NOT FIT TO PRINT - TRANSCENDENTAL BLACK METAL
It has been a long, long time since we last opened up the Not Fit vault and let one of its hoary denizens wing its way across the waters of your mind. The following treatise was sent to us by a member of the band Liturgy and belongs to a rich, collegiate tradition of taking a movement or piece of art that you enjoy and writing about it in a way that suggests you take no enjoyment from it whatsoever. Like most representative examples of the genre it features heavy adjective-invention, arbitrary capitalization, and limited forays into French. We present it to you in its entirety as a stark warning of what happens when you approach the most inherently comical form of metal with absolutely no sense of humor or fun. PROLEGOMENON One could propose a new meaning for black metal along with a new array of techniques to activate that meaning. The meaning of Transcendental Black Metal is Affirmation, and its new technique is the Burst Beat. The will to power has two stages. The first may be called Fortification; the establishment of a paradigm or set of rules and the ensuing exploration of potential that lies within those constraints. The second stage may be termed Sacrifice; an auto-destruction, a self-overcoming whereby the initial rules, having been fully digested and satisfied, are thereby mutilated. They are transformed into the basis for something new and unprecedented. Transcendental Black Metal is black metal in the mode of Sacrifice. It is a clearing aside of contingent features and a fresh exploration of the essence of black metal. As such it is solar, hypertrophic, courageous, finite and penultimate. Its tone is Affirmation and its key technique is the Burst Beat. The black metal that was born in Scandinavia in the mode of Fortification can be termed Hyperborean Black Metal. Hyperborean Black Metal is lunar, atrophic, depraved, infinite and pure. The symbol of its birth is the Death of Dead. Its tone is Nihilism and its key technique is the Blast Beat. Today USBM stands in the shadow of Hyperborean Black Metal. The time has come for a decisive break with the European tradition and the establishment of a truly American black metal. And we should say “American” rather than “US”: the US is a declining empire; America is an eternal ideal representing human dignity, hybridization and creative evolution. The act of renihilation is the betrayal of Hyperborean Black Metal and an affirmation of Transcendental Black Metal. And it is at the same time the constitution of an apocalyptic humanism to be termed Aesthethics. As such, the question of Transcendental Black Metal is only the tip of an iceberg at the base of which is hidden a new relationship between art, politics, ethics and religion. PART I THE DEATH OF DEAD THE HAPTIC VOID AS FINAL CAUSE The history of metal can be considered in terms of levels of intensity. Considered in this way, black metal shows itself to be a culmination or endpoint of this history, and also a dead end. The historical development of extreme metal is not a chance series of stylistic shifts. It is teleological - governed by a dimly understood but acutely felt Ideal, or a final cause. This final cause is named the Haptic Void. The Haptic Void is a hypothetical total or maximal level of intensity. It is the horizon of the history of metal. Orientation towards the Haptic Void is expressed as feeling. The feeling is a unity, but in thought we can break it down into four elements: There is first of all a certain muscular clenching, a constriction of the jaws, fists, arms and chest. Secondarily there is an affect: a certain aggression or brutality, a paradoxical sense of power, destruction, fullness and emptiness. Thirdly it features a primordial satisfaction relating to the affect which acts normatively. Good metal produces a satisfying bouquet of clenching, constriction and brutal affect. Finally there is a barely discernable je ne sais quoi that says “not enough”. A complementary dissatisfaction – as though no brutal breakdown can be quite brutal enough. It is a fissure, a crack, a lack of being. An insufficiency compared to the promised plenitude. Maybe it’s the inability of any concrete song to measure up to the inspiration that gave birth to it. Paradoxically this dissatisfaction is felt in direct proportion to the level of its complement. It is this dissatisfaction, this fourth element, which causes extreme metal to develop new styles over time. This is the pull of the final cause. This opening, this fissure, is the angel that guides metal’s history. We see metal march towards the void, leaving thrash, death metal and black metal, successively, in its wake. But the promise made by the Haptic Void is a lie. Only its absence is ever present. TRANSILVANIAN HUNGER Hyperborean Black Metal is the culmination of the history of extreme metal. Hyperborean Black Metal was born in the Arctic Circle, which is traditionally known as the Hyperborean realm. The Hyperborean realm is a land that is fallow because it lacks periodicity. There is no birth or death there because the sun neither rises nor sets. Hyperborean Black Metal is the culmination of the history of extreme metal (which is itself the culmination of the history of the Death of God). The subject of this history may be compared to a mountaineer, maneuvering over and across the various terrains of thrash, grindcore and death metal – or rather, carving these terrains into the mountainside - and striving to reach the Haptic Void, dimly understood but strongly felt, glimmering brightly at the summit. Hyperborean Black Metal represents the moutaineer’s arrival at the peak and a supposed leap off of it, directly into the Haptic Void. A total, maximal intensity. A complete flood of sound. An absolute plenitude. But there he learns that totality is indistinguishable from nothingness. He learns that it is impossible to leap into the horizon. And he is left, crestfallen, frozen and alone, in the Hyperborean realm. It is a dead static place, a polar land where there is no oscillation between day and night. But stasis is atrophy. The Hyperborean realm is dead with purity, totally absolute, selfsame and eternal. The mountaineer undergoes a profound apostasy that he cannot fully understand and arrives at nihilism. The technique of Hyperborean Black Metal is the blast beat. Pure black metal, represented by Transilvanian Hunger, means continuous open strumming and a continuous blast beat. But the pure blast beat is eternity in itself. No articulated figures, no beginning, no end, no pauses, no dynamic range. It is a bird soaring in the air with nowhere to perch even for a moment. What seemed at first to be a great clamor dwindles to an atrophied hum. Having climbed to the peak of the mountain, the mountaineer lies down and freezes to death.
PART II THE AFFIRMATION OF AFFIRMATION AMERICA
Transcendental Black Metal represents a new relationship to the Haptic Void and the self-overcoming of Hyperborean Black Metal. It is a sublimation of Hyperborean Black Metal in both its spiritual aspect and its technical aspect. Spiritually, it transforms Nihilism into Affirmation. Technically, it transforms the Blast Beat into the Burst Beat. Spiritually we acknowledge Nihilism, and we refuse to sink into it, impossible as the task may be. Transcendental Black Metal is a Renihilation, a “No” to the entire array of Negations, which turns to an affirmation of the continuity of all things. Transcendental Black Metal is the reanimation of the form of black metal with a new soul, a soul full of chaos, frenzy and ecstasy. A specifically American joyful clamor which is also a tremor. Or maybe it is the opposite act: a peeling away of the husk of convention, the dead skin of clichés and a fresh exploration of the living soul of black metal, with the aim to reactivate its purest essence and produce something that grows from it but does not resemble its earlier incarnations because it is built from the ground up in a different time and place. Built in America. An America that has never existed and may never exist. The America that represents the apocalyptic humanism of William Blake. The America celebrated by Aaron Copeland’s Appalachian Spring or Ornette Coleman’s Skies of America. This America is a metaphor for pure unrestricted creativity, the courageous exercise of will and the joyful experience of the continuity of existence. A celebration of the hybrid and of creative evolution. THE BURST BEAT The backbone of Transcendental Black metal is the Burst Beat. The burst beat is a hyper blast beat, a blast beat that ebbs, flows, expands and contracts, breaths. It replaces death and atrophy with life and hypertrophy. This transformation is accomplished by two features: acceleration and rupture. The first feature of the burst beat is acceleration. The burst beat accelerates and decelerates. It has an ebb and a flow. This flow both mirrors life and stimulates life. It expands and contracts like the tide, the economy, day and night, inhalation and exhalation, life and death. The second feature of the burst beat is rupture. The burst beat features sudden ruptures or phase transitions. Just like all natural systems, it breaks suddenly from one state to another. Consider the horse as it switches from walk to trot to canter. Consider water as it switches from ice to liquid to gas. The moment of the rupture is the moment of transcendence. What is holy if not the moment that water turns to steam? Or the moment that a walk turns to a run? The burst beat expresses an arc of intensity. It responds to and supplements the melodic flow rather than providing a rhythmic container or backdrop. The rate of change of the tempo, whether positive or negative, corresponds to a level of intensity. Any static tempo is a zero degree. The burst requires total expenditure of power and its very exercise fosters growth and increase of strength. And yet the burst beat never arrives anywhere, eternally “not yet” at its destination, eternally “almost” at the target tempo. Like a nomad, the burst beat knows it will never arrive. By mirroring life, the burst beat stimulates and fosters life. By fostering life, Transcendental Black Metal affirms life.
PROPERTIES Transcendental Black Metal exists as a unity, but in thought it can be analyzed into six properties. Why is Transcendental Black Metal affirmative? Transcendental Black Metal is in fact nihilism, however it is a double nihilism and a final nihilism, a once and for all negation of the entire series of negations. With this final “No” we arrive a sort of vertiginous Affirmation, an Affirmation that is white-knuckled, terrified, unsentimental, and courageous. What we affirm is the facticity of time and the undecidability of the future. Our affirmation is a refusal to deny. Why is Transcendental Black Metal hypertrophic? Growth is life, stasis is decay. We are committed to striving eternally, living a sort of permanent revolution. Just as a well exercised muscle is beautiful and powerful, so we will be beautiful and powerful. In truth, there is no stasis. The only choice is between atrophy and hypertrophy. The celebration of atrophy is confused, weak, and neurotic. The celebration of hypertrophy is honest and alive. Why is Transcendental Black Metal solar? Transcendental black metal is solar in three respects, following three aspects of the sun: periodicity, intensity and honesty. The sun lets things be born and grow, so that they may die. The burst beat is periodic because is rises and sets like the sun. The sun mesmerizes and burns. We participate in-- All right, enough. I know we said "in its entirety" but if you've seriously been reading this whole thing, I'm not sure we want you on this site. Actually, strike that, I am completely sure. Please close this browser tab, delete your bookmark or RSS dealie for the site, and never return here again. Go on, now. Get.