Battlenoise, a book review

“Battlenoise” is a book by the man behind MozgaloM records and the online magazine. For some reason the book doesn’t give a name of the writer. The book is about “martial industrial”. In a way it has its place among the music reviews and of course among the book reviews, but because the review became very lengthy, I decided to finally posted among the articles. People who are here for the ‘normal’ articles need not to continue reading, because below you will get the story of a very specific (and offensive to some) musical subcurrent and has but little to do with the other articles.

Like I said, the musical current here marked as “martial industrial” is offensive to some people, because of the symbolism used, the appearance of releases and bands on stage and the mysticising of certain parts of the past, often the world wars. This quickly leads to all kinds of accusations, problems with concerts and attacks on visitors of concerts. The fact that the book is written from someone from the scene, will of course easily lead to the conclusion that it is not objective and that it doesn’t really say what is going on. In a way, this may be true, but on the other side, there is nothing to hide and especially regarding the ‘philosophical’ information by the writer, I often agree.

However book has about 350 pages, it is merely an essay. One third are pages with only images and there are some appendices with lyrics, music reviews and concert reviews. What remains is 80 pages of text by the writer.

As “form-up” there is some information about inspirational industrial acts that inspired “martial industrial” groups, SPK, Throbbing Gristle, Autopsia and of course Laibach. What is a bit strange is that the current of “martial industrial” is taken almost entirely out of its context. The mentioned bands inspired the “neofolk” scene too, the themes, ideas and looks of the “neofolk” scene is (almost) the same as that of “martial industrial” bands, the listeners overlap, the music often does and in a way, both currents belong to the same scene. The writer decided to stick to “martial industrial” though and since he has quite fixed ideas on what this is, even a band like Blood Axis is not to be found within the pages.

The first flow of “martial industrial” music, is a bit larger than I would say. The writer names Les Joyaux de la Princesse, Turbund Sturmwerk, Dawn and Dusk Entwined, Der Blutharsch, Dernière Volonté, Puissance, Von Thronstahl, Genitor Luminis, Wappenbund, Tribe of Circle, The Protagonist, Thorn Agram, Sophia and Karjalan Sissit.
Then follows “the second front” with HERR, Kreuzweg Ost, Leger des Heils, Arditi, Predella Avant, Toroidh, A Challenge Of Honour, Triarii, Cold Fusion, Rukkanor and then follow mostly bands from the area the writer comes from, the Balkan.

In my opinion, the genre developed about thus. After the development of industrial music like the writer describes, there came a ‘softening’ of sound and a more ‘serious philosophy’ behind some bands and projects. Suddenly there were ‘industrial’ projects that were hard to define, such as Blood Axis, Turbund Sturmwerk, The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud, things on LOKI foundation such as Inade, First Law, etc. By lack of a better description, I called such projects “mystical industrial”. The sound wasn’t very hard and the bands seemed to have a message and a philosophy. The artwork was different, there wasn’t a simple shock-value and some releases even came with lengthy writings. The subjects of albums and tracks, lyrics and artwork have played their part in my ‘spiritual development’, since I started to look up what all this was about. This surely was an exciting time. The sound wasn’t usually very ‘martial’, but when the sound got more popular and especially when half of the earlier mentioned The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud started to experiment with a war-sound, things changed again. I think this is the first wave. Maybe some of the bands that the writer mentions were already there and I didn’t know them, but I think it is more likely that they didn’t have the sound (or the level) yet and especially Der Blutharsch was the inspiration for a more “martial” sound.

There were not too many bands yet and the sound changed with new experiments such as the extremely bombastic and orchestral Sophia (inspired by In Slaughter Natives who are also mentioned in the book). Then things went a lot faster and suddenly everybody sounded like Der Blutharsch (but in my opinion seldom did) and Sophia inspired bands such as Karjalan Sissit, Triarii, Predella Avant, etc. Der Blutharsch as a label set new standards with bands with a variety of sounds, such as Dernière Volonté or Tribe of Circle.

Especially what happened just before the big wave is a bit diferent in my view from what is described in the book.

In any case, the writer speaks about most bands at length, quoting interviews, referring to artwork and lyrics. Most of all, it seems that a band is only good if they have a clear message. This message is not of a political nature, but a heroic one, an indictment against modern society. The assumed political undertone is efficiently wiped off the table when the writer gives the word to the bands in the form of lyrics or quotes from interviews. Personally I have never cared too much for the bands’ messages, I just picked out what could be interesting or helpfull for myself. Blood Axis inspired my investigations in Mithraism, just to give an example. I never really read magazines, nor even cared much for the lyrics. I only wanted to make sure for myself that the bands never ‘crossed the line’ and in my opinion, none of the bands of the scene ever did and now when I read Der Blutharsch lyrics, Puissance (a band that doesn’t fit in this book in my opinion by the way) or LJDLP I am strengthened in this opinion. I don’t always agree with the statements and some lyrics are on the edge (and not even those of the bands you would expect that from), but I didn’t find a step too far. This may be the value of the book, read it and make your own judgment. Maybe the selections are taken with care, but here and there the writer’s opinion seeps through and it is obvious that he is no idiot himself either.

A few closing remarks. “Martial industrial” in the opinion of the writer (mostly) refers to the music style of LJDLP, the first Der Blutharsch material, the first Dernière Volonté, etc., meaning: ambient soundscapes collages with war-sounds and speeches, hardly “industrial” in my view, but just so you know. There are (and I wonder why) discographies in the book and I don’t know how the writer came to his choices of bands. The music and concert reviews are not too interesting, but the lengthy text that was originally published in the Der Blutharsch book of lyrics is! A text about herioc living. The writer is pretty critical towards for example the musical and ‘spiritual’ development of Der Blutharsch and doesn’t shy to say what albums are bad even of ‘big’ bands or the public’s opinion differs (Dawn and Dusk Entwined, the latest Sophia, etc.) and another thing, almost naturally from being from the Baltic, the writer seems to agree with the Christian projects from his area and loaths satanic, occultic, etc. elements in the scene (especially in connection with a black metal overlap). My personal opinion is that many of such bands are so close to the scene (or even from the same) that it is only natural that there are some of them. Different people, different ideologies, no problem to me.

The book is an alright read for people who listen to the music and want some more background information. The book is also interesting for people criticising the scene with half information and based on secondhand stories. I could have gone a bit deeper into the ideological side, but my reference to critique towards modern society and the mysticising of certain periods of the past for making that point clear, says mostly it. Let me finish with the quote from the backcover which will follow after me having said that the book was first published in Hungarian and print of 55 copies, the English print has only 500 copies, so be quick if you are interested. The book is sold from many distros and was published by the writer and his OzgaloM recods together with War Office Propaganda from Poland.

…In the battle fought by the individual on a personal existential level against his or her own illness, filth, and the world’s filth, a battle raised into heroic heights, martial industrial is a soundtrack to this development. This is the monumentum that can make the musical panels of martial industrial personally experienced by the listener. All of those that listen to this kind of music with empathy certainly have an own battle to fight, and it can only be hoped that they indeed intend to fight it – leaving only failure or victory as choices for themselves.

7 comments

  1. Hello,

    thank you for kind words. I glad that someone is understood my words.

    The book was boycotted and deleted unfortunatelly. The most people winned.

    But not at last.

    best,
    PHJ

  2. I have exchanged a few emails with the writer of the book and looked around a bit on the internet. It seems that there is resistance against the book and not only from outsiders. To get an idea, see the “blog” of Stahlwerk9’s Myspace site (in German and English) and the reaction of the translator of the book. Also I ran into the following on the Side-Line site:

    Distribution Battlenoise book forced to stop
    The book “Battlenoise” limited to just 500 copies has been taken out of distribution after complaints from at least one musician. The book which handled the history and the essence of martial industrial music, the philosophy and the bands, from the beginnings till today, apparently held material for which there was no permission asked or granted. History, backgrounds, reviews, lyrics, photos of more than 30 bands were included on 330 pages. Albin Julius from the Austrian act Der Blutharsch told this to Side-Line: “They used photos and lyrics without permission. A simple act of copyrighviolation we simply do NOT accept!” In a pressrelease earlier on yesterday Albin Julius wrote: “Due to excessive copyright violation in the book ‘Battlenoise’ released by War Office Propaganda we forced the label to stop selling and distributing the book.”

    Somehow the controversy also struck at the label that released the English version: War Office Propaganda who have written a declaration that the name WOP is skipped in favour of their distro-name “Rage In Eden” because they have nothing to do with politics (this actually sounds more like a ‘political’ controversy around the book). It seems that the many distros that sell the book still have them on their lists. I don’t know what is going to happen with the book now.

  3. Martial Industrial is Dead, but Lives on in a Book

    (The Truth behind the Battlenoise! Book )

    by PHJ.

    Once I wrote an essay, which was published in Hungary in an extended form, then abroad, in English, as well, which is probably one of the quaintest books in the world. I hadn’t even received my royalty copies, and I was already responding to assaults, questions (all of them have been settled, they were only cases due to lack of information, no harm done). Then came the news that the publisher, War Office Records may go bankrupt, several people have boycotted it and do not purchase from it, one of the heads of the label, Robert, is close to a nervous breakdown and is thus recalling the publication which for them represents a total failure both morally and financially. All of this prior to even my getting the book. All I can say is this is a rather weird story, I don’t think anybody has ever been in a similar situation.

    I believe it is worth summarizing what I wanted to say to others through Battlenoise! before some people regard the book in a way that is simply not true. I hereby must clarify that I will write “some people” here in all events, not as if I did not have the courage to name those who betesznek the book, but I did not get any information from WOP regarding this, no matter how hard I asked. Robert simply went bonkers kikészült idegileg, did not want to deal with the whole thing and he doesn’t give a shit, he wants to go on, he wants to make music. I understand him and respect this stance, since without musicians a book like Battlenoise! is not worth too much, but this results in me seemingly accusing people without naming them. That is not the case at all, I only did not get the appropriate info.

    The idea of the book was provided by the negative attitude of my wife, who did not understand anything about what these guys are, what they want, and why it is simply called music, not to mention “martial.” Well, I thought to myself, I will write down for her what it is all about, I will describe the message, history, effects, background, contiguities and philosophy of martial industrial. I did not want to provide a load of unnecessary information, nor a usual encyclopedic reference book, or some kind of publication on rock music, since I regard the genre much higher that that, and although the seminal activities have significantly blunted to today, I believe there was much more to this movement (sometimes there is even today) than its being just another musical style which you could party to drugged or wasted, only in uniforms and camouflage outfit.

    I was preparing for an essay, therefore, which would reflect my personal opinion, and stance, not merely data but correspondences and possibilities that make us think harder or possibly propel some debate. Yes, debate. Why not? Nothing similar to this, ever, I though. The base text was rather long when it was finished (86 pages) and I added some passages, discographies, photos, artwork, and a lot of reviews since I think that most of the message was always in the music and it is there even today. With this whole thing I wanted to detect some possibilities I felt to be present, where the movement called martial industrial for want of a better expression started and what became of it. I wanted to leave behind a personal document for the case if somebody once, say, not only out of fandom or fun, wanted to study the subject, then there would be something to adjust to (not identify with, necessarily!), lest they should get lost or judge the wrong way in the world of symbols, voices, statements, lyrics. I wished to create a kind of synthesis (this was my intent with the Sol Invictus, Death In June, Der Blutharsch, and Current Ninety Three books on MozgaloM records, and the positive reactions). The only question left to answer is whether my experiment came out too well or too bad.

    The fact that a book incites such outrage, with the name change of a label, boycott, self-censure, is alone unprecedented I think, I could as well proud of it, but it is not the case. So many people praise “freedom of opinion” on this scene, so many also say they “believe” in this, moreover, “work according to it,” that I started wondering: does something like this really exist today? I have to admit I did not believe that this is really needed, I regard a lot of shitty little sloppy work harmful, but when one is led to believe he is wrong because everybody has the right to say what’s on his or her mind, then he says “OK guys, let’s do it this way then!” But it was not like that. The book is not distributed (heading the movement is Steinklang who summons everyone not to buy it because this book only makes the scene ill, what a decent guy!), the label takes it off the list as if it never existed, albeit people who I wrote my critical opinions about (e.g. Nordvargr), good and bad as well, get the point of it and say that no two people can have the same opinion, I should just do it the way I want to. (If I understood him correctly). There are some that behave like grumpy little kids, although it was me once who wrote about them first and they were very grateful (Reinhard Hopfe). Now for some reason they revile me and o not even try to understand what the book is about, see a “fascist menace” in the publication (and still the writer of the response did what he could, for which I respect him, he still thinks in something like self-expression, free speech, thoughts). This is of course what Steinklang also refers to and they do not realize that at least Reinhard was so fair as to post the response on his page, in which a lot of questions are replied. Why did You not cite that in Your chain mail, as a dear Austrian gentleman…?

    I wish to specially address the accusations of Mr. Albin Julius, the greatest originator and at the same time gravedigger of martial industrial, with which he forced Robert and WOP to destroy the books. (Is it a homage to the German book burnings of the 30s I wonder? Well, who knows…). Albin, You both (!) agreed that MozgaloM could use the images and texts, this was the volume Stehen ist zurück gehn!, which became an official publication, with Your help and support. Now I only published a part (!) of these, did I need an extra request for that as well? Quite funny. If You need money, then You have had it for several years, as You still owe me at least EUR 320 from the sales of above books to this day, which You never paid me. Well, regard this as Your “royalties,” it should be sufficient, but tell me if it is not!

    In the book mostly such texts, pictures were published as having appeared somewhere else, so they were out in the public. After some time I got tired of people not replying my letters about re-publishing, and thus, exercising the right to “re-publish in an identical context” (this is what at least Hungarian media law provisions for, this I teach at college, among others), with a notice at the end of the book, I re-published these. Those that have never been published I asked permissions for (Geoffroy D., Josef K., S. Rukavina), people who were so kind as to give me this permission. If someone was hurt about this – despite the above – I am sincerely sorry. For my part, I hope that a copy of the book would have mitigated the bitterness. (Since we all are musicians and fans after all, not bankers or brainless consumers, aren’t we?!)

    The book therefore does not want to be an objective, “all about martial industrial” type of mass communication piss. This is what was understood by those that I did it with, and I thought even the label, War Office Propaganda / Robert did so, and stood by the book and invested in it, work, money, toil. Respect for them. No respect, however, for those that saw money in it only, refer to unsaid, unwritten, unconcluded contracts, talk big to the left or the right and never respect anyone outside wholesale price and their margin. They are the ones that hinder this book to reach its purpose: that people think about it, that people discuss it, so that it may, along with the music, fashion people, change lives, as art it may reach people who think more about music than goods to be sold and dusting piles of plastic which can be bartered for good money el or can be bragged with, or even watch for new releases without thinking through the whole thing. And no respect of course to those that shout nazi on the basis of a German font type and the word war, and warn writers, publishers, and readers with antifascist nonsense. That’s modern underground censure for you if you are very different. No thanks, go to hell!

    What I confess in the book is that music is not for gobbling, and if one writes a book it should not be a flood of information but synthesis, so that readers may form opinions about it, either for me or against me, all the same to me, but let’s think about it and see if something is much more than a couple of sounds, the nightmares of a sick mind, or the tricks of an excellent graphic artist.

    I am not a pre-fascist, nor a fascist, nor a nazi, nothing of the like, and I think that if people on this scene – after several scandals that followed bands like DIJ or the early DB (good old times!), or Von Thronstahl – still shout this bullshit, then it is the end of the possibilities of expression on a scene. People, look at what You are distributing, what albums You are listening to, what You are selling by the dozens!!! Those bands, distributors, etc. who like to play with fire (nazikunst image, uniforms, catchwords, reclamation of the losing nations of history in countless albums, militaristic style, extreme anti-social attitude, extreme sexual attitudes, etc.), now when they have to face themselves, are frightened. This is pathetic, if You think about those logos, album covers, statements which are well known, even notorious, on the scene.

    The book was to be like an ordeal at the bier, and now everyone can see that the corpse is indeed here. There is fun, there is money, we are having a good time while we can, and well fed with the records sold and the accessories purchased we do not even think about looking at the depth of the music that others have created.

    It is only fashion that you need. And I ask: that’s all Folks?…

    I am sorry if this message cannot reach its target due to those people who want to block it, those who censure and boycotte the book ( Sic Transit Gloria Mundi – boycotte… what the hell is going on?) with their silly and prejudiced attitudes. Me, I think the book can be a weapon in the hand if you let it, or a good asswipe at best (although a rather hard one, since it is printed on very good quality paper luckily) if you spit on it, but even then it will leave an imprint on you. This was my point, I did not want to talk in the air, I wanted to leave an imprint, and for this reason it makes me mad that many boycott it and that the label deleted it, had to delete it. If you cannot express yourself on this scene either, then it’s all gone to the dickens! Let’s leave it at that, that’s all folks!

    A friend of mine when recently he saw Albin Julius in a lowdown Budapest pub drop his pants in front of a old gypsy woman and stick out his buttocks, wasted, in a torn checked T, he said that “Martial industrial is dead.” Earlier I also thought about that, and it may be so, but then it is one more reason for writing something like Battlenoise! – for those who take it seriously and those who are missing something. And of course for those as well who do not like this at all and are enraged. Even more so, since I believe now that this book is primarily for them.

    Have a nice time facing your dead in the ordeal at the bier! God bless you to all!

    20-22 June MMVII

    Sincerely,

    PHJ

    March on! Again and again.

  4. Nobody has right to ban and boycott any book ever published whether it is bad or good. At least such a social behavior is not acceptable in adequate society since 30-40-es. People who take responsibility to judge the fates of mankind as a rule are committed to fall down. Thus history says. Some certain people who took over the responsibility and, to tell the truth, had the insolence to claim not to sell the book and delete it out of the distributor lists and mailorders, thus forbidding the potential readers to read it, deserve at least a disregard. Bad this book or good the readers will judge. If of course they will be permitted to read. Hope that labels and distributors once purchased the book Battlenoise! for further distribution will not be weak and too much scared to sell it. Try to stand the situation at least with dignity. It is not a war, no threat to your lives, families and bodies, it’s local quarrel blown up by those who is eager to “fight”, just there is no where, wars are over and all the battle fields are already grown with grass…

  5. From the Rage In Eden (War Office) newsletter:

    In reply to all rumours we have heard recently we’d like to inform you that:

    1. We didn’t change the name because of all this fuss about “Battlenoise!” book. This step was prepared many months ago and the main reason was that we have lost a lot of copies of our releases because of stupid custom officers in many countries, who were prejudice against name which contents War and Propaganda. This has nothing to do with the book as stupid rumour has it.
    2. It’s not true that we are in conflict with even single band, artist, label, distro etc. from the scene. On the contrary – in all our history we have never got so many e-mails from people with their support as we’ve got recently. We’d like to thank them all. Many artists and people from the scene have understood properly, that we – War Office Propaganda – are victims in this matter, not guilty – we’re not thieves or swindlers, what we have proved by OUR OWN decision of stopping selling “Battlenoise!” book. And all misunderstandings has been cleared.
    3. We consider the matter with “Battlenoise!” book as definitively closed. From our side all has been said and done. Although probably some rumours will be spread in the future, new “urban legends” will come into being, we suppose there is nothing sensible left to say.This is our official and final statement.

    War Office Propaganda / Rage In Eden Records
    To all friends who support us – you’re welcome to spread this information as wide as you can.

  6. only a very short version, as I am in an internetcafe in Inverness on the way to Skye Mastering to cut my new album, which of corse will NOT be Martial whatever..as we, and the old gipsy girl..well, in reality it was a boy, and not really old but cute and sexy,NOW know…..

    YES .you were allowed to use these (text abd pictures) but ONLY for Stehen ist … if another project is done, of corse you have to ask for copyrights again..that is simply how it goes – and I am not willing to let anyone use my things without permission. Dumm gelaufen!
    And yes…a free copy of the book would have been a nice compensation for Geoffroy, if he ever would have got a copy. he told me that if he wanted one he should have bought it and payed for it. Very professional..I smell money!
    And, well, about the money you think I oweYOU..you know how it was and thatI simply was not willing to pay overprized wholesaleprices and payed you what you deserved. Not a penny more, not a penny less.

    Finally..dont me concerned about my finacial situation…I have a good life and dont need any donations…but obvioulsy it is you that wanted to make some fast bucks – besides the fact that the book is simply poor, badly written and badly designed ..thats all I have to say.
    And dont think I might be pissed because you dont like my music anymore..because of people like you I am happy to have changed and left this oh so boring scene,

    Amen!

    Albin Julius, Inverness 29th of June 2oo7

  7. Seems like an interesting book – am to fetch one. Really looking forward for a piece on industrial music as whole, something, unfortunately, still lacking. Something from TG to Zoviet France – it is about time – cheers, s., san sebastian of rio de janeiro.

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