The anti-Christian sentiment that permeates the contemporary Black Metal scene reveals weaknesses in its own belief system. It has been over a century now since Christianity lost its influence and power in Europe and, more generally, in the Western World. Christianity no longer constitutes an important part of social life, which makes it an easy target for public defamation.

From the 18th century onwards, criticism of any religion has become an important pillar of the emancipation and enlightenment of the so-called homo liberalis. Therefore, in the post-Christian society we live in today, the anti-Christian sentiment of the Black Metal scene can only be regarded as a product of general secularization. It is hard to grasp the extremely pretentious or even militant take that certain Black Metal performers have on a phenomenon that has already become obsolete.

At the same time, as once noted by Hoest – the leader of “Taake” – most musicians try to avoid real radicalism. Any associations with National Socialism, racism, and other doctrines which have come to be considered “politically incorrect” can lead to the boycott by publishing labels and concert organizers, not to mention litigation and prosecution by the authorities. Rock musicians may call for the death of all humanity as much as they want, appealing to the liberal vision of individual freedom. However, expressing ideas about exterminating, or restricting in rights a specific part of this same humanity is deemed unacceptable.

In this context, the absence of serious attacks against Islam, which is currently the only real religious power in the Western World, is absolutely striking. The reason for such obedient behaviour becomes quite clear if we consider the threat that Islamic domination represents for the labels and the artists themselves, especially in France, Germany and the Scandinavian countries where the Muslim minority does not share the passive tolerance inherent in degraded Christians (see the Charlie Hebdo shooting for reference). Therefore, the fact that the “fierce and violent” Black Metal tries to assert itself in opposition to the weakest possible opponent is nothing more than a farce.

Cultivating ideological self-sufficiency of Black Metal is an issue of its own. If Christianity, Satanism, Paganism, or a major political movement presents proof of an underlying ideological structure – a coherent belief system – the blatant denial of whatever there is, including the Abrahamic religions, cannot pretend to constitute a worldview per se. Without an alternative set of constructive propositions, negation is meaningless (unless one’s own nihilism is not properly acknowledged).

The question of Satanism as a cultural phenomenon is no less controversial. If one part of the Black Metal scene posits the Promethean ideal of personal freedom in the spirit of LaVey, the other consciously chooses the unconditional worship of Satan. This has been particularly obvious with Erik Danielsson of “Watain”. The commonplace use of such titles as “Lord” or “Master” with regards to the avatars of dark forces by the Black Metal scene has brought all the more ambiguity to the dispute. The usage of these terms acknowledges the principles of higher authority and servitude, which stand opposite to any form of rebellion and individualism. Due to the aforementioned disaccord of ideas within the Black Arts, idolaters of Satan are in no position to criticize any kind of religious worship.

Criticism of Christianity from the Black Metal perspective often lacks any consistency. Among other things, it fails to reconcile its multiple contradictory readings, proving the syncretic nature of its positions. More often than not, the inability to provide an overarching doctrine accounts for banal atheism. In some respects, it borders on nonsense: Christianity is both condemned as a cult of slavery and weakness and vilified as a source of historic aggressions, forced baptism, and Inquisition. On one hand, the image of the suffering Christ; on the other, self-indulgent sadomasochistic mutilation, a distinctive trait of the Depressive Suicidal Black Metal scene. The Nietzschean critique of Christianity that imputes it with the denial of vitality coexists with the chtono-Gnostic wave, which declares an absolute, anti-cosmic nihilism. The latter is rooted in the early-Christian Gnosticism and Jewish Kabbalah in their counter-initiatory interpretation; the ubiquitous denunciations of the Jewish origins of Christianity seem quite awkward, only proving the fact that the deep reflection on art is a much rarer phenomenon than the art itself.

Author – Smierc Polarstern, source – “The Apokrif” magazine #3 (pp. 110-112), English translation by Orpheus Grimm