Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sexual Archtypes and Extreme Metal

So as you can see from my last post I am totally into Mayhem right now. So I was on Youtube checking out some live footage and some interviews. One of the clips I watched was this one:

I was struck by how feminine the whole thing was. The application of base make-up, the mesh shirt, and Manaic in the background putting on a necklace. It reminded me of something I read somewhere that said that black metal was the feminine side to extreme metal with death metal making up the masculine side. I didn't think too much about it, but there is something to this. These comparisons came to mind:

Vocal style:
Death- Uber-masculine, almost primate low end grunt
Black- Higher pitched screaming and rasping

Death- Jeans, t-shirts, sneakers
Black- Leather, jewelry, and makeup. Lots of makeup.

Musical aura created:
Death- Precise, clinical, brutal
Black- Emotive

Emotions expressed in music:
Death- Anger, disgust
Black- Sadness, grief, desolation

Common imagery:
Death- Gore, horrific things, and yes, death
Black- Nature

Now I realize that the above list does not apply to every death or black metal band. For example, I think Decapitated was an amazing, emotionally driven death metal band and Mayhem is a pretty brutal and clinical black metal band. But judging the genres overall in where they stand today, I think it fits pretty good.

And I also realize that the things I have labeled masculine and feminine are also generalities. There are plenty of cold, harsh females and overly dramatic, emotional males. But I still think the juxtapostion works.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mayhem- A Grand Declaration of War

If you know metal or even just pop culture, you know the Mayhem story. Suicides, church burning, and murder. Their original guitarist was probably the most important person in the creation of the modern genre of black metal before he was killed by another of the most important figures. It's like Desperate Housewives, but the norwegians wore way more makeup. Case and point:

So I have been going back and getting acquainted with Mayhem lately. I've had their Deathcrush demo for awhile and have always enjoyed it as piece of very dark, aggressive atavistic metal. I never ventured into much of their other work with the exception of some songs off of their debut album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. I recently got Chimera (their 3rd album) and was blown away by how clinical and accomplished it was. These guys clearly learned alot between Chimera and their demo. I never realized that this band was way more than hype. These guys are one of the most original and interesting black metal bands I've ever heard. I needed more, so I picked up A Grand Declaration of War which was their second album.

Wow! What a mindfuck! This is nothing you would expect right after their debut album. They went from excellent and evil sounding black metal to this. This album is a huge concept album all based around the idea of war. Instead of by-the-book black metal, they gave us a record that is difficult and huge and vey well put together. The launching pad is black metal, but the album is so much more. The most striking thing is how militaristic it sounds. Some of the songs have snare drum rolling beats that sound like marches. The only thing missing is the sound of marching jackboots. The majority of the typical black metal vocals have been replaced with clean vocals that are spoken as opposed to sang. The spoken vocals sound as if they were spewed from a dictator behind a huge lectern with one fist clinched and raised. Then there are all kinds of electronic and ambient stuff going on as well. One of the songs is totally electronic, which I'm sure really riled up all of the kvlt hordes when this came out. This album is insanely metal because it doesn't give a fuck what you think. Mayhem just did what they wanted and the end results were crazy cool.

I am so impressed with Mayhem right now. I had no idea that they were this big thinking and artistic. This album is so weird and so cool. I guarantee that you do not have an album like this in your collection. That's because there is no other album like this as far as I know. You owe yourself the priviledge of hearing this thing.