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Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground (1998)

de Michael Moynihan, Didrik Søderlind

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In Black Metal music, the ""most evil"" wins.

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The book is an interesting read on the history of Black Metal and initially does a fine job of exploring the early ties of speed/thrash/heavy metal on the genre. The backstory of those involved is equally exciting to read the establishment of the scene and those notable members in Norwegian Black Metal.
Eventually though it seems to come to a cross road of Satanic and Nationalist/Racist ideologies and goes spinning off the road. While there is certainly a intersection and members of the community which espouse these beliefs, it seems to become the primary focus of the book for a log stretch and also follows Varg Virkenes (an early member of the Black Circle) well beyond his influence over Black Metal and into his later beliefs of heathen and nazi philosophies. The focal point seems to shift and never quite get back on track.
Later in the book, there seems to be much emphasis on crimes committed by other fans of the music and a finger pointed towards it as a catalyst to these crimes and a future of inspired world overthrowing chaos it may cause.

Still overall an interesting read for what it was. ( )
  jessesalens | Jul 21, 2022 |
This book is a veritable goldmine of information on the origins, development and ideology of the second wave of black metal. The first section deals with the musical and thematic predecessors of the scene, running from the birth of the Devil's music in Mississippi Delta blues, through Sabbath and Zeppelin and into the first wave bands like Bathory and Venom. The central section looks at the rise of the key Norwegian second wave bands themselves, focusing on Mayhem and the stories of that band's three central characters: Euronymous, Dead and Count Grishnakh. Grishnakh, or Varg Vikernes, is a particular focus, and much of this section is made up of interviews with the man himself and a detailed exploration of the motives behind his actions and those of his contemporaries. The final section pulls back to look at the scenes in other countries, such as Germany, Sweden and Russia, as well as a more abstract assessment of the ideologies at the root of black metal culture. The book overall is very interview-driven, and its assessments of the interviewees' words are mainly objective; only at a few points do the authors' own views creep through. The book is also not really focused on the music itself, looking more at the psychology of the scene and its members, and given its focus on criminal behaviour and extremist thought is not a book for the faint-hearted. However, it is a definite must-read for anyone interested in black metal's dark past, or in the influence of Satanism and paganism on modern culture more generally. ( )
  KatherineJaneWright | Jul 17, 2022 |
Un estudio profundo sobre la historia del black metal y las motivaciones de sus fundadores. Aunque no se centra en cómo se generó ese estilo musical técnicamente sino que analiza las motivaciones psicológicas que condujeron a la generación del black metal. Es ameno de leer en los primeros capítulos pero a medida que se va terminando abundan las entrevistas que no aportan casi nada de información y las declaraciones psicoanalistas sobre las motivaciones criminales de algunos seguidores del black metal. ( )
  aniol | May 3, 2020 |
Lords Of Chaos details the development of black metal in Norway in the late 80s and early 90s, and the events unfolding during this rise that generated sensationalist media attention. The book gives an interesting though somewhat unhinged account of the history of rock and metal music, focusing primarily on the evil imagery and subject matter of bands such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, King Diamond, and Venom. The authors also give some analysis to the connection between Scandinavian mythology and black metal music, as it applies to image, aesthetic, and lyrical theme.

Significant space is allowed for intriguing, informative, and sometimes humorous interviews with key figures of the Norwegian underground metal scene, as well as with sources outside that circle who shed some light on Satanic philosophies and political ideologies and how and why these are exemplified in this type of music. Through the stories of murder and church burnings, the authors do an effective job of portraying these musicians as reasonably intelligent and aware, if a bit misguided and contradicting in a few cases. Emphasis is placed on sufficient background information regarding cultural ancestry and modern societal climate of the region, to make clear the intentions and passions of these individuals.

The book is essential for any fans of underground metal, particularly Norwegian black metal, as it allows individual personalities to shine through in‑depth interviews with people such as Ihsahn of Emperor, Hellhammer of Mayhem, and Varg Vikernes of Burzum, along with a plethora of rare photos. Detail is given as to the inner workings of bands both in musical development and formation of worldviews. It is also an appealing read for anyone who may not be a fan of extreme metal, but wishes to gain insight into the tempestuous realm of the darkest, most feral, and philosophically inspired strain of heavy metal music ever to exist.

Impressive and refreshing in comparison to most books on metal music, Lords Of Chaos is written by authors who have personal connections with this music, and have a firm understanding of what it means and why it exists, as opposed to outsiders writing about music they fail to understand in any true sense, often leading to misinformed and confused accounts of a traditionally misunderstood music.

"There is no doubt that a vast number of those involved in Black Metal emulate a barbaric image in their appearance and demeanor, statements and lyrics. The music could certainly be similarly described as barbarous by an unwary listener, although it is often complex and beautiful as well"

This simple and obvious statement is one of common knowledge among fans, but for outsiders looking to gain some manner of understanding of music unfamiliar to them, such a passage alone carries more honesty, understanding, and accuracy than the vast number of sources who dare to uncover this music through mainstream exposure.

At times the book is disjointed in its presentation, but any flaws are overridden by the integrity of character the authors succeeded in supplying this book. The story of this music is one that needs to be told, and it needs to be told by those who know, feel, and perhaps even love it. Regardless of one's individual beliefs, the message comes through with alarming clarity that these individuals actually lived their art because they were driven by something beyond music. There is a certain nihilism in an act of collecting pieces of a suicided comrades shattered brain and constructing a necklace from it, and using brain tissue as part of a stew. This nihilism is expressed when members of Mayhem and Burzum speak with indifference about murdered and suicided bandmates. Witness a response from former Emperor drummer Faust to the question of whether or not people were upset after Mayhem vocalist Dead committed suicide:

"People who knew him didn't like it, because he was a good guy. The Mayhem guys were upset because they lost a good vocalist. He was supposed to record the album, so he delayed the whole recording. It was an unfortunate thing, because he was one of the best vocalists, in my opinion."

Such a response communicates an understanding of life that transcends individualistic approaches. It is not the devaluing of life that most would ordinarily perceive it as, but rather an acknowledgment of a broader view of existence that recognizes the universal as possessing greater value than individual components. Faust's emphasis on losing a good vocalist rather than sorrow at losing a friend reflects a greater appreciation for the value of Dead's worth to a collective movement than his individual place as a human being in a world overflowing with such beings.

Understanding this existentialist nihilism is essential to understanding black metal. It is a commonality amongst the statements expressed by each of the interviewees in this book who are part of this movement. Moynihan and Soderlind do an admirable job of bringing these ideologies out of their subjects and research, representing this music as something far more than rebellious teenagers making an angry racket with instruments they can hardly play. These are the modern day warriors, revolutionaries, and philosophical visionaries, fueled by a passion for a better world that leaves most others who would assume themselves to be great minds and leaders of our time baffled and insecure, though their lust for personal profit and image would never allow them to admit as much.

The apex of this read arrives in the interviews with Varg Vikernes (a.k.a. Count Grishnackh), sole personification of Burzum, who murdered his one‑time bandmate and black metal figurehead Oystein Aarseth (a.k.a. Euronymous) of Mayhem. Varg discusses his ideas relating to Vidkun Quisling's philosophy of Universism and his thoughts on the essence of black metal, presenting himself as an intelligent and aware individual who, with the possible exception of Emperor leader Ihsahn, seems to possess a higher intellectual grasp, or at least a more penetrating manner of articulation, of ideologies fundamental to black metal music. In his answer to the question of how grave desecration fits into his ideology, Varg responds: "It's quite simple. They (The Christians) desecrated our graves, or burial mounds, so it's revenge. The people who lie in the graves are the ones who built this society, which we are against. We show them the respect they deserve. I have absolutely no respect for the people who built this society..."

No better story of this movement has been told, and though some mistakes are present throughout, the whole of Lords Of Chaos conveys a depth of understanding and informative awareness making this an enjoyable, engaging, and refreshing read.
1 vote AMD3075 | Feb 24, 2014 |
I've been looking forward to reading this for years, and only just got round to it. I think it's fair to say I got more pleasure out of the looking forward to than I did from actually reading it. The prose and editing are as bad as you'd expect in a Feral House book; I feel quite comfortable saying my freshman comp students could have given this a quick once over and made it as least twice as readable. The core story of the book - the origins and rise of Scandinavian black metal and the crimes committed by that scene's members - is fascinating and fairly well told, although the interminable interviews the authors throw in to every chapter make for painful reading. Only a fanboy could possibly care what the drummer of some random band thinks, especially when they all think more or less the same thing.

Once they move on from that story, though, the book turns to pulp: the authors' *ridiculous* sub-jungian musings couldn't even be of interest to the kind of people who attend seances; the stories and interviews with copy-cat criminal metalheads add literally nothing to the first half of the book; and the closing chapters, detailing a range of mediocre musicians across the world, are worse than pointless. There are some amazing black metal records, but you'd never know it from this book.

On the upside, Moynihan and Soderlind avoid moralizing, and the photos are worth the price of the book. What did I learn from this book? The only thing more ridiculous than a person who acts exactly like everyone else is a person who spends all their time trying to act exactly unlike everyone else. Bow down to the dark lord of pathetic, adolescent rebellion! ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
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Søderlind, Didrikautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
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In Black Metal music, the ""most evil"" wins.

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