Becoming the Forest – #3 Treading the arboreal pathway through the backwoods of Black Metal

Lotte Brown

Una Hamilton Helle


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  • Het Bos Antwerpen
  • 2019
  • 152 pages
  • Softcover
  • 21 × 13.5 × 1.5 cm

Becoming the Forest is an arts and music publication which looks at our relationship to our surroundings. It is part of a long running arts project by Una Hamilton Helle which is inspired by how the Northern hemisphere’s dense spruce forests defined the aesthetic and philosophy of the musical subculture of black metal. Since its inception, the genre has become entangled with this topography and forms the starting point for the many point of views in this publication that wish to counter the anthropocentric interpretation of the world.

The issue includes specially commissioned essays, interviews and illustrations by historians, plant scientists, artists and black metal musicians. It includes contributions about the birch tree as seen through Russian folklore and art history, a meeting of indigenous knowledge and the biological sciences around plant behaviour and sentience, the oak forest as a cultural projection screen in German nation building and the collaged results of a trip to a remote Norwegian cabin surrounded by the voices of our non human neighbours.

The Celtic tree alphabet of ogham runs through the issue, as do eerie forest landscapes, magic sigils, spirit songs, tree mythology, lycanthropic end times and interviews with an international host of black metal bands whose music is intricately linked to the topographies they exist within.

Contributors are: Hildegard von Bingen, Fia Cielen, Crom Dubh, Monica Gagliano, Grift, Hulder, Tom Jeffreys, Danny Larsen, Sverre Malling, Malokarpatan, Turia, Vemod, Johannes Zechner.

Edited by Una Hamilton Helle and Lotte Brown
Published by Het Bos Antwerpen
Supported by the Norwegian Arts Council
Designed by Blue Firth