Search

metal stuff

It's stuff, about metal

Category

Metal Chicks

Grulog’s Essential Funeral Doom: Slow

Every once in a while, you stumble across a musical act that transcends artistic boundaries. To call people like this musicians alone wouldn’t be fair or accurate – they’re artists in the real sense of the word.

I listen to a fuck-ton (actual measurement) of metal – a bare minimum of 8 hours a day while I’m at work (and then, to mix things up, I listen to metal when I go home) – and I’ll tell you, I can count the number of metal bands who fall into the “artist” category on one hand.

32804673_2102985469988210_2959725941506441216_n

Slow is one of those bands. I’m not here to review any albums – anything worth saying in terms of album reviews has already been done by minds much greater then my own (minds such as Cody motherfuckin Davis of “Metal Injection” and Master of Muppets from “Angry Metal Guy”).

In fact, unless a band approaches me I prefer to focus on the artist and how/why they do what they do. The reader can decide for themselves whether or not to check it out, and enter into the experience without any pre-existing bias.

And for a band like Slow, I feel like anything less would be doing my readers a disservice. This isn’t a “singles” band, this is a “listen to the whole album in one sitting and then contemplate your life” band.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Basics:

3540375410_logo

Band Name: SLOW (Silence Lives Out/Over Whirlpool)
Country of Origin: Belgium
Years Active: 2007-Present
Metal Archives Entry: https://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Slow/3540375410
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/slowdooom
Myspace: https://myspace.com/slowonline
Bandcamp: https://slowdooom.bandcamp.com/
Members: Déhà (Instruments, Vocals), Lore (Lyrics, Concepts, Bass)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Interview:

What is the significance of “Silence Lives Out/Over Whirlpool” (SLOW)

(Déhà) : When I started this project twelve years ago, it was a counter-project for Yhdarl (my other very dark, suicidal-theme band). I wanted something which was metaphorical for what I wanted : a complete drone soundscape (Whirlpool), that is not violent (Silence). Out/Over is the meaning of “it goes everywhere”, if you will. I must admit I was very young at the time, but it still makes sense to me nowadays.

~~~~~~

What made you choose Funeral Doom as the artistic medium for your work in Slow?

(Déhà) : I chose funeral doom because I wanted a way to express feelings that are a bit ‘trippy’, without necessarily being depressive (like album I and II). Starting from III, I was getting a little more influences from death/doom, but I stuck with funeral doom because I simply love this kind of music. There’s nothing more than this.

~~~~~~

Lore did a phenomenal job capturing the essence of the music lyrically with Oceans (enough so that I had difficulty believing more than one person was privy to the project). Even the cadence of the words is perfect. What made you approach her specifically to write lyrics to Oceans?

(Lore) : Thank you.

(Déhà) : Lore did the most perfect job for Oceans. In the beginning, she was just ‘for help’, but after the amount of emotions she put into this album, as well as time and focus, there was no way I could not propose her to join the band. It became so evident to me. Obvious even.
She got it all right at first listen. That’s quite a sign, isn’t it?

~~~~~~

Listening to your work in Slow from Gaia forward there’s definitely a progression in sound, with everything from guitar tone to the application and use of synth. Would you consider that to be due to growth as a musician, access to more and different equipment, a combination of these things, or something else?

(Déhà) : I believe yes, but mainly simply by going further in the music. I & II are, for me, the first “period” of the band (being instrumental and more drone-ish), III & IV are the second period, and starting from V, we have something else. I can’t stress enough the time spent to control my studio (hence production). It’s, I believe, a normal evolution.

~~~~~~

All of your albums with Slow seem to take grand (and universal) archetypes and weave a story into and through them. 

-With Gaia, the synth kind of carried the narritive in place of vocals. 
-With Mythologiæ there’s a progression using mythological (greek, if i’m not mistaken) archetypes to give subconscious form to the journey of an individual.
-With Oceans, the journey/struggle of the individual is at the forefront and the ocean seems to be the metaphor.

My question is: Do you purposefully approach an album from the position of taking a larger theme and weaving a narrative throughout?

(Lore): I can’t speak for the previous albums as I wasn’t involved with the making of them, but with Oceans it was definitely the goal. Music is both very personal and universal – I find it important to find the right balance in that. We both want to express our thoughts and emotions, we want to tell our story, but in a way that the listener is able to understand everything and project these feelings onto himself. Making an awesome album has become almost easy nowadays, but making an album that truly touches people with its story and lingers in the mind is a far greater challenge.

~~~~~~

One constant I’ve noticed on every Slow album is this – there seems to be a thread of hope in all the doom. It manifests itself differently on different albums – on Gaia it was purely the synth, on Mythologiæ it kind of traded back and forth between the guitars and the synth, and on Oceans (interestingly enough) the guitars themselves seemed to carry it.

A lot of Funeral/Death Doom bands seem to focus purely on despair/darkness (which is fucking awesome), and the ones who do try to add that contrast end up sounding cheesy and almost campy. If your albums were a slow moving storm, there’s always a ray of sunlight in the eye. I have to ask, do you add these aesthetic qualities to your music purposefully?

(Déhà) : I believe yes. I like to believe that Slow is mostly narrative, whereas other bands are a simple, crushing smash of despair in the face. Everyone can interpret it in his or her own way. I find Gaïa being insanely positive, for example.

(Lore) : I don’t know… I think it comes naturally rather than we spend a lot of time thinking about and perfecting aesthetics. It is what makes Slow Slow in the first place. Everything is very sincere, it is not merely an image we are trying to create of ourselves. We feel very deeply, both positive and negative feelings, and try to express this in our music. There’s always a spark of light somewhere in the darkness, if you choose to look for it hard enough.

~~~~~~

It seems like, with the advent of the internet, a lot of artists simply write songs until they have enough to fill an album, and then release it. I’m certainly not the first person to notice it, but the “full album” is a disappearing art-form.

With Slow, it seems like your focus is more on writing the album as a whole (musically and conceptually) – where each of the individual pieces is part of a greater narrative and the albums are meant to be listened to in their entirety. Am I imagining this, or is that the case? 


(Déhà)
: This is the case indeed. Every album for Slow, as stated, is narrative and brings forth a story. Gaïa… Well I believe it speaks for itself, as well as Mythologiae and the (definitely greek) content, while Oceans….

(Lore)
: I agree with Deha. We aim to create ‘a whole package’ rather than ‘just an album’ because it gives everyone so much more satisfaction. The songs on Oceans are indeed meant to be listened to as one full song – that way you will truly hear how the story unfolds.

~~~~~~

Is there anything else you’d like readers/listeners to know or to keep in mind in regards to Slow?


(Déhà)
: We are working on album VI right now, which is going to be a little different, but will contain the same crushing doom music. I would dare say that it is be a bit more ‘experimental’.

(Lore)
: That we are very thankful for all the reactions and support we receive from them. Furthermore, what Deha said. We are constructing a small monument as we speak, so keep your eyes and ears wide open.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

So, VI is being recorded as you read this, and Lore is taking over bass duties and arrangements. Fuck yes.

Lorebass

Advertisements

Should Someone Tell Lady Gaga Her “Metallica” Tattoo is Really a Death Angel Tattoo?

In the interest of full disclosure – I like Lady Gaga.

Not her music, that’s shit.

But she seems like a cool person. I’ve mentioned in other articles how cool it is that she’s a legit metal fan (Maiden and Metallica, at very least). That’s why I’m hoping an appropriate amount of time has passed to let her know that her Metallica tattoo isn’t really a Metallica tattoo.

It’s a fucking Death Angel tattoo.

From the album they released the same fucking year as Metallica’s new album (The Evil Divide).

Probably an innocent mistake. After all, Lady Gaga was performing “Moth into the Flames” with Metallica – so she presumably wanted to get a tattoo to commemorate the occasion. A moth is a natural selection to make – and she made it more “metal” by adding a skull.

Solid “E” for effort.

What I can’t believe is that nobody – fucking NOBODY – saw this and was like, “Hey, Lady Gaga, that’s a really cool tattoo idea. But that’s the symbol on Death Angel’s new album.”

Que Gratuitous Fantasy Montage

I like to picture it going down something like this. The tattoo artist was a disgruntled thrash-head from back in the day. He had a strong preference for Death Angel’s new album over Metallica’s. And when Lady Gaga went in to describe the tattoo she wanted, he had an epiphone.

haha
“She’ll thank me in the long run, ‘The Evil Divide’ was much better than Hardwired”

“I’m going to troll the fuck out of Metallica at the Grammy’s” the anonymous tattoo artist thought to himself. At one point he even whispered, “I’ve got your fucking Black album right here, Sell-outtica”

Lady Gaga (hypothetically) responded with a, “What? I couldn’t quite hear you.”

He responds, “Nothing”, and diligently goes back to work. The hilarity of Lady Gaga showing off a Death Angel tattoo to honor Metallica  gets him through the 4-7 hours of tattooing – in fact, he debated not charging her.

After all, virtue is it’s own reward.

Later that day, I like to picture said tattoo artist meeting up with his buddy for a few brews. The topic of conversation – how horrible every Metallica album after “Justice” was (the same conversation they’ve been having for roughly 30 years).

After said tattoo artist relays his work of creative genius to his friend, the response was appreciative but inquisitive. “Do you really think anyone watching will get the reference? I mean, it’s pure fucking genius. But unless they’re thrash fans, they might not get it. You have to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Like, a lot more people would understand if they played a Metallica song while Megadeth walked up to accept an award. Lowbrow – lowest common denominator stuff”

Reflectively, the tattoo artist responded, “I guess you’re right. But honestly, I don’t even think people would get the Megadeth/Metallica reference. That’s still a bit obscure for this audience. You’d have to have something really low-brow, like the announcer forgetting to even fucking mention Metallica. And even that slight might be overlooked unless something more urgent followed – for fuck’s sake they’d have to leave Hetfield’s mic off for like 1/3 to 1/2 the song.”

His friend responded, “That’s fucking brilliant. I bet that’s all they’d report on Metal Sucks and Metal Injection, they’d milk that fucking cow for like 3 days.”

Unbeknownst to them, a few select members of the Grammy planning committee were (presumably) listening in at a nearby table. They realize that this is the perfect way to keep people talking about the event for days.

Quick Aside

I like to picture them drinking something with an umbrella in it.

umbrella-drink-199x300

But I digress

Back to the Fantasy Montage

So, the night of the Grammy’s, the plan comes to fruition. Everything goes according to plan.

Meanwhile, the real hero of the night is overlooked.

3231-lady-gaga-displays-lots-of-skin-at-grammys

Back to Reality

We here at Metal Stuff salute you, (hypothetical) brave soul who offered up the real middle finger to Metallica for playing the very awards show that snubbed them in favor of fucking Jethro Tull for the very first metal award ever.

A Side Note to Lady Gaga

This is why we don’t get spontaneous tattoos. On the bright side, if you’re trying to get credibility in metal culture – a Death Angel tattoo goes a lot further than a Metallica tattoo nowadays.

 

Women, Violence, Sexism, and Metal

 

Introduction

I’d like to start this by saying  that I do not believe that there is an inherent bias towards or against female listeners or performers in metal culture. I think that there is a gender gap/dynamic, but this is only a problem in as much as the gender demographics relate to music in general.

I’ve never heard anyone complain about the fact that pop artists discriminate against males by catering to a predominantly female audience.When’s the last time you read about misandry in a music scene? Or are songs about killing men and hiding their bodies, or committing felonious acts against personal property of men? Because country music has both of those – “Goodbye Earl” and “Before He Cheats”, respectively. Or how about just google searching “songs that bash men“?

I’m not saying “oh, poor men. we’re so oppressed” or anything of the sort. I’m saying that the people who cry misogyny  are just looking for an excuse to bash metal in the never-ending quest for political correctness. Or, at best, they’re looking at a small fraction of metal and spinning it to paint it in a negative context without taking time to understand the half century of culture surrounding the music (which, like with anything, provides the necessary context to bring clarity to the subject). Either way, it’s a ridiculous double standard – coming from people who say they’re trying to end double standards, I consider it hypocrisy at it’s best/worst.

Violence/Disturbing Material in Metal Lyrics

First and foremost – of fucking course there’s violence in metal lyrics. It’s aggressive music. If they were singing about love/flowers/hippie shit it wouldn’t work. Nobody ever accused Johnny Cash of inciting people to violence when he wrote “Folsom Prison Blues” – and he sings about shooting a man just to watch him die.

The Beatles wrote “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” about a fictional character who kills people with a fucking hammer – granted they were a tad less graphic than, say, Cannibal Corpse’s song “Hammer Smashed Face”. But at the end of the day, they were singing about the same thing – fictional characters murdering people with fucking hammers. Oddly enough, you don’t really hear anyone saying “oh, shame on the Beatles”.

The Rolling Stones can sing a song about having sex with a dead man and people flock to see them – but when Slayer writes a song called “Necrophiliac” people get all up in arms about it.

These examples are being used to illustrate a greater point – in metal music, there are going to be songs about violence against women (and disturbing subject matter in general). Taken at face value, this seems like something to rally against. But it’s not advocating violence against specific women (or women in general), and (I would argue) there are more metal songs with lyrical content dealing with violence against men. As a matter of fact, there’s probably a metal song about violence against everything on earth it’s possible to commit an act of violence against. So, women aren’t being exclusively singled out here – metal is an equal opportunity genre when it comes to violent lyrics.

So, I can certainly see why a girl might feel a bit odd singing along with a Cannibal Corpse song like “Fucked with a Knife” – I totally fucking get it. But, like anyone who’s familiar with the music, I think it’s safe to say she should know these songs aren’t about her. I’ll take it one further – there has never been a Cannibal Corpse fan (in the history of ever) who has committed acts of violence against women as laid out in a Cannibal Corpse song. Quite the opposite, the reason the lyrics work in context of the music is because the audience members (male and female) find them disturbing.

Are there people who are fucked in the head and claim inspiration from music to commit atrocities? Sure. The best example I can think of is the Helter Skelter murders. And Helter Skelter is a song about a fucking slide in England. However, almost 50 years after the Tate/LaBianca murders, I don’t think a single person in their right mind would say that the Beatles should have been silenced (or the White Album banned).

Discrimination Against Women in Metal Culture

Now, this is a topic I think warrants a bit more discussion. People who participate in the metal subculture don’t exist in a vacuum – the very name “subculture” means it’s a piece of a larger culture. As such, it’s good to keep this in mind when you’re discussing a topic like the treatment of women. I’m not making excuses for the prevalence of misogynist material in metal (extreme metal in particular), I’m saying that if you cherry-pick an argument it doesn’t deserve serious consideration.

Now, in metal academia it was first observed/stated by Deena Weinstein ( a female sociologist from outside the metal scene)in her book, “Heavy Metal: The Music and it’s Culture” that heavy metal culture formed around groups of men shortly after the fracturing of “hippie” culture. The fanbase already existed, and it was predominantly working class white males in Western industrial countries (the US and UK). And as it was a culture that formed and “normed” around this particular group, it’s natural that certain subjects, behaviors, etc that appeal exclusively to this group would be incorporated into the culture.

This includes (but isn’t limited to) styles of clothing and behavior within the cultural setting. Considering the fact that metal culture started increasing at the same time as the feminist movement was gaining social momentum in the United States (also observed by Weinstein in her book) – it can be viewed as a reactionary movement in the sense that it is a space where masculine qualities are socially acceptable.

In the words of Corey Taylor (Slipknot/Stone Sour)

“heavy metal is the last bastion of real rebellion, real masculinity, real men basically getting together and beating their chests”

 

Now, I don’t think that anyone would argue that Heavy Metal is anything but masculinist (at least in terms of gender dynamics). But is Masculinist the same thing as misogynistic? Quite simply, the answer is no. Celebrating and encouraging patterns of behavior and social norms that have been denoted as masculine does not in any way, shape, or form promote a dislike of the feminine. Quite the opposite, I would argue that an appreciation of the feminine is an inherent part of traditional masculinity. And any attempt to correlate or confuse the two terms is quite simply yellow journalism – sensationalism for the sake of sensationalism.

On Discrimination Against Female Metal Artists and Fans

At face value, this seems like one of the stronger arguments that there is a good deal of discrimination in metal culture. There is certainly a notable gender gap when it comes to the proportion of male v.s. female metal artists. Just like the fanbase, the pool of metal artists is predominantly male. And as you traverse the spectrum of music from mainstream into extreme metal – the gap gets considerably larger.

There are a lot of factors that contribute to this – I would argue that the main factor is that metal music appeals to men as a demographic significantly more than it does to women. This isn’t groundbreaking or cause for alarm – as I mentioned before, there are plenty of musical markets and cultures that appeal almost exclusively to a female demographic. I have yet to see an article accusing Adele of hating men because her fanbase is predominantly female. In fact, it makes perfect sense that a woman who makes music that deals with feminine attitudes and issues and presents a very effeminate sonic format would appeal to women. Almost as much sense as music that deals with predominantly male attitudes, made by predominantly male artists, in a masculine sonic format will appeal to a predominantly male audience. Hmmmm….

And the biggest (or most visible) critics of masculine metal culture have no fucking clue about the music. For example, this article in the Houston Press was written by a girl who obviously isn’t very familiar with metal culture beyond dipping her toes in the mainstream. Articles like this couldn’t be further from the truth, and are reflective of a general trend among hipster “Social Justice Warriors” to see a problem where there isn’t one. For every woman who fails to gain popularity in the metal scene – there are probably 50-100 guys who fail as well. And it’s not because of what’s between their legs – it’s because their music probably sucks.

If she really wants to get mad about a legitimate problem – how about talking about living in a culture that denotes a possession/love of power with masculinity. Because that, more than anything, is the argument behind why there is so little female participation in metal. Heavy Metal is a music and culture that celebrate power in various forms.

Now – I’ve heard the argument that female metal artists have to (essentially) dress like sluts/groupies to get any attention in the metal community. I can think of a few women who break that mold…

As a matter of fact – the girls in Arch Enemy, Eluveitie, Unleash the Archers, Huntress, Kittie, Otep, The Agonist, Kittie (the list could go on all day) prove exactly the opposite is true. In fact, I would argue that women in metal have a LOT more credibility if they dress like fucking metalheads.

Now, let’s take a look at a few bands who perpetuate the “sex kitten” stereotype in metal.

Bands like “The Butcher Babies” and “In This Moment” certainly make it look like women have to use sex to make it big in the metal world. But, I would argue that they lack a certain degree of respect specifically because they do this. Sex obviously sells across genders, it’s kind of a mainstream “I win” button when it comes to selling albums. It’s what pop stars (and stars from every other mainstream genre) do, and quite frankly I consider the practice utter filth. So, this isn’t a problem with JUST metal – this is a problem in the record industry in general that translates to metal (as it relates to the music industry). So don’t blame fucking metal and it’s fanbase for a broader cultural problem.

I can’t think of a single metalhead male I’ve ever met who thinks that these acts (Butcher Babies, In This Moment, etc) are anything even close to credible – and they most likely wouldn’t buy their music. Not because they’re women in metal, because they’re women who are degrading themselves in metal to make a few bucks. If they had the musical talent necessary to make it in metal, skimpy clothing wouldn’t even be on the table. There’s a reason Doro is a fucking legend in metal – because she didn’t compromise herself.

So, we can kind of see a pattern here – the only female metalheads who use sex appeal over talent are the more mainstream bands. And I have a big problem with this. Not because I dislike the thought of women using any tools at their disposal to make it big – that’s fucking awesome. Not because I don’t like scantily clad women – because I fucking love that shit. I have a problem with it because mainstream metal is the gateway for people to get into some of the harder, underground stuff. And if the first thing girls see is a bunch of scantily clad female metal artists, they’re going think this is the way they need to dress when they go to a metal show.

Why it’s Good to Pay Attention to What You’re Wearing at a Metal Show

Now, there’s nothing wrong with women wearing scant clothing at a show. But, it’s good to keep in mind that there’s already a culture of women who go to shows in sexy clothing. They’re called groupies. And within groupie culture, dressing in a certain way signals that these girls are there specifically to try and have sex with the band. Not in a “they’re being taken advantage of” or a “this is the only way women can participate in the culture” sort of way. In an empowering, these girls are exactly where they want to be doing exactly what they want to do sort of way.

However, this does present a cultural problem. Girls that emulate a mainstream metal female (and decide to dress in a promiscuous fashion) are probably going to be mistaken as a groupie. Not because all men are pigs, but because their fellow females have participated in creating a groupie culture within metal and hard rock. A culture that’s so ingrained that there are typically three types of backstage passes – one for people who have paid, one for women who have performed sexual favors for the road crew, and one for women who have been selected to come backstage and have a chance at performing sexual favors for the band(s).

This isn’t based on any science – just simple observation. A very liberal estimate puts the ratio of guys to girls at a metal show at roughly 9/1. Meaning at least 90% of the crowd in at any given metal show is male. And out of the 10% that’s female, you’ve got enough groupies and tag-along girlfriends who don’t even really listen to metal where a certain amount of stereotyping is just going to happen.

Now, these numbers are changing (thank god, a few women certainly bring a breath of fresh air into the sausage party that is a metal show) – but the only real way to get rid of these negative stereotypes is for girls to go to metal shows. Not just as a tag-along girlfriend (there’s nothing wrong with this, but there’s a reason that stereotype exists), and not just to dress promiscuously with the hopes of hooking up with either the band or someone in the audience. The more genuine female metalheads there are at shows, the more that stereotype will disappear.

im-with-the-band-pamela-des-barrescover of “I’m With the Band: Confessions of a Groupie”

And when I say “genuine female metalheads”, I mean girls who are fans of the music, participate in the culture, and are not there for the express purpose of finding a sexual partner. And unless you’re willing to dis-empower groupies, this is probably going to always be the case. Can groupies be genuine metal fans? Sure. Will they ever be viewed as anything other than a sex object by the majority of metal fans? Probably not – seeing as sex is part of the base on Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, you’re never going to be able to compete with several millions years of instinct. So, for the same reason the guys in Magic Mike will never be viewed for their acting talent – groupies and those who dress like groupies will always be initially viewed as sex objects. I’m not trying to say men are blameless victims of evolution or something – but that’s pretty much the way humans (male and female) are wired.

groupies

Visual cues aren’t limited to groupie dress codes – when I talk about something like “unwritten rules of metal“, I’m referring to cultural norms, many of which are based on visual cues. Metal Culture relies heavily on visual cues 1) because humans are predominantly visual creatures and 2) because in many areas of the world metal is shunned. The easiest and fastest way to communicate your love of a particular band, or participation in metal culture generally, is through (what is commonly referred to as) ‘the uniform’.

types

Side note – this is why I make a big deal out of mainstream culture co-opting the metal uniform over the past few years. It’s sending false signals – there’s nothing quite as annoying as walking up to someone in a metal shirt and finding out they don’t listen to the band/album displayed on the shirt.

Dealing with Metal “Gatekeepers”

Women have a legitimate gripe in this area, and I’m 100% against someone coming up to another person at a show and quizzing them as a way of forcing them to display their “metal credibility”. And girls do get this a lot more than guys. But it’s not exclusively a female problem – in fact it’s such a widespread phenomenon that Brien Posehn made a music video/song about it…

So, even if we get to a point where this doesn’t happen to women more frequently than men, it’s still going to happen. Because assholes are everywhere.

Also, don’t call them elitists. Metal elitists are cool as fuck. People who do stuff like this are just plain assholes.

 

Why Metalheads honor the memory of Sophie Lancaster

Introduction

9 years ago this month (August 24th, 2007), a terrible tragedy in England resonated throughout the sub-cultural (and mainstream) communities around the world.

Sophie Lancaster and her boyfriend (Robert Maltby) were targeted by a group of thugs and brutally attacked. There was no provocation – they were chosen because of the way they dressed (as I understand it they were part of the English Goth community).

Although Goths and Metalheads are separate and distinct cultures, there is a good deal of crossover between them (as there is with a lot of sub-cultures). Enough crossover, in fact, that both the young men committing the criminal act and the witness who called the paramedics referred to them (among other things) as “moshers” (a pejorative term to refer to goths, metalheads, and other similar looking subscribers to sub-cultures in England, as I understand it).

And this wasn’t an isolated incident. I’m not saying anything sensationalist here – heavy metal and other subcultures aren’t under constant attack. But when you participate in any subculture/counter culture, it’s good to remember that there’s going to be a broad spectrum of reaction from the mainstream cultures (and other subcultures, for that matter) that’s going to include (but isn’t limited to) physical retaliation and violence.

Given the Dionysian, Hedonistic, Anti-Social (not Asocial, as most people tend to define it) cultural tendencies metalheads, goths, punks, emo kids, scene kids, etc tend to share – it’s not surprising that there is often a negative reaction from a predominantly Apollonian mainstream culture.

So, while I have absolutely no idea whether or not Sophie Lancaster and her boyfriend actually listened to heavy metal or were part of the subculture – it’s a moot point. To someone who comes from a place outside of these cultures – they’re all one and the same. Ben Moores (a teenage metalhead) was attacked in a similar manner to Sophie 5 years later.

An American Perspective to Illustrate a Greater Point

And I have to admit, as an American Metalhead my knowledge is inherently biased towards my own experience and those of my peers. For example – I’m much more familiar with the cultural persecution of metalheads in America from the Satanic Panic of the 1980’s and early 1990’s and the subsequent cultural fallout.

Judas Preist and Ozzy Osbourne were both put on trial after young men who were fans of their music committed suicide. Christian youth behavioral modification camps capitalized on the satanic panic to “de-metalize” or “de-punk” rebellious youth. American police were trained to recognize and discriminate against metalheads. Censorship as a part of a multi-faceted attack on heavy metal that includes religious moral and political concerns from the dominant culture is nothing new. (Sound of the Beast, by Ian Christe, chapter 17)

When the Columbine tragedy occurred, mainstream culture and the media were quick to associate the young men’s association to heavy metal as the culprit.

Three teenage boys (dubbed the West Memphis Three) were scapegoated in a brutal murder case of three young boys on circumstantial evidence and held for 18 years. Even after they were freed (they were obviously innocent – this was the subject of several documentaries) – they had to agree to a plea deal where the state admitted no wrongdoing.

After the brutal rape and murder of Elyse Pahler, her parents (unsuccessfully) sued Slayer twice as the cause of the horrid attack.

In Arizona, when Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot – the media was quick to point out Jared Loughner’s association with heavy metal music through his love of a single Drowning Pool song.

And, although marginalized, the demonization of heavy metal and it’s followers by the church continues in the United States to this day.

What Does this all Mean?

When a mainstream/dominant culture demonizes or vilifies a smaller sub-group on a large-scale/macro level, there tend to be individual manifestations of this within the interactions between members of those cultures on a micro/individual level.

If the church and the government in the United States had not brought mainstream culture to a state of panic concerning heavy metal in the United States (elected representatives publicly speaking against the music, media demonizing fans and musicians alike, congressional hearings spurred by the PMRC resulting in the censorship and subsequent economic sanctions that occurred as a result, etc), there most likely wouldn’t have been such a tendency towards blaming heavy metal for societal ills on an individual/micro level.

Applying this to the situation in England, I’m guessing that greater cultural norms had a significant impact on the social landscape of the country. Considering that the pejorative term “mosher” even exists to describe anyone who is a member of the subcultures being discussed in this article – I’d say that’s a pretty safe bet. The negative mainstream cultural connotations attributed to metalheads and goths (and others) can be seen as both an indirect and a direct cause of these brutal hate crimes. This sort of hatred didn’t come out of thin air – it’s a logical conclusion that a similar societal pattern existed in England to the one in the United States that led to where we are today.

So, the legacy of Sophie Lancaster is best exemplified through the Sophie Lancaster Foundation – which is focused on creating respect for and understanding of subcultures within communities.

Moving Forward

I would argue that there is a responsibility on behalf of the global community of such subcultures (metalheads included) to not only remember such horrible events, but to recognize societal patterns that have proven historically to lead to this sort of violence and intolerance.

Because it’s not limited to England and the United States (or Christianity) – I recently wrote a piece dealing with a situation in Romania where the church has caused a stir in the local community.

darkfuneralconvo

After receiving the blessing (sic) of Lord Ahriman of Dark Funeral to use some of what he was saying/reporting on in the area, I wrote a piece detailing how the a Russian Orthodox Priest had petitioned the local government in protest of Dark Funeral’s recent concert in the area. the government, in turn, issued a vocal statement that they would allow the priest to decide who did or did not play at public venues in the area.

The problem with this is that in similar instances across the globe where a particularly fundamentalist religious population enlists and is granted government aide to strip a group of citizens of their rights leads to a societal marginalization that can (and has) led to individual incidents of violence against people of that particular group. And metal culture has been proven to be particularly susceptible to this around the world.

Whether it’s in Africa, South America, Latin America, the US, Europe, Russia, China, Malaysia, India, or anywhere else on the globe – it’s good for people to be aware that this sort of thing can and does happen.

Metalhead response to what happened to Sophie Lancaster has been a global phenomenon – it got a dialogue going where it was urgently needed, there have been metal festivals dedicated to her, Bloodstock Open Air has a stage dedicated to her, charity shows for the Sophie Lancaster foundation, a charity album, and most importantly – social change via legislation that classifies subculture abuse as a hate crime. And it’s something that, almost a decade later, still resonates with people on a very human level.

I think it’s safe to say this is, globally, something worth supporting.

 

Opeth Have a Supernatural, Quasi-Mystical Power Over Vaginas

I thought that with the upcoming release of Opeth’s album “Sorceress” it’d be a good time to reflect on the band. Past releases, current musical direction etc.

Also, the fact that Opeth are vagina magnets. I’m pretty sure it’s 100% scientific fact that every girl that likes metal likes Opeth (to be fair, pretty much everyone likes Opeth. I’d have an easier time listing off the metalheads I know who don’t like them). Seriously though, gaze upon this montage of women who like the band enough to get the logo tattooed on their bodies.

Never-mind the legions of female fans who aren’t as inclined to permanently etch it onto their skin.Now, there are any number of reasons why women might be so spellbound by this band.

Maybe it’s the fact that they’re a group with solid musicianship who can tastefully transition from full on guttural death metal to prog to “artsy-fartsy” avante garde material in a single song.

Maybe it’s the fact that they can do all of that, while still somehow remaining consistent in their work while still broadening their musical repertoire.

Or maybe, just maybe, the lead singer (Michael Akerfeldt) sold his soul to the devil. And instead of asking for fame and fortune (as is tradition in blues and rock music, or so the legend goes) – he asked for absolute power over female metalheads, without having to sell out in the process.

devil crossroadsArtistic rendition of the crossroads transaction between the Devil and Michael Akerfeldt

It’s literally the only explanation that makes sense. Because traditionally,  women tend to shy away from guttural vocals and full on brutal death metal (there are exceptions, of course). But women flock to this band like chicks in college do to that deuchebag who sits under a tree, plays four chords, and sings “really deep” love songs. And they don’t dress up like prissy, mainstream boy-bands pretending to play metal – these guys are the real McCoy.

In fact, with the exception of the last album (Pale Communion) Opeth has a solid lineup of albums that do not disappoint. And their recent signing to Nuclear Blast also signals they’re going to be moving in a much heavier direction – which I enjoy. If you’re new to Opeth or would like to check them out, the folks at reddit made a handy flowchart:

Opeth

or just check out the latest single for the new album

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑