Garth Ferrante

For the uninitiated, black metal is a sub-genre of heavy metal music generally characterized by blastbeat drumming, melodic but dirgelike and heavily distorted guitars, and raspy howling or high-pitched vocals.  Its lyrics often involved anti-Christian themes of blasphemy, and its visual aesthetic usually involved wearing face and body paint to give the impression of a corpse hence the term corpsepaint.  As H.P. Lovecraft phrased it in “Pickman’s Model,” the typical second wave black metal stalwart was a “relentless enemy of all mankind to take such glee in the torture of brain and flesh and the degradation of the mortal tenement.”

 

falling in love on youtube (to and for Per)

(after the cover of “dawn of the blackhearts” bootleg recording by mayhem)

it’s because i never had any children of my own that i revisit the idea of you slicing your wrists open and then blowing your head off with that shotgun to make certain you couldn’t come back to this life…

in itself, it’s just a sad thing, but when you think of your parents waking up every morning to the memory of your end that will never go away, i end up feeling for them in a way i never could before:

you’re now the age my own son would have been had i been able to get my shit together enough to have a family of my own… that’s the disturbing thing about dwelling in the death of others, because as the living get older and older, the dead are captured forever at the age of their death… so i am now forty-five and getting older and older as you continue to be in your early twenties, and being that age, thinking back to how i used to be, i could never see things from anyone’s perspective but my own…

it was all the pain i was in, it was depression, it was being poor and having nothing and having to work my way up so that sunday nights felt like another kind of death, but now that i’m in a different place and don’t need to worry about a lot of those things so much anymore, i can ask what it must be like for your folks, for the ones back home you left behind:

did they see the picture that bastard snapped of you after your done the deed, the one they made a bootleg cover out of?… now that it’s on the web, it’s out there forever, and to be your father glancing at a keyboard, to be your mother having to look now and again at a computer monitor… i shudder for them, if they ever have a shit about you to begin with, because maybe you left them for good reason, maybe they showed you nothing to stay for, no love, no affection… or maybe they were just indifferent to being your parents, maybe they’d wanted a son not so sullen as you…

knowing how screwed up families are when you get past the pleasantries, i ask too many questions i’ll never know the answers to, but somehow this brings your story closer to mine so that on some cold nights, the only thing separating us is a french knife and a shotgun…

and when i think “dawn of the black hearts,” the gore of it, the brains spattered on the wall, the brains plopped out of their skull, the blood the treacle of a demon scene, i have to remind myself that’s you, all of that was once you, and all your choices were what led you to that butchery that was maybe boredom and maybe desperation…

i have to keep telling myself that that’s you, not me, that i wouldn’t have made the same choices, that i obviously haven’t because here i am old enough to now be your old man… but this is only a different form of desperation, for how many times have i caught myself saying that in this world, one can never be certain of anything, that one can never fully own his own destiny…

how many times have i lamented that it doesn’t matter what words are spoken, that actions always reveal the true reality so that there can be no permanence, no security in falling in love, in trying to settle down and attempt a life of love and family because she found just fall out of love, she could just get bored and start fucking other people, or our son might find he can’t talk to us, might move away forever after we find out his death is frozen in time for all time to come that we might see how love and family have failed, and be reminded every day there is no escape from any of this except the one staring us in the face…

The group Mayhem spearheaded the second wave of black metal to come out of Norway in the late 80’s/early 90’s.  The most notorious singer of Mayhem, Per Yngve Ohlin, assumed the stage name of “Dead” and, according to those who knew him, was so obsessed with death he would bury his clothes, and sometimes himself, in the ground before a show to give both the scent of the grave.  After a very brief time with the group, and with little to no family contact, the relocated Swede wrote the lyrics to “Life Eternal” (a song on the group’s 1994 De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas).  He then slit his wrists and throat with a butcher knife and blew out his brains with a shotgun.  It was April 8, 1991 and he was 22.

When he was found by his Norwegian bandmate and group leader, Øystein Aarseth, Aarseth took photographs of the body and exploited Dead’s suicide to maximize press for Mayhem.  He is also reported to have eaten some of Dead’s brain to claim that he was a cannibal and to have stolen from the scene bits of Dead’s skull for souvenirs.

 

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to drink from the night herself (after the just-announced title of the forthcoming at the gates lp)

yes, there are two lovers and yes, they have just finished with each other in so many ways, at least that’s what he’s thinking and hoping because he feels as though he’s just let the beast occupy his place in line…who was it who was with her, who was inside her, who made her moan for him not to stop, for him to keep going just like that forever?…he wanted to laugh at her just like that, inside her and

all: there is no fucking forever, how could there be when there was always this feeling plaguing him, following him everywhere telling him he had to fuck this one or that one, none of them were her, that he had to get her pregnant, have baby after baby with her, with anyone who’d have his baby…forever wasn’t supposed to look like this…

it was night and he was inside another woman, he was inside her and so was the one lying next to him, the one who didn’t want to know him anymore, the one who always said she had headaches when he went to touch her, the one who said she was always tired or just didn’t feel like it when he was just holding her…but she knew one thing always led to another and why bother with empty gestures, why not leave her alone so she could leave him for good?…it was time to drink again from this cup that had always been before him…

she has been gone for years and years, he isn’t counting, yes, he’s counting how long it’s been since he’s fucked a woman, but not how long since he’s been in love, since he’s felt a real connection, since he’s been able to say there’s someone in his life who cares if he lives or dies…it’s both an outrageous and a pitiful way to go about living one’s life, but it isn’t like he doesn’t have the chance to meet more women, to settle down with one so he can realize he can dream all he wants, but that doesn’t mean he’s ever going to meet his dream woman in this life…

and what’s all this nonsense about women and the night being a woman?…he knows that isn’t going to solve any of his problems, and he tells himself it’s a waste, an absolute waste of time and energy to think up all of this when he should be out there living his life instead of writing about it…but he also remembers when he went to that off-off-broadway play and the line about truth was spoken: truth can exist with one person in a room and as soon as someone else enters, truth goes right out the window…he never forgot that line because he’s always tried to prove it wrong, to say to everyone around him, “look this is who i am, do you want me?” just because he knew that if there was going to be any kind of existence that, for him, it’d have to be one that, even if it wasn’t completely truthful, it had to approach it as closely as possible…

and so he asked himself if what he was doing was truthful now, and the sad fact is that yes, it was, that it was so truthful that no one wanted him at all because he didn’t try hiding anything from them which most people found unbelievable and, ultimately, not normal…he wanted to say that there would always be those things hidden from them that he didn’t need to know: the time he shit himself in that beach restroom just as he was entering the stall and a week’s worth of shit had plopped and oozed out of him…the time he smacked his mother in the face when she’d smacked him first…the time he practically forced himself on his girlfriend when the two of them were on that landing, and standing up no less, which was probably the worst of all the tales as she had cried and though he’d felt for her, he hadn’t stopped till he’d finished inside her…

there were things he’d never tell anyone because those things, though unpleasant and unforgivable, didn’t define him: he didn’t go around forcing himself on women or shitting his pants, and besides, he’d learned from all of it, it had taken him awhile in some cases, but he’d learned from all of it, and though he wished he could go back and do those parts over again, it was all so much wasted wishing that he decided to put that energy into the future…

he was going to need it if he was going to drink from the night herself and for there to be no one next to him, he was going to need it if he was going to stand before the mirror to say he’d revealed himself and this wasn’t “the trick” at all because there’d been no takers…it should have made him happy that he’d booted all the takers from his world, but instead it made him focus on yet another truth that threatened still blacker ones: if no one wanted him, was it because they were all takers, all trying to see what they could get off him in the time they’d let him fuck them?…it was so cynical that he turned over in his bed, in the darkness with which he’d always felt a shared grim romance, and he pushed this thought away from him not because he was going to try and repress it, or rationalize it, but because he was disgusted by it, by them, all women, even she who was the night lying silent all around him…and he said to himself there was a darkness within him that was not the night of time, but was the night of understanding: here is where he has no choice but to find comfort, as cold as it might be…

At The Gates is a death metal group that was part of the New Wave of Swedish Death Metal in the early-to-mid 90’s.  After a string of semi-good albums, they released the classic “Slaughter of The Soul” in 1995 and broke up until reforming again in 2014.  Their newest post-reunion album is slated for release this year (2018).)

© Garth Ferrante

Garth Ferrante teaches, writes, and makes games out of challenging his own creativity. He writes because he loves to, because he finds meaning and purpose in it, because if he didn’t, life would be lifeless.

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