Namaste Narasimhaya: 
Black Metal versus Postmodernity

Posted on 9/01/2014

by Colin Liddell and Francisco Albanese

Several years after the rise of National Socialist Black Metal (NSBM), it is time to finally realize that a true Black Metal sense has been lost. This has come about through a number of events and developments, including the imprisonment and release of Hendrik Möbus, the emergence of a depressive strain of Black Metal, Jon Nödtveidt's suicide, and a symbiosis between the underground and the mainstream.

The uniformity of the post-modern world pushed Black Metal towards the abyss of recursiveness, to reinvent itself, to be both product and producer – a complex construction that, despite its message, tends to its own destruction and devastation.

The primeval spawn of the NSBM movement started with its adoption of Hollywood nazi-fascist elements that were designed simply to shock and scare, but this later evolved in a more ‘positive’ direction that became tied to the goal of explicitly affirming racial survival. This created the ultimate irony of a musical genre that had been focused on the metaphysical aspects transversal to life and death becoming instead focused on life. 

In place of totemic National-Socialist aspects, there was an incorporation of ideological National-Socialism and identitarian elements, usually of a nostalgic and anachronistic nature. This also tended towards a domestication and softening of the movement, as well as some loss of spirituality in the counterculture (or “occulture”). 

What was once frightening and radical thus became focused on the technical and accessible to the masses, effectively becoming a demystified and ‘secular’ Black Metal. This move, which separated the music from its roots, was welcomed and supported by the audience.  But as the ‘positive’ aspects were highlighted, Black Metal also lost much of its primal nature – its fundamental negativity, the abyss from which it drew its energy, as, in essence, Black Metal was the glorification of death as a core of transcendence, not an ultima ratio.

Through this reinvention, this so-called counterculture and attack on society, underwent a process of beautification, selling out its mythic power in exchange for banalities like brotherhood and philanthropy. From existing as a heresy in the contemporary music scene, it mutated into something more like folk music. The true Black Metal spirit was lost under layers of flutes, ocarinas, and good wishes for all. 

Some argue that the decline of the West lies in individualism, and that we should therefore strive to escape from it and turn towards such collective bonhomie, but at the same time there can be no place for socialism in the Black Metal domain.

How, then, can we create an potent individualist antithesis in Black Metal to oppose to the atomization of modernity that is turning the world into an effeminate cage focused on human rights beloved by leftists? To answer this I will use a metaphor from the Narasimha Purana, one of the Upapuranas, a genre of Hindu religious texts, and invoke the Dionysian thought of Nietzsche. Let us make the following equations:

  • Hiranyakashipu = the post-modern world (a consequence of the modern world)
  • Vishnu = the true Western ethos
  • Narasimha = the form and function of Black Metal

In the Narasimha Purana, Hiranyakashipu (the post-modern world) cannot be killed by a human, deva, or animal. Vishnu (the Western Ethos), takes form through Narasimha, a beast/man deity. In a cruel world, Vishnu makes his avatar crueler, so Narasimha (Black Metal), if it is to have a meaningful existence, must go beyond all parameters and acceptable boundaries, and not be limited to established standards, which merely lead it into anachronism.

This reliance on a degree of individualism may seem paradoxical, but rather than the self-seeking narcissism of the post-modern world, it is actually a pure negation of the Self and a pulverization of all human aspects. It is pure desire separate from reason because in an Apollonian world, the Apollonian man has become mass-man. 

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law: this Will-to-Power must deny the main rule of the Modern World, i.e., reason. 

Because progressive values and science go hand in hand, there is no real separation between State and Religion. This is despite the view of atheists that only a religion with explicit gods is an actual religion. In fact, the secular rational atheist liberal has many other “gods.” To move away from such spiritual banality it is important to conceive of the world as it truly is, as something more irrational, superstitious, sinister, amoral, and transcendent.

The religiosity and fanaticism expressed by sectors inside Black Metal go beyond mere aesthetic elements or devotion as an end in itself. They open up an attack on post-modernity from two time flanks: past and future. 

Black Metal has served not only as a tool of apostasy – a means to opt out – but also as an archeofuturistic precursor of old and new spirituality. But even the elements of resentment have acted as a catalyst of knowledge/wisdom. Without Black Metal to blast the scales away, many would not have been able to investigate more enlightening avenues.

On the basis that all the great civilizations and their manifestations, except those of the East, have been product of Indo-European peoples, it is not hard to understand the reason why the occult – that is religions and spirituality of past ages – tends to evoke degrees and forms of racial awareness and white nationalism that focus on cultural and identitarian claims (Kultürkampf) rather than the defence of the modern nation-state (an ideological polity). This points to the awakening of archetypes as small islands in Modernity, tribal islands in a uniform world.

Rock, the ‘grandfather’ of Black Metal, also, just like Black Metal, appeals to the basic, carnal, awakening aspects suppressed by centuries of Apollonian white music. The emergence of Rock marks a return of the Dionysian that rejects, mocks, disrupts, and destroys the neat, rational pop sound (a celebration, embodiment, and stasis of the banality of modern life). It is an impulse to overthrow the universal order rooted in the catacombs of Rome that has castrated the beast in man. 

I will finish this brief commentary with a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche, who we could perhaps claim as a proto Black Metaller, drawn from The Birth of Tragedy:

“[L]est the Apollonian tendency freeze all form into Egyptian rigidity, and in attempting to prescribe its orbit to each particular wave inhibit the movement of the lake, the Dionysian flood tide periodically destroys all the little circles in which the Apollonian will would confine Hellenism.”

[Birth of Tragedy 9.]

Id est, “Against the odds, black metal gods.”