Chaos Music Tributes: Tzeentch

The changer of ways...

The changer of ways...

Whew. Tzeentch. Mmm.

I have to admit, although Tzeentch is my favorite of the four Chaos gods, he is tricky in more ways than one. Of the four Chaos gods, he is the least tangible. For example, the other three gods have associated bodily fluids, but not Tzeentch. His icons, like birds, books and hour glasses, tend to be vast and many, but never deep or clear.

Even the symbol is open to interpretation; Nurgle’s is a bio-hazard warning, Khorne’s a stylized skull and that of Slaanesh overlapping gender symbols. But Tzeentch’s isn’t so obvious.

Some believe Tzeentch’s emblem is a flaming torch while others see a snake or smoke, or perhaps even some kind of water bird. But, like any god of change, magic, trickery and scheming, it doesn’t want to be easily defined. The less tangible and more shapeless it is, the more easily it can take a new form.

On the plus side, this lack of clarity makes Tzeentch a very versatile god to work with writing wise. Plots, magic, scheming, trickery, change, mutations, hope, psychic powers and secrecy are all his calling cards. Tzeentch and his followers are always playing with a loaded deck, and frequently leave their victims a few cards short of one. It also leaves for very few contradictions, as we get with Khorne.

One thing of interest is that, ultimately, Tzeentch constantly seeks power over others and at all times. This at times sets up conflicts with his brother Nurgle, who is all about letting go, and Slaanesh.

Why Slaanesh? Neil Strauss’ book, The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists gives one pretty good example of it. In the book, Style (Strauss’ code name) joins a group of self improvement obsessed men who are trying to get luckier with the ladies. But in the course of the book, he learns that some men are less interested in fun and good times, and more interested in power and domination over their fellow man.

Another example can be found in questions of money. Money is definitely a source of power to some, but it can also be followed to the point of excess. Gold for example is a constant indication of wealth. But while some might obtain and horde it as a source of power and influence, others wear it out of vanity, such as Xerxes from 300. He hungered for power, but justified it through belief in his inherent divinity. However, he also flirted with excess in the gold he wore, his slaves, his concubines and very potent hubris.

Here’s the music at last, with a focus on mysticism, power and magic. Music without lyrics is marked with an asterisks (*), while the link at the very bottom is to a playlist of all these songs. Oh, and the first one was chosen because of how I feel it relates to the conflicts of Magnus the Red:

  1. A Demon’s Fate, by Within Temptation.
  2. Macross Plus – Information High, by Yoko Kanno.
  3. Fable 2 – Bowerstone Market, by Danny Elfman and Russell Shaw.*
  4. Mind Heist, by Zack Hemsey.*
  5. 300 – Xerxes’ Tent, by Tyler Bates.*
  6. Battlestar Galactica – The Shape of Things to Come, by Bear McCreary.*
  7. Gladiator – Am I Not Merciful?, by Hans Zimmer.*
  8. Two Steps from Hell – Heart of Courage, by Nick Phoenix and Thomas J. Bergersen.*
  9. The Illusionist – The Chase, by Philip Glass.*

All hail the architect of fate with post 99!

Music Mining

I was quite amused when I first read the Dark Heresy core rule book on involving the chaos gods in the roleplaying elements of the game. It came with a warning not to take any of it seriously. I mean, after all. What’s the worst that can happen?

Anyway, this Chaos Music Tribute series is proving to be an interesting challenge.

Raziel4707 mentioned how he prefers grindcore style music for Khorne. I’ve listened to that style of music before with its thick lyrics and wild instrumentals and yeah, that’s pretty Berzerker wild. I considered for a while using it in my list, but I decided on more coherent music. My goal was to encourage Khornite thinking, as opposed to music that basically makes you feel like murder.

But it does create doubt. I listen to a piece and feel it is good. But is Khorne enough? Perhaps not. But I have to look at what I’m doing objectively, and recognizing when the point is made and when it is not. So on those grounds, I feel that I made the right decisions.

I actually finished both Nurgle’s and Tzeentch’s yesterday, but I hesitated about releasing them. I had issues about Tzeentch’s because, although happy with two-thirds of the music, I want to replace three songs. And I worried about some controversial content with Nurgle’s tribute.

But this morning, I reread Nurgle’s tribute careful. I combed over the words and felt I had kept myself safe from any controversy by pointing out the debate rather than engaging in it. I cited my sources, accept that the debate may still be raging. Feeling it’s good, I posted.

I’m actually going to hold off on unveiling Tzeentch’s until Sunday. I just want a little time to find better music for those three I’m not impressed with. So until then, I’ll finish up Slaanesh’s first. Just songs relating to sex, luxury, excess, you name it. Easy peasy.

Fulgrim

Not enough coffee for a witty remark this morning...

Not enough coffee for witty remarks just yet.

I’m not going to lie. I was a little adverse to reading this book for a short while. Let’s just say it’s an American thing many of us picked up in the 80s and 90s, when our heroes weren’t supposed to be beautiful. Guys like Bruce Willis and Kurt Russell played these bad ass roles where their characters were injured and made unattractive in the course of their conflict.

Oddly, if this book had come to me about 10 years ago and I had been into Warhammer 40k back then, I would have been all over it. In the past I was more into Japanese animation with heroes so gorgeous, the line between masculine and feminine disappears. I’m long over my pretty boy phase.

Another thing to discuss came up when I was talking to a friend. Also a Warhammer fan, he asked me what the real danger of Slaanesh was. The problems of Nurgle and Khorne were obvious, the threat of Tzeentch was more subtle but still there.

What is the threat Slaanesh really imposes? It’s a problem every parent faces for their pubescent teenage children. There is the threat of STDs and pregnancy. Obsessions too are an aspect, like a relationship where one side is far more possessive than what is reasonable. And then there are those whose limitations are so small, it’s dangerous. Like David Carradine.

And not just sex, since he is the lord of excess. It’s an issue when someone drinks themselves to death on alcohol, or eats their way to a heart attack. And I think anyone who has met a serious artist has seen some antics that worry them, such as the artist not eating or sleeping to finish their workload. There are drug users as well, some of whom push themselves into over dosing at times. Slaanesh is a god you don’t see coming because he is in the most mundane of activities we take for granted as being human.

I write all this because it’s what I gathered from reading Fulgrim by Graham McNeill. It’s a perspective changer. My rantings above were not a digression from the review. They are the point. McNeill takes the reader on a wild ride that blows several stereotypes and misconceptions out of the water. And the story that unfolds from the pages is disturbing and sobering enough that even non-Warhammer 40k fans will find something of value here, as McNeill succeeds in making the line between fan and casual book reader thinner than ever before.