Pictured above is one Harold Camping. Creepy looking old fucker, eh? Mr. Camping is the California-based Christian radio broadcaster who started all this Rapture nonsense that we’ve been hearing so much about lately. May 21st, 2011, Camping’s predicted date for when the proverbial shit would hit the fan, has come and gone without any signs of God’s wrath. Turns out the crazy old coot also predicted the end of the world for September 7th, 1994 and has now revised his most recent epic fail for October 21st, 2011 (probably so he could swindle more suckers out of their life savings over the next five months). Give me a fucking break. Nonetheless, it got me thinking, if any of this poppycock were true, what metal albums would I put in heavy rotation in order to ring in the Beginning of The End? After some deliberation and debate standing in front of my CD rack, I chose the following four albums as the soundtrack to the impending Twilight of the Idols.
VON – Satanic Blood Angel (Nuclear War Now! Productions)
San Francisco’s VON only recorded a handful of material during their brief original incarnation, but that material, collected on Satanic Blood Angel, is encoded in the malformed DNA of black metal as we know it. The hypnotic repetition, lo-fi recording quality and themes of Satanism create a blueprint for the genre that is continually being copied, re-shaped and built upon to this day. Black metal is an inherently apocalyptic form of music, so including one of the fountainheads from which the genre sprang is a must for any Armageddon festivities. Unlike a lot of other black metal, VON’s recordings sound genuinely frightening and ritualistic without being comically over-the-top. This is raw, grim ‘n’ gritty stuff that just might be a field recording from the depths of hell, the invocation that begins our march towards oblivion. Pray Satan. Pray Satan. Pray Satan.
Triptykon – Eparistera Daimones (Century Media/Prowling Death)
Tom G. Warrior has been working on crafting the perfect soundtrack to the End of Days for almost three decades. He came close on multiple occasions with Hellhammer and Celtic Frost, but his vision seems to have reached a climax with Triptykon’s Eparistera Daimones. A lurching, heaving leviathan of an album, the Earth shudders under the sheer suffocating heaviness of tracks such as “Abyss Within My Soul” and “Myopic Empire”. Warrior refers to his lyrics as “epistles” (a term typically referring to parts of the Christian Bible’s New Testament which were written as letters to groups of people, i.e. First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians, etc), but if anything they are sermons for black masses to be celebrated during the Tribulation. Eparistera Daimones is an utterly draining listen, physically and especially mentally. Prolonged exposure to its haunting blackness could ultimately lead to complete and total erosion of the soul, which might be the only respite from Hell on Earth.
1349 – Revelations of the Black Flame (Candlelight)
For Revelations of the Black Flame, Norway’s 1349 largely abandoned their monotonous, blasting brand of black metal in favor of noise and ambience, creating an utterly polarizing album in the process. Once the initial shock wears off though, the soundscapes 1349 conjure here slowly begin to seep out of the speakers and infest your ears, worming their way into your soul. It’s none too surprising that Tom G. Warrior also had a hand in the recording, as the claustrophobic blackness here is very similar to that of Triptykon and latter-day Celtic Frost, although the material on Revelations… is much more adventurous in its execution. It’s no mere coincidence that Revelation is the hallucinatory book of the New Testament in which the Apostle John describes the Apocalypse, because while some call this album 1349’s nadir, I call it their first (and so far only) foray into a sound that is utterly deranged, horrific and esoteric, a perfectly sublime sonic accompaniment to Ragnarok if ever there was one.
Godflesh – Streetcleaner (Earache)
“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.” The quotation is from George Orwell’s 1984, but it perfectly sums up Godflesh’s 1989 debut album, the monolithically heavy Streetcleaner. The recording is the equivalent of having your skull marched over by a thousand dirt and blood-caked mechanical boots, while visions of a world irrevocably scarred by over-population, urban blight, unchecked greed and absolute power corrupting absolutely run through it. The crushing, metronomic pulse of the drum machine gives the album a soulless, mechanical vibe, while the grimy distortion of the guitar and bass, as well as Justin Broadrick’s beastly vocals, are undeniably human; the sounds of mankind struggling against the onset of subjugation via technology, only to be crushed under its aforementioned heel. Regular readers will remember that I recently used almost identical imagery to describe a trio of forward thinking Norwegian black metal albums. Streetcleaner is a direct precursor to those recordings and its apocalyptic visions are far more terrifying than any hellfire ‘n’ brimstone sermon, precisely because it is rooted in the all too tangible realities of our everyday world.
Of course the sad thing is that twenty or thirty years ago, before the of the internet, social networking and all the other platforms we now have in place for wackadoos to advertise their messages of moronitude (yes, I made that word up) across the globe, Harold Camping would only be known as California radio’s local nutcase for Christ. Articles such as this one wouldn’t be necessary because Camping would be a regional footnote at best. But regardless of what you think of faux-doomsday prophecies and whether or not the universe implodes, I think you’ll find these four albums well worth your time (though hopefully you’ve already explored at least some of them). If nothing else, they prove that Satan has the best tunes, even on Judgement Day.