Somber Of Plaag Discusses True Norwegian Black Metal Vs. Christian Unblack Metal
After previously taking a look at "unblack" metal in an Unearthing the Metal Underground column, Metalunderground now has an editorial piece online here, which examines Christian themes in black metal.
In order to get insight on the subject and see how musicians feel about religious lyrics in an anti-religious style, I contacted bands on either side of the debate. Below you can find the answers to a series of interview questions from Somber of the band Plaag, who discusses the differences between "True Norwegian Black Metal" and Christian black metal bands.
Anyone interested in reading the previous entries can find the interviews with Diamoth, Elgibbor, and Winter's Dawn on the Christian side. The previous interviews on the anti-Christian side were with Throne of Malediction, Frames, and Dehumanation.
xFiruath: What does black metal or extreme metal personally mean to you, either as a musical style or a philosophy?
Somber: As a musical style it depends, it can either be attacking you on an aggressive level or it can wear you down on a dark and uneasy level, but either way works fine for me. As long as it gets the message spread that it wants to spread. Be it evil, dark, violent, misanthropic, or whatever. As a philosophy it doesn't mean that much to me.
xFiruath: Do you personally see a distinction between unblack metal bands and black metal bands? That is to say, do you think bands with religious members and religious lyrics should be categorized differently?
Somber: Personally I have never encountered a band profiling themselves as “unblack metal,” so I don't see that distinction. I mean, you have your Strypers out there but I can't see any resemblance with black metal music coming from that side. If there are such bands out there they should be categorized differently for sure, let's say we categorize them in “wimpy poser black metal” or something.
xFiruath: There’s no question that black metal saw its major awakening with Norwegian bands that either had anti-religious sentiments or had members who were themselves involved in anti-religious activities. Do you think that black metal can be separated from its beginnings without becoming something else entirely?
Somber: Absolutely not. It's like coffee man, TNBM (True Norwegian Black Metal) is like Kopi Luwak while other black metal is like Starbucks. It's good but it's not perfect.
xFiruath: How do lyrics influence your decision to listen to a band? If you heard an amazing black metal band you loved, but later discovered the lyrics were pro-Christian, would you continue listening to them?
Somber: Never. I wouldn't wanna catch myself driving to work humming some Christian lyrics, no way.
xFiruath: After listening to a lot of Christian rock and metal bands, I’ve found they tend to segregate out based on lyrical content. Would you be more open to listening to an unblack metal band that used gore and war themed lyrics, or lyrics about the times God kills people throughout the Bible, as opposed to a stereotypical positive and uplifting lyrical style?
Somber: God killing people as lyrical theme? Hell yeah, than it won't be a religious band so yes. It would be a historically correct band and it won't spread the message of god anymore.
xFiruath: How would you feel about listening to a pro-Muslim black metal band with all Islamic members (or a pro-Jewish black metal band, or pro-Scientologist black metal band, or pro-Mormon black metal band, or so on…)?
Somber: I would not even consider it. You see the thing is... you're asking about “pro” black metal bands while black metal is “anti,” it's a paradox. I don't buy it, it doesn't exist.
xFiruath: What specifically in your life led you to either believe or disbelieve in ideas like God and the supernatural?
Somber: Nothing, it's like common sense.
xFiruath: What’s going on with your band these days?
Somber: A new song “The Genius Of Christmas” has just been officially released on the Misantrof ANTIRecords “Holy Fucking Anti-christmas vol. 3” compilation, which is free to download on the anti-label's website. A nice little tune about this lovely season we're in. The release for the first Plaag full length album “UGH!” is planned for approx. mid January. It will be released as a free download on the Misantrof website and there will be a limited 200 copies of physical hand numbered releases of which I'm planning to send out 30 for free as gifts and well meant fuck you's. Anti commercial as well you see. But since artists need to eat too we hope to sell the other 170.
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