Black metal is typically linked, since its inception, to Satanic or anti-Christian themes. With the proliferation of bands in the 90s (after the Norwegian boom) and subsequent emergence of sub-genres, other topics such as paganism, metaphysics, depression and even nationalism came to the fore.
In order to discover the terminology used to explore these lyrical themes, I’ve devised a couple of term extraction experiments using the black metal data set. The goal here is to build a black metal vocabulary by discovering salient words and expressions, that is terms that when used in BM lyrics carry more information than when used in a “normal” setting. For instance, the terms “Nazarene” or “Wotan” have a much higher weight in the black metal domain than in the general purpose corpus used for comparison. Once again note that this does not necessarily mean that these two words occur very frequently in BM lyrics (I’d bet that “Satan” or “death” have a higher number of occurrences), but it indicates that, when they do, they carry more information within the BM context.
This task was carried through JATE‘s implementations of the GlossEx and C-value algorithms. The part-of-speech of each term (that is, the “type” of term) was discovered with the StanfordNLP toolkit. The top 50 of each type (with the exception of adverbs) are listed in the table below. For the sake of visualization, I make a distinction between named entities/locations and the other nouns, being that the former are depicted in the word maps at the end of this post.
I’ve also included, in the last column of the table, the top term combinations. It’s noteworthy how much of these combinations are either negations of something (“no hope”, “no god”, “no life” and so on), or concerned with time (“eternal darkness”, “ancient times”). Such preoccupation with large extensions of “time” is also evident in the top adverbs (“eternally”, “forever”, “evermore”), adjectives (“endless”, “eternal”) and even nouns (“aeon” or “eon”).
|Endless||Nevermore||Desecrate||Forefather||Life and death|
|Eternal||Forth||Cremate||Malediction||Flesh and blood|
|Morbid||Defile||Flame||Flesh and bone|
Most salient entities: many are drawn from the Sumerian and Nordic mythologies. I’ve also included in this bunch groups of animals (“Beasts”, “Locusts”).
Most salient locations. I’ve also included in this bunch non-descript places (“Northland”). Notice how most are concerned with the afterlife (surprisingly, “hell” is not one of them).
It occurred to me that these results could be the starting point of an automatic lyric generator (like the now defunct Scandinavian Black Metal Lyric Generator). Could be a fun project, if time allows (probably not).