What Makes Los Angeles Metal?
Los Angeles black metal demons Lightning Swords of Death have some evil sounds on their new album, Baphometic Chaosium. It almost sounds like the work of an early '90s Scandinavian band. For insight into how L.A. inspires him, then, we reached out to the group's front man Autarch. Ahead of their show Saturday at The Black Castle, he sent us this amazing essay below on what, exactly, makes Los Angeles metal.
What's metal about Los Angeles? I believe that question holds an entirely different meaning to Lightning Swords of Death than one might assume. What is not metal is the Sunset Strip, tits, cocaine, or the fact that you can track down Lemmy at the Rainbow for metal wisdom, or some such bullshit. It's the fact that this city is a living, breathing '80s occult thrash metal album cover. Ah, mother Babylon, I love you so. Forever my inspiration, she is.
Did you know that on February 24th in 1942 a UFO hovered over this great city, after flying in from over the coast? It was suspected of being some new kind of Japanese gunship, and was pelted by 12.8 pound anti-aircraft shells repeatedly, to zero effect. There is an incredible picture of this event; spotlights on the object, canons ablaze and everything is just bouncing off this thing, all the while glowing white hot.
Then it just vanished. This was right over Griffith Park, where I love to go trail running. Last year they found a guy's head in that area, and more than once l have come upon practitioners of brujeria at the top of that trail, sometimes several people, all in a trance-induced group gnosis.
The last time I witnessed this was just a few months ago. The group was chanting an unintelligible mantra together and looked as though they had been there since dawn, all of them dripping with perspiration and staring at the sky, directly beneath where that UFO was hovering in that photograph from 1942. Some tourists were taking pictures of them. A group of spectators had gathered, but it did not distract their gaze.
I mean, brujos are not out of the ordinary here. This place is very witchy. Maledictions are cast and occasionally lifted all the time here in Los Angeles. You will find a line out the door in front of any of the hundreds of botánicas all over LA, and that's just the Latino side of esotericism. There is a lot of everything in this city.
I once required a sensory deprivation tank for some research I was doing. A couple clicks on Google and I was floating in a private tank two hours later.
Here, there are uncountable cults, sects, and religious orders that practice ritual or ceremonial magic. Literally, you could join a new one every day of the week. Most residents are aware that half of Hollywood and a great deal of the county is owned by an Alien cult, whose lower ranks march about in uniform with that signature gaze of having been recently lobotomized. I have heard that they have their own secret police force that will ruin your life if you try and leave or antagonize their order.
The wealthy and celebrated in Los Angeles spend their fortunes turning themselves into monstrosities, modified by plastic surgeons, all fueled by unforgiving body dysmorphic disorder and self-loathing (Surgery Addiction is a great name for a song, band, or album title, by the way). The whole city is haunted in a sense. By what? I am not quite sure. It's not a bunch of dead movie stars, I can tell you that much.
I am reminded of the case of Doris Bither in 1974, a woman who lived in Culver City. For years, she claimed to have been repeatedly raped by invisible entities that acted as one. (Raped by Invisible Entities is a great song title or album title too.) It's probably one of the most documented cases in the history of paranormal research, and to this day, if you ask the (now deceased) woman's children if this really happened, they will tell you it did. That story has always been fascinating to me. When I first got my driver's license I used to just park in front of that house. It's something right out of an HP Lovecraft story, and it happened here in L.A.
There is a strange energy in this city. I can feel it throbbing beneath the facade of glamour and bullshit. Perhaps it is the dramatic number of disregarded, mentally ill people that are everywhere here? Oh yes, madness reigns upon these streets, my friend.
Go stand on the corner of Sunset and Vine for a moment after visiting the black metal section at Amoeba. You will see it and you will hear it. The parking structure at that very intersection, by the ArcLight movie theater, has become a favorite spot amongst residents who have decided to take their own lives by jumping off the roof. The Manson Killings, The Night Stalker, the legendary Corrupt Police, a hotel downtown with drinking water containing decomposing human flesh.
Los Angeles is possibly one of the most metal places in the world!
Lightning Swords of Death perform at The Black Castle this Saturday, April 6th.
Follow Jason Roche on Twitter @JasonRocheLAW.
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