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A Blaze In The Northern Sky A Symbolic Analysis of Ethnicity in the Early Norwegian Black Metal Scene 1986 1997 in partial fulfillment for a degree of Bachelor of Arts, Anthropology before a committee of Dr. Uzi Baram (sponsor), Dr. Maria Vesperi, and Dr. Gabrielle Vail by Eric Van de Castle
ii I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromisin g as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. ... I am in earnest -I will not equivocate -I will not excuse -I will not retreat a single inch -AND I WILL B E HEARD. William Lloyd Garrison "To The Public" (1831) The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all of its con tents. We live on a pla cid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hithe rto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together o f dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that w e shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age. H.P. Lovecraft "The Call of Cthulhu" (1936)
iii Acknowledgements There are so many people I need to thank for their help with this thesis. First, I would like to thank my thesis sponsor Professor Uzi Baram for all of his help and guidance. Without him, thi s thesis would not exist. I would also like to thank Professor Maria Vesperi for believing in this project, P r o f e s s o r G a b r i e l l e V a i l f o r s t e p p i n g i n t o s e r v e o n m y c o m m i t t e e a t t h e l a s t s e c o n d and Professor Tony Andrews, for three years of strongly satisfa ctory advising. Second, I need to thank my family: my wonderful mother Barbara, my father Peter, and my sister and friend, Audrey. My parents were the model of supportive parents throughout this process and my education out of state. My sister was the be st companion to make an impromptu spring break trip to Oslo with, and our time there was instrumental in the completion of this work. A great big thank you to my grandmother, Marilyn Smith Johnson, for her financial assistance in making the Oslo trip possi ble. Last but not least, I would like to thank all of my friends who helped and supported me throughout this process. The thesis tutorial group, Liz Usherwood, Rozalyn Crews, Michael Waas, Alexis Santos, and Morgan Dolan, were all excellent students to wo rk alongside with. They challenged me to greater heights of academic achievement, and I hope they took as much from our time together as I did. I should probably thank Liz again, she was key in helping me stay sane throughout this process. Thanks also to R oz, for letting me swoop in and live in the house she rented to write her thesis in. Nathan Wilson, Derek Schwabe, Peter Wolfe, Lewis Winstanley, and Varvara Suarez were all exemplary friends, always there with a kind word, cold beer, or couch to sleep on when I needed a place to stay. Their support means the world to me. Thanks also go to my greater circle of New College friends, including Nick Manting Brewer, for always knowing the answer to my question, Lanie Paterson, for late night coffee and company, Jay Bilderback and Tristan Dufresne for being excellent co workers, Eugenie Fortier, for emailing an art history article to me in the middle of the night about Edvard Munch. A blanket thank you goes to Jessica Yocum, Casey Henderson, Ned Poulos Boggis, Kri stina Frolova, Avery Thomson, Stephanie Sherman, Christina Lawrence (fall), and all the rest of the people I talked to this past year. Finally, I would like to thanks James Birmingham, Katie McAuley, Nathan Wilson, Kotu Bajaj, and David Banks for always be ing up to argue about the more trivial aspects of metal and for helping to shape my thinking on the subject. While the people I thank above were all instrumental in helping this thesis reach completion, it was written with my hands alone. As such, any mis takes are mine, and should not reflect unkindly on any of the aforementioned people.
iv Table of Contents Epigram ii Acknowledgeme nts iii Table of Contents iv List of Tables vi List of Figures vi Abstract ix Chapter 1: Introduction 1 Chapter 2: Literature Review 5 Archaeology and Anthropology 5 Hea vy Metal Overview 1 0 Heavy Metal The Books 12 Conclusion 2 1 Chapter 3: A Brief History of Metal 2 3 Genesis 2 3 Early Development of B lack M etal 2 5 Refining the Underground 3 0 Scandinavian Innovation 3 5 Criminal Activity 3 7 Conclusion 4 2 Chapter 4: A Black Metal Typology 4 4 Chapter 5: The Albums 5 8 Winter 6 0 Forest/landscape 6 8 Melancholy/supernatural 8 5 Blasphemous 9 9
v Pagan/"folk" 1 1 0 Viking/war 1 1 3 Other 12 2 Conc lusion 1 3 1 Chapter 6: Conclusions 13 2 Bibliography 13 5
vi List of Tables Table 1: Typological categories and major symbols 4 7 Table 2: Traditional categories 6 0 Table 3: New categories 9 9 List of Figures Figure 1: Emperor "In The Nightside Eclipse" 6 2 Figure 2: Emperor "Reverence" 6 3 Figure 3: Im mortal "Battles i n the North" 6 4 Figure 4: Satyricon "Dark Medieval Times" 6 6 Figure 5: Ulver "Nattens madrigal aatte hymne til ulven i manden" 6 7 Figure 6: Ancient "The Cainian Chronicle" 7 0 Figure 7: Burzum "Hvis Lyset Tar Oss" 7 1 Figure 8: Burzum "Filosofem" 7 2 Figure 9: Darkthrone "Under A Funeral Moon" 7 3 Figure 10: Darkthrone "Panzerfaust" 7 4 Figure 11: Enslaved "Frost" 7 5 Figur e 12: Gorgoroth "Under the Sign of Hell" 7 7 Figure 13: Hades "Alone... Walkyng" 7 8 Figure 14: Hades "...Again Sha ll Be" 7 9 Figure 15: Isengard "Vinters kugge" 8 1 Figure 16: Ulver "Bergtatt et eeventyr i 5 cap itler" 8 2 Figure 17: Ulver "Kveldssanger" 8 4 Figure 18: Ancient "Det Glemte Riket" 8 8 Figure 19: Burzum "Burzum" 8 9 Figure 20: Burzum Det Som Engang Var 9 0 Figure 21: Darkthrone "A Blaze In The Nor thern Sky" 9 1
vii Figure 22: Darkthrone "Transilvanian Hun ger" 9 2 Figure 23: Darkthrone "Total Death" 9 3 Figure 24: Emperor "Emperor" 9 4 Figure 25: Emperor "As the Shadows Rise" 9 5 Figure 26: Mayhem "Live in Leipzig" 9 6 Figure 27: Satyricon "The Shadowthrone" 9 8 Figure 28: Burzum "Aske" 1 0 1 Figure 29: Emperor "Anthems to the Welkin at D u sk" 1 0 2 Figure 30: Gorgoroth "Antichrist" 10 3 Figure 31: Hades "The Dawn of the Dying Sun" 10 4 Figure 32: Mayhem "Pure Fucking Armageddon" 10 6 Figure 33: Mayhem "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" 10 8 Figure 34: Satyricon "Nemesis Divina" 10 9 Figure 35: Ancient Trolltaar 1 1 1 Figure 36: Isengard H stm rke 1 1 2 Figure 37: Ancient Svartalvheim 11 4 Figure 38: Darkthrone "Crossing the Triangle of Flame s 11 5 Figure 39: Enslaved "Hordane's Land" 11 6 Figure 40: Enslaved "Vikingligr Veldi" 11 8 F igure 41: Enslaved "Eld" 11 9 Figure 42: Immortal "Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism" 1 2 0 Figure 43: Immortal "Pure H olocaust" 1 2 1 Figure 44: Ancient Mad Grandiose Bloodfiends 12 4 Figure 45: Darkthrone "Soulside Journey" 12 5 Figure 46: Gorgoroth "Pentagram" 12 6 Figure 47: Immortal "Blizzard Beasts" 12 7
viii Figure 48: Mayhem "Deathcrush" 12 8 Figure 49: Satyricon "The Forest Is My Throne" 1 3 0
ix Abstract This thesis investigates the complex social phenomenon of ethnicity manifesting in the artwork of Norwegian black metal albums. Black metal is a genre of heavy metal that developed during the 1980's. After 1990, the development of black metal began to make great strides in Norway, birthing the genre of "Norwegian black metal" and its resultant scene. This small scene quickly became infamous for the violent acts, including arson and murder, that were carried out by some of its members. To analyze this phenomenon, I identified symbols using the album artwork, which generated six major themes (and one miscellaneous theme) that I then organized into a typology. Using these archaeological methods, I explore the effects that style creates to bet ter understand contemporary material culture. Additionally, this thesis investigates the marking of Norwegian black metal as an ethnic rather than a nationalistic site of differentiation and resistance. ___________________________ Uzi Bara m Division of Social Sciences
1 Chapter 1 Introduction This thesis is an archaeological study of the cover art from forty nine albums released by Norwegian black metal bands. The modern album cover, with artwork, was invented in 1940 by Alex Steinweiss, a young art director at Columbi a Records (Spielberg 2011). He had the idea that if the albums had a picture to look at on their cover, they would sell better. He was right, and the album cover became a crucial part of the album. In this thesis I use album art to examine and understand t he complex social phenomenon of Norwegian black metal. Norwegian black metal is an interesting phenomenon, the first example of a metal scene organized in ethnic/national terms. Previously, the descriptor New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) had been applied to bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, but these bands were only incidentally British. While the bands were comprised of British citizens in their own country, they did not understand their music to be "British", but rather "heavy metal." Simi larly, while Swedish death metal developed contemporaneously with Norwegian black metal, it came to characterize a specific sound in metal, one that could be played by bands that were not Swedish. Norwegian black metal was metal made by Norwegians, with a specific sound, but was also ethnically identified. These Norwegian bands presented themselves as different because of their Norwegian ness, and that this was represented in the art they released. Thus, for this thesis, I studied the symbols used to convey ethnicity on album covers from Norwegian black metal bands.
2 Traditionally, archaeology deals with the study of the material culture of the past. The discipline of archaeology has been used to study the temporal other, and indeed, this notion of the tempo ral other is central to much of the archaeological endeavor. However, post modernism has blurred the distinction between past and present, calling into question concepts as broad as "modernity." This has led some to call for a "willful collapsing of archae ological and ethnographic time" in the hopes of using archaeological tools and frameworks for the study of the recent past and contemporary society (Dawdy 2010: 762). Furthermore, there has been a small but growing trend since the late 1970's to use archae ology to study contemporary material culture. Buchli and Lucas (2001) see two different approaches to this goal: explicit ethno archaeological ones concerned with studying material culture in ways that relate to more traditional archaeological periods, and an "archaeology of us" contained within a longer term, historical perspective (2001: 4). They go on to describe how many approaches fit into both types and the general fluidity of contemporary material studies, but stress the need for a clear goal in guid ing the project (2001: 5 7). In this spirit, I organized the album covers into a typology, a common archaeological method. The goal of a typology is to describe and order a set of data, in this case the artwork on the album covers. The Norwegian black m etal scene was marked ethnically. When the bands were described as "Norwegian black metal," the ethnic descriptor was applied to the music, not necessarily the people making it. Despite this, the label "Norwegian black metal" is frequently used to variousl y represent either ethnic or national descriptions, a slippage which even occurs in this thesis. In this thesis I study the ethnic component of the
3 complex social phenomenon, even if sometimes the language might seem ambiguous. John L. and Jean Comaroff (2 009) provide a helpful definition of ethnicity, one that includes ethnicity's visual and material aspects as well as it s increasing commodification in global markets (discussed, along with a definition of nationalism, in chapter two). Here, the decision to study album covers appears to be a fruitful choice since album covers were originally intended to increase sales of albums and ethnicity is becoming more prevalent as a site of commercial interests, according to the Comaroffs (2009). Therefore, my goals f or this thesis are two fold. First, I am seeking to show that studying the material culture of the recent past is a productive use of archaeological theory. Second, I am trying to illuminate and explain the symbols used. More generally, I hope that this th esis will also contribute to the way ethnicity is recognized and discussed, as one possible site of identity that is fluid through time and a commodity, rather than static and intrinsic. The second chapter is the literature review and is organized into t wo parts: archaeology and anthropology and heavy metal. The archaeology and anthropology category provides a theoretical framework and method, while the review of publications on heavy metal are part of my engagement with the historical background of Norwe gian black metal. The third chapter is a short history of metal. It discusses the various genres that have appeared over the course of metal history, including doom, thrash, black, and death metal. The fourth chapter is my typology of album art. In it I fo rmulate the seven categories into which the album covers were organized and the ways in which these categories represent Norwegian ethnicity. Much of this work draws parallels between the
4 black metal scene and Edvard Munch, the pre eminent figure in the hi story of Norwegian art. The fifth chapter contains the album covers and my descriptions of them. They are ordered according to the category they are under, and the some of the descriptions contain biographical information about the bands in addition to des criptive information about the cover. The sixth and final chapter serves as a conclusion.
5 Chapter 2 Literature Review To research this project, I read books and articles from two separate fields of study: heavy metal and archaeology. I read as many b ooks about metal that at least attempted to be academic about the subject. Some were utterly out of date, a few were excellent, and most were somewhere in between. The publications on metal largely served as historical data, although some were helpful theo retically as well. The archaeology and anthropology provided a theoretical basis, as well as a goal: to attempt to make this knowledge both concrete and socially meaningful so that it would be accessible to those who looked for it. Critical archaeology is a school of thought that, in part, seeks to "help confront 'the practices and ideological structures that promote inequality in the world at large' (Paynter 2000a: 4) by challenging the historical reconstructions that support such practices and structures" (Saitta 2007: 3). As such, I seek to investigate alternate claims of Norwegian ethnicity that Norwegian black metal artists construct, to help explore ethnicity not as a monolithic entity but rather as a site of constant tension between individual, societ y, and history. Archaeology and Anthropology This study of Norwegian black metal started as a case study in Professor Uzi Baram's Race and Ethnicity in a Global Perspective course in the fall of 2009. In that class, I looked at the ways black metal was u sed to represent Norwegian ethnicity. I analyzed statements made in published interviews to illustrate that "Norwegian black metal" was a meaningful ethnic division in the metal scene. Two books from that course
6 were relevant for the current incarnation of this project: Imagined Communities by Benedict Anderson (2006) and Ethnicity, Inc. by John L. and Jean Comaroff (2009). Imagined Communities was originally published in 1983 and set out to explore the development of nationalism. The book is excellent, del ivering in the Introduction the central thesis of the work, that the nation is "an imagined political community and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign" (Anderson 2006: 6). This is explained and elaborated upon throughout the rest of the bo ok, with a special emphasis on the role of capitalism in the creation of a nationalism based consciousness. Anderson argues that the spread of capitalism and its quest to reduce everything to a definable, knowable whole as one of the factors in the growth of nationalism. This is demonstrated through the use of maps, censuses, and museums to construct the land, people, and history of a country and reify it through the state apparatus. Norway provides an example of nationalism; a quote that Anderson includes from a Norwegian professor about why a Norwegian language edition of the book was necessary when the entire population could read the book in the already published Swedish language edition: "'You know how we feel about the Swedes and Swedish. We'd rather r ead the English original than the Swedish version. But best of all would be one in our own national language'" (2006: 217). This illustrates the long standing nationalist opposition between Norway and Sweden, as well as Anderson's general point, media that reflects the observer's ethnic and cultural heritage. Ethnicity, Inc. by John L. and Jean Comaroff (2009) is useful in this project for how the authors discuss the construction of ethnic identities and the marketing of those
7 identities as commodities. Th e book explores this phenomenon in depth, although the book is confusingly organized and written as if it were meant to be read in a blog format. It is from this book that I draw the definition of ethnicity that I use in this project and find useful to cit e at length here. Ethnicity is defined as: neither a monolithic 'thing' nor, in and of itself, an an alytic construct: that 'it' is best understood as a loose, labile repertoire of signs b y means of which relations are constructed and communicated; thro ugh which a collec tive consciousness of cultural likeness is rendered sensible, with reference to which shared sentiment is made substantial. Its visible content is always the product of specific historical conditions which, in variable measure, impinge themselves on human perception and, in so doing, frame the motivation, meaning, and materiality of social practice. ... But, and this is our point socio/logical incoherence and theoretical con/fusion not withstanding, the effort to find ontological grounding f or ethnicity in a synthesis of primordialism and instrumentalism itself mimics a social fact we have already encountered. In its lived manifestations, cultural ide ntity appears ever more as two antithetical things at once: on the one hand, a s a prec ipitate of inalienable natural essence, of genetics and biology, and, on the other, a s a function of voluntary self fashioning, often through serial acts of consumptions. It is, in other words, both ascriptive and instrumental. Both innate and c onstructed. Both blood and choice. (emphasis in original) (Comaroff and Comaroff 2009: 38, 40) This approach to ethnicity allows me to study contemporary material culture (album covers) in an archaeological fashion (the construction of a typology and the describing and arranging of the album covers into the typology). By seeing ethnicity as, in part, a visual representation, ethnicity itself can become an artifact for study, and an artifact can become a presentation of ethnicity in the material record. It also helps in understanding the aesthetic choices displayed on the album covers as deliberate and meaningful, while also historically/spatially contingent. Anderson and the Comaroffs offered a theoretical framework, but I still needed a method, a tool t o give shape to the raw data, guided by the hand of theory.
8 Archaeological Typology and Practical Reality: A Dialectical Approach to Artifact Classification and Sorting by William Y. Adams and Ernest W. Adams (1991) provided the method: typology, a system of classifying artifacts based on features of the artifacts in question. The authors are brothers, William is the archaeologist and Ernest is the philosopher of science, and together they wrote this book as an essay arguing for a re turn to the use of pragm atically constructed typologies. A pragmatic typology is "one that achieves some clearly stated objective with a reasonable economy of time, effort, and resources." and "as long as they can be shown to work for that purpose [classifying and sorting artifac ts] they require no more abstract justification than does a crowbar. Their validity lies ultimately in their value" (Adams and Adams 1991: 8). Furthermore, a typology is legitimated through the effectiveness with which it fulfills its intended purpose (199 1: 88). The book utilizes very complicated epistemological arguments to state their case, although it did serve its purpose and help me to construct a typology, which will be discussed in greater detail in chapter four. Archaeological Typology and Practica l Reality guided my thinking about the relationships between the objects I was studying and my classification of them. The final anthropological source I drew inspiration from is one of the Big Names in Anthropology: Clifford Geertz. I do not remember whi ch class was the first to require me to read Geertz, but I have read him in at least two classes with Professor Maria Vesperi: Language, Culture, Society and Anthropology and Literature. While he has written many books and articles, the main text I utilize d in this project was The Interpretation of Cultures (1973), specifically the chapters "Thick Description: Toward
9 an Interpretive Theory of Culture" and "Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight." Part of any writing endeavor is the construction of autho rity, and I draw my technique for constructing ethnographic authority from Geertz, the interpretive model of analysis (Clifford 1988). This model "view[s] cultures as assemblages of texts, loosely and sometimes contradictorily united, and highlight[s] the inventive poesis at work in all collective representations" (1988: 41). In "Deep Play" Geertz witnesses a series of cockfights and the events surrounding them. He then goes on to reflect on the cockfight, and draw a series of inferences about what it means to be a man in Bali (Geertz 1973: 449 53). He is able to access this information because he has spent so much time observing and living around his subjects that he is able to interpret the culture "as if one of them." While this can be problematic (Crapan zano 2010), I think that this approach can have certain benefits in an archaeological context, where the interpretive model essentially becomes the equivalent to connoisseurship in art history. There is something to be said for being so well versed in a su bject that knowledge of every small detail is within grasp of the interpreter. Connoisseurship as a talent is missing from much current art history, which has resulted in a dearth of accurate identification of some works (Grosvenor 2012). Of course, these techniques have a significant flaw: they are largely subjective judgments, rather than objective observations. With the knowledge that these are imperfect techniques that reveal as much about the author as about the subject, it is possible to use them as a nalytic tools within a pragmatic framework that treats ethnicity as a part of material culture. Thus, this study comes from the time I spent becoming familiar with and learning the intricacies of the Norwegian metal scene.
10 Heavy Metal Overview Heavy met al has provided a small but fertile ground for academic research. There is much more to metal than just the music: the social context, the scene, plays a large role in the production of metal, and thus has attracted a range of authors. The publications on heavy metal that I read ran the gamut from sociological considerations of metal to a tour of the metal scenes of the Middle East and North Africa to a book of papers from the Black Metal Theory Symposium to a Norwegian black metal coffee table book. The me tal books could be subdivided into three groups: books about individual bands or scenes, Western sociological examinations of metal, and metal in a global perspective. The books about individual bands and scenes was the broadest category, containing Lords of Chaos (Moynihan and S derlind 2003), Choosing Death (Mudrian 2004), Swedish Death Metal (Ekeroth 2010), and Only Death Is Real (Fischer and Ain 2010). Those first three books are histories of the Norwegian black metal scene, the Swedish death metal s cene, and the British and American grindcore and death metal scenes. Only Death Is Real (Mudrian 2004) is about Celtic Frost and Hellhammer, pioneering early black metal bands from Switzerland, as remembered by the two principal members of those groups. T he sociological books on metal, Running With The Devil (Walser 1993) and Heavy Metal: The Music And Its Culture (Weinstein 2001), were both originally written in the 1990s, so they do not deal with the subject of extreme metal very well. Walser almost comp letely ignores the fact that extreme metal exists, only discussing Metallica in the context of the classical nature of their more epic songs. Weinstein does a slightly better job through a discussion of the stylistic innovations that
11 were taking place in t he early 1990s, but since most of her research was done within the major label system, extreme metal is treated as nothing more than a ten page examination of the possibilities for metal in what was then the future. The authors that dealt with metal in a global perspective had a much better grasp of metal's post 1990 underground history, and were thus much more informative to this project. They were Extreme Metal (Kahn Harris 2007), Heavy Metal Islam (LeVine 2008), and Metalion: The Slayer Mag Diaries (Kr istiansen 2011). Extreme Metal approaches metal from a fan's perspective, but that fan is also an academic, so the insights are particularly sharp. although Metalion contains the most information from purely quantitative standpoint. The differences betw een the sociological group and the global perspective group (excluding Metalion ) are quite interesting: while all four authors are Western and three are male, the similarities end there. Both sociologists focus exclusively on bands from either North Americ a or the UK, and treat the heavy metal that was popular in the 1980s as the pinnacle of metal's aesthetic. The sociologists also attempt to reduce metal into one dialectic relationship, Walser analyzing control and release as exemplified by the guitar riff and solo respectively, and Weinstein looking at the tension between empowerment and alienation primarily as expressed through the lyrics. The two books that dealt with metal in a global perspective also attempt to deal with it in a more anthropological se nse, talking to individuals within the scene to explain how they create and manage the complexities of the scene instead of analyzing the ways that media structures create and market metal to individuals. LeVine's (2008) book on heavy metal in North Africa and
12 the Middle East explores the role metal plays as a site of resistance for both fans and musicians. Metal is seen as resistance because it gives rise to structures apart from the state, in a form that is fairly impenetrable to the state. When the state is oppressive (Morocco, Egypt, Israel, Syria, Pakistan), participants in these metal scenes become invested in maintaining their subculture in the face of the state's opposition (LeVine 2008: 7 12). In addition to metal, LeVine also looks at the role hip hop plays in this resistance as well. Both forms of music are seen as positive examples of globalization, further reinforcing their potential as sites of resistance. Kahn Harris (2007), on the other hand, tries to explain extreme metal as a global subcult ure and the way that (cultural) capital influences power relationships within the scene. He also relies on interviews with scene members, primarily to explore how the scene is constituted and maintained. A further discussion of LeVine (2008) and Kahn Harri s (2007) will occur in the next section. These four books all deal with metal as a way of discussing the concept of power, both the lack of and the desire for, so as a whole they complement rather than detract from one another. Heavy Metal The Books Lo rds Of Chaos written by Michael Moynihan and Didrik S derlind, was the first book in English published on the subject of Norwegian black metal. It was first released in 1998, with an updated edition published in 2003. Moynihan is a writer from the US, who has been heavily involved in the extreme right music scene, and S derlind is a prominent Norwegian music journalist. As it was the first book written on the subject, it helped to set the tone f or much of the popular writing about black metal in the subseq uent
13 years. It is fairly notorious in the Norwegian scene and is seen as a largely sensationalistic account of the events involved in the early years of the scene. The sensationalism of Lords of Chaos led to a mostly negative reception from scene members, especially Metalion (Jon Kristiansen), Fenriz of Darkthrone, and Varg Vikernes of Burzum. Vikernes' decision to downplay the narrative of the book is even stranger in light of the fact that Moynihan has some rather impressive credentials, at least for a cr ypto fascist, having worked for many high profile skinhead and neo Nazi record labels. When focusing on Norway and the nascent/burgeoning black metal scene, Moynihan and S derlind ( 2003 : 33 44) develop a cogent thesis statement: black metal is a natural outgrowth of the development of extreme metal, and the violent acts committed by members of the scene was an attempt to draw attention to both themselves and their beliefs. The analysis mostly centers around Varg Vikernes of Burzum, and to a lesser extent Euronymous of Mayhem. Large sections of the chapters on Norway are given over to situat ing the politics of the scene in a broader context, explaining how much of the Satanism was simply an anti social scare tactic while the raci st and nationalist rhetoric was, in part, a continuation of Vidkun Quisling's Norwegian fascist ideals (Moynihan and S derlind 2003: 166 75 ), which will be discussed at greater length in chapter three These discussions, of the historical basis for the views expressed by those in the black metal scene, helped guide me when looking for major themes in the artwork on the album covers. The examination of Quisling, for instance, shows that the black metal participants were well versed in their nation's history, and were cognizant of how t hey were using that history in the present time. Furthermore, the authors' discussion of Satanism was helpful
14 in illuminating the connections between anti Christian and pro Norwegian sentiments within the scene. The central musical thesis of the book is fairly similar to the one I lay out in my third chapter, demonstrating how black metal is a logical development in the evolution of metal. Moynihan and S derlind's (2003) argument starts with the popularity of bands like Van Halen and M tley Cr e as well a s the increased attention paid to heavier bands like Metallica and Guns 'n' Roses. These bands became increasingly image conscious, which spurred the next generation/trend to adopt an anti image pose, which is why so many death metal band photos look like four random metal fans hanging out and drinking. By looking like regular heavy metal fans and thus similar to their audience, death metal was attempting to put the focus back onto the music. However, as the underground developed and death metal became more popular and widespread, the next group of young musicians rejected the anti image style of death metal and synthesized death metal's rejection of stardom with thrash and NWOBHM's focus on an imposing visual presence, resulting in the very image conscious but tenaciously anti commercial black metal (Moynihan and S derlind 2003: 23 42). The strident anti commercial stance adopted by the early black metal scene weakened over time, and by 1997 black metal was commercially viable, at least by the standards of t he extreme metal scene. Thus, the Norwegian black metal as studied here was seen by its participants as an attempt to create metal that had a deep er meaning. This intentionality in the approach to creating the image of black metal emphasizes this thesis' investigation of the art as a source of information about ethnicity. The book elucidates this point through the large numbers of interviews
15 with key members of the metal scene, although it is clear, to me, that some were lifted, unattributed, in whole or i n part, from zines 1 Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore by Albert Mundrian (2004) deals with the history of those two extreme metal subgenres. The book begins with the development of hardcore and crust punk in England, be fore discussing the nearly simultaneous developments in England and the United States of grindcore and death metal, respectively. While these genres do have ties to the music that came before, Mundrian does a good job of emphasizing how weird and new they actually were, particularly the breakneck speeds, the horrific nature of the lyrics, and the level of downtuning the bands reached with their guitars. Grindcore, with its politically engaged practitioners, grew out of the UK's leftist anarcho punk scene (Mundrian 2004: 33 5). The genre developed as the musicians pushed each other to play faster and faster until they could no longer speed things up. Some view the beginning of grindcore, Napalm Death's debut LP Scum (1987), as the end of grindcore as well due to the fact that the sonic blueprint for the genre (brutally fast drums and down tuned guitars, short song lengths, growled vocals) did not allow for much development beyond sheer speed (Stosuy 2007). Napalm Death's success helped launch the extreme music label Earache Records, a strong supporter of underground metal into the 1990s that only lost the 1 The interview with Ihsahn of Emperor on 218 23 is lifted from Slayer Mag, and I know the Ulver interview on 223 6 is from there as well, which explains the distaste Metalion has for the book.
16 prestige of being a cutting edge metal label when they began releasing extreme techno records 2 in 1995. Grindcore was never a huge commercial success, although death metal was in the early 1990s. Death metal started in the US, mainly in California although the Florida scene centered around Tampa was also quite productive (Mundrian 2004: 66 93). Death metal took the speed and intensity of early Slayer and tried to take it one step farther, making the breakdowns and vocals more brutal, downtuning the guitars even farther, and generally being as uncommercial as possible. Slowly, the music became more and more complex and bands began recording in actual studi os instead of home recorded demos, so the sound of death metal became codified in the Tampa, Florida area by about 1987 or 1988 (Mundrian 2004: 203 4). Around this time, death metal in Sweden began to grow out of the extreme music scene there as well, alth ough the Swedish scene also built off and responded to the metal coming out of Tampa, resulting in two different death metal sounds, based on which iconic studio the band recorded in: Sunlight Studio in Stockholm, Sweden, with the producer Tomas Skogsberg, and Morrisound Studio in Tampa, with the producer Scott Burns. In the early 1990s, bands like Morbid Angel, Obituary, Deicide, and Death were experiencing a surge in popularity and widespread acceptance, with further interest in some Swedish bands like Entombed and Dismember (Mundrian 2004: 162 6). The scene suffered from this increased attention and the resultant material success, however minor it 2 It seems that the main reason for this shif t was an interest of the label president in the fastest possible music, and if it were possible to be faster than grindcore, the computer assisted speeds of extreme techno was where it would be found (Mundrian 2004: 207 9).
17 may have actually been. Bands squabbled, and by 1996 the metal landscape had shifted again, away from the b rutal death metal of the early 1990s towards the more melodic Gothenburg style and the by then world famous Norwegian black metal scene (Mundrain 2004: 247). Death metal is still the most popular/widespread of the extreme metal subgenres, and now includes a large variety of sub subgenres, such as technical death metal (tech death), death/doom, deathcore, and blackened death metal (Weinstein 2000: 288 9). Tech death is a largely Canadian phenomenon, and features breakneck riff changes and crus hing break down s. Death/doom combine s the brutality of death metal with the atmospheric riffs and slower tempos of Black Sabbath esque doom metal. Deathcore is a combination of death metal and metalcore, itself a synthesis of death metal and hardcore; deathcore features blast beats, growled and screamed vocals, and the occasional melodic riff. Blackened death metal is the synthesis of black and death metal, usually incorporating black metal solos into death metal breakdowns. Swedish Death Metal by Daniel Ekeroth provid es an in depth look at the development of the Swedish death metal scene. It features interviews with members of every major band and some of the more obscure earlier bands. Like the US death metal scene and the UK grindcore scene, Swedish death metal grew out of hardcore punk, although the gestation period was much longer in Sweden, with the first hardcore band appearing in 1981 while death metal does not appear until late 1988 (Ekeroth 2008: 18 25). At times this book is nothing more than back to back anec dotes from Swedish death metal musicians discussing how they were able to get the exact sound they wanted out of their time in the studio, but what it lacks in variation it makes up for in the amount of
18 information provided. This book is especially helpful when comparing the way the artists treated their work. While Norwegian black metal bands were posing with swords in dimly lit forests, Swedish death metal bands were having major labels pay for animated music videos featuring Wolverine from the X Men (Eke roth 2008: 264 5; Mundrian 2004: 161). Thus, the artwork in Norway was largely created by the individual band and laden with meaning, while the artwork from Sweden was created with more of an overtly commercial appeal in mind. Early Swedish death metal ha s a thick sound with warm distortion on it, which means that the guitars are overdriving the microphones, resulting in the trademark buzz saw guitar riffs. This was the main style in Sweden until 1994 or 1995, when bands from Gothenburg really began to mak e their mark, with a production more indebted to bands of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) like Iron Maiden. The Gothenburg sound, also known as melodic death metal, consisted of the bright and complex guitar riffs from the NWOBHM with the fast drumming and growled vocals from death metal, became immensely popular in 1995 and 1996, although most of the bands that played in the style quickly began to sound too similar (Ekeroth 2008: 222). At The Gates is far and above the most important of these melodic bands, but they broke up in 1996 at the height of their popularity. Ekeroth also provides an interesting perspective on the development of the Norwegian black metal scene as a participant in a rival scene, although his chauvinism does come through in how (un)seriously he treats some of the Norwegian bands, especially Darkthrone (2008: 248). One crucial aspect of this book that alone probably justifies its existence is the 118 page long discography in the back, with
19 every death metal band from Sweden that Ekeroth could find evidence of (hundreds of bands), with everything they released and who played on what, in addition to a large section of promotional artwork from the around the scene. As a member of numerous Swedish death metal bands Ekeroth has m any opinions on Swedish death metal, although at times his lack of distance from the scene complicates his judgment of the music. Heavy Metal Islam by Mark LeVine (2008) details his travels throughout the underground metal scene in a number of Middle Ea stern and North African countries, including Egypt, Israel, and Pakistan. Despite not discussing much black metal, LeVine documents the difficulties involved in playing a type of music that many view as a threat to the established order (LeVine 2008). He focuses his attention on Orphaned Land, a death metal band from Israel that began incorporating Arabic and Jewish folk melodies and instruments into their metal, as a way to bridge the divides between the two traditions (2008: 115 6). They are held up as t he first Oriental metal band, although many bands that play a similar type of metal label themselves differently, usually Mesopotamian metal or world (as in world music) metal. Throughout the book, LeVine presents metal fans and musicians trying to forge t heir own style who face constant danger from their conservative governments. He stresses the importance of metal as a site of resistance for these people, because by even listening to the style of music and wearing t shirts promoting metal bands the scene members mark themselves as different from the traditional order of things (2008: 14 6).
20 Missing from the above works is the perspective from the local Norwegian black metal scene. I included zines in my research to attempt to correct this imbalance. Duri ng the early years of the metal underground, information was passed between members through zines and writing letters to other fans in frequently distant locales. Zines were self published magazines made by fans (hence another name: fanzines) to distribute information about the author(s)'s favorite bands and artists. They frequently included interviews and reviews of demos, rehearsal tapes, and albums, as well as the occasional article about topics of interest, usually horror movies, weird news events, or o ther scenic interests. In the scene, it was good etiquette to respond to all of the serious letters you received. A reputation for not answering mail would often result in unpopularity for bands or individuals. The letter writing has largely died out with the spread of the Internet although some zines continue to be published. On the occasions when a central member of the scene also published zines, then that zine had the possibility to serve as a unique document of a particularly fertile time in the scene 's history. Such is the case with Slayer Magazine, a Norwegian zine published by Metalion, the pen name of Jon Kristiansen, between 1985 and 2010. The importance of Metalion and Slayer cannot be overstated, as Metalion was close friends with many members o f the core black metal scene, including Euronymous and Varg Vikernes. Metalion: The Slayer Mag Diaries by Jon Kristiansen (also known as Metalion) (2011) is a behemoth of a book at more than 700 pages. Calling it a treasure trove of information on the em bryonic Norwegian black metal scene would be underselling Metalion's contributions. While not a musician himself, he was a central member of the
21 Norwegian black metal scene. He introduced Euronymous to Dead when the latter was still the frontman of Sweden' s Morbid. He introduced Stephen O'Malley to Samoth and Ihsahn of Emperor. O'Malley would design the album cover for Emperor's Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk (figure 29), as well as publish a zine called Descent as well as play in a number of extreme meta l bands including Sunn O))), Khanate, and Burning Witch. Metalion was friends with Euronymous and Varg, as well as B rd "Faust" Eithun, the drummer in Emperor, who was the other Norwegian black metal band member convicted of murder. Throughout the years, M etalion was able to interview just about every major Norwegian black metal band, only missing Hades, which is famous only for one of its members being imprisoned for arson. The Slayer Mag Diaries contains a huge amount of primary source documents of the ve ry beginning of the Norwegian extreme metal scene. Thus, by using it as a source, I am able to try and understand the attitudes and perspectives of the black metal scene members in Norway. Conclusion In this chapter, I lay out the various sources I draw upon for the majority of this work. I start from Benedict Anderson's (2006) ideas about the development of nationalism and the various complications that arise from it. Nationalism shifts to ethnicity to capture the Comaroff's (2009) definition that makes the link between material culture and ethnic identification explicit. Also influenced by their book is the notion that people can consciously reflect different parts of their ethnicity in order to market themselves or their ethnicity as a commodity. I use the Adams' (1991) notion of pragmatic typologies to classify my data set, early Norwegian black metal album covers,
22 the description and sorting of which is influenced by Geertz's (1973) interpretive theory as well as notions of connoisseurship imported fro m art history. The books about metal were useful in a less specific sense, for without them, I would have no ground on which to situate my analysis of black metal. Of primary importance are Moynihan and S derlind (2003) for their literally ground breaking work on black metal, Kahn Harris (2007) for his in depth study of power relations in the global metal scene, and Kristiansen (2011) for the wealth of information contained in his documentation of the early black metal scene in Norway. Using these insights, in the next chapter, I discuss the history of metal, in particular how Norwegian black metal developed, focused on the unique positioning of Norwegian black metal as an ethnically marked genre.
23 Chapter 3 A Brief History of Metal Genesis With this cha pter, I will explore the ways in which black metal and its resultant material culture has been used in Norway to express an ethnic identity. Black metal is a subgenre of heavy metal. Heavy metal, also known as metal, is a genre of popular music that began in the late 1960s. The genre started in Birmingham, England with the band Black Sabbath. Sabbath was initially a blues based rock band like Led Zeppelin, but by incorporating slower tempos, alternate guitar tunings, and lyrics that revolved around warfare, death, and the occult, they created the genre of heavy metal and laid the foundations for many of the subgenres that would later develop. Unlike many of their contemporaries, Black Sabbath's lyrics dealt with witches, demons, and other supernatural creatu res, both literally and as metaphors for social ills, and were written as the aural equivalent to horror films. England continued to be a hotbed of metal innovation in the 1970s, with bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest leaving the blues influenced sty le of Sabbath behind and playing a faster and harder type of metal that quickly became known as the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM). This new type of metal, inspired not by the blues but by metal itself, focused on faster, more aggressive playing with heavily distorted guitars and often featured two lead guitarists to give the sound even more presence. These bands also frequently incorporated technically complex song structures borrowed from progressive rock, which lead to epic multi part songs.
24 As the sound of the genre became more defined, the commercial prospects for the bands broadened considerably (Weinstein 2000: 145 71). Def Leppard and Iron Maiden were two of the most successful metal bands of the early to mid 1980s. These bands were also hugely influential, Iron Maiden was practically the living template for NWOBHM, while Def Leppard had a large influence on the sound of commercially popular metal. Iron Maiden and Def Leppard are also important because they represent a turning point in the history of metal, the moment in time when metal split into popular and underground categories. Def Leppard and their imitators became increasingly important to labels as moneymakers, which directed industry efforts towards the cultivation and support of b ands playing in a similar style. This style became known as "pop" or "glam" metal, which became increasingly popular, especially in the United States (Kahn Harris 2007). Two bands from the United States also helped spread the popularity of heavy metal in the late 70's and early 80's: Quiet Riot and Van Halen. Quiet Riot was formed in L.A. in 1973 but achieved massive success a decade later with their album Metal Health and the single "Cum on Feel the Noize". On the success of that single (it peaked at #5 on the charts), Metal Health reached #1 on the Billboard album charts, knocking The Police's Synchronicity out of the top spot. This was the first time a metal band in the United States had ever had a #1 album, and the fact that Quiet Riot had a #1 al bum and a Top 5 single was unheard of for a metal band. Musically, Quiet Riot was fairly standard metal, like Def Leppard, but one of their founders was Randy Rhoads, influential for his guitar work on Ozzy Osboure's first two solo albums, "Blizzard of Oz z"
25 (1980) and "Diary of a Madman" (1981) 3 Van Halen also had a hugely influential guitarist in Eddie Van Halen 4 While it took Van Halen until 1986 to finally have a #1 album, they were probably the most popular metal band from the US 5 Early Van Halen a lbums were distinct from what was happening elsewhere in the metal scene, although by 1984 (and the album 1984 ") their sound was mainstream and indicative of what would come to be thought of as the "Sunset Strip sound", the glam metal of bands like Poison and Motley Crue. The vein of metal that remained underground was a reaction against this commercialization. Underground metal was seen as a fundamentalist response to glam metal, in the sense that 'fundamentalism' implies a disgust with decadence, such as glam metal's glorification of sex and hedonism (Kahn Harris 2007). Britain led the way in developing the sounds of underground metal, although American bands were not far behind. Early Development of B lack M etal One of these new underground British metal bands was Venom, a band from Newcastle, who took the occult references of Black Sabbath and stretched them to 3 Randy Rhoads died in 1982 whil e on tour with Ozzy Osbourne, a year before "Metal Health" came out. Rhoads was flying in a plane piloted by the tour chef, but the chef was high on cocaine and crashed while trying to fly close to the tour bus. Both died, as did the band's hairdresser. Un derstandably the loss of his guitarist and best friend sent Osbourne into a deep depression, and the loss still haunts him to this day (Klosterman 2005: 108 9). 4 One of his primary influences is Jimi Hendrix, whose influence is generally glossed over in h istories of metal, for which I can see two possible reasons. First, his style of music was extremely varied, from traditional blues to early metal, folk to blustery hard rock, while also incorporating many psychedelic flourishes. Second, and disappointingl y, his exclusion from metal history might also be due to his race, since metal has been played predominantly by people of European descent. 5 Van Halen was so big that at their most critically acclaimed, they were able to almost cancel a festival as a con tract negotiation ploy to ensure that they received more money to play than David Bowie at the US Festival in 1983. They were promised $1 million to play, but when they found out that Bowie was being paid the same amount, they threatened to pull out of the ir headlining slot unless they received $1.5 million.
26 cartoon like levels of Satanism. Their first three albums ("Welcome to Hell" 1981, "Black Metal" 1982, and "At War With Satan" 1983) suffered fro m crude production values and less than stellar musical skills. Venom's lyrics contained many and frequent references to Satan, blasphemous acts, and other controversial topics. The crude sound and nearly constant opposition to Christian morals and beliefs heavily influenced the black metal genre, which even took its name from Venom's second album, Black Metal ". The members of Venom also performed under stage names, which is a practice that did not begin with Venom although they did take the practice to ne w levels by adopting evil sounding names like Cronos, Mantas 6 and Abaddon. The practice of taking evil or occult stage names quickly became popular among metal artists, especially those that played black metal. Venom also served as inspiration to later ba nds through their theatrical stage shows involving blasphemous imagery and an abandonment of subtlety in favor of a theatricality "which teetered over of an abyss of kitsch and self caricature" (Moynihan and S derlind 2003: 13). Despite this over the top i magery and extremely blasphemous lyrical content, the members of Venom are not Satanists, merely musicians that intentionally offended listeners to increase the attention they received from fans and the media. While Venom is commonly seen as a black metal band, they are sonically more akin to early thrash metal bands like Metallica and Slayer. Despite the fact that musically they lack the traits commonly associated with black metal, Venom were an early and important influence on later black metal bands. 6 Mantas was the guitarist for Venom, but a band from Tampa went by that name in honor of Venom. Florida's Mantas would go on to become Death, one of the first death metal bands.
27 An other influence that looms large in the history of Norwegian black metal is Bathory, a band from Stockholm, Sweden. The only permanent member of Bathory was the musician Quorthon, and the band ended with his death in 2004. Like Venom, Bathory also recorded their albums under less than ideal conditions, often in the garage where Quorthon worked (Rivadavia "Return of the Darkness and Evil"). Bathory's first album, "Bathory" (1984), was recorded for about two hundred dollars and was "very dirty sounding" due t o the fact that the machine it was recorded on was used for cutting demos in the studio they borrowed it from, as well as the fact that all nine of the songs w ere recorded in fifty six hours (Moynihan and S derlind 2003: 16 7). On their second album, this lo fi approach continued, with one song, "The Rite of Darkness memorably featuring a section that is clearly off time (Rivadavia "Re turn of the Darkness and Evil" ). Also like Venom, the members of Bathory all adopted stage names, although they were not personalized and were instead standardized for the revolving bassists and drummers, Kothaar and Vvornth respectively. Musically, Bathory was an early, if not the earliest, practitioner of black metal as it is known today (Kahn Harris 2007). The band's soun d was a furious cacophony of buzz saw guitar riffs, light speed drums, and a tortured singing style similar to a croak or a shriek (Moynihan and S derlind 2003). Bathory also began incorporating synthesizers into their repertoire, although primarily to add texture or an air of spookiness. Bathory's first three albums ("Bathory" 1984, "The Return of Darkness and Evil" 1985, and "Under the Sign of the Black Mark" 1987), along with those of Venom 7 formed much of the stylistic groundwork for later black metal bands. 7 After releasing At War With Satan ", Venom played a much smaller role in the development of black metal. Even that album was a departure because the title track is a 20 minute long prog rock influenced
28 However, with their next albums, Bathory also influenced and presaged changes to black metal that were still to come. Bathory initially played a straight forward style of black metal with very fast tempos and lyrical content dealing with themes of death, evil, and the occult. As Quorthon's musical skills grew, so did his ambition for Bathory's albums. The next three albums ("Blood Fire Death" 1988, "Hammerheart" 1990, and "Twilight of the Gods" 1992) had a slower, more developed sound including incr eased production values and keyboards that moved beyond the Satanism of the early albums to incorporate the mythology and archetypes of Scandinavia (Moynihan and S derlind 2003). Loosely conceived of as a trilogy, these albums all dealt with Vikings and go ds from Norse mythology, particularly Odin. These albums laid the foundation for the subgenre of black metal that would come to be known as Viking metal. Viking metal was originally an off shoot of black metal, although since its inception the style has gr own to encompass death metal as well. Specifically, Hammerheart is held up as the pinnacle of Bathory's Viking metal period and the prototypical Viking metal album. Hammerheart is a concept album detailing the "Christian invasion of Scandinavia during medieval times, and [Quorthon's] pagan ancestors' forced conversion" (Rivadavia Hammerheart "). With these releases, Bathory sought to explore the mindset of a practitioner of the ancient religion of Scandinavia (Moynihan and S derlind 2003: 19). Bathory' s music glorified this ancient past, and made explicit the antagonism between Christianity and those who wanted a return to an earlier time. monstrosity while the other half of the album is similar to their earlier works.
29 Another influence in the creation of black metal were the Swiss bands Celtic Frost and Hellhammer. Hellhammer came first, featuring Tom Gabriel Fischer (under the name Tom Warrior), Martin Eric Ain and various drummers, and played a very raw brand of metal equally indebted to Venom and Slayer. They became widely known through the tape trading scene on the basis of the ir demos, which earned them a contract with a German label, which lead to the release of an EP shortly before the band broke up. Celtic Frost arose from the ashes of Hellhammer, and played a style of metal with avant garde influences, incorporating many st udio effects to broaden their sonic palette. The main contributions from Switzerland to black metal came in Celtic Frost's drawing of inspiration from medieval artists like Hieronymus Bosch and the exploration of sound and space, primarily from their epic sound and complicated instrumental techniques, and Hellhammer's lyrical obsession with demons and the apocalypse. A further trend pioneered by Celtic Frost was an explicit borrowing from horror movie imagery when they had H.R. Giger contribute album art to their album "To Mega Therion" (1985). A third metal band from continental Europe, Denmark's Mercyful Fate, helped to solidify the tradition of Satanism in black metal. Led by the singer and outspoken Satanist King Diamond, Mercyful Fate played a versio n of metal similar to NWOBHM bands like Iron Maiden, as well as Venom. Their early albums are explicit in their embrace of Satanism, although this Satanism was not the occult and sacrificial kind associated with horror movies, but was instead based on Anto n LaVey's philosophies (Moynihan and S derlind 2003). These beliefs center around "an opposition to herd mentality and dedication to a Nietzschean ethic of the anti egalitarian development of
30 man as a god on earth" (Moynihan and S derlind 2003: 8). Many ba nds incorporated King Diamond's style of face paint 8 and his use of macabre props in their stage shows (particularly a microphone stand made out of bones). These bands served as influences to the development of black metal, although not to the degree of Ve nom and Bathory. These bands were basically the entirety of the first wave of black metal. The sounds of the second wave of black metal began echoing forth from Norway in 1986, but it was not until the beginning of the 1990s that an identifiable sound beg an to coalesce around the Norwegian scene. Due to the primacy and fertility of the Norwegian black metal scene, second wave black metal is commonly known as "Norwegian black metal." Before a more in depth discussion of the Norwegian scene, attention ought to be paid to other extreme metal subgenres. This broader scope will situate the development of black metal as a response to other forms of metal, particularly death metal, and will also allow black metal to be seen as an expression of national identity a nd ethnicity through its status as something distinct from death metal. Refining the Underground The importance of Venom on extreme metal and the metal underground is similar to the role Black Sabbath plays in the history of metal Their influence on blac k metal is obvious, but it does not stop there. Along with NWOBHM bands like Iron Maiden and Motorhead, Venom inspired many different people to form bands playing similar styles 8 The origin of corpse paint is difficult to pinpoint exactly. Moynihan and S derlind assign credit to King Diamond, although visually, his face paint is similar to that of KISS and Alice Cooper. No black metal fan would ever admit that a band as no t metal as KISS could influence their scene though, so most black metal scene members trace the origins of corpse paint back to the Brazilian band Sarc fago. This I largely attribute to an interview with Euronymous in Slayer 8 , where he praises Sarc fago for their aesthetic and calls them an inspiration for Mayhem (Kristiansen 2011: 211).
31 of metal (Fischer and Ain 2010 ; Kristiansen 2011) The first style of metal to grow out of this faster and dirtier new metal was 'speed metal', although the genre of speed metal is often combined with the better known 'thrash metal' (Kahn Harris 2007). Both speed and thrash metal feature extremely fast rhythms and tempos, with the m ain difference lying in speed metal's generally shorter songs with incredibly precise playing, cleaner guitar sounds, and the tradition of dual lead guitars in the style of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Thrash metal on the other hand generally has a lead a nd rhythm guitar, a fuller and more noticeable bass sound, and complicated song structures. Originating out of southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area, thrash bands from one location would support and tour with their friends from the other. The two most important thrash bands are Metallica and Slayer, both from Los Angeles. Their style of thrash metal also incorporated hardcore (a style of punk with very fast drums, harsh guitar riffs, and shouted vocals) influences, especially the anti authorita rian stance adopted by Black Flag and other bands on the SST label (Azerrad 2001). While punk and metal were traditionally two very distinct scenes, SST was able to exert such a large influence on thrash metal due to the fact that the label was based in L. A. and featured very intense bands that had frequent and public clashes with the police. Similar to the way that Def Leppard and Iron Maiden exemplify the division between pop and underground metal, Metallica illustrate the differences between underground and extreme metal. Underground describes the popularity of a band, while extreme describes the sound of a band. Up through the release of "Master of Puppets" (1986), Metallica was an underground extreme metal band. That album was immensely
32 popular though, and brought Metallica a large audience, such that their next release, "...And Justice for All" (1988), was popular and extreme. Extreme metal is also an umbrella term for the genres of heavy metal that include thrash, grindcore, and doom, death, and blac k metal. These genres are grouped together because they all share a "musical radicalism a tendency to "teeter on the edge of formless noise and a resolutely anti commercial orientation when it comes to their music (Kahn Harris 2007: 4 ; see also Moyniha n and S derlind 2003, Levine 2008). Thrash metal is the most commercially successful subgenre of extreme metal, especially Metallica, one of the most popular metal band s ever, at least in terms of album and ticket sales. This commercial success of extreme metal is something of an anomaly because it is an example of an avant garde music scene becoming popular without (initially) compromising the integrity of the art. The popularity of thrash metal began in the mid to late 1980s, with 1986 seeing the release of Metallica's Master of Puppets ", Slayer's Reign in Blood ", and Megadeth's 9 Peace Sells... but Who's Buying? Reign in Blood was the only one of these albums to not go platinum 10 by 1992, having only achieved gold status by that time. All three of th ese albums are considered classic metal albums, with Master of Puppets and Reign in Blood frequently held up as the best thrash metal albums of all time 11 (Kahn Harris 2007). Thrash metal and hardcore punk 9 Megadeth is a thrash band from California led by Dave Mustaine, who played guitar in Metallica prior to them recording any material. Dave Mustaine is an interesti ng member of the metal scene because he became a Born Again Christian to overcome his alcoholism and drug addiction. This puts him increasingly out of step with the metal underground as it has led to him being a vocal social conservative, going so far as t o say he wants Rick Santorum to be elected President in 2012. The irony of a member of a metal band supporting social conservatives, historically antagonistic towards metal, is not lost on the metal community. 10 An album that goes platinum has sold at leas t 1,000,000 copies. Gold means at least 500,000. 11 In fact, it would not be out of place to say that these two albums are wholly necessary to the development of all extreme metal. With Master of Puppets ", Metallica put out the perfect combination of heavi ness and
33 served as the inspiration for death metal, a ty pe of metal featuring growled vocals, 'darker' chord sequences, and fast, complicated guitar figures with few solos. Reign in Blood had a tremendous influence on death metal, especially the Florida death metal scene, which was inspired by the intensity o f Slayer's playing on that and earlier albums. Death metal began in California, although Florida and Sweden were quick to develop scenes as well. Briefly, scenes are the social networks organized around the production and consumption of metal, usually base d around a locale (2007: 97 8). Slayer was also a primary influence to grindcore bands like Napalm Death and Carcass. Grindcore is a "punk influenced radicalization of death metal" that was produced primarily in England in the mid to late 1980's, contemp oraneous with the death metal scene developing on this side of the Atlantic (Kahn Harris 2007: 3 4). The sound of grindcore is even noisier and more challenging than death metal, featuring extremely fast music, grunted vocals, lyrics that were often politi cal (anarchist or far left), and very short songs 12 The invention of thrash metal greatly broadened the horizons of what it was possible to do as a metal band, but the introduction of this new type of metal had little impact on the Sabbath obsessed metalhe ads in doom metal bands like Saint Vitus and Candlemass. aggression while still being accessible enough to sell millions of copies (Weinstein 2000: 165). Reign in Blood ", on the other hand, is 28 minutes of literally non stop musical assault, full of riffs and pounding drums and screamed lyrics about t he evil of humanity. Metallica showed how big a band could get without selling out, and Slayer set the limit on how brutal, intense, and evil sounding a band could be. Metal made after 1986 exists in a bounded world, and the borders are those two albums. B ecause nobody could ever top the perfect metal ness of Reign in Blood ", bands now had to best it in one category or another. Death metal attempts to be more brutal, grindcore tries to play faster and more intensely, and black metal does its best to sound even more evil. 12 The shortest song ever released was by the grindcore band Napalm Death. It was "You Suffer", off their 1987 debut album Scum and it only lasted 1.316 seconds (Stosuy 2007).
34 Doom metal was a throwback to the lumbering sounds heard on early Black Sabbath albums. The music was incredibly slow and featured epic song lengths and gothic, melancholic lyrics. Unlike the othe r genres of extreme metal, doom metal did not have a central geographic location for bands to come together and influence one another. Instead, doom metal was played on the edges of other scenes, which meant that doom metal was never a particularly large g enre. Often, there are only one or two doom metal bands from any one particular location and time period. Saint Vitus are probably the most obvious example of doom metal, although they share a place of reverence with Candlemass and Pentagram. All doom meta l bands owe a primary debt to Black Sabbath, although some bands would include thrash like passages into their songs, although even then the tempos were rarely particularly fast (Khan Harris 2007). While other subgenres of extreme metal were seen as consci ously new and innovative, doom metal was primarily nostalgic and mined the original vein of metal rather than branching out and exploring new sounds. This is not to say that doom metal bands did not grow and change musically, just that they tended to stay within narrow artistic confines. An exception to this view of doom comes from the Pacific Northwest, primarily Seattle, which in the early 1990's was the epicenter of the grunge scene. The main doom bands from Seattle were Thorr's Hammer and Burning Witch both featuring Stephen O'Malley on guitar, and Earth, the project of Dylan Carlson infamously the friend of Kurt Cobain who bought him the shotgun he used to commit suicide. These bands experimented with sound collages and drones to radically broaden t he possibilities for what a metal band could sound like. The
35 traditional narrative of metal and grunge from this time period is that grunge essentially "killed" metal, at least as far as popularity among the record buying public. While this narrative is ac curate it functioned similarly to a forest fire by getting rid of the weak bands and allowing the new forms of metal to grow and thrive without demands to be commercially viable. Scandinavian Innovation Norwegian black metal 13 drew inspiration from many d ifferent forms of extreme metal to arrive at a sound so uncompromising that many see it as the most extreme form of metal (Hunt Hendrix 2010, Thacker 2010, Khan Harris 2007). Black metal was slow to develop in Norway, with most of the bands playing in Oslo the capital, or Bergen, a large port city. Mayhem was the first black metal band in Norway, and its guitarist, Euronymous (real name ystein Aarseth ), ran the record shop Helvete (Norwegian for 'hell') which served as the focal point for black metal in O slo. Euronymous is credited, along with Snorre Ruch 14 from Thorns, with inventing the high pitched style of guitar playing that is now seen as a black metal trademark (Aites and Ewell 2009). Additionally, Euronymous also ran the first Norwegian black metal label, Deathlike Silence Productions 15 ( Moynihan and S derlind 2003) Mayhem rarely played live shows, so their popularity was spread through trading tapes and the small quantity of official releases they made. Mayhem and other Norwegian bands like Burzum, Darkthrone, 13 From this point on, the phrase 'black metal' will refer to Nor wegian, or second wave, black metal. I will use 'first wave black metal' to refer to bands like Bathory and Venom. 14 Snorre later served time in prison as an accessory to Euronymous' murder. 15 Although the first album released on it was The Awakening (1990 ), by Swedish death metal band Merciless. This album is also noteworthy for being the first full length Swedish death metal release (Ekeroth 2008: 151).
36 Emperor, and Immortal quickly began playing what we recognize today as black metal, favoring fast drums 16 extremely trebly guitar sounds, tremolo picking, shrieked vocals and the lowest fidelity production they could find. Some bands, notably E mperor and Ulver, quickly added keyboards and folk influences, while others used better studios to create a fuller sound. The bands that continued to play raw and harsh black metal criticized those who did not for compromising the sounds and intentions of black metal. Lyrically, black metal was decidedly nihilistic and anti Christian or pagan in outlook. Frequently, lyrical themes revolved around glorifying the past of Norway or celebrating the natural landscape of the country (Khan Harris 2007, Moynihan and S derlind 2003). Like most metal lyrics, black metal lyrics were frequently in English, although the Norwegian bands were some of the first to begin singing in their native language. Some bands, particularly Ulver and Enslaved, also used ancient dialec ts, including Icelandic, Old Faroese, and Old Norse. These old tongues served to link the bands to the past and pay tribute to their ancestors, as well as further distance themselves from the popular music scene. The scene in Norway was not as densely po pulated as Sweden's, numbering less than twenty distinct bands compared to dozens in Sweden. Of these, I consider five to be the central core of the scene: Burzum, Immortal, Darkthrone, Emperor, and Mayhem 17 There are other nexuses of bands though. Ulver and Arcturus had many shared members, 16 A common technique was the 'blast beat', which is usually played on the snare or bass drum and is at least 180 beats per minute, although upwards of 240 bpm is not unusual. The combination of extremely fast drums and guitar is what often gives black metal a sense of stasis since all of the sounds blur together. 17 Thorns could be seen as a sixth core band but they only released demos during this period, and Snorre, their guitarist, played in other black metal bands, including Mayhem, Emperor, and Satyricon.
37 as did Satyricon and Gorgoroth. The band Dimmu Borgir would eventually become the most popular Norwegian black metal band, and many of the musicians that comprise Dimmu Borgir also played in other bands. Enslaved were quite productive in the scene without being too involved with the more controversial aspects of it. There were additional, minor bands like Ancient, Fimbulwinter, Hades (also known as Hades Almighty), Carpathian Forest, Ildjarn, and the band Thou Shalt Suf fer, which broke up to form Ildjarn and Emperor. All of these bands were active before 1994 and most put out their best work by 1997. While not all of these bands were involved in the core based around the Helvete shop, all participated in the Norwegian mu sic scene and supported one another in their music. In many interviews at the time, band members drew a sharp delineation between Norwegian black metal and Swedish death metal, which was the largest and most popular scene in extreme metal at the time 18 The y claimed that they were playing a truly Norwegian type of music, whereas death metal was seen as trendy and foreign (Moynihan and S derlind 2003, Metalion 2011). In addition to pushing the boundaries of metal, many people involved with the Norwegian black metal scene also committed a number of very serious crimes. Criminal Activity The many crimes committed by those involved with black metal caused a media frenzy in Norway, similar to the ones in the United States involving Ozzy Osbourne and 18 There are actually two subscenes in Swedish death metal. One is made up of the bands that record ed at the Sunlight Studio in Stockholm. This sound is characterized by a very thick, heavy midrange guitar tone created by turning all of the settings on a distortion pedal to the middle. The other was known as Gothenburg death metal, which featured a more distorted guitar tone than either its Tampa or Stockholm counterparts, with less of an emphasis on varied tempos or breakdowns and a return to the classic twin lead guitar technique of NWOBHM (Ekeroth 2008).
38 Judas Priest 19 (Moynihan and S derlind 2003: 4 5, Khan Harris 2007: 27). There were numerous counts of grave and corpse desecration, many of which were committed by members of various bands, although some were also the work of fans or copycats (Moynihan and S derlind 20 03: 81 4, 94 6; Aites and Ewell 2009). In most cases, the graves were dug up for the macabre pleasure of possessing human bones, although there were rumors that the bones were used in occult rituals. A lot of the crimes committed by members of the black me tal scene were perpetrated in the name of cultivating an air of danger and mystery, although the more serious crimes were not as simple to explain as the grave and corpse desecrations. The radicalization of behavior in the black metal scene started with a wave of arsons throughout the country concentrated solely on historic wooden churches that began on June 6th 1992 with the burning of the stave church 20 in Fantoft, near Bergen. This fire was allegedly set by Varg Vikernes, born Kristian Vikernes, also kno wn as Count Grishnackh, the sole member of Burzum, who later served time in prison for the arsons of three other churches in addition to murder (Aites and Ewell 2009; Moynihan and S derlind 2003, Kahn Harris 2007). In total, some fifty churches were burne d to the 19 In the US, these panics stemmed from fears th at 'backmasked' vocals (the vocals of a song played backwards) contained hidden messages that lead teens to commit suicide. No connection was ever proven, and both bands were cleared of all charges. 20 Stave churches are a traditional Norwegian type of chur ch so named for the four strong posts ( stav in Norwegian), one in each corner of the main room. They often have gabled windows and roofs that lead to a sharp steeple. They are constructed entirely from wood and are sometimes weather proofed with pitch. Add itionally, many stave churches bear runic inscriptions. Built primarily during the Middle Ages, stave churches are synonymous with Norway and are today regarded as national treasures (Moynihan and S derlind 2003: 81).
39 ground in connection with the black metal scene, with most major bands featuring at least one member who was involved with the arsons 21 Varg Vikernes and Euronymous were the main creative forces in the close knit black metal scene. Euronymous p rovided much of the financial backing for the scene, while Vikernes provided the scene with a sense of purpose. Vikernes was a former skinhead and so was well versed in literature from the far right, especially Nazi Germany. Due to this intense study of Na zi ideology, he soon became obsessed with Vidkun Quisling, the Minister President of Norway under German rule (Moynihan and S derlind 2003: 166 70). Quisling tried to establish a religion known as "Universism," which incorprated pagan and Christian symbols into a pantheistic framework. This, along with the fact that Vidkun Quisling was a distant relative, influenced Vikernes to begin to advocate for a return to the pre Christianity pagan religious tradition of Norway (Moynihan and S derlind 2003: 167). T his return to tradition served as the justifications for the arsons as Vikernes believed the sight of the symbols of Christianity burning would awaken a long dormant passion for the old religion (AORTA fan 'zine 1995). The church at Fantoft was chosen by Vikernes as the first church because he alleged that it was built atop a burial mound to one of his ancestors, and thus was especially egregious to him. This is another example of a way in which black metal was used to articulate a Norwegian identity, with black metal 21 The only core Norwegian black metal band from the early 1990's to not be directly involved with these activities was Darkthrone. Fenriz, their drummer and lyricist, expressed ambivalence about the arsons while explicitly distancing himself from them (Aites and Ewell 2009). Burzum, Emperor, I mmortal, and Hades all had members serve time for arson, and Euronymous from Mayhem would probably have gone to jail too had he not been murdered before the arsons were solved.
40 serving as a form of resistance and rebellion against something that most Norwegians rarely ever thought about: the Church of Norway. The Church is the official state religion of Norway and the King is constitutionally appointed as the head of the Church. At the time of the arsons, more than 85% of the Norwegian population belonged to the Church of Norway, although less than 5% of them attended church in a given year 22 (Moynihan and S derlind 2003: 235 6). If Norwegian black metal is more (in)f amous for anything other than the church arsons associated with it, it is surely for the two murders that were committed by scene members. One was committed by Faust, a member of Emperor, in Lillehammer. Faust was at a bar drinking on the night of August 2 1st, 1992, and was asked by a man at the bar to go on a walk with him through the woods. Once well into the woods, Faust stabbed the man to death. The man, Magne Andreassen, was gay, although this was not a motive for the murder (Moynihan and S derlind 200 3: 111 6). This murder originally had no suspects until January 1993 when an "unnamed scene member" (widely known to be Varg Vikernes) gave an interview to a newspaper in Bergen stating that members of the scene were involved in the church arsons (Moynihan and S derlind 2003: 115 6, 379 81; Kristiansen 2011). This increased scrutiny led the police to the small scene, and Faust was subsequently apprehended and convicted. The other murder was committed by Varg Vikernes. Almost a year after the first murder, on August 10th, 1993, Vikernes went with Snorre Ruch, a friend and fellow 22 This gave rise to the humorous saying to the effect that a Norwegian goes to church three times, but two of those times they are carried.
41 black metal musician, to the apartment where Euronymous lived, allegedly to sign some contracts. Conflicting accounts emerged about what happened next, with Vikernes claiming that E uronymous intended to torture and kill him, while friends of Euronymous deny this. Vikernes also claimed to have acted in self defense after Euronymous attacked him, although the physical evidence suggests otherwise. Euronymous had 23 knife wounds, with th e majority of them (16) on his back (Moynihan and S derlind 2003). Either way, Vikernes was convicted of the murder and in 1994 was sentenced to 21 years in prison, of which he served 15. With these gruesome acts three of the biggest black metal bands were forced into a hiatus or to bring in new members, signaling an new era for the black metal scene in Norway. The murders committed by scene members cast a dark shadow over Norwegian black metal, but it is important to not turn them into myths. The murders helped to make the scene infamous around the world, but they do not constitute the high water mark of the scene, nor should they. Sensationalistic accounts of the murders that paint the scene as ultra violent and obsessed with murder do a disservice to the music as well as to the memories of the deceased. To claim that their deaths were part of a larger plan to spread black metal and its message is both false and lacking in an understanding of the situation. In my opinion, Faust murdered the man in the park because he wanted to kill someone and Magne Andreassen was the first person to walk by. Varg Vikernes' claim that he murdered Euronymous in self defense is clearly ridiculous. I think Euronymous's murder can be traced back to his rivalry with Varg. While it is certainly possible that Euronymous owed Varg a large sum of money, killing him would not result in Varg
42 receiving any money. The two murders committed by black metal scene members were tragic episodes in the history of the scene: knowledge of them is important in understanding the scene's intensity. Conclusion In this chapter I have presented an overview of the history of metal up to and including the development of Norwegian black metal. This brief history of metal should not be read as a complete history of the genre, but instead a foundation of knowledge for the rest of the thesis. As such, it overlooks many interesting bands and innovations. It only concerns bands from the post industrial West, and is almost exclusively populated by white males 23 There were many bands that played a role in the development of black metal and heavy metal itself that are largely unknown today because they did not have the same access to the global scene as these bands. One tool that is helping to correct this lack of information about non Western early metal is the Internet Many bands from places like Brazil and Czechoslovakia were connected to bands discussed in this chapter through tape trading networks, but since these networks consisted largely of cassette demos, there is a serious amount of information missing about their music. With the spread of the Internet more of these bands are being rediscovered by metal fans around the world. The best example of this is Sarcofago, a Brazilian black metal band that began releasing albums in 1987. This early in the history of black metal (Mayhem, the first Norwegian black metal band had only released a demo and an EP by then, respectively, 23 Two noteworthy exceptions to this rule are Slayer's bassist and vocalist Tom Araya, who was born in Chile, and Jo Bench, the female bassist for English death metal lifers Bolt Thrower.
43 1986's "Pure Fucking Armageddon" [figure 32] and 1987's "Deathcrush" [figure 48]), th ey sound like a more death metal influenced Bathory, but it is clear that they had a fairly unique sound, albeit one heavily obscured by the dismal recording conditions they worked under. Brazil had a small death metal scene, although the main band to achi eve attention from the global music press was Sepultura, a band that moved to the United States early in their career and recorded primarily in Tampa. Sarcofago represents one of the possible stylistic developments that black metal could have taken, but be cause they were making metal in a Third World country 25 years ago, few people heard them and thus they are excluded from the historical narrative of black metal. In the next chapter, I present my typology of cover art. In it there are six thematic categ ories and one category labeled "other". These categories and their descriptions make explicit the connections between Norwegian black metal album covers and the various markers of ethnicity the bands used to represent Norwegian identity.
44 Chapter 4 A Bl ack Metal Typology The album covers of Norwegian black metal bands present a unique symbolic interpretation of Norwegian identity. The bands achieved this through two different sets of symbols, a traditional set and a modern/"lost now found" set. Symbol h as been defined in many ways, but here, I define it as "a vehicle for cultural meaning" (Ortner 1973: 1339). Thus, many parts of the album covers can be read as symbols, including the setting, any figures, and as I discuss below with Edvard Munch, even the emotion the art is conveying can be a symbol. These symbols have meaning in part because of what they refer back to, but also because they are displayed in public, connecting them to other cultural elements and situating the symbols and messages within a dense web of meaning (1973: 1343). Before expanding upon those symbols and cultural references, I will discuss issues of style and symbolic analysis, building on Ortner's foundation. Ian Hodder (1982) argues that style needs to be understood in the conte xt of the society it occurs in. The various symbols that compose a style are linked to an understanding of the "overall structure of ideas [in the society]" (1982: 206). He also posits that "studies of stylistic variation must examine both structure and fu nction" (1982: 207). Hodder is still very much concerned with processual archaeology, so his analysis of style is very system and structure oriented, although it provides a useful foundation. H. Martin Wobst (1999) discusses style as expressing social affi liation in regards to an archaeological reading of material culture. In his definition of style, form does not simply follow function, but it also conveys information (1999: 119). Style is not the "dead end output of something that is there before materia l" or the "material correlate of social
45 affiliation" (1999: 120). Rather, it is the "aspect of form that 'talk' or 'write' and th at are 'listened to' and 'read' (1999: 120) Therefore, style in the context of Norwegian black metal cover artwork is the cor pus of symbols that the artists use to articulate and construct their social affiliation. Furthermore, Wobst argues for understanding style as the active material intervention in social relations (1999: 122). In this typology, I employ these concepts of st yle to analyze the symbols that appear on the covers of Norwegian black metal albums (structure), describe how they reference traditional Norwegian images and themes while simultaneously constructing a new Norwegian identity explicitly rejecting the modern culture of Norway (function). In performing this symbolic analysis, I collected forty nine album covers released between the years 1986 and 1997. These album covers feature a wide range of images, from landscapes to band members wearing corpsepaint in a variety of poses to fantastical paintings with mythological or religious themes. Many of the covers also make reference to Vikings in their artwork, which is one pl ace where I could easily recognize the symbols on the albums as connecting to ideas about No rwegian identity. Adams and Adams (1991) argue that typologies need to be goal oriented. When constructing this typology, I organized the symbols into six broad thematic categories based on which aspect I thought was most prominent, although a seventh was needed to include all of the covers. My goal for this typology was to create a tool for organizing symbolic themes that are present on Norwegian black metal album covers. The traditional set of symbols is largely drawn from late 1800's Norwegian folk art, as well as the work of renowned Norwegian artist Edvard Munch. Munch was born in December of 1863 but
46 moved to Oslo with his family in 1864 when his dad was appointed medical officer of Aker shus Fortress, which guarded the city's harbor. He lost his mothe r in 1868 and a sister in 1877 to tuberculosis, losses which contributed to the melancholy of his later paintings. Munch began studying as an artist in 1881, perhaps due to the influence of Jacob Munch, a distant relative who had also founded the art schoo l where Edvard studied (Rosenblum 1978: 3). He quickly exerted his own style, progressing from an early grappling with naturalist forms to a much more stylized post Impressionist mode that presaged much of the innovations of the Expressionist movement. In 1890, he moved to Paris to study in an artist's workshop, but he showed little passion for it (Clarke 2009: 33). By the middle of the decade, Munch was well known for his distinctive and vivid style in Paris and Berlin, the artistic centers of Western Euro pe (1978: 1). His popularity reached its zenith during his life in 1912, when he had his first American gallery opening in New York and was afforded prominence equal to the likes of Cezanne, Gauguin, and van Gogh in a prestigious Cologne gallery. His inclu sion in the canon of great post Impressionist artists is a curious anomaly, as he is the only Norwegian, and usually the only Scandinavian, included among the loftiest names (1978: 9). Throughout his life he moved between Paris Oslo, and a rural town sout h of Oslo where he summered for the latter part of his life. He was well acquainted with the Norwegian countryside, and his prodigious body of work demonstrates this. Munch painted a large number of scenes set in the natural world, including beaches, fjor ds, forests, parks, and gardens. These were often landscape paintings, devoid of figures, meant to convey the sublime beauty of the world to the viewer (Nergaard
47 1978: 113 5). Many of these paintings were executed in blues and purples, which represented bo th the melancholic air Munch intended, as well as the Norwegian sky, another intentional representation of Norway in Munch's art (Clarke 2009: 60 6, 70). When Munch painted people, his subjects were frequently gripped by extreme emotions including dread, a nxiety, and depression (Nergaard 1978: 115 8). Both of these themes are present in the album art of the black metal scene. Many of the included covers depict frost covered landscapes, although the presence of figures in many of them is an interesting varia tion. The traditional imagery present in Norwegian black metal album covers is broken down into three categories: winter, landscape/forest, and melancholy, the latter of which also encompassed supernatural imagery and "folk" traditions that did not refer t o Norwegian or Scandinavian sources. Theme # of albums # of bands Major symbols Winter 5 4 Snow, the north, darkness (lack of sun) Forest/landscape 12 8 Trees (especially conifers), landscapes, mountains Melancholy/supernatural 10 6 Quotations of Munch mist, corpsepaint, darkness Blasphemous 7 6 Inverted crosses, burnt churches, demons Pagan/"folk" 2 2 Trolls, traditional structures Viking/war 7 4 Weapons, runes, armor, corpsepaint Other 6 6 Death metal, varies Table 1: Typological categories and major symbols
48 Many, if not most, album covers could easily be included in two or more categories, but for clarity's sake I have placed them only in one. An illustrative example can be found in the covers for Emperor's "Reverence" and Isengard's "Vintersku gge" (discussed in the next chapter). To start, both covers feature a solitary figure, in a landscape that is composed of snow on the ground and forest in the background. Neither figure is identifiable on sight, although since Isengard is a one man band, t hat figure is likely Fenriz. The only major thematic difference between the two is that there is no weapon on the Isengard cover. Despite this, why is "Reverence" in the winter category while "Vinterskugge" is in the landscape/forest one? The first distinc tion comes with comparing the prominence of the snow in the two covers: while the snow on "Reverence" fills the front half of the frame, on "Vinterskugge" it only covers maybe the bottom fifth of the frame. Similarly, the opposite is true of the trees on t he covers. Where "Reverence" only has trees on the horizon beneath a cloudy sky, "Vinterskugge" has a forest that looms over all else in the image, including the figure. Another distinction can be made on the thematic level. The winter category usually fea tures images of strength in the face of the cold, as demonstrated by the solitary figure on "Reverence", the fortresses on "In The Nightside Eclipse" and "Dark Medieval Times", and the lack of shirtsleeves on "Battles In The North." The landscape/forest ca tegory however usually depicts humans as weaker than nature, or at least much smaller than nature, as demonstrated by Darkthrone's "Under A Funeral Moon" and "Panzerfaust," as well as "Vinterskugge". While both categories depict humanity's relationship wit h nature as one of constant struggle, the winter category
49 celebrates humanity's victory while the landscape/forest category celebrates nature's dominance. The winter category includes five covers from four different bands. These album covers include Empe ror's debut LP "In The Nightside Eclipse", their follow up EP "Reverence", Immortal's "Battles In The North", Satyricon's "Dark Medieval Times", and Ulver's "Nattens Madrigal", all three LPs. Of these, "Reverence" and "Battles..." are both photographs, "Ni ghtside..." and "Nattens Madrigal" are paintings, and "Dark..." is a pencil drawing. All five, however, have one thing in common: lots of snow. The covers to Emperor's work in this category has a very distinct blue tint in them, highlighting the connection s to the work of Munch. The other covers have less of a thematic unity, although Ulver's artwork is evocative of a decidedly spooky atmosphere: their logo looks almost like it has been covered with icicles, and the howling wolf silhouetted by the moon is i conic. Satyricon's features a common black metal theme, the fortress. The two covers that are photographs both exhibit black metal trends. First, the band member displayed on the cover of "Reverence" is holding a knife, the theme being weapons. Second, on the cover of "Battles...", the band members are wearing corpsepaint. The next category is landscape/forest, but, before I move on, I will compare covers in both categories to demonstrate the differences between the categories. The landscape/forest catego ry is the category that includes the most albums. It features twelve albums from eight different bands: Ancient's "The Cainian Chronicle", Burzum's "Hvis Lyset Tar Oss" and "Filosofem", Darkthrone's "Under A Funeral Moon" and "Panzerfaust", Enslaved's "Fro st", Gorgoroth's "Under The Sign Of Hell", Hades'
50 "Alone... Walkyng" and "...Again Shall Be", Isengard's "Vinterskugge", and Ulver's "Bergtatt" and "Kveldssanger". Primarily, covers featured in this category include depictions of the natural landscape, fre quently with an emphasis on the forested nature of the land. Isengard is a side project from Darkthrone, and interestingly enough the three covers associated with these bands are the only ones to feature photographs with human figures in them. Burzum's "Hv is Lyset Tar Oss" and "Filosofem" as well as Ulver's "Kveldssanger" all feature human figures as well. The two Burzum covers are taken from a book by Theodor Kittelsen about the late arrival of the Black Death in Norway (Beste 2008). Kittelsen and Munch w ere well known to each other and respected each other's work; critics even went as far as to compare Munch's Scream to illustrations of trolls made by Kittelsen (Clarke 2009: 96 8). Both were great Norwegian artists, and both tried to capture part of what it is to be Norwegian, particularly through the landscape (2009: 98). Thus, the non human covers run the gamut from the naturalism of "Frost" to the almost comic intensity of "The Cainian Chronicle" to the Impressionistic cover of "Bergtatt". The covers fe aturing humans communicate a message first introduced above, that in the struggle between humanity and nature, nature has the upper hand. While both subcategories convey this, the covers with humans make it more explicit, while the non human ones merely su ggest the awe ful grandeur and power of nature. This theme, the strength and inhumanity of nature, is frequently present in the landscape paintings of Edvard Munch. He attempted to depict forests, fjords, mountains, and fields as possessing a "Norwegian" character, as being true to the essence of what he saw before him in his native land (Clarke 2009: 64 6). I think one of the main reasons for
51 this obsession with having a "Norwegian" version of something stems from, primarily, the advent of nationalism in Europe (Anderson 2006: 75). However, I think the quest for this essence was particularly strong/fervent in Norway because, after roughly 900 A.D., they were continuously autonomous but subjugated, alternating between Sweden and Denmark. Thus, while Norweg ians could tell that they were an individual group of people with their own customs and traditions, their rulers did not see themselves as all that different, culturally and linguistically. Norwegian has existed as an ethnicity, if not a nation on a map. T hus, people identified as Norwegian "have always been Norwegian", even if at times they lived in Sweden or Denmark. Under these conditions, the need for a particularly strong sense of "Norwegian" created masterworks of Norwegian art, be it Ibsen, Munch, or Mayhem. In the same way, the prominence of the landscape as a theme on black metal album covers is attempting to forge an emotional connection to their homeland. This category can also be read as a nationalist expression of pride in one's homeland, espe cially in light of interviews and statements made by some bands, most egregiously Burzum (Moynihan and S derlind 2003: 173 4). The only other bands I can think of that were making racist/nationalist statements anywhere near as extreme as those from Varg Vi kernes/Burzum are Mayhem and Darkthrone, both of which had strong ties to Vikernes. Hellhammer, Mayhem's drummer, was good friends with him, and Varg also wrote lyrics for two Darkthrone albums, one of which is in the landscape/forest category. The problem with reading too much into the racist aspect stems from the fact that most of the fascist statements can be attributed to a deliberately shocking posture (Bangs 1979,
52 Stosuy 2008). Vikernes is unique in being the only black metal artist from the Norwegian first wave to continually and openly advocate a far right political stance. Because this is an study of the entire scene rather than just Burzum, I will leave the fascism connection for future study. I will now move on to the third category under the trad itional set of album cover themes. The third thematic category in black metal album covers is a major theme throughout the works of Edvard Munch, melancholy. The melancholy category also includes supernatural references, although only ones pertaining to traditions not "native" to Norway, i.e. the Bible or Dungeons & Dragons. Melancholy was an almost constant theme in the figure paintings of Munch (Nergaard 1978: 115 8). In the Munch museet in Oslo, there is an entire collection dedicated to a series of wo rks executed by the artist exploring the subject of melancholy (there is also one dedicated to his paintings of snow). The inclusion of supernatural references also serves to heighten this conflation of melancholy with Norway, for by "placing a mythical fi gure within an identifiable Norwegian landscape, Munch underscored the relationship between Norway's present and its legendary past, and also suggested the continued relevance of these archetypes in the modern world" (Clarke 2009: 74). The category itself contains ten albums by six bands: Ancient's "Det Glemte Riket", Burzum's "Burzum" and "Det Som Engang Var", Emperor's "As The Shadows Rise" and "Emperor", Darkthrone's "A Blaze In The Northern Sky", "Transilvanian Hunger", and "Total Death", Mayhem's "Live In Leipzig", and Satyricon's "The Shadowthrone." These are quite varied stylistically, but all are striking at conveying a melancholic air. The linkage of black metal to Edvard Munch is
53 most explicit on the covers of "Transilvanian Hunger" and "Live In Le ipzig." Both covers feature band members in corpsepaint striking poses that directly quote Scream The only real change between the Scream of Munch and the screams of black metal comes from the compression of Munch's vibrant palette into black metal's star k black and white aesthetic. Similarly, Munch's complex and aristocratic melancholy becomes the depressed and teenaged melancholy of black metal. The other possible route to assertions of a Norwegian identi ty on black metal album covers is the modern one. This modern identity also includes a self conscious (re)adornment with "historic" styles (Moynihan and S derlind 2003: 195). I think that, upset with the perceived weakness/softness of the daily lives of contemporary Norwegians, black metal artists looked back to the Viking Age as a source of inspiration for a more warlike, aggressive version of what "Norwegian" could mean. The adoption of Viking trappings is a form of wish fulfillment. While some bands made explicit references to their Viking ancestry, th ey bear at best a superficial resemblance. Vikings were not the Norwegians that stayed home, rather they were the point of contact between Scandinavia and the rest of the world. Very few black metal bands ever toured, although the traveling metal band in a van as modern day Vikings is an enduring image. Interestingly enough, of the five black metal bands I can reasonably confirm as having toured during this period (Mayhem, Emperor, Hades, Ancient, and Enslaved), Enslaved toured quite extensively while dress ed in Viking armor 24 These modern categories are 24 A conc ert from Enslaved's 1995 US tour is available to watch on Youtube. http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=ABB00A6A40C75EC6
54 three fold: blasphemous, Pagan/"folk"/supernatural, and Viking/war. The categories have a fairly simple reasoning behind them. The blasphemous category of symbols used to construct a sense of Norwegian iden tity on black metal album covers has a long history in metal. My main argument for why it is used as a symbol of Norwegian identity comes from Lords of Chaos by Moynihan and S derlind (2003). They put forth the contention that, because of the economics of the situation 25 black metal bands are structurally prevented from directly attacking the state. Therefore, they attack the next most common institution common to Norwegians, their affiliation with the Church of Norway. 88% of Norwegians belonged to the Ch urch in the early 1990s when the arsons of churches began (Moynihan and S derlind 2003: 235 6). Through attacking a common connection, the black metal scene was expressing their break with Norwegian society and attempting to create their own vision of Norw ay. In the same way, blasphemous symbols on the black metal album covers align the physical documents of the scene with the political acts of a few within the scene. The blasphemous category contains seven albums by six bands. They are Burzum's "Aske", E mperor's "Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk", Gorgoroth's "Antichrist", Hades' "The Dawn Of The Dying Sun", Mayhem's "Pure Fucking Armageddon" and "De Mystriis Dom Sathanas", and Satyricon's "Nemesis Divina". Burzum's "Aske" EP is the type example, featuring t he charred remains of Fantoft stave 25 With the combination of a socialist democracy, giant oil reserves, and a tiny population, Norway has extremely liberal levels of w elfare.
55 church. Varg Vikernes burnt that church down. He burned down a church, took a picture of the pile of ashes that was left, then used that as the album cover for his release whose name, in Norwegian, means ashes (Moynihan and S derlind 2003: 91 4). The level of hatred directed towards churches is not without its own pitch black sense of humor. No other album cover so blatantly represents the contempt in which the black metal scene held the rest of Norwegian society. The "f olk" supernatural/pagan category turned out to be the smallest category, by quite a bit. It contains just two albums, Ancient's "Trolltaar" and Isengard's H stm rke ." Ancient was a minor band, extremely marginal, they even moved to the United States after releasing the "Trolltaar" EP. Isengard was the side project of Darkthrone's drummer Fenriz, and H stm rke was the project's only album( as conceived as such). "Trolltaar" is categorized as "folk" supernatural/pagan because the cover is simply a line dra wing of a troll. The troll is one of the most common figures in Scandinavian folklore, and was omnipresent in gift shops and stores oriented towards tourists when I visited Oslo this spring. The inclusion of H stm rke was slightly more dubious, as the co ver is a photograph of Fenriz, devoid of corpsepaint, standing in front of a wooden door/wall. He is wearing a necklace with some sort of intricate design, but the meaning of this is unclear. I classified this as "folk" supernatural because the wooden stru cture behind him features traditional looking architecture, but does not belong in any of the above traditional categories. Thus, it belongs with the "folk" supernatural, by dint of the architecture. This category also had the possibility for the most over lap, and I think part
56 of the reason it is so small is that I erred on the side of caution and kept covers out of this if I thought the category could be split. The third and final modern category of black metal album covers is Viking/war. As discussed ab ove, this category represents a return to an idealized past for the language to construct a more acceptable future. The category contains seven covers from four bands. They are Ancient's "Svartalvheim", Darkthrone's "Crossing The Triangle Of Flames", Ensla ved's "Hordane's Land", "Vikingligr Veldi", and "Eld", and Immortal's "Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism" and "Pure Holocaust." Many of the covers contain weapons, and all but Enslaved's releases feature band members in corpsepaint. "Svartalvheim" and "Diaboli cal Fullmoon Mysticism" both feature photographs of band members spitting fire, something that was theoretically possible, using whale oil, for Vikings to do. Enslaved also bears special mentioning if only because they were explicit about their embracing o f a Viking heritage image. They toured dressed like Vikings, rather than in the corpsepaint that was popular among the Norwegian bands. In fact, Enslaved were the only band to not wear corpsepaint. One of the main reasons for the inclusion of war imagery i nto the black metal bricolage is the tension between the US and the Soviet Union. Varg Vikernes on multiple occasions expressed a fear of a US invasion of Norway and resultantly stockpiled a large number of weapons and quite a stash of ammunition (Moynihan and S derlind 2003: 154 63; Robyn 2011). It was even part of this cache that Dead (Mayhem's best singer) used to kill himself in 1991. The co occurrence of heavy metal and weapons was not new, but the level of fetishization that occurred in Norway was. Mo st bands would pose with their weapons in promo pictures,
57 although this practice extends even to the first wave of black metal, when Hellhammer and Celtic Frost would take pictures of themselves with their weapons in their bunker. There is a final catego ry, one that I just called other. This was the category for the odd and idiosyncratic that did not fit anywhere else. It includes six albums by six bands. They are Ancient's "Mad Grandiose Bloodfiends", Darkthrone's "Soulside Journey", Gorgoroth's "Pentag ram", Immortal's "Blizzard Beasts", Mayhem's "Deathcrush", and Satyricon's "The Forest Is My Throne". "Soulside Journey" is Darkthrone's death metal album, but also has an unusual cover, so it has a double warrant for being included. "Pentagram" is include d because it is pretty much just the band's name on the cover and nothing else. All of the other albums stick out in their own ways, although most provoke a confused reaction in light of the other themes in black metal. All of these albums deserve to be in cluded in a list of black metal albums from this time period, but are, from a cover artwork perspective, outliers. In the next chapter are the album covers discussed above, and descriptions of them, within the symbolic analysis aimed at exposing the key im ages used by Norwegian black metal. These images were chosen in an attempt to use attribute s that are obvious, so as to be clear and direct in goal (Adams and Adams 1991: 160 1).
58 Chapter 5 The Albums In this chapter, I have included the forty nine a lbum covers that I studied and my descriptions of them. These descriptions were made with an eye towards organizing themes. As such, the descriptions tend to revolve around what I considered to be potentially prominent themes in the artwork. In the previou s chapter, I laid the theoretical groundwork for my typology of black metal album covers, focusing on a symbolic analysis of contemporary material culture drawn from the works of Ortner (1973), Hodder (1982), and Wobst (1999). In this chapter, I describe t he individual covers that the typology organizes and highlight the references that are being made to different elements of Norwegian culture. Table 1 serves to condense the typology into one useful reference, including the major symbols through which ethni c identity is articulated on album covers. Tables 2 and 3 serve as guideposts throughout the body of this chapter. The majority of the thematic categories I used in this typology I created based on my analysis of the various symbols (Ortner 1973: 1343), al though I did include a few because of statements made in interviews by scene members (AORTA fan 'zine 1995; Moynihan and S derlind 2003: 167). Anti Christian sentiments, expressed as blasphemy, and pagan themes were the ones initially derived from intervie ws, while the rest stem from my own observations. I eventually was able to narrow my focus to six themes in particular, although there was a need to create a seventh theme to categorize those which did not belong. The six main thematic categories are also organized along two orientations, the traditional and the new.
59 The traditional categories, winter, forest/landscape, and melancholy, which also included supernatural elements, were also major themes of Edvard Munch, which cemented my linkage between thes e themes and a way of being "Norwegian" (Clarke 2009: 64 6, 70). The new elements are war/Viking, blasphemy, and pagan/"folk." As mentioned above, the latter two mainly arose out of interviews given by scene members. The war/Viking theme, to me, was very o bvious when looking at some of the album covers. Enslaved is explicit about the reference, but Immortal and Darkthrone are not shy about their love of weapons. Indeed, many more album covers than the ones included in the war/Viking theme had weapons on the m. Weapons and snow were probably the two most common symbols I encountered on these album covers. The forty nine album covers and their descriptions will be presented below, but I would first like to comment on the provenance of the images themselves used in this study. After I had drawn up a list of albums that fit my parameters (released music between 1986 and 1997, but before the death of Euronymous), I found Metal Storm (www.metalstorm.net, last accessed 30 April 2012) to be the most helpful in this process. It is a site originally from Estonia but is now run by an international team due to the popularity of the site. It had all of the album cover images that I needed, and thus, all images are used from that website's page for the album, unless otherw ise noted. The album covers are divided here according to the categories. They are arranged within their categories in alphabetical order. I chose to present them in this way to highlight the fact that these are not a developmental scheme, but rather a cor pus of symbols used to mark
60 these albums as belonging to a scene. The traditional categories are presented first, followed by the new categories, with other being the last group remarked upon. Theme # of albums # of bands Major symbols Winter 5 4 Snow, t he north, darkness (lack of sun) Forest/landscape 12 8 Trees (especially conifers), landscapes, mountains Melancholy/supernatural 10 6 Quotations of Munch, mist, corpsepaint, darkness Table 2: Traditional categories Winter The first album in the winter category is Emperor's 1994 debut LP "In The Nightside Eclipse" (figure 1). This cover is a fantasy themed painting done by Necrolord, a Swedish death metal band member and graphic designer (Kristiansen 2011). The terrain is mountainous and forested. The m ountains are craggy but devoid of snow, and the trees are, for the most part, tall pines. At the right of the image, on a plateau with a large waterfall, is a monolithic citadel with a great tower in the center. A bridge leads to it, and approaching that b ridge from the left is a troop of scary armed beings. It is unclear if they are human or not, although they are certainly humanoid. It is also unclear if they are attacking the citadel (they look very fierce and are armed for battle) or they are returning to it (the citadel looks as evil as they do). Above the scene is a cloud filled sky, except for the orb of light (probably the sun?) shining through the clouds. Just under the standard
61 Emperor logo is the image of Death riding his pale horse, the same imag e that will appear later in the chapter on their self titled EP. Additionally, in a good example of the ways in which Munch influenced black metal album covers, the perspective of this cover is nearly identical to the one used by Munch in some of his most famous works, including Scream and Melancholy (Nergaard 1978). Black metal symbols include snow, weapons, and forests. The next cover is from Emperor's 1997 EP, "Reverence" (figure 2). This album cover depicts a band member (either Ihsahn or Samoth) kneel ing in the snow holding a long knife. He is in a clearing in a forest, at what appears to be dusk. There are a few clouds in the sky, and it looks very cold. The kneeling figure is made the focus of the scene through the use of black areas around the edges and the fact that the photograph has obviously been "burned" to highlight the figure. Burning a photograph is when the developer overexposes one area so as to make it much brighter than the rest of the photo. This would also account for the lack of defin ition of the figure, whose face is impossible to make out, because when making the image brighter some detail is lost. The standard Emperor logo is here, this time in blue. Black metal symbols used include a weapon, snow, nighttime, and the forest. Next is Immortal's third album, released in 1995, "Battles in the North" (figure 3). This album cover features the standard Immortal logo, while the title font looks similar to that of "Pure Holocaust" (figure 43) except for the 'B' which looks like a slightly ornate cursive. The two band members are crouching in the snow, clutching stringed instruments: front/left is Abbath holding a five stringed bass, and back/right is Demonaz,
62 Figure 1: Emperor "In The Nightside Eclipse" (1994) holding a flying v guitar 26 The band members are wearing armor similar to Pure Hol ocaust: Abbath with some studded gauntlets, Demonaz with the same long nails as 26 At a recent metal show I attended in Tampa, every single band had a flying v guitar: the local death metal band, the technical death metal band from South Carolina, the black metal band from Arizona, the
63 Figure 2: Emperor "Reverence" (1997) spikes arm band that Grim (the drummer on "Pure Holocaust") was wearing. The snow covered field stretches almost to the horizon, although a hint of white sky appears in a black/death band from Poland, the black m etal band from Israel by way of the Netherlands, and the 20+ year black metal veterans from Greece.
64 Figure 3: Immortal "Battles in the North" (1995) narrow band at the top of the frame. This is also the only album featured to have any band members posing with their instruments. Black metal symbols include snow, explicit references to the north, armor, and band members in corpsepaint. The fourth album in the winter category is "Dark Medieval Times", the 1993 debut LP from Oslo's Satyricon (figure 4). This album cover features the standard
65 Satyricon logo, although it is slightly hard to read because it is black on gray. The album title font is unusual, and appears to be a cross between the standard gothic inspired font commonly seen in black metal and a thorn bush The image depicted appears to be in pencil. There is a humanoid figure riding a horse and brandishing an axe above [his] head. This figure is on a promontory at the base of a path leading to an imposing fortress. The barbican is being raised, and smoke is billowing out. The fortress sits atop a rocky hill or mountain, and the landscape behind the fortress is similar, fading back into a stormy overcast sky. The foreground is a field of white, suggesting s now. The wintertime setting is reinforced by the leafless trees, and the power of winter to kill is attested to through the skeletons half buried in the snow. Black metal symbols included are weapons, winter, snow, forests, and death. The fifth and final album included in the winter category is Ulver's third LP, "Nattens madrigal Aatte hymne til ulven i manden" (1997; figure 5) (translated means Madrigal of the night eight hymns to the wolf in man). Like the other Ulver albums, this cover has no title text, although the band name is in an ambiguous ribbon/snake font. The cover is a painting of a wolf on a mountain howling at the moon. The mountains are covered in snow, the wolf is silhouetted against the yellow moon. There are a smattering of clouds in the sky, but not to suggest a storm. The wolf sits at the base of a tree, which oddly looks like a Japanese cherry tree. What it is doing on a frozen mountainside is unclear, but it certainly lends a mysterious air to the image. Black metal symbols include d on this album cover are nighttime, mountains, snow, mysterious atmospheres,
66 Figure 4: Satyricon "Dark Medieval Times" (1993) and predators. This is the last of the albums in the winter category. The next category is the largest category, the forest/landscape.
67 Figure 5: Ulver "Nattens madrigal Aatt e hymne til ulven i manden" (1997)
68 Landscape/Forest The first album cover in the landscape/forest category is Ancient's 1996 second LP "The Cainian Chronicle" (figure 6). This was the first album that Ancient recorded after moving to the United States at the end of 1995, and is thus one of the only albums included here that were not recorded in Norway. The other two are Ancient's "Mad Grandiose Bloodfiends" (figure 44) and Darkthrone's "Soulside Journey" (figure 45), recorded in the United States and Sw eden respectively. This album cover features a color painting or drawing of a stormy fjord. In the foreground is a large pine forest covering a very steep mountain. There is no beach on the fjord, the water leads directly to the foot of the mountains. Alon g the left of the cover fjords stretch into the distance. The storm in the fjord is very active, and there are bolts of lightning striking trees. The light in the image comes from what appears to be the sun, and although it is unclear if it is rising or se tting, I suspect it is setting. Black metal symbols included are fjords and nighttime. The second album in the landscape/forest category is Burzum's third LP "Hvis Lyset Tar Oss" (figure 7), released in 1994. This album cover appears to be a pencil drawin g, just like the two previous Burzum albums, although this one was done by the Norwegian folk artist Theodor Kittelsen in a book he released depicting the Black Death's arrival in Norway (Beste 2008). The standard gothic influenced font is used on the cove r, although the choice of black lettering makes Burzum slightly difficult to make out in the top/left corner. The scene depicted is set along a forest path. In the foreground is a decomposing body, with skeletal face and hands but fleshly legs. This body i s in the bottom/left of the scene while the top/right is occupied by six crows/ravens in flight away
69 from the body. This is meant to imply the birds were feasting on the flesh of the body. This features many black metal symbols, including ominous figures ( the crows/ravens), the physical remains of the body, a forest setting, and possible mythological references, in this case the black birds as a stand in of Odin. The next album in this category is also a Burzum release, 1996's "Filosofem" (figure 8), altho ugh this was the fourth LP and was released after Vikernes had begun to serve time for the murder of Euronymous. It is unusual for a Burzum album cover due to its use of colors that are not on the black to white scale, but instead has sepias and browns pri marily. The gothic font is used for the band and album name, although the album title is outlined in white to make it more distinct from the background. The scene is of a woman sounding a trumpet on a forested hillside. She is wearing traditional Norwegian clothing. This scene is taken from the same Kittelsen book as "Hvis Lyset Tar Oss" (figure 7). The black metal symbols present include the forest, folk art, and nature. Next is Darkthrone's 1993 release, "Under A Funeral Moon" (figure 9), their third LP. This album cover continues with the template Darkthrone created on "A Blaze In The Northern Sky" (figure 21). It features the same figure as that album, who I identify as Darkthrone's bassist/guitarist/singer Nocturno Culto, standing against a black backg round. The figure is standing in the tree in the center of the image. He is holding a staff with something on the end, maybe a rock or weird knot from a tree, but it could be a skull. The tree is skeletal and barren. The logo and album title are white on b lack, although the album title font has changed from the last album. This cover features the black metal symbols of
70 Figure 6: Ancient "The Cainian Chronicle" (1995) corpsepaint, forests, black and white photography, and a mysterious/otherworldly vibe, h eightened by the fact that you can really only make out the figure's face and the forearm that is holding the staff.
71 Figure 7: Burzum "Hvis Lyset Tar Oss" (1994) The fifth album in the forest/landscape category is "Panzerfaust" (figure 10) a 1995 releas e from Darkthrone, and is the band's fifth LP. This album cover features a black and white image of a figure, probably a band member, standing in a moonlit forest. The top of the scene is a gray sky, with the Darkthrone logo top and center. The album
72 Figure 8: Burzum "Filosofem" (1996) title is in the standard white gothic esque font, making it stand out from the rest of the photo. The figure is holding what appears to be a woodsman's ax. Just above [his] head is the moon, although I suppose it could als o be the sun shining through a heavy bank of clouds. The figure is standing in a forest, lots of pine trees, and snow is visible on the
73 Figure 9: Darkthrone "Under A Funeral Moon" (1993) ground, suggesting a winter scene. Black metal symbols include the winter, the forest, a weapon, a black and white image, and corpsepaint.
74 Figure 10: Darkthrone "Panzerfaust" (1995) The next album in this category is Enslaved's 1994 LP "Frost" (figure 11). This album cover is a particularly tranquil one. It features t he Enslaved logo over a misty landscape. In the foreground, under the album title in runes, is the slope of a mountain, running down to the river's edge. The other side of the river is more shrouded in mist,
75 Figure 11: Enslaved Frost" (1994) although mountains fill the horizon. The cloudy skies above lend the image a dreamlike quality. Furthermore, mountain vistas were a prominent theme within Munch's works,
76 frequently as a stand in for Norway (Clarke 2009: 64). The black metal symbols included here ar e the runes and mountains. The next album in this category is the third album from Gorgoroth, 1997's "Under the Sign of Hell" (figure 12). This album cover looks like it is a negative of a photo, although it could also have been processed in a way so as t o look like this. Gorgoroth is written in the standard Gorgoroth gothic font (figures 30, 46), while the album title is written in a font where the 'o' is a quartered circle. The image itself is gray white, with black text. There are trees in the foregroun d, and they appear to be a mix of leafless winter trees and pine trees. There is a low hill in the background, and a black sun in the sky. The entire top half of the image is given over to the flat gray sky. There might be some snow among the trees in the foreground because there are black objects, which would be white objects in the original image. It might be snow, or it might just be an artifact of the development processes the photo went through. The black metal symbols included here are winter, forest, and snow. The next album in the forest/landscape category comes from Hades. It is "Alone... Walkyng" (figure 13), their 1993 demo. This album cover is a painting of a solitary figure on a journey through a bleak/dark forest. The Hades logo is in the top /left in red, against a cloudy gray sky. In the center of the sky is what appears to be the moon. The horizon is obscured by the forest, which is seen as impenetrable due to how dark it is. The figure is standing in the bottom/right, holding a sword. The ground between the cloaked figure and the forest is a greenish color, that I think is meant to be open ground. The entire cover is
77 Figure 12: Gorgoroth "Under the Sign of Hell" (1997) bordered by leafless trees, suggesting a winter setting. Black metal symbols include weapons, grim forests, winter, and night time.
78 Figure 13: Hades "Alone... Walkyng" (1993) The next album in the forest/landscape thematic category is another release by Hades, their 1994 debut LP "...Again Shall Be" (figure 14). This album cover features white text on a mostly black background. The Hades logo is the same, although it is much bigger here than on Alone... Walkyng (figure 13, 1993) which allows you to see that it
79 Figure 14: Hade s "...Again Shall Be" (1994) has two scythes in it. The font for the title is the standard g othic, and under/inside the logo is "(Norway)". This was included for two reasons. First, it marks this album as a product of the Hades from Norway, helpful in the global metal scene where many bands have similar names. Second, it marks this album as "Norwegian metal", which reflects
80 the attention paid to matters of Norwegian ethnicity within the metal scene. The cover image is a night sky with a number of bolts of lightning forking about. The black metal sym bols included are explicit references to Norway, the gothic font, lightning, and nighttime. The next album in this category is "Vinterskugge" (figure 15), the 1994 debut album from Isengard, the one man band side project of Darkthrone's drummer Fenriz, a nd is actually a collection of the three demos he had self released before then. Musically, it is similar to Soulside Journey (figure 45) and A Blaze In The Northern Sky (figure 21), although there is a clear folk element to the music, especially the vocal s. The Isengard logo is white, and I think all of it is a Lord of the Rings reference: Isengard is a fortress in the books, the figure is taken from a Lord of the Rings role playing book, and the font looks like the font used for maps in the books (Moyniha n and S derlind 2003; Beste 2008). While Isengard and a few other bands make reference to the Lord of the Rings mythos, Tolkien mostly seems to have served as simply a welcome source of names (Isengard, Burzum, Count Grishnackh). The title text is also wh ite, and has the black metal gothic feel to it. The photograph is of a person (likely Fenriz but the figure is too far away from the camera to tell definitively) clutching a sapling as they trudge through the snowy forest at night. The trees appear to be c onifers, recalling both being on a mountain and the far north. Black metal symbols include nighttime scene, gothic feel, snow, forests, and the individual in/against nature. The next album in this category is the 1995 debut LP "Bergtatt Et eeventyr i 5 capitler" (figure 16)(translated as Taken into the Mountain A fairy tale in 5 Chapters ) by
81 Figure 15: Isengard "Vinterskugge" (1994) Ulver. Unlike most debut albums by Norwegian black metal bands, this featured acoustic folk elements and the occasio nal use of clean vocals, although it is certainly still black metal. It lacks title text, but Ulver is depicted in a font comprised of ribbons or snakes (it is difficult to tell from this cover, but I have seen their name many times in the Slayer
82 Figure 16: Ulver "Bergtatt Et eeventyr i 5 capitler" (1995) zine [Met alion's label Head Not Found released this album] and the letters are always snakes). The cover appears to be a painting, done in a heavy impasto style, of a wooded mountainside. The forest is heavily coniferous, suggesting a northern setting (Clarke 2009: 78 9). The sky is dark, but has stars, making it a nighttime scene. Common black metal symbols present are forests, mountains, and nighttime.
83 The last album in the landscape/forest catego ry is "Kveldssanger" (figure 17), Ulver's second LP, released in 1996. "Kveldssanger" is not technically a black metal album: it is entirely acoustic, and features chanted choral vocals instead of traditional black metal styles. It is the band's attempt to create a classical/folk sound, while remaining true to the spirit and atmosphere of black metal. The cover is done in an impasto style similar to their previous album, and this cover features a shining blonde [female] figure walking through a forest at ni ght. There is a mountain peak in the background, and the slightest hint of a sliver moon. The sky is dark blue, but not especially cloudy. The identification of the scene as taking place in a forest is not immediately obvious, as there are only two easily identifiable trees, but it could be that the figure is walking down a mountain and is just now crossing the tree line. To the left and above the figure is a ghostly winged white wolf. Ulver is one of the Norwegian words for wolf, so there might be some con nection there, but it is ambiguous. The band name is presented in the same font as the first album, although here the snake/ribbon distinction is even more ambiguous. The black metal symbols present include mountains, forests, predators, nighttime, and sup ernatural feelings and atmospheres.
84 Figure 17: Ulver "Kveldssanger" (1996)
85 Melancholy/Supernatural The category of melancholy/supernatural is a large one as well, with ten albums. The first is Ancient's 1994 debut EP, "Det Glemte Riket" (figure 18). This album cover appears to be a photograph. The photograph depicts a hooded figure standing in a gazebo or temple like structure. The structure is in a forest, and is open on all sides to nature. The hooded figure is holding something, maybe a book, possi bly a scale. The entire image is washed out in a light blue, giving the art an otherworldly feel. The Ancient logo is different on this cover than on their "The Cainian Chronicle" (figure 6, 1996) one. The black metal symbols present include a melancholic and supernatural atmosphere. The second album in the melancholy/supernatural category is Burzum's self titled 1992 debut album, "Burzum" (figure 19). This album cover is a fairly straightforward one. It has the standard Burzum gothic font, this time whit e on a black background, and does not have an album title, likely because it is an eponymous release. The scene is in a swamp/marsh area, and there is a central hooded figure, shrouded in mist. There is a pool of water at the figure's feet, surrounded by w hat appear to be reed like plants. There are a few decrepit leafless trees, but otherwise the landscape is mostly bare. The figure is ghostly and reminiscent of Death, although this is a tenuous identification at best. Interestingly, this cover appears to depict the same scene as the cover of "Det Som Engang Var" (figure 20, 1993), just with a shift of perspective (with the gate at the viewer's back, instead of facing the gate). Black metal symbols present include the melancholy, death, and the gothic font.
86 The third album in the melancholy/supernatural category is the second LP from Burzum, 1993's "Det Som Engang Var" (figure 20). This album cover is fairly different from many of the other ones. It looks like a pencil drawing, but is very intricate. It use s the standard Burzum gothic font, with black lettering on the gray background. The scene is set outside of the vast and imposing Temple of Elemental Evil, a location in Dungeons and Dragons (Moynihan and S derlind 2003). In front of the temple's gate is a desolate swamp looking environment, with banks of shrouding fog/mist. There is a small hooded figure in the mist, approaching the gate. The gate itself is set into a giant wall. Atop the wall are spikes and terrifying visages that serve as parapets. There are two large gargoyles that are perched on the structures that delineate gate from wall. Above the gate is another gargoyle, and then two posing figures that suggest the female form, and then what looks like a giant goat head. The sky above is roiling wi th thunderclouds, and there are multiple bolts of lightning. Through a break in the clouds it is possible to make out an orb of light, although it is unclear if it is the moon or the sun. This features many black metal symbols, including a figure with no fixed identity, tempestuous nature, and melancholic/supernatural images. The fourth album in the melancholy/supernatural category is Darkthrone's classic second LP, "A Blaze In The Northern Sky" (figure 21), released in 1992. After a first album of death metal, Darkthrone shifted musical styles to an extremely lo fi black metal. This album was one of the earliest black metal albums, and was hugely influential (Kristiansen 2011). This album is a classic, and the cover is part of that legacy. It features a c orpsepainted band member posing in the dark. He (Nocturno Culto) is posing in what
87 appears to be a graveyard, left hand on a piece of worked stone and right hand being swung, as if swiping at the viewer. It is a little hard to tell, but it also seems that his hair is blowing behind him, so he might also be jumping down from the worked stone to his left. Either way, the rest of the image is just darkness. The logo and album title are present in white text against the black background. This cover features bla ck metal symbols such as corpsepaint, black and white photography, a nighttime scene, and ghastly images The fifth album in the melancholy/supernatural category is Darkthrone's fourth LP, "Transilvanian Hunger" (figure 22), released in 1994. This cover fe atures a similar figure to the one on the cover of Darkthrone's "A Blaze In The Northern Sun" (figure 21), only this time holding a flaming candelabra and wearing inverted cross necklaces. The figure is again corpsepainted, with the same black eyes as the figure on the previous cover. He is screaming, and is posed in such a way as to be a quotation of Edvard Munch's Scream as discussed in Chapter three. The logo and album title text are in the same style as the previous album. It features the same black me tal symbols as "A Blaze In The Northern Sky" (figure 21): corpsepaint, black and white photography, a nighttime scene, and ghastly images. The next album in the melancholy/supernatural category is Darkthrone's sixth album in seven years, 1996's "Total Dea th" (figure 23). The cover of this album is an unusual one for Darkthrone. This is the first album since "Soulside Journey" (figure 45) in 1990 to not feature the band members on the cover. Instead, there is a painting of a space scene, with a rocky moon r ising over mountains in the distance. There is a bright
88 Figure 18: Ancient "Det Glemte Riket" (1994) star, probably a sun, to the left of the Darkthrone logo in its standard position (top/center), but this logo is gray instead of black and more difficult than normal to read. The foreground is a bluis h rocky planet, although it appears to be lifeless and empty, so it
89 Figure 19: Burzum "Burzum" (1992) is probably not Earth. Very unusual, but it conveys emptiness and the feeling of cold/alone, so it is in line with black metal's aesthetic g oals of melancholy and isolation. The next album in this category is Emperor's self titled 1993 EP, "Emperor" (figure 24). This cover is a Gustave Dore woodcut image (Death on a pale horse
90 Figure 20: Burzum "Det Som Engang Var" (1993) [Revelation]), featuring the standard Emperor logo, here in red. The image is of Death riding his horse through the night sky. There are clouds in the lower left, and there are lines out of which Death rides. These are indistinct, but t hey could very well be Hell that Death is riding out from. More imposing than the other Dore image (figure 25), but less
91 Figure 21: Da rkthrone "A Blaze In The Northern Sky" (19 9 2 ) emotionally stilted/charged. Black metal symbols include a focus on death, a mysterious feel, and Biblical references.
92 Figure 22: Darkthrone "Transilvanian Hunger" (1994) The next album is another EP from Emperor, 1994's "As the Shadows Rise" (figure 25). The cover of this EP is from a Gustave Dore woodcut (Beste 2008). It depicts a woman on a forest path, kneeling at a rock/n atural altar and gazing mournfully at a
93 Figure 23: Darkthrone "Total Death" (1996) skull. The cover seems very melodramatic and emotionally charged, if only as a grand display of emotion at the representation/presence of death. The image is sat urated in blue,
94 Figure 24: Emperor "Emperor" (1993) a standard practice of Munch's when conveying melancholy (Clarke 2009: 64). The black metal symbols present include melancholy, death, and a forest
95 Figure 25: Emperor "As the Shadows Rise" (1994) The penultimate album in the melancholy/supern atural category is another classic of the genre, Mayhem's "Live in Leipzig" (figure 26). This album cover is for a live release from Mayhem. It was recorded in Germany in November of 1990, but was not
96 Figure 26: Mayhem "Live in Leipzig" (1993) released until 1 993. It is one of the few official releases by Mayhem to feature Dead on vocals. The Mayhem logo is present and is white on the black background. There is no title text. The image is a simple image, a figure in corpse paint holding a candelabra with
97 five c andles. I think the figure is Mayhem's singer, Dead; the eye markings look like other pictures I have seen of him. The photo looks almost identical to the cover for Darkthrone's Transilvanian Hunger (fi gure 22), except Dead does not have visible crosses around his neck, nor does he appear to be screaming. This is interesting because Dead died in 1991, while the album was released in 1993 and Transilvanian Hu nger was released in 1994. This means that Dead took this photo before he died, which would make Darkthrone's cover an homage to Dead. The pose that Dead is making came to have meaning in its ability to reference this image. Ironically, Dead was Swedish, so this symbol in/of Norwegian black metal is alien in origin. Black metal tropes include corpsepaint, black and white photography, an air of mystery, and the Dead/ Scream pose. The last album in the melancholy/supernatural category is Satyricon's 1994 alb um "The Shadowthrone" (figure 27). This is the album cover for the second LP from Satyricon. It features their standard logo, this time in red. The album title font looks like a highly stylized gothic font, with very thinly lined letters. The image itself is quite esoteric. It appears to be a ghostly hooded figure, standing in some sort of room with the suggestion of a tapestry on the wall, but beyond that, a literal description of the cover does not convey much. This adds to the uncanny atmosphere that I t hink they intended though. Black metal symbols include mysterious figures, the supernatural, gothic font, and a sense of unease/eerie air.
98 Figure 27: Satyricon "The Shadowthrone" (1994)
99 Theme # of albums # of bands Major symbols Blasphemous 7 6 Inver ted crosses, burnt churches, demons Pagan/"folk" 2 2 Trolls, traditional structures Viking/war 7 4 Weapons, runes, armor, corpsepaint Table 2: New categories Blasphemous The blasphemous thematic category is the beginning of the new set of categories. T he first album in the category is Burzum's 1993 EP "Aske" (figure 28). This is one of the most infamous black metal album covers of all time. It depicts the architectural remains of the Fantoft stave church, thought to have been burned down by Varg Vikerne s, the sole member of Burzum. The photo is taken from below eye level, lending a sense of reaching to the heavens to the ruins. While there are trees present, it I do not think it is intended to be primarily read as a forest scene, but rather I think the f ocus is obviously on the remains of the church ('aske' means ashes in Norwegian). This album cover is definitely bragging about the transgressive nature of Varg/Burzum, and was probably useful evidence in Varg's arson trials, although he was ironically not convicted of the Fantoft arson. The black metal symbols present here include black and white photography, very strong anti religious feelings, and a forest. The second album in the blasphemous category is Emperor's second LP, "Anthems to the Welkin at Du sk" (figure 29), released in 1997. This cover was designed by Stephen O'Malley, a musician and 'zine author from Washington State. This cover is a
100 riot of images, with what appears to be angels and demons and knights fighting in the bottom/front right quar ter but stretching back to the horizon, on a field of towers and clouds that in the front are clear but grow less distinct as the eye moves into the image. The figures engaged in combat appear to be from a woodcut, although they could also be a line drawin g in that style. The towers appear to be a mix of photographs and drawings. Overall it suggests a collage. The entire image is also tinted to be a greenish yellow color. There is no real landscape aside from a few trees in the background, and there is no w ay to determine a time or location of the scene. It features the standard Emperor logo. Black metal symbols include a supernatural subject matter, demons, and battle. The next album in the blasphemous category is Gorgoroth's second LP, "Antichrist" (figur e 30), released in 1996. This album cover is pretty straightforward. It features a black and white crucifix that has been inverted, a standard symbol meant to offend, one that frequently appears in black and death metal artwork. Under the album title is th e phrase "True Norwegian Black Metal", the rallying cry/descriptor of choice for Norwegian metal. The black metal symbols contained in this album cover include the black and white cover art, the inverted cross/sacrilegious imagery, and "true Norwegian" as a description of the sounds within. The next album in the blasphemous category comes from Hades. It is their second LP, released in 1997, and was the last to be released before they changed their name to Hades Almighty in December of 1997. The album cover for "The Dawn of the Dying Sun" (figure 31) is a painting of what looks like Jesus and another man. All of the text is yellow, but the trend of gothic font and the same Hades logo continues. The focus is on
101 Figure 28: Burzum "Aske" (19 93) the two figures, although there are minor details in the background of the painting. The man in red is the one I am assuming is Jesus, and he has a large gash on his chest. The man standing over him is lookin g down on him with what appears to be mercy, although his face is in profile so it is difficult to read for emotion. In the background there are a
102 Figure 29: Emperor "Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk" (1997) number of flying black birds, I can count four or five. There are also figures on the ground between the figu re in red and the sky/horizon, although I cannot tell if these are crows, people, or maybe even haystacks. I think that the cover is punning on the album's
103 Figure 30: Gorgoroth "Antichrist" (1996) title, substituting son for sun. Black metal symbols inc lude possibly the crows, the supernatural feel, the gothic font, and violence toward religion.
104 Figure 31: Hades "The Dawn of the Dying Sun" (1997) The next album in the blasphemous category is Mayhem's first demo, "Pure Fucking Armageddon" (figure 32). This is the release that started it all: this 1986 demo from Mayhem that marks the beginning of Norwegian black metal. This features the
105 unique line up of Euronymous on guitar and vocals, Necrobutcher on bass, and Manheim on drums. After this demo, Euronym ous stopped singing and played only guitar. This was self released by the band on cassette, and this version of the album's cover is the same general image, just a much better reproduction. The Mayhem logo and gothic title text are in white on a black back ground here, while the colors are reversed but the font maintained on the cassette version. Even this early, a font with a gothic feel is used, although I do not believe that Mayhem started this trend in the greater metal community, but rather serves as an early/the first example of it. The image itself is of a crucified figure, probably Jesus. The figure is obviously in agony, and a light shines on the face serving to highlight the facial distortions caused by the pain. The background appears to be a churc h as it consists of gray stone walls. Black metal symbols included are gothic font, sacrilegious/anti religious imagery, black and white photography, and a feeling of horror/the supernatural. The next album in the blasphemous category is the seminal debut LP from Mayhem, "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" (figure 33). It was recorded during the winter of 1992 3, but was not released until the end of May 1994. Between the two dates, the bassist murdered the lead guitarist, which caused the delay in the release. Du ring the recording of this album the line up of Mayhem consisted of Euronymous on guitar, Attila Csihar on vocals, Hellhammer on drums, Varg Vikernes on bass, and Snorre Ruch on rhythm guitar. Hellhammer was asked by Euronymous' family to remove Varg's bas s parts and rerecord them, which he agreed to do but in reality failed to do.
106 Figure 32: Mayhem "Pure Fucking Armageddon" (1986) This is a landmark album in both the Norwegian black metal scene and the larger global metal scene. Mayhem was the original Norwegian black metal band, and this was their debut studio LP. This was recorded at the Grieg Memorial Hall in Bergen, the same
107 studio where many of the Burzum and Emperor LPs were recorded. Sonically, this is the classic black metal album, an encapsulation of all the feelings and sounds associated with th e scene at the time (brutal high register riffs, blastbeats, cold, dark, lonely, angry). While the cover does not necessarily convey this legendary status, it is important in its own right. The cathedral depicted on the cover is the royal cathedral, Nidar os Cathedral 27 located in Trondheim, the third largest city in Norway. The cathedral is depicted in a creepy blue tone, with no other landmarks or even a setting, just the stark, blue cathedral. Above the cathedral is the Mayhem logo in gray and white, ha nging over the cathedral like a black metal Bat Signal. The album title translates from Latin as something like "The Mysteries of Lord Satan." 28 The font used for the title is not the standard gothic inspired black metal font, but appears to be based on med ieval manuscript lettering. Not as obvious of a symbol of scariness/evil, but unique and creepy in its own right. Black metal symbols included are creepy atmospheres, use of monochrome, and anti religious sentiment. The final album in this category is Sat yricon's 1996 release "Nemesis Divina" (figure 34). This album cover has the traditional logo, although this time it is colored with photo the medieval manuscript font used by Mayhem on "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" (figure 33). The cover image is quite com plicated. The centerpiece is an owl that appears 27 This cathedral is used to consecrate Norwegian royalty, and was last used on 23 June 1991 to crown Harald V (born 1937) the King of Norway, the first Nor way born king since Olaf IV (born 1370). Allegedly, Euronymous and Varg Vikernes at one time were conspiring to blow up the cathedral, but this plan was ultimately abandoned. 28 You will see lots of translations of it as "Of Lord Satan Mysteries" and this i s fairly accurate if you are translating the phrase word for word from Latin, but it fails to take into account Latin's cases and lack of articles, so while the two translations are essentially the same, mine is both easier to read and more in line with th e realities of Latin.
108 Figure 33: Mayhem "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" (1994) to be mounted on an inverted cross attached to a door or shutter that is in the process of burning. The right side of the cover features these flames, an d they also appear in the middle of the left edge. The title text is unique, although it suggests a more modern interpretation of the text from the cover of "The Shadowthrone" (figure 27). Below this
109 Figure 34: Satyricon "Nemesis Divina" (1996) l eft flame is a jaw from some type of animal, possibly dog, although the teeth look disconcertingly human. There are designs on the bones, but they are too indistinct to accurately describe. Next to this left flame is a key. Above this key is an alcove cont aining something that I cannot make out. Above this is a face with only the person's
110 right eye visible. The jumble of images is largely about feel, rather than a specific message. The black metal symbols inclu ded are predators, fire, skulls/bones, and religious/blasphemous imagery. Pagan/"folk" This is the smallest category, containing only two albums. The first is Ancient's 1995 EP, "Trolltaar" (figure 35). This album cover is a line drawing of a troll. The troll has a large nose, a bigger beard, and blank eyes. No mouth or ears. There is a vague sensation of arms and shoulders, but they are very indistinct. The logo is the same as the "The Cainian Chronicle" (figure 6) one. There are some lines/hashmarks in the bottom right corner that might be abstract bushes or trees but it is unclear. The main black metal symbol included here are the folktales surrounding trolls and the widespread popularity of these tales in Norway. The second and last album in this cat egory is Isengard's 1995 LP, H stm rke (figure 36). This is the second album (but first written as an "album") released by Isengard, side project of Fenriz of Darkthrone. The Isengard logo is present here again, although the title text is different from the previous album (figure 15), more traditionally gothic, and both are white. The cover is a photograph of Fenriz, dressed all in black and with a gold medallion that looks like a cross between the New College Four Winds logo
111 Figure 35: Ancient "Trolltaar" (1995 ) and a Celtic knot. He is stan ding in front of a wooden building. It has a vaguely medieval feeling to it, certainly a rustic one. Black metal symbols include mysterious settings and a playfulness with the inability to assign a time period to the image (other examples
112 Figure 36: Isengard H stm rke (1995) include Ancient's Svartalvheim (figure 37), Enslaved's Eld (figure 41), any of the classic Darkthrone albums (figures 9, 21, and 22), Immortal's Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism (figure 42) and possibly Burzum's Aske (figure 28).
113 Viking/War The sixth category is Viking/war. The first album included in this category is Ancient's 1994 debut LP "Svartalvheim" (figure 37). The cover for this album is a photograph of a band member in corpsep aint spitting fire in a dark snow covered forest. The forest is a nighttime scene, and there is demonstrable snow on the ground. The person is wearing all black, and if you look closely you can definitely see the fuel being spit into the torch. The torch i tself appears to be homemade and looks like it could have been made from the sapling the fire breather is standing in front of. Black metal symbols present include fire, forest, corpsepaint, and snow. The next album in the war/Viking category is "Crossing the Triangle of Flames" (figure 38), a bootleg Darkthrone released in 1992. It is a promo release made up of two rehearsal/demo versions of songs from 1993's "Under A Funeral Moon" (figure 9) ("Crossing the Triangle of Flames" is a song on that album, but not on this bootleg). It features the usual Darkthrone logo, and sports the standard gothic font, so while released as a bootleg, it is symbolically compatible with more official albums. The cover is a photo of a band member in corpsepaint, wearing a bu llet belt and studded bracers. The rest of the photo is darkness. The image is in the same style as the Darkthrone releases immediately before and after it, as is the font, and even the pose of the figure on the front evokes a middle point between "Under A Funeral Moon" (figure 9) and "Transilvanian Hunger" (figure 22). The black metal symbols included are the use of corpsepaint, the gothic font, and the bullet belt and armor.
114 Figure 37: Ancient "Svartalvheim" (1994) The third album in the war/Viking category is Enslaved's first EP, 1993's "Horda nes Land" (figure 39). This album cover depicts a fantasy battle between orcs and elves. The orcs are arrayed on the left, with a menacing square of longspears and
115 Figure 38: Darkthrone "Crossing the Triangle of Flames" (1992) standards/banners. The elves are giving fight an d defending themselves but it is clear that they are about to lose. One is being speared through the back by a particularly large orc. In the foreground a small goblin like creature is shoot ing a fairy with magic. Just behind this an orc, in chainmail, is stabbing an elf on the ground with his axe/spear. The entire
116 Figure 39: Enslaved "Hordanes Land" (1993) scene takes place at night, in a forest, covered in snow. The scene is framed by two snow covered trees, and it is obviously winter from the lack of leaves on the trees. Black metal symbols present here include the supernatural, weapons, forest, and snow.
117 The next album in the Viking/war category is Enslaved's debut LP, "Vikingligr Vel di" (figure 40), released on the Deathlike Silence Productions label in 1994. The album cover depicts an ancient looking Viking helmet. The helmet has a facemask, and looks to be of fairly thick metal. The image is drenched in green and black, lending a sickly atmosphere to this simple cover. The black metal symbols included on this cover are armor and a direct reference to Norway's history. The fifth album included in the Viking/war category is Enslaved's third LP, "Eld" (figure 41), released in 1997. This album cover features one of the members of Enslaved (the vocalist/bassist, Grutle Kjellson) dressed in chainmail sitting on a throne. The throne is wooden and appears to have dragon heads on the side, rem iniscent of the prows of pseudo historic Viking ships. Also mounted on the throne are what appear to be ram's horns. The chainmail has a M j lnir pendant on the chest. This is Thor's hammer, and a prominent symbol in the black metal scene. It is also in the middle of Enslaved's logo on this album. The seated figure has a goblet in his right hand, and in his left his is holding the handle of a sword. This is full of strident Viking imagery album cover, making explicit Enslaved's identification as the strictes t adherents to the early form of Viking/black metal (Moynihan and S derlind 2003: 214 6). The black metal symbols present include weapons, runes, and explicit references to the gods of Norse mythology. The next album in the Viking/war category is Immortal 's 1992 release, "Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism" (figure 42). This is the debut LP from Bergen's Immortal. Members of this band used to play in Old Funeral, a Bergen based death metal band, with Varg Vikernes of Burzum. This album features red text on the background
118 Figure 40: Enslaved "Vikingligr Veldi" (1994) photo. The font used for the title is reminiscent of a manuscript, not the more traditional gothic one. The photo is of the three band members in either a set of ruins or in the shadow of a stone building, possibly a church. One member is spitti ng fire, and the other two are between him and the camera. The ground is snow covered, while the stone
119 Figure 41: Enslaved "Eld" (1997) building displaces the scene in time, making it unclear when exactly this photo was taken (except that the fire spitter is wearing a t shirt). Black meta l symbols include band members in corpsepaint, nighttime scenes, snow, and a playing with of positions in time.
120 Figure 42: Immortal "Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism" (1992) The final album in the Viking/war category is also from Immortal, "Pure Holocaust" (figure 43). This album cover is from Immortal's 1993 release, their second LP. It features the three then current members: Demonaz (guitarist and composer) on the
121 Figure 43: Immortal "Pure Holocaust" ( 1993) right, Abbath (everything else) in the center, and Grim (credited as the drummer but Abbath played the drums on the album) the drummer. The Immortal logo is present and gray, and the album title's font is non descript and gray. The band members are dressed
122 all in black, with Grim noticeably wearing studded gauntlets and an arm band with nails as spikes. Abbath is holding a mace, probably home made using a baseball bat or ax handle and driving giant nails through it. Black metal symbols include band members in corp sepaint, weapons, and armor. Other The seventh and final category is other. It features the album covers that did not fit into the other categories. The first album is Ancient's 1997 release, "Mad Grandiose Bloodfiends" (figure 44). This album cover i s a photograph of the band. It is set in a cemetery, although it is during the non scary daytime as opposed to the scary nighttime. Ancient is one of the only black metal bands to have a female in the band, and the inclusion of the female band member is on e of the few depictions of females on black metal album covers. The band appears to be having a picnic, with a sumptuous array of food and wine and black candles. There is a sword leaning up against the table in the foreground. All four members are staring at the camera. Aphazel, the founder of the band and guitarist, is in the center (second from left) and has a studded leather crown on. This picture was taken in Virginia, where the band was living and recorded this album. Black metal symbols included here are corpsepaint, the forest, and weapons. The next album in this category is Darkthrone's "Soulside Journey" (figure 45). Released in 1990, this album was one of the first Norwegian extreme metal albums. The
123 album cover was painted by Duncan Fegredo, a c omic book artist (Unholy Darkthrone). The painting can be divided horizontally into thirds. The lower third is the ground, a feature less plain populated by shadowy figures. At the horizon/in the distance there are mountains, which leads into the next thir d of the painting, the sky. The sky is black and starry, except for what appear to be low hanging white clouds over the plain. There are no identifiable stars/constellations. The top third of the image is taken up by a system of gears/clockwork/automata, r eminiscent of a train. This album is notable for being a death metal album, rather than a black metal one. It was recorded in Sweden, at Sunlight Studios, by Tomas Skogsberg, and the guitars were "co produced by Uffe" [Cederlund], the guitarist for Swedish death metal pioneers Entombed. These are both central players in the Swedish death metal scene, but this album represents the point in time when there was less of a divide between the two scenes. The black metal symbol prominent on this album cover is the sense of isolation. The next album in the category of other is Gorgoroth's 1994 debut LP "Pentagram" (figure 46). This album cover is very simple. White gothic text on a black background. The most basic black metal album cover template. The black metal symbol included is the gothic font. The fourth album in this category comes from Immortal, "Blizzard Beasts" (figure 47), released in 1997. The cover of the album features Abbath in the center, with Horgh, the new drummer, on the left, and Demonaz, in his last appearance on guitar, on the right. There is no logo, and the title text is in a font recalling calligraphy. The cover photograph has been altered, although I can only describe it as obscuring the image, because it is
124 Figure 44: Ancient "Mad G randiose Bloodfiends" (1997) difficult to tell quite what has been altered even though it clearly has. Abbath is wearing the same armor he had on the "Battles in the North" (figure 3) cover. The background
125 Figure 45: Darkthrone "Soulside Journey" (1990) appears to be in a forest, and they could very well be standing in the snow before a line of trees. Black metal symbols include corpsepaint, snow, forests, and armor.
126 Figure 46: Gorgoroth "Pentagram" ( 1994 ) The penultimate entry in the category of other is Mayhem's first EP, "Deathcrush" (figure 48). This is the second release by Mayhem. It was released in the summer of 1987 after being recorded during the end of the winter that year. The title font is gothic and the
127 Figure 47: Immortal "Blizzard Beasts" (1997) text black on a white background. The logo is the same, but because it is larger you can now read what is written above 'Mayhem', and that is 'The True'. Looking back at the Pure Fucking Armageddon (figure 32) cover from the previous year, you can see that it
128 Figure 48: Mayhem "Deathc rush" (1987) is there too, but this is the first easily readable example. I believe that this is where using 'true' as an intense positive descriptor came from, such as in the phrase "true Norwegian black metal." The background of the cover is unusual for being red, but it fits the bloody
129 theme of the i mage, nicely complementing the central photograph of severed hands. These hands are hanging from maybe gallows or scaffolding. The impression given off by the whole is unsettling. Black metal symbols include gothic font, the use of "true", morbid images, black and white photography, and sacrilegious/anti religious imagery. The final album in this category is Satyricon's 1993 demo "The Forest Is My Throne" (figure 49). The album cover features a photograph of a corpsepainted band member standing behind a washed out tree holding a torch. On the ground behind him (I think it is Satyr, there are only two band members so it is either him or Frost) snow is evident, in keepin g with black metal's wintry theme. This photograph is bordered by a concrete gray border that is in the process of burning. The album title is in the traditional black metal gothic font. The black metal symbols included here are corpsepaint, fire, winter, nighttime, gothic fonts, and a black and white aesthetic.
130 Figure 49: Satyricon "The Forest Is My Throne" (1993)
131 Conclusion This typology includes a wide range of symbols within the seven distinct categories. The categories are winter, forest/landscap e, melancholy/supernatural, blasphemy, pagan/"folk", Viking/war and other. The category other was included due to the fact that a few of the album covers only peripherally dealt with symbols referencing Norwegian ethnic identities. The other six categories play a much more prominent role in the development of the Norwegian identity particular to black metal. The first three categories, winter, forest/landscape, and melancholy/supernatural, all include symbols derived in part from the works of Edvard Munch a nd serve to connect black metal to traditional notions of Norwegian ethnicity (Wobst 1999: 120). The three remaining categories, blasphemy, pagan/"folk", and Viking/war, include symbols that articulate a Norwegian identity specific to the black metal scene an ethnicity that is avowedly pre modern. Through demonstrating the use of these symbols to construct and give shape to a social group, I have drawn from these categories ethnic affiliations that are socially real and intentionally broadcast (Comaroff an d Comaroff 2009: 38). Thus, symbolic analysis of the album covers illustrates the material interventions (Wobst 1999: 122) where ethnicity is portrayed in contemporary material culture towards particular social ends.
132 Chapter 6 Conclusion s As this thes is has illustrated, the Norwegian black metal scene created and presented new ethnic affiliations through their album artwork. This was accomplished by utilizing a variety of symbols, many of which are similar to the images used by Edvard Munch. These symb ols were organized into a typology, which was presented in chapter four, with the albums and their descriptions appearing in chapter five. Ethnicity is increasingly being used as a source of potential income (Comaroff and Comaroff 2009: 61 85), and the c lassification of black metal as "Norwegian" is an example. The ethnic affiliation of the artists is both constructed through the art and commodified for the market. This duality is central to my decision to use archaeology to study contemporary material cu lture. Indeed, the use of archaeology to study consumption patterns in the modern world is a cornerstone of the study of material culture (Buchli and Lucas 2001: 6). While this study merely investigated the fact that these ethnically significant symbols we re used to organize black metal album covers, it does function as a first step towards tracing the spread of the music throughout the metal underground. The spread of black metal across the globe is interesting because the deplorable acts of violence commi tted by Norwegian scene members has not similarly spread. The intention of this thesis was two fold. First, I attempted to demonstrate that studying the material culture of the recent past is a productive use of archaeological theory. Second, I attempted to illuminate the dense web of symbols used to convey
133 Norwegian ethnicity on black metal album covers. I think that this thesis has successfully completed these goals; I hope that this thesis has conveyed a sense of how useful material culture can be in re vealing anthropological insights into social groupings. Furthermore, with the creation of my typology, the parameters of album covers studied can be expanded in the future to include more recent albums from Norwegian black metal bands. The Comaroffs (2009) struggled to fully explain their central thesis in Ethnicity, Inc. because the subject is extremely complex. In a similar vein, I have not completely covered and described every use of ethnically identified symbols on these Norwegian black metal album c overs. I have, however, begun the process, and laid the groundwork for further research. I have three main avenues for future research: consumption patterns, art historical, and more combinations of metal and ethnicity. The study of the consumption of No rwegian black metal was already mentioned above, and would require investigations into record sales as well as interviews with scene members to attempt to reconstruct consumption patterns. While I did draw upon notions of connoisseurship in the framing of this argument, I feel that an art historical analysis of the album covers studied here might produce some interesting insights incapable of being uncovered through the use of archaeological methodology. Furthermore, there might be even more insight to be g ained through the deconstruction of these album covers into image and text, while I looked at the cover as a whole. Finally, I would be interested to see if these methods could be used on a different music scene, whether it is West Coast gangster rap or Me sopotamian black
134 metal. Any of these three possible endeavors would serve to advance the use of anthropological archaeology when studying the material culture of contemporary society. The ethnic claims advanced by the Norwegian black metal scene throws N orwegian identity into a contestable state. The mainstream perception Norwegians have of themselves tends to be one of polite but icy distance and a conformity to social norms. The black metal scene, however, claimed an identity they traced back to the Vik ings, and subsequently glorified strength and violence. This transgressive new identity was unacceptable to many Norwegians, which is evidenced by the broad spectrum of condemnations of the arsons. The tension was eventually relaxed through the co opting o f black metal by the culture and tourist industries in Norway, making it a s t a t e s a n c t i o n e d c o m m o d i t y With this thesis, I hope that I have conveyed new information about Norwegian black metal. It is a small scene, but a productive one, generating both art and discourse surrounding th at art. It an example of metal, a music of resistance, developing an ethnic component, and this is clear in the artwork for the albums. This thesis is also a demonstration of the application of typologies and symbolic analysis in studying contemporary mate rial culture. Thus, what I would like readers to take away from this thesis is an orientation combining cultural anthropology and archaeology, to make tools from one field useful and useable in the other.
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