One seemingly ongoing and inexhaustible topic of arguments in the metal world is how the only “trve” black metal is the original black metal. I often notice that this argument is often used to castigate Dimmu Borgir and Abigail Williams fans (among others). I think old school and “kvlt” black metal is totally different from newer bands making it. Totally different circumstances and mindsets. I think both, musically, have equal merit but you cannot match the cultural implications of the earlier black metal bands in the early 90s in Norway, there’s simply no way. It is an inescapable truth that bands such as Darkthrone, Mayhem, Burzum, etc. are the bands that are often considered the pinnacle of black metal music, thus being considered the most “kvlt” or “trve” of all the black metal bands.
I don’t buy that whole “new bands can’t be trve” malarkey. It’s not like they chose to be starting their musical careers two decades after the movement they associate best with occurred. As long as they truly believe in what they’re doing, that’s as true as it gets. Sure, they might not come from a place and feel religiously oppressed by the people that wiped away their cultural heritage, but it doesn’t make their circumstance any less legitimate or meaningful.
There is, however, a scale of how traditional a band’s music is to the originators of black metal. Dimmu Borgir is the perfect band to illustrate this. In their early years, they were about as true to form to symphonic black metal as you could possibly be, their sound very much in line with some of Emperor‘s best albums. In recent years, since Death Cult Armageddon they have strayed from the traditional path to venture into more grand and symphonic arrangements and songs, forgoing some of the low-fidelity and ripping nature of their black metal predecessors. At that point, the black metal purists cried wolf. Apparently musical progression and deviance is taboo in the black metal world. I could draw a parallel to this mindset and that of the Christian mindsets that black metal once fought, but anyone who knows anything about black metal already can see that at this point.
What I find especially mind-boggling is that these stances are often taken by people who have absolutely nothing to do with the culture in which black metal originated, so their feelings of outsiders being unwelcome is absolutely unfounded. By stating that newer bands who aren’t from that specific era in can’t be considered “trve,” what does that mean for all of the black metal fans who are also not from that circumstance? Are they also not “trve?” It all seems just a small amount ridiculous to me. As far I can tell, the “trve” tag has come to just be a pedestal to promote elitism in metal, something I feel there needs to be a lot less of these days. It’s the only thing keeping metal from being a wildly successful genre of music.
Just think for a second, how these mindsets are stifling the metal world that is currently burgeoning with creativity. It truly breaks my heart. I hope we can all at least agree that Emperor is a great band. How about we just enjoy the video for “Empty” by Emperor?
Well said, well done. I would love it if sane arguments and discussions such as yours here would be enough to put an end to it, but we all know that is about as likely to happen as pigs flying.
The only thing that annoys me more than the ‘trve’ and ‘kvlt’ is young people (I mean, people who are 19) being more ‘trve’ and ‘kvlt’ than everyone else. What they can’t see is that their elitist perspectives turns them into poseurs: they can’t appreciate music for what it is (often, not always).
Good post. I think there’ll always be a tension between “this has been done before” and “holy shit, this is new to me as a teenager!” The curse of being a metalhead is an elitist tribalism – you can buy into it and filter what is “good” and “bad” based on what is “trve” or “not” or just enjoy metal for what it is. Some fans that have a bottomless nostalgia for the old styles are usually resistant to trying out the new and are missing out on a lot of great music.
Black metalheads in my area are genuinely surprised when I say I like Emperor or Darkthrone when I also like Blind Guardian and At the Gates. For these the “trve” fans, your taste is not only defined by what you listen to but what you consciously distance yourself from.
I think the more “Tr00” or more “Kvlt” than thou attitude isn’t going anywhere anytime soon unfortunately. Doh! Good post.