I'm not, but I read an article on BuzzFeed about it the other day. I was curious about this strange, subversive sub-genre so I checked out some YouTube videos.
I couldn't stop laughing. They take themselves very seriously with their black clothes and their Satan worship and atmospherics and all that. But it's the same old silly heavy metal posturing it ever was.
They like to shock and horrify, certainly. But I have the feeling that if you drop any one of these boys into a gay bar they'd run shrieking for the hills.
It all just seems kind of silly to me. Something that ugly, nerdy, depressed teenage white boys like.
Or am I missing some larger cultural significance?
Also, there aren't a lot women involved in that scene it seems. It's boys only.
Don't judge a book by its cover, or in this case, one entire genre of music by a post on BuzzFeed of all places. I'm a fan of NBW, Satyricon in particular, who are one of the more 'digestible' NBW bands and one of the more famous. It's not all silly posturing and 'Satanic worship' at all. Having been part of what I guess you would call the internet 'community' somewhat and been to what shows I could (I live in New Zealand, not very many) I can tell you now that it is not restricted to 'ugly, nerdy, depressed teenage white boys'. I've seen - and become friends with - people from all colours, nationalities, education and social levels. One lady I know who is a huge black metal fan is in her 60's. Horses for courses really. Laugh all you want, but I can tell you that genuine fans don't really care if you do.
While the DL usually refrains from any criticism of Kiwis out of respect for the land's wonderful people and in memory of the Prancing Ponys, dear at R5, what you said is interchangeable from any partisan of a fringe whackadoodle band of whatevers taking a stand for whatever who try to hard to look outrageous as we're told they're really just a bunch of puppy dogs.
In other words, so what, dear? And if you as a genuine fan don't care about being laughed at, you certainly wrote a long, opaque defense over it out of something you cared about. In fact, you smell like a girl.
Say his to the sheep for us, Goneril.
Not everyone here is wonderful, I can tell you that... the newspapers like to remind me everyday. Tbh I don't really care if someone has a genuine opinion about something, it's taking something at face value that gets my goat. It's a much maligned genre (much like country? or perhaps that is just here, I don't know) and the misinformation is both amusing and eye-rollingly bad.
Yes, I am. I realise many think it's laughable with the corpsepaint and evil poses, but that shouldn't be a reason not to check it out. But it truly isn't music for everyone, and even hardened black metal listeners often have to listen to a new song or album several times before they really like it.
And r3, many of the Norwegian bands acknowledge bands like Black Sabbath and their legacy. They're very well aware of what previous metal bands did, and also of other musical genres, than your average pop artist.
OP/r1, yes, it's quite the boys' club - at least when it comes to the performers. Women are more invisible, but they're there as fans, photographers, writers etc. But that's the case in more or less all the metal genres.
As r8 points out, Gaahl is openly gay. So far he's the only one from the Norwegian scene to come out, but I find it hard to believe that everybody else is 100% straight. Hoest from Taake and Maniac (ex-Mayhem) haven't shied away from making out with Niklas Kvarforth from Shining, but I think they're mostly doing it in order to provoke the homophobic right-wing part of the scene.
Also, OP, how old were the videos you watched? Not trying to attack you, but many of the people who were around 20 years ago have grown up and these days are people with families and day jobs - who happen to make black metal on the side. This interview illustrates it nicely. (Although of course some people like to play up the extreme and rock star-behaviour more than others.)
Thanks for the replies. Very thoughtful indeed. Maybe I've been too harsh and dismissive in my opinions.
The video I watched was the Gaahl thing the Vice did in 2007. On the surface he just seemed like a brooding eccentric and sociopath, but perhaps I incorrectly associated him with the church-burning, murdering, racist and homophobic NBMers (Varg something?)
Very interesting that he's gay. That kind of puts things in a new light. It's great that he's forcing others in the scene to confront their own homophobia.
I still think a lot of it is simply theatre. Not much different from any other type of dressing up and acting out. But I suppose that's been going on forever. When I was a teenager I was into punk. It was the same type of thing. An unsettling new kind of music combined with attitude, clothing and hairstyles designed to alienate us from the mainstream.
r10, Gaahl has certainly said (and done) things that are pretty extreme, but he's later taken some of it back, for instance some of the racist things he said when he was younger. He did make headlines again a couple of years ago when he, while technically employed by the Norwegian state as an actor, said that he thought more churches should've been burned.
That said, it's hilarious to read YouTube-comments from black metal fans whose heads are exploding because someone from their scene is gay. (Apparently they think that being gay equals being a PC, happy-go-lucky "let's be inclusive of everyone" type. Clearly they've never been to Datalounge...)
And it's not at all weird to compare black metal to punk, they have always been very influenced by punk as well, both in terms of clothing and music.
Based on these comments about Gaahl I started reading more about him and watching some Wardruna videos. I have to admit that I really, REALLY like the Wardruna stuff. I'm going to buy the albums.
And Gaahl is starting to grow on me. He's extremely bright and interesting. And kind of sexy in a weird kind of way.
Had to check if there was any video of the makeout sessions r9 mentioned. There was. Posting it here in case anyone else is interested in seeing it. I thought it was kinda sexy.