Articles Reviews Barnestorming #30- Dragon Rage in Review, Prince of Darkness, Liturgy

Barnestorming #30- Dragon Rage in Review, Prince of Darkness, Liturgy Michael Barnes Hot
Written by Michael Barnes     December 01, 2011    
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Expensive, imported, and limited. It's Barnestorming #30

Cracked LCD this week is my long delayed review of Dragon Rage. I had kind of a tough time getting enough plays in with it to feel like I had enough to go on, which is sort of the fate of two player games these days for me. But it is good, and I’d like to see Flatined Games get it into wider- and domestic- distribution. This is another F:ATtie product, our very own Eric Hanuise is the man responsible for publishing and redeveloping this neglected, unsung classic of 1980s-style fantasy gaming.

It is damn expensive though. And imported. And limited.

Oh, new Worthpoint article- it's about the big Sid Sackson auction many years ago.

I’ve played a bunch of stuff this week, mainly because I got back with the Hellfire Club for the first full meet-up in three months.

We had a hell of game of Imperial 2030, wherein I lead Russia to imperial glory before buying out China and pretty much letting Russia sink into dire economic straits. At one point I had almost the entirety of Asia, the Middle East, and the South Pacific locked up until a joint coalition of Brazil and the US (aided and abetted by a countryless Swiss banker) dismantled my holdings and bought the nation out from under me. Final scores in the top three were $73mil, $72mil, and $71mil. I was third.

The Resistance is pretty neat. It really is kind of like BSG in 20 minutes. I don’t really like the plot cards or whatever though, the game is at its best when it’s just raw suspicion and discussion. Sort of “pure” in the way that Intrige is.

Bill Abner sent me a spare copy of Troyes he had lying around…wow, that’s an overwrought, overdesigned game. I’m not sure it’s even _supposed_ to be fun.

Dungeon Run continues to be cute, but not necessarily great. Definitely a no-go for five or six players. We had a good one though, Pierre was playing the racist dwarf and I the billygoat man and he walked right into the first chamber and laid me flat without preamble. One party of two wandered off to go pat each other’s butts or something while another pair went the other way. I stumbled around alone, jacking a couple of treasures until the racist dwarf got to the boss lair. He wound up beating the shit out of everybody and slipping out the exit. Fun game. Wish it was just this much better though.

Super Dungeon Explore finally arrived and…I dunno. I am totally not feeling the miniatures. They look really cool, but there’s some pretty advanced modeling they require and if you’re looking for a complete board game, this isn’t really one. It’s very much a miniatures starter, and the models are probably more important than the game. But that said, there’s some awesome ideas in it. It really does feel like a video game, and there’s some VERY cool stuff with controlling the pace and developing the tempo based on the relative damage dealt over the course of the game. But I’m also wondering if the game is going to have staying power when there are other all-in-one solutions on the market that offer more. That said, if you’re into the modeling thing, the figures are great.

On the Consoles

My reviews of Halo: Anniverary and Ultimate Marvel Versus Capcom have posted.

I just finished Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and completely loved it, going so far as to write an article about Kojima at NoHS. I’m playing the second one now, which is obviously more dated. But so far, it’s great too. The Metal Gear Solid three-fer HD remaster is the best reissue of the year, hands down. It stinks that the first game isn't on there, but if you've got a PS3 you can download it from PSN, at least, to get the whole series. Peace Walker freaking rocks, but it's small-bite style gameplay is something I think I'll enjoy more on the Vita. It definitely takes some cues from both X-Com and Monster Hunter.

I started Dark Souls again since the dust has cleared from the Fall releases. I got to the first boss, the Taurus Demon. He jumps out in front of you on this long bridge braced by these towers. I thought I was going to be clever and get on top of one of the towers and just drop firebombs on his head. I went up the ladder, got into position and he just looked up at me. I bombed him a couple of times because I assumed he was helpless and stuck, and then the motherfucker jumped up on top of the tower and killed me. I about had a heart attack. Goodbye, souls.

On the Phone

Been playing a lot of this little freemium game called Cabals. It’s sort of in the vein of Neuroshima Hex or Summoner Wars. You’ve got a deck of cards and you summon stuff onto a grid to battle another occultist (such as Rasputin, Karl Maria Wiligut, or Morgana LeFay). Special powers, blah blah blah but it also has some terrain, including spots that generate VPs and others where you can spawn. It’s really well done, looks good, and you don’t necessarily need to buy anything else to enjoy it.

Oh, and War on Terror is out on IOS. Single player only, which sucks. But it’s funny, streamlined, and pretty well done. Jarvis Cocker has a song in it. Yeah, that one.

Infinity Blade II came out and I bought it. I loved the first one. I played a little of the second and it doesn’t seem that much different so far. There’s a crafting thing with cramming gems into slots of the weapons and armor, so maybe that will turn into a thing over the course of the game. It’s as good as the first, at least. This one seems to have a story though, not just a loop.

On the Screen

I had a Fangoria magazine when I was 12 or so that had all of these pictures from Prince of Darkness. It had the lady with the skinned face on the cover. I thought that was some wicked, evil shit back then and I remember my dad sort of looking at the issue with some concern when I asked for it at the B. Dalton. The movie sounded crazy, and I wound up going to see it in the theater. It kind of freaked me out, because I was sort of in that transitional phase where you start to go either one way or the other on religion…and here was a film that was dealing with loony theological issues mixed up with science.

I watched it the other night, I haven’t seen it in a while but it’s always been one of those “oh yeah, that movie’s awesome” things. Well, it’s not awesome. In fact, I think it’s one of Carpenter’s weakest films. Which is a shame, because there are some really, really awesome ideas in it. The dream transmission, the Brotherhood of Sleep, liquid Satan, the anti-God and the fake bible…the opposition of religion and science in dealing with a physical, tangible manifestation of evil. GREAT stuff. But the movie is just so _bad_. Too much of the horror is focused on people standing there staring, bugs, and hobos. Plus, that dude from Simon and Simon just irritates the shit out of me. It’s always a pleasure to see Victor Wong and Donald Pleasance in action, but the film’s boring settings and pedestrian style make it something of a drag to watch.

Believe it or not, this is a film that I think could stand to be remade. The ideas and concepts are there, it just needs a better script and a discernable style.

On Spotify

Pictured is Liturgy, out of Brooklyn, NY. You’d never guess it from looking at them, but they released one of the best black metal records of 2011, “Aesthethica”. It’s a blurry, propulsive record that sounds like it was made by smart, musically inclined folks that probably studied Steve Reich and Glen Branca as much as Burzum and Darkthrone.  It’s incredibly smart, progressive black metal with some stunning passages that utilize repeated figures and almost locked-groove repetition to accomplish its goals. Which aren’t really anything to do with most black metal. It’s not grim, satanic, primitive, necro, or even really all that dark. It’s oddly joyful music, strangely uplifting and maybe even transcendent. But it still sounds like pure black metal- but produced well, and with a KILLER drummer.

But here’s the rub. These guys have royally pissed off the black metal world. Venom and hatred abound for them, and they’re routinely vilified by fans and press alike for being inauthentic, un-kvlt “hipsters” carpetbagging in what is becoming a rising scene of very forward-thinking black metal acts that are FINALLY leaving behind the baggage of nth-generation Mayhem worship, corpse paint, and all of that devil/Odin crap.

The thing about it, yes, these guys aren’t throwing out pig heads at their shows or wearing spiked gauntlets to bed. They’re normal, artistically inclined musicians that want to use black metal for something other than being obscure and evil. I like this, and I think what they’re doing is awesome because it’s moving black metal away from being “accidentally” avant garde into being something more willfully progressive and challenging. And frankly, for these guys to be wearing the clothes they wear and looking like they do (which is like 75% of the problem that the trad black metallers have with them) is more authentic than the corpse paint, Nazism, suicide/deathwish shit that their grimmer contemporaries often truck in.

It’s a great record. Jon Jacob, you should take a listen.

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Comments (44)
  • avatarSuperflyTNT

    I agree on Prince of Darkness. Lord of Illusion came out right around the same time and was 10 times the film. In fact, that's one of my favorite, and not just because I have a man-crush on Scott Bakula.

    Can't believe you hated on Halo. I stopped reading the article after the first paragraph based upon your idea that it's empty and boring. At the time, there WAS no better, more compelling story. The fact is that it spawned countless novels, a feature film (animated, and not that shit hot) and several sequels and spin offs. Empty and boring doesn't do that.

  • avatarShellhead

    Prince of Darkness had great atmosphere, but when it ended, I was all "That's it?"

    I recently watched the director's cut of Lord of Illusion, and enjoyed it except for the dramatic confrontation at the end. That part was almost good, except that I just didn't like the bad guy. He was too much generic exposition-spouting bad guy, when I think the role should have called for more charisma. Oh, and I also disliked the fx for the x-ray vision or whatever that was supposed to be.

    Liturgy sounds like something that I would have loved when I was in college. I don't mean that in a dismissive way, it's just that my peak interest in prog rock and heavy metal was during college, and Liturgy sounds like a combination of the two genres.

  • avatarMichael Barnes

    Oh, I think one of Prince of Darkness's biggest fumbles is that it has ZERO atmosphere. The whole thing is shot in high key lighting with wide angle lenses and apparently in some kind of mid-80s church or college dorm. It doesn't look interesting _at all_.

    Now, I do agree that there's a certain _aura_ about the movie due to its subject matter and concept that's just awesome. But it's about as atmospheric as an episode of Cagney and Lacey. Or Simon and Simon.

  • avatarSpinrad

    Weird coincidence, I just bought a box of old Fangoria's from a guy at work today (I work in a comic shop), and this exact issue was the one on top.

  • avatarSpace Ghost

    Simon and Simon vs. Cagney and Lacey -- now that is a Trashdome.

    I go with S&S due to the mustache.

  • avatarMichael Barnes

    Yeah, Gerald McRaney's moustache was better than Tyne Daily's.

    Maybe we can follow it up with Hart to Hart vs. Remington Steele and Riptide vs. The Equalizer.

  • avatartin0men  - re:
    Space Ghost wrote:
    Simon and Simon vs. Cagney and Lacey -- now that is a Trashdome.

    I go with S&S due to the mustache.

    ...and the Powerwagon!

  • avatarscissors

    Very nice review of Dragon Rage. Thanks.

    This is a major point:

    "What makes Dragon Rage stand out more than anything, and what makes it still worth discovering 30 years after its initial publication, is how it remains a great example of how rules, process, and gameplay are more important in generating narrative detail than silly fluff paragraphs, artwork, or plastic miniatures."

    Since getting into gaming six years ago I have generally grown to despise flavour text longer than one sentence: I enjoy the quotes in a game like Last Night on Earth, but despise longer descriptions like Mansions of Madness. The reason is I don't find the text evocative or spooky or whatever: our group isn't into all that - the atmo has gotta come from the game or the situations themselves.

    And I like to let me imagination fill in the story based on what's happening on the board, not what the game tells me is or should be happening. In this way, I think Dragon Rage will provide situations not unlike Memoir '44.

    We had one memorable session of M'44 when a friend and I played the snipers in Stalingrad scenarios - epic moments created by cards, antcipation, placement of figures, dice and a little luck to reveal the last man standing). Dragon Rage in some ways, I think, bears similarities with Memoir in that respect. I think it is very much worth getting if you play 2-player games.

    As for The Resistance. We love it: we have never played with the special cards yet. Great game.

  • avatarMattDP

    I've played The Resistance twice, both with about ten people, and I'm not feeling the love. Perhaps that's just too many people but the paranoia aspect just got swallowed up in the mechanics. It's fun enough, but I'd take BSG any day.

  • avatarwice

    It's funny you mention Liturgy, I just discovered them last week, and was planning to recommend them in the music topic. If you continue to read my mind like that, then next time you will write about Negative Plane. Seriously, check them out. They may not be "innovative" in the sense of doing something nobody has ever done before, but they are certainly fresh, because, unlike almost every current black metal bands (even the most experimental ones), their sound has nothing to do with Darkthrone's Transilvanian Hunger. They basically act like that album (and even Darkthrone itself) never happened, and reach back to the roots of black metal: when I heard them, Tormentor's completely crazy first demo ("The 7th Day of Doom") came to my mind immediately. Which is a pretty good think, if you ask me. You can also hear a good amount of Venom/Hellhammer/Celtic Frost (maybe even Merciful Fate) influences on their two records. I repeat: check them out.

    BTW, Liturgy is not exactly hated by the black metal purists because of their music or how they look. If you look it up, Liturgy's first album had a pretty good reception. Most modern USBM bands experiment with integrating post-rock/post-hc/noise into black metal, dress casually and don't wear corpsepaint anyway. But, before their second album, the frontman (Hunter Hunt-Hendrix) decided to release a so called "Transcendental Black Metal Manifesto", which is a comparison of "orthodox" and "transcendental" black metal, and reads like it was co-authored by the Post-Modernist Bullshit Generator. It's basically a very long and complicated way to say "our band is awesome", but, unfortunately, many BM-fans (mis?)understood it as "traditional black metal is shit".

    Anyway, it's a storm in a spoon. Liturgy is really fucking awesome.

  • avatarGary Sax

    Haven't played my copy of Dragon Rage, but I'm looking forward to it.

  • gschmidl

    Thanks for the Liturgy hint.

    If you want to know more about who the hell these people ARE in Infinity Blade 2, there's a novella by Brandon Sanderson that links IB1 and 2. It's not bad for what it is.

  • avatarStephen Avery

    Resistance: Only played once. I didn't care enough to enjoy or hate it. I totally snaked the win by being "Good Ol' Steve Avery

    Dragon Rage: Looks cool. I never play 2 player games. I wish it supported more. Would split teams work?

    Super Dungeon Explore: Totally awesome game. We were calk walking right through it then BAM! some Dragonkins one shotted Dan Baden.
    You can totally tell they'll be doing expansion sets even with just one play. I'm very much looking forward to playing it again.

    Steve"2 cents"Avery

  • avatarJonJacob

    I'm really interested in Dungeon Run and was hoping for a smash hit. I'm still considering picking it up because it sounds like the overhead is low and the game is pretty quick but it's really just 3-4 players since 5-6 and 1-2 all sound like a bust. That is really too bad since the group I'd play it with ranges from 3-6 pretty randomly. But I still don't own a multi player dungeon crawl and was hoping this would be the one. We'll see. I have my eye on the new Decent too since my Brothers copy of the original has been a dust collector for at least two years now.

    I've been going through that BM list from trash talk though. Listening to Darkthrone's Transilvanian Hunger the last two weeks, I kind of need to listen to just one or two albums a week to really focus (the other is Goat Rodeo Sessions). It's amazing this came out so long ago, clearly ahead of it's time but it's also incredibly unsophisticated and the musicians are not that talented. Ulver's first disc comes just a year or two later and it's pretty damn clear they know much more about what they're doing in pretty much every way. It doesn't really detract from the music though, since it has the classic BM shitty production thing going on anyway so the music ends up taking on more of an hypnotic quality then was perhaps intended. It has more in common with electronic music then I would think the artists were aware. Actually, I'm not sure what the fuck was intended, in any case I have Liturgy downloading right now, thanks for the tip.

    ... and Troyes sucks. I played it when it first came out and I couldn't believe how abstract it was. The whole time I was incredibly unsure what was happening (thematically and setting wise) I could see it was clearly a very clever game, you could see how clever it thought it was, but man, just boring and themeless in the extreme.

    It's too bad because that same designer did Carson City which I think is brilliant and released one of the best expansions ever. Just a piece of paper free of charge that changes the game drastically. Carson Cities theme makes sense too and it never feels like he's trying to impress you and push the design too far. Best Cowboy game I ever played and then Troyes just bored the hell out of me.

  • avatarhappyjosiah

    LOVE The Resistance. The Plot Cards aren't totally necessary, but we found they do a good job of messing with groupthink if you play a bunch of games in a row. All the "you should ALWAYS do this first round if you are this" goes out the window.

  • avatarSagrilarus

    Most of you likely skip it, but the Worthpoint article is a great read this time.


  • avatarInfinityMax

    Super Dungeon Explore is one of my favorite games this year. It did take me a while to assemble the minis, and I was annoyed at having to use superglue (I vastly prefer model cement, but the plastic wouldn't melt), but I thought the resulting minis were awesome. I love the silly look, and the game is a riot.

    It's funny how the heroes can be blasting the bad guys to shreds, mowing them down like wheat threshers, and then one good bad guy turn can flip the whole game. One or two mistakes, and the heroes are hosed. I was worried about balance after the heroes won three in a row, but then the last game I played was a slaughterhouse. The heroes got stalled out after they blew up the second spawn, and then the dragon mopped 'em up.

    Problem is, I probably won't play much more until there's an expansion. Super Dungeon Explore is an example of one of those games that is really just a starter set, and they need to give us a lot more for this to feel like the whole game. We need rules for keeping heroes from one dungeon to the next, and getting better between games. We need more environments and boards. We need more treasures and loot. And more than anything else, we desperately need more monsters.

    We are, however, pretty well set for heroes.

  • avatarSpace Ghost

    Sag is right -- the Worthpoint article is good. Although, I would like to see the "uber" prefix banned from English writing.

  • avatarbfkiller

    Thirded. I knew nothing of the Sackson collection. Interesting piece of gaming history.

  • avatarStephen Avery

    Re: SuperDungeon Explore....And a whole bunch of powers and effects listed that the bad guys don't even have yet. Without them you're goign to be fighting the same type of battles over and over.

    Though thinking about it...the effects are similiar on many powers. Fire and poison both do continuing damage. I need to look at the fine points.

    Steve"ready for round 2 of SDE"Avery

  • avatarMichael Barnes

    RE: Super Dungeon Explore- I do really like the design. It's _fun_, and it cuts right to the chase in terms of bashing monsters and taking their stuff. There are a couple of near-brilliant design ideas in it, and the video game thing is awesome.

    But like what you guys are saying about it needing more, I think the miniatures thing is going to hurt it or possibly even it kill it.

    If this were a $90 game with more boardgamey minis (or even cardboard standups) and instead of the models it had a couple more bosses, monster types,terrain tiles, and other things to increase variety then it could have been a knockout.

    But the modelling-oriented miniatures immediately limit the audience and create the _need_ for future purchases (which may be $15 minis or more $90 box sets, who knows at this point). These are substantial barriers to entry if you're a board gamer and don't care to assemble and paint figures- regardless of how good the game is.

    Where I am in the gaming hobby, I _do not_ want to buy a $90 game that's a starter set. Some folks don't mind that. But I do, and when I see that I'm given rules to select a boss and there's only one boss included, that doesn't create a favorable impression. Particularly when there are other games in its genre and class that are more complete, variable, and _cheaper_.

    BUt there again, if you care about the models, then that's a moot issue. Problem is, most board gamers would likely prefer cheaper one piece figures instead of models.

    I really wish that they had gone the Incursion route and made the models optional. But they are a minis company, so it's understandable that they're pursuing a certain marketing strategy with SDE as a flagship product, but I can't help but wonder if it were a more board game-focused title if it wouldn't be a huge hit.

  • avatarKen B.

    Amen, Mikey B. Plastic figs would've been a sale, but I am not a put-'em-together guy. So that's a no-go for me. Looks cool, though.

  • avatarMichael Barnes

    re: black metal stuff- Wice, I just listened to that Negative Plane record ("Stained Glass Revelations"). _Great_ stuff, I see exactly what you mean about it sort of getting back to that old school EVIL 1980s proto-black metal. It has that rareified, hellfire-and-horns kind of sound that bands just really don't have any more. Definitely hearkens back to Celtic Frost, Mercyful Fate, Sodom, etc. And then there's the occassional surf rock guitar...WTF. Great record, I'm digging.

    I'm listening to a couple of other records too...the last Tombs record, which is interesting and another example of NYC BM and the two new-ish Blut Aus Nord records. On those, I'll write more later. But one of them at least is one of the best BM records I've ever heard in my life. I think Pitchfork called it Metal album of the year.

    On Liturgy- I read HHH's "manifesto" and it didn't offend or upset me. But I also love art, artists, and the way artists do what they do. And what he was doing there is very much like an artist's manifesto or statement of intent. I _like_ that he has intelligent, thoughtful opinions about the genre and I'd rather read that then some of the idiotic white power gargle or "I'm so grim" bullshit from other bands.

    I read a review of it somewhere defending the record that really got to the heart of it...that you can't make a genre record like that that is passionate, progressive, and sincere without really loving the music. And prior to Liturgy, HHH was doing some one-man stuff that according to him was very influenced by Ildjarn. It's not like these guys are trying to make a quick buck off of black metal or anything like that. I've seen that suggested, and it's just laughable. There's hardly _any_ money in black metal unless you're Cradle of Filth...who aren't really BM to begin with anymore.

    You are right, most USBM does bring in a lot of post-rock, post-shoegaze, post-ambient, post-post stuff anyway and the whole kvlt as fvck, corpsepaint thing is still primarily the domain of European folks like Watain, Nargorath, Nifilheim, Carpathian Forest, Maniac Butcher et. al. But for whatever reason, Liturgy got immediately blasted for being hipsters and not "looking the look".

  • avatarMichael Barnes

    Amen, Mikey B. Plastic figs would've been a sale, but I am not a put-'em-together guy. So that's a no-go for me. Looks cool, though.

    With plastic figures- done in the same style- and a more robust, complete package I think it would likely be a favorite game for a lot of board gamers. The rules, although HORRIBLY written and organized, are easy and it gets to the gettin' without a bunch of froofra. _And_, there's some really neat mechanics to boot.

    But if you don't have the time, patience, talent, or money to're kind of left in the lurch with it.

    I think that people that are more involved in the modelling end of it don't always have the same perspective on the amount of time and financial commitment that miniatures-oriented games require. I'm sure for the Soda Pop folks their thinking is that they've got a great game and people won't mind doing the modelling work. But I know I do.

    I knew it was a miniatures thing, but what I was kind of hoping for was something that would at least be more accessible to non-modelers. But when you get a bag of a couple hundred teeny tiny parts and you're going to have to break out the glue, pin vice and green stuff just to get the figures able to stand up on the board, that's hardly accessible for folks that just want a good board game out of hte deal.

  • avatarVonTush

    For me...Modeling minis is the ultimate solitaire game. But painting, my most hated solitaire game.

  • avatarInfinityMax

    In all fairness, the 'modeling' was pretty easy, except for that damned dragon. All the rest have these big holes and tabs and just go together. If they had included some freaking INSTRUCTIONS!!! it would have been even easier.

    But then, since I like putting stuff together, I liked that part. Other people might really, really hate it, and they won't want the game at all.

    I also like painting, even though I'm not particularly good at it (for instance, I've got all my Warhammer Quest minis painted). I've got five of the hero models painted, but before I take on the villains, I need to get better paint. I can only push the craft paints so far.

  • avatarMichael Barnes

    Since getting into gaming six years ago I have generally grown to despise flavour text longer than one sentence.

    I think coating games in flavor text is just as bad as slapping a random theme on abstract mechanics. There's A LOT of games heralded as "dripping with theme" or whatever that really don't have ANY theme, just lots of art and fluff. Huge swaths of Arkham Horror, for example, could describe _anything_. But the gate mechanics, monster movement, and sanity element are more thematic than most of the remainder.

    And I like to let me imagination fill in the story based on what's happening on the board, not what the game tells me is or should be happening. In this way, I think Dragon Rage will provide situations not unlike Memoir '44.

    Yeah, that's a pretty good analogy. M44 works on that level too,where the story emerges from the game and not the executive stuff. That One Guy That Won't Die, the murder squad, the Fuckin' Coward Brigade, and so on. Dragon Rage definitely lets you fill in a lot of what goes on, the mechanics are a springboard for your story.

  • avatarehanuise  - Great DR review :)

    Thanks for the great and honest review, a pleasure to read!

    Regarding availability, I'm sorting out details to ship some stock to funagain and boards and bits, as well as milsims in australia (gee that's the other end of the world from belgium - amazing!)

    This will help US and AU fellows get the game at a decent price :)

    Regarding split teams, yup it's possible, and made easy by the fact that the counters are dual-sided (new/old style) so playing 4 players would only require a bit of house-ruling.

  • avatarmoofrank  - SDE minis

    You don't really need a pin vise and green stuff on the minis. There are large tabs and slots in the figures so the assembly is relatively easy.

    Green stuff is needed only is you are worried about the gaps in the minis caused by the kind of cheapy plastic and slight warping. So that is really still for the minis guys.

    This does of course make the dragon a total nightmare to put together.

    I'm not sure the game NEEDS more stuff. I suspect we are more conditioned by FFG to want to see a half dozen expansions before we play it (gasp) a third time.

  • Schweig!

    It's exactly that pretentious, straight out of a DnD-book necromancer, macho-male image black metal upholds, that kept me from listening to that type of music.

  • avatarwice  - re:
    Schweig! wrote:
    It's exactly that pretentious, straight out of a DnD-book necromancer, macho-male image black metal upholds, that kept me from listening to that type of music.

    You must be kidding. Basically any kind of metal is solely testosterone-driven. Why do you think the male to female ratio among metal musicians is about 10000 to 1? It's all about coming home from the hunt, bragging about how you killed that mammoth, and fucking every single impressed chick (or, occassionally, dude) around, only without the mammoth. It doesn't matter what the lyrical content is (you can sing about dragons, satan, Los Angeles, you being the table, whatever), it's in the music, the sound of distorted electric guitar. Of course it's pretentious and macho, what else could it be?

  • avatarMad Malthus  - Liturgy

    I don't follow "the scene" but after reading the Liturgy "declaration" I imagine many longtime black metal enthusiasts rightly identify several erroneous constructs: America represents bastardization not positive "hybridization", humanism is progressive not "apocalyptic", the "burst" beat vs. blast beat is a bullshit contrast, and most importantly Black Metal was both nihilistic and transcendent long before Liturgy showed up, which is why Black Metal philosophy often lines up so well with New Right philosophy. If you can't see beyond certain catchphrases (i.e. "Nazi", "macho"), you will probably be comfortable with "apocalyptic humanism". You will also probably like Wolves in the Throne Room and Ulver's "Nattens Madrigal".

    For another take on "USBM" check out Profanatica's 2010 album "Disgusting Blasphemies Against God". They were doing their thing back before the popularization of Black Metal in their own unique (and American) way.

  • avatarGary Sax

    He knows it's pretentious and macho (misogynistic?), that's why he chooses not to partake in it. I kind of feel the same way, to be honest. Saying that "That's how it has to be!" doesn't make Schweig's observation any less true.

  • avatarSpace Ghost

    Wice is right about being able to sing about anything. Here is Swedish Metal Band (Lake of Tears) tribute to Raistlin (of Dragonlance fame)....all set to a montage of Larry Elmore art

    also a song about Raistlin by Blind Guardian (German Metal Band)

  • avatarJonJacob

    All that shit is just theatrics. I don't really care if a band are Nazis or PETA members to be honest, as long as the music is good. Does that mean I don't care about the message or lyrics? Not a chance in a hell and a band that can give me the metal rush I want AND good lyrics is definitely a better band for it in the long run.

    I've yet to see a Metal band that writes lyrics on a Cohen level, I don't know that one exists.

    But wearing paint or playing a theatrical roll on stage doesn't make a band bad on it's own. There's nothing wrong with being macho in and of itself. The stage is part of the music like it or not and stage presentation is important if your watching them live. So all that make-up and macho acting is important to the overall presentation. Some of these acts do it for the press, some are purely sensationalistic, some are ironic, some mean it too I'm sure, and some mean something else entirely.. those are the ones to watch out for.

    In any case when I listen to black metal I hardly ever hear the lyrics... does anyone? I'm mainly listening for the music itself and like EVERY genre of music out there some of them are worth it.

    I also wouldn't call it pretentious unless I thought their reach exceeded their grasp and that is different for every band. Some are just confident because they are executing what they want, well. Those who think they are more important then they are... well that's pretentious, when you pretend to have more to say then you do.

    But to reject a whole genre based on make-up and some male tendencies is odd. I wouldn't reject a genre of music because it was too feminine. Is that the opposite of macho?

  • avatarwice

    Just to be clear, I don't see any problem with metal being pretentious and macho. By 'pretentious' I mean, that when (e.g.) jazz musicians go on the stage, they are just being themselves, playing the music the best they can, but when (good) metal musicians go on the stage, they become (demi)gods and the members of the audience temporarily become great, invincible warriors. The whole bombastic and greater-than-life nature of metal is a means to creating this feeling.

    And this is perfectly fine and healthy as long as you don't take it completely seriously, like some of those trve(TM) black metal fans.

    Anyway, my point is that dismissing metal for being macho and pretentious is like dismissing Ameritrash games for not being 'elegant' enough.

  • avatarwice

    Oh, speaking of PETA members: JJ, have you heard of Botanist? It's an 'eco-terrorist' black metal project, where the only instruments are drums and hammered dulcimer. It sounds strange as fuck, but it's not bad at all. From his biography: "The Botanist awaits the day when humans will either die or kill each other off, which will allow plants to make the Earth green once again." :)

  • avatarjay718

    I don't really care if a band are Nazis or PETA members to be honest, as long as the music is good

    That's pretty much word for word the old argument for skrewdriver that I've heard twenty thousand times.

    My business partner owns part of a little DIY music venue in the neighborhood called the Acheron and Liturgy plays there pretty frequently. A few of them come in the bar from time to time as well. When my partner pointed them out to me and told me they were in a fairly popular black metal band I was pretty taken aback for a minute or two, then remembered we were in Williamsburg.

    Was Prince of Darkness the one with that crazy baboon in it? Can't remember what movie that was, but I remember reading that the primate rental ate up a huuuge chunk of the flicks budget.

  • avatarMichael Barnes

    Heh heh...yes, the suddenly burgeoning Williamsburg BM scene...

    I REALLY want to hear Botanist...I read about them elsewhere, that sounds crazy. Not on Spotify though. Plus, I'm into that whole extreme environmentalist thing. WITTR is sort of on that tip too. There's another one-man band, I can't remember the name, but all of his songs are about fishing, farming, and self-sustenance.

    As for the political issues...the problem is that it's often NOT theatrical, particularly with the Eastern European bands and other NSBM outfits that are affiiliated with the Pagan Front. Rock Against Communism (those bastards again?),and other extreme nationalist/racialist organizations. Then it becomes not theatrical at all, and it is an issue.

    And then there's the bands where it's present, but not overtly. That whole pagan/Asatru/"getting back to European roots" thing is often a thin disguise for anti-semitism and white power ideologies.

    Which for my part, have no business in black metal. It makes no sense whatsoever to pursue nihilistic/anti-human/anti-conformist/anti-everything ideologies with EXCEPTIONS for white/aryan/European bullshit social and political ideas. It also doesn't jibe with these notions of European primitivism to follow on with 20th century racist ideas.

    But the thing is too is that really, some of these strands in BM are almost like a modern extension of the "racialist" ideas that have been present in European occultism, neo-paganism, and esoterica since the 19th century. In the past, anti-semitism in Europe and the United States was hardly a fringe belief mostly adhered to by outsider elements.

    As for listening to these bands...I shrug.It's important to be aware of what's going on with some of these people and to be able to discern what is as laughable and silly as all of the satanic stuff and what is genuinely dangerous and insidious.

    There's a couple of really good bands that unfortunately fall into all of this shit- Nokturnal Mortum from the Ukraine in particular- but it's inevitable that you've got to question what you're listening to and what it's intent is. Now, I've said it here in the past that if you expect the artists, writers, and musicians you patronize to uphold your personal beliefs and attitudes then you're going to be savagely disappointed.

    There are actually a lot of bands that publically disavow any association with far right politics, they make it a point to say "nope, we're not with those guys." Blut Aus Nord, for example...he also distances himself from the "Satanic clowns" too.

    Then there's Peste Noire, who decries any kind of affiliation with Nazis and instead pledges fealty to Medieval France.

  • avatarJonJacob

    Just to be clear, I doc points for having a shit message but I don't turn away. Many writers I love were anti-semetic, Richard Strauss was head conductor of the nazi orchestra the last few years of his life and I read a biography of Tchaikovsky that convinced me he was a pedophile, Beethoven was just a massive asshole and Prof. Grif said some nasty racist shit. It's not just BM. People all over the world are not like me.

    Anyone want to take bets Shakespeare was sexist? Probably racist against the Romani and Jews as well.

    But what are ya gonna do? Not listen to any music from outside your culture? Because as soon as you leave your world and enter a new one you will encounter ideas that either don't gel with your own or that you find repulsive.

  • avatarChapel

    Next thing you'll be dissing "The Keep"...Nope, to late. You can't say it rocks, just keep to the right with movies like Gymkata.

    No, Prince of Darkness was bad ass.

  • avatarMichael Barnes saw that in the theater. Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Thomas and a village that just happens to have a stone pommel horse in it.

    Directed by Robert Clouse...who also did Enter the Dragon!

  • avatarwice  - re:
    Michael Barnes wrote:
    I REALLY want to hear Botanist...I read about them elsewhere, that sounds crazy. Not on Spotify though.

    It's on Youtube though, so if you just click on my link, you can immediately hear it. Or, if it's not on Spotify, then it doesn't exist? :)


    There's another one-man band, I can't remember the name, but all of his songs are about fishing, farming, and self-sustenance.

    I didn't even hear about that (or I forgot), but I found this:

    "Genre: Death Metal/Grindcore; Lyrical themes: Mining, Lumberjacking, Farming". Now, that's unique!

    All we need now is an avantgarde black/noise band with lyrical themes of boardgaming, trainspotting and stamp-collecting.

  • avatarcraniac

    That Dragon Age link is broken.

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