Úna Hamilton Helle

Copyright 2010-24

Becoming the Forest Issue IV
Treading the arboreal pathway through the backwoods of black metal

Becoming the Forest is a serial publication about ecology and music. It is part of a long-running art project by Una Hamilton Helle, inspired by how the dense spruce forests of Norway defined the aesthetic and philosophical outlook of the musical subculture of black metal. Ever since its inception, black metal has been intimately entangled with its surrounding topography, and this relationship forms the starting point for the publication’s wide-ranging approach to topics such as music, myth, philosophy, biology, popular culture and history.

BTF IV includes specially commissioned essays, interviews and illustrations, by animists, philosophers, artists and musicians, including: an essay on panpsychism as a possible answer to the climate crisis; a philosophical-historical overview of the relationship between black metal and the forest; a magical-realist account of a sylvan trip gone wrong; an in-depth interview with Rune from Nordic Animism, whose project looks to Scandinavian folklore and customs for “hidden animist knowledge” and more respectful ways of living with other subjectivities.

The symbolism of the primstav (a calendar staff used by the agricultural societies of old Scandinavia), runs through the issue. Its seasonally-based, cyclical view of time hints towards a worldview which was embedded in its environment, and which placed man as part of - and at the mercy of- nature, rather than above it.

Contributors: Lotte Brown, By the Spirits, Crown of Asteria, Drukfout, Feral Season, Una Hamilton Helle, Hedda Hassel Mørch, Hawthonn, Rune Hjarnø Rasmussen, Invunche, Helge Kaasin, Edvard Munch, Necrofier, Alexandra Uppman, Cathy Ward

Edited by Una Hamilton Helle and Lotte Brown
Published by Het Bos Antwerpen
Supported by the Norwegian Arts Council
Designed by Tom Sewell
128 pages, 210x135mm, printed in black & white, some colour
ISBN 9789082988024
Published 15th July 2022

Table of Contents

Entering the forest
Una Hamilton Helle
Wherein time moves in spirals, and petroglyphs speak of the coming Fimbulwinter

Interview — Feral Season (US)
In which the scorched trails of wildfires are retrodden through the range of light

Nordic Animism
Excavating traditional knowledge with Rune Hjarnø Rasmussen
Wherein a Dane exhumes the remains of lost lore and discovers life therein

Interview — Invunche (NL)
In which the three-legged figure of Chilote folklore guards the secrets of a warlock’s cave

Interview — Crown of Asteria (US)
In which mythology mixes with magical intent in the Michigan mist.

Gjennom den Onde dunkle Skog
Helge Kaasin
Wherein the roots of Norwegian Black Metal are found to burrow deep into the soil of history

Interview — Necrofier (US)
In which synchronistic tales are told of a child-eating demon and a tiger-eye ring

Researchers — a Cliffhanger
Lotte Brown
Wherein the moon is swallowed, mud is tasted and the sound of bone hitting stone echoes through the forest

Interview — By the Spirits (POL)
In which a Silesian mountain is ascended and a path of ancient magick traversed

Panpsychism as environmental philosophy
Hedda Hassel Mørch
Wherein the vast, shadowy land of consciousness is explored and the limits of Western thinking probed

Interview — Hawthonn (GB)
In which the duo go searching for the wyrd sonic signatures of Britain’s edgelands

Further artworks by Lotte Brown (BE), Drukfout (BE), Una Hamilton Helle (NO), Edvard Munch (NO), Alexandra Uppman (BE), Cathy Ward (GB)

Stay up to date with new issues, reprints and associated events by joining the newsletter, or follow us on instagram.

Order a copy, or see our distributors here

Associated events

Sylvan (re)searchers

We will be having a belated celebration of BTF IV together with our publishers Het Bos Antwerpen the first week of April 2023. On the 5th, together with black metal blog Addergebroed, we will be taking over the Bos Bar radio with a sonic journey inspired by the latest issue and a live performance by Iskandr. Join us in person or online.

More info here and stream here.

On Friday 7th April, as part of the Ultha/Silver Knife/Freja/Abrahamic Liars gig, we will be setting up a stall to sell zines and to show the drawings Alexandra Uppman made for BTF IV. Come say hello!