Monday, 14 November 2011

Musca amusica and the sound of Ba’al Zebûb’s ascension

Halo of Flies Over My Head
I am decaying Satan's Wrath
The one to walk planet earth alone
Spreading disease, death and war ... Impaled Nazarene, ‘Halo of Flies’ All That You Fear (2004)

Attractive to the flies ... I am their mephitic trough ... a buzzing which engulfs all ...
Through compound eyes / I envision eternity
Lugubrum, ‘Attractive to Flies’, De Vette Cueken (2004)

Flies are a frequent trope in both black and death metal. For the latter, buzzing flies pullulating over a rotting corpse lyrically figures death metal’s pulverizing a-subjective affections of the body; for the former, flies are related to a metaphysical problem bound up not so much to the paradoxical notion of the death of God but the death and deification of Satan.

While there are numerous reference to flies in the various genres of metal (perhaps since Iron Maiden) the ultimate reference is to Satan or Beelzebub as ‘Lord of the Flies’, or as Malkuth put it, ‘Great Black Goat God (Lord of the Flies)’ (1994). A Hebrew insult at the followers of the God Baal, ‘dung flies’, ‘ba’al’ ‘zebub’ emerges in the Christian tradition, sometimes as another name for Satan himself, but more interestingly as an angel who successfully stages his own infernal rebellion, displacing Satan to second spot just above Euronymous, according to Weyer’s demonology. Beelzebub, Lord of the Flies, then, is also a figure for the overthrow or overcoming of Satan and the ascension of some other order, the order of dung flies.

The reference is picked up in metal (from Iron Maiden, across numerous genres) where there are also gestures towards Golding’s famous novel in which Satan is already a rotting animal’s head: the sacrificial offering to the Beast misperceived as the Beast itself. Or rather become the beast through the hideous teeming acephalic noise of the flies that swarm about its decapitated head. The process of self-identification and self-transcendence that hold the God-Satan-Man triad together is transformed through consumption. Flies, not Man, maketh the Beast, but first through turning the flesh into ‘a mephitic trough’, a Styx of digestive liquid’ (Lugubrum) in which ‘Transformed man [is] dethroned’, Nominon, ‘Hordes of Flies’ (2005). For Nominon, then, the process of complete post-parasitical transformation – ‘Innate insects part of me /Parasite inside eating me / Host of flies born inside – sees the Satanic ‘Beast’ (the satanic multiple) resurrected from the swarming darkness of base matter where death has no dominion: ‘Absence of life I am the lord of flies’. Companion species, no doubt, since the migration of homo sapiens from Africa, musca domestica have lodged in the margins of human civilization, incubating and pupating in its shit and garbage, feeding on wounds and rotting flesh, defecating and vomiting waste matter teeming in deadly bacteria and viruses: typhoid, cholera, dysentery, tuberculosis. In black metal’s buzzing, musca domestica musica, flies are both the locus of amusical ex-sistence and figure of Satan’s divine inexistence and return. ‘Through compound eyes / I envision eternity’.
My abstract for PEST, Black Metal Theory Symposium Date: Sunday 20 November 2011, 14.00-Close
Location: The Pint Bar, Eden Quay, Dublin, Ireland