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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Magikal Mystery Tour: Part 1

And now, we learn that Laramie can make errors.

So, there I was, sitting on a bench with a nice sharp-looking I-Pod in my hand, when I decided to listen to a favorite song of mine that I had been listening to for the last ten years: Therion's Draconian Trilogy, from their album, Vovin.  Therion is a Swedish metal band that incorporates an orchestra and choir into their death metal style.  They've typically recorded albums that have some sort of a tie to a European myth.  My favorite album is Secret of the Runes, which features a list of songs based on different realms within ancient Norwegian mythology. 

There's nothing more gratifying than listening to a rich ensemble of instruments and tenors hammer out powerful songs about viking lore.  Many times in the past, I've often wondered why modern musicians haven't taken full advantage of all of the musical lessons and instruments invented in the last six thousand years of recorded history. 

Why is it that every rock band that squirts out an album is comprised of only guitars, drums, and vocals?  Is it because the industrialized mind only has a limited amount of patience, and such a mind can only listen to a hasty style of music?

This is NOT Therion.
This is comedy.

Therion throws that modernist rule out the window and pulls out all the stops to present song in all its bombast.  Their sound is very appealing, and I am surprised I haven't heard more of them in popular culture.

  This IS Therion.
It's an ode that harkens back to Nordic Midgard.
(To the religiously discerning: this particular song is safe.)

So, what's the problem here?  Can a man not sit still and enjoy his Vovin album in peace?  It turns out that, while I sat there on that bench and listened to all of the eight minutes of the Draconian Trilogy, I managed to browse the lyrics of the song as it played.  And lo and behold, the entire piece was a sort of homage to Lucifer! 

The contradiction here is that I don't worship Lucifer, but the One who created him.  And I'm sure that the Almighty doesn't relish the idea that one of His devoted children is joyfully tapping their foot to a song to Lucifer.

For ten years, I have been listening to this song from this group.  Sure, you hear about how there's bands out there that utilize their heavy metal powers to worship the devil.  But you never really think you'll come across any.  The music is so nice, the the chorus is so strong, you don't know what they're saying, but you just go with it and don't worry.  Yet, ten years later, you find out that the song is actually a glorification of the Enemy, and then some interesting questions arise. 

The first and foremost question that comes to my mind is: what effect does listening to this song have on a person?

You: Well, Laramie, that depends.  Just how "into" this kind of music are you?

Me: I wouldn't say I'm immersed in the death metal culture, or anything.  I listen to it on occasion.  But I will say this--that there are two ways to listen to music (and, perhaps, two ways to read a book, watch a movie, or look at a painting). 

The first way to listen to music is to listen to a song objectively.  To have the ability to dissect the song, root out its meaning.  Consider it.  Interpret it.  Separate yourself from it.  For example, another song on the album Vovin is titled: The Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Yet I enjoyed that song as well?  Why?  Because I interpreted the song as if it were meant for me to imagine a bunch of those ancient citizens of those terrible cities praising the ascension of Sodom and Gomorrah.  I was able to take the song, place it on a petri dish on a labratory table, look down at it and say to myself, "Yes, indeed, this is what it would sound like if the Sodomites and Gomorrans were praising themselves.  This sounds very much like how they'd glorify their cities."  I could separate myself from the song, so to speak.


Pryor: "Let it be loose!  Listen to the music,
follow the beat!  Hear it?  Feel it comin' up?"

The second way to listen to music is to escape into the song.  To immerse yourself into it.  To enjoy it almost completely, and relate with the tune, and perhaps even the lyrics.  Dionysian style. 

It is this manner of listening hearing music that inspires a person.  This kind of attunement to music can drive men to battle, lovers to chase, or artists to paint.  Such listening can lead to an overflow of feelings of one kind or another. 

In other words, really getting into a song. 


And so, Laramie has a problem.  For almost a decade, he's been really getting into a particular song which happens to praise Lucifer.  Filters turned completely off, total acceptance of the work--never even thought to check up on the band.

In fairness to myself, I was introduced to the album in the early days of my Catholicism, before I developed a sharpened understanding of the importance of watching what kind of media to take in.  (Perhaps the problem has never gone away.  Who knows?)

Observe some lyrics:

-Red Dragon from the first morning of time,
-Red Dragon of ancient depths of the mind,
-Rise up from the abyss of ignorance,
-Coil into the existance of the blind.
-Morning star please bear your light,
-Through the day to next night.
-Fallen one who stole the spark,
-Bring it into the dark.

For those folks not familiar with all the imagery, the Red Dragon, the Morning Star, and Fallen One are all synonymous to Lucifer.

To top things off, it seems that the very band name "Therion" has several occult meanings.  First, "Therion" is the greek pronounciation for The Beast which rises out of the sea in The Book of the Apocalypse (a.k.a. Revelations).   Also, our little warlock friend, Aleister Crowley, regarded a god that went by the name Therion. 

But to add to the fun and see how deep and dirty we can get, it seems that a great portion of the lyrics are written by Thomas Karlsson, who is the founder of an occult order titled Dragon Rouge.  One particular album is centered around the Kabbalah.

So again, what kind of effect can such work have over a man who's been ignorantly listening to such a work for over ten years? 

I am a man who believes that some things in this world--objects, written works, music--can drag along demons.  Or at the very least, some things invite demons.  It was St. Anthony of the Desert who once told us that we so very much surrounded by these powers of the air: "Great is their number in the air around us , and they are not far from us."  It is likely a lucky thing that we don't see all of the demons that surround us in our lives, because if we did, we would be so completely discouraged in our struggles for God.

Yet, in spite of this, is it possible to have listened to this music without ill effects, and without displeasing the Savior?  Is it possible to still put this kind of music in a cage and hear it objectively, disallowing ourselves from becoming overtaken by the bad mojo that surrounds it? 

More to come later.

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