana Maharshi, Krave demands of us, "Who is the eye that watches the I? And are you too not just such an eye as well? On the end of a segmented stalk, perhaps?" As the outside world dissolves, everything becomes a mirror of the mind. But your mind? No, for there is something inhuman in Krave, from the endlessly repetitive house music with the bass turned way up to the 8-hour looping Youtube vidoes of deserted beaches playing silently at the end of the bar.

Krave exists only as contradiction, as impossibility, as absurdity; this is no doubt its greatest strength. No, Krave cannot exist. Not to the feeble human mind. This is a fact, but what is its meaning?

There is a sense in which Krave is out of time, withdrawing from the sordid outside world into a self-illumined autonomy as pure as it is senseless. Yes, here we have the sense of senselessness itself, an overwhelming and irrefutable intuition of the unintuitable. At Krave, impossibility itself is subtracted and purified from the lesser contradictions of the empirical world. A singularity is always inhuman, its truth akin to an alien parasite. Yes, let us raise our coconut shells to Azathoth, for his domain is truth and we are in Him as He is in us.

The Deep One sitting next to me shakily uncoils his languid chins, spits on his swollen lips, and pukes up a smile: "What is the meaning of this? Are we going up or ever down in this collective abstraction?"

You do know this is a collective enterprise, don't you? How could it be otherwise? You wouldn't grill us with your questions unless you'd done some questioning of your own beforehand, would you? What? Are you being detained? Well not by me at any rate...

"We have," I say, pointing at nowehere in particular, "several aesthetic senses here, where usually there is just one. Really, these are nothing but abstract images, an image without a concrete visual component. When you walk through that door, you are confronted with numerous abstract images, each of which contradicts the others. Taken together - and this higher level is quite a rare thing - this is the cosmic contradiction of Krave."

It is like seeing a face which you later cannot recall, but still you know what it looked like. Yet concrete faces are each a face, but Krave is only Krave. An abstract image is an aura, speculative imagination as opposed to speculative reason. It is the Cartesian intellect apprehending pictorial essence. And what if these essences were not externally opposed to one another, but were contradictory in their innermost determination, their mucoid unmanifestation withdrawing from sense at all levels, in all senses?

Pristine Pacific islands, cyberpunk technofuturism, psychedelic New Age naturalism.
A shaman's hut, a nightclub in the year 3000, a tunnel through outer space and into the point at the center of the universe.
Contradictory abstract images are sublated into a singularity, what can only be called the Krave Aesthetic.

And there is nothing like it.

It is precisely when an abstract image is the sheath or essence of lower-order abstract images, each moment contradicting the others, that we have an aesthetic singularity.

And thank Yog-Sothoth for that.
Kava fhtagn!

Thursday, October 8, 2015


Here is a paper I wrote for a cultural studies seminar I took last semester. Good stuff, but a bit meandering. This was basically how I came to think the connection between music and Badiou. It is long, but I think manages to capture something of war metal and therefore the logic of underground metal genres in general.

Fidelity & Negation in the War Metal Microgenre
I. Introduction
In this paper, I aim to study war metal, a particularly extreme style of extreme metal. Because war metal is such a tiny style, justifiably called a microgenre and having only several dozen notable bands (even less if one is including only currently-active bands), its study may tell us something about extreme metal styles in general. War metal can reasonably be thought of as a style taking to the extreme many of extreme metal's tendencies, especially as they relate to musical style and identity, fidelity and “true metal”, negation and transgression. In other words, through the study of war metal, we can see in miniature what are usually tectonic movements hard to pin down because of the enormous size and variation of the contemporary extreme metal scene. As above, so below. In war metal, these movements are caricatures, out in the open as it were, even insisted upon in extraordinary and explicit ways. War metal is what happens when metal sutures fidelity to negativity and to negativity alone, though as we shall see there are actually three types of negativity active in war metal, namely phenomenal, genre-historical, and discursive.
I will proceed in several parts: in section II, I will provide an introduction to war metal and show how it can reasonably be taken as a distinct microgenre and object of study; in section III, I will provide a theory of war metal as a movement, using the concepts of event, fidelity, subject, and saturation found in the work of Alain Badiou, and proposing that war metal can only be understood as a fidelity conflicting with that of second-wave black metal; in section IV, I will complicate this account by analyzing the passion for the negative and for negation found in war metal, bringing out themes of self-restriction, artistic conservatism (apparent to anyone familiar with war metal), and “minor literature” as theorized by Deleuze and Guattari; finally, in the conclusion I will consider several exceptions to the picture presented in the rest of the paper, and ground these exceptions in the concepts of fidelity and event. I will show how the war metal band Conqueror and its continuation Revenge managed to overcome war metal's stagnation in a way that did not disavow the purity and negation of the genre, and in this manner gesture towards a war metal of the future.

II. War Metal: A Coherent Style?
War metal is a niche subgenre or microgenre of black/death metal. There are very few proper war metal bands, and many extreme metalheads on the internet admit to being unsure to what sort of music the name refers, whether it denotes lyrical themes focused on war (which would include power metal bands like Sabaton and death metal bands like Bolt Thrower), only those war-themed bands that are extreme (excluding those like Sabaton), or a more particular genre designation. Take the following example for, an online forum for the discussion of metal music and related genres:

inhumanist:  I think that [“war metal”] usually refers to lyrical themes rather than to sound. “Raw Black Metal” should be better.
AcidWorm:  war metal doesn't refer to lyrical themes if that is what you are referring to. Bolt Thrower, Jungle Rot, Hail of Bullet for example are all just straight up death metal.
War metal is used when referring to the style that Bestial Warlust and Blasphemy helped pioneer. The sound that all these bands have in common has been described numerous times and bestial black metal is another term often used to refer to them, though it is not always synonymous with war metal.1

Under these circumstances, even the existence of such a distinct thing as “war metal” might be questioned.2
However, for the purposes of this paper I will use “war metal” to mean the distinctly primitive and chaotic style of black/death metal more or less deriving from Blasphemy's first demo Blood Upon the Altar (1989) and then followed up on the now-classic debut LP Fallen Angel of Doom... (1990). War metal conceived in this way is a somewhat clearly-defined style of music and aesthetic (the relations between which will be explored below), and the term marks a real historically- and developmentally-based distinction from most extreme metal and the majority of black metal in particular. Some of the precursors of war metal were Sarcófago, Bathory, and Sodom. After Blasphemy (who also released a second LP in 1993), other early war metal releases include Beherit's The Oath of Black Blood (1991), Archgoat's first few demos (before their split-up in 1993), and Bestial Warlust's Vengeance War 'Till Death (1994) and Blood and Valour (1995). Then a turning-point for the style occurred in 1999 with Conqueror's seminal War Cult Supremacy, which was even more extreme than what had come before, the guitars playing textures more than notes, the barbaric drumming of James Read giving the music an unprecedented focus on percussion and a more grindcore feel. After Conqueror split up, Read formed Revenge in 2000, which has since released four LPs and taken the Conqueror sound and ideology (strange, misanthropic, and predicated on a sort of social-darwinism and struggle between the opposite ideals of “Superion” and “Inferion”) to new extremes.3 In the 2000s, war metal expanded with many new bands: Archgoat (reformed in 2004), Black Witchery, Proclamation, Diocletian, Morbosidad, Deiphago, Wrathprayer, Pseudogod, Truppensturm, GoatPenis, and others.
War metal is distinct from black metal, death metal, and most black/death metal, even though it is often described as the latter. It is too bass-heavy, primitive, chaotic and unmelodic to be black metal of the second-wave variety; too unskilled, ideologically-driven, and with too little thrash influence to be death metal; and finally, too cacophonous and muddled to be typical black/death (compare Blasphemy to Behemoth, for example). In any case, I take it as established that war metal is a distinct sub- or microgenre as far as the above lineage is concerned.
This difference is insisted upon and enforced with fundamentalist intensity by war metal fans, musicians, and record labels. Take, for instance, the blurb on the Debemur Morti bandcamp for Archgoat's The Apocalyptic Triumphator LP (2015), “Black metal changed, ARCHGOAT did not!”.4 Or again, from Revenge's Scum.Collapse.Eradication (2012) bandcamp page: “maintaining a very strict dedication to the original sound, aesthetic and structure that has been the foundation of the band since the very beginning”.5 These sorts of considerations often go hand in hand with the ubiquitous hatred of “posers”: When asked “Who do you hate?” a Blasphemy band member replied with “Posers who are just in it for the ride”.6 In any case, the idea that a significant part of black metal consists in fidelity to some past event is a prominent ground for analysis. “War metal” (or “bestial black metal”) might be thought by war metal fans to be a synonym for “true black metal”.
We would do well to take these subjective evaluations into account, to acknowledge the desire among practitioners and fans for war metal to be distinct. This is not only subjective, though its basis may turn out to lie there, since this attitude manifests in the music and aesthetic of the bands (which is consciously crafted with this end in mind), the business and marketing practices of the record labels, the particular make-up of the fans, the putting-together of groups of bands into shows and tours (often based on subgenre, even microgenre), and of course the particular ideological beliefs and expressions (whether serious or not) that accompany all of the above. It is not just a local scene, since it is a style consciously divorced, as we shall see, from the normal developments of extreme metal and all other of its developed variations. War metal, then, polices its own borders and ensures its inability to be absorbed into the genre norms and determinations of simple black or death metal, blackened death metal, and even black/death metal. War metal is none of these, but is rather an organism with its own difference, and hence its individuality, at its heart.
War metal's characteristics can be broadly described as follows: chaotic drums and down-tuned guitars, reminiscent of black and death metal and in some instances even grindcore; low vocalizations akin to those found in death metal, or barking shrieks; aesthetics of extreme anti-christianity, blasphemy, annihilation (usually through the medium of nuclear holocaust or the coming of the Antichrist, or preferably both at once), universal death and destruction, or even in the case of Conqueror and Revenge, hate-fueled social darwinism; an obsession with “true” black metal defined as an event in the past, leading to relative musical conservatism and extreme restriction of acceptable forms of expression; and anti-commercial sentiment and rejection of politics. Of course I cannot deal sufficiently with all of these characteristics and associations. However, they should be kept in mind as surface-level musical and ideological facts to which the following analyses must be tethered if they are to adequately address the style.

III. The Event of Black Metal: History, Fidelity, and Obscure Subjects
Black metal as we know it became recognized as a distinct musical style in its own right only in the early 1990s. The term “black metal” was probably first used by Venom on their 1982 album Black Metal. Venom are not a black metal band, but the satanic imagery and relatively extreme music they created (considered speed/thrash metal today) would come to be highly influential.7 So-called first wave black metal is sometimes said to include Venom, Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, German thrash (Sodom and Kreator in particular), Sarcófago, and above all Bathory.8 Bathory has the strange designation of being both the exemplary and the prototypical black metal band – all black metal bands must trace their lineage back to Bathory's first few albums. Bathory were already playing something other than simple thrash or death metal by the time of their debut album Bathory in 1984, which they followed up with the now-classics (and now considered true black metal) The Return... (1985), Under the Sign of the Black Mark (1987), and the album that spawned so-called viking metal, Blood Fire Death (1988). Black metal, however, only became recognized as such, becoming constituted as a distinct style and movement, an artistic event, with the advent of second wave black metal. The second wave is exemplified by Norwegian bands such as Mayhem, Darkthrone, Burzum, Immortal, Emperor, Gorgoroth, and Satyricon. This new movement effectively reclaimed first wave black metal, designating it as black metal, as a first wave, as a precursor to the second wave. Before then, Bathory was just considered a bad lo-fi death metal band, though now we can easily tell that it is not death but “black” metal. For example, Quorthon (mastermind of Bathory) refers to his music as “death metal” in the 1980s, even claiming that Bathory was supposed to be a pure death metal album.9 Ian Reyes, in his masterful paper “Blacker Than Death”, explores the issue of what he calls the “black turn” and the indiscernibility of early black and death metal; Fenriz (member of Darkthrone) says, “There wasn't a generic sound back then... we had to decide for ourselves what was worthy of the black metal stamp” (qtd. in Reyes 247). Or again: “Prior to the black turn, Hellhammer were mostly known as the worst heavy metal band to ever make a record” (Reyes 249). Importantly, Reyes argues, “To suppose that there is a history of black metal as a genre prior to the 1990s is already to share in the recollection created by the black turn. That is, the (pre)history of black metal was constituted retroactively” (Reyes 244). First wave black metal is that prehistory which, at the time, was simply lo-fi death metal.
I claim that first wave black metal in general and Bathory in particular constituted a Badiouian event. I will proceed in my explanation of this claim in a relatively non-technical and not wholly systematic manner, all the while attempting to stay close enough to the subject matter to avoid accusations of needless abstraction and to keep the analysis within the domain of a semi-empirical study. For black metal to be an event in the relevant sense, it had to be formally indistinguishable from a non-event when it occurred – hence Bathory as a bad death metal band. Bathory, however, turned out to be nothing of the sort, but instead reconfigured the possibilities of metal music forever, leaving a mark that would make black metal the metal subgenre (extreme or not) with the most releases per year in the years since 2010, when it finally overtook death metal.10 Black metal was something really different from what had come before (death and thrash metal), it was a way out of the perceived stagnation and focus on technicality and commercial production values associated with death metal at the time (Reyes 246). Black metal was a new opening of the possibility of extreme music without compromise, a serious attempt to negate many if not all of the values associated with western civilization and music production (more on this in the following section). Black metal, to say it again in a slightly different way, was a decisive exception to the state of extreme metal at the time. In any case, black metal's radical newness, self-understanding, and definition of itself in these terms of its own singularity were foregrounded not primarily in the first wave but by the time of the second wave, when not the event as such but fidelity became at issue.11
A word must now be said about artistic events, since they differ from the more commonly-referenced political events. Although in a Communist revolution genericity might appear more obvious, it might be wondered what exactly the generic subset produced in the event of black metal could be. First of all, An artistic event demonstrates that it is possible to conceive of what has hitherto been considered monstrous or formless as “formable,” as the material for a new formalization or putting into form” (Hallward 195-196). Black metal did just this with its sonic extremity, aided by its lo-fi production values, and its amateur musicianship. Second, black metal proceeded early on with a process of subtraction, removing superfluous inherited elements from rock music and even death metal (e.g. song structures, popular notions of “heaviness”, particular levels of musicianship and production values). Nearly everything that had come before was left behind in the wake of black metal's inaugural moments. The second wave carried out an exaggerated reaction to first wave black metal, for example the minimalism in Darkthrone's Transylvanian Hunger (1994) or Burzum's Filosofem (1996). This sort of minimalism is not the only possible subtractive process, though it is an obvious (maybe too obvious) one. All that is necessary is that art “exhibit the generic truth of the sensible as sensible”, in other words the presentation of presentation is its genericity (Alain Badiou qtd. in Hallward 197). Black metal is visceral, a presence, and unlike anything that came before. Black metal disavows ordered representation, opting for atmospheric and visceral elements rather than expressive or representational ones – for example, instead of switching to a minor chord to match lyrical sadness or to a major one to match happy lyrics, black metal opts for a massive slab of noise not reflective in itself of objects. This is of course not perfect, and indeed I will examine the “coincidence” of black metal's musical and ideological elements in the following section.
Black metal, since evental, existed at first only in the proclamation of black metal, only in the fidelity of subjects toward its truth, in what we might call in normal language a subjective orientation or affirmation. Indeed, one of black metal's distinctive marks is the almost absurd fidelity its fans and musicians have for it. This is to say that in the beginning there was no question of verification of the order of “Does Bathory (and the rest of the first wave) constitute the new within extreme metal, this thing called black metal?” In its origin, these questions could be dealt with only in the purely subjective register, by fidelity or by denial. Of course now we can look back and designate a more or less consistent entity called “black metal”, since it has developed beyond a mere opening of possibility. This development occurred after the first wave, when multiple bands took up the banner of black metal, naming it “black metal” and instituting a process Badiou calls “forcing”: “Forcing operates at the point where a truth, however incomplete it might be, authorizes anticipated knowledge, not about what is, but about what will have been if the truth comes to its completion” (Hallward 138). Forcing, to speak relatively non-technically, is a way to convert the necessarily unverifiable truth of an event into verifiable knowledge of the situation, or rather in this case a way to act as if black metal were successful at reconfiguring the metal world and thereby reconfigure the metal world. The move from indiscernible (bad death metal) to black metal is the product of this procedure of forcing, a technical aspect of fidelity.
The issue of the first wave, the event of black metal, is precisely the battleground separating second wave black metal from war metal. War metal and second wave black metal are alternative visions, alternative fidelities to the event of black metal. Second wave black metal is obviously fidelity to black metal, but in the case of war metal this might not be immediately obvious, since war metal is sometimes considered an amalgam of black and death metal, “raw black/death” or something like that. The fidelity, however, is very much for black metal alone and not for death metal or anything else. When asked “Overall, would you say Blasphemy is Black Metal, Black/Death or something else?” a band member replied “Only Black Metal”.12 Looked at in a slightly different way, war metal is an undifferentiated “combination” of black and death metal from before they developed into standalone and highly distinct subgenres (remember, Blasphemy's first album was in 1990, before the crisis of death metal that produced second wave black metal). From this standpoint even Bathory, the quintessential first wave black metal band, has death metal elements. To give an odd exception, the second wave band Darkthrone's second album A Blaze in the Northern Sky has a number of death metal elements in the guitars. While not generalized in the context of second wave black metal, which performed a sort of purification or removal of black metal's death metal elements, war metal at least did not do this. War metal, however, still attempts to be true to the ideals of black metal, and so does second wave black metal. From whence comes the difference? Why are there these two different lineages, these two relatively exclusive traditions which each claim the truth of black metal to be their own?
The two routes taken away from the event of black metal (war metal and the second wave) can be explicated with reference to two different modes of the subject as theorized by Badiou – the revolutionary and the obscure. The revolutionary subject has fidelity to the event, a commitment to the opening of possibilities produced by the event. In contrast, “The obscure subject “mortifies” every present (and thus divided, open-ended) subject in the name of a definitive Truth attributed to an originally sufficient Law... For such an obscure subject all that is clear is the past, a past that has since become clouded in the present” (Hallward 146). Or again from the same page: “In each case, the obscure figure takes the disastrous step of substantializing the truth, of confusing the true with the verifiable (with a doctrine or a revelation)”. In plain terms, we might say that the revolutionary subject follows the spirit of the law, whereas the obscure subject follows the letter. The name of black metal, and subsequently its particular characteristics set in stone by the founders, are the aspects upheld by war metal. Opposed to this, second wave black metal affirms, one would like to say, the creative spirit of black metal, its ability for growth and change, the possibilities of the future. This is of course the ideal, and in any case is far more true for black metal as a whole than war metal, though even second wave black metal produces a large number of obscure subjects. The difference, in a second and much better approximation, is that both subject positions are possible within second wave black metal, whereas the only available or allowable position within the war metal tradition is obscure. Hence the difference is not as rigidly essential as might be thought – the traditions today, as already-existing, condition the subject-positions possible within them. There are, in other words, multiple ways to be an obscure subject, but only one way to be a revolutionary one (for this single event of course), and this is because of the genericity of black metal, its essential openness (at least until it becomes saturated, in which case a new event is needed).
For the revolutionary subject the truth is open, meaning that the finite investigations carried out in its name are “attempt[s] to win over each element to the event” (Hallward 126). As opposed to this creative militant investigation, the obscure subject has already positively evaluated all the elements it is ever going to – there is nothing new that could be positively associated with the event, there is on the contrary no moment of development or progression. Evil-sounding melodies and tremolo picking, to take an example, are associated with black metal but not with war metal. War metal's list of positive associations, what “counts” as war metal, is small and not likely to grow thanks to obscure subjects and, as we shall see in the next section, negation. Whereas what counts as black metal is constantly renegotiated and enlarged to take account of developments, war metal's boundaries are quite immobile. For example, developments within black metal can be very different and progressive while their “cult” status (i.e. as “true” black metal) goes unchallenged. Deathspell Omega's Paracletus (2010) was a forward-thinking and even avant-garde black metal album which I think will probably change black metal forever. It is still black metal, and its credentials as to that are not often questioned. There is also symphonic black metal, something in my opinion anathema to the spirit of black metal, but still it is “black metal”. War metal is of course smaller, so stylistic subdivisions within it are hard to fathom, but the point is that it has no room for any such possible developments.
This obscure fidelity manifests in war metal, for example, in a number of insular, elitist tendencies and a puritanical obsession with the true (true metal, ideals, and absolute musical devotion). As Revenge composer and mastermind Read said in an interview: “The Canadian black metal skinhead cult has been around for many years hailing violence and antichrist elitist ideals. Too many are jumping on this trend these days but they are years too late”.13 On the online forum of Nuclear War Now! Productions, undoubtedly the most prominent war metal record label, expressions of “trueness” are common in relation to war metal. For example, when one user expressed surprise about the breakup of Spanish war metal band Proclamation, another answered: “Haha! Everyone knows that they would split up after "AMEN"”.14 AMEN, as it turns out, is the word formed using the first letter of their four albums in order: Advent of the Black Omen, Messiah of Darkness and Impurity, Execration of Cruel Bestiality, and Nether Tombs of Abaddon. As far as I know, the band only publicly declared this plan to disband at a live show or two (NWN Fest 2012?) or perhaps in an Italian-language interview for a fanzine (Vatra i sumpor according to one user in the thread) – there was disagreement even about this. Later in the same thread, another user criticizes: “if you really were a fan of the band, you'd have been at a show well before the hype started...”, referring to having the chance to see the band perform before their breakup. Even a tiny underground band like Proclamation is vigorously defended against false fans, impure listeners and those following trends. It is all the more bizarre that, of all styles of extreme metal, war metal is by far the least threatened (perhaps besides goregrind or porngrind) by any sort of mainstream exposure or trends. Another example: one poster sarcastically writes “war metal is so 2003”, to which another replies “People who follow trends aren't war metal”.15 And a note on ideological purity: when asked “What do you think of 'black metal' bands who say they're not satanists but are only Anti-christians or misanthropists and shit like that?” Blasphemy member Black Winds replied “That's just an excuse”.16 It would probably be safe to say this is a generalized tendency. Second wave black metal and its offshoots are of course similar in this regard, but the intensity is notably less.
In any case, this is the formal structure of the difference between war metal and black metal expressed in terms of Badiou's philosophy. But now we must explore the relation between obscure fidelity and negation, comparing war metal to the revolutionary subject of black metal in the process. As we will see, negation is precisely one of the most important elements associated with black metal, and attitudes towards negation are intimately bound up with the various subject-positions outlined in this section. War metal is obscure fidelity and absolutely negative, whereas second wave black metal is (sometimes) revolutionary fidelity and negative in a less absolute way, having a positive or at least non-negating moment.

IV. The Passion for Negation: Brutality, Hyper-differentiation, & Stagnation
In this section, I will first examine and reject Keith Kahn-Harris's account of extreme metal as having to do primarily with transgression and with scenes, replacing it with the concepts of negation and (micro/sub)genre. I will propose an analytical division of war metal's generally negative attitude into three negations: phenomenal, genre-historical, and discursive. I will then show how the three are articulated together using the concept of fidelity developed in the previous section.
Extreme metal can reasonably be thought of as extreme: the lyrics an imagery often feature gore, death, and satanism; the drums are often very fast double-bass or blast beats; the guitars are always highly distorted and are often either down-tuned and palm-muted or tremolo-picked; the vocals are death grunts, gutturals (as found in “brutal death metal”), sharp croaks (as in Immortal), or wailing shrieks (as in Burzum); the musicianship is often either insanely complex to the point of unlistenability (as in technical death metal) or stupidly primitive (as in the disparagingly-termed “bedroom black metal”), and likewise for production values. The (perhaps somewhat effected) hatred among extreme metal fans and musicians for posers, sell-outs, and the mainstream in general is another facet of this odd self-othering, this desire to remain solidly in the underground.17 There is also the further issue of second wave black metal as a response to a crisis of heaviness within metal music and as a response to death metal, something explored by the above-mentioned Ian Reyes. This is certainly an important part of the story, but not one which I will pursure any further here.
Keith Kahn-Harris proposes a set of concepts for the theorization of extreme metal, the most relevant in this case being transgression (rather than the vaguer, less rigorous notion of extremity) and scene (rather than subculture, genre, and neo-tribe) (29). In rejecting these concepts I do not mean to imply that they are bad or totally useless concepts, but that they apply perhaps only in rather broad strokes to extreme metal as a whole and not so much, or so usefully, to war metal. Instead I will substitute negation (or rather multiple negations) for transgression and (micro)genre for scene. Interestingly, my rejection of “scene” is paralleled by war metal's (and various other extreme forms of underground black metals') rejection of those aspects of metal sometimes associated with the “scene” as trendy, commercial, and social rather than musical at its core.18 “Scene” just does not seem a useful concept for such a tiny slice of the extreme metal world as war metal. There is not really a physical location of war metal, and its practitioners work towards a definition of war metal based on nothing but, as noted above, fidelity to what they see as true black metal. Of course, war metal is “about” more than the music, but the concept of scene is just too vague and might even become confusing when used in this context.
Kahn-Harris says that transgression “implies a sense of testing and crossing boundaries and limits” (29). There are, Kahn-Harris says, three sorts of transgression in the extreme metal scene: sonic, discursive, and bodily. All of these, however, permeate throughout the musical and non-musical aspects of extreme metal. Kahn-Harris argues that transgression in the scene (of extreme metal as a whole) is predicated on ambivalence and on an obsession for control, an appropriating of shocking imagery and musical elements the better to assert control over them (34). On this view, transgression is not an all-out crossing of all limits (if that is even possible), but a drive to exist in a liminal space, crossing the boundaries while maintaining control of that crossing and its consequences. Here, though, Kahn-Harris's analysis devolves into highly questionable and essentialist associative reasoning: extreme metal has brutally excluded all elements of Black music, from improvisation to syncopated funk rhythms, from blues to jazz; the formless abject, which is everything from feedback to excessive guitar solos, is said to be “associated with the feminized body” and must be flirted with but in the end controlled; extreme metal has almost totally removed freedom from music and replaced it with control, thereby being “associated with a masculinity that is based on a fear of feminine weakness”; finally, that extreme metal's obsessiveness produces “thousands of identical-sounding recordings to this day” (34). In extracting these points and quotations, I have not much compressed Kahn-Harris's line of thought, bereft as it is of rigorous argumentation.
In any case, this transgression, the simultaneous fear and attraction toward the abject as that produced by the act of transgression, seems to miss a great deal of what is important in extreme metal. That sort of transgression may indeed seem apparent to an outsider, when viewed from the standpoint of mainstream music and culture. But extreme metal has an internal life that is not captured in that way. For example, the first time I heard Amon Amarth I thought they were the most extreme thing ever, yet today I consider them one of the most digestible melodic death metal bands in existence. Even something discursively repulsive like Epicardiectomy's “Vaginal Colony Full of Vermin” is, all things considered, slow and catchy with plenty of rhythmic influence from hip hop. Transgression is only part of the story here, and even though there is an extreme metal discourse exemplified by claims of being “the most brutal ever” and similar superlative statements, in reality most bands can't even be reasonably thought of as trying to produce such music. Most bands sit somewhere in the middle, content to push only the boundaries of the mainstream, perhaps, but I don't think that is really their focus either. Of course some limits are transgressed as others are simultaneously imposed, since “transgression both dissolves and affirms being” (Kahn-Harris 29). But all the same, what limits are being transgressed in something like Amon Amarth, a band whose records Kahn-Harris might describe as a set of those identical-sounding recordings? How does this alleged musical conservatism relate to transgression? It is hard to see, and all Kahn-Harris provides us is a chain of associative reasoning invoking obsession, misogyny, and some form of covert racism.
Instead of transgression, I propose, at least for the study of war metal, the concept of negation, or rather multiple negations where useful. Negation captures both the transgressive or “extreme” element of the music and opens a way for the musical conservatism or stagnation identifiable in the genre, the latter of which transgression does not seem to do, at least without great difficulty. The merits of negation will be shown in what follows.
Black metal is often considered a music of extreme negativity. A comparison could be made between death metal's themes of gore and violence on the one hand, and black metal's themes of misanthropy, extreme satanism, and radical individualism. Speaking broadly, where death metal invokes a particular scene of (bodily) decomposition, black metal invokes a static eternity of hatred and death. As argued by Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, frontman of the much-maligned (within the black metal scene) Liturgy, black metal as usually conceived (which he terms “Hyperborean black metal”) has the characteristics of “nihilism, atrophy, blast beat, lunar, depravity, the infinite, purity” (Hunt-Hendrix 68). To take an odd, bizarrely Hegelian example, see the black metal band Negator's track “Renegation”. While lyrics are almost totally unimportant in extreme metal, in this case they may be at least enlightening as to the ideology of black metal as a whole: the track opens with “I deny...” which is repeated multiple times throughout the song, which later declares “Gott ist die Antwort auf alle Fragen / Und Gott ist tot” (“God is the answer to all questions / And God is dead”).19
However, there is a tension within black metal between this sort of nihilism and a pseudo-Nietzschean philosophy of individual overcoming. Two bands exemplifying this are Judas Iscariot and Dodsferd, the former's Heaven in Flames (1999) being both utterly nihilistic but also oddly magnificent and exultantly, coldly epic, and the latter's Death Set the Beginning of My Journey (2008) containing such classics as “I Can Easily Destroy All The Things I Have Created!” and expressing similarly ambiguous elements. Of course Hunt-Hendrix's band Liturgy are often imagined at the forefront of this positive moment in black metal, but his term “transcendental black metal” does not describe the nihilistic side of these other bands. Hunt-Hendrix, rather, would remove the tension between the negative and the affirmative in favor of the affirmative.
Distinct from black metal as a whole, war metal, in removing all elements of individualism, and with them all elements of progress, overcoming, or positivity, is left with the most extreme forms of satanism, blasphemy, genocide, and of course war. War metal, in other words, takes the negativity inherent in (Hyperborean) black metal and pushes it as far as it can go. War metal negates everything in society's views of music and culture, evidenced in part by the following list: extreme lyrical themes, walls of noise with undifferentiated riffs and basically no melody, low death growls, and extremely fast tempos and almost constant use of blast beats. War metal is perhaps at the most extreme negative end of the musical spectrum. There are at least three sorts of negation utilized in war metal: musical extremity (phenomenal level), self-othering and self-differentiation (genre-historical level), and shocking negative themes and imagery (discursive level). I will deal with each of these in turn.
In war metal there is indeed almost no room for typical standards of musical composition and technical proficiency, and there is almost always a static sameness of tempo and sound. The extreme speed is actually sometimes experienced as a stasis whereas in other forms of extreme metal it is not – compare Wehrmacht's “Jabberjaw”, an extremely fast crossover/thrash song, with Conqueror's “Hammer of Antichrist”, a classic war metal track. In the former, the speed gives a feeling of dynamic aggression, whereas in Conqueror it is more disorienting, constant, and static. A totalized sort of speed, blending into a paradoxical slowness, so aggressive it becomes unaggressive. This is negation and death, an eternity of atrophy and misanthropy, the ultimate anithesis of Hunt-Hendrix's affirmative black metal. It is so negative it undermines in a strange way its own ability for aggression and dynamism, growth, and progression. It is purposefully primitive and overwhelming to listen to.
In addition to its phenomenal extremity, war metal must be positioned within Western music, on the genre-historical level, as one giant “no”. War metal is quite different from noise music or other such negations, however. It has a barbarity unavailable to noise music, even harsh noise, a bludgeoning bestial quality that exists within extreme metal in order to better and more continuously negate. If we conceive of experimental and noise music as a sort of indeterminate intellectual negation, war metal would be a determinate and highly repetitive visceral negation. With each violent pounding of the snare, with each filthy power chord, war metal says “no” again20. War metal is absolute in that it says “no” to everything (except itself), but it is determinate in that it remains within the confines of extreme metal and does not transcend those boundaries. War metal negates all other forms of music, including what it could become, including genres that do not yet exist, influences that have not been incorporated. We see now that this is another angle on the previous section's exposition of war metal as obscured fidelity to the name of black metal and not the possibilities opened by the event. This is one particularly intense manifestation of extreme metal's tendency for ultra-differentiation of genres, subgenres, and even microgenres, and the strict policing of those borders. The difference is, perhaps, that in other extreme metal styles there is an opening for development, in other words that other styles do not have absolute negation (including of their own musical future) at their core.
One further negation needs to be better explored before I conclude with the way the three are articulated together: brutal and negative imagery, war metal's negation on the discursive level. There would seem to be basically two possible themes for war metal: blasphemy and satanism (see Blasphemy, Black Witchery, Proclamation, etc.) and war and (nuclear) genocide (see Conqueror, Revenge, GoatPenis, etc.). There is not a single band I know of that plays the style without one or both of these themes. The closest would probably be Blasphemophagher, whose lyrical themes are “Quantum mechanics, Destruction, Death, Chaos”.21 Their music, however, is more along the lines of black/death metal with something of the cavernous sound deriving from Incantation and, more recently, Portal. Aside from this semi-anomalous band, there is a remarkable unity of imagery and themes. As one Encyclopedia Metallum user put it, when asked to name some war metal bands as a recommendation for another user: “My best advice is to type 'Goat' into the band name search bar. As ridiculous as that sounds, it's probably the best bet”.22 Indeed, even aside from band names, a huge number of war metal album covers are representations of goat-headed demons drawn by the artist Chris Moyen.23 The list of his collaborations with metal bands reads like a who's who of bestial black metal, as well as other raw forms of black/death metal.
Why does war metal have such a restricted field of accepted discursive expressions? Even when compared to black metal or black/death metal, war metal appears extraordinarily conservative in this regard. Partly this may be due to the small sample size – war metal is a microgenre after all, and true war metal bands can probably be counted on fingers and toes. But even so, there may be something else going on. As Truppensturm mastermind Vangard said in an interview: “Ich muss auch ganz ehrlich sagen: Ich nehme meine Texte nicht so ernst. Ich habe früher viele meiner Texte auf dem Klo geschrieben. Die sollen böse klingen und zur Musik passen und das reicht mir dann. Ich suchte nur nach einem brutalen Thema und fand den Krieg.”24 (I translate this roughly as: “I must also honestly say: I don't take my lyrics very seriously. I wrote many of the lyrics on the toilet. They should sound evil and fit the music and that's enough. I searched for a brutal theme and found war”.) Or again from the same interview: “Der Krieg ist die größte Grausamkeit der Menschheit. Es ist eine organisierte Form von Hass, die ausgelebt wird. Da gibt es nichts, was brutaler wäre”. Roughly translated again: “War is the greatest barbarism of humanity. It is an organized form of hate that is lived out. There is nothing more brutal”. This brutality is of course why the theme was chosen. There is a sense, in other words, that the theme must fit the music (“zur Musik passen”). In what that fitting consists seems to be obvious to fans and musicians. This is true primarily in war metal, but even in the wider genre of black metal there are themes that “fit” and those that don't – take Deafheaven for example, whose album Sunbather (2013) had a pink and orange cover with white artsy lettering. Tracks include “Dream House”, “Please Remember”, and “The Pecan Tree”. Though the album received major acclaim in the mainstream music press (Pitchfork has it at “universal acclaim”, it was #130 on the Billboard Top 200, etc.), many metal fans found the album inappropriate, trendy, and overall not black metal.25
However, there are other black metal albums which reach beyond the typical themes of winter, satanism, blasphemy, paganism, etc. Take Panopticon's Kentucky (2012), whose theme was coal miners' strikes and political activism and included prominent bluegrass elements – it never received the intense treatment given by black metal fans to Deafheaven. Still, Panopticon were criticized for their thematic departure from time to time. As one reviewer put it:

Nothing could be farther from Satan and his followers!

I usually enjoy stylistic innovations that challenge a sometimes stifling traditional black metal orthodoxy, but come on! Panopticon belongs to this typically American movement that seeks to redefine black metal, both musically and lyrically, crossing it with anything, denaturing it, and Kentucky is the result of such an experiment. However, most interesting passages of the album are those directly inspired by Bluegrass, while more typically metal sections are rather boring. It’s the mix that sound false and has nothing to do with black metal, despite the band’s claims. Euronymous must be turning in his cave.26

This is, however, not the general sentiment. There are of course musical reasons for this difference – Deafheaven is sometimes included in the “blackgaze” genre, an amalgam of black metal and shoegaze, or sometimes even associated with emo and skramz (first wave screamo).27 In any case, it is safe to say that there are certain negotiations that occur as to proper thematic material for black metal bands, and that at least part of the varying valutions of Deafheaven and Panopticon turn on issues of proper themes.
War metal, as noted, is even more restrictive than black metal. It is unique in the extraordinary narrowness of its possible themes. What “fits” with the music is for war metal a tiny set of themes – war and blasphemy/satanism. No personal issues can enter the music – not even depression, a common theme in black metal. This is a consequence of war metal's rejection of the positive moment of individualism, as noted above. The one apparent exception to this – since there are always exceptions, even if only apparent – is J. Read's work in Conqueror and Revenge, admittedly two of the most important war metal bands of all. Conqueror and especially Revenge have heavy themes of social darwinism, genocide, and domination. Tracks like “Filth Solution (Intolerance)”, “Sterilization (Procreation Denied)”, and “Survival (The Absolute Truth)” and albums such as Scum.Collapse.Eradication (2013), Victory.Intolerance.Mastery (2004), and Triumph.Genocide.Antichrist (2003) certainly play up the idea. These ideas are summed up in some obscure comments from interviews as the doctrine of Superion and Inferion.28 Unfortunately, Revenge do not publish their lyrics so it is harder to get any more clear than this, that the distinction is something of a simple “Us and Them” as one song title would have it, a goat versus sheep, master versus slave mentality. Still, the focus seems to be on killing or dominating “them”, and not on any sort of personal progression. I would say, if anything, the apparent individualism is an ideological shock tactic – in other words, something very “brutal” that fits with the music, since the individualism on display is meant to be morally repugnant. It is furthermore a decidedly non-personal view of humanity, invoking apocalyptic genocidal visions rather than anything that could be dubbed “personal issues” or any sort of typical individualism as is present in non-bestial black metal.
A short list of war metal bands and albums gives one basically the whole discursive picture: Whore of Bethlehem and The Apocalyptic Triumphator by Archgoat, War Cult Supremacy by Conqueror, The Oath of Black Blood by Beherit, Inferno of Sacred Destruction by Black Witchery, Satan Alpha Omega by Deiphago, War of All Against All by Diocletian, Advent of the Black Omen and Messiah of Darkness and Impurity by Proclamation, Inhumanization and Biochemterrorism by GoatPenis, and Salute to the Iron Emperors by Truppensturm. A cursory glance at typical death or black metal will show that the discourses there are allowed to be much more diverse: everything from Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk by Emperor to Individual Thought Patterns by Death, Effigy of the Forgotten by Suffocation to A Blaze in the Northern Sky by Darkthrone, to name only a few of the most well-known and influential albums.
Perhaps, in light of all this, war metal can be understood as a kind of minor literature as theorized by Deleuze and Guattari, albeit a self-imposed one. They write: “The three characteristics of minor literature are the deterritorialization of language, the connection of the individual to a political immediacy, and the collective assemblage of enunciation” (Deleuze & Guattari 18). The noise of war metal, its barely-enunciated vocal lines, its almost totally indistinguishable guitar lines, can in this manner be conceived as deterritorializations. The death of the individual in war metal corresponds to this connection to a larger “political immediacy”, except that here the immediacy, the politics, is one of totalized death. Finally, the musical conservatism and strict uniformity of war metal create the microgenre of war metal as the focus – and this could be connected to war metal's obscure fidelity to black metal. War metal is in this sense a self-othering, self-restricting minor literature, exulting in its minority, its underground status, its self-restriction and self-policing: “Black metal changed... ARCHGOAT did not!”29
But most telling is Deleuze and Guattari's characterization that, in minor literature, “Language stops being representative in order to now move toward its extremities or its limits” (Deleuze & Guattari 23). War metal is certainly a move towards the extremities of the musical language. In war metal, sound is not originally signifying but becomes visceral and material, drawing attention to these qualities in a quite extreme and overt way. But yet all the same, this raw material sound is perceived even by musicians as requiring a certain discursive expression. This going-together of the sound of war metal with its themes of war and satanism, this extraordinary artistic restriction, is due to a double movement: first, obscure fidelity to black metal resulting in the musical conservatism of war metal, its creation as only this and nothing else; second, the ideology of negation, wherein war metal figures as the ultimate extremity, the ultimate brutality and rejection of even the black metal scene as mainstream and full of posers. As Revenge's J. Read said in an interview: “I just do it [play music] as brutal as possible”, going on to disparage the “triggered” drum sound of modern death metal bands (which includes bands in the “brutal death metal” subgenre) as “not heavy or harsh sounding in any way”.30 War metal bands, in other words, believe they are playing the most brutal and negative music there is, connecting this brutality directly to discursive brutality (themes of war and genocide, nuclear holocaust and the coming of the Antichrist) and to broader genre-historical negations. It is fidelity to a certain form of extremity (a particular vision of first wave black metal) that ties the three together, since utter brutality is sought wherever possible. This should suffice to disprove Kahn-Harris's generalized theory of transgression, since we see the results of musical and discursive restriction in war metal and not black metal as a whole – of course, this is because black metal bands do not generally and genuinely believe they are creating the most brutal, negative, or transgressive music possible (not to say it is not negative or transgressive, but certainly black metal in general is not transgressive in this superlative manner).
Again, the three negations are tied together by the perception of each of them as negative or extreme by fans and musicians working in the war metal genre – and not merely negative, but the most negative. So there is a transgression, but this is circumscribed by a certain fidelity to black metal, producing the particular form this transgression takes. Importantly, the negations and “transgressions” wrought by war metal are determinate and conditioned, focused into a certain musical form. A concept of transgression cannot in and of itself account for the determinate form of war metal, in particular its musical stagnation and hatred of change. If extreme metal is primarily transgressive, then why is there a bizarre and maximally intense dedication to genre conventions and norms? Hyper-differentiation of genre is at the same hyper-identification with a genre. There are bands that are genuinely musically transgressive even for extreme metal (e.g. Deathspell Omega for black metal and perhaps Obscura-era Gorguts for death metal), but I would associate those bands with musical Badiouian events and situate the non-avant-garde of extreme metal within practices of negation and fidelity rather than explain it all with a generalized transgression, which latter theory must miss both the normal course of extreme metal and its exceptional events.
V. Conclusion: Generalizations & The Future of War Metal
War metal is what happens when metal sutures its own fidelity to (more or less) negativity alone. Without any positive influences from the outside, war metal gave up a living relationship to black metal and replaced it with an obscure fidelity marked by absolute negativity. Not all obscure subjects take negation to such an extreme, though “negating the future” is probably an element of them all. Some negations, in other words, have a positive moment, but war metal's absolute negation does not. The concept of obscure fidelity explains or at least helps us get a handle on why this music must go with these themes, why deviations are not tolerated.
However, war metal itself has in recent years shown a change. Every thesis on the level of abstraction taken up by this paper (genre, historical, etc.) has exceptions. I will now explore several of these: Truppenstrum, Diocletian, and Conqueror/Revenge.
Truppensturm have incorporated a number of black/death influences into the war metal sound to the point of being by far the most melodic war metal band (if indeed war metal they are). They certainly play a grinding, aggressive, and cavernous metal replete with low growling vocals and blast beats galore. The guitars are tuned extraordinarily low for the style, playing almost exclusively bottom-string tremolo lines, melodies in a single scale/key. It is too controlled to be chaotic, and the descriptor “bestial” does not seem to fit very well. On the Ván Records website, they are indeed listed as a “war black/death metal” band. Weirdly, their first album is called “war black metal” while their second is called “death/war metal”.31 Since a relatively small (although quickly growing) band within the genre, Truppensturm's war metal credentials have not often been questioned, although with even an old standard like Archgoat sometimes refused the war metal designation, I wouldn't be surprised to find controversy over the issue.32 Interestingly, these sorts of disputes does not take the form of negotiation, but rather of antagonism, of more or less forceful claims. Truppensturm, in any case, are not pure war metal in the sense of Conqueror or Blasphemy, but rather have more to do with black/death.
Diocletian's Doom Cult (2009) was a pure war metal album. War of All Against All (2010) followed mostly in this vein, but on Gesundrian (2014) Diocletian's sound had changed quite a bit. The latter album is somewhere between war metal and sophisticated but not overly melodic black/death. It is a savage and militaristic album, but the guitar lines are much more discernible than is typical in war metal, and the song structures are much more sophisticated. It is meant to overwhelm, and the music still has a wall of noise effect, but it is not the lo-fi hissing formless mass of war metal but rather a churning maelstrom of well-produced guitars and drums. But the war metal influence is still great, and Gesundrian is unlike most black/death albums. However, it is, like Blasphemophagher, somewhat closer to the cavernous black/death metal movement than pure war metal. It is an interesting development, but perhaps effected by a genre mixing, even though the genres in question are quite close together in the grand scheme of things.
By far the most interesting exception is the bizarre state of affairs surrounding Conqueror and Revenge. Conqueror, to reiterate, consisted of drummer/vocalist J. Read and guitarist Ryan Förster, releasing what may be the classic war metal album after Blasphemy, War Cult Supremacy (1999). After Conqueror broke up, Read went on to form the one-man-band Revenge, what he describes as “the continuation of Conqueror”, very similar in sound and vision.33 Revenge have become more and more brutal with each passing album, hard to believe as it is. The drumming especially has become some of the most barbaric in all of extreme metal, raw, loud, and fast. Revenge performs shows with live musicians, the intensity of which is baffling.34 Revenge's latest full-length album, Scum.Collapse.Eradication (2012), in particular, is probably the most brutal and hateful album in all of metal (in all of black metal at least, if this is even black metal anymore). The distance between Scum.Collapse.Eradication and Bathory is staggering, as is the difference between it and Blasphemy. Conqueror sounds not much like Blasphemy at all, but Revenge is another step (or rather leap) entirely. It would not be a stretch to say that Conqueror/Revenge are both the pinnacle or zenith of war metal's negation and brutality as well as quite unlike most other war metal bands. A distinction is sometimes made between “war metal” and “bestial black metal”, and if it fits anywhere it describes the difference between Conqueror/Revenge and Blasphemy respectively. The black metal influence in Conqueror does not appear as any particular element: it doesn't particularly sound like black metal, not even of the “bestial” variety of Blasphemy or Bestial Warlust. There is something else in the music, what I might describe as an almost grindcore influence, as if Conqueror shunned its death metal influence and replaced it with grindcore, in turn transforming the black metal influence beyond all recognition.
So Conqueror/Revenge is both the pure genre-defining example of war metal and probably its greatest exception. There are no bands that sound like Revenge. They did something new, yet somehow their fidelity, their pedigree as a war metal band, is not in question. This is odd, given the musical conservatism of the genre which had already begun with Blasphemy, since it is based on obscure fidelity to black metal from the first wave. It is not as if Conqueror made this development and only then conservatism took hold, thus excusing the change as originary. Rather, Conqueror (and after them Revenge) effected a redefinition of the possible, reviving the spirit of an extremely obscure and conservative genre; to use Badiou's term, they “resurrected” the truth of black metal from within war metal. And they did this while holding on to the absolute negation developed within the genre. They did not bring in outside influences, mix genres, or, importantly, follow a “trend”.35 This is just to reiterate Badiou's thesis that a truth can always be resurrected, that the obscure can always become the revolutionary once again, that all is never lost. And this also shows that subject-position is related to but not dependent on the concrete historical content (in this case the system of negations, extremity, and other historical associations of black metal) which is the non-formal aspect of the situation. Basically, in exceptional circumstances even a full-on suturing of black metal to absolute negation does not guarantee the defeat of its truth, though it may make it likely. Indeed, perhaps war metal is now saturated, its potentials for new creation exhausted, but that is just to say we need another event. And that is precisely what cannot be predicted.

Works Cited
Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari. Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature. Trans. Dana Polan. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press, 1986. Print.
Hallward, Peter. Badiou: A Subject to Truth. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press, 2003. Print.
Hunt-Hendrix, Hunter. “Transcendental Black Metal: A Vision of Apocalyptic Humanism.” Black Metal: Beyond the Darkness. Ed. Tom Howells. London: Black Dog Publishing, 2012. 64-71. Print.
Kahn-Harris, Keith. Extreme Metal: Music and Culture on the Edge. New York: Berg Publications, 2007. Print.
Reyes, Ian. “Blacker Than Death: Recollecting the 'Black Turn' in Metal Aesthetics.” Journal of Popular Music Studies 2013 Vol. 25 Issue 2: 240-257. Electronic version.
2See for a typical debate about the style, or for a large number of contradictory definitions.
6Blasphemy for Death Power #4, 1990,
9See for example for an interview or for a fan's perception. Also see a collection of interviews of Quorthon from all stages of his career; searching “death metal” on the web page will be fruitful for this purpose. Also note, though, that Quorthon was notorious for lying and making things up in interviews and generally not taking them seriously.
11For example, see the slogan “True Norwegian Black Metal” as a phrase creating unity within the movement, or the extremity of the imagery of early black metal, musicians often dressing in “corpse paint” and espousing over-the-top extreme ideologies, which were only stage antics on the part of the first wave (mostly). Or again, note the extremity of the battle between second-wave black metal and other extreme music forms, in particular death metal and hardcore, in the slogan from black metal label Deathlike Silence Productions: “No mosh – No core – No trends – No fun”.
17See for example
18See for a long discussion of politics and music, containing frequent and spiteful mockery of “PC” (political correctness) and hate towards Kim Kelly, a female metal journalist, on these grounds. Or see for a semi-joking stance.
20This is perhaps one of its differences from brutal death metal, whose negations are produced (in the ideal case of course) with endlessly creative finesse, saying “no” a hundred different ways per song.
34See for example, and note the hateful introduction

35This is perhaps similar to Reyes' claim that black metal solved the crisis of heaviness (at least for a time) rather than retreating from it (see Reyes 247).