Sunday, April 8, 2012

Blast Sirius

The sound of the Maryland rock outfit Clutch has been characterized as stoner rock, hard rock, funk metal, alternative metal, Southern rock, blues, and probably a host of other descriptions. They've been likened to classic rock outfits such as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Cream in addition to more recent acts such as Faith No More and the Queens of the Stone Age. In truth, they don't sound very much like any of these acts beyond a faint echo, but the echoes are just strong enough to give their sound a certain timeless quality. Clutch would be considered a great heavy rock band in practically any era.

While singer and sometimes rhythm guitarist Neil Fallon's lyrics were initially somewhat juvenile they would grow increasingly witty and surreal with each album, featuring allusions to mythology, the occult, pop culture, and history. Beginning with 2001's Pure Rock Fury they would also become increasingly socially conscious. And then came 2004's Blast Tyrant, an album superficially overflowing with angry political lyrics directed towards the Bush administration and the War on Terror, amongst other topics. But there was an even deeper meaning behind the album, as its full title indicates: Blast Tyrant's Atlas of the Invisible World including Illustrations of Strange Beasts and Phantoms.

The album's inner art work features depictions of various mythological beings and events such as CerberusDiana, and Ragnarok as though they were extraterrestrial demons from other dimensions. Blast Tyrant evokes not just a struggle against the War on Terror, the War on Drugs, imperialism and the police state, but also a struggle against forces from beyond, which seem to be working in tandem their human counterparts. It is the Iliad  for twenty-first century metalheads in which a pointless and endless war is waged by human beings under the auspices of powerful beings lurking in the shadows.

Recluse was especially struck by how many themes that have been chronicled on this blog, especially those concerning Sirius and entheogens, were addressed on Blast Tyrant when he dug it up again a few months ago. The stage is set by the opening track, "Mercury," where singer Neil Fallon proclaims,

"Daedalus, your child is falling
and the labyrinth is calling"

Regular readers will remember that I've written heavily on the occult symbolism behind the labyrinth, which can be found here and here. Essentially I argued that the labyrinth was based upon an ancient custom in which opiate-riddled victims were sacrificed via a ritualized 'dance' involving a live bull in an enclosed maze.

Daedalus was the mythological creator of the labyrinth. Daedalus designed the labyrinth so well that he himself could not find his way out, which was rather bothersome when he was imprisoned in it, along with his son Icarus, after aiding Theseus escape. Later, Daedalus fashioned two pairs of wings for himself and his son made out of feathers and wax so that they could fly out of the labyrinth. Before taking off Daedalus warned Icarus to follow his flight path, lest he fly to near the ocean, or to near the sun, either of which would damage the wings. Of course Icarus would not listen and flew to close to the sun, which sent him plunging back to the earth. Much symbolism is associated with Daedalus.
"Daedalus together with Hermes symbolizes ingenuity, but in his case the accent is upon technical rather than commercial skills. He built the labyrinth... in which people lost themselves, and the artificial wings with which Icarus was enabled to escape by flight, but which ultimately brought his destruction. As the builder of the labyrinth, symbol of the subconscious, he might well... stand for the misuse of technology and for 'intellectual perversion, the power of thought deprived of its affective function so as to lose clarity and become quixotic and trapped in its own creation, the subconscious...' However, his achievements may just as well be conscious and motivated by an ambition which, because it is uncontrolled, leads to disaster. The legendary Daedalus is a symbol of the technocrat, of the sorcerer's apprentice with an engineering degree. He does not know the limitations of his power, although he represents 'practical intelligence and skill in execution...' and is 'the archetypal thruster, by turns architect, sculptor and mechanical inventor...' The living statues which he is supposed to have invented remind us of Leonardo da Vinci's automata: like his successor, Daedalus had as little luck with the princes whom he served."
(Dictionary of Symbols, Jean Chevalier & Alain Gheerbrant, pg. 272)
In the context of "Mercury" and Blast Tyrant I see Daedalus as a stand-in for the countless artist, skilled professionals, scientific researchers and the like that have allowed their talents to be squandered on the War on Terror and imperialism. Like Daedalus, they do not see the long term consequences of their work. Fallon seems to confirm this view with follow up lines like "Renegade heaps, humanity abandoned" and "Bower of the vowels, you lit them and fanned them."

Daedalus and Icarus

He also name drops Roman gods that are extremely important to the occult. The first of these is Mercury, also known as Hermes in his Greek form. While most commonly known as the messenger of the gods, Mercury was also the protector of shepherds and thieves, a patron of boundaries and travelers and the supreme god of commerce, from which we get such words as merchant, merchandise, and mercenary. But most important, for our purposes, Mercury was also the god of magic.
"Cheth is the number Eight, which is the Seal of Hermes-Thoth-Mercury, the God of Magick. The figure 8 is, by shape, the Caduceus of Mercury and the emblem of Infinity...

"Magick is spelled with a 'k' because Cheth, its Hebrew equivalent, is the number of the Great Work, and the letter of Hermes, or Hermetic Science."
(The Magical Revival, pg. 22, Kenneth Grant)


Mercury/Hermes is also related to the Sirius, of which I've written more on here and here. Another figure linked to the Sirius tradition, who is also name checked in "Mercury," is the goddess Diana, also known as Artemis in her Greek form. As to her link with Sirius, Robert Temple writes:
"Aktaion happened to see the goddess Artemis (known to the Romans by her Latin name of Diana) of the silver bow bathing naked. Artemis then hunted down, with fifty hounds, transformed him into a stag, and killed him with her bow (not only are hounds connected with the Dog Star, but the bow is a familiar symbol connected also with Sirius, which was so often known in ancient times also as the Bow Star)...

"Not only were the hounds of Hades who chased Aktaion fifty in number, but Robert Graves tells us 'Actaeon was, it seems, a sacred king of the pre-Hellenic stag cult, torn to pieces at the end of his reign of fifty months, namely a Great Year...' Note the application of the number 'fifty' here to a period of time. The orbit of Sirius B around Sirius A is fifty years; the reign of a sacred stag-king was fifty months."
(The Sirius Mystery, pg. 150)


The significance of the number 50 to the Sirius tradition will be mentioned again over the course of this examination, so keep it in mind. But for the time being, back to the huntress. Diana/Artemis is a goddess neither the Greeks or the Romans ever seemed entirely comfortable with. She is primarily known now as the goddess of the hunt and of the moon. Like virtually all of the goddesses, she is breathtakingly beautiful, yet she steadfastly remains a virgin and dealt quite harshly with men drawn to her feminine charms, as the tale of Actaeon implies. In the album artwork for Blast Tyrant she is referred to as 'the Huntress.' She also has links to the labyrinth, which shed some light on her more sinister origins, which may have involved human sacrifice.
"The excavation of Knossos led to further discoveries on Crete and the islands of the Cyclades and elsewhere, from which a clear notion of the Mother Goddess in the Greek lands has emerged. Since she is the original deity from whom the women on Olympus evolved, through the assimilation of the Minoan religion by the Mycenaean Greeks, it is essential to grasp certain aspects of her symbolism.
"She is the Lady of the Pillar, whom we have already met at the entrance to the citadel of Mycenae. She is the mainstay of the enclosed space, for which the Labyrinth is one manifestation. When flanked by beasts, as in the Lion Gate, she has been dubbed the Potnia Theron or 'Mistress of Beasts.' The phrase is a quotation from the Homeric epic tradition, where it describes the Olympian goddess Artemis as a huntress. But she was a huntress only after her incorporation into that family as a daughter of Zeus, with her twin brother Apollo...
"The Lady of Beasts was never a huntress amongst the Minoans. She and the male deity who would later become her twin brother were originally Lady and Consort, Rulers of the Labyrinth, and their fearful and sinister identities as recipients of human victims there required the most strenuous evolution of myth to isolate the two of them from their Minoan pasts and to remodel them both into their Classical identities as the most perfect exemplars of Greek female and male pubescent youthfulness. Artemis, despite her sexual maturity, was even made into a perpetual virgin, denied forever her former role as Mother."
(The World of Classical Myth, Carl A.P. Ruck & Danny Staples, pgs. 30-32)
Ultimately, the song "Mercury," in a few simple lines, conjures images of a world run amok --One in which humanity tinkers to build the instruments of their own destruction while the powerful gods and goddess of old (and of the Sirius tradition) look on (and possibly intervene). The stage is now set and after "Mercury" fades away on the back of some feedback-laden guitar, the band lurches into "Profits of Doom."

"Doom" is heavy in Biblical allusions, name dropping four of the five books of the Torah and giving a shout out to John of Patmos and Gideon. The reference to Gideon is most interesting. He was a Judge of the ancient Hebrews who liberated his people from the yoke of the neighboring Midianites and Amalekites after his people had been led into idolatry. In the context of "Doom," Gideon is seemingly being ignored ("Gideon is knocking in your hotel while you slumber").


As a whole, "Doom" seems to be a put down of the Christian fundamentalist movement. The song makes multiple references to mysticism, even in addressing the origins of Americans themselves. Fallon bellows:

"Born with a moustache and a supernova, tossed off the Cliffs of Dover
washed up on a faraway shore in the arms of the daughter of the buffalo"

Fallon sketches a nation steeped in mysticism yet totally ignorant or indifferent to it all. The only thing that matters is the pursuit of money, with Biblical doom reduced to another money making scheme.

"Mamma said he was the chosen one, reverend said he was the other one
All that pay no mind inside his Econoline
Swallower of planets, the profits of doom
Quarterly projection, the profits of doom"

The song ends with a hysterical put down of the US intelligence community, which has attempted to reduce the occult to another weapon in the arsenal since the end of WWII.

"Never trust the white man driving the black van
He's just saving all his voodoo for you, just for you."

Track three is one of the better-known Clutch songs (not that that's saying much), called "The Mob Goes Wild." Its an all out attack on the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Fallon contrasts the corporate patriotism that bombarded America in the wake on 9/11 ("Streets on fire/The mob goes wild!") versus the harsh realities of the wars for those actually involved:

"Twenty-one guns, box made of pine
letter from the government sealed and signed
delivered Federal Express to your mothers doorstep" 

"Mob" also features the first reference to the '50 eyed beast' that appears in several other lyrics and Blast Tyrant's artwork. In this context, I think the beast is an allusion to Cerberus, a multi-headed hound that guarded the gates to the Underworld. Cerberus, who is usually depicted with three heads, has been linked to the Sirius tradition (as well as to the after mentioned goddess Diana) by Temple.
"The fifty hounds of hell who pursued Actacon have a counterpart in Cerberus, the hound of hell who had fifty heads in the earlier tradition. These fifty heads were later discarded in the tradition, like Gilgamesh's original fifty companions, and Cerberus was said to have three heads. But originally he had fifty, as Hesiod describes him. This thus yet another dog-motif connected with fifty (Sirius being the Dog Star), and linked to Sirius in various ways, such as through the goddess Hekate as an underworld version of Sirius..."
(The Sirius Mystery, pgs. 159-160)

Cerberus as commonly depicted with three heads

As we have already seen ample references to the Sirius tradition in Blast Tyrant I do not think that it is much of a stretch to associate Clutch's 50 eyed beast with Cerberus, especially as the number 50 is crucial to the Sirius tradition (it takes Sirius B 50 years to orbit around Sirius A). It would certainly be in keeping with the other occult imagery invoked on Tyrant.

The next track, "Cypress Grove," (featuring the best riff on the whole album IMO) further reinforces the Sirius imagery. This track is blatantly about Diana/Artemis as the title indicates. Cypress was sacred to her while early worship to this deity often occurred in groves. Clutch re imagine Diana as a kind of stoner witch/drug runner in the ridiculously catchy and ever-changing chorus.

"Now tell me Holy Diver, where you at?
There's a woman on the hill in a wide brimmed hat with a shotgun .44
and a big bloodhound in the back of a jacked up Ford."

In my opinion "Cypress Grove" is one of the deepest tracks on the whole album. As noted above, some believe that Artemis/Diana was the prototype for the various fertility or mother cults in the ancient world. Its further alleged in some conspiracy circles that these cults survived in some form in the Middle Ages and were responsible for the myths surrounding witches and witchcraft. Singer/lyricist Neil Fallon seems to be following this thread by giving Diana a wide brimmed hat like the ones a stereotypical witch wears.

In the verses he invokes images of sirens and nymphs as he lays out the fictional location of Cypress Grove.

"There are women in Cypress Grove and if they catch you, you don't go home..."

"They say the water is cherry wine and all them women drunk all the time"

the Sirens

But things ultimately don't end well for unfortunate visitors to Cypress Grove, as the death of Sheriff Jackson and the final line about a "black plastic bag in the back of jacked up Ford" allude to. I think Cypress Grove is meant to represent the underground occult scene that has flourished in America since at least the 1960s and probably much longer. What's more, I think the 'Holy Diver' thing that opens each chorus is in reference to the legendary Dio track of the same name. Metalheads sometimes refer to themselves as holy diver in tribute to the Dio song. In the context of "Cypress Grove" the holy diver is thus a metalhead(s) that wonders into the occult underground and finds it to be a lot more serious than he expected. Fallon seems to confirm this interpretation in the final verse.

"You better keep on running Bukka, they're playing you for succotash and your stash is gone"

While a thread of entheogens subtly runs through the whole of Blast Tyrant it is on track 7, "Worm Drink," that it becomes overt. The song centers around a former soldier that has become disillusioned by war because of a certain substance he has consumed known as 'worm drink.'

"I'll march no longer. I'll fight no more
You can send out all the track snivelers
but I'm done with war
Wind 'em up, bring 'em back conscript deserter
the Worm Drink is loose. The proof is in the juice"

I suspect that 'worm drink' is in reference to ayahuasca, a DMT-laced drink native American tribes have been consuming as part of their shamanistic rituals for centuries. One of the more noted side effects of ayahuasca is its ability to clear the body of worms and other tropical parasites.


If the character of "Worm Drink" experiences a true revelation, then it stands in polar opposite to the figures described in the next track, "Army of Bono." Here, the media circus that turns politicians and celebrities into larger than life beings seemingly endowed with mystical abilities is thoroughly mocked.

"Hold the presses Mickey, hot news on the wire!
Hundreds see an image of a Guinness drinking choir
Celebrities and cameras are headed to the scene
while presidents are fleeing in their speeding limousines
Don't worry, it's just stigmata. Pass me a napkin and don't you dare tell my mother"

While the character of "Worm Drink" may have had a truly mystical experience, Fallon makes it clear that only phoniness can be found projecting from your TV screen. Yet the masses remain hypnotized anyway, even as their doom is being unveiled in plain sight.

"Your local programming interrupted by the mindless banter of a soulless talking head
Roll out the red carpet, a dripping bloody tongue
Pay no mind to the blue berets and all their shining guns"

Track 10, "(In the Wake of) The Swollen Goat," brings together the Sirius tradition and Bush-era fascism. It begins with Fallon sketching a pristine land that's ripe for the plucking.

"No horizon is obscured by the clouds. Settlements make nary a sound
And there were black birds singing and fish floating on the sea
while the bells of the buoys all rang in harmony
Bury your treasure, burn your crops
Black water rising and it ain't gonna stop"

I suspect the black water bit is a sly dig at Academi, formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide, the notorious mercenary outfit used heavily in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, in addition to countless black opts projects. As the song progresses, it again references entheogens if we go with my DMT association with 'wom drink.'

"We do not desire tributes. We desire information
We seek the worm drink who has lately betrayed his nation"

As I've discussed before, I believe that, contrary to the claims of many conspiracy researchers, certain branches of the Cryptocracy have always had an uneasy relationship with entheogens. While they offer some benefits as a means of social control, they're also highly unpredictable, and can lead to large scale changes in consciousness when used on a large scale. And these changes can be greatly opposed to the aims of the Cryptocracy. For this reason they have generally been hidden and suppressed by many mystical orders save for the select few over the years.

One of the more curious pieces of album artwork for Blast Tyrant is a depiction of a flying wooden ship cruising across the galaxy with a flag proclaiming 'The Swollen Goat.'  I can't help but feel this is meant as a reference to the myths surrounding Jason and the Argonauts, who happen to have a constellation in the form of a ship named after them. There are numerous references to entheogens and Sirius in the Jason myths, as I've chronicled before here and here. But this is not the only link to entheogens.

the Argo

Goats in and of themselves have many fascinating occult associations.
"Like the ram, the he-goat symbolizes the powers of procreation, the life force, the libido, and fertility, but at times this becomes the likeness of opposites since the ram is a solar creature of the day while the goat, more often than not, is a lunar creature of the night. The goat is also the animal of tragedy since... the creature has given its name to an art form. Tragedy means, in Greek, 'goat-song,' and it was originally the hymn sung ritually during the sacrifice of a goat at Dionysiac festivals. Dionysos was the god whom goats were especially sacred and who made them his chosen victims... It should not be forgotten that sacrifice involves a whole process of identification. Dionysos himself being metamorphosed into a goat-god whom the Greeks called Pan. In them, the temple slaves prostituted their bodies to goats in ritual identification with the procreative forces of nature and with the powerful drive of life force."
(Dictionary of Symbols, Jean Chevalier & Alain Gheerbrant, pg. 435)
It is believed by some scholars that the Mystery cult of Dionysus used a hidden entheogen in their rites.
"The great mystery cults that coexisted in the ancient Greek world of the fourth century B.C., which we call Dionysian and Eleusinian, were the last frail outposts in the west of a tradition of using psychoactive plants to dissolve personal boundaries, and to gain access to gnosis; true knowledge of the nature of things, that was many thousands of years old."
(Food of the Gods, Terence McKenna, pg. 125)

The cult of Dionysus, as a mystery school, is the kind of secret order I was referring to above. They closely guarded the sacrament of their most sacred rites so that few in the ancient world experienced this sacrament, or fully understood what it was when exposed through the process of initiation. In the context of "...The Swollen Goat," we seem to see Clutch hint at the return of this secret brotherhood, with one of its key objectives being the suppression of entheogens, or the 'worm drink,' as Blast Tyrant refers to them. Black water rising, indeed.

"(Notes from the Trial of) La Curandera," the second to last song on Blast Tyrant, and the final one to feature lyrics, brings the albums entheogein themes out into the open. 'La Curandera' roughly translates to 'the shaman.' As the title implies, the song describes a trail for a female shaman.

"Did you not grant quarter to the demon giving treatment to its wounds?
Would you not consider it unnatural to be born outside the womb?
We eagerly await your response and your best defense
La Curandera is the young girl in a linen dress of white
in a linen dress of white
She dances on black sand in the night
in her linen dress
Let us vote to dunk this witch
in the River Styx and photograph the lye
So in the shadow of Cerberus her spirit will reside"

The song lyrics strongly indicate 'La Curandera' was venturing to the 'other side,' most likely with the aid of entheogens. Entheogens have been alleged to be a means of communication with nonhuman beings for centuries, as I've chronicled before here. This would certainly be in keeping with entheogenic themes of Blast Tyrant.

La Curandera is described as being dressed in white while dancing upon black sand, implying her purity amidst the strange creatures she has encountered. There's even an indication that she has befriended these beings, as the line about granting quarter to a demon indicates. Obviously, the authorities are not pleased with her actions, which is why they're having discussions about dunking her as a witch. The tone of several of the lyrics implies that they trial itself is a total farce, and that the fate of La Curandera has already been decided.

I find the line about Cerberus most curious. As noted above, I believe the references to a 50 eyed beast that occur occasionally in Blast Tyrant's lyrics and artwork are a reference to Cerberus, who was described as having fifty heads rather than three in older accounts. Cerberus, as well as dogs in general, are closely linked to the after mentioned Sirius tradition. In "La Curandera," the authorities want to execute the shaman so that "in the shadow of Cerberus her spirit will reside." Is this an implication that she is being sacrificed to Sirius?


And it is here that I shall wrap things up with a few final thoughts. In essence, I see the Blast Tyrant album as a concept album chronicling the return of the Sirius tradition and the attempts of its priesthood to suppress entheogens in a bid for world domination. As the song "Worm Drink" indicates, the kind of direct spiritual experience entheogens can produce in individuals is a grave threat to the Cryptocracy and their mechanical, manufactured 'miracles' that blind the masses. If people we focused on an inner spiritual journey, would they still be obsessed with TV and big box stores? Would they still be good soldiers and consumers? Blast Tyrant's answer seems to be a resounding 'no.'

Many will undoubtedly think that I'm greatly stretching the importance of entheogens. After all, countless conspiracy researchers have alleged that entheogens were spread to the masses by the US intelligence community beginning in the 1950s as a means of mind control. Even this blog was chronicled such notions before, here.

But what are we to make of the widespread social upheaval the psychedelic revolution of the 1960s brought about? What use, ultimately, was a large scale anti-war/anti-consumerism movement to the Cryptocracy? If the widespread infiltration of the 'New Left' as part of the FBI's COINTELPRO campaign is any indication, it would seem that the Cryptocracy was greatly threatened by the peace movement and would go to any lengths that it could to discredit it. But such topics are well beyond the scope of the article. 

Thus, all I've got left for you all is pure rock fury.

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