PRAGUE DEATH MASS vol.II:
POST FESTIVAL REGURGITATIONS
This year PDM up shifted gear, passing from one-dayer to a two day festival capable to attract an enthusiastic international crowd. A couple of rather crucial elements predicted the success that it was: a carefully selected line-up aimed at pleasing the heterogeneous demands of the underground elitists and an amazing location. Prague Death Mass is in fact an event in line with the ethos and ritualistic aesthetics of occult-focused festivals such as Nidrosian Black Mass (NO/BE, instigator supreme), Arosian Black Mass (SE), and also linked to the underground BM ethos of long-standing Aurora Infernalis (NL), Black Flames of Blasphemy (FI) and the newer Beyond the Gates (NO), where only occasionally you will find a band signed by a bigger label. It’s not surprising that these festivals are in fact close collaborators, supporting each other, often sharing similar bills. The spirit of the underground, thankfully, is healthy: there are faithful guardians watching over and working hard against the commercialization and shallow flattening of meaningful, powerful art. Preservation and innovation work together in a never ending circle!
It was my first time in Prague. The stunning capital had been wholeheartedly recommended and I was looking for the right occasion to materialize; and so many others, taking up a chance too good to be missed. While Norway is, and will always be, a powerful focal point of worship for the black metal fan who longs to connect intimately with those cold, mystical lands of dark forests, fjords and aurora borealis, these days one can find very deep spiritual links to the music and its core philosophy in different geo-cultural situations, from the stunning and noble Carpathians, all the way down to the Greek peninsula to the Chilean Andes; from Cascadia and Quebec to the beautiful, rugged Scottish landscapes. These are just a few examples where the land itself constitutes an intense and atmospheric plateau to cultivate and expand our personal vision and experience, and I wish it were possible to visit all the incredible realms of wilderness and magik that dot the BM map.
As far as strictly urban environments go, I cannot think of many other places around the world where one can be in the company of cornerstones of the black metal philosophy, such as the Esoteric Arts, Death and Tradition, as in mysterious Prague. The city’s rich history exudes from its dense and rich medieval to Baroque architecture: the town center is a UNESCO world heritage site, but the affluent outskirts on the green hills over the river are just as beautiful, reminders of the wealth of the Austro-Hungarian empire. The nigh-time short-cut taken by the taxi taking me from the airport to my hotel was enough to throw me into a dimension long lost but still very familiar: my mother’s aristocratic roots, tragically severed by WWII. Flashes of a by-gone life style I only know through her childhood memories; the incredible tales handed down from generation to generation; the last precious, faded photographs remaining: all this came flooding back, stirring the silent, subconscious memory locked in my DNA. My soul quivered when I saw a beautiful vintage car breezing past over Charles Bridge, as I had often gazed at a photo immortalizing a majestic pre-war car belonging to my mother’s long lost family. My heart skipped a beat when a fine young gentleman with a pair of fine waxed mustache, and impeccably dressed, appeared at the festival, as I have always longed to meet those whose blood runs into my veins. Suddenly I found myself somehow closer to a world gone forever, washed away by blood, misfortune and the grinding wheel of self-perpetuating historical cycles...
Yes, my experiences in Prague went far beyond the excitement of a great festival, speaking to me on a far deeper level than I ever expected, and for that reason they took extra time to metabolize.
Missing the trip to the famous Sedlec Ossuary (organized by the festival as extra bonus) did not matter after all, as my mind and soul had been stirred aplenty. Besides, a fabulous enough display of esoterica adorned the stage of the Future Music Bar for the punters’ pleasure. Following on from the ceremonies at Nidrosian Black Mass (event which I hope will materialize again, leading the way towards yet higher darkly artistic and spiritual pastures), an array of human and animal skulls were arranged on stage alongside various cult symbols, lit-up black candles and swirling effluvia of fragrant incense, creating a breathtaking ritualistic set-up to enhance the bands’ performances. During the festival a couple of drunken fans handled some of the genuine human skulls, symbols of the inexorable passage of time and the soul-shattering futility of life, and yet those relics once belonged to thinking and feeling individuals. That gesture highlighted the differences of opinions, ideals and perceptions that fragments what is a quantitatively small section of the underground metal following (about 500 people were gathered in Prague from many different countries), which was skillfully reflected by the heterogeneous vision of 14 bands with a broad common matrix, therefore still fitting in a cohesive wider context. Even us black metal “adepts”, whether male or female, orthodox or unhinged, warriors or dreamers, passionate preservers of old traditions or supporters of mankind’s obliteration, ephemeral posers or genuine fans, are all but individual snowflakes scattered in a blizzard and destined to “be” for a cruelly brief lapse of time: whether you believe in serving a Master now and beyond, or you are spiritually in awe of Nature’s might from an a-theistic point of view, the ultimate consequence is one and the same. We shall be back to the fire that made the stars where we came from.
In the meantime, I know exactly how I like to spend the breath of time I have got left.
“Jeg er virvelhimmel
ikledd evighetens kappe”