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Metal Stuff

The title pretty much sums it up. This is where you can read about metal stuff. Woo.

I noticed that the internet seems to be severely lacking in anything even resembling a dialogue about metal culture.

I also have a lot of free time.

Thus, Metal Stuff was born.

And I saw that it was good.

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Metal Stuff goes to the Pocono Folk Metal Fest

A few weeks ago (November 3rd-4th), my girlfriend and I had the pleasure of attending the third installment of North America’s Premier Folk Metal Festival, the Pocono Folk Metal Festival. .

The mastermind behind this event is none other than the legendary Jeff Addison of folk-metal.nl (who as I understand it pretty much single-handedly coordinates the whole shindig).

jeff addison

Situated in the Scenic Pocono Mountains, this two day event brings together some of the best Pagan/Viking/Folk Metal acts from around the country (and from overseas).

I’ll admit it, at first I was a little bit skeptical. I know Folk Metal is tearing up Europe right now (to the point where there are more new Folk Metal bands than even Black Metal or Melodic Death Metal) – but here in the States I hadn’t realized there was that big of a following. Plus, metal festivals in the US are kind of lackluster, right? Wrong.

I was way off. Holy shit.

I should have known when my friends went all “oldschool metal propaganda campaign” that this was the real deal.

I’m not sure what I expected, but here’s what I got:

  • Sixteen bands over two days (the headliners, Aether Realm, recently returned from a European tour with Alestorm if my memory serves me).
  • Seamless transitions between bands,
  • Excellent lighting and sound (courtesy of Prodigy Studios),
  • Discounted hotel rooms for attendees,
  • Pagan-friendly vendors (including some excellent tattoo artists).
  • Heathen music distributors selling vinyl I didn’t think I could get in the United States.
  • And a bar serving honey AND strawberry mead.mead

For the money, you’re not going to find anything close around here. The Poconos are a 2 hour drive away for millions of people in the Northeast. Long story short, it’s rural enough to be 100% appropriate for a Folk Metal festival (there are trees, enough to constitute a “forest”) and urban enough for indoor plumbing. 50 bucks for 16 bands is chump change, and after attending I feel like I got the better end of that deal.

Great atmosphere, great people, a plethora of kilts, multiple fiddles in a heavy metal context (very important), grog aplenty

(Event photos courtesy of Tigran Kapinos Photography)

 

 

The Bands:

WINDFAERER
BLACK FOLK METAL
NEW JERSEY
https://www.facebook.com/windfaerer/

LÖR
PROGRESSIVE POWER/FOLK METAL
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
https://www.facebook.com/lorofficial/

BLOODEAGLE
VIKING THRASH
KINGSTON, PENNSYLVANIA
https://www.facebook.com/bloodeaglepa/

THE CONQUERING
BLACK FOLK METAL
COLUMBUS, OHIO
https://www.facebook.com/TheConquering/

ISENMOR
GEWYRDELIC FOLC METAL
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND
https://www.facebook.com/isenmor/

FERUS DIN
BLACK FOLK METAL
BUFFALO, NEW YORK
https://www.facebook.com/FerusDinBuffalo/

SATURDAY NOVEMBER 4TH DOORS OPEN AT 12PM

ÆTHER REALM
FOLK METAL/MELODEATH
NORTH CAROLINA
https://www.facebook.com/AetherRealm/

WILDERUN
PROGRESSIVE FOLK METAL
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS
https://www.facebook.com/OfficialWilderun/?ref=br_rs

GOBLIN HOVEL
METALLIC FOLK
CLARENCE, NEW YORK
https://www.facebook.com/GoblinHovel/

WINTER NIGHTS
MELODIC DEATH FOLK METAL
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
https://www.facebook.com/winternightsofficial/

SEKENGARD
WORLD FOLK METAL
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND
https://www.facebook.com/Sekengard/

WANDERING OAK
PROGRESSIVE FOLK METAL
WESTERN NEW YORK/MASSACHUSETTS
https://www.facebook.com/WanderingOakVinnland/

LAST LEGION
VIKING DEATH METAL
NEW YORK
https://www.facebook.com/LastLegionBand/

TURNCLOAK
FOLK METAL
PALMERTON, PENNSYLVANIA
https://www.facebook.com/turncloak/

FIAKRA
POWER/FOLK METAL
FREEHOLD, NEW JERSEY
https://www.facebook.com/fiakrametal/

WINTERS WAKE
VIKING METAL
STATEN ISLAND, NEW YORK
https://www.facebook.com/WintersWakeMetal/

The Vendors:

SVINFYLKIN
HEATHEN WARES
https://www.facebook.com/Svinfylkin/

MOUNTAIN HEATHER CUSTOM CREATIONS
WALL ART, WEARABLE ART, WINDOW HANGINGS
https://www.facebook.com/ArtistAtLarge66/

THE MOUSOLEUM (SATURDAY ONLY)
ODDITIES, PRESERVED CREATURES, TAXIDERMY, SKULLS
https://www.facebook.com/The-Mousoleum-1303430103055715/

DODSON DESIGNS
LEATHER AND WOOD CREATIONS
https://www.facebook.com/drdodsondesigns/

TATTOOS BY JAKE
TATTOOS AND PIERCINGS
https://www.facebook.com/Freedom-Tattoo-Company-1909786679251369/

THE HEX FACTORY (SATURDAY ONLY)
HEX SIGNS
https://www.facebook.com/Hex-Factory-433137713561021/

SHIELD MAIDEN MAILLE
CHAIN MAILLE JEWELRY ACCESSORIES
https://www.facebook.com/shieldmaidenmaille/?ref=br_rs

ENCHANTED SANCTUARY MYSTICAL GIFTS
METAPHYSICAL ITEMS
https://www.facebook.com/pg/EnchantedSanctuaryMysticalGifts/about/?ref=page_internal

DRAGON SWAMP CURIOS
JEWELRY, ACCESSORIES, ARMOR AND LEATHER GOODS
https://www.facebook.com/DragonSwampCurios/

ODIN’S ANTIQUES
CELTIC, SLAVIC AND VIKING JEWELRY AND MORE!!
https://www.facebook.com/Odins.Antiques/

THE PAISLEY PATCH
UNIQUE GIFTS AND HANDMADE CREATIONS
https://www.facebook.com/paisleysandmore/

 

Metal Stuff Reviews: Theurgia – Transformation

logo solo bk

Artist: Theurgia
Album: “Transformation”
Released: August 16Th, 2017
Genre: Black Metal
Members: Daemonae (vox, rhythm guitar), Tevrastvs (bass, backing vocals), Hellbeats (skins), Mortuum P. (lead guitar)

The album was released in PRO-TAPE format by the labels WORSHIP TAPE (Ger) and ESFINGE DE LA CALAVERA (Spa) in DIGIPACK format too, by THROATS PROD. (Mex)

Transformation cover Art

Hailing from Venezuela, Theurgia is a 4-piece that’s been blasting blasphemous blackened symphonies since 2006.

I’ve been listening to black metal for longer than (I would assume) most of my readers have been alive, and I must say these guys are the real deal.

It’s been a while since I’ve heard new black metal I can really sink my teeth into. The album is raw, but still listenable.No frills, no fuss, no modern hipster garbage. Just pure, throat ripping black metal accented by the occasional melancholy overlay. The atmosphere is perfect, it gives you that black metal feeling.

Everything I look for in in black metal these guys have in spades. I particularly enjoyed track 6 (Monotonous Chant) and track 8 (Mea Spíritus in Opium), overall I’d give the album a solid 7.5 out of 10.

Listen to the new album in it’s entirety below and decide for yourself.

And make sure to check Theurgia out on Bandcamp and on Facebook.

The Monkey at the Metal Show

Disclaimer: I’m not pretending to be an expert in primate behavior (no matter how many times I watched the Harambe video), but it doesn’t take a fucking scientist to make these connections. 

“We admit that we are like apes, but we seldom realize that we are apes.”
-Richard Dawkins

Intro:

Whether they’re fans of heavy metal or not, people writing about the music and it’s adherents like to mention that the music taps into something primal.

I think that’s an accurate description, but I don’t think it goes far enough. My question is this – what are these primal things that metal taps into?

Primal like how our ancestors developed a love for fire (based on it’s importance in our survival) – and this translates into our love of a good light show/pyrotechnic display at a live show?

Or maybe primal like our admiration of musicianship, which boils down to admiration of mastery over tools?

These are certainly interesting subjects, and by pretty much any definition of the word they’re primal in nature.

In a sense, we (sort of) selectively bred these sorts of qualities into the human race – a love of fire and an appreciation for the mastery of tools are things that have allowed our species to advance to the pinnacle of the food chain. But they’re things that we don’t necessarily share with other primates.

What I want to talk about are things that we inherited before that (not that it’s a contest, but the things that are arguably more primal). Which poses the question, “Can the goings-on at a metal show, including the love of metal itself, be explained by comparing human behaviors with those of our primate cousins?”

Personally, I think that using primate behavior as a critical lens puts a lot of behaviors and staples of metal culture in a very interesting light. I’m going to break this down into two main sections – primate behavior among metalheads on an individual level, and on a group level.

(While reading this, you might notice that a lot of these things are not exclusive to metal. You’d be right, however this particular combination of things is pretty unique in my experience.)

Section 1 – Primate Behaviors Among Metalheads on an Individual Level

1a) Displays of Dominance and Aggression

One of the defining characteristics (arguably THE defining characteristic) of any alpha creature in nature is dominance. It can be expressed in different ways, but is inherently recognizable.

The Alpha Male

(it can be argued the desire to get on stage and beat your chest has primal origins)

In any group that’s been populated by male primates (almost to the point of exclusively) since it’s formation, you’re going to encounter a lot of very male-oriented behaviors and norms. Chimpanzees are a good example.

Being a large group of predominantly male primates (as I’ve mentioned in other articles) – heavy metal has developed what’s referred to as a Masculinist Culture. In a nutshell, what that means is that metalheads (by and large) tend to not only practice but celebrate celebrate codes of behavior that are (predominantly) attributed to males.

For example – in any given social situation, a group of animals will establish a pecking order. The animal at the top of that pecking order is the alpha. If it’s a group of males, the most dominant in the group will be what we like to refer to as the “alpha male”.

Among primates, there is a very distinctive set of behaviors that typify dominance ( and therefore are associated with the label alpha male). Humans, as primates, fall into this group. As such, an alpha male human (like any other primate) will display many of the characteristics associated with dominant primates – especially in the presence of other males.

Size Matters – Alpha Posturing and Stress

Being visual creatures – the first indication of alpha status among primates is size. Alpha males are big. Big males generally dominate. Among gorillas, for example, it’s rather easy to pick out the alpha male of the group due to their being significantly larger than the rest of the group.

Now, among our closest relatives in the primate world (chimpanzees), the alpha male is NOT always the largest. However, they compensate for this in a number of ways. One, that is common among all primates, is something referred to as the “alpha stance”.

It’s so common among humans that you might not give it much thought, but every time you see someone standing with their feet planted and spread, with their arms raised so the upper portion of their body resembles the letter “V” (sometimes called the victory pose or v-pose) – what you’re seeing is a simian dominance posture.

One of the main purposes of the alpha stance is that it makes you look visibly larger – but it also raises testosterone levels by 20% while lowering cortisol levels by up to 25% in all primates, male and female.

Cortisol is the stress hormone, and testosterone is the male sex hormone (high levels of testosterone are associated with a higher levels of confidence). So, primates instinctively know that in certain situations there’s a hormonal “oh shit” button that calms you down and makes you more confident.

You’ll see this sort of posturing anywhere you go, but I would argue it’s more exaggerated and pronounced at a metal show (largely due to the gender demographics). I’d argue the stress relief (on both a chemical and a mental level) combined with the effects of the music has an almost addictive quality to it.

If you’ve read my other blogs, you’ll know I make a distinction between metal fans and metal heads. I guess this is as good of an explanation of the difference between the two as any; real metalheads are absolutely addicted to the catharsis provided by the metal experience.

It’s certainly not a unique phenomenon in and of itself, I’m sure lifelong Grateful Dead fans can attribute to that. But the experiences are a tad different – and I think metal has a much more universal appeal.

And I’m not just pulling that out of my ass, metal is literally the beast that refuses to die. And somehow, magically, there are more metalheads now than there were last year.

Gratuitous discussion of how metal is superior to all other genres? Check.

Volume and Pitch

A dominant primate is, quite often, a loud primate (This can be exaggerated in certain primates, where loudness is often a form of evolutionary compensation). And I think you’d be hard pressed to find a style of music that is consistently louder than metal. The bands are loud, the fans are loud.

And not just loud, but loud with low tones. A deep voice is automatically perceived as more authoritative among humans, and there’s a good evolutionary explanation for that. Low voices are associated with large males who produce a lot of testosterone. It’s been argued that the lowed timbre voices of male primates (including humans) equate to a display of dominance. And it makes sense, big dudes usually have deep voices – and a deep voice can be intimidating.

If you want an example of how innate our association of deep voices and sounds with large, intimidating males is – think of the first time you saw the boxer Mike Tyson.

tyson

Now, think of the first time you heard his voice. The reason his appearance and his voice seem so incongruous is our evolutionary association of deep sounds with big, threatening creatures.

So, it’s not really that much of a surprise that Heavy Metal is loosely defined as a musical style that emphasizes instrumentation with deep, low frequency sounds (i.e. bass guitar, drums, rhythm guitar) played very loud.

Appearance as an Aggressive Display

It would be rather remiss of me not to mention stereotypical metalhead appearance as an act of aggressive display.

It’s also worth noting that to someone within metal culture, this style of dress and posturing is not threatening at all, quite the opposite – it’s appealing.

But to someone outside of the metal sphere, generally the consensus is that metalheads look intimidating. And I don’t think that’s by accident, but I don’t think it’s entirely a conscious act. Like, I don’t think a group of guys got together and said, “hey, let’s look as threatening as possible.”

All aggressive displays look threatening (that’s what makes them aggressive). It’s interesting to note that, contrary to common sense, the point of looking threatening in nature is to avoid conflict.

In other words, I think the “metalhead uniform” a manifestation of visually threatening/intimidating displays that can be directly traced to primate behavior.  Camouflage, denim and leather, spikes and studs, boots and blue collar t-shirts all have one thing in common – they’re all worn by predominantly male social groups, that all look (in some way or another) masculine, and can appear threatening.

Chances are, all that clothing was introduced to metal culture by the crossover in membership – and if enough heads thought it looked cool they picked it up as a new norm.

Note: Not all displays within metal are aggressive. Perfect example, watch any metalhead youtube channel and you’ll notice they have their entire music collection situated behind them. This isn’t an accident, this is an intentional display of subcultural capital in the form of a music collection meant to impart a sense of expertise to the viewers.

Controlling Space and Attention

When a gorilla moves to an elevated area and beats his chest, he’s not just doing it to make himself feel good. He wants everyone in the vicinity to watch him. This isn’t a random occurrence – one of the resources that an alpha primate controls is the attention of his peers. In a pack setting, this is a big deal. It’s a form of social control.

Humans aren’t that different – why do you think public speakers will stand on a stage or an elevated platform? Or artists prefer to perform on a stage? We’re hard wired to pay more attention to other primates who control the high ground for a reason.

And it’s not just the high ground that’s important – another resource prized by primates is space. My favorite manifestation of this concept is the lead singer who, once the band is on stage, uses the all of the space available to him for the entire show. The more space he uses and controls, the bigger the display of dominance. Likewise, the easier it is to maintain the attention of a large crowd.

Even the act of throwing objects into the crowd (water bottles, picks, band shirts, etc) is a display of expanding territory – and fans who pick these items up are openly submitting to the display of dominance..

1b) Music Soothes the Savage Beast

“Interestingly, bonobo percussionists prefer a tempo of 280 beats per minute, the syllabic rate at which most humans speak.”
― Dr Susan Block

I would like to  point out an article (originally published in The Daily Telegraph, a British Newspaper internationally renown for it’s quality) I found regarding a little science project.

Long story short, they were testing to see what kind of music (if any) a specific species of monkey preferred over any other. The results showed that the Cottontop Tamarins only responded positively to two things…

  1. Recordings of other Cottontop Tamarins
  2. The Metallica song “Of Wolf and Man”

Awesome. Fucking awesome.

Anyways, I feel like it was worth mentioning that on both an individual and a group level certain types of music have a calming effect that can be traced back to the same types of calls that later evolved into speech.

Strange that metal music could have roughly the same psychological effect as a lullaby, but humans are pretty strange creatures.

Section 2 – Primate Behaviors Among Metalheads on a Group Level

I’d like to start by saying a lot of this stuff will be a tad more obvious to the casual reader than the items in the previous section. Some, however, might surprise you.

2a) Dominance and Aggression

I know, I know, this was covered in the last section. But dominance, while it may be expressed individually, is inherently a group phenomenon. One of the most obvious displays of dominance can be seen in the crowd at pretty much any metal show.

Nowadays most mosh pits are a sad parody of what they used to be. But the idea of a display of aggressive dominance is still there, no matter how pathetic it gets.

“Wow, that hardcore dancing is super-fucking cool.”

-No one, ever

2b) Group-Think and Belonging

Almost all primates are pack animals, and being a pack animal is a package deal. Part of that package is group-think, or the ability to function with other members of the same species as a cohesive unit.

The intrinsic motivation behind group behavior is a need for a sense of belongingness  (apparently that’s an actual word). Human beings, by nature, have an internal need to feel like a part of something bigger then themselves. It might manifest itself in different ways (family unit, church group, football team, metalhead), but at the end of the day it all boils down to this inner drive to belong to a group.

This is the same motivation behind all pack behavior. Gorillas have it, chimps have it, dogs have it, cows have it. You get the idea.

One of the ways group think manifests itself (in humans) is the establishment of social norms (I’ll expand on this in the next section). When confronted with an unfamiliar situation, humans look to and follow unspoken social ques of their peers to continue to feel like they fit in.

An obvious example of this would be “the metalhead uniform” – besides being a passive display of aggression to those outside the group, it functions as a badge of solidarity within the group.

And it works – being surrounded by other metalheads, all in black band shirts (at a concert or otherwise) feels good. You’re surrounded by other members of the group, and you’re all visibly displaying membership. It’s no longer a matter of, “I’m doing this and you’re doing this” – it’s become a matter of, “we’re doing this.”

This is why, when a person is attending their first metal concert and asks you what they should wear – you should never tell them, “Whatever you want, metal has no rules.”

That friend isn’t asking you what they’re required to wear. Obviously, they can wear whatever the fuck they want. They’re asking if there are any social norms they can/should follow to feel like part of the group (and not stand out). You know, so they can experience that sense of belonging and – in turn – have a better overall experience.

2c) Transmission of Culture

When most people hear the word culture, they think of fancy learned human behaviors transmitted socially, both generationally and through multiple generations. But that’s the thing – all culture really boils down to is learned behaviors passed on to others. There’s actually a saying that covers this phenomenon – monkey see, monkey do. And while it’s always used to describe primate behavior, it’s rarely used to describe apes in the wild.

human see human do

Since the 1950’s the concept of culture in the animal kingdom has been a topic of research, and it’s been found that culture is not limited to humans. Quite the opposite – patterns of learned behavior transmitted between individuals within social groups is actually common in the animal kingdom, especially among primates.

“Being abroad makes you conscious of the whole imitative side of human behavior. The ape in man.”
-Mary McCarthy

So, what sorts of cultural behaviors do metalheads transmit?

Headbanging

One of the most universally recognized behaviors associated with metalheads is headbanging.dimebag

From an evolutionary perspective, it makes zero sense. Zero. There is literally nothing beneficial that can happen to you if you headbang.

Quite the opposite, neck and back pain and injury are common (there’s even a colloquial term for the neck pain that follows a day of headbanging – a “bangover”). Over the long term – spinal degeneration is almost a certainty. I know plenty of old dogs who have neck and back problems due to this – some that required surgery. And in extreme cases, brain damage can occur. But for some reason, the practice continues.

Not that I’m complaining – I’m just pointing out that this particular behavior seems to defy nature AND common sense.

Conformity through Non-Conformity

Oooh, the 500 pound gorilla in the room. This one goes out to all the people who say that metal has no rules (it does). When you’ve got a large group of people who practice and encourage non-conformity, guess what happens.

You, by definition, have conformed to non-conformity.

People who say metal has no rules seem to be missing the point – one of the rules of metal is that you don’t have to pay attention to all the rules. That’s why you can do whatever you want and still feel like part of the group. So even if you only follow that one stipulation – you’re still following the rules.

Just because metal celebrates a lack of conformity with mainstream ideals/etc doesn’t mean there are no rules. That’s fucking retarded – all social animals have rules.

Metalheads are humans, humans are social animals, therefore metalheads have rules. That’s what makes them social – when you’re in a group it restricts the number of acceptable individual behaviors.

mind blown

Metalhead Uniform as Social Norm

personal rant: I can’t tell you exactly who will say metal has no rules, but I can tell you what they look like.

Specifically, they’re a Caucasian male between the ages of 16 and 50, wearing a black band t-shirt (of a band they listen to, obviously). They’re wearing khaki shorts/ camouflage pants/jeans and probably boots.

metalheads for real

There’s a really good chance they’ve got multiple tattoos and/or piercings, and I’d be willing to wager they have either long hair or a beard (if not both). There’s also about a 25% chance they’re wearing (or own) a patch covered vest.

metalheads for real a

Bonus points if they’re rocking a mjolnir necklace, razor blade pendant, chains, dog tags, satanic jewelry, or some less than subtle combination of these things.

You know how I know this? Because the people who scream “metal has no rules” the loudest are the people who follow the social conventions of the culture the most strictly.

I don’t think they do it to be purposefully misleading, they honestly believe what they’re saying. The cognitive dissonance is real (bowing to social pressure and following group norms is something that’s been observed in chimpanzees, and humans are certainly not above it). Simply put, humans are wired to make and follow rules of behavior. What rules you choose to follow, however, is certainly up to you.

Exclusive Handshakes and Gestures

Believe it or not, individual groups of chimpanzees have their own versions of secret handshakes. Not all of them have it, but the ones that do have a very interesting shared characteristic – it differs between different groups (therefore a learned behavior) and seems to hold significance in the group.

What kind of significance, you ask?

Good fucking question. These secret handshakes actually signify and affirm membership in the corresponding group.

And while it’s not exactly a handshake, a learned hand gesture that signifies membership/participation in a group is nothing new to metalheads.

Throwing the horns is a logical progression of the original behavior – directly observable in primates in the wild.

Crazy, right? There’s a little conjecture there, but I really don’t think it’s a big leap.

“Hating on” the Younger Generation

I read somewhere that chimpanzees withdraw and stop making social connections with the younger generation after a certain point. This includes not learning new “social norms”, etc.

Yeah, male apes turn into grumpy old men. Kind of like how older metalheads (myself included) complain about modern metal and metalheads.

It’s perfectly natural social behavior when you put it into context. In fact, I’d be more worried if old metalheads didn’t complain.

Conclusion

We’re all just fucking apes. I’m an ape, you’re an ape, your mom’s a fucking ape. So technically all human behavior is primate behavior – and that includes the entire metal scene.

Afterward

I thought it’d be cool to look at some of our behaviors that have been around since before shit like fire, microwaves, and pizza delivery existed.

There’s no way on earth I covered everything, but I like to think I offered up a good chunk of thinking material for you guys.

I haven’t posted anything in a while, so I figured an article with a little more substance to it was in order.

Thanks for reading, keep it brutal.

-Grulog

 

The Whole Thing With the Summer Slaughter Tour

A year has passed since last year’s Summer Slaughter tour. A pretty good year.

There’s been quite a few good albums releases, with more to come.

The new Code Orange fucking rules.

And don’t get me started on Unleash the Archer’s new masterpiece “Apex”.

That fucking dumpster fire of an album Suicide Silence released this year continues to make me giggle (tee hee). Not because I hate the band, because I hate what they did leading up to the album, and how they colluded with metalsucks and it totally blew back in all of their faces. What can I say, I love seeing people eat crow.

Which brings me to the topic at hand: this year’s Summer Slaughter lineup, and the events surrounding it.

To be fair, they’ve done some pretty cool things this year. They’ve got Dying Fetus and The Black Dhalia Murder headlining, and Origin is pretty ok. Slaughter to Prevail even has their moments. They’ve got a poll up to decide another one of the opening bands for the tour – and it’s nice to see Jungle Rot getting another shot after the whole Mayhem festival debacle.

There are bands from Relapse and Metal Blade in the running too. Unique Leader and Victory records bands aren’t really my thing, but they add variety. Not so sure about the unsigned bands, not familiar with them.

But jesus christ, look how they’re promoting it.

Having people vote for openers? Awesome! Making them vote by visiting the website of a shitty movie starring members of Asking Alexandria and the Blackveil Brides? Gross!

 

 

Now, I did learn a neat little factoid over the past year – I guess the head of Sumerian Records is the organizer of the festival. Doesn’t really change anything I said about last year’s festival – but it does add a some pretty interesting context.

The fact that they’re using the festival’s popularity to reach out to an audience (fans of the Summer Slaughter tour) who probably wouldn’t want anything to do with the movie seems like a really good business move on paper.

warped tour AS promo

Reaching out even further by promoting the movie in conjunction with the Warped Tour would follow suit – you’re (potentially) drawing fans of hard rock and (what passes for) punk. As an advertising strategy in a capitalist market, it makes total sense.

However, I do (still) have an issue with the whole shebang. The demographic audiences for the movie/the stars of the movie (and for the bands/tour).

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the majority of people attending the Summer Slaughter don’t like Andy Biersack, or his band the Black Veil Brides (assuming the attendees even know who the band is).

I don’t have to go out a limb to tell you what Andy Ballsack thinks of metalheads. I’ll let him speak for himself, here he is getting boo’d with his band as they walked onstage at the golden gods awards.

So, ah, yeah. There’s that.

Basically, my problem is the “diversification” of metal festivals in the US. In this instance, “Diversification” means appeal to fans who are in a different social class than your traditional metal fans (i.e. they have more money, because they’re not lower/working class).

It might not seem like a big deal, but there are some cultural differences that make this a much bigger change that it sounds like. I’m not saying there aren’t “well-to-do” metalheads – but by and large since it’s inception metal has been made by blue collars for blue collars. And when you change that demographic, you change the art.

summer slaughter 2017

Using the credibility and dedication of established metal fans as a platform to provide a watered down, pale imitation of extreme metal so that “joe evreybody” can enjoy it (and pretend they’re edgy and non-conformist) is exactly the opposite of what transgressive art is supposed to be about.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Are We Asking the Right Questions about Chester Bennington?

Sacred Cows make the best hamburger
-Abbie Hoffman

First and foremost, I’m not saying I condone the terrible things people are saying about Chester Bennington recently. And I shouldn’t have to defend those things – the only people answerable to those things are the people who say them.

I’m not excusing what’s been said, but I would like to offer an explanation as to why I think people reacted the distasteful way they did (and continue to do).

I’m also not writing this to pay any sort of tribute to the late singer. If you want to do that, the band has set up a webpage for fans to do just that.

The following is my opinion (albeit an opinion backed by 20 plus years as a metalhead), so you can take it or leave it. But I think by asking certain questions we can provide some context (and clarity) to the situation as a whole.

What Was Linkin Park’s relationship with the metal community?

In 2014 Chester Bennington had no problem distancing himself from metal, but then two years later he claims the band kept metal alive.

I’m not particularly fond of double speak, especially when it’s as opportunistic as this. When it comes to metal, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. You’re either a metal band or you’re not. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in any of these sentiments.

As far as Nu-Metal goes, whether you consider it “real” metal or not is purely subjective – but the vast majority of metalheads (at least begrudgingly) admit that it has a place in the metal family tree alongside grunge, hair metal, metalcore, and all the other “mainstream” genres.

I’m not going to go into that here, but if you’re really interested in learning about this dichotomy please read my previous article entitled The Two Faces of Metal (ironically, written partially in response to Bennington’s claim that his band kept metal alive).

Long story short, there is also a pretty large number of metal fans who do not consider any of the mainstream genres metal in any way, shape, or form. Which is fine, and technically accurate. People are entitled to their opinions.

When discussing Linkin Park though, it’s kind of important to note that they’ve been a whipping post for the metal community for almost 2 decades. Dislike bordering on hatred would be a mild understatement. Metal news sites were in on it. Fuck, even his friends/fellow tour-mates were in on it.

David Draiman of Disturbed even mentioned it in a remembrance post (below). Guess what – Chester was in on it too, because that’s what metalheads fucking do. They jokingly talk shit.

disturbed remembers

Then, when their new album dropped, Chester told his own fans to grow the fuck up and move on when they expressed dislike of the new album.

I’m sure they loved that.

He also claimed that they hadn’t done anything to streamline or go “mainstream”, or follow any industry formulas with their music. Specifically, I believe he said, “But if you’re gonna be the person who says like ‘they made a marketing decision to make this kind of record to make money’ you can fucking meet me outside and I will punch you in your fucking mouth because that is the wrong fucking answer.“.

He continued, rather eloquently, with this, “When you make it personal, like a personal attack against who we are as people, like dude shut up. That means that I can actually have feelings about it and most of the time my feelings are I want to kill you.”

Really? You’re telling me the Millennial Whoop at the beginning of the chorus was completely the band’s doing, and had zero influence from the pop-machine? And that, as a person who is potentially going to buy the music, I can’t decide for myself whether the band fell under the influence of the music industry?

Let’s look at what people were talking about when they said the things Chester was responding to…

Here’s a short video explaining the Millennial Whoop

For reference, the first chorus starts at 29 seconds into the video.

The musical interval itself certainly isn’t a product of the music industry, it’s been around for a long fucking time. In fact, I think Fur Elise has the same interval.

But the pattern in popular music to use the interval to give a sense of identity and familiarity to new music is certainly something that the music industry has taken note of and exploited.

And there is no fucking way in hell that Linkin Park just happened to throw that in there randomly. Especially when the song featured guest vocals from millennial artist Kiira – there’s no such thing as coincidence.

I’m not judging here, but I am saying that when you very publicly give a large “Fuck You” to your fanbase while making a very obvious attempt to broaden your fanbase by dipping directly into pop-music territory (using pop music formulas) – there might be a little backlash.

move the fuck on

There was, and I think Bennington took it all to heart. Just my opinion, but if I were in his position it’d be hard not to.

What Was the Media’s Role in all This?

The metal media is a two-fold operation in this article – I’m talking about the recording industry (including booking agents, producers, etc) and hard rock/metal oriented news outlets.

As far as the recording industry end of things – What the fuck were they thinking booking Linkin Park to play Hellfest?

I mean, I know Billy Idol has played it. But let’s take a look at the audience demographic here. You’ve got a huge French Festival that features bands from every goddamn genre of metal imaginable with ONE thing in common (well two if you count a love of metal) – disdain for the pop machine.

Most of the people there probably don’t like Linkin Park (see above), and the people who do but dislike the band’s new material have recently been slammed in the media by Bennington.

And that’s how you get things thrown at you, boo’s, and middle fingers through the entire song.

the jug is

(actually, it’s at 18 seconds in this version – I included it because I think during tragedy people tend to lose context. in this case the context of just how much the new album was disliked)

Linkin Park comments

Couldn’t have said it better myself. These people took time off from work, and spent good money to listen to metal music at a metal festival – and the guy decides to double down on their dumpster-fire PR strategy and play a pop song.

To put it in perspective – if I went to a burger joint, paid for a burger, was expecting a burger, and then I (along with everyone else in the place) was served a bowl of soup – I’d be fucking pissed. I’d probably throw things at the server. Because consumers have a right to get what they paid for.

And as much as metal is a community and a culture – it’s in large part consumer based. Service providers don’t have the luxury of telling you what you want to buy, it’s the other way around. That’s just how things work.

I’m not thrilled that it happened – but what the fuck did these guys expect? Just because American music festivals are going to shit with “diversification” doesn’t mean they are in Europe.

I’ve been bitching for a long time about the slow and steady streamlining process metal festivals have been going through in the name of capitalism and revenue (working on another piece at the moment, in fact). A large part of my problem is the fan demographics.

Perfect example – GWAR is taking shit for saying, “Suicide is no joke, but Linkin Park sure is!”. Now, if they were playing any fucking metal festival (or one off show, or tour) – nobody would have a problem with it. Par for course. If you’ve been to enough metal shows (especially GWAR shows) you’ll know that there’s no such thing as a sacred cow to them. It’s never too soon to joke about things, and that’s what people fucking love about them.

Throw them on the Warped Tour, and all of a sudden you’ve got thousands of butthurt indie rock fans who can’t handle a transgressive joke. Many of these same people, the day before, would have laughed at any joke at Linkin Park’s expense.

If metal was a club, club dues would constitute not being offended by anything. When I talk about the difference between metalheads and metal fans (or rock fans, or indie fans), this is what I’m talking about.

As far as the metal media is concerned – google “Linkin Park Suicide” and see for yourself – these guys have been prostituting Chester Bennington’s corpse for cash since before the body went cold. I know there’s a demand for it and all, I have nothing against that. I do have a problem with a single site posting 9 articles in 3 days about the subject.

I guess bad taste is subjective, and a lot of fans would rather see people in various positions in the music industry make money off of the singer’s death – but I personally consider it to be in much worse taste than the occasional off-color joke.

Fuck me though, right?

Does getting offended on the internet, blogging/posting/tweeting about suicide awareness, pretending to like a person or a band, etc. accomplish anything (other than making the person who did it feel good about themselves)?

Having worked in the mental health field for a time myself, I can conclusively say that mentally ill people need more from you than tweeting out the suicide hotline every time a famous person kills themselves.

Last I checked, actually helping someone get through a mental health issue requires a little more effort.

Talking someone down when they’re having suicidal ideations, telling them to run a sink-full of ice water and to plunge their hands and arms into it to alleviate the desire to cut themselves – that’s real help.

Being a keyboard warrior who gets offended on the behalf of others and posts mental health awareness links isn’t.

Fuck me though, right?

Who does his death really effect, and what did fans really lose?

(note – I actually stole this next part from the comments section of a metal news website, it pretty much sums up my opinions)

Let’s not be hypocrites: the death of this person may be a tremendous tragedy for those close to him . And it will certainly have negative consequences for those who were in a professional or other kind of ‘formal’ relationship with them.

But it does not affect the lives of the vast majority of people reading or writing on this blog. So instead of adopting a sanctimonious “holier than thou” attitude and urge each other to pretend, we might as well leave the mourning to those who are actually sad and have good reason to.

You still have Linkin Park’s entire discography. All those songs that helped people get through dark times and blah blah blah are still fucking there. Hybrid Theory, Meteora, etc – they’re not going anywhere.

Anyone who said the new Linkin Park was helping them get through difficult shit in life should have no problem picking up literally any song with a millennial whoop and getting the exact same effect out of it. And it’s not like the band was even remotely hinting that they were going back to the old sound – exactly the opposite. As outlined above, Chester himself was very vocal about the band’s new direction.

So really, the only thing fans have lost is the chance to see Chester Live. Real talk.

It it OK to be mad about this?

Of fucking course it is. Just don’t forget who took whatever it is Linkin Park means to you away.

On the bright side, Linkin Park album sales are up 2,100% (yes, two thousand and one hundred percent).

Let’s Bring Every Season/Episode of MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball to Netflix (or HULU)

This isn’t a petition to bring back the show.

We don’t need new episodes of Headbanger’s Ball – there are plenty of mediums available if you want metal videos and metal related news. Podcasts and Youtube channels dedicated to metal are a dime a dozen nowadays, and a lot of them are really fucking good.

In fact, bringing the show back in a new format could arguably be a bad thing. I’ve got a piece in the works that will explain the life-cycle pattern of metal news outlets more in depth. Long story short, metal news via television is an outdated medium that’s already worn out it’s welcome in the digital age.

Regardless, this doesn’t take away from the cultural impact of the show. Headbanger’s Ball was the fucking first – they set the goddamn archetype for audio-visual metal news reporting.

Even though you had to wade through a shit-ton of hair metal and radio friendly hard rock a good deal of the time – it was still enough to prevent countless metalheads from making plans on a Saturday night that extended past midnight. Triple Thrash Treat anyone?

And you didn’t just watch the episodes once – oh no. You fucking recorded that shit on VHS and watched it till the fucking tape stretched and warped.

The show is a cultural relic that still has validity today. Metal culture is pretty notorious for it’s tendency to fetishize past glories, and the ball is no exception.

What We’re Doing:

In conjunction with our partner site/group, Metalhead Alliance, we here at Metal Stuff think that the past episodes of Headbanger’s Ball hold enough sub-cultural value to warrant our petition to MTV, Netflix, and HULU.

We can’t do this alone – we need your help. Besides the obvious need for each and every person who wants this to happen to sign and share the petition – we also need a few soldiers to get us some vital information.

We need the contact information (email, preferably) for the PR departments for both Netflix and HULU. MTV is already getting an email every single time someone signs this petition – let’s put a little pressure on.

MTV already has at least one show on Netflix (Shannara Chronicles), so this isn’t as big of a stretch as some people might think.

As far as licensing for the music videos in every episode – yeah, that’s gonna be a bitch. But I think with the position record companies have been in since the advent of the internet, they might be in a position where they’re willing to negotiate.

This would make the show available across the globe.

TL/DR Version:

Sign petition, share petition, potentially get Headbanger’s Ball on Netflix or HULU. If you have emails for the PR departments of HULU and/or Netflix, get ahold of us.

Click Here to Sign the Petition!

Rock Radio Stations Across the US Mourn Passing of Chris Cornell in Spontaneous Display of Mediocrity

This is the one time I won’t write an article about metal on this site. Cherish it.

In a mass display of (what I like to refer to as) “the Amy Winehouse Effect”, the internet is collectively pretending they were huge fans of the life and career of Soundgarden/Audioslave front-man Chris Cornell.

And with such deep, thought-provoking songs as “Spoonman”, which I assume is about a man who uses spoons as a musical instrument, how could you not like them?

I’m guessing the number of people who called their favorite radio station and requested their favorite song featuring the late front-man yesterday (while he was still alive) numbers in the high 10’s. Nay, the low 20’s.

Not that this stopped every goddamn clear-channel radio station from playing the same fucking 4 songs featuring this guy 20-some-odd times per day.

And that was while he was alive.

In fact, the only people not pretending their mourning the loss of this singer are the DJ’s for the aforementioned rock stations (who tout their “modern rock” format while never seemingly to play anything written after 2005). That guy is indirectly responsible for approximately 20% of their fucking paychecks over the past 20 years (assuming they get paid to play his songs, which they did/do), so I can see them genuinely being a bit sad.

To these DJ’s I say, “Don’t worry guys, you’re already overplaying his music. You don’t have to change a fucking thing.”

Seriously though, if everyone was as big of a Chris Cornell fan as they’re pretending to be today – his solo album wouldn’t have fucking flopped.

trent-reznor-chris-cornell-twitter-fued-scream-album-2009

On the bright side, people who were bashing Cornell in 2008 are free to pretend they liked him and are going to miss him.

metalsucks cornell

 

Perhaps I have an over-inflated sense of dislike for this man’s career.

Partially because Chris Cornell + Rage Against the Machine = Sadness. Partially because, like all grunge, he is partially responsible for the rise of Nickelback. Partially because he was a large part of the movement that made mediocre apathy “cool”. In large part because I think he was completely overrated.

He wasn’t that talented – he surrounded himself with talented people and made a career out of that and his charisma.

And if you were a real fan of his, you shouldn’t be that surprised he committed suicide. For fucks sake, he’s been singing about depression for like 30 years.

I take no joy in his passing – anytime a human being takes their own life, it’s a sad event. Cornell’s death is no different.

Equally as sad, however, is the strange cult-like movement of people who then immortalize said person, because in so doing they turn that person into something they weren’t before.

Cornell was a flawed human being, born with a slightly better than average set of pipes. The stars aligned for him and he happened to write song lyrics about being depressed at exactly the right time in history.

This combined with the aforementioned tendency to surround himself with talent turned him into a shooting star in the musical landscape.

Metal Stuff Reviews: The Metalhead Box April 2017

What is the Metalhead Box?

A (monthly) subscription based service catering to fans of extreme metal (in it’s various incarnations) by delivering high quality music and merch.

Subscription options include:

  • the standard (classic) metalhead box (a few CD’s, a poster, a shirt, and various high quality swag)
  • the budget (mini) metalhead box (shirt, cd’s, and a little less swag than the standard box)
  • the vinyl LP box (3 versions – 1 LP and a shirt, 2 LP’s and a shirt, or 2 LP)

Seriously, check these guys out. This shit is legit.

On to the Review

blasphemy shirt(stolen from the metalhead box trade group/forum, where members exchange items they received for items they wanted)

First, let’s bask in the fucking excellence that is this Blasphemy shirt. This isn’t available from their official band/merch site – this is exclusive to the fucking box. I love this fucking shirt.

blasphemy

Who is Blasphemy, you ask? Formed by vocalist Gerry Joseph Buhl (Nocturnal Grave Desecrator and Black Winds) and drummer Sean Stone (Three Black Hearts of Damnation and impurity) in 1984, the band started making waves in the extreme metal community with their demo tape Blood Upon the Altar (1989). They went by a few names (Antichrist, Desaster, and Thrash Hammer) before settling on Blasphemy. The band member’s lengthy pseudonyms were related to/the outcome of secret initiation rituals performed in the famous Ross Bay Cemetery.

The inclusion of this cemetery in the Satanic ritual abuse book, “Michelle Remembers” (which helped trigger the satanic panic of the 80’s), and the band’s association with the location helped their rise to infamy in the extreme metal scene.

They even name check it in the song Blood Upon the Altar (Ross Bay Grave/Black Mass Begins)

I would have gladly purchased the shirt alone for the price of the entire box. Keeping that in mind, the rest of the contents only add to overall value the guys at the metalhead box offer.

The other contents of my box included;

metalhead box review

  • 4 Cd’s (2 black metal, 2 death metal)
  • A Venom Poster
  • An Autograph from the guitarist of Gorguts
  • An official live bootleg of Hungarian Symphonic Black Metal act Sear Bliss
  • Gorgoroth coozie (fucking SCORE)

Final Thoughts on the Metalhead Box

For those of us who have been listening to metal since before the internet was a “thing”, I think it’s safe to say there’s been something missing for a long time.

Remember that feeling you got when you went into a record store and purchased an album purely because of the cover art? That feeling right up until you actually listened to it – especially if it turned out to be as awesome as you hoped?

Or responding to an ad in the personals of a metal magazine, checking the mail every fucking day? The day your packages finally came? Ordering label direct (because nobody in the fucking country carried the albums you wanted), having it imported, and then finding in the mail? That sense of eager, hopeful anticipation, followed by cathartic release?

That feeling that has slowly ebbed out of the lives of (many) metalheads over the past few decades?

Yeah, if you want that feeling back – get the fucking box. If you’re a newer recruit to the dark side, and you’re wondering why all the old-heads remember these events fondly – get the fucking box.

It’s mail-day times approximately six hundred and sixty five plus one.

Is all Heavy Metal Based on a Single Act of Plagiarism?

Stupid click-bait title?

download

Check
(you won’t believe what happens next)

I can’t believe people still fall for that shit.

Intro:

Seriously though, for all the try-hards who fall back on the “I like metal because the artists are so original” defense, here’s a bit of a history lesson.

First, we need to establish a few things.

  1. Black Sabbath was the first metal band. This is a given (people who say Coven was the first metal band are like people who say Possessed is the first death metal band – they’re wrong and just trying to make themselves look credible because they can do a fucking google search. We get it, they had a song called Black Sabbath and a bassist named Greg “Oz” Osbourne – and released an album before Sabbath’s self-titled debut).
  2. The first heavy metal song was also called “Black Sabbath”. I have no idea what order they were written in, this was the first track on the album. It was also one of the first songs they performed live. They released a cover of “Evil Woman” as their first single, but that’s certainly not the first heavy metal song. For the purpose of defining the first metal song, my money is on Black Sabbath.
  3. Black Sabbath didn’t “write” the main riff for the first metal song. I’ll expand on this in a minute.
  4. I’m going to use bullshit American Millennial logic. You know, the kind of faux wax-philosophical logic in articles like this one, which asserts that you’re cheating on your girlfriend by checking your fucking facebook in the morning.  To be fair, my argument is a bit more sound.

Having established the first metal band and the first metal song, we can safely say these two things in conjunction were the fucking genesis of heavy metal.

Like, in the beginning there was Black Sabbath – and I saw that it was good.

Sooooo, what was the creative process behind writing the infamous first song off the self titled debut? Legend has it, Ward (their bassist) was playing a theme from “Mars, Bringer of War” from (The Planets by Gustav Holst) – specifically, the part with the tri-tone. No big surprise there, they were pretty musically diverse in their interests and influences. Iommi hears it, and then comes in the next day with the riff for “Black Sabbath”. They’re not identical, but they’re pretty fucking close.

Like, almost exact. Check it out.

(for the impatient, skip to 4:30 into the song to hear the theme I’m referencing)

(the song starts at about 27 seconds in, listen for it…)

Not quite as exact as Nile

But you get the idea.

So, if you’re going by the “college paper” rules of plagiarism, every fucking word on the planet is an act of plagiarism (including, but not limited to, Black Sabbath – and by association all of metal). Every fucking musical note in history is blatantly copying the first ape to bang two rocks together.

Plagiarism, Influence, and an Homage are NOT the same thing!

There is no such thing as an original thought. Every goddamn thing that has ever gone through your brain or come out of your mouth (the two are not always connected) has been done before. Everything.

That’s why we have a thing called influence – a concept to explain the natural progression of human expression based on the sum total of all the information they’ve processed in their miserable existence.

You do have to kind of draw a line in the sand here – there’s a clear distinction between a strong influence and completely robbing someone’s art and calling it your own.

Influence:

In the example of Sabbath and Holst, we’re looking at influence. The guys in Sabbath took the idea of a tri-tone, and worked their own into a song that (eventually) helped define the band’s signature sound. And by correlation, helped to define metal as a whole. That can easily be confused as plagiarism, but it’s different.

Homage:

In the example of Nile and Holst, Nile was paying an homage to Holst. It’s a public tribute – they adapted it to their own work, but instead of writing another into to a song about a god of war, they opted to use their own version of his into (paying tribute in the title of the song). This is a form of flattery.

Plagiarism:

If you want plagiarism, look to Papa Roach or some shitty tier 2-3 band that stopped being relevant the second they entered the music scene.

Example 1) The entire career of Papa Roach

Last Resort? Try Genghis Khan

Dead Cell? Try Sanctuary

Between Angels and Insects? Try Prowler.

How about that time the band ripped off Keane?

I seriously hate this fucking band. I think they have more accusations of plagiarism than they have singles.

Example 2) Annihilator’s “Snap” riff sounds suspiciously like Rammstein’s “Ich Tu Dir Weh”

And by “suspiciously like”, I mean note for fucking note.

How do you tell the difference?

How can a person say one band isn’t ripping another off, but another band is?

Influence is using a similar pattern to the person who influenced you. Homage is admitting you’re playing the same thing as another artist in a sort of tribute to them. Plagiarism is just stealing another artist’s work and calling it your own.

Papa Roach didn’t play something similar to Maiden – they played exactly the same riff as Maiden. At least 3 times. In 3 different fucking songs, 2 of them from the same album. And once you’ve hit 2 songs from the same Iron Maiden album, you’re already crossing from homage territory into copyright infringement. Especially when you give no mention or credit to maiden until you’re caught red handed in an interview, and try to pass it off as an homage.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand:

You could make a broad argument that Black Sabbath launched their career (and all of metal) through plagiarism – and you wouldn’t be entirely wrong.

Well, no, you’d be entirely wrong.

But seriously, metal is full of people borrowing other people’s riffs/lyrics. Just ask Iron maiden.

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