Literary (and Ancient History) Lessons from Metal Magazines: Absu
- This is the band Absu.
As I was sitting around watching an 8 hour tape of tennis happening in Madrid, I also perused the English Metal Magazine Terrorizer and, as always, learned some new words and in this case, also increased my knoweldge of ancient cultures. Firstly, Absu is a metal band originally out of Plano, Texas whose myspace page can be found by clicking here. Secondly, the band Absu, “formerly known as Dolmen, was renamed in 1991. In Sumerian mythology, it is a subterranean ocean.” With further research, I discovered that “absu” could also be defined as a “blackened earth/nether” or, more in line with the Sumerian myth, “a world ocean.”
So what is Sumerian mythology, you ask? The Sumerians lived in what is now Southern Iraq and ” developed one of the earliest civilizations on earth (3500-1750 B.C.), but the existence of such a people and civilization was not even suspected until the middle of the 19th century.” (Click here to get to a fantastic page discussing Sumerian civilization in depth.) Of primary interest is the written language and creation myths that preceded Babylonian culture. According to my research, one partially destroyed tablet contain ideas very similiar to the Old Testament (and of course, this is not surprising, but worth noting, click here to see a translation), in particular in regard to a flood. I love learning about the endless history of our need to tell stories and explain our world to ourselves and each other. Below is a small excerpt from further Sumerian creation mythology:
Mix the heart of the clay that is over the abyss,
The good and princely fashioners will thicken the clay,
You, [Nammu] do you bring the limbs into existence;
Ninmah [earth-mother or birth goddess] will work above you,
The goddesses [of birth] . . . will stand by you at your fashioning;
O my mother, decree its [the newborn’s] fate,
Ninmah will bind upon it the image (?) of the gods,
It is man . . . .
And here are a few choice quotes from the interview with Proscriptor McGovern, (the drummer, I love drummers the most) from the band Absu:
Is music a form of magic? “Absu-lutely.” answers the magician (that being Proscriptor). “Euphonically speaking, yes it is. Magic is energy. And music is energy. Music is euphonic energy.”
And later, in discussing his work in regard to the word “absu”:
All the songs tie into what makes Absu what it is. Being the abyss, a chasm, a void, but also tying into Sumerian creation mythology, which is evidently preserved in one source. That source being the Absu.
I’m not sure exactly what he means by that, but he’s playing in late June in NYC and I might have to go check them out.