As some of us intelligent people might know, there have got to be a few reasons why black metal weapons look so primitive and are being used as part of many a band's fashionable poses in black metal photo shoots. To cut a long and analytical lecture short, these reasons can be basically broken down into three parts: (1) Culture & Politics (2) Artistic Expression and possibly (3) The Mojo Factor. Without weapons, black metal would be un-black black metal (reminding one of bands like Abigail Williams, Wolves In The Throne Room etc.), because it just wouldn't be the same! It's like taking a dump in the toilet without bringing in the newspaper.
And so, without further educational crap, let the list (and your tongue) rolllllllllllllllll:
10. Le Evil Stare
A basic skill that all black metal musicians start out with, this requires no mana points (or a pint of goat’s blood or whatever) and has the effect of warding off mainstream music lovers when used. Since the good ol’ days when Dead and Euronymous were alive and active in the early Norwegian black metal scene from 1987 – 1991 and 1984 – 1993 respectively, this has been a trademark of the black metal family that is, thankfully, still being passed down to posterity. Watain’s Erik Danielsson is modifying the look a little up there with what seems to be a cross between some kind of African tribal look and a spin-off of Egyptian iconography (the serpentine eyes and small white snake wrapped around his neck). I wonder if he was really just closing his eyes during the photo shoot because he had actually painted those “eyes” onto his eyelids. I see what you did there, Erik.
09. Le Wrist Spikes
This staple accessory of modern, straightforward black metal musicians didn’t start out looking so much like a porcupine. While extreme guys like Gaahl of Gorgoroth (above) favor them long and prickly, the guys who started out before him (and countless other Scandinavian black metal bands) favored them short and stubby; namely German underground thrash icons Destruction and British heavy metal legends Venom. Venom’s “wrist spikes” were actually flat metal studs adorning the leather wristbands they wore which were part of thrash metal fashion during thrash metal’s heydays in the ‘80s. Destruction being so high on that war-crazed, anti-Christ theme they had going on in their take on thrash metal went a step further with wristbands that had what would be first called “wrist spikes”, as the flat metal studs had extended in length a little and actually had sharp, pointed ends. Use this weapon with caution, especially when trying to ease an itch on the forehead. Try not to end up taking a needle to the eye.
08. Le Bullet Belt
Perhaps the weirdest thing about this “weapon” is that it has never actually been used to its fullest potential. Above, we can see a bullet belt slung diagonally across the upper-body of Shyaithan of Singaporean blackened death/thrash titan, Impiety. All of us have seen that infamous album cover of Mayhem’s 1995 bootleg live album, Dawn Of The Black Hearts, which shows a dead Dead with a shotgun wound to his forehead. We’ve also seen Destruction being arguably the first underground metal band to wear bullet belts around their waists and also sling them across their upper-bodies diagonally, and then subsequently inspiring war-themed black metal bands to adopt similar imagery. But why is it none of them ever posed with guns Rambo-style TOGETHER with those bullet belts? Imagine the impact such a look would have! Ironically, the only band I’ve seen posing with guns in a photo shoot so far are Christian metalcore band The Devil Wears Prada (as you can see here), and it was for promoting an EP that basically dealt with subject matter pertaining to a zombie apocalypse. Anyway, black metal musicians with a penchant for war themes ought to take a leaf out of Arnold Schw-how-do-you-spell-this-again-arzenegger’s book. THIS, is how you use bullet belts.(Check out 6:12 onwards)
07. Le Chains
While most of us ordinary peeps use this to secure our bicycles to bicycle stands, and our girlfriends to the bedpost, black metal musicians like to use them as aesthetic enhancements to their brutal imagery. Again, a possible inspiration for this aspect of black metal weaponry could be attributed to senior thrash metal bands like Destruction and heavy metal bands like Venom. As we can see above, Code of the Taiwanese oriental black metal band Anthelion is looking devilishly good here posing with chains utilizing a variation of #2. Mix and match the right combinations and you’ll discover imbalanced, newfound dimensions of unholy power as your reward. Khrist, this chain of black metal’s most lethal weapons just keeps getting deadlier.(Keep an eye out for le chains at 21:23 – 21:27, 26:40 – 26:53, and 38:00 – 39:46)
06. Le Fire
Pyrotechnics have been a hot—Wait! No, no! Don’t close this window! I apologize!—popular favorite of contemporary rock and metal bands since the elaborate and gimmicky days of KISS and Alice Cooper; and they still are with numerous straightforward black metal bands in our current era (particularly with the Scandinavians). The fascination with fire can be traced all the way back to the prehistoric days of mankind when we first discovered that meat actually tasted much, much better when cooked with it. One theory has it that in the aftermath of a forest fire, our ancestors went back to the ravaged forest and stumbled across some barbecued animal carcasses, but I digress. Due to its indispensability to our survivability, the various cultural identities that would soon follow revolving around it (e.g. tribal dances in Africa, campfires in the Western world, the Olympic Torch from Greece etc.), and its double-edged nature, a love-hate relationship was bound to develop between fire and mankind. Despite this however, and barring the sophisticated ways we put fire to use through our latest technological advancements, fire is a strong symbol of primitiveness; and what better way to make that symbolism shine through than to use it as part of stage antics for a movement as regressive as Scandinavian black metal iconography? Besides, It makes for great icebreaker. Warms you up instantly.
05. Le Blunt Melee Weapon
In all honesty, Varg Vikernes looks mightily cheesy yet rad at the same time in this early picture of him during his violent and misanthropic youth. Thanks in large part to his one-man press-whoring capabilities, Varg probably influenced and inspired a whole new generation of black metal musicians who came after him to follow in some of his notorious footsteps (e.g. burning numerous churches in Norway). As common sense would have it, anything related to a murderous musician who is considered one of the pioneers of heavy metal’s grimmest sub-genre would attain “cult” status and rise in value/eventually gain historical significance amongst collectors and idolizers. Hence, le blunt melee weapon we see appearing in so many black metal photo shoots can be said to have its origins traced all the way back to this cheesy-rad photo. It is not as effective a weapon as #4 though, as it has a larger surface area and upon impact, it would bash and batter rather than slice n’ dice; which is not very efficient for killing and thus, not as lethal as #4. To put it bluntly, #5 simply doesn’t have an edge over #4.(Check out 4:06 onwards)
04. Le Sharp Melee Weapon
Here we have another classic black metal photo, in which Euronymous looked like he was trying to cross his eyes by staring intensely at the blade of his saber. While Euronymous may have been the victim of Varg, he also gained notoriety in his afterlife together with his still-living murderer. After all, both murderer and victim are well remembered in highly reported and sensationalized murder cases. In Euronymous’ case, his fascination with oriental swords was immortalized in what little photo shoots of him that are still available, and it had probably inspired future generations of black metal bands to adopt le sharp melee weapon alongside le blunt melee weapon as well. As explained earlier (and in the video below), sharp is the way to go if you’re aiming for the kill and not the maim. It’s a cut above another when you have an edge over it. Here's why black metal musicians should consider using guns though.
03. Le Tank
The female-parent-fornicating badass of black metal’s arsenal of physical planet-razing weapons, this lean mean machine has appeared on the covers of numerous war-themed black metal records. Apart from the fact that it is an indispensable weapon in every country’s military, it is also an iconic remnant of Nazi symbolism—remember those seemingly ubiquitous tanks with the swastika symbol painted on them in your history textbooks?—and hence, a hot favorite with NSBM bands (and their album cover budget). Of course, not all covers featuring this bad female-parent-fornicator are necessarily NSBM. The cover above is from Marduk’s Panzer Division Marduk, and the iconic Swedish black metal fireteam have stated in interviews before that they have no political motive in their music. It is as subtle as Madonna’s highly suggestive pose on her Hard Candy album. It is the harbinger of mortar death. It easily puts #5 and #4 to shame from hundreds of kilometers away. It rains more blood than Slayer. It blows you away.
02. Le Constipated Leer
Whenever I look at the iconic cover of Darkthrone’s 1994 album, Transilvanian Hunger, I cannot help but wonder if Fenriz actually took this picture while forcefully attempting to clear some stubborn bowels on the bathroom throne. The light bulb’s fuse must have had blown too, for I can think of no other explanation for the absolute darkness Fenriz was dwelling in while holding a five-head metal taper candleholder to illuminate the dingy resting place of those darned bowels. This is a highly dangerous weapon that is an advanced version of #10. Commonly seen in black metal photo shoots involving bald trees, hoodies, candles, and then being Photoshopped to look black-and-white afterwards, its lethality surpasses le blunt melee weapon, sharp melee weapon, and even le tank! Why this ginormous leap in lethality? Its near-psychic effects, of course. The sheer terror felt and evil emanating from such a maliciously contorted visage will vaporize any physical weapon Cyclops-style, extinguish any fire, stop cannon balls in midair, and explode the eyeballs of users of #10. Barring those disfigured rockstars who have sunglasses for eyes, every ordinary human should be very afraid of this weapon. If you’re trying to replicate this in the comfort of your own bathroom, I suggest a sedentary black metal nerd’s lifestyle revolving around soft drinks, meat, and straightforward black metal (avant-garde black metal bands generally value #1 and probably lead healthier lifestyles). Careful though, it will put a strain on the stool.
01. Le Anonymity
That’s right. For all you know, Deathspell Omega could really be the secret occultic pastime of the Justice League of America. Bruce Wayne, billionaire industrialist, playboy, gay partner of Robin, love rival of Catman and… a black metal vocalist? Well, he is grim and dark, so if he has to growl and drone all of that pent-up vigilante angst away, I can sympathize with him. Besides, he has lots of money. Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you a great diversion from superhero duties and anonymity. What about Drudkh? The Avengers, you reckon? Probably, I mean Tony Stark is a billionaire and genius, so I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t make a microscopic dent in his galactic-sized pockets to secretly record a pagan black metal record in a picturesque and wet forest somewhere in Ukraine whenever he’s on leave from superhero duties.
On a less comical note (Ha! Get it?), doesn’t it just kill you inside whenever you listen to an astounding black metal band, only to discover that its members are all anti-climactic pricks who do not want to reveal their real identities? The clawing you do to your own neck out of frustration! The pulling of what little hair you have on your aging scalp! The bad sex you have with your girlfriend/wife afterwards! Bands whose members do show their faces and let the world know that they aren’t superheroes often utilize pseudonyms and face paint, but even then, that is in itself a form of “anonymity”, if only a much less extreme form of it as compared to the complete anonymity surrounding some of black metal’s most intriguing and/or notorious bands to date (Ghost and Deathspell Omega are just two recent examples). After all, when British heavy metal band Venom first started what would eventually become the black metal tradition of taking on evil-sounding stage names, and when “True Norwegian Black Metal” pioneers Mayhem saw two of its main members (Euronymous and Dead) arguably being the first group of black metal musicians to start the tradition of wearing corpse paint in photo shoots and during live performances, they all probably had the very same goal in mind: Anonymity. Many of us may listen the fornicate out of our favorite black metal bands and peruse their interviews to the point of obsession, but at the end of the day, it’s like we never knew these guys at all.
P.S.: If you guys are interested, the unofficial introduction to this list will be linked over here soon.