Sunday, May 20, 2007

Music Scene Traditionalism

A whole area of Traditionalism that was not dealt with in my Against the Modern World is the intersection between Traditionalism and various music scenes, especially various forms of neo-folk and metal music. For want of a better term, in this post I will refer to Scene Traditionalism.

To discuss Scene Traditionalism adequately would take an entire article, which I am not yet in a position to write. Some mention of it in this blog is, however, long overdue. It is one of the most important and fastest growing forms of Traditionalism in the West today.

Scene Traditionalism is more European than American, and has a certain Northern European and Scandinavian emphasis. It is generally musical, Traditionalist, and neo-pagan; it is sometimes also political, in which case it will be rightist.

One typical figure is an American, Michael Moynihan (born 1969). Moynihan is the musician who established the band Blood Axis. He is also an editor of the Traditionalist journal Tyr: Myth—Culture—Tradition, and a member of the neo-pagan Tribe of The Wulfings.

Another typical band is Sol Invictus, based in England. Their first ever release, in 1987, was entitled Against the Modern World(!).

Neither Blood Axis nor Sol Invictus is well known. The Swedish group Therion, however, is well known--though their debt to Traditionalism is less clear. One track on their recent album Gothic Kabbalah is entitled "Perennial Sophia," but its lyrics would hardly have appealed to Guénon.

One immediate question about Scene Traditionalism is how serious it is: are they really Traditionalists, or do they just use Traditionalism as part of a strategy of deliberate transgression? Moynihan's journal Tyr is certainly serious, but that does not mean the whole scene is seriously Traditionalist.

A starting bibliography would include:
  • Stephen McNallen, "Three Decades of the Ásatrú Revival in America" Tyr 2 (2003-04), pp. 202-220.
  • Michael Moynihan and Didrik Soderlind, Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground (Los Angeles: Feral House; London: Turnaround, 2003).


Mark Sedgwick said...

A correspondent has drawn my attention to the importance of Changes, an American band established in 1969-70.

See and

Anonymous said...

I would think that any influence Traditionalism has on the neo-folk scene comes entirely through Evola, who is seen as a renegade occultist Fascist philosopher rather than a religious scholar influenced by Guenon.

Neo-folk isn't fascist by any means but it is fascinated by edgy right wingers - mainly as a gesture of rebellion against mainstream liberal culture.

Neo-folkers like the idea of obscure rightist figures like Evola mixing with the SS and turning out books about the decline of the West but would be less keen on any kind of 'conventional' religious thought eg. being encouraged to convert to Islam.

Sol Invictus' Against the Modern World was inspired by the title of Evola's book - although Tony Wakeford, main man of the group, said somewhere that he never read it as he found it 'too heavy going'. That sums up the links between Traditionalism and neo-folk for 90% of the bands and individuals involved.

Changes, the US apocalyptic folk band, were influenced in the 1960s by reading Yockey's Imperium, a neo-fascist work much influenced by Spengler. So perhaps a parallel to Traditionalist ideas rather than the real deal.

Just a personal opinion though.

Christopher O

Mark Sedgwick said...

Robert Taylor of Changes wrote:

I have read and studied both Evola and Guenon and learned much from their writings to be sure. Unlike some I do not take all they wrote as holy writ or the last word. In the case of Savitri Devi as well as Guenon I felt both of them in their pursuit of tradition took a wrong turn in becoming followers of a cultural tradition not their own in essence. I can understand them, as well as the period they both lived in - but I for one am more in favor of rediscovering who we truly are in a spiritual sense. And recovering that which we have lost in the shuffle of past historical events. I have absolute respect for Muslim and Hindu as well as Japanese traditional cultures and have learned much from studying them in the sense of understanding what a traditional culture can encompass. Yet, to take up Moslim culture (another culture essentially of the Levant) in place of Christanity is sort of a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire once again.LOL. Non Indo European religion for Indo Europeans is to don a strait jacket of a sort. One that never quite fits comfortably with who we truly are in essence.

Abdul-Halim V. said...

as a u.s. raised, afro-latino convert to islam from a christian background, i'm not sure what to make of robert taylor's comment. Christianity is what, for me, never fit quite comfortably. and in some sense, santeria or some other Afro-Catholic syncretic practice might be closer to my heritage but I don't think I would be very comfortable with that either.

Also, because of having a shared repository of Judeo-Christian stories, Islam was actually very familiar to me. So I'm not sure where the discomfort would come from in his view.

Is Taylor trying to make a racial argument that Europeans shouldn't be Muslim? Would a pre-Christian path be more appropriate than Islam?

Mark Sedgwick said...

See a short paper treating the more general phenomenon of which this is part: Stéphane François, “Modernité subculturelle et ésotérisme : la « musique industrielle » et les mouvements magiques.” Paper given at the 2007 CESNUR conference, Bordeaux, June 7-9, 2007. Available

Unknown said...

Mark, I loved your book. I found it in the Sanford, NC, library. I was here to ask a different question (about Changes), but I just answered it. But since I'm posting on your blog anyway.... do you know of any extant Internet (or other) audio from that Russian radio program from the early 90s that you mentioned in your book?

Mark Sedgwick said...

Dugin's old radio programs are available on CD from the Eurasian Movement, and may well be somewhere on their website too. Happy hunting!

Anonymous said...

I hope I can post a few links without being regarded as a spammer. Three other literature tips (yes I review to my own website, but you will find reviews and more information there):

Further I want to add that you could regard me as a "Traditionalistic Asatruar" (still a rare combination, inspite of what some articles here seem to suggest), but even though I have been involved in this scene for many years, both my "Asatru" and Traditionalism were not found there! I have the impression that varnish is mistaken for philosophy.

Anonymous said...

Hm, does typing html make a comment getting eaten by a spamfilter? (The preview looked better than my last reply here.) Another attempt with a link as plain text; a (lengthy) reaction to the "music scene traditionalism" posts here, the article of François and the reaction of Joshua Buckley.
An insider story if you like.

Unknown said...

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