We were dusting off the bookshelves around the Noisecreep offices the other day and came across a volume called 'Ask the 'Creep.' Yep, we're bringing back the Ask the 'Creep feature, and today's topic is both complicated and theoretical: is black metal art? All art is subjective, so the post-modern answer is anything that can be valued as art must be art.

Case in point: A bevy of academic types recently gathered for Hideous Gnosis -- a six hour symposium on black metal music held in a Brooklyn, N.Y. bar. Literature professors of all backgrounds deconstructed music by black metal bands, attempting to quantify the musicians' impact on society and history.

Nicola Masciandaro, professor of medieval literature at Brooklyn College, organized the event. He was inspired by the conference on heavy metal held last year at the University of Central Lancashire in Salzburg, Austria.

The symposium's participants -- both professors and metal fans and students alike -- dissected music by all sorts of black metal bands. Some bands resisted such critical approaches, arguing their work was above philosophy. In the end, it was deemed philosophy was necessary and welcome. Hunter Hunt-Hendrix of Liturgy spoke, presenting a manifesto on his band and America, but remained true to black metal roots, keeping a petulant mood when peppered with questions from the academics.

In the end, it isn't easy to quantify art, but academic study does add credibility to the argument. The next time you pull out that Gorgoroth album, say you're studying!

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