Hail Seitan: Cooking with the Vegan Black Metal Chef
And offering up sacrificial tofu.
I have to admit; ever since the horsemeat scandal broke, I've thought about going vegan. It's not that I've got a problem with eating horse, but I want to be on the safe side just in case it turns out that their mince also contains unfortunate hobos. The problem is, I imagine vegan food tastes like rabbit pellets and self-righteousness, and I haven't got any vegan friends to ask for recipes because every one I've met has been an anaemic Jihadist—so you can imagine my elation when I stumbled across the Vegan Black Metal Chef.
Over the past few years, Brian Manowitz has turned his kitchen into a medieval dungeon, covered himself in corpse paint and slipped into a suit of armor for his YouTube vegan cooking show. He's made 12 episodes to date, scrawls pentagrams on his chopping boards, and all of his instructions are delivered in 15-minute-long black metal tunes that he records himself. I called him up to see if satanic sacrifices have any vegan options.
Noisey: Hey Brian, I guess my first question has to be why black metal for a vegan cooking show?
Brian: Ha! Well, I mean, honestly it was just combining my passions. I've got a black metal band that I'll be relaunching later this year called Forever Dawn, it's what I'm into and I wanted to make a cooking show that I wanted to watch.
Is it a commentary on the current state of cooking shows?
Exactly, I've been really into cooking for a long time—a little bit longer than I've been a musician—ever since I went vegan almost 14 years ago, and when learned how to cook, I thought, "Man, I eat the best food ever, the world needs to know about this!" And when I thought about doing a regular cooking show, I thought, "Man, that's just fucking boring. They put me to sleep." So I kinda had this idea to combine my passions, and it was also around the time I could make a half-decent recording, so I gave it a try.
Is veganism a moral or a health choice for you?
I'd say the deeper you go, the deeper it gets. First, it's a moral choice; I don't believe in the exploitation of animals and I think a lot of people can get that on a mental level. In the meat industry, the animal's death is probably the best part of their ridiculously torturous life. Most people wouldn't envision that being as bad as Hell; it's quite easy to not participate in that. Further than that, there's health issues: the amount of hormones and antibiotics they pump into animals, the amount of food it takes to feed animals compared to how much they manage to feed people—they don't destroy the rainforest to feed people, they do it to feed animals.
I like how you're actually being entertaining and providing alternatives. Most vegetarians I meet are insufferable and preachy humor-vacuums.
Thanks. A lot of people get this stuff, but you can't just tell people what not to do, you have to tell them what to do. That's a much more evolved process. People have to eat, and they want to eat good food, but they need to be shown how.
So how long does the whole process take you?
It takes at least about a month, usually slightly more. The filming only takes a night, but filming cooking food is a much longer process than just cooking. Even getting into the suit and makeup takes an hour and a half, almost a two-hour process. Basic editing takes about a week or so, then the music creation process usually takes about two or three more weeks, but in that process, I'll have to edit a few more things here and there.
And you do all the music, right?
Yeah, everything except for the drums, which are programmed.
Is that real chainmail you're wearing in the videos?
Oh yeah, absolutely. It's very heavy. The armor is rubber with a metal lining to give it some shape.
All you're missing is a Burzum cooking apron. So what's this I hear about you being in talks with MTV about doing something?
That was a long time ago, probably when the first video came out… To cut a long story short, a win-win situation didn't work out, so that was the end of it.
Sad face. I was wondering, what's the vegan alternative to sacrificing goats?
Haha! Vegans can have a direct communion with Satan, no goat mediums are necessary.
Ha! What's the response been like from the black metal community? Have they been supportive, or do some of them feel like you're taking the piss out of them?
Well, if the black metal community's being supportive about stuff—about anything, anything in the fucking world, even any other black metal bands—then they're not being the black metal community. As long as they continue to hate this and hate everything else, then they're doing just fine.
You've got a point. You said that the pentagram on your chopping board is essential to summoning the essence of Satan into your food, what does the essence of Satan taste like?
It's really good.
You're not giving us anything else for our palette, just really good?
Yeah, you'll have to try it, it's really good.
Okay. Well, rumor has it that when Mayhem vocalist Dead killed himself, Euronymous ate little bits of his brain. In that situation, would you have done the same or is your commitment to veganism greater than to black metal?
Haha! That's a great question. I'm certainly up in the air about that. I'll have to be put in the moment to answer that one. It's not usually something I think about, but if that were to happen, then there's a small chance.
Jokes aside, it is a valid question—a lot of your beliefs center about the treatment of animals and environmental effects; eating the brains of someone who's just shot themselves must be okay, right?
I would have no moral objections to doing that.
That's what I wanted to hear! I was also wondering, in Norway, black metalheads are known for burning down churches. Have you ever felt the desire to firebomb a slaughterhouse or something like that?
Well, sometimes you have the desire, but unfortunately, no matter how many slaughterhouses you torch or how many churches you torch, if there's a demand for it, not only will the insurance companies pay for it, but it means they'll build more of them in no time. I'd rather torch the hearts and minds of people.
How pragmatic, but if you were to burn down one institution that profits from the misery of animals—Wendy's, a fur farm, whatever—what would it be?
Lulz. That's a tough one, I don't know, there's a part of me that wants to burn them all down, but there's a rational part of me that wants to make people not go to them so they can burn themselves down.
Ha! Good answer. Well good luck with that, Brian!
Follow Aleks on Twitter @slandr