Black Metal and the Occult: A guide to its uses
Black Metal is infamous for its alignment with the "dark arts", from Enslaved's liner notes to Dark Funeral's cd titles and lyrics, to Azrael's uses of Occult teachings to conjure up their music, the Occult has a large status in black metal. It is the purpose of this article to explain elements of the Occult for black metal, and their uses in making black metal music.
The first concept that you need to know in Occult uses is this: that in order to use these powers you must open up yourself, and even if you do not believe in what you are doing you must suspend your disbelief for a few moments at least.
To open youself up do this. Relax your entire being, dispel thoughts, dispel everything and let yourself go into a meditative state. Now once you feel completely open you will be able to conjure your visions. Once you are ready to play concentrate on what vision you wish to conjure, and then start playing. The importance is to be open and also concentrate. This is difficult at best, but if you can do this the results will be worth it. Just keep recording or playing and let the words and notes come out of you. You must let all feelings and thoughts move through you, you become a conduit, and your concious brain has no place in this moment. Once you master this use you may move on to the true dark arts in black metal.
The effects of a true dark arts ritual are unknown. Not that you will conjure a spirit or demon, but the importance of throwing yourself so deeply into an emotion and desire can have very serious consequences. With that warning we shall continue. I have not attempted this yet, but I understand Azrael and Dark Funeral have. Begin by finding a grimoire to supply a incantation, once you find a suitable incantation (or write your own, see bellow) you will be able to begin. Start by opening yourself up again as above. Throw all your concentration upon the spell and your desire, make yourself one with it and open up your mind and spirit to channel whatever shall come through. Next start playing while doing all of this. As you recite the incantation keep your concentration on "knowing" every emotion and feeling that you are speaking, keep a vision of the words in your head so that you can feel it closely. Once you finish you may have a very good recording. For you see this is the main use of the occult in black metal (or music in general), it forces you to concentrate so much upon your music and to feel so deeply what you are playing that it is impossible for it to be nothing if not interesting. Many find that this is like recording or playing on drugs, you simply supply the drugs with your mind and imagination. I'm certain many actually attempt to fully use the Dark Arts in their music. This could be dangerous, for if you do the above while attempting to bring a strong wave of hatred or evil, you could damage yourself. I'm certain this is true from all I have read of the Occult. The importance is to be open and let all flow through you, this is very important. Some even stay up for days at a time to induce this openess, this is effective as well.
Writing your own Incantations:
To do this meditate again, except now meditate on the feeling or thought you desire to write. Now write it while concentrating and opening yourself to the emotions, thoughts and words that will come out. Try to think as little as possible except to put all of this into coherent statements. To create an incantation it cannot be a Bob Dylan piece, it must have a concept from beginning to end. If you find yourself wandering than you must stop, concentrate, open you mind and start over again.
The occult does not always mean the dark side. Enslaved for example use the occult as a means to become closer to a more natural state. You may concentrate your energy and emotions on any subject any thought, any feeling. If you desire to conjure up visions of nature think of all you love in nature and bring mental pictures of nature as you write or perform.
These occult ideas work outside of black metal and metal in general. You can use them for any style of music to help your writing. Be careful if you do attempt a dark arts ritual. Any other type of subject that you may attempt will probably have no consequences, but the dark arts may be dangerous. Just don't say I didn't warn you.
A note on BM and the Occult:
The combination of BM and the occult has a long history, or at least as long as the music itself. Bathory and Venom played with comic book occult symbols, but it wasn't until Mayhem that a band seemed really into the occult within BM. Mayhem was far more into the occult/Satanist ideas than many of their followers. Burzum in particular cast off many of the occult ideas, instead focusing on Odinist ideas and a kind of Nationalism. It is hard to tell the actual effect of these BM bands ideas on the music itself, as there is little to tell that any were under the influence of their occult ideas when recording. However in Dark Funeral I know they were attempting to do songs in a kind of occult state. I think Burzum's Varg Vikernes strange intensity and involvement in the music creates a kind of Occult feeling, perhaps he had some involvement at some level in creating an occult feeling when recording. Azrael for certain do, by maintaining a minimum of sleep to open up themselves to evil emotions and forces. Anyway possible is useful. I think the ideas of occult/Satanist ideas is readily aparent at least in songs subjects and sounds, if nothing else. BM really creates an occult feeling in the listener, even if no out right occult thoughts and influences were used to create the music. Often this effect is created by bad production, and the over-distorted guitars, combining to create a trance like feeling, which is very similar to occult music. Certainly occult feelings are essential to black metal, even if they are not done on purpose.