Nierty Guitarist Skaven Talks Religious Themes In Black Metal
Update: the editorial on Christian black metal is now available for viewing at this location.
The release of our editorial on Christian themes in black metal (which is a companion to this Unearthing the Metal Underground column on "unblack" metal bands) is drawing near, but in the mean time we'll be hearing from the bands themselves. While researching the bands in the scene, I sent out interview questions to musicians taking either a pro-Christian or an anti-Christian stance on the subject.
Below you can find the answers provided from guitarist Skaven from Nierty, who takes a middle of the road approach, defending Christian musicians who choose to play black metal, while he himself has not taste for religion. You can also check out Nierty's music at the band's official MySpace profile.
Our previous interviews on the anti-Christian side came from Plaag, Dehumanation, Frames, and Throne of Malediction. You can also read the answers from the pro-Christian musicians from Diamoth, Elgibbor, and Winter's Dawn.
xFiruath: What does black metal or extreme metal personally mean to you, either as a musical style or a philosophy?
Skaven: For me black metal is about a number of things, but mainly it’s about exploring all the aspects of life most people would shy from even thinking about. It’s about taking your inner-most painful or horrific thoughts and feeling, be it deep seated self hate or some kind of social sickness and manifesting it into something musically threatening. It’s not made to show off any kind of musical ability or clever artistic flair. It’s puritanically about one’s own darkest perception of the world and him or her reacting in kind.
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?
Skaven: No not at all. Black metal is for everyone. I may personally hold contempt for religion but I will defend to the very death anyone’s right to practice it. Political correctness has no place in black metal and anyone who should deny a spiritual person access to an art form is far more totalitarian and bigoted a Nazi than they ever will be.
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?
Skaven: That’s retarded, going around spouting anti-religious bullshit is almost always a gimmick and done to sell records and make money. I don’t care if you’ve burnt 10 churches, if your music sucks then that’s that. Black metal was severed from its beginnings a long time ago with things like ambient, doom, suicidal, it goes on. Fact of the matter is the musical context of cold, raw cadences made with sheer intent is established.
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?
Skaven: Anything Satanic is pro-Christian, so I’d be a little limited there. If it sounds good then fine. And I’ll set the record straight for pro-Jesus music. If its gonna be pro-Jesus fine, make me fear his wrath to the point where I shit my pants or make me want to hang myself for him. Don’t be passive about it. This is the cold intent black metal is founded on, you either got it or you don’t got it.
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?
Skaven: The real question is can they make it work? Because no theme or agenda will automatically award a good musical piece, and certainly not a blackened one.
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…)?
Skaven: No band is safe from the scrutiny on my audience and it’s up to them to keep me listening. I may not convert on the spot but I will believe in their music and their passion if that inspires them to make some truly cold sonics.
xFiruath: What specifically in your life led you to either believe or disbelieve in ideas like God and the supernatural?
Skaven: I never believed in any religion because as far as I’m concerned anyone who actually believes there’s a man in the sky is a retard. I was brought up by intelligent people and before I went to school and began being indoctrinated with holy horse shit I already knew that religion was invented by people. Given that the earth is billions of years old, the few hundred year old writings that made the Bible is about as divine as a half buried jizz soaked copy of Viz. Same detail appliess for all religions. Humans are just animals and stupid ones we are too - especially this one, yours truly.
xFiruath: Anything else you’d like to discuss on the issue?
Skaven: Yes, religion is a closed subject. It’s been drilled to death and needs no encore. Black metal is a musical expression made with instruments, be it a guitar or a throat or whatever, and bands will always try and push it on you with themes and agendas. It’s usually just a lot of posing, which may well be nescessary to get it noticed, but what matters is what’s underneath that theme or initial agenda and what the music is truly representing, and also what it means to the listener: the impact it has on them and how they are inspired by it. If I hear a song that’s telling of Jesus's secret foot fetish then whatever, its neither here nor there, if the band generally sounds like their tearing a whole in the universe or taking me on a journey of my own then we have a winner!
xFiruath: What’s going on with your band these days?
Skaven: I’m glad you ask! I’m at a point now after years of labor where I’m beginning to feel that Nierty is making its point and the message is getting across. We’ve taken every tiny morsel of inner misery and hostility and deeply woven it into our music, and with the successful release of 3 albums and a lot of hard work in the practice room we’re looking forwards to taking that on the stages and drowning a lot of willing participants in it. We’ve got a new guitarist in who has revitalized the band in every possible way and our next album is gonna take us into a whole new territory, but that’s another story for the hereafter.
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