The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Black Metals

Wade Marynowsky Black Casino (2013)
‘Black Casino involves five flying V guitars mounted atop a rotating spin wheel as used in popular game shows such as ‘The Wheel of Fortune’. The guitars form a five-pointed star – a pentagram, which conjures certain magical associations and is used today as a symbol of faith by many Wiccans and Neo-pagans. This pentagram, however, depicts Diabolus in musica: the ‘tri-tone’ musical interval that has been used since the sixtenth century as the signature of the Devil – an association exploited by many heavy metal bands.’


Torbjorn Rodland Infernus (2001)


Alexander Binder Traum (2017)


Jan Hakon Erichsen Obvious Art Work nr.12, Black Metal Art (2010)


Bjarne Melgaard Kill Me Before I Do It Myself (2001)
‘For the uninitiated, Frost engages in a performance piece composed with Bjarne Melgaard that they call, “Kill Me Before I Do it Myself.” In a profoundly angry display, Frost, mere inches from the audience, engages in aggressive torching of the set, destructive stabbing of furniture and outright overt blasphemy. As viewers watch burning embers rapidly descend from the exhibit’s structure and experience Frost destroying a multitude of items, they have only seconds to prepare to watch as Frost uses a menacingly long knife to slit his arm vertically from wrist to elbow. He then follows suit on his neck. The audience, clearly in shock, is not entirely sure if they are witnessing an actual suicide and they stand in silence as Frost reclines down, eyes open, with blood oozing out of multiple sites in his body.’


Harmony Korine The Sigil of the Cloven Hoof Marks Thy Path (2000)
‘Harmony did a show where he photocopied a bunch of pictures from Lords of Chaos, and blew up pictures of Fenriz and hung them on a wall in a gallery! He put a picture of Varg up there too, and this is in some bullshit gallery in Santa Monica, what do others think about him? Is he ripping off BM culture, does anyone care? I don’t but this show is funny, a bunch of pictures of Fenriz and some national socialist looking runic art, stuff that has been on Black Metal album covers for ages, put up in a gallery under his name.’


Mickaël Sellam Black Metal Forever (2010)
‘Equipped with sound sensors that amplify the noises it makes while moving, the machine becomes a massive and worrying musical instrument that plays in a dramatic atmosphere. From the top of the picker, the operator directs and synchronizes the movements of the machine so as to produce a spectacular and wild soundscape, a mechanical black mass.’


Joachim Hamou J’ai Froid (2014)
‘Tapping into the unrest and general neoliberalisation of the Scandinavian welfare-states, a new generation of artists’ interest in anarchistic expressionism and Black Metal has emerged. Their interest in this subculture lies perhaps in the promise of an oppositional position and the potential for expressing angst, distress and feelings of being overwhelmed.’


Nader Sadek Re:Mechanic (2014)
‘Since 2009, conceptual artist Nader Sadek has been directing and producing an epic undertaking. The first phase of this project was the album In the Flesh released in 2011 (the band, a Death Metal supergroup brought together by Nader), the second phase involves videos based on the album’s tracks, and the final phase is a type of Metal opera—a magnum opus, if you will—which promises to be a spectacular fusion of art and music including sculptures, installations, and performances. Born in Cairo, Nader draws upon his direct experience with the use of Metal and art as a form of political protest, which he has written about here. He is currently based in New York City and has established an international reputation in the Metal community for his artistic collaborations with Attila Csihar, which have produced costumes and stage designs.’


Juan Pablo Macías BSR Complete Stock #1 (Ratas – Zona roja) (2017)
‘Juan Pablo Macías devotes part of his work to the restoration of the Biblioteca Social Reconstruir (BSR), a libertarian and anarchist library founded in 1978 in Mexico City and now dismantled. For the sound installation BSR Complete Stock #1 (Ratas – Zona roja), shown in the exhibition Altars of Madness, he invited Mexican metal bands to record their music.’


Nancy Pagan Animation Sons of Northern Darkness, Ep. 1 (2015)
‘In the fall of 1995, Black Metal band, ‘Immortal’, set out to make a string of music videos for their upcoming album. With little to no-budget, they walked into the woods outside their hometown of Bergen, Norway, never to be seen again. This is their story. Featuring King Diamond!’


Vincent Como Paradise Lost 001 – 004 (2011)
Oil on Linen with Wood, Wax, and Fire


Terence Hannum Further Desecrations (2017)
‘I think a lot of my friends and the initial people who turned me on to death metal were incredibly intelligent people who a lot of society had really written off. They had intelligence about books or electronics, or records, just this depth that I didn’t know. I know I am romanticizing it a bit, but I pulled a lot from my friends who I grew up with who were super smart but somehow got written off in school or by their families.’ — TH


Per-Oskar Leu Vox Clamantis in Deserto (2010)
‘Vox Clamantis in Deserto (“The voice of one crying in the wilderness”) shows Per-Oskar Leu performing the aria Vesti la Giubba (“put on the costume”) from the opera Pagliacci (Ruggero Leoncavallo, 1892) in Black Metal attire.’


Banks Violette Various (2008)
‘Death metal, ritual murder, and teenage suicide are mere starting points for Banks Violette; his gothic installations construct operatic analyses of the dark side of American culture. In works such as Black Hole, Violette aptly portrays this phenomenon of excess. Heavy-metal aesthetics become a mirror of youth culture anxiety, an adopted language compensating and empowering sensations of immense sorrow and despair. Citing examples where musical lyrics become instigating factors to real-life violence, Violette refers to an over-identification with fiction where artistic expression exceeds critical confinement, and fantasy and reality are blurred.’


Tereza Zelenkova Various (2016 – 2019)


João Onofre Box sized DIE featuring Sacred Sin (2007-2008)
‘Box sized Die featuring No Return, 2007-2011 is both a sculpture and a performance. It consists of a black metal cube with sides measuring 183 cm. Making a direct reference to the minimal sculpture work by Tony Smith, and in particular his piece Die, João Onofre explores the potential of this black box by getting a Death Metal band to play inside it. Activated, the work offers an invisible show contained in a closed space. Only the residues of the sound vibrations attest to the inner power. The length of the performance is variable since the musicians are putting their physical limits to the test in experiencing imprisonment and asphyxia.’


Erik Smith Perfect is My Death Word (2007)
‘Perfect is My Death Word is a recreation of the James Lee Byars sound work of the same name. The original work was produced by Byars and the Neues Museum Weserberg Bremen in 1995 and exists as an edition on CD of twenty minutes of silence followed by Byars saying the sentence “Perfect is my death word.” Smith asked Dutch Black Metal band Sammath to recreate the sound work by adhering to the twenty minutes of “silence” format before launching into one of their original songs with Byars’ sentence as chorus. Sammath performed Perfect is My Death Word at the De Appel Contemporary Art Centre in Amsterdam on February 16, 2007 for the opening of Smith’s exhibition The Ghost of James Lee Byars Calling.’


Seldon Hunt Various (2014 – 2019)


Mark Titchner N (I) B (2013)
‘Artist Mark Titchner’s N (I) B is a video portrait of Nicholas Bullen, a musician, sound artist and founding member of Grindcore band Napalm Death. Presented at the ‘Be True To Your Oblivion’ solo show at the New Art Gallery, Walsall, N (I) B is a silent large scale projection in which we are presented with a close up shot of Bullen’s mouth as he performs a work written by the artist.’


Gast Bouschet & Nadine Hilbert
‘Over the past few years, Luxembourg duet Nadine Hilbert and Gast Bouschet have developed a multifaceted body of work at the crossroads of several media (video, photography, sound, etc.) and disciplines (visual arts, music, dance). In Metamorphic Earth, immense video projection and complex sound constructions plunge the spectator in a bewitching universe where he loses his physical marks and where fascination clashes with anxiety.’

Toward the Event Horizon (2011)

Tempestarii Video (2016)

Metamorphic Earth (2017)


Analogue Black Terror (2019)
‘Between the late ’80s and 2000, a fringe of the extreme heavy metal youth culture decided to secede from the contemporary scenes to express their deep disgust and hostility towards organized religions, democracies, human rights, the modern world, and humankind in general. Driven by hatred, misanthropy, and Satanism, fueled by juvenile passion, and with very limited means, they produced myriads of homemade black metal recordings which left no room whatsoever for tolerance, mercy, or any kind of positive energy. Some were spoiled brats in search of a reason to rebel; some were convicted murderers, arsonists, grave desecrators, or rapist;, others were merely incredibly talented artists with a sincere will to put their work into the service of a greater evil.

‘Little consideration was given to sophisticated production, and given how much money was available in the scene, fancy options were not on the table anyway. Home-xeroxed duplicated tapes were spread hand-to-hand within local scenes, or worldwide, via snail mail, among a network of individuals all gathered around one idea: to remain an elite that stood alone against the modern world and prayed for its annihilation. A lot of them disappeared, a chosen few became legends… The author has an opinion of what happened to these bands since 2000, stating: “…before falling into disgrace to represent the embarrassing circus that black metal mostly stands for a quarter of century later.” Take that for what you will, there are definitely “cvlt” fans that want to return to the unrefined, raw sounds of the past, while others enjoy the progression. Either way, this book looks to be an incredible visual guide to history that is black metal.’


Pavel Lyakhov
‘My favorite art subject: Sadness; latest autumn, winter, etc.; depressive music; ruins; abandoned places, etc. – such things inspire me to create my art. I get inspiration in my expeditions to Russian North, where I see snow-capped mountain sceneries. Survival in severe weather conditions gives me Inspiration for my art. My artwork is my world – it is frozen, cold world. And I feel comfortable in it.’ — PL

Живопись. Художник Павел Ляхов. Работа в мастерской

S.K.U.K.A Song2

🎨🎨🎨 Shadows of the Past. Vol-V. BlackMetal version


Death Orgone Various (2017)


Konrad Smolenski One Mind in a Million Heads (2015)
‘Konrad Smoleński describes his work as a mix of “spectacular pyrotechnic effects” and “minimal punk aesthetic.” Smoleński’s works frequently have an audio component, which might take the form of noise, music, or noise music. Speakers and microphones are also frequent motifs in his installations, appearing in overwhelming configurations and quantities, often alongside combustible materials and flames. The artist has an openly anarchic disposition, which manifests in the works as a sense of anxiety, disorientation, and awe.’


Grace Ahlbom Various (2018)
‘I don’t really listen to black metal, but I don’t think that’s the point. It’s more just about the fan culture and the overall––the props, the makeup, the whole theatrical performance behind it is what I’m interested in.’


Aaron Metté On the Black Universe in the Human Foundations of Color (2017)
Text: François Laruelle


Peter Beste True Norwegian Black Metal (2007)
‘In 2002, New York-based photographer Peter Beste packed up a bag of belongings and a camera and flew out to Norway with the idea of documenting the country’s most notorious export, Black Metal. Six years and seven trips later, his resulting film and book, True Norwegian Black Metal, hits the airwaves and shelves. While some of Beste’s photos take the classically ’grimm’ route, others gently pry behind the mask, capturing the likes of Gorgoroth, Carpathian Forest, and Darkthrone in more natural surroundings. Intimate, almost conspiratorial, they give the impression of being welcomed into a lair.’

Watch it here

Book version


Grant Willing Svart Metall (2008 – 2011)
‘Grant Willing’s ongoing photographic series Svart Metall is a meditation on the ineffable qualities of an unsubtle musical subculture, Black Metal. Though its sonic qualities are challenging even for some metalheads, its Nordic atmospherics and paganistic themes are arguably evocative for a diverse range of artists. The photographs are allusive of the themes black metal culture treats, and presented in a surprisingly informal way—printed on bleached newsprint stock. On this ephemeral paper, the photographs retain a stately quality but gain a more disorienting sense.’


Ben Lee Ritchie Handler & Mike Z Morrell Crystalnacht Watersports Grimoire (2016)


Russell Nachman Various (2012 – 2917)
‘I like having big ideas and weird mysterious stuff in the universe. This is kind of a longing for that. Like maybe in a post-religious society after everything has collapsed, these drunken idiots just pick up all sorts of detritus from Western civilization and remake it in their own image. So I never think of this, even though theyʼre black metal guys with tattoos of upside-down crosses and all that, itʼs never anti-Christian for me. Itʼs kind of like a post-Christian homage.’ — RN




p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. I don’t really understand the panic. That said, I’m already beginning to understand stir craziness. I think if France keeps us cooped up for more than the indicated two weeks, and longer than that is essentially inevitable, people even here in reasonable France will start going totally nuts. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hey, glad you dug that track. Hm, I like your cure idea. Maybe strobe lights will become the new toilet paper. ** Thomas Moronic, Hey there, Thomas, old buddy. Oh, gosh, no brainer on the blurb. The novel is really exquisite and formally fascinating and hits a deep, strange emotional spot to boot. And Michael’s cover is incredible too. I’m hanging in there. It’s already getting old though, and it has barely begun. Word re: your prime minister. Jesus, the UK and US both stuck with idiotic narcissists at the same time. What were the odds? Do your best. ** Bill, No joke. Definitely wish I was in the middle of working on a novel, but that well seems dry at the moment. I did finally order a Switch which arrives tomorrow, so I’ll be more (less?) squared away after that. Hope the online imbibing confab was a hit. Oh, cool, about hanging out with Robert Henke and the class interview! It’s a sweet work, for sure. Everyone, If you watched and were into Robert Henke’s piece/video yesterday, he did an interview for Bill Hsu’s class, and I’ll bet you it’s super interesting, and you can experience it via the wonders of Vimeo and under the title ‘Using Assembly Language: an Artist/Engineer’s View’ right here. Thank a lot for that, Bill! ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Understood. I personally find the harshness/intensity cathartic and relaxing, but yeah. But I am listening to tons of GbV, which is my guaranteed pleasure food. Happy to answer your question privately, of course. I’m glad you’re feeling calmer, and the doctor news is obviously relieving. ** schlix, Hi, Uli! Are you guys forcibly hunkered down like we are? I’m with you on Japanese noise. I drifted far into it when I was assembling that gig. Really happy you found so much in the selection! No, I don’t think I know the Ernie and Bert version. I have this knee-jerk ‘avoid all Muppets-related everything’ impulse for some reason, which is strange because I’ve never watched The Muppets in my life. I’ll take a peek, ha ha. I hope everything’s great with you, and hang in there through this big mess. ** Jeff J, Hi, Jeff. Thanks! Yeah, the Hantarash is older. A number of things in there are. They were just ‘of late’ to me. Good question about The Boredoms. They played here in Paris a few years ago, but it was in ‘legacy act’ mode, just doing one of their classic older things, and I didn’t go for that reason. Eye’s great, yeah, and he’s doing stuff fairly regularly in this medium and that from what I’ve seen. Yes, I have a Harmony Korine Day coming up, uh, I think a week from this coming Saturday. Nothing that stood out that I can remember, just generally kind of fun or great little things. There are quite a few ‘Trash Humpers’-related shorts that I hadn’t known existed, for instance. Friday or Saturday sounds good. I’m around almost all the time whether I like it or not. Hit me with an email or something, and we’ll sort it. ** Right. You’ll have pleasure of one sort of another with the blog today if you’ll just allow yourself. So, … do? See you tomorrow.


  1. David Ehrenstein

    Maybe you would have to be here to understand the panic, which for me is best expressed in people hoarding toilet paper in enormous quantities. They’re buying more of that than they are food.

    As for Black Metal, I’m more in the mood for THIS

    Meanwhile I’m going to write a piece about Death which as Eve Babitz so memorably said is “the last word in other people having fun without you.”

  2. Sypha

    It’s funny, when I was a kid I was obsessed with the Muppets and Sesame Street… not so much now obviously… it does annoy me when I see people posting music videos that show the Muppets lip-singing to popular songs or whatever…

    Meanwhile things are looking pretty grim for Barnes & Noble:

    They say that young people aren’t taking the pandemic seriously, but of the 2 shifts I’ve had at work this week 90% of the customers we’ve been getting are the older/elderly types.

  3. alex rose

    hi dennis ( a sneaky hug )

    i left a comment a few days sago but it got lost, ive been up home minding my mum and house keeping and slowly going insane, back in my own private coffin now for a few days, off work till the 29th

    this post is really good, ive been devouring black metal for the past few months, it makes me feel very postive

    i hope you and yours are well and not bickering too much, id an argument with my mum, she kept saying ” pepper and salt ” i rolled my eyes and she caught me and i said ” salt and pepper, not pepper and salt ” fuck me, ive become a grammar nazi

    il be checking in here every day now until all the dying are dead and living can carry on dying, love you dennis

  4. Armando

    Hey, man,

    How are you?

    Any plans for quarantined today? Have you been able to finish my pamphlet yet?

    Guess what?! I got my first ever review from that “goodreads” thing from a Norwegian author who’s also a fan of yours. 100%!

    Take care,

    Good day, good luck,



  5. Bill

    Haha, I like Grace Ahlbom’s attitude. There are some nice photos on her site; did you see (for instance) her Paris Sexy chapbook? Will definitely keep an eye on her work.

    Thanks for the plug for the Henke interview video. The zoom drinking session worked surprisingly well. We’ll probably do it again next week.

    Yeah, the stir-crazy thing is a problem. Can’t imagine this lockdown thing before the internet explosion. Dennis, if you’re looking for more distractions before your Switch arrives, this is a tasteful recent re-release:

    Steve, the operation you need sounds totally essential to me. Hope the arrangements are going smoothly.


  6. _Black_Acrylic

    Back in 2005 I went to Dundee’s Caird Hall for Sacred Selections, a project by the artist Matt Stokes that saw Black Metal by the likes of Emperor and Darkthrone performed as a series of organ recitals. There was a lot of that about at the time, the genre inspiring a whole array of creative reimaginings.

    I ventured outdoors today to the local stately home Temple Newsam to fight against impinging self isolation. Sporadic passers-by were milling around, though I’m sure the crowds will massively increase once the local schools shut down over the coming weekend.

    If anyone is needing some aural respite right now, the renowned DJ of Optimo fame JD Twitch is uploading a series of mixes over the coming weeks of music to combat the world’s anxiety. Tranquility Mix 1 is here for your delectation.

  7. schlix

    Dennis, we still can move freely around here in the city. I think Germany tries everything to avoid some kind of ban on going out. So you “should” stay at home, you “should” avoid social contact and act reasonable and so on but it is not enforced. Now there are some or some more people who are not willing to change their lifestyle a little bit and still go for party and drinking and everything. Perhaps because of this the restrictions will come sooner or later. More and more people are asking for it.
    As a normal person you are in between people who deny the virus and other people who point fingers on everyone who is still outside their home.
    I have to stay away from facebook where everybody has an opinion on the situation be it political or moral or whatever. It seems that one can project almost everything on to that virus. It seems hard just to say “i am scared” or “i dont know what so feel and say” – you have to state an opinion.

    I really want to stay positive and our personal situation is safe and sound.
    Because I started to work on my bachelor thesis I have enough to do inside and my wife can also work at home.

    Tomorrow bandcamp will spend 100% of the money to the artists
    and I want see where I can support bands, artists and projects who have a tough time right now.

    Almost forgot this: Beautiful Black Metals – I love the Casino thing.

  8. Jeff J

    Think the site ate my comment, but can’t see anyone else’s to know for sure. Quick digest version and maybe repetitive: enjoyed the post + how it flowed from yesterday’s sounds, esp. dug Alexander Binder, Terence Hannum, Hamrony’s dance, and Analog Black Terror for whatever reason.

    Started watching old Kathy Acker doc and saw you pop up! Do you like that film?

    Sent email about Skyping this weekend. Very flexible, as you can imagine.

  9. Misanthrope

    Dennis, So one good thing came out of this plague: I’m finally working from home. It’s working out great. I’m getting better rest, I’m sharper, and I finished my first edit of that first draft. A little extra time helped. Now I’ve got to go through and shore some things up and then I’ll be ready to try and get it out into the world.

    I went out after work yesterday to pick up a few things, and while doing so, kind of peeked around. I came home so fucking depressed. I decided I can’t live like this. Or maybe I can’t live around savages like these people in my town obviously are. Just wiping stores clean and hoarding like motherfuckers. Seems a lot of them line up before shipments come in and then…attack!

    Really, if it weren’t for that bullshit, I’d be just fine. I mean, just do your regular weekly shopping people and we’ll be fine.

    The empty streets and closed stores don’t help either, now that I think about it.

    I wonder what happens when they open things back up and it starts spreading again.

    Otherwise, I’m good. Just keeping on keeping on.

  10. Steve Erickson

    There’s a project of monologues written and performed in 24 hours, shot by the actors at home on their phones, posted on Instagram over the past few days: . The quality varies widely, although I thought “we were dazzling once,” written by Christopher Oscar Peña and performed by Hugh Dancy on his porch, was a gem. But it gave me the idea to try to do something similar, reworking the script I wrote last year about the talk show host who is being blackmailed and taking the character and premise into a form that could be done as a monologue delivered by an actor into his phone and then posted to IG and YouTube. I haven’t started rewriting my script, but I have approached one actor already. It’s a profession that’s inherently social, and I know how many people are sitting at home bored with nothing to do and might be looking for something positive to do with their time.

    the “black metal cats” feed on Twitter is fun – cats in particularly sinister poses with captions like “Behold the lords of darkness, behold the eternal sons of night.”

    I watched Beyonce’s concert film HOMECOMING on Netflix today. Although I had listened to the soundtrack last year, I found it much less enjoyable than I expected considering how much I like her music. The new marching band arrangements all sound the same, the behind-the-scenes footage feels weirdly defensive (as though she has to prove she’s a disciplined, dedicated artist, not a pop singer who gets handed songs by her record label) and the 135-minute length got numbing. But maybe it wasn’t just a good plague-watch. I’m gonna try to delve into the well-regarded TV show PARTY DOWN, which aired in 2009-10, tomorrow.

    How have you been staying sane? I went for a walk today and almost started crying when I went down several blocks of 14th St. and found it deserted except for one homeless man. My microwave broke a few days ago, and I had a new one delivered by mail order. It arrived tonight, and I will take it out of the box and try it tomorrow.

  11. Thomas Moore

    Beautiful post here. Black Metal has proved such a rich vein for artists to dig from. I totally get it of course – so many complicated strands can be pulled from it. I’m a fan of a lot of the artists and works on display here and there’s a bunch of stuff that’s new to me as well. I’d add some of Steven Shearer’s work to the list as well. He did some gorgeous paintings and also made this black metal shed which sat in a gallery and periodically blasted out some harsh dark noise at various intervals.

    And shit – thanks for what you said about the novel – I couldn’t be happier with that response. I’m so glad you liked the form of the book and also that the emotional stuff struck a chord. I’m on Cloud 9. No – Cloud 10, 11 and higher. Thanks, Dennis. And yeah Michael’s artwork for it has blown my eyes out of their sockets. So lucky to have his work as the skin to my work.

  12. Barkley

    Awesome to see a post showcasing the artistry side of black metal, and right as I’ve been casually exploring it myself! Grant Willing’s Svart Metall was really interesting, especially hearing him talk about the intention with musical notes forming a larger body as opposed to being linear. Death Orgone’s works were great as well. Also, not to butt in to someone else’s reply but congrats on getting a switch! Do you have any games for it you want to check out? Assuming you’re talking about the nintendo console, haha.

  13. cal

    Hey Dennis how are ya,
    gonna spend some time with this post. Really enjoy Black metal and it’s culture.
    That third Binder image was used as an album cover for Vaura’s first album. They’re a shoegaze BM band, for thier frist two albums then they get like dark goth synth wave? ig that’s the best description lol.
    Hope you’re safe out there innthe Corona’d world

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