М8Л8ТХ | Сага о чёрном марше (Saga o chyornom marshe) | | 2013
Last rites by Degtyarov
I – Casus belli
Terror attacks do really bring out the worst in people. And no, “the worst” does not here refer to a hypothetical backlash against Muslims, which journos so desperately try to pull into reality with conjured-up stories about nasty racists tearing veils off the heads of Mohammed’s (PBUH) female servants.
Rather, a few hundred victims on a casual night out in Paris motivated the more civilised among us to cling tight once more to the eternal power of peace and love to help us through the storm ahead, as to not “reward” ISIS with our hatred. We hold hands as “Kumbayas” emanate complacently from our midst, after which we hum the melody to John Lennon‘s “Imagine”, a song that ponders about the happiness we would experience in a world without borders and without religion. Of course the irony here is that it is exactly this utopian delusion from which this terminally ill continent is currently reaping the “benefits”.
Worst of all, as ever, are the politicians. The EU mafioso are more desperate than ever, and who can blame them? In a few months time, their project to unite Europe under the banner of neoliberalism has quite literally blown up in their faces, aided by their arrogant abstinence in the face of an uncontrolled influx of jetset migrants. Problems only mounted when their impotence was exposed by a couple of barely organised, rat-faced hoodlums, who rose from the most depraved shitholes in Belgium and France armed with Kalashnikovs, and succeeded only because they, contrary to our dear Masters, actually believe in something. The lack of control held by the “powers that be” is epitomised by the fact that Brussels, the capital of the Euro polyp, is currently on lockdown, with soldiers patrolling the streets in armoured cars just like in any other warzone. So, how did our leaders choose to respond to all this havoc, violence and onslaught? Just keep consuming! Do not let your emotions guide you and just consume! Consume more than ever before, lest you give the terrorists exactly what they want!
As pointed out in this provocative Counter-Currents piece, Europeans are losing the culture war – which is very much going on, whether we are prepared to admit it or not – because the jihadists who have and still are infiltrating our communities abide to values which transcend the mundane pleasures which help us get out of bed every morning, while all that we offer in return is a vow to indulge in more consumerism, more hollow babbling about supposed “freedom” and more secularism – hardly values that any one of us is prepared to die for. Herein resides the problem – for what are we going to do against an enemy who is not afraid to perish for what he believes in? How do we deter a foe who willingly walks toward a certain death just to make a point? Furthermore, why should we stand behind this beloved “West” that so-called patriots keep invoking, while it are the values of this same West (i.e. America + vassals) which have led us to the edge of the abyss in the first place? That those who claim to represent the European people urge us to keep on consuming as if nothing is going on is indicative of the moral bankruptcy of this heralded West. As if our petty distractions are any match for their zealous dedication to their ideals. As if buying more stuff and chatting up whores on Tinder are effective means to ward off our downfall. If anything, they will increase its momentum.
II – A thousand nuclear pyres
Art may reflect the society it emerges from in two ways: either by being an extension of its ideals and views, or by engaging them. If, for the sake of argument, we cover popular cultural expressions under the banner of art, the aforementioned “Imagine” is the paragon of the former category. It is a proclamation of the ideals of the ‘protest’ generation of 1968, many whose members have since moved on to positions in politics, academia and other strata of public life. They formulated more pragmatic, mature versions of their hippie fantasies of old, and used them to mould the modern Western world as we witness it today: secular, borderless, shallow and – ironically – materialistic; the materialism against which the hippies have also claimed to rail, has only thrived since their acolytes moved into power; after all, commerce loves nothing more than a gap in the market, so it did not take long before identity and morals became commodities that can be bought and sold: you are what you buy. Hence why “Imagine”, which is commonly still perceived as a protest song, is in fact the most appropriate soundtrack to our age.
“It’s not a bad idea to redraw the lines of battle.”
In the circles in which the current publication operates, many like to tell themselves that, somehow, black metal embodies a musical revolt against the secular, materialistic worldview that is being spoonfed to us day after day by popular culture. It is, however, hard to maintain this in the light of artists who merely use their perceived rebellious traits as marketing tools with which to exploit frustrated teenagers. Their constant invocations of death, terror and hate are popular not because the ‘target audience’ – to use the appropriate marketing term – actually embraces death, terror or hate, but rather because generic misanthropy is a harmless and easily accessible resource for teenage (and, by now, 20-something) posturing. It taps into a form of rebellion that is seldom frowned upon, even tacitly accepted by the establishment, as is embodied by the well-known stereotype of the teenager who hates everything and everyone as he sits arms-crossed in a poorly lit bedroom while listening to cheesy, ‘dark’ music. When looking at bands such as Dark Funeral and Dimmu Borgir, black metal seems less like an artistic revolt, and more like a fringe expression of this same, inconsequential angst. It’s just a phase, honey.
III – Saga of the black march
Among those few bands in the genre which do manage to make larger audiences feel genuinely uncomfortable, a striking number has (alleged) affiliations with the far right. This has everything to do with the fact that perceived “Natzees” still reign supreme as the bad boys of the modern era, if only because it is a go-to insult which in the political arena has come to signify “anyone who possesses the audacity to disagree with my worldview”. For black metal, this means that, apart from the few genuine so-called “NSBM” bands, many purposefully employ the symbology of far right nationalism because it is one of the few remaining tools with which to keep trend hoppers and sub-cultural tourists at bay. With watered down fusion styles becoming increasingly prevalent, it might not even be a bad idea redraw the lines of battle, if only to regain some perspective without the schizophrenia of trends and marketing blurring the vista.
A band that makes no secret of its political leanings, Moloth have been paving the way with their self-proclaimed “militant black metal” under the veil of clandestine activity. During their 13-year career, they have developed from a raw and obscure black metal project into a prolific and outspoken band. Particularly their latest full-length, Saga o chyornom marshe (EN: ‘The saga of the black march’) establishes them as one of the most technically proficient bands in the genre, boasting increasingly ambitious compositions, flawless instrumentation and a perfect balance of different vocal styles. Unsurprisingly, hardly anyone took notice of this release due to the political ideology that stands firmly at its core. This is a shame, because Saga o chyornom marshe spells bad news indeed for those misinformed nitwits who keep repeating the mantra that ‘95% of NSBM is crap’ as if the same weren’t true for literally every other subgenre of metal.
Saga o chyornom marshe can be considered a concept album, with the titular ‘march’ alluding to the German invasion of and eventual defeat at the hands of the Soviet Union during World War II. Knowing the band’s vehement allegiance to the national socialist ideology, it is no surprise that the first half of the album is boastful and glorious, with Moloth aggressively chronicling the initial stages of Operation Barbarossa, during which the Germans wiped the floor with virtually all resistance they encountered on their way to Moscow. To weave the songs together more thematically, each track is followed by an ambient interlude of 1-2 minutes, over which the historical events are narrated to a backdrop of gunshots, explosions and other war-themed samples.
Around the mid-way point of the album, the euphoria reaches its high-water mark with the song “Slyozy oceni” (“Tears of autumn”). Virulent and fiery, this high-paced track delivers an all-out assault, with every quality of the band surfacing simultaneously. The bass, which appears much more audible, prominent and melodic than is common in the genre, joins the perpetually on-point drums to lay the perfect foundation for a multitude of guitar solos, which emerge like bursts of energy whenever the vocals retreat. The first half of the song is carried by the clean vocals of Alexandr, with Alexey’s Vikernesque howls gradually adding layers of intensity, generating the air of militancy to which the band lays claim.
As the story around which this album is weaved nears its chronological end, the music appropriately begets a more sombre tone, with lingering murk slowly drowning out the fanatical belligerence of before. As the tension mounts with each track, the album’s story arch comes to reflect the disastrous retreat of the starving and freezing Germans back to their homeland, where final defeat awaits them. By the final track, “Vsadnik s kopem ledyanym” (“Horseman with an ice-cold spear”), desperation and pride intertwine, as Alexandr laments the downfall while also announcing the eventual new dawn of his ideals. And so, the dim realisation that all is lost becomes the departure point of newfound hope.
“No-one ever said it had to be pretty.”
With Saga o chyornom marshe, Moloth – quite possibly on purpose – make it difficult for listeners to follow the usual cop-out strategy of ‘separating the music from the message’. Through its samples, mood and keen compositions, it becomes clear that the music was made to accompany the specific lyrical content at hand. This is “problematic” for those who wish to dismiss the legitimacy of any NSBM record out of hand (e.g. “these ideas are not compatible with this style of music”), because the coherent nature of this work reveals that it is anything but ideology tacked on to a random piece of music for propaganda’s sake. For many, it will be a frightening album, not just because it is music drenched in an ideology that is widely considered to be most undesirable, but because of its claimed “militancy”: through the band’s beliefs, the death, destruction and hatred that have always been identified with black metal become tangible to a point where it is no longer possible to cast them off as quasi-misanthropic fashion accessories for disenfranchised teeny boppers.
However, it is still possible to value this release without buying into the particulars of the ideology. If anything, the band succeeds in generating a work of dark romanticism that reflects accurately the proliferating despair of the Eastern Front nightmare. This is volatile, divisive, but nonetheless fascinating art. No-one ever said it had to be pretty. After all, we cannot reach Heaven without first acknowledging the existence of Hell. And with Saga o chyornom marshe also being musically superior to all the docile discs pushed by the bigger publications over the past years, its legitimacy as an important black metal record only increases.
Moloth breathe a veritable lust for war and domination; a hatred that is claimed by many, but practiced by few. This phenomenon is broader than the literality of the band members’ ideology. Right or wrong, it is an unyielding faith against all odds; a desire to lay waste to an expired world. Ultimately, this is what black metal at large should be about if it is to uphold its pretence of rebellion. Black metal’s rage is born from romanticism and desire. It aims to absorb the ugly so that it may one day be transformed into beauty once more, as if it intends to extract pure seeds from a rotten apple. Black metal thus appears as grotesque and irrational; as savage and unrelenting. To many, it is unbearable, despicable, unacceptable. Therefore, those who preach about an inclusive scene while refusing to be confronted with art which has the capability of disgusting them are missing the point. It is highly hypocritical to deny the merit of Moloth as a black metal force while announcing countless hacks to be on the vanguard of the genre while they merely adopt black metal in form to exploit it for commercial ends or employ it as a vessel for self-indulgent experiments. It is exactly this consumerist, safe-space, nerfed worldview which already plagues so many layers of Western societies which reduces men to mice. Similarly, potentially exciting, dangerous or even disgusting music is reduced to background noise; to mere lift music for the negatively inclined. Hence why the primary objective of this trend is not to rid the “scene” of “posers”, nor to eliminate the monetary aspect from the equation. The intent to prevent this music from being diluted until it becomes another silly lifestyle gimmick, for this would prevent musicians from making the best art possible. In the specific case of black metal, the absence of this fanaticism, this mania, this godly fire which burns in the heart of only the genre’s finest musicians is what condemns so many bands to be utterly irrelevant and forgettable.
IV – Unyielding faith
What the erosion of firm ideas can lead to on a grand scale is to be witnessed in contemporary Europe. Under attack from all angles, she is too frightened to defend herself. Too frightened, unwilling, or possibly unable, because when the sole aspects of the culture which you vow to protect are not eternal values, but such fashionable, transient phenomena as the Gay Pride and the right for women to wear miniskirts, who is going to respond to your rally cry? When the grand weapon with which you wish to instil fear in your enemies – who, let us remind you, see death as a blessing – consists in stubborn consumerism and prolonged apathy, what exactly are you fighting to protect? When today you bomb the enemy as a public act of revenge, what does it mean that you saw that same enemy as a blessing several years ago, when he was not yet delivering his violent messages to your doorstep? When you refuse to hate those who shot dead your wife, the love of your life, as a worthless piece of flesh who stood between them and their beloved paradise, are you brave, or are you simply a pathetic eunuch who has given up the fight before it had even started? We are told to remain calm and not let our emotions guide us. But is the man who is overwhelmed by emotion to the point of irrationality truly more dangerous, more deluded, than the man who preaches peace, calm and tolerance while his loved ones are being butchered by the numbers?
Art may reflect the society it emerges from in two ways: either by being an extension of its ideals and views, or by engaging them. Anything which restricts itself to form without essence, to mundane platitudes that exist solely to sell a product to a consumer, is an extension of this frail, dying society. Anything which rises above, and indeed engages these literalities with ideals that transcend the here and now – valid or not they may prove in the end – has a chance of surviving when the rotten core from which it sprung has decomposed entirely. Who do you think the enemy will fear more: a soon withering monument to the dead consisting of flowers, candles and peace signs, or a soldier with an unshakable faith who can explain and show why his adversary’s fight is ultimately futile?
Сага о чёрном марше
1. Знамёна ввысь! (4:04)
2. Untitled (1:53)
3. Гула горн (3:37)
4. Untitled (1:03)
5. Родина-мать расы (3:42)
6. Untitled (2:24)
7. Знак Эйнхерия (4:56)
8. Untitled (1:20)
9. Слёзы осени (7:10)
10. Untitled (0:49)
11. Мужество ведёт на небеса (5:27)
12. Untitled (2:02)
13. И всё же будет так (6:09)
14. Всадник с копьем ледяным (11:53)
Total time: 56 minutes
 LIFEHACK: replace the word with “civilised” with “cowardly” and a myriad of European masochism will unravel before your very eyes, my friend!
 Contrary to popular belief, ‘Natzee’ does not refer to a game you play with two 8-sided dice.
 And while the ethics surrounding listening to politically charged music have oft been discussed, it remains a question to be decided upon at your own discretion. By now, the hordes of useless, unimaginative shills who announce from soapboxes such as MetalSucks, Pitchfork, Noisey and CvltNation that “this is not okay, man” should only encourage you, as being a contrarian is always preferable over bowing down to the whims of these doughy high-horsemen of suburbia.
 For the record: I do not give 2 shits about any scene.
Images taken from Moloth‘s FB page.
Source of zombie appocalypse image unknown.