“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.