Hideous Gnosis: Black Metal Theory

This tome has been the ridicule of some and received dark praise from others. My own notion of the book lies somewhere in between. Hideous Gnosis, subtitled ‘Black Metal Theory’ has a scholarly type approach to the writing style, and does become quite verbose at times but provokes many interesting questions and explanations behind the ideological and aesthetical side of this far too often black and white and causal subgenre. The book itself is written by several authors, so a varying degree of writing style are present. Chapters deal with extensive and varying subject not strictly based on the music but the influence and culture that it occupies. I found interest reading the portions titled ‘The Light That Illuminates Itself, The Dark That Soils Itself’. It impugns what most black metallers might already hold as truth, and opens opinions to be re-evaluated, for those of nature and the absolute. All imagery is tastefully put into the pages, and since i have a reverence for art, it was cool to see something there while pouring over the text. I thought the piece about reflecting on the politics in some black metal unbiased and rather left to voice the ideology of certain members in the underground scene, prominently, Famine of Peste Noire & Toxik Harmst of Diapsiquir. Taken from a perspective standpoint you will realize that the views of such members are posited in conspiracy with their own experiences, future, and influences and thus their meaning of anything is subjective. While most of it makes rational sense, and is relevant to them at the point in time to which it was said, it shall be noticed that one specific mode of thought is never constant, which is quite possibly the purpose of the book in it’s entirety. I personally cannot relate to the world on one level, and can’t limit my expression or ideas in such a confined way as to follow something, i create my own purpose and celebrate my individual. If you realize this already within yourself, this will serve as a psychological view of the writings as a means to further your own knowledge. And if you are still in the dark with who you are, you might then take from it what you need, like a tool to carve your own path.

Read the rest of the review through hereReflecting further on the musical standpoint, i found the section about transcendental black metal completely absurd and lame! It goes into elaborate detail of the sound and approach to somehow making black metal which is inheritly ‘transcendental’ which to me is kind of paradoxical in itself as it can have different effects on each person. The author of this chapter uses terms like burst beat/hyperborean/solar and hypertrophy in contrast to blast beats, lunar, and atrophy. The repetition tends to lose me entirely and makes attempts to create a new theory from something which does not need to be defined. I did appreciate the parts on the underground black metal scene in the Headless Horsemen chapter, and collects some unique interview quotes that won’t be read anywhere else. Also, Sciscione write an impeccably nice article on the introversion and self oppressing aura of misanthropic or depressive black metal. The purpose is to explore to what extent black metal supersedes itself to its identity as a peripheral, adversarial force and conceives the evolution it takes through the self and cosmos. A lot of effort is put into perceiving the mental faculties of an individual who lends himself to creating specifically this kind of music. The coalescence of negativity, immorality, and individualism becomes the one means to vent some of the darkest emotions that man can possess.

Personally i loved the relations made to old writers who were not around when Black Metal was a way to express indifference. Also the abstract concepts which are central to most philosophy like empiricism “everything that exists, exists for a reason”. These were some of the most supreme thinkers of mankind, and the basis of their own theories have without any question provided intelligence and rationality to the collective masses If they were alive today, i believe they would be performing with a black metal band. Other attention is regarded to the concepts of Anti-Cosmos, which kind of ties in to straying from laws and rules, the relevancy of demonology, paganism and identifying with socialism, amongst other things. Some review-like prose is here and there injected into the more serious portions and also serves to be quite entertaining.  Also, i hold the same opinion from when i first discovered this extreme kind of music, that black metal is superior to the rest. This is my own opinion of course, but seeing of how far it has led me, and emotions it has stirred up that i thought never existed within me. It will probably always be a catalyst to my own self meaning during my short time in life.

I believe this is an ongoing collection of material, and a book or selection of interview with American Black Metal bands is also being made. There is a website for this stuff, and some collective gatherings have happened for Hideous Gnosis. Read more infiltration here, haha http://blackmetaltheory.blogspot.com/

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The Author



22.A domesticated primate philosopher on an oxygen-supported carbon based planet circling a Type G star. Also a polymath of the arts and sciences, and animal at heart. I love attending concerts, black metal culture, drawing, reading, meeting like minded persons, runic lore, writing, bdsm, walks through nature, sampling her finest herbs and doing primal fitness. I am an activist and animist so my recent writings will take more focus on these, as well as other outside culture. Sometime in the near future i will move to UK and then Norway,

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  • Lorcan

    I wonder if a unifying theory (or indeed any type of defined intellectual manifold- however porous) is really what is needed in BM. I think the notions of individual perception and transgressive mentality inspired by BM music does invite philosophical musings, but i personally dont like to see it constrained or corralled by formalities or attempts at definite organisation…

    There’s too many arseholes both inside and outside of the fandom that try to do this already, for the wrong reasons. I think ultimately any attempts to unify or collate a BM theory is an attempt (either conscious or subconscious) to establish an intellectual hierarchy within the scene and I think this will be rejected by most fans as unnecessary and ill-intentioned hubris.

    My gut suspicion is that attempts to formulate, distill or reconcile a BM theory may be accepted and attempted by those outside of the fandom, or by some persons within it that are subject to a rather conventional identity crisis, and who use extreme music purposefully as a way to pose and fortify themselves purely in contrast to mainstream media discourse. Thence, I fear that much discussion on this topic by adherents resembles the most pedestrian forms of religious or political zealotry, and by others, of simple but superficial curiosity.

    As to the former, I fear there may be a very subtle but important and corrosive subtext hidden within the insecurities of such proponents that betrays a sense of intellectual venality at the expense of true individualism and/or what is best for the discussion of the music or its themes. In short, I fear much (not all) of the theory formulas proposed here are compromised by various degrees of attempts at self-promotion, rather than promotion of the medium in question…. Im lookin forward to the symposium in Dublin, but am a bit anxious. I hope i’m not right in what I wrote above, but I think I may just be…

  • PartyAnimal

    I believe that one of the dudes from Liturgy wrote that loathsome piece on “transcendental black metal,” whatever in the fuck that means.

    Fuck, I hate that band.