Black Metal: A "Positive" Ethnic Tool?


Oct 29, 2003
Bondi Australia
Black Metal: A "Positive" Ethnic Tool?

As some of you here know, I'm Indian (Sikh), but don't lead the cultural lifestyle of my ethnicity.

Born in the UK and living in Australia since 1983, I've been largely if not totally accustomed to the Western way of life. In some ways or extents, I'd rejected my ethnic side, probably as a result of racism and violence while growing up in a somewhat "multiculturally younger Australia" back in the 80's. I did what I could to avoid others of my kind.

My beliefs changed over the years, back and forth, due to experiences in life, people, partners of various cultures and so on. Each experience sheds light and sometimes, creates shadows. Of course, the conclusion of the experience sheds light ultimately (this can vary of course on the individual though).

As a young boy, with my hair not yet cut in England, Sikhism was the only way I knew, yet I craved short, cut blonde hair, blue eyes and the paler skin of the people who seemingly had none of the problems I did. Then as a younger man in my early 20's with my hair finally cut, I considered Islam to be a calling, only then to reject the idea before going into it.

Later in my 20s and up to the current day, following rejection of organised religion as a whole, I felt the pull of paganism and nature, and combined with my return to metal in the last 5-6 years, a realisation has come to me.

My love of Black Metal to me feels a part of my true (musical) calling. I feel an affinity to it in ways I can't describe. But it is not the hate side, nor Nationalistic side of it as such that I speak of (and mind you, I do like the music of some of the more aggressive and NS styles of BM).

I have come to the conclusion that Black Metal is the modern version of ethnic expression, in a metal sense. One only needs to look at bands like Enslaved, Darkestrah, Drudkh as well as others, to see that they use their own cultures as their influences, educating the musical world about what they consider beautiful about their bloodlines.

I have started to consider Black Metal as a form of ethnic music, but not one which centres only on one kind of ethnicity, rather, many. It centres on the celebration of the myths, gods and people, poems, old tales and sagas, the beauty of the people, the richness of their cultures and the world they live in.

It is this aspect which is turning me back towards my own roots. For the first time in my life, I purchased a book on Sikhism. I felt that it was about time I learned more about myself, and rather than reject, I should balance. I am finally opening myself to something I have almost hated for almost 31 years.

It is Black Metal which has led me down this road. I never could have conceived ten years ago that such a thing would lead me back towards my own blood calling. Now I have the chance to finally balance my ethnicity with who I am on the outside.

Black Metal has served as a positive ethnic tool for me.

Has anyone else a similar experience? Does anyone else feel they can share my ideology on Black Metal in this context? Discuss.
Hubster, it is good that you feel this way and want to appreciate your own ethnic origins. I was going to say - your ancestry, but that would be wrong because although I really love the paganism in black metal, I have many criticisms of my ancestors since they turned Christian. You may or may not be reverential of your ancestry, but it is important for everyone to have an ethnic identity. It is the first line of defence against being assimilated into the new world order that wants to make rootless slaves of people.

It is no good someone identifying with an ethnicity that they are not part of. Odinism is for Norse people in the same way that the Shinto religion is only for Japanese. That's the whole point of it. It is not universalist.

Do you think if there were some kind of Sikh metal music, it could develop a following? That would be interesting and it sounds like that's what you'd like, but you must be a rare Sikh in being into BM though!

Of course there's no reason why people of any ethnicity should not be a fan of pagan BM so long as the ethnicity side of it is understood.:)
I'm finding that many of my general criticisms with religion, or perhaps ethnicity, in it's current form since the assimilation into capitalism.

The positivity in ethnicity has been consumed by the idea of making sure "you stick to your own", as opposed to celebrating what makes you what you are, while also accepting that what makes you what you are is exactly what makes other cultures beautiful as well.

Instead of a focus on "the pride of your blood", the focus is on "retaining the blood". Some may argue that this conceptual focus has been around long before the rise of capitalism and the material based society, and while I do agree to a degree, I think there is much more focus on it now than has been for some time, hence we see wars akin to the ones we have now.

Paganism is a universally ethnic concept to me (a big realisation on my part of late).

Your example of an idea of "Sikh" Black Metal is something I have thought about several times myself, "would I be able to do it myself?".

Purists may argue that Black Metal expression of ethnicity is limited to Norse cultures, but I argue in return, it may not be an expression for the revolt against Christianity as much as it could be a revolt against capitalistic life tarnishing our roots, regardless of ethnic background.

Black Metal to me is a neo-folk expression with the guise of extreme Metal as its voice, in the same way that bards and priests may have told their stories and holy readings many centuries ago, so do bands like Enslaved now.

Would it get a following? That's an interesting question. The influence of American ghetto culture musically and aesthetically on the youth of Eastern cultures is one of high penetration and the said youth do not realise it holds no substance for their own backgrounds.

I feel Black Metal would provide a far better tool to bring ancient culture to the youth & society of today, and this *IS* happening.

We have central Asian (Kyrgystan)bands, Pakistani, and now more recently, south Indian Black Metal bands springing up. Their scenes are much in a form of infancy, but it is a good sign that perhaps one day, a band will voice what the Norse culture already has done with it's own Pagan Black Metal.

I feel its a superior voice and one which can modernise the culture whilst keep its ancient lore intact at the same time in ways that other methods may not, thus providing a universal voice for the underground to admire not only their own, but other ancient cultures too.
The Hubster said:
I have come to the conclusion that Black Metal is the modern version of ethnic expression, in a metal sense. One only needs to look at bands like Enslaved, Darkestrah, Drudkh as well as others, to see that they use their own cultures as their influences, educating the musical world about what they consider beautiful about their bloodlines.

Dead on, but even more: black metal is a modern expression of Romanticism, which includes a kind of organic Nationalism that is found subtly in Nietzsche and Aristotle and every other sane thinker throughout history. It's not like the politicized, sort-of-silly version of nationalism we'd find at... hmm..., but it does resemble the nationalism from
Hey, Hubster. This is an off topic post, but i thought I should mention that I think it is super cool that you have the West Memphis 3 in your sig. I have a very similar sig and you are the first person besides myself that I know that knows or cares about the WM3. Again, sorry to hijack the thread.
I agree with The Hubster completely on black metal serving as a vehicle for modern ethnicities. This is probably why black metal has lent itself to combination with folk music of many different cultures over the past decade or two.
Many purists might argue that Black Metal's intention was to provide a tool against Christianity and herd mentality, and while it might in some respects, I believe it has evolved towards a higher and more intelligent purpose as an ethnic tool for the modern age.

The purists in my eyes, are now being left behind. Black Metal is a universal tool for intelligence and ethnic education. For music, I think this is a great achievement and the musicians should be commended.
@Hubster ~ I'm a sikh too, and I could almost relate to what you were saying when you were. What I'd like to pump into this whole discussion is the fact that you're considering religion and culture to overlap more than it actually does. The culture of Punjab, the ethnicity you're refering to links to sikhism with a very thick thread, yes. But they're not overlapping.

Simply put, the punjabi way of living, the pride of being a punjabi has not much to do with one following or not following sikhism properly. I could still talk about the barahmah, the beauty of kanak's khets in my poems, while still staying away from sikhism.

Personally I consider myself as an athiest, simply because I see the absence of God too apparent to consider following along with the lifestyles of the modern sikh followers. Sikhism and the Granth Sahib teaches purity, where its greatly been reduced to merely idol worship. I haven't cut my hair because I can't let my parents down. I owe them that much.

Black metal does root down to ethical backgrounds, and its a very interesting point that you made. I also like your idea of a black metal band based on sikhism.. but, honestly I'm afraid it cannnot go beyond echoing out gurbani in the form of shabads and such, something already done with childish motives in mind.
Its difficult for you to see my point, as youre still in India. When youre outside and have lived a mostly western life, religion and culture become almost one (see general issues that anyone of an ethnic culture runs into when they live in a westernised country). While this is not a good thing as it can create disaster for people on an individual level, I agree with you partially in that context as I think they should be kept apart.

No offence meant of course, but theres a big thing you have to consider which you might be blind to: immigrants, regardless of race, moving to other countries leave their home country at a particular stage in its evolution. As the years and generations go by in the new country, the ethics, moral/cultural and religious become joined into one. Its not deliberate, its the by-product of not being back in the home country where things are still evolving. Holding onto memories already faded and frayed create an incorrect & inaccurate ethnic expression.

Thus, the distorted echoes which become practice in the new world blow out of proportion some things which should barely recieve any focus.

I have to disagree with you on another point: were a band to use Black Metal to express Sikhism, it would NOT be limited to echoing out the Gurbani alone. Art has no limits. The expression, musically and lyrically is only limited by the musician's imagination. There is more than one way to express cultural and religious influences other than regurgutating a holy book and singing in mother tongue - these are not the only things which makes an ethnicity "an ethnicity".

Again, apologies if any offence is caused, but I see your points being flawed and narrow in expression.
The Hubster said:
Its difficult for you to see my point, as youre still in India. When youre outside and have lived a mostly western life, religion and culture become almost one (see general issues that anyone of an ethnic culture runs into when they live in a westernised country). While this is not a good thing as it can create disaster for people on an individual level, I agree with you partially in that context as I think they should be kept apart.
Agreed, I might not be able to see from your angle very easily because of the difference in our seat positions. I have been an audience to a number of people expressing their feelings about their roots being lost behind them on their journey, and I know where you're coming from.

About the part where you talked about the band expressing your sikh ethnicity.. I don't think there's a way you can be restricted in your writing for this band.. what I'm worried about is someone ristricting you from writing at all.... I do hope you have read about the SGPC and what it "does".

Also, my points were not narrow, you answered it yourself. I'm looking at things still sitting in India, and are different in shade from yours, apparently.
I do apologise if I came across too aggressively - I'm pretty blunt and not good at cushioning my words.

One of the things I've a strong characteristic for is bending rules, or sometimes breaking them (that's not say I go breaking into banks or something!). By this I mean I try to seek an alternative method to things.

With this in mind - I wouldn't care less for the SGPC. If they tried to "block" someone from expressing their pride in their Sikhism, then they themselves are not Sikhs, but rather fundamentalists. They should be supportive that someone chooses to use an alternative art form to express their ethnicity. I care little for squabbling politics, and much less those of the SGPC.

However, I have no plans to do anything along the lines of Black Metal on Sikhism, but it's a nice dream nevertheless.

For those looking at this thread, see this link for info on the SGPC (it's in short a "committee" for governing our temples which to me equates to the inevitable squander of politicians sometime in the future):
No worries.

The thing about SGPC is that they're one the most 'psychologically boxed' group individuals in the world. They have trouble letting things go, let alone accepting new ideas. Hopefully that goes away some day as a new wave of 'smart youth' takes over some day in the future. Its yet to be seen what it brings to the organisation but the existance of what prevails in their ranks is an evidence of how dangerous the combination of a closed aged brain and beliefs based on NULL is. Black metal is quite far away from being even close to getting accepted by the SGPC, and everything that is sikh has to go through the SGPC filter first, sadly.
Can you explain to me why you feel that this requires acceptance by a political body? What on earth makes you think that any Black Metal musician is going to go through such a body to get acceptance for the lyrical ideas for their music?

Your statement is akin to Deathspell Omega going to the Vatican and asking them if it's okay to release their music, in case any biblical references are incorrect!

You seem to be missing core music and art fundamentals here.

Black Metal is not about acceptance. It is not about widespread agreeance on something. It is about statement from the core of one's being, raw and unparalleled while not succumbing to any kind of conservative censor at its ethical core. I highly suggest you find a copy of "Si Monumentum Requires Circumspice", and read the lyrics to gain a conceptual idea of the how outspoken this kind of music is supposed to be.

I do apologise Aarohi, but I think you need to do some research on the Black Metal philosophy, you're really missing points on its core.
Its because the SGPC is different from the Vatican in a lot of ways. The SGPC considers itself the owners of the religion, as if they're sitting on the throne ruling all that is even remotely linked to sikhism. They would not care about what your lyrical theme's ideas are about if they see sikhism and 'western music' (as it would be called) together. If there WAS a band, it would be trying to make oppositte ends meet together, except there's one litle problem with that.. "its a solid rod, it won't bend".

Even if I did much research on the black metal philosophy, it wouldn't give me a single reason to why SGPC would remotely want to allow that. There IS no problem with me not understanding what black metal would be trying to do in case a band is formed, but there IS one about the SGPC understanding that. They're close minded, undereducated hypocrites.

Like I said, I do see where you're coming from, and your statement about me being HERE instead of some other country like you - actually gives me an edge in this situation because I know what the modern day India has transformed into, both psychologically and politically. Its VERY difficult to even bring this up in public... in front of people, as shocking as it may sound.
Sidenote: I've had a long time to think about all of these issues during my 31 years of life. Trust me when I say that co-existence of Sikhism and Western life within the mind of a person is very possible. It's just that it's not easy, but certainly not unachievable.

Again, I think you misunderstand my point. What makes you think an extreme band would want to seek the ok from an organisation like that? You sound truly scared of the SGPC.

The SGPC considers itself the owners of the religion perhaps, but by law do they own it? I can guarantee you that Sikhs in Western countries would spend their time laughing at organisations like the SGPC.

You do know what modern day India is like, I can't dispute that and won't pretend to know more on that front. However, I've experierienced both sides of the fence, I have duel vision with this topic, whereas your's is singular because of little exposure to life outside of India.

So again, I will say - an organisation like that means nothing to an underground artist releasing their art through a small label outside of India. Infact, the label would probably support the artists cause to express what they are trying to express.

It might be a big issue in India, but overseas in a Westernised country? The SGPC may as well not exist. All they would be able to do is publicly criticise it which would have little to no effect on the target audience of the music as it is, they can not extend laws they impose in India to those existing in another country which arent broken.

Any attempt by them to condemn a harmless artist expressing their ethnicity through music in a court of law within the country of release would result in a complete waste of time.

Were I in India, I would be feeling the same as you do of course, but I'm not there, so I, like any other Sikhs outside, am not limited in expression.

Thus, the SGPC's power extends no further than the borders of India itself.

This thread has gone off-topic horribly. I think Ive said all I wanted to on this SGPC topic.
First of all, I'm not 'limited in expression'. I can think and act way further down the road than you possibly can. And maybe that is because I'm still 'connected with my roots', where your just 'attempting to do that'.

The SGPC's reach does go beyond the boundaries of the country, and I'm in no way overstating that. They've had the France government change their 'LAWS' about wearing turbans in high schools, so trust me, they're capable of changing quite a bit.

I'm not stopping you from retaliating if you want to. I was only trying to show you whats in front of you, but apparently all you're interested in doing is dreaming of breaking the walls around you, instead of just looking straight and walking through the door in front.

I'm not 'scared' of the SGPC. If I'm not wrong, I've said more than enough about 'childish', 'hypocritic', and 'under-educated' they are. They are hungry for money and power, caring as less about sikhism as you can imagine. I probably would be knowing them pretty well to be making comments like that.

Not one single personal attack from me YET my friend, so please... stop pretending things and open your eyes to acceptance... the other person MIGHT have some valid point.

It has gone off-topic. My apologies to the moderators. This is my last post on this issue.

Good luck Hubster.