Sounds have great power, so do the words and songs that those sounds make. H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos was based upon this premise, that the names of Elder deities were to be pronounced in a certain way and that way only for them to be brought into the physical realm. Old Hindu Vedas associated a cosmic resonance and spiritual attachment with the ‘Om‘ sound. And, on a lighter note, Bruce Campbell’s Ash in Army Of Darkness is required to destroy the Necronomicon by reciting a certain incantation with just the right enunciation; that Ash fails and then fails again to bluff his way through is part of movie lore, sure to send one into bouts of convulsive hacking despite repeated viewings.
A recurring theme across these pages has been heavy metal’s close-looped elitism. To those of us who feel strongly about it, heavy metal was the proverbial forbidden fruit that we bit of in our formative years; in that instant, our paths were set outside the pale of the mainstream, musically and intellectually. An appreciation of the social contract and our world of transactions means that we learn to compromise in one way or another, to put bread on the table, to preserve some semblance of sanity, probably to stay out of jail and the loony bin, too. But the contrast between what holds the mainstream in thrall and that which stimulates our imagination only becomes sharper with the passage of years, to the point where, though we may have outgrown youthful rebellion and developed a greater appreciation of that social contract, every minute spent fitting in is akin to talking down to a child. But we also know that this is no real child; spiteful and vindictive by turn, it is simply an indictment of our species’ native state, and deserves the disdain we heap on it.
Like all intelligent, subversive media, true heavy metal acts in different ways as a spur to greater self-realization. In return, we remain loyal to heavy metal and the ideals we ascribe to it, and that we try to embrace ourselves the best we can. Not all that is purported to be holy is so but some things are sacred because they continue being a store for the things we would like to see in us and in others. Some things are worth conserving because they are our haven apart, and because to defile them would necessarily mean giving up one of those last shreds of self-respect we so desperately hold on to.
Returning to the theme of sounds and songs, and the great power they hold, ‘There lies your Lord, Father of Victories‘, off Order From Chaos‘ last album ‘An Ending In Fire‘, is the very soul of this metal elitism, and that without even attempting to decipher the cryptic Nietzschean lyrics it contains. Like the once-heard, never-forgotten opening riff to ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath‘, this is an impact registered on the level of blood and spirit, but unlike that legendary song, ‘There lies your Lord…‘ forces the listener to last through its twelve-minute length; it is only after he has experienced the entire song that he comes to appreciate the mastery of momentum with which the song is composed.
Pete Helmkamp’s words divide the song into four chapters, relatively self-contained sections all that may seem little more than loosely thrown together jams at first, but which in the final reckoning become indispensable to the whole. Chuck Keller’s idiosyncratic take on extreme speed metal guides these many parts; his big-chord punctuation, busy soloing, sense of rhythm and melody in the breakdown and all-around string-attack, are the personification of timeless metal ethic, leading this song to one of the great metal climaxes. There is immense release condensed into these closing moments and they come to retrospectively alter the dimension of the entire song.
Here Helmkamp sings with the bile of youth, of the desecration of the sacred by those who hold nothing sacred, of the perennial race for power, almost always by those entirely unfit for holding that power, and ultimately, of the futility of decency in an essentially indecent world. There is equal rage and sadness found in these lyrics; rage at the atrocious audacity of the inept and the mendacious, sadness over the demise of the strong and noble.
This is metal to me. Whatever be its origins, and we respect those origins no doubt, this is the true spectrum of ideological evolution that it inhabits and which makes it a musical force different from all others: controversial, unapologetic, ferocious, and elitist to the end.