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As a descriptor, apocalyptic folk predates and was used by David Tibet to describe the music of his band Current 93 during a period in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Initially, Tibet did not intend to imply connection with the folk music genre; rather, that Current 93 was made by "apocalyptic folk, or guys."
The term was applied to most artists on the now-defunct World Serpent Distribution company and music influenced directly by C93's "Thunder Perfect Mind" era. Gnostic and Thelemic themes are often featured in the works of these artists, as well as influences from 1960s and . It is also sometimes used to describe those of similar musical distinction but not directly influenced or associated, such as Michael Gira. The project Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio are one of the only currently active bands that describes their music as apocalyptic folk.

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