Thursday, August 26, 2010

Aggressive pursuit of outstanding submissions...

Chiseling away as usual, have a few new entities working on submissions and the list of people I'm now chasing for completion is definitely growing!

Some of the recent bands I've received submissions from include:
*Bone Awl
*Toxic Holocaust
*Rites Of Thy Degringolade

 A selection of artists who have recently agreed to write pieces for the the book include:
*Arsonist Lodge
*Black Witchery
*Negative Plane
*Funerary Call

And a collective of submissions I expect to receive in completion soonish...

If you haven't seen the previews from the book at this time, be sure to take a look:
Black Metal Revolution - Archgoat Preview
Black Metal Revolution - Averse Sefira Preview
Black Metal Revolution - Necros Christos Preview
Black Metal Revolution - Weapon Preview

To view all previews Click Here

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Promising more than just 'De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas'

I've received approx 70 submissions at this stage, and though well short of the 333 I am aiming for, it feels like the goal is slowly becoming a reality.

What is interesting though is the lack of submissions on 'De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas'. A number of people mentioned that they didn't want to write the hundredth piece on this monumental opus, but for me, the true irony is that I have to date only received ONE composition on this long immortalized platter.

Considering the common thread among authors who have written pieces based on one of the first records that exposed them to the BM genre, it is surprising that more haven't chosen 'Mysteriis' as their ultimate weapon of choice. I would feel confident to argue that this record would have been responsible for turning many people on to BM; whether for its musical construct alone, or for the events surrounding it.

It still appears a controversial record. Perhaps this perpetuates the fascination with the events from '91 - '93 in Norway. How many records really materialize under such circumstances? Its not so common now to hear commentary about how superior the record would have been had Dead performed on it; even that dubious "If The Light Takes Us" doco didn't seem to go too deeply into that. Maybe Dead's absence on it actually enabled its legacy to flourish - the whole "what could have been" idea.

If you are reading this, I want to reiterate that the most important detail when nominating a record to write about is to actually profile that which means most to you. This is the primary concern of this project. I also thought it worth mentioning that while I don't want a hundred submissions about Mayhem, I'm hoping for more perspectives than the one I have so far received. Maybe there will be another two or three that will balance things out for me...

I hope to add some more previews soon, but in the instance you haven't seen those posted thus far, here they are: Black Metal Revolution Previews

Friday, August 13, 2010

I'll record a cover version, but why would I bother with your book?

I never want these posts to convey the wrong side of the intended message - in other words, don't read this and feel it's a complaint. These are more observations and ideas that get me thinking about what others may consider when I approach them about the book and perhaps offer an insight they may not have envisaged, potentially and hopefully usurping what I believe to be a misguided point of view...

I found myself scratching my head recently when an artist I had approached to write a piece for the book replied that they saw no merit in rambling on about some record. I'll get to the specifics of that shortly. Naturally many of my observations about people in BM bands are not quite what you'd call empirical, and despite spearheading this project, I will always have the utmost respect for those arrogant souls who believe (not think; believe!) that what they are doing is superior to everything out there including that which came before them. These people, though rare, often produce the kinds of records I hope to see discussed in BMR. However, these thinkers/believers are outliers in the grand scheme and I would have been beyond naive to have considered everyone I approached for inclusion in Black Metal Revolution was actually going to be interested. And of the 300+ bands approached so far, only one saw no merit in discussing, "...legends of the past", so empirical no, but the opinion of an outlier, definitely yes!

The logic I would apply to this scenario is as follows. If writing a piece for BMR seemed a less than noble idea, yet you were from a band constantly name checking, performing and recording cover versions and generally content with the associations that brings, then I for one find that response peculiar. Especially as the written word provides an artist with complete freedom to express the virtue of their chosen record.

So in exploring the motivation behind recording/performing a cover song, there are really only so many reasons that a band would choose to do so, and I hope if once I've listed my thoughts that readers will feel free to add any others they can think of.
  • You worship the band you are covering
  • You love the song and think the original lacked something your band can provide
  • You are one of those bands who think that closing a set with a cover song is the strongest impression you can possibly make
  • You think that by doing a cover song it generates an affiliation between your band and the band you've nominated to cover.
  • There is some sort of ironic statement you wish to make by recording a song from outside the typical sound/style/philosophy of your own band. This is not typical of BM bands.
Either way, it's all some degree of homage. So why would that sort of "tribute" be acceptable, yet an unambiguous written piece not be? The question, though rhetorical, somehow longs for a logical answer.

Perhaps there is little to extrapolate from this rant and more can be gleaned from the Previews posted at Black Metal Revolution.

Black Metal Revolution - Misconceptions

The book is definitely starting to make waves, and not all of them positive ones it seems. Of course, anything worth doing will see its share of detractors, so I can’t say I am disappointed. On one hand I have relished the extent to which people have read “between the lines” so to speak in interpreting the book’s intention and admittedly I find myself confronted with ideas I hadn’t previously considered. On the other hand, it has inspired a need within me to provide some clarity.

In wanting to further spread the word about this quest of mine, I posted an update on a UK forum. Interesting in that it generated a deal of discussion, disappointing that no one seemed to care or understand what the book was actually about, yet all appeared hasty to strike a blow, irrespective of how ludicrous or erroneous their assumptions of the book’s true intention.

This got me thinking that it may be time to share a few thoughts on what I see unfolding and how I see the project continuing. Not to suggest the course is any different to that on which it began, but as stated, clarity is needed.

Almost 30 years since Venom unleashed ‘Black Metal’ there have been untold visions of what BM should be; numerous trends, movements and authorities clamoring for the definitive statement, but the reality is that as long as people “bear arms” under its flag, divergent thought will continue and BM will evolve. The term “religious” was not commonplace in ’94; in fact it was not a term used at all at that time. Does that make the contemporary Religious BM movement irrelevant? No, it is another of the myriad of channels in which BM has existed. Rest assured, there will be more.

It was suggested to me, on a more personal level, that one of the book’s intentions was to unite Black Metal. This is definitely not the case. My acceptance of Black Metal being an ever-evolving medium is in direct opposition to that statement. No singular vision will ever be empirical, no rule ever all consuming.

For the purpose of this project I attempted to distil BM right down to a couple of its core elements and what I extrapolated from this assessment was that BM musicians are generally pro-active in discussing
their influences and are themselves collectors of bands they swear allegiance to. From a genre point of view, that I chose BM is less the reality than it chose me. Having long been an acolyte myself, I, like others of my ilk have found opus after opus that satisfied a myriad of needs both musically and intellectually and I have never longed for a stylistic evolution that wasn’t able to be met under its ever expanding scope. I don’t suggest BM to be music alone, but I would argue that no matter what your philosophical stance on it, those who have themselves forged BM bands have drunk deeply from the channels that preceded their own and by that rationale, hold some of those previous manifestations in higher regard that others. So, I decided that musicians discussing their most revered BM records would make for an interesting read. Especially as that criteria was unfettered by any specific convention other than I didn’t want people to write album reviews.

Which raises an interesting point in response to another suggestion that a work such as this “normalizes” BM. As long as bands are releasing music, they have no long-term control over what will become of it, what sort of legacy will develop and who will listen to it. Look at the Black Legions. It took almost a decade for hysteria for form around that cult. What makes one outlet more valid than the other? Is a cover version of a classic track more valid than a written piece on the album that it came from? Is not more discerned from the written word, assuming it is executed with finesse and insight?

I purposefully used the term Revolution as I found appeal in its ambiguous nature. As stated earlier, it inspired me that people saw more in the conveyance of the book’s message than may have been intended, but recent developments have generated thinking that this too is a point worth clarifying. I make no apologies for positioning BM as a revolutionary form of music. Is it the same as Communism or Fascism? No. Will it be a tool to overthrow government, generate social change or incite fear into the hearts of masses of religious devotees? Not likely. Has it proven to be a genre in which some phenomenal and seldom matched musical visions have been unveiled? The answer is a resounding yes.

So, in that context, it is a revolutionary expression.

The other side of this coin is the simpler of the two; the attachment to the archaic format that is the vinyl record. As the book’s criteria cites, all submissions must have been released on vinyl. The association of 333 submissions with 33 & 1/3 revolutions per minute is not happenstance. Drop the needle onto an LP and watch it go round; watch it revolve. There’s not a lot more to it than that.

Finally, there isn’t an elaborate master plan for printing a zillion copies of this book and for it to become a best seller. I expect those who submitted pieces for it to be interested in the end result and BM acolytes who are wanting another vessel to further explore in the realm of classic offerings discussed within its pages should also find it holds merit. Ultimately if anyone reading these pieces gets the inspiration to listen to one of these chosen records and hear it through the perspective of another, hopefully gaining something even greater through this ritual, then the greatest goal has been achieved.

Black Metal Revolution - A Question Of Duplicates

Black Metal Revolution Blog #3 - Originally posted at Metal Maniacs March 13th, 2010

For those of you who may not of heard of this project, Black Metal Revolution is a forthcoming book that will profile a series of black metal musicians and artists from across the ages discussing their most revered black metal record.

The approach is as subjective as you will and the goal is to capture the personal experience of the person writing as well as something of the essence they have drawn from the record in question.

Take a look at a selection of previews from the book to gain a better idea by clicking here.

A question I have found myself answering a lot of late is one pertaining to duplicate entries. The answer is yes, there will be duplicate submissions. Can you really imagine only one person wanting to write about ‘Under The Sign Of The Black Mark’? Naturally, I can’t have a book filled with 200 commentaries on Bathory, so I have to cap it somewhere, but the idea of the book is not for people to find records that they alone can write about; rather, the point is for the artist writing to express for the readers just what it is that the record they are writing about means to them.

When you think about it, even the greatest records hold zero significance if people don’t listen to them and neglect to bestow acclaim onto them. Without getting into debate as to what even constitutes “the greatest”, the book is looking to hear from people who have themselves made contributions, be they musical or artistic, and what it is that makes their most revered records the cult classics they believe them to be. So if five people wrote about ‘Under The Sign Of The Black Mark’ ideally those five experiences are different and engaging enough to inspire readers as well as providing insights into the authors of the piece. While a select few exclusives have been granted, it’s not something I want to do too much of and on a case by case basis this will continually be assessed.

The other peril of course with granting exclusives is that the opportunity to write about your most acclaimed record may be lost. An individual enamoured with the book’s idea and concept sees that ‘Fallen Angel Of Doom’ has already been written about. Are they not to be included? Is the assumption to be made that whoever got to it first proffered an all encompassing essay on this opus? The answer is NO! The way that certain records inspire and are seen as revolutionary is dependent on more than existence alone. What lurks within the grooves of these illustrious platters is something potentially unique for all who indulge.

I mentioned earlier the inclusion of musicians and artists. I am really blown away to reveal that I received a piece from none other than Joe Petagno this week. A really killer offering on none other than Bathory. For those unfamiliar with Joe, check out a troupe called Motorhead and you’ll get an idea of what’s Joe’s art is all about. And in addition to that, Dennis Dread has recently revealed the new Darkthrone cover as well as his acceptance of our invitation to be part of the book.

For more on these amazing artists:

Joe Petagno's official site
Dennis Dread's official site

Black Metal Revolution - Motivation

Black Metal Revolution Blog #2 - Originally posted at Metal Maniacs Feb 12th, 2010

I have two passions in life… Black Metal and collecting records. Though I am cursed by a number of factors – living in Australia (everything costs a fortune to get mailed here) and never having enough money to buy all the records I wish to possess, I pursue this hunt as often as possible. Having never been a junkie, I can only imagine the hunger, and expect it’s on par with my need.

What does that have to do with the Black Metal Revolution book you ask?


In trying to build up something of a story for the book (figuratively rather than literally) I wanted to keep it as close to my chest as possible. For me the book is intrinsically bound within the flowering spores of simplexity. An idea that is fundamentally straight forward, yet one that can find itself readily attached to numerous philosophical slants. So I needed to be sure that I conveyed the mission of this book adequately; that people could get what it was all about without revision or confusion. And that there was actually something to say! An idea is great, but with no support for that idea, it’s well, not much… When I did run it up the flagpole I was pleased to discover there were those who saluted it. The idea possessed merit.

And conceptually what I am seeking in terms of submissions is pretty simple. I contact people from bands and ask them to compose their own, subjective-as-they-will opinions on their favourite black metal record. If you read my post from a couple of weeks ago titled Black Metal Revolution - Genesis you’ll see the criteria is kinda loose and what I deem as black metal is well outside the parameters of some of the close minded sets that manifested during the mid 90’s BM explosion and beyond. Yet what’s exciting is that so much can be read between the lines. The variables of meaning and significance attached have been revealing and I know this will only serve to increase the overall level of engagement experienced by readers.

Ultimately, I love collecting records and discussing them. Which leads me further along the line to this idea of motivation. Why am I doing this book? Loads of people have written a whole lot about various records. Everything that gets released gets reviewed, blogged and ripped for download. Cherished, or deigned to collect dust and choke up bytes in cyberspace. All that this really tells us however is that some guy had some-thing to say about that particular offering. Granted some reviews are more insightful than others; I myself having written hundreds of them in the past like to think my critiques bore worth. Despite that I can’t help but to feel that the whole release/review/regurgitate thing feels more than a little played out...

Now we’re really getting down to motivation…

No scenario can ever be described as categorical, but one generalized observation I feel comfortable in making is that headbangers proudly wear their devotion to their most revered cults on their sleeves. How many styles, scenes, or indie movements have sprung up, blatantly ripping off artists from the past and claiming oblivion to the bands they clearly stole from? I guess they are safe too as these bands don’t even need to convince the hype machine of their authenticity as those putting pen to paper in praise of these scenesters have no idea either. That’s another thing that makes Black Metal so absorbing. There is merit in paying homage to those who came before. It’s completely anomalous.

So, with all that in mind, who better to discuss these cult records than those possessed enough to summon their own musical manifestations? And cliché riddled reviews have not been welcomed. Discussion surrounding what it is about these records that makes them so important to the individual in question is the message sought. What it was that these records inspired in the author and the consequence of those influences. Consider too that these consequences aren’t always reflected in musical expression alone; that is something worth articulating.

If you keep an eye out on our Updates page, you’ll see snippets of personnel who have thus far sworn allegiance to the project or proffered pieces of their own. Take a look at our Black Metal Revolution Twitter Feed for insight or for a deeper impression, check out the Previews page which has approx 15 of the submissions that will appear in the book

I don’t intend to reveal too much about the records people have written about beyond the samples that have been posted, but I have made concessions for a couple of people who wanted to write about specific records exclusively. So if you’re reading this and want to submit a piece, please look beyond the following:

  • Sadistik Exekution – We Are Death Fukk You!
  • Parabellum – Sacrilegeo
Beyond those you are free to adopt whatever you wish…

Till next time.

For more, head over to Black Metal Revolution

Black Metal Revolution - Genesis

Black Metal Revolution Blog #1 - Originally posted at Metal Maniacs Jan 21st, 2010

Black Metal Revolution is a book that I hope to have published toward the end of 2010. The book features articles written by black metal musicians about their most revered black
metal records.

The premise is as follows:

Spawned by Venom, channeled by Bathory and proselytized with equal degrees of worship, obsession and homage by Euronymous of Mayhem, there is an ordered evolution that Black Metal has undertaken since the opus that bears its namesake was vomited forth in 1982.

Black Metal is not simply a musical style; it is a cult, a religion, a malignant manifestation with one unifying theme - its exponents are all acolytes of those conjurations which preceded their own. Be that the chaotic rampage of Venom, the morbid primitivism of Hellhammer, the esoteria of Burzum, or the ritual of Von, Black Metal's present, just like its future, pays tribute to its past. And while the noise may diverge from one band to another, and the philosophy may bear factional witness, the past will always reflect on the present.

The purpose of this book is to invite artists to discuss the virtue of their most revered BM albums. The most engaging offerings will be featured in the book along with in-depth interviews with some of the instigators of the first wave of BM, where we will explore their points of view on those long influential records.

Admittedly that which constitutes a black metal record is reasonably loose in this case. My position is Venom and all the hybrid bands thereafter that drew influence from them count. The early German cults, Mercyful Fate and any of the proto bands of that era are all mandatory for inclusion. What is important here is to recognize that while the resonance of ‘In The Sign Of Evil’ may not be obviously or immediately apparent on a benchmark album such as ‘Transilvanian Hunger’, the lineage and influence of these proto records on second generation bands considered synonymous with the very essence of black metal is unquestionable.

The title of the book is something of a play on words. The (R)evolution part expressing the revolutionary nature of the music, the simple fact that records revolve on the glorious wheel of steel is another detail and then there’s the evolution of the style, sound and the message therein. People often criticize the elder bands as being ‘fakes’ or not entirely serious about what they were singing about. There may be elements of truth to that in select cases, but history has a habit of repeating itself and it’s not unreasonable to think that one day the hunters become the hunted. This book is not attempting to make some bold philosophical stance, though I can already see that currents exist within these submissions, even though, as you can see below, what is asked of the writers is for them to provide anecdotes. A recollection of what made their chosen record the sacred platter that it is.


If you are a member of a Black Metal band and would like to contribute to the book, we are seeking written commentary about the Black Metal record you hold in highest regard. We are looking for anecdotes rather than reviews, so the submissions can be as subjective as you wish.

Feel free to include discussion about cover art, production, lyrics, riffs, your thoughts on the band members themselves or whatever you wish to cover.

Consider the place your record holds in Black Metal history, and your opinion on that. How influential was this offering on your own music/band? Would you cite this record as revolutionary and why?

.: Submissions must be at least 500 words
.: Include the name of your band
.: Your name, what you do in the band
.: Band's official site address

For more, head over to Black Metal Revolution

Thursday, August 12, 2010

An expanded view...

I thought it would be an optimum time to post more evolved thoughts about the Black Metal Revolution project via a blog. I have in the past published a series of blogs at the Metal Maniacs site which I will republish here. The idea more often than not is reiteration of the project's goals and to address the sometimes absurd conclusions people have drawn about the book and its intentions.

If you've stumbled across this via a means other than Black Metal Revolution the project as I have been referring to it is a collection of commentaries by BM artists and musicians about their most revered Black Metal record. The one they hold above all else. These are not reviews however, rather anecdotal portrayals of the author's relationship to their chosen record. I want to expand the understanding that not all experiences with music are master/slave relationships and that there is actually a symbiotic affinity where the writer is of equal importance to the release they are writing about it. Realistically the offering in question possesses status ONLY because the listener, who is in this case the author, grants it such.

Music is completely subjective. Nothing about it makes it "good". It is the experience of the listener that validates its worth...

Take a look at some previews from Black Metal Revolution . This will reiterate what I am talking about...