Defiling (black) metal: a reflection on Mavado Charon

An image of “Metal Lords”

A few nights ago – thanks to fatigue – I had the unfortunate idea of ​​watching myself on Netflix Metal Lords by Peter Solletta teen comedy written by DB Weiss, former writer of game of Thrones. A previous reading of the credits should have turned on a small alarm bell in my head, however curiosity and above all a certain indolence prevailed. A vision that nevertheless had some highs, thanks above all to the very low expectations and a telephone call but at the same time pleasant soundtrack, edited by one of my favorite guitar heroes: Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine.

In the end, there is very little of what characterizes the aesthetics and, above all, the philosophy of metal, everything revolves around futile stereotypes aimed at making the world of heavy metal reassuring, little more than a heavy make-up on the respectable face of the average bourgeois. Metal Lords is a product designed to reassure parents, a comedy of good feelings that winks at nostalgics and a late-pubertal audience, not hitting the mark and becoming at times grotesque when he mentions and winks at the mythology of metal.

For true metalheads, the film is a desecration of metal, which very often – despite an endless show of jokes and shows worthy of a freak show – is a very very serious thing. It would be enough to bring up characters like Burzum, aka Varg Vikernes, or La Sale Famine de Valfunde (Ludovic Faure) of Peste Noire, or theorists like Hunter Hunt-Hendrix of Liturgy. From this short list it is easy to understand how the preferences of the writer turn towards a fundamental sub-genre for thinking metal as an existential expression.

But like any artistic phenomenon, even (black) metal is the victim of itchy and embarrassing tumbles that have made it a paradox: aesthetic and philosophical, dark and rotten to the coreso much so as to venture into territories close to the most ferocious nihilism, but easy prey to drifts so dull and irrational as to break down the doors of stupidity, launching into racist and homophobic delusions.

If we were to talk about prof (ana) tions of metal, in reality, the most fun and intelligent was developed by Drew Danielassociate professor of English literature at the John Hopkins Krieger School of Arts & Sciences in Baltimore and, most importantly, a member of the electronics duo Matmos. In fact, in addition to the main group, the American musician, originally from Kentucky, gave it to the press in 2014 with the moniker Soft Pink Truth the album Why Do the Heathen Rage? (for the Thrill Jockey label).

The album is a sarcastic tribute to a homophobic and divisive genre: it is no coincidence that the musician opens the dance with a threatening and obscure spoken word in which, in the company of the late Antony Hegarty (now transited towards queer identity Anohni), the ghost of Arthur Evans is summoned. Witchcraft and the Gay Counteculture becomes a grimoire to open the doors of an upside-down hell in which sodomy is not a heresy. In a hypermodern pastiche Drew Daniel deconstructs the black metal classics making them sound as if they were disturbed by the queer frequencies that shredded the obsessed chords of Venom and Sarcofato, with gabber and dance floor sounds.

Beyond the ability of this music to defuse the “homophobic” charge of the KVLT of the most diehard blacksters, the choice of the musician to use for the artwork of the hand of Mavado Charon it was certainly spot on. The cover – not suitable for an audience of minors and for strong stomachs – shows a scene à la Hieronymus Bosch in which a jumble of blackster complete with face painting (one of the most iconic traits of the musicians of the black scene) gives life to a dense phenomenology of sexual acts and paraphilias. Charon’s art is especially appreciated in the vinyl version of the album.

Charon, who for years has cultivated an aesthetic of excess, finds its maximum expression in choral scenes, where in an orgiastic way a sexual frenzy that overflows in gratuitous and repugnant violence is shown without any inhibiting restraint and any censorship. Charon makes art of disgust with a neo-gothic touch. He is the perfect heir of the libertine tradition inaugurated by Marquis de Sadebut veered in sauce homopornography.

The ideas of the divine marquis are endlessly declined in a continuous variation on the theme that has as its purpose the hedonistic excess. Mavado Charon brings into being the marquis’ massacre intuitions in a surrealist sequela which is a total liberation from any moral limitation. Charon’s art is free from the grasp of ethics to become an interrupted operation of nullification of the human. The Marquis argued that, to escape the limitations imposed by a society hostile to desire, the only way forward was the destruction of a being similar to us. The destruction of an inert object was little, it was unable to sublimate our desire for nothing. The object changes, but it does not disappear, and only a being like us dissolves in death.

This desire for nothing turns into Mavado Charon in a continuous excitement, suspended between a blatant onanism and a graphism of excess, in a non-stop crescendo. The slender textures serve just to give a canvas on which to unfold a progressive excitement. TO Dirty (2018), winner of the Prix de Sade, followed Whore And Sluts – the latter published by the French publisher A Main Nues in 2020. He is currently working on Thurd, whose tables are posted on his personal blog. Charon’s books are difficult to find, almost all sold out, despite several reprints. The attention of a transversal public has made his art books a must-have.

However, despite this attention, Mavado Charon’s art remains a niche product that horrifies most: this mix of homopornography, sadomasochism, extreme bondage and horror gore shows a nerve. It is the visual representation of the unlimited human drive that overwhelms every boundary in a trans-human (con) fusion. Soft Pink Truth’s choice to blurt out Charon on the cover is not just a simple profanation of black metal, but it is a conscious act of overcoming any annihilating force of blackthus putting his “subversive” but at the same time fucking traditionalist charge in brackets.

The continuous carnival charade of black metal, now reduced to a playful moment, had to rethink itself in a queer and transcendental direction as demonstrated Hunter Hunt-Hendrix in a text that appeared about ten years ago: Transcendental Black Metal. A vision of Apocalyptic Humanism. Of course, listening to a record by the American guitarist with her Liturgy is an experience now distant from that of hyperborean metal raised to depression and paganism and could make us think of that re-emergence of the hipster respect for metal that she has spoken about several times. Simon Reynoldsthat “Protestant reform” that had made metal “adult” and “shareable” despite some strongly divisive elements.

With his interpretation of the blackster KVLT in a “homopornographic” direction, Mavado Charon defused through parody and excess one of the most repulsive and unpleasant elements of the genre, thus giving it a space for action and reinterpretation: it is necessary to start from the edges, the roughest and most jagged ones, and then move towards the center. A desecration necessary to free a genre from its self-imposed limits, with all due respect to the purists and fanatics of philology.

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Read also: Metal, fanzines and jail for a comic. The crazy story of Mike Diana

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Defiling (black) metal: a reflection on Mavado Charon