By Prarthana Venunathan
Hails. This is my first post of a weekly column that I’ll be writing to call readers’ attention to the wonders and mysteries behind extreme and black metal, and to give recommendations from both Australia and internationally of bands in this vein that must be heard.
Religion has always been a central theme when it comes to this genre of metal – whether bands are singing in favour of it or against it. Blasphemy and Satanism are two very common concepts that you’ll certainly hear at some point if you’ve discussed extreme metal. While this is true to an extent, with many bands utilising these concepts in their lyrics and imagery, there is much more to extreme than meets the eye, or ear in this case. To me, bands that deal with such topics as satanism, for instance, may spark some controversy on first listens. However, what I have come to understand over the years is that many extreme metal bands are more about shining a light on taboo subjects and ideologies.
Here are five extreme metal tracks that are absolute musts, each one basking in blasphemous and Satanic realms, while bringing together mythology, religion and the occult, creating an enlightenment of sorts.
Behemoth – Ceremony of Shiva
“I am Shiva, Hadit or Beast himself”
A song that brings forth the power of the Hindu Lord of Destruction mentioning his Third Eye and the Serpent or ‘Naga’ coiled around his neck. In the Satanic Bible and many other cultures, Shiva is known as the ‘Dark Lord’ and is also another name for Satan.
Rotting Christ – Devadevam
The Greek metal lords honour the Hindu tradition, using sacred mantras such as the ‘Gayatri Mantram’ in the beginning of the track and parts of the ‘Mrtyunjaya Stotram’ throughout, all the while chanting the names of various Gods. What’s absolutely stunning to me is how the band merges the mysticism of an ancient language such as Sanskrit with the crushing sounds of extreme metal.
Al-Namrood – Bat Al Tha ar Nar Muheja
Blackened metal from the blazing depths of Saudi Arabia. Need I say more? The very fact that a metal band exists in this country and is considered anti-Islamic is quite amazing, as they could face severe punishment. “We’re fed up with religion. Religion and society fulfill each other.” Truer words have not been spoken.
Batushka – Ектения VII: Истина
Very little is known about this dark, obscure Polish band, except that their sole purpose is to create some of the heaviest, most haunting combination of black and doom metal tracks you’ll hear. The name of the band translated means ‘Father’, with reference to a priest. What Batushka create is a brooding atmosphere with liturgical chants and gripping tones, the band approach mystical theology and Christianity in a most unorthodox way without actually being a ‘Christian’ band. It’s a bit hard to process but I’ll let the music speak for itself.
Sheidim – Amrita
Sheidim – a very obscure word in Hebrew that means demon, and is apparently used only two times in the holy book of Tanakh. This essentially describes the ominous existence of Spanish black metallers Sheidim and also fits the theme of this article.