Wednesday, December 3, 2014


So, I was feeling low and miserable so I went to the doctor, and she referred me to a case manager. The case manager seemed OK, but then she wanted me to do stuff way before I was ready and I just couldn't cope, so I stopped going.

It was like this.

We got on OK and I was saying that I had no money, and couldn't get ahead. and I was working just to pay the mortgage, and my marriage was more or less over and I didn't know what to do. And she said, well, we have the best evidence based treatment for this, and she told me to rob a liquor store.

I thought, that was pretty hard out. I didn't want to do it; I didn't see the point. It's just not how I think. I said, I don't even drink. I hardly even have been in a liquor store, why would I want to rob one?

She said, well, Karen, I am sorry that you are not taking responsibility for your own treatment and your decision making. We are suggesting the best treatment we have. If we had anything better, we would give it to you. I know that you are new to all of this and we are asking you to make some pretty big changes, but you do need to work with us, you know. Look, there is time for you to think about this. How about I see you in three days? By then I expect we will all be on the same page and you will have been able to rob the liquor store.

I went back in three days and she asked, how did you go?

And I said, I had felt so fucking stressed about it I had hardly got out of bed and I wasn't sleeping.

And she said, now, Karen, there is no need for language like that. I am not going to talk to you if you won't engage. I take it you didn't rob the liquor store, then.

So of course I had to say I hadn't even left the house except to buy food and then I felt bad about not robbing the supermarket, like I thought she would want me to.

She said to me, well, maybe you would do a bit better if you were high. It's OK, you know. Lots of people need to get high to be able to do a robbery, we treat a lot of people like you and there is no shame in it. No one should discriminate against you for this. I will get the doctor to see you and he can give you some methamphetamine.

Hell, I said, I am not keen on that. I suppose you are the experts, though.

She said now, Karen, that is not the best attitude. We might be the experts at knocking over liquor stores, of course we are, but you are the expert on your own life and we need you to participate fully in your own treatment. He is a nice doctor and he will give you the best deal. So I will see you in a week.

I went back in a week and of course she asked how I got on now I was on methamphetamine. I thought about it and said well, it is certainly easier to get out of bed in the morning, in fact sometimes I don't even go to bed at all. And I had some sort of fight with the neighbours and the Police came. Are these side effects?

You can imagine what she said. She said, well, if you really can't tolerate the meth, you should have let us know. You really aren't making the best choices about this. We can only do so much you know. The rest is up to you. You need to take responsibility. Have you robbed the liquor store yet?

Well guess what, I hadn't robbed the liquor store. In fact I said, this is so far out of my usual way of thinking, I was further away from robbing the liquor store than ever. And the meth was just making me say stupid things online and keeping me up all night. I didn't even know where to start. I felt hopeless.

She sighed and said, there is a limit to what we can do, Karen. We only have the contract for brief intervention. We can't run your life for you. We are trying to help but you are doing nothing for yourself. You seem to have quite a treatment-resistant illness here. I think you will be with us for a long time. You can't expect the meth to fix you, it is not the whole answer. You have to ask yourself if you really want to get better. We don't want you becoming dependent on services. Tell you what, I will make a referral for a Criminal Support Worker. They can help empower you to make the right choices and get alongside you, you know, take you out to Gun City, find some gang connections, that sort of thing. In fact, this is a great organization for you, because it is peer led. Everyone there has known what it is like to struggle almost as much as you are right now. Probably some of them found it just as hard to rob their first liquor store.

I was like, my first liquor store? Does that mean I have to keep on robbing liquor stores? Am I going to spend my life robbing liquor stores, fighting with random people and getting fuck all sleep? I can't live like this! I am over this! I can't cope. I don't want to rob a liquor store! I never did. You aren't listening to me, you are just trying to make me do stuff that doesn't make any sense.

Then she told me I was being histrionic and that I had a choice to refuse their help. And that I should stop crying. Then she got security and I was escorted off the premises, as they say. So that is why I didn't go back.


The above piece riffs on mental health services and how they talk to people, of course. And the criminal justice system, indirectly, when it fails to realize the desperate daily pull back to crime. It is also about the nature of change itself. How hard it is not to default, to eat the cream bun, smoke the weed, do the thing that gives a moment's relief or a fleeting sense of being part of the human race.

Thanks to Tina for suggesting the concept, and Dex for being my inspiration.

Friday, October 3, 2014



I hail Astarte;
I call you by your ancient names:
Innana, Ishtar,Sekhmet, Ashtart, Ariadne, Ashtaroth.

I have much to thank you for.
You touched my breast.
You hid me in your red cloak.
You sent your men away.
You bade me kneel between your glorious pale thighs,
And your sweet cave opened for me, the origin of the world,
And a golden snake emerged, and I took it in my mouth.

My very own snake.

Now, my dark lord approaches.
His very footfalls send me shuddering.
Oh, Astarte, what can I do?
Make me ache for him.
I ache for him.
Make me say his name when I come.
Oh, Astarte, I said his name


And again. 
Show less

Monday, September 29, 2014


She is calling me out again.
 Come and play, she says.
If it's worth grieving for,
It's worth destroying.

I have no strength for it.
I have surrendered to it.
I have no talent for it.
 I suffer like I bleed,
Jagged edged, of problematic depth.

She snarls. She wants me dead.
 Die, she says then,
 Die in your wrath, and then you'll rise.

 I rise.
I wrap the tattered cloak of my love around me, And rise howling.

Thursday, September 18, 2014



She awoke in the very morning of the world.
It called to her, and she went to it.

 I love you, she said. You are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.
It said, I am the first thing you have ever seen.

 Feed me, she said.
You'll starve, it said.

I will look at you for ever, she said.
There are other things, it said, night is falling soon.
 She said, What is night?

It fell.

Sunday, September 14, 2014



Again I take the night sea journey.
I walk the long jetty, plank by plank, step by step,
each one the shedding of a notion.

The boat leaves the dock.
Night tides carry me.
But who is this, at the Far Shore?

It is Set!

My life has been as nothing
until I reach him
and my boat finds landfall
at his feet.

Burn it
he said.
I did.
He smiled.

Friday, September 12, 2014



The densest metal
Black on black.
The end of the universe is the end of my consciousness.

It's not dead!
The black diamond eye begins to open.
Planets die in the first lazy breath.
I die in the second.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Resile; A Black Metal Poem


You cannot linger on the precipice
Zoroaster knew it.

It was all dross and gold and shit on the way up.

In the end you have three choices.

You throw yourself off.

You get thrown off.

You stay there. The moon will freeze over. The dirty wolves will get your daughters. Your soul will be devoured.

There is no resile from this. These are the last sounds you will ever here. Not pre verbal. Post verbal. Not primordial. What is left over. No easeful stupid death. Black noise. The sound of soul scraping rock





Friday, July 4, 2014


Disclaimer: This is a parody of horror writer HP Lovecraft.  I wrote it during a night shift at the hospital ED, after hitting up a vending machine. It is a humorous piece and I mean no disrespect to anyone undertaking the Cthulhu workings or any Chaos or Necronomicon-based magick. Aficionados please note the Anglicised spelling.

Imagine my perturbation when, at four in the morning, I discovered these remarkable effigies, which may be of Sumerian or other Mesopotamian provenance. Facing a linguistic challenge on the scale of the Rosetta Stone, I attempted to decipher them. Were they glyphs? Did three men ride a turtle to visit a fat woman and her cat? Were they votive offerings? Over time, the images became more disturbing - the squashed and strangely squamous faces of the figures hinting of alienage rather than degeneration or miscegenation, the undeniably batrachian features of the turtle, the lurid green of the feline, the huge fly, the bizarre machine that looked like some sort of primitive airplane but was terrifyingly not to scale, the angles somehow wrong and nightmarish and indistinct, as if they belonged partly in another dimension.

A perverse admixture of fear and fascination gripped me. Suddenly, as if impelled by some sinister force outside of my usual quotidian consciousness, I devoured the effigies, one by one. Horrified by my actions,  which of course were outside of my usual character, which I consider to be self disciplined to the point of asceticism, I could but take some comfort in the fact that I had photographed them first.

It now being five in the morning, the gibbous moonset had commenced, and a futile dawn was beginning to stain a sky already devoid of all hope. As is my usual wont when when working through the night on my arcane and solitary labours, I attempted to retire, and lay down under my desk.

The terrible effigies began to roil, rotting, in my stomach. After dozing fitfully and briefly, I awoke in a world of shadows, gripped by some eldritch terror. What was that feline swish of a tail disappearing behind the door? Was it Bast or one of her minions? What was that buzzing sound? Could I be in the presence of Beezelbuth. dark lord of flies and carnage? Even as I write this, a high whining sound rends what is left of my shredded consciousness. Man was not meant to witness such horrors. The Old Ones are present in their merciless dark glory! They have arrived from the darkest dimensions, where they have waited for aeons, dead but dreaming, waiting.....the tentacles around the door!....the eyes!....the fat woman!......THIS MAY BE MY LAST POST.............

Saturday, April 5, 2014





'And I still think that no one has really been able to touch that thing that gave life to Black Metal in the first place, because it takes so much, it takes intense study, and it takes far more than being passionate about the music, for to approach the dangerous and abominable thing that gave birth to Black Metal’.

-        Erik Danielsson (Watain)

‘…those alone who pass beyond all that is pure and impure, and ascend above the topmost altitudes of holy things, and who, leaving behind them all light and sound and heavenly utterances, plunge into the Darkness where truly dwell, as the Oracles declare, that ONE who is beyond all’.

-        Dionysius the Areopagite

‘This is the plane whereon the vestiges of all things (Kullu Shay) are destroyed in the traveller, and on the horizon of eternity the Divine Face riseth out of the darkness, and the meaning of “All on the earth shall pass away, but the face of thy Lord….” is made manifest’.

-        Baha’u’llah  ‘The Seven Valleys’

‘You play it like a warrior’

                                                                                          -Legion (Marduk)

Black Metal has consumed me over the last few months. I have done little else. I now own a Bathory t shirt which is unwearable in public and I have burned out head phones and filled my new iPhone.  As I continue my ascent into darkness, I want to take stock. I don’t expect this post to be much read. Where I am, is almost unreadable.

There are two descriptive words to say about my experience of Black Metal and they are (1) antinomian (hence the quotes above) and (2) difficult (hence the quotes above). All the other words are attempts to explain the truly ineffable and therefore will be lies. Shall I therefore lie? Why the hell not.

I will begin with the music. Metal music in general uses discordant tritones (once called the Devil’s interval) and is in a minor key. BM began in part as a reaction to the high technicality of Death Metal. The idea was to emphasis the aesthetics – low fi production, a cold atmosphere, theatricality. ‘Classic’ BM, mostly Scandinavian from the 1990s, is characterised by slow tempo, very fast blast beat drumming and tremolo picked guitars which play the whole of the chord in order to captivate a chilling, unearthly sound. The vocals are screamed, growled or howled. Death Metal vocals sound like this:


 BM vocals sound like this:


 A brilliant example is ‘Into the infinity of thoughts’ by Norwegian band Emperor, the first track from their album ‘In the Nightside Eclipse’.  It starts with sounds that set the atmosphere, almost industrial hissing and grinding and howling like the beginnings of a bad hallucination. The room temperature drops a couple of degrees in ghastly anticipation. Thunder and lightning. Then in come the guitars and percussion, wailing and building. And finally Ihsahn’s vocals, which alarm me every time. His voice is a high pitched agonised shriek, inhuman as a void in space. Are there words in there somewhere? What are they?

               ‘As the Darkness creeps over the Northern mountains of Norway

               And the silence reach (sic) the woods, I awake and rise…..

               Into the night I wander, like many nights before,

               And like in my dreams, but centuries before’.


And the track ends with the words:

               ‘The lands will grow black            

               There is no sunrise to yet to come

               May these moments under the Moon be eternal

               May the infinity haunt me ……in Darkness’

A side note about Emperor.  For some years three of their four members were in prison for murder and/or church burning. BM bands need to take a long view to survive sometimes quite protracted imprisonments.

Now to discuss the problems inherent in Black Metal, of which there are many, and yet although it does indeed collapse under the weight of its contradictions, it mutates and survives to continue its process of glorious contamination.

Firstly, the music. As hinted at above, simply listening to it is fraught and requires commitment.

In the Western musical canon, we are used to songs that have a clear trajectory, a beginning, middle and end, and that tell a story. BM often does none of this. It starts. I’m overwhelmed by an avalanche of noise. Then it stops. There is no figure and no ground. Any expectations are nullified. A pseudo-hallucination is induced – walking in the city I hear guitars shred the construction sites and the traffic burns and howls. I am reminded of Stockhausen’s aleatoric processes. As BM has progressed musically, it actually owes more to the avant garde. Which is ironic, as it is also very backwards- looking, often favouring earlier or more ‘natural’ methods of playing or recording.

Moreover, we are used to rock music played by bands, where the rhythm section backs the leads and vocals in a three dimensional fashion. BM musicians often have solo projects, rather than the usual fairly stable rock group. Examples from opposite ends of the spectrum are Burzum, by Varg Vikernes (Count Grishnak) of Norway, and the US musician Wrest, with his solo project Leviathan. (See under Misanthropy, below).

As for the sound, it’s often recorded with the bass down low and best heard that way too. The vocals are put through the guitar microphones. And vice versa. The distortion is maxed. And it contrives to be both fast and slow at the same time. The effect is a slow horrible endless crash, or a sense of doom that does nothing but impend, but at full noise.’ Between the desire and the spasm, falls’……life itself, into the chasm.


The lyrics in BM are mostly incomprehensible, yet they are also very important.  Some bands, such as Gorgoroth, withhold their lyrics. This is a good example of the sheer demand BM puts on the listener. You have to really mean it. I started by naively listening to the music and just letting it saturate me. I wasn’t keen on discovering the lyrics, because the subject matter is almost always problematic . Now I get that listening requires discernment. BM is bombastic, ridiculous and pretentious at times, but it is never superficial.  

Equally opaque are some of the aesthetic sensibilities. BM bands/projects often have logos that are like occult sigils, ferociously beautiful and completely unreadable. Here is my favourite, for US solo project Xasthur. Yes it really does say Xasthur.

Live performances are theatre, always have been. In the very early days Dead, vocalist of Mayhem, was cutting himself on stage and throwing pigs’ heads into the audience.  In 2004, Gorgoroth staged a controversial Black Mass in Kracow, as their live show, with hooded naked people suspended from crosses and sheep heads impaled on the stage. Here is the stage set, and vocalist Gaahl with a friend.

 Watain, from Sweden, keep blood and animal parts until they rot before dousing themselves and their audiences with them

The photos give some more idea of the BM aesthetic – black clothing, bullet belts, spiked arm bands, corpse paint.  Darkly erotic? Absolutely not. The ratio of thanatos to eros is way out of whack here.  

The pomp and circumstance hides another important BM contradiction – this is music that was never meant to be heard. It was meant to be played. But not heard. Black Metallers make much of their contempt for trends, posers, and the fact that BM has a following. It is a source of constant perplexity. They blame the media frenzy and moral panic that surrounded the murders and church burnings in Norway in the 1990’s, that pulled in young people and publicised BM world wide.   BM music is Norway’s biggest cultural export. All this leads to a relationship between musicians and fans that is at least ambivalent.  

Which brings me to misanthropy. Unlike punk which was sociable and teleologically hedonistic, BM was never a ‘movement’. Many practitioners are allergic to people, even to other Black Metallers, even sometimes to themselves. BM sometimes sides with Nature, or with the mythic past, but never with humans. So, how does a misanthropist live? Some of them didn’t. Dead, vocalist of Morbid and Mayhem, killed himself, briefly put, after 17 years of believing himself not to be human.  Jon Nodtveidt of Dissection did so too, but for different reasons. He was a member of the then Misanthropic Luciferian Order (now the Temple of the Black Light) and believed that it was the truly Satanic thing to kill oneself at the height of one’s powers. Niklas Kvarforth of Swedish band Shining, who claims he ‘hates life, everything that lives and breathes’, has encouraged audience members to harm themselves by handing out razor blades at concerts. Self destruction is undertaken in order to gain transcendence rather than express distress. Here is Celtic Frost, from their album Monotheist:

‘Frozen is heaven and frozen is hell. And I am dying in this living human shell. I am a dying God coming into human flesh.’

There is nothing in this world for the BM practitioner. The body putresces, the worm blackens the apple, ‘only death is real’. And much is made of eternity, here.

The sociologist announces that Black Metal was never ‘part of Norway’s overarching narrative arc’. I am sure many people are relieved to hear that.  This is Kvitrafn, then of Gorgoroth, on the cobbled streets of Bergen, Peter Beste’s photo taken just as the older lady notices him: 

So what made well brought up young men in a relatively secular, liberal, wealthy, politically stable nation such as Norway, burn churches and murder each other with a side order of neo-fascism to boot? It’s a helluva way to solve the first world problems of ennui and cultural dislocation.
I would have found that easier to explain when I started out on this ascent into darkness. Now I have only broken images to describe, rather than prescribe. Imagine this. A rite of passage. A young man enters the limen (threshold) – the vision quest, or the caves of Lascaux. He spends days in darkness, spirits come and strip his body to a skeleton, and then build him again into his new self. Or he wanders and fasts until his power animal is shown to him. The men of the village have all been through this. They know he will be frightened, neither boy nor man, not himself, not yet. They know he will need to be tested to his utmost, and he may not even pass. But he is precious to them, and they will help him. He passes his ordeal and returns a man.

Now, there are no such rites. A young man enters the limen. He wanders, alone, in this liminal state. His mouth fills with dirt. He sees the stars and they mean nothing to him. He is overwhelmed. He is nothing. He is dead. He is not dead. Then the sound comes, like a freezing wind. It strips him. It shows him. It changes him. The flesh falls from his blasted bones. What is left is the heaviest blackest metal of all, that of Pluto. The alchemical process of nigredo is complete. He will never come back.

               When night falls

               She cloaks the world

               In impenetrable darkness -           

               A chill rises

               From the soil

               And contaminates the air.


               Life has new meaning’.

-        Burzum (Varge Vikernes) ‘Dunkelheit’









Monday, March 24, 2014



Blackworldgreyworldblueworldwhite world
and then

The base chakra fills with blood
and engorged, disgorges
into the blood besotted soil
down Dwarf deep
and penetrates the fiery crystal
that is the Dragon's eye.

Fafnir the Dragon,
being thus engaged,
turns to Pelle and speaks to him
in one blast beat, one
cthonic boom,
and says this:

My dearest son
(for you always were my son) -
yours was a sacrifice without redemption.
When the Sun returns
it will be as a fallen angel,
and when the crops rise
they will be stained with ergot and madness.


i figure if a poem requires the amount of explanation i am going to give about the one above, it is either completely brilliant or wilfully obscurantist rubbish. So, i stray from my own guidelines about this one, because i think it does require some understanding if it's worth posting at all.

This is my second poem about Per Yngwe 'Dead' Ohlin, vocalist for the Black Metal band Mayhem. Mayhem have a long and bloody history, but they remain the gold standard for Black Metal both musically and in terms of artistic integrity. Google them. i guarantee a lot more than the usual rock schlock.

In this poem i contend that the founding gesture of Black Metal is not the murder of Euronymous, Mayhem's guitarist and major figure in the Norwegian scene, bu Varg Vikernes, the bassist, but the suicide of Dead, two years earlier. By taking this view i am influenced in part by Hunter Hunt-Hendrix's article 'Transcendental Black Metal', and Scott Wilson's article 'BASileus philisoPHOrum METalicorum', both from the Hideous Gnosis symposium lectures, and my own experience of the genre.

The first line simply gives Dead's own account of what he thought would happen when he died. As a child he had a 'near death experience' after his spleen was ruptured during a beating by his peers. An unusual, not neurotypical young man, he became obsessed with death and possibly genuinely thought he was dead, or inhuman. i then pervert or 'blacken' some new age earth healing principles. i identify Dead with Sigurd, the golden Germanic/Scandinavian hero who was the first dragon slayer. In the myth, the dragon imparts wisdom to Sigurd before he dies. In the adversarial/Luciferan current, the dragon is considered to be the great symbol or expression of chaos. Sigurd/Dead and the dragon become one. i also reference the very old universal  'king must die' stories  But, this being Black Metal, i deny humanity a happy ending.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Cthonic squeeze - a post earthquake photo essay

This is a photo essay about Christchurch's earthquake damaged 'red zone' properties. Some are within an easy walk of where I live. One night recently I visited three older, larger houses and took photos with my phone. Two properties were behind barriers and one was clearly alarmed. I found it reasonably easy to get through the barriers without damaging anything. I had no desire to damage anything. The first two houses were formerly grand old places that had been converted into run down bedsits. The last was a beautifully kept home. I am no proper photographer, but I especially enjoyed the process of photographing dark spaces with a flash. It's all so sudden - a black room through a window, then a flash, a glimpse, a result that could be ordinary or out of this world. There was also, of course, the frisson of doing something mildly illegal and possibly dangerous, as I weaved through overgrowth and climbed damaged stairs. One of the photos is a selfie - of my shadow, barely visible, looking definitely eldritch in the dodgy lambency of distant street lights.

This was a 'dark walk', an act of brief subversion. After the earthquakes I found night walking had its poetry. All the things that should have been inside came outside - the insides of buildings were exposed, the things that ought to have been under the ground were on the surface. I liked having my senses messed with a little. This recent walk was a continuation of this, three years after the big EQ, the city still has the power to startle me a little. And it is still in between, still inside upside broke up broke down left behind in bits and fits and starts.

If I were clever I would make a slide show with music. There is a sound track in my mind. For the first two houses it would be 'Illuminate Eliminate' from Mayhem's Ordo ad Chao album. For the last, it would be 'I Will Lay Down My Bones Among the Roots And Rocks' from Wolves in the Throne Room's album Two Hunters. I consider these mighty Black Metal works to be expressions of a singular problem - that of being stuck in the limen. Imagine an initiation rite where a young man is brought into manhood by a terrifying but socially sanctioned and ultimately affirming ordeal, such as a vision quest. Imagine if he enters, crosses the threshold (the limen), but never comes out. Stuck in between childhood and manhood, stuck in horror, in the narrow chthonic squeeze of the rite, where he is totally alone.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Three years on - post EQ. A photo-essay.

Tomorrow we commemorate three years since the big earthquake that changed Christchurch and our lives.

I took a walk around my neighbourhood. These are photos I took on the way. I started with a house on its own, abandoned, next to Avonside Girls High School. Then empty sections, which have been sown in grass and now look like park land. Then some of the houses around the Avon River, in River Road. I edged through the barriers and photographed inside an abandoned house, a rather grand old place that looked OK on the outside but was very damaged inside. Then an old weatherboard house that had been divided into flats, where I went around the back and found my way into one of the kitchens. I am unsure whether the mess I photographed was left by people who just abandoned their flat in a hurry, or by squatters. I am moved by the thought of people fleeing, leaving behind their possessions. There are a few places like that in our neighbourhood. Piles of possessions on abandoned lawns, people still living in caravans and sheds. The next photos are of the grounds of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity Avonside, which I photographed in picturesque ruins some months after the earthquake destroyed it. Now there is lawn, and the cemetery remains, and some of the church rests on the lawn. And finally a sign that indicates something about life on the East side of Christchurch. Our roads are still very damaged and driving remains an adventure. When we find a smooth patch of road we make jokes about it.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014



He always had trouble bleeding.

He said that it was too cold, and the blood kept clotting.
In the Quran it says that God created humans from clots of blood.
Maybe all we are is moving clots.

It took some years opening veins and even arteries,
And in the end a bullet to his head.

I think it no coincidence that he did it in the Spring.
He spent much of the Winter under the trees, and the rest of it
Following the deep pull of the freezing moon.
Then, when the Northern Spring burst its bonds, and everything thawed and woke and rose and steamed and was loosing and losing itself....

Me? I'm OK. It's what I do, listen to the dead.

What would I have done for him?
This awkward, unhuman boy.
Called his mom.
Got him to a hospital.
Taught him to dance.
Told him not to take it all so damn literally, that even nihilism contains nothing, it is all a metaphor.
Warmed him up so he could actually eat.
Rubbed his arms.
Got the circulation going.
Got the blood flowing.

I see.
We are back to blood again.

It was only being Dead that kept him alive.

Per Yngwe 'Dead' Ohlin (Pelle)
16.1.69 - 8.4.91

Sunday, January 5, 2014

i made you a goat, but i eated it - on the glories of Black Metal

Young people can be so judgmental.

Recently a young man told me that he smokes weed in the same way that I would have a cup of tea in my conservatory. Whoah! I have a conservatory? Who knew?

The other night I was asking another young man about his t shirt. I am a terror for reading t shirts. Someone should slap me for peering myopically at people's chests. He smiled at me in a kindly fashion and said 'Oh, it's a noisy band'.

Well. I have been listening to a bit of black metal lately and I knew that Immortal, the band on his t shirt, hail from Norway and do very stylish corpse paint, and I have wandered around some of their stuff. But it was not the time to put the young man in his place, so I did not.

I can actually live without Immortal. I currently cannot live without their some of their Scandinavian counterparts Mayhem and Bathory, which are currently my all time favorite bands.

Mayhem is deservedly legendary and their music is so sonically powerful that anything else heard afterwards is so vanilla I just want to punch someone's lights out. Their best known track 'The Freezing Moon', inspired by high summer in Norway, is a simple yet densely layered piece that is so heavy it is almost conceptual, a soundscape suited to the ambience of, say, an oubliette. The vocals, by Per 'Dead' Ohlin, who is by the way very extremely dead, hit this Tuvan throat singing thing at times. It's an aural assault of the first magnitude.

Metal is divided into genres. And sub genres. And sub sub sub genres and even subbier genres and even those within the same genre accuse each other of not being tru to the kvlt and in the end all you have is two skinny guys from Bergen throwing pig's heads at each other and calling each other posers.*

I came to black metal via the more cheerful genres of extreme metal, folk metal, pagan metal, and viking metal, although all of these labels are hotly contested, and finely critiqued, like this: No way shit head that is so not grindcore I don't hear any core whaddya mean core you total fucktard if you don't  like what I say you can just fuck off from here you faggot no you're a faggot no you are.** Anyway my two all time favorite Scandinavian folk/pagan/whatever bands are TrollFest, who are from Norway but sing in their native Swedish and have made four whole albums about trolls, and Finntroll, who are from Norway but sing in their native Swedish and have made four whole albums about trolls. Korpiklaani, from Finland, are capable of occasional yoiking and have made four whole albums about booze.  Eleuvite sing in reconstructed ancient Gaulish and have about nine members because the job of playing the hurdy gurdy (a cross between a piano and a coffee grinder) is so rigorous it needs to be rostered. They have made four albums about how the Romans burned down their village. Gorgoroth, from Norway, and the truest blackest metal ever, were fronted by the extaordinary Gaahl. Here is a picture of Gaahl.

You will see he has a porcupine clamped to his arm. This is because porcupines are sacred to Satan.** Gorgoroth is very heavy on the Satanism. You have to be pretty committed to dress like this. It makes it really awkward to get onto a bus, for example. Gaahl is an interesting chap. One of his stretches in prison was for torturing a guy by, among other things, bleeding him into a Yahtzee cup. Yahtzee is also sacred to Satan*** Despite his reputation, Gaahl was voted Bergen's Gay Man of 2011. This is true. Gorgoroth, of course, sing in Orcish.

 Black and black-ish metal is best sung in foreign, like opera. In fact black metal has a lot in common with opera. Both are grandiose and theatrical and atavistic and daft, at their best. Both are best when they are incomprehensible. I mean, ups to John Adams for writing Nixon in China and all that, but, well, damn. Opera is best in foreign. This is because lyrics in opera are like this:

My heart
My heart
It hurts
My heart
Oh my heart
It hurts
My heart

And metal is best in foreign because it has some of the worst lyrics since Marc Bolan.# Here, for example is a track I admit I have actually heard, from German (not black) metal band Majesty:


Keeper of the sacred oath, defender of the damned
Once born as a thunder child, now you're a stronger man
Riding on a horse of steel up in the hailing storm
Descendent of the universe the mighty lord reborn.


Thunder rider
You are flying in the wind
Thunder rider
Bring us hope and clear our sins
You are young you are free
You're the son of destiny
Thunder rider
We all believe.....

Dearie, dearie me. I promise you that is not a parody, and I did not write this. You can read lyrics on and you may wish to do so if you think you have a long, long time to live.

I am not sure why I have developed a liking for Scandinavian metal at my age. Perhaps I just like being roared at by shirtless young men with long blond dreadlocks. And the fact that this is the least hip music imaginable. And it cheers me strangely - a couple of tracks from Darkthrone's Under a Funeral Moon and I have arisen from my torpor and made dinner and baked a pie.

There are lots of good links I could give you. The Uncyclopedia's parody articles about Black Metal and Mayhem are funny as hell, (or Helvete haha), but you need to know a bit about it to get the in jokes. Black metal is inherently very amusing when it does not involve burning churches or making necklaces out of the skulls of dead band members.* There are several in jokes in this post which you will not get at all because you are all merely posers.

I will however link to this, which is Finntroll's awesomely fun 'Trollhammeren'. It is from a whole album about trolls:

*This actually has happened, I'm afraid.

**There is an internet meme that counts the number of steps in any online argument, towards one person referring to another as being Hitler or a Nazi, or being like Hitler or Nazis. In the case of the black metallers, there is a similar count towards one person calling the other a faggot. The answer is always two.+

+Black metal is avowedly homophobic. However it does have a place for women. They make quite good occasional tables.

** There is a South Park episode about  this, for enhanced credibility.

 *** Well, somebody must play Yahtzee. Who do you know who plays Yahtzee? No one, right. I guess only Satanists play Yahtzee. What would i know, scriptural exegesis was never my strong point and so i am wickedly making up theology as i go along. Hail Yahtzee! Hail Gaahl! Hail Erithizon Dorsat!!!#

#This is the Latin term for the porcupine. Black metallers like Latin.

##'Girl I'm just a jeepster for your love'. The prosecution rests.