Stressed? Try Some Black Metal Therapy


Modern life is hell. Between destabilizing personal relationships, crippling debt, and an ever-growing national ennui rooted in disenchantment with the political system and the polarizing effect of social media tribalism, Americans seem to be rushing headlong like frightened lemmings toward some precipitous cliff of substance-fueled and overstimulated self-destruction. But one man wants to fix all that. A Reddit user named Flalaski is inviting you to throw on some extreme tunes, unplug, and work through all that garbage inside.

One of the most beautiful aspects of art is its capacity for self-reflection. Music, in particular, provides a particularly ready, though not quite blank, canvas upon which we may write our varied pressures, fears, doubts, and joys. Many of us were drawn to extreme metal for its promise of emotional resonance. Caught in the throes of turbulent adolescence, we looked outward for strength and found a mirror of extremity, something on the fringe, that in turn helped us to look inward, to reflect upon self.

It is this promise that drew Flalaski to black metal. Although he had been a fan of progressive power metal bands like Pagan’s Mind and Symphony X for some time, it was during a particularly turbulent period of his personal life that he finally “got” black metal. “It was my first year in college 6 years ago where I delved into Black Metal. I was depressed as hell, being in a small college town out in the middle of nowhere. Most people were Mormon, and I was struggling through a long distance relationship (I should say I was there for the music program, which was good… but damn!),” Flalaski notes. “I discovered Burzum’s stuff and Darkthrone’s Transilvanian Hunger, and It connected with me in a strange, dark emotional way. Like it understood the shittiness of loneliness and seclusion. the chord progressions and lo-fi raw-ness really did the trick. I’ve always liked to draw and doodle mainly for fun, and I ended up drawing while listening to these bands now and then. It helped me get through the year, and then I moved out of that damn town.”

Like many of us, Flalaski fell headlong into extremity in order to drown out the seemingly insurmountable waves of stress that many young people face. As he grew older and learned how to better cope with his own personal demons, he maintained his interest in black metal, treating it as a welcome friend to offer support and companionship. Over time, LeviathanMardukBloodThorn, and Watain became some of his favorites.

However, a dramatic life change caused Flalaski to turn inward again earlier this year, and in desperation, an idea for self-treatment came to him. “Now earlier this year, that same [long-distance] relationship ended, causing a WONDERFUL couple months of dread…” Flalaski notes. “This idea of ‘Black Metal Therapy’ was floating around in my mind for a while, and I decided to dig at it after this event.”

Like many creative types, Flalaski took his anguish and transmuted it into art, into catharsis. “I (loudly) listened through the whole Marduk – ROM 5:12 album with a friend who was going through very similar garbage, and drew / scribbled the whole time. I tried to keep my hand moving nonstop, almost like I was automatic writing or something. Eventually I felt like I was in a trance-like state, just staring hard at the paper, drawing what the music sounded like, as well as what I was feeling when certain thoughts came up.”

You can see the three drawings Flalaski produced below. They’re raw and visceral, exchanging sweeping refinement for harsh lines and bleak details. The point isn’t technique or precision, but a kinesthetic link between emotion and music. Unpolished as they are, they certainly look as if the artist was exorcising some deeply interred demon within his subconsious mind.

marduk1 marduk2 marduk3

Encouraged and relieved by the process, Flalaski encouraged his friend to channel his own torment into art as well. “My friend also fell into a similar state, and I thought it was pretty interesting seeing the vast differences in drawings we did. His were a lot more abstract with shapes than mine.” The two realized that the process had, at least temporarily, quelled a raging emotional storm, and much like the folks who started Black Metal Yoga, Flalaski realized that perhaps others could benefit from a self-reflective, like-minded community. Thus the Black Metal Therapy community was born.

“I find this to be a pretty good output for processing what’s got you down, and I basically made the sub[reddit] hoping to help others perhaps get a similar effect,” Flalaski commented. “I wanted to see what ended up being drawn out from this process, especially since everyone’s got different things going on.”

Although the subreddit is still small and in its infancy, others have already embraced the method and are channeling their guilt and grief and pain while drawing to black metal. Some of the artists have taken a more refined approach to creation, while others have embraced the raw emotional contours of Flalaski’s style. All seem to have found comfort in both the process of creation and in the community slowly building around it. It’s an amazing testament to the power of art, even art that’s considerably dark and violent, to bring healing through self-reflection.

If you’re interested in joining the subreddit, checking out some of what the others are drawing, or want to work through your own junk, you can do so here. Flalaski is an immensely companionable and welcoming sort, so I’m sure you’ll feel right at home.

If you’ve got a few minutes and some stress to work through, feel free to grab and pen and share your own Black Metal Therapy with us in the comments below.

(h/t Flalaski for answering my questions and letting me share his drawings)

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  • Ayreonaut
    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      So does this song.

      • Ayreonaut

        “Blacke Foryst of Despayr, taking photos of the band
        Put ’em up on myspace you’re the envy of the land”

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

          Yup. Dumb lyrics from retro-thrash garbage.

          • Ayreonaut

            I’d rather have retro thrash than post-black

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Well, that’s a given.

  • God

    I tried drawing during Anaal Nathrakh and ended up burning my house down.

    would do again.

    • Waynecro


      • Brutalist_Receptacle


        • Waynecro


  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    I’d rather just throw the headphones on and delve into nothingness.

    EDIT: Because I can’t draw for shit. And if I doodle, it’s just pentagrams……

  • In highschool I did a lot of my art/drawing projects to Darkthrone albums; especially Transilvanian Hunger, Blaze, and Funeral Moon. I found those albums to really help me focus. They worked especially well during the winter. I wish I still had some of those sketch books from school. I drew some pretty demented stuff. How my art teacher saw me probably…

  • ME GORAK™✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    : ( !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Brock Samson

    When I used to fight, I would use black metal to put myself into a calm state of mind before a match and it was always baffling to others as to how I could become relaxed listening to it rather than become angry and hyped.

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      Exactly. Black metal makes me happy and is very relaxing.

  • Well, this is interesting, to say the least. Flalaski’s drawings look like they could end up on someone’s demo tape.

    • W.

      It’s certainly more productive than just browsing memes to stave off the sadness 😉

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      Reminds me of Dead from Mayhem.

  • Kevin Nash’s Jackknife

    I’m a terrible drawer. I do use albums as therapy sometimes though.

  • If you short on time, you can always try grindcore therapy and maybe bang out a comic strip or something.

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      Haha, I was just thinking about that

  • I am usually pretty positive, but I am sure having a hard go of it today. Might have to try out the drawing technique later this evening. Interesting timing.


  • Óðinn
  • Óðinn
  • Waynecro
    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      Is this your work?

      • Waynecro

        Yes, it is. Untitled 7, whiskey-scented blood on printer paper, pre-2007.

        • Señor Jefe El Rosa


          • Waynecro

            I have a bunch of these. I’m hoping their value skyrockets after my death.

          • Señor Jefe El Rosa

            I hate to intrude, but if its okay with you could you email me more of your work? I’d love to see it.

            If it is too personal, i totally understand.

          • Waynecro

            Most of them are basically just bloody Rorschach tests, though a few have letters and symbols (usually a tribute to a deceased loved one or something). I can email you some more, but I’ll have to get the folder out of storage and scan the pages first. Actually, I probably ought to do that anyway; the blood on the paper might deteriorate in time or something.

          • Señor Jefe El Rosa

            Damn, that is intense.

          • Waynecro

            Sometimes I bled specifically to make these things; other times, I got hurt in a fight or something and just used the bleeding as an opportunity. I did a few public “works” (on the hood of a buddy’s new white car and on an outdoor table at a mall), but I didn’t have a camera on me at the time. Now that I think about it, I was pretty weird back then.

          • Señor Jefe El Rosa

            We all go through rough times. Did the art help?

          • Waynecro

            Probably. That whole period is pretty hazy. Threatening to bleed all over that dude’s car again got me booze one time, so I’d say the “art” definitely helped me at least once.

          • I remember that story. Will halp recreate if need be.

          • Waynecro

            My self-mutilation days are mostly over (poking my fingertips to check my blood-sugar levels several times daily doesn’t count).

    • W.

      I liek

      • Waynecro

        Thanks, man. If nothing else, my “work” is rich in iron.

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    This is a really cool idea and it is nice to see people coming together to partake in it, I may try my hand at it tonight. We shall see…

  • Eliza

    I generally suck at drawing but sometimes I make things that suck less.

  • Dave Vincent’s Perm

    I used to just listen to En As i Dype Skogen on repeat when I was a worthless depressed piece of shit. Still love that song.

  • Semi-shameless plug of my website and work:

    • W.

      Bro, don’t doxx yourself.

      • What the fuck did you just fucking say about me, you little bitch? I’ll have you know I graduated top of my class in the Navy Seals, and I’ve been involved in numerous secret raids on Al-Quaeda, and I have over 300 confirmed kills. I am trained in gorilla warfare and I’m the top sniper in the entire US armed forces. You are nothing to me but just another target. I will wipe you the fuck out with precision the likes of which has never been seen before on this Earth, mark my fucking words. You think you can get away with saying that shit to me over the Internet? Think again, fucker. As we speak I am contacting my secret network of spies across the USA and your IP is being traced right now so you better prepare for the storm, maggot. The storm that wipes out the pathetic little thing you call your life. You’re fucking dead, kid. I can be anywhere, anytime, and I can kill you in over seven hundred ways, and that’s just with my bare hands. Not only am I extensively trained in unarmed combat, but I have access to the entire arsenal of the United States Marine Corps and I will use it to its full extent to wipe your miserable ass off the face of the continent, you little shit. If only you could have known what unholy retribution your little “clever” comment was about to bring down upon you, maybe you would have held your fucking tongue. But you couldn’t, you didn’t, and now you’re paying the price, you goddamn idiot. I will shit fury all over you and you will drown in it. You’re fucking dead, kiddo.

        • W.

          Thank you for this.

  • This was such an enjoyable read, Dubs. Great job at the writing and thanks for sharing his thoughts.

    I’ve never tried to draw with black metal. I used neofolk for that or melodeath, but someday I can try to compare it with this guy therapy mode 😀

  • Mr. Bojangles
  • The Unicorn