Mayhem vs. Burzum: Opposing views of black metal
September 21st, 2011 at 11:15am

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Recently I came across a blog post that articulated something I haven’t been able to articulate myself. The post was by ATMF, an Italian record label specializing mostly in black metal. The topic was the alleged National Socialist leanings of Disiplin, a noise act on ATMF. That particular discussion wasn’t interesting; it was the usual tempest in a teapot that arises around NS-related music.

What was interesting, however, was the following digression:

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We’re strong supporters of what we like to call the “Burzum pathway of Black Metal” when ATMF is holding its rendez-vous.

From our point of view Burzum has been the point of fracture between an eminently Satanic way to conceive Black Metal (see e.g. Mayhem and their “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas”).

Satanism and related subjects from our point of view are only contributing to carry on a Christian way to see the world by being part of it and playing the antagonist part. A view of the world we totally reject from the very base.

Then comes the way that Burzum opened up, the one we value the most. A way that if developed further finds its base upon a view of the world and spiritual values absolutely out of the Christian illness. And before someone starts out to cry running possessed by paranoia we’re not speaking about any biological race superiority. Figures. Scientific “truths” come and go, and that one is filling one of many spots available in the graveyard of “theories considered once true” of modern Science.

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In short, Mayhem = Satanic view of black metal, Burzum = non-Satanic view of black metal.

As an atheist, I’ve long felt uneasy about supporting anything Satanic because Satanism is so intertwined with Christianity. Of course, different flavors of Satanism exist, and some might posit things like, “there is a Satan but no God” or “Satan and God are the same”. I haven’t cared to explore these minutiae, though I guess if different schools of Buddhism interest me, then maybe so should different schools of Satanism.

I don’t necessarily believe that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” – see, e.g., Democrats and Republicans. Just because a cross is upside-down doesn’t mean that I’m happy, because there’s still a cross there, and in my worldview, all crosses are false. I don’t like to support false things. Black metal interests me on other levels (musically, aesthetically), but spiritually black metal does nothing for me. Music doesn’t have to be spiritually fulfilling for me, as the world carries other sources of spirituality. But when something establishes spirituality along Christian/Satanic lines as its core, I can’t buy in 100%.

Now, this issue doesn’t really bother me. In everyday life, organized religion is much more of a threat than raspy vocals on a limited pressing of 666. But I do despair at the lack of critical thought in metal. Atheists and Satanists hold fundamentally opposing views. That doesn’t mean they can’t co-exist. In fact, they should co-exist; co-existence is one of civilization’s higher achievements. But just because we wear black t-shirts with undecipherable logos doesn’t mean we’re all on the same team.

— Cosmo Lee

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