Tag Archive: Extreme metal


Header_DenigrataA Lecturer in Popular Music at a British Higher Education institution, Denigrata Herself is undertaking her PhD in women in extreme metal. She is also the front woman/guitarist in Denigrata, an experimental black metal collective. Denigrata have coined the term noir concrête for their music, meaning the avant-garde dark noise initiated by Pierre Schaeffer and Karlheinz Stockhausen finds a different rhizomatic existence within their contemporary black metal performance space.

Denigrata Herself is a gender theorist whose research and publications to date focus on body performativity, reclamation of female space, tattooing, graphic novels, death metal and black metal. She is part of the International Society for the Study of Metal Music (ISMMS) and sits on various academic and equal rights boards in the UK.

For over a decade she was a lead guitarist in British death metal bands, she was signed to and worked for various independent record labels and now devotes her time to lecturing, researching and performing. She is choir master for her departmental chamber choir and presents annual post-modern renderings of canonical classical pieces with her choir, a string quartet, a contemporary band and Ableton performers.

Denigrata Herself – All for Love: Creativity and Emotional Investment in the Composition Process

July 2015

Is it possible to fall in love with the music you make? This is a question I regularly ask myself. Is it purely a solipsistic endeavour, all bound and tied with arrogance and self-proclamation or is this kind of deep engagement necessary in order to produce work of any serious quality? Anyone musician who feels what they do, and when I say feel, I mean feels an impact that strikes right at the heart of who you are, will understand what I mean. Yet it is very difficult to articulate because music contains an enigma, as the Structural Anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss suggests,

Since music is a language with some meaning at least for the immense majority of humankind, although only a tiny minority of people are capable of formulating a meaning in it, and since it is the only language with the contradictory attributes of being at once intelligible and untranslatable, the musical creator is a being comparable to the gods, and music itself the supreme mystery of the science of humanity, a mystery that all the various disciplines come up against and which holds the key to their progress. (http://www.quoteland.com/author/Claude-Levi-Strauss-Quotes/1397/)

He states some pretty significant, albeit lofty sentiments here but knowing whether he is correct or not is another matter. Gauging content is no easy task and surely a vast degree of that decision making process is subjective. Is Lévi-Strauss suggesting that all composers/musicians are comparable to gods or merely some of them…

Social media seems to rather like attempting to compare the lyrical content for example, of say Led Zeppelin against that of Nikki Minaj, suggesting of course that the latter holds little to no true musical qualities against that of former. However, how can we compare the two when their aims are so vastly different? The subjective experience of Plant cannot be compared of Minaj because they are different people with different pressures and experiences so to my mind, regardless of whether you actually like them or not, it is simply irrelevant to attempt this type of comparison. It’s like comparing apples and oranges, fruitless…or something…

However if all artists can fall in love with their creativity, then why wouldn’t they? You could never accuse Kanye for example, for having no passion in his music even if he has a particular disregard or inattentiveness to Queen? And I’m not entirely convinced it is actually the job of the listener to deride or castigate those they simply find no value in, when it is clear that others do.

To be clear, I am only talking of the music. I am not talking about ideological positions or label interests or fiscal incentives. All of these are very separate and problematic issues and muddy the creative engagement, skew the intent and pull things into different realms.

To cut back all of the crap and to solely focus on the musical engagement only, seems to be something that should be the main impetus, but gets side-lined. Whether you are famous or not, whether you are signed, touring, whatever, when it comes down to the substantia of why you write and perform music, it should be because you are in love with it. When you play your music, it should fill every single sense in your body, mind and soul with fire, your entire being should feel like the gods themselves are coursing through your veins and in that singular performance moment, there is nothing else. There is only the music.

I have just finished in the studio with Denigrata and this is exactly how I feel. When I pick up my guitar, I feel the power of the distortion sparking through the ends of my fingers, I feel the scream explode through my body and blast down the mic and I know, as a musician, there is nowhere else I’d rather be. On stage, with Denigrata.

There is a special bond with the people you make music with and it’s something that being a singular artist in previous incarnations, I missed terribly. The members of Denigrata are astonishing, intuitive musicians. They are phenomenal human beings and they know what they’re doing. I trust them. This creates the foundations of creativity because if you don’t trust someone, you will never be able to let your creativity out. We create vistas of beauty and destruction, coexisting in the void that shakes the foundations of reality and mirrors the pain of existence. Lévi-Strauss goes on to suggest,

The musical emotion springs precisely from the fact that at each moment the composer withholds or adds more or less than the listener anticipates on the basis of a pattern that he thinks he can guess, but that he is incapable of wholly divining. If the composer withholds more than we anticipate, we experience a delicious falling sensation; we feel we have been torn from a stable point on the musical ladder and thrust into the void. When the composer withholds less, the opposite occurs: they force us to perform gymnastic exercises more skillful than our own. (http://www.quoteland.com/author/Claude-Levi-Strauss-Quotes/1397/)

And this is exactly the point – attention and connection. If you pay attention and connect with music, then you have discovered something extraordinary, something so special that nobody can take away. The crucible of creativity gives us everything we could ever need and so I urge you, if you feel that creative pulse, that drum beat in the pit of your stomach, listen to it, obey it and let it consume you until it is done. As Bukowski says, ‘when it is truly time, and if you have been chosen, it will do it by itself and it will keep on doing it until you die or it dies in you. There is no other way and there never was.’ (http://www.rebellesociety.com/2012/10/22/writing-lab-advice-from-charles-bukowski/)

Comments are welcome. Denigrata Herself can be contacted at denigrataherself@horizonvumusic.com


Header_DenigrataA Lecturer in Popular Music at a British Higher Education institution, Denigrata Herself is undertaking her PhD in women in extreme metal. She is also the front woman/guitarist in Denigrata, an experimental black metal collective. Denigrata have coined the term noir concrête for their music, meaning the avant-garde dark noise initiated by Pierre Schaeffer and Karlheinz Stockhausen finds a different rhizomatic existence within their contemporary black metal performance space.

Denigrata Herself is a gender theorist whose research and publications to date focus on body performativity, reclamation of female space, tattooing, graphic novels, death metal and black metal. She is part of the International Society for the Study of Metal Music (ISMMS) and sits on various academic and equal rights boards in the UK.

For over a decade she was a lead guitarist in British death metal bands, she was signed to and worked for various independent record labels and now devotes her time to lecturing, researching and performing. She is choir master for her departmental chamber choir and presents annual post-modern renderings of canonical classical pieces with her choir, a string quartet, a contemporary band and Ableton performers.

Denigrata Herself – Reflections from the Recording Studio

Sorry for my absence of late, Denigrata have been in the recording studio and whilst this process historically has not been something I have enjoyed, this time has been completely different. We opted for Initiate Audio and Media, based in the East Midlands, UK which has Neil Hudson, an incredible engineer and musician, at its helm. As such, he has made the recording process more of an opportunity, rather than a laborious task.

However, because our set up is different from a great many bands, I think we underestimated how much longer the process would take because of it. Having no drummer may seem like it would make recording easier, but because of the sheer amount of files we use, it has actually meant we have been encouraged to really focus on every single tiny aspect of our music.

It would be easy to categorise this as annoying or perhaps, cavalier regarding attention to detail because some people enjoy this process, others don’t. I am most certainly in the ‘don’t’ category, or at least I was. Perhaps I used to think about it as time = money and so to spend a long time in the studio simply meant racking up a huge bill which wasn’t at all preferable. But what this particular recording process has done has been enlightening.

Through using Ableton, it has meant that every single sound, timbre, texture and time signature has been accessible, put in stasis if you like, in order for us to carefully analyse its inclusion and function. This has meant a different engagement with our music as well as how it will be recorded.

The usual is there, guitar and bass tracking, laying the keys and vocals and whilst I’m used to recording guitars, this is the first time I have recorded any vocals. The morning I was due in the studio, I was quite anxious as I genuinely didn’t know what to expect, from me or the process. I hadn’t warmed up particularly (not something I would recommend!) but got straight into it as soon as I got there.

After various fuck ups, laughing fits and minor alterations, I nailed all the tracks and before I knew it, my day was done and it was time to sit back and listen to what had been captured. I can honestly say I sat there in complete shock! I couldn’t believe it was me! I heard evil, terrifying screamed vocal lines and from someone who sings opera and choral music during my teaching, this absolutely blew my mind!

Having only heard myself at practice and only vaguely at gigs, I was not really able to obtain any objectivity on my ‘sound’ and articulation but hearing this back now, I am able to do so. Having spent so long singing expected gendered songs, vocal lines, soprano tessituras, I was unprepared for the way my vocals for Denigrata would alter my own perception, not only of gender roles but of capabilities. I think well if I can do it, anyone can. I have often held extreme metal vocalists (mostly men) in high regard, thinking that it must be exhausting; it must ravage your vocal chords and be very hard to maintain; naively I was worried I didn’t have what it takes. However, perhaps because of how much I enjoy being a vocalist, this has helped my evolution and commitment to making the sound I have in my head. I suppose in those terms, it’s no different from finding a guitar distortion that meets the sound you want to use. But unlike a guitar pedal or head, you can’t just fix your settings, doing the vocals requires something more.

In order for me to do this, I have to feel. I need to feel the darkness in my soul in order for that sound to come out. It is a cathartic process as well as terrifying. Staring straight at your own fears and being willing to bare your soul is a scary prospect. That being said, I hadn’t thought it would be as empowering as it is. When I scream my vocal lines, I find it almost transcendent. I know this may sound daft, but it’s true. I don’t know if other extreme metal vocalists experience something similar or not, but being able to scream out all the pain, the misery and sorrow is a very valuable gift that I am deeply thankful for.

Needless to say I am very excited to hear the final cut of the album! As H.P. Lovecraft wrote, ‘madness rides the star winds’ and it is time we join them.

Comments are welcome. Denigrata Herself can be contacted at denigrataherself@horizonvumusic.com


Header_DenigrataA Lecturer in Popular Music at a British Higher Education institution, Denigrata Herself is undertaking her PhD in women in extreme metal. She is also the front woman/guitarist in Denigrata, an experimental black metal collective. Denigrata have coined the term noir concrête for their music, meaning the avant-garde dark noise initiated by Pierre Schaeffer and Karlheinz Stockhausen finds a different rhizomatic existence within their contemporary black metal performance space.

Denigrata Herself is a gender theorist whose research and publications to date focus on body performativity, reclamation of female space, tattooing, graphic novels, death metal and black metal. She is part of the International Society for the Study of Metal Music (ISMMS) and sits on various academic and equal rights boards in the UK.

For over a decade she was a lead guitarist in British death metal bands, she was signed to and worked for various independent record labels and now devotes her time to lecturing, researching and performing. She is choir master for her departmental chamber choir and presents annual post-modern renderings of canonical classical pieces with her choir, a string quartet, a contemporary band and Ableton performers.

Blog December 2014
Northern Darkness Calling: screaming into the void

Metal thrives through local communities and culture, drawing its performers, bloggers, promoters and audience from local sources, from people moved by the music who want to add and enliven their scene through their contribution. So, when people who put great thought, time and effort in to doing this are not supported by their communities, it seems like a miserable dislocation of priorities.

I am speaking here of the existence of zines; not webzines, not a social media imitation of what magazines used to be, a ghost that haunts the online space if you will, but an actual, hard copy analogue artefact. To leaf through the personally crafted and often hard-sought interviews, the artwork and the manner in which they have been lovingly crafted, offers something special.

As music becomes ever more assimilated into the digital make-believe that passes for contemporary existence, the blatant intangibility of culture grows and replicates and ceases to occupy space in the real world. A metal zine that you pay a couple of quid for, that you impatiently wait for to arrive in the post, that you cannot wait to unwrap and engage with, means something – it is real. Without getting embroiled into a Lacanian dialectic as whether anything is in fact, real (something I actually theoretically engage with) the simple fact that I can hold the zine in my hands, that it has been created, not by some megacorporation but by individuals who believe in the music rather than returned revenue, helps to reaffirm my existence in the real world. If I was to read it online, the experience would be a divorced, separated and somehow distanced ontology that doesn’t fulfil what it purports to represent. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading online sources as much as the next person, but owning a copy, knowing it is in my collection, means I get to engage with the artistic process of the zine on my own terms. I feel like I am part of it, the art object. Online, I do not feel like I am part of anything, I am just another faceless disembodied entity screaming into the void…

I am a particular fan and supporter of Northern Darkness zine. Hailing from the north of England and now in its second printing, with another one scheduled for the New Year, this has been an example of a zine that makes me deeply happy. It offers you something rare – personal effort for something that is loved: extreme metal. Zines are not created or maintained for money, unlike music magazines, their existence is solely down to a few committed writers, musicians and artists who want to do it. I have blogged about the significance and importance of intent before and yet again, it becomes a significant talking point. The desire to want to do something artistic, for your community, that everyone can enjoy, should be supported and when it isn’t, something in me becomes equally riled and disappointed.

The importance of promotion to cottage industries cannot be overstated – you need to get the word out that this is what you are putting your effort into and, much like unsigned bands, social media is a logical (albeit problematic) way of doing this. However, it is always important to know your demographic so when this has been identified and established, promoting on peoples pages should not be a problem. Yet to some it is and I struggle to analyse why.

You are into extreme metal yes? You clearly identify and like all the relevant pages on Facebook that signify that you are a member of this community yet you get pissy when people want to share what they are doing, after all isn’t this what social media is for…. And I’m not talking about the Facebook ‘over-sharers’ that, with the power of one status, suck you into their intolerable arguments or dinner pictures, Lord knows there are enough of them. I’m talking of once or twice a month posts that promote the zine. Hardly dominating your newsfeed is it. But to then be a dick about it, shows a nasty element of a growing paradigm of online intolerance.

Yes, the metal scene is really suffering at the hands of that at the moment. As ‘metal-gate’ would have you believe various quite frankly, bigoted fuckwits thinking their positions in bands automatically legitimises their backwards ideologies, but supporting a zine should not be part of a general closed-minded attitude that fails to help maintain a vibrant cultural scene. In fact, it acts as a direct counter to instances such as ‘metal-gate’ because it facilitates solidarity; focus on the actual music, instead of giving space to racist and sexist idiots who think it is ok to behave like a cunt. The online space has given them too much already.

The creators of the zine have suffered some disappointing attitudes and comments from, what I have always thought of, as an open-minded and supportive scene. I would really hate to think I was wrong and I refuse to be disheartened because of the few closed minded individuals who seem to forget that when you are mean and nasty online, you are in fact still talking to a human being. What does this say about our community?! That we are unwilling to support fellow creative people in their efforts? That we are not interested in new interviews and album reviews or live performances? Then I have to ask this, what the fuck are you even doing in extreme metal?! Because these are precisely the reasons our communities exist in the first place. We should applaud those willing to give of their free time, for no wages, their desire to offer us something real, something tangible. Who else would bother?

This is actually part of a wider discourse that extends to the support of local bands, local venues, local promoters and independent record labels. If we do not support our cultural communities’ efforts then there is a very simple result – there won’t be any. So before you get all snippy when someone promotes on your page, just think twice before you put your contemptuous fingers to the keyboard: question your response before you hit send, you may be affecting the growth of your scene.

Comments are welcome. Denigrata Herself can be contacted at denigrataherself@horizonvumusic.com


Powered by WordPress. Theme: Motion by 85ideas.
google-site-verification: google0eca8f6b62d9ec8d.html