Tales from Australia

Impressions of Australia and some beautiful pics courtesy of my pal Stephen

The Daily Panda

P9A A kangaroo with joey at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, near Canberra.

I have been incredibly lucky to be able to spend my summer of 2017 in the winter of Australia. This was an incredible, whirlwind three months that, now I am back in Britain, feel almost like a dream, that came and went so quickly, it almost doesn’t feel real. During this time I was principally based in Brisbane, at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), where I was visiting Associate Professor Michael Flood in the School of Justice there. However I was also able to see some of the rest of the country too – though still only a tiny fraction of this inconceivably huge place. Now that the trip is over, more than anything else I feel like I have learnt so much from Australia and from the people I met that live there, which has had a profound impact…

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Review of Cult Never Dies- The Megazine

Another outstanding effort by Dayal Patterson in his now familiar interviewing style. This time the feel of the book is slightly different, with an aesthetic reflecting a high quality version of the old printed underground zines most of us are familiar with. There is also a difference in the content, with the bands being interviewed now expanded to genres outside of black metal, and the book also containing interviews with an illustrator, a label manager and a photographer.

As a doom metal fan, I was licking my fingers with the interviews of Reverend Bizarre and Indesinence in particular, the first giving insight into one of the most tormented and fascinating minds in the genre, and the second (conducted by Fen’s The Watcher) revealing aspects in the life of an old bandmate I wasn’t even familiar with after sharing 6.5 years together in the band!

As ever highly recommended and I am glad to see Cult Never Dies now slowly expanding their territory to incorporate more and more elements that are of interest to anyone in the extreme metal genre.

Review of ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ by S. Covey

Despite the corny title, which has spawned a whole genre of ‘the seven ways/steps/habits to become rich/successful/powerful’ books, this is a strong reading for those interested in coaching and self-development. It proposes the idea of integrity, consistency and an ethic approach being at the heart of every genuinely effective person, rather than greed and preoccupation with material wealth. Certain ideas, such as the crucial role of Quadrant II habits (attaching importance to activities that are not urgent, but important on long term as they contribute to one’s personal vision and values) are still very relevant; they could invite for an approach that favours substance and a long-term vision instead of regarding the completion of day-to-day tasks as a tick-box exercise. There is also the simple, but powerful idea of interdependence (considering the needs of others in your approach, including in business transactions) as the ultimate value, rather than the much more lauded in western societies value of independence. The latter is considered here as a transitional stage on the way to higher levels of effectiveness and self-fulfilment.

Other areas of the book I found less appealing, such as the insistence on the use of jargon words such as ‘synergize’ instead of the much simpler and -ironically- effective word ‘collaborate’. There is also the tendency to ‘psychologize’ in certain sections, seeking for deeper psychological explanations for phenomena that are probably much simpler to describe (case in point the utter tedious part where the author describes how his wife’s confession of the reasons behind her preoccupation with Frigidaire led to deeper levels of communication in their relationship). However don’t let this spoil the reading pleasure, this is a book from which most readers can probably learn and retain elements, whether this is in their personal lives, at work or elsewhere.

Sermones Ad Mortuos – The Ghostlands themes 90%

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V práci jsem byl převelen na novou pobočku. I když jsem se to snažil sám sobě objasnit jasnou logikou normologického determinismu, po několika teoriích jsem dospěl k názoru, že se s tímto fatalismem nejsem schopen smířit a to především proto, že moje setrvání v současném stavu hodnot a času nenaplňuje Schopenhauerovu formulaci kompatibilismu, ale spíše jeho hlavní rozpor a to inkompatibilismus, toliko obhajovaný zastánci svobodné vůle. V praxi to znamená, že musím dojíždět do zasraný Hostivaře a sledovat každý ráno smrdutýho ožralýho houmlesáka, který ještě pořád nenašel tolik cti, aby se šel sám oddělat do lesa. Káva v automatu stojí patnáct korun a každý třetí den se z krásného tmavého hrdla (připomíná mi africké děvky na pornhubu) nevynoří kelímek, ale jen tmavě hnědá chcánka, která proteče hrdlem a vyústí do díry níže tak rychle, jako moje myšlenka na selhání základních principů kapitalismu (abych si posléze uvědomil, že toto naopak kapitalismus je). Ostatně, zřejmě tohle…

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Sermones Ad Mortuos, The Ghostlands Themes

Hypnagogue Music Reviews

sermones_ghostThe Ghostlands Themes has a story to tell. A ghost story, obviously. For the most part, it tells it well and manages to not get too rolled up in the obvious tropes of the idea. Make no mistake (and no pun intended), it’s full of theme. Temple bells, people asking spirits to reveal themselves, church-organ tones, there’s plenty here to hold the idea in place.  The narrative begins with “Invoking the Phantom” with heavily echoed vocal drops over wavering pads. This is where we get the temple bells, placed after a nice fade into quiet. It makes for a nice segue into “A Glimpse of Our Ghostlands,” which picks up a New Age feel and dresses it in grey shades. Arpeggiated notes gracefully unfold and we hear someone asking the spirits to say hello. Although I find the vocals a little interruptive, musically the piece lands in a comfortable space…

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Review of ‘The Cult Never Dies: Volume One’

Dayal Patterson’s phenomenal ‘Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult’ was for me a highlight not just in black metal writing, but in ‘alternative subgenre music history’ writing in general. It takes a rare combination of factors to create such an instant classic, including a thorough knowledge of the subject matter, a spiritual bonding with the material the author writes about, and painstaking research at the heart of the book. All these elements were firmly in place in Patterson’s debut book and the fact that it was also approved by most of its notoriously difficult protagonists, can only be seen as additional evidence of the quality of this work.

It was always going to be a difficult task to reach the same level of mastery in a second book which is a continuation on the same subject matter, a book which purports –in Patterson’s words- the release of new writing on the subject and chapters that could easily have slotted into the first book had I not been limited by space. However, don’t be misled by the description above; this book is luckily much more than just a collection of material that didn’t fit in the previous tome.

Instead of a chronological outline of the black metal genre, as in the aforementioned ‘Evolution of the cult’, ‘The Cult Never Dies Volume 1’ is thematically structured around three main parts. In the first part, Norway and its scene are revisited. In the second part, Dayal expands on the Polish black metal underground. Lastly, part three explores the relatively recent phenomenon of depressive black metal.

Once again the book is packed with the sort of detail that delightfully exposes the quirks and peculiarities of the characters behind this unusual musical genre. A visual companion adds an extra dimension to the stories for those readers who absorb information visually rather than conceptually. As a relative outsider to the genre, I initially tended to find the chapters about the bands whose music I already knew, such as Satyricon, Solefald or Bethlehem, more appealing. However, reading on the rest of the interviews with their more obscure but equally eccentric colleagues, I couldn’t help checking out the music of some of these bands out of curiosity, becoming in the process more interested in them. And this is another praiseworthy attribute of this fascinating book: because the individuality and strong will of the main characters come strongly to the fore through the interviews, you can’t help as a reader doing your own research about the bands you don’t know as much about, if only to find out if their music corresponds to their often bizarre and unusual worldviews. Total Negation, Mgla and Silencer you now have a new keen listener!

The tome also touches on themes and bands that are peripheral to the black metal genre per se, but relevant within its wider cultural context. There is e.g. a chapter on Wardruna, a band that can best be described as ‘ritualistic dark folk’, but has somehow managed to capture the hearts and minds of black metal fans. Reading through the interview with fascinating main man Einar it’s not hard to see why, as I can attest myself after hearing one of his talks at Roadburn festival earlier this year. There is also a chapter on the paintings of Theodor Kittelsen, a talented Norwegian ‘romantic’ whose melancholy, mystical and nationalist artwork graces many a black metal album cover, most notably in the work of Burzum.

If there is one point of constructive criticism I could make to this work, is that I would have liked Patterson’s own views to come more clearly to the fore. Continuing to approach his subject matter as a cultural anthropologist, he manages once again to inspire unusual –and sometimes deeply disturbed- personalities to tell their stories honestly and without self-censorship. However, many of their dubious views could and should be challenged, and when the author does so, this leads to fascinating reading. E.g. there is a very interesting conversation with Cornelius of the avant-garde black metal band Solefald, where Dayal challenges his lazy notion that provocative statements are necessarily connected to right-wing political views, effectively making him admit that this issue is more complex and multifaceted than a simple left/right divide. He does something similar in interviewing Herr Morbid from Forgotten Tomb– a man who appears to have some psychopathic views on the mission on his music and its apparent goal to incite people to commit suicide and self-harm. However, rather than confronting the musician directly, Dayal carefully points out in the book that the music contains many upbeat parts –at least compared to other ‘depressive’ acts- which begs the question whether there is an element of provocation and showmanship there rather than hardcore negative views that call for self-destruction. This leads to the author reflecting on the power of music and the artists’ responsibility over the consequences of negativity espoused through their work. I would like to see more of these passages in the future, in a work perhaps conceptually centred on the author’s philosophical views, where these views can be discussed with the many interesting creative persons he is in touch with, and the results of this dialectic intercourse can be reflected upon.

Regardless of the above, this is another fascinating book by Dayal Patterson. He  now firmly establishes himself as an erudite and noteworthy author, and I am already looking forward to his future work.