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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.

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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.

 

Behemoth’s Poznan Concert a Major Victory for Free Speech in Poland

Metal culture is a global phenomenon that generally transcends nationalistic borders, and as an American Metalhead I like to stay as informed as possible about global attitudes and trends regarding heavy metal.

For example, I’ve written on the illegal promise of a local government to allow the Roman Orthodox Church in Romania to “approve” what bands are allowed to play in the country. This promise was in direct violation of Romania’s constitution – and the government’s silence is the equivalent of supporting this sort of discrimination. Not OK. And small decisions like this have greater cultural implications – if you allow a non-governmental entity to determine governmental policy (including disbursement of public funds), you’re allowing that non-governmental group to make governmental decisions

This is where a recent political decision from Poland comes into play. Since roughly 2007, religion-based political groups have been petitioning the Polish government to ban a list of musical groups they deem satanic from playing in the country. This list included Polish natives Behemoth.

Around the same time, Behemoth front-man Nergal controversially destroyed a bible onstage during a show, and criminal charges were filed against him (I think it’s safe to say there’s no love lost between Polish religious groups and Behemoth). The ensuing court cases stretched over a number of years (until around 2012 I believe), and the last I checked he was acquitted. No surprise – after all, he’s kind of a big deal in Poland.

Then in 2014, a scheduled show in Poznan, Poland was cancelled due to vague “safety concerns”. Nergal rightfully called out the actions of those in power for what they were – political maneuvering to placate religious fundamentalists while avoiding controversy. Article 73 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland guarantees freedom of artistic creation and scientific research, as well as free access to cultural goods. The real violation of civil rights was not perpetrated by Behemoth, but by the church against the band and their fans.

protestors

Enter 2016 -Bogdan Freytag, chairman of the religious protest group “Faithful Poland”, petitioned Poznan’s Mayor (Jack Jaśkowiak) in the hopes of preventing Behemoth from playing yet again. Considering the incredible amount of legal power these religious groups have wielded against the band, I feel it was a bold move in the right direction for the president of the country to allow the concert to happen. Behemoth seems to think so too.

freedom-in-art

At this point you might be asking yourself, “Why is this important?” Well, simply put, it sets an example for other countries in Eastern Europe in favor of free speech, even if that speech offends the church. Which (from what I gather) is a concept that hasn’t fully taken hold in the area.

Essentially, Poland has done exactly what Romania should have done. Because if you look closely, there’s a pattern here – religious groups exercising their constitutional rights in a country for the express purpose of denying those same rights to a large segment of the population. It happened in Poland in 2007, and it took almost a decade to undo the damage. That’s why it’s important to put a spotlight on small local governments making seemingly innocuous concessions to religious groups (or any protest groups) – because those decisions set a legal precedent with far reaching legal implications.

So, in the greater scheme of things – Behemoth’s ability to finally play in Poland is a victory for free speech (and metal).

Heavy Metal and Christianity

All human social groups share certain characteristics – on a micro level (individual interactions) and on a macro level (large-scale group dynamics). For the purposes of this article, I could choose any large social group in the world – religious or otherwise. I chose to use Christianity for two reasons.

First, the rather tenuous relationship between Metal Culture and Christianity since February 13th, 1970, when Black Sabbath released their first album.

Second – heavy metal collectively has the largest and most loyal global fanbase of any style of music (at least according to statistics released by music streaming service Spotify). Considering Christianity has the largest following of any religion on earth, they’re probably the best point of comparison (i.e. the largest faith based and entertainment based communities in the world). And you might be shocked at the number of similarities between the two.

Please keep in mind this is an observational piece, and is by no means all-encompassing. On to the discussion.

Similarities:

Both are large-scale global “bricolage” cultures

Metal and Christianity are global phenomenons, with legions of dedicated fans/followers on every populated continent. Christianity and Heavy Metal transcend language and culture, as well as economic barriers.

Christianity broke off/fractured from it’s parent culture (Judaism) when the population base reached a critical mass. It later fractured into distinct branches (Orthodox, Catholic, then Protestant with Martin Luther), which have continued to splinter into smaller sub-groups. The sheer number of different denominations is staggering, but all of them fall under the larger umbrella term of Christianity.

Metal broke off/fractured from it’s parent culture (Rock and Roll) when the fan base reached a similar critical mass. It later fractured into two distinct branches (Mainstream and Underground/Extreme), which have continued to splinter into smaller sub-genres. The sheer number of different sub-genres is staggering, but all of them fall under the larger umbrella term of Heavy Metal.

Both Share Similar Spectrums of Adherence

In both Christian and Metal cultural groups there are spectrums of adherence that range from exclusive to inclusive (and everything inbetween). This is a natural occurrence – because as the population of a group increases, so does the number of different opinions within that group.

A good example would be the “real” or “true” member debates. Within Christianity, there is an ongoing discussion in terms of what constitutes a “real” or “true” Christian. A parallel can be seen in the whole “real” or “true” metalheads v.s. posers discussion. in other words, both cultures have their fair share of “infighting” over multiple definitions of adherence.

Have you ever heard someone say, “Why do we need all these subgenres? Why can’t we just call it all metal like we used to?” or something similar? Spend enough time on metal forums, Facebook groups, or with metalheads in general and you might notice it’s a rather common topic of discussion.

Interestingly enough, when discussing the relative diversity of Christianity with Christians I’ve heard similar sentiments (We don’t need all these different denominations/I don’t know why we can’t just call it all Christianity).

There is some merit to these arguments, because all sub-genres and scenes fall under the greater spectrum of Heavy Metal just like all protestant and catholic denominations fall under the greater spectrum of Christianity. So, they’re accurate – just not very specific.

Both are Historically Male-Dominated Cultures

Considering both Christian and Heavy Metal culture are derivatives of Western Culture (which is mostly male dominated) this shouldn’t be that much of a surprise.

There is a major difference here though – Christianity was systematically set up to exclude women from positions of power pretty much since it’s inception. A good example of that would be the taboo against female priests/pastors. Metal, however, is masculinist (as opposed to patriarchal).

So, while both social systems formed with predominantly male influence – in this instance the difference is a huge one. Within the church’s social structure – rules have to be changed to allow women to serve the culture in major roles such as a priest or pastor.

Heavy metal has no such restrictions. A women entering the metal scene simply has to navigate social norms that are traditionally considered to be masculine (I’m talking about the scene here, not the industry. All Western industry is patriarchal). The proof is in the pudding here, while the two systems may seem comparable, the end result(s) of the respective social structures for different genders can clearly be seen and differentiated.

Both Christianity and Heavy Metal Have Radical “Fringe Groups”

Both Christianity and Metal Culture have a few skeletons in the closet. Heavy Metal has such gems as National Socialist Black Metal and Hatecore (technically punk, like all of the “-core” derivations, but included here because of hardcore’s association with metal), while Christianity boasts the Ku Klux Klan, the Aryan Nations and other Christian Identity groups.

“Fringe” hate groups in Metal

“Fringe” hate groups in Christianity

These fringe groups aren’t just about racism, anti-abortion violence in the United States and abroad generally has Christian undertones. And Heavy Metal has it’s own share of isolated, hate-filled violence. From the infamous church burnings and murders to instances of torture, it’s safe to say there are a few very seriously disturbed individuals on the fringes of the scene.

In both instances, the major block of the respective cultures renounce the violence of the fringe groups – but these events are so violent and atrocious it’s hard to separate them completely.

Both Have a “Ritual” Component

Sociologically speaking, a metal concert could be considered a ritual experience. Rituals aren’t limited to religious expression – for instance, shaking a person’s hand as a greeting is a common social ritual.

The metal concert is a ritual of heavy metal culture worldwide. Individual customs may vary based on location, for instance in the United States it’s generally considered taboo to wear the shirt of the band you’re going to see at a show (unless it’s a tour shirt purchased at the concert). However, in other areas of the globe this isn’t necessarily the case. Also, someone not familiar with the incredible variance of metal culture might not recognize that a Black Sabbath show and a Cannibal Corpse show are both considered to fall in the general realm of metal shows.

Likewise, a church sermon is a ritual of Christian culture worldwide. Traditions in American churches might seem foreign to those in Europe or elsewhere. Snake-handling is a tradition of some churches in the southern United States, while the custom wouldn’t be recognized anywhere else in the world. Someone not familiar with the relative diversity of Christianity might not recognize that a Russian Orthodox service and a Southern Baptist service both fall in the general realm of Christian ritual.

And in both cases, the end result of a successful “ritual” is the same – they solidify social bonds between participants.

Both Utilize an Atmosphere of Persecution to Solidify Their Respective Bases

This one’s kind of interesting – as both Heavy Metal and Christianity have a history of persecution. In fact, considering the universal symbol of Christianity is an instrument of torture used against the founder (the cross), one could argue that Christianity is based on a mindset of persecution. Likewise, the founder of heavy metal (Ozzy, through Black Sabbath) was publicly persecuted (granted, he wasn’t tortured and killed – once of the nice things about 2,000 years of cultural advancements, as an accusation of blasphemy has certainly led to public execution historically), most notably in his Suicide Solution trial in the 80’s.

Funny thing about a culture of persecution – it tends to solidify social bonds of the persecuted group and lend a universal sense of purpose through opposition of the invisible “other”. Metal bands and Priests/Pastors alike take advantage of this social mechanism rather liberally. I’m not saying it isn’t for good reason, in certain parts of the world Christians and Metalheads certainly are persecuted – and generally for the same reason. Because they both represent the spread of Western Culture in an area. Bearing this in mind, the tension between metal and christian cultures can be viewed in a different light.

Now, by definition these two groups aren’t mutually exclusive. You can be a christian (or a member of any other faith) and still be a metalhead. So, why is it that so many christian groups are against heavy metal? And why are so many metal artists and fans so vehemently against the christian church?

Short answer – on a macro level they’re after the same thing… membership. They might phrase it differently – Christianity generally says it’s around to “save people’s eternal souls”, while metal is generally there to “free people’s minds” and “promote individual thought”. But at the end of the day, the results are the same. A church saving a person’s soul generally implies participation in christian culture, and by inference the spread of that culture. Likewise, heavy metal grabbing a person’s attention and getting them to think for themselves usually includes participation and perpetuation of metal culture.

They Both Utilize Horror Themes

At first glance, this might seem ridiculous. But if you really break down the components of “Hellfire Preaching” and compare them to death metal lyrics, you’re likely to find a common denominator in horror themes.

In both instances, this is a manifestation of a culture catering to the morbid interests of their bases. Because at the end of the day, there isn’t that much difference between talking about people being tortured eternally in hell and singing about torture in any other medium. In this light heavy metal and hellfire sermons can both be viewed as extensions of horror themed entertainment. Because let’s face it, people like to be scared.

Also, there’s this.

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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.

 

Romanian Government Decrees all Metal Shows Must be Approved by the Church

Following a show by the band Dark Funeral at Rock Castle, Romania (a country that upholds the controversial figure Vlad the Impaler as a savior of Western civilization) has recently announced that all future metal shows in the area will have to be approved by the orthodox church. How ironic.

The first I heard of this situation was through the facebook posts of Lord Ahriman and his band Dark Funeral.

Dark Funeral

This is part of the greater narrative between metal and the church in Eastern Europe and Russia. With events such as arresting and then deporting Behemoth, sending a military unit to break up a cannibal corpse show while banning the bands lyrics and artwork, and more recently Russian Orthodox Priests spitting on metal bands at the airport – it’s safe to say the orthodox church has a stranglehold on both the government and culture of the area. Conflict between the church and extreme metal artists is not new – and often quickly reported on by independent metal media. And up until this point, the conflict has been centered on specific bands – and metal media has been quick to report on such things.

So why is it that now, when ALL METAL is being targeted by a cooperation between the government and church of Romania, is metal media silent about this? This isn’t targeted towards a specific band – they’ve literally declared that all metal shows must be approved by the church. This sort of censorship hasn’t happened in Western Culture since the fucking dark ages. Where is the metal media when it is needed the most? Where are the Social Justice Warriors/Hipsters who bitch about minor isolated occurrences in the metal scene and make them out to be such grand struggles?

I’ll tell you where they are. While parts of the world are working hand in hand with the church to ban metal music and oppress thousands of metal fans – sites like Metal Injection, MetalSucks, Blabbermouth, Pitchfork, Lambgoat, and the like are busy promoting a band that calls itself black metal while spewing a manifesto that goes completely against the spirit of the genre. They’re literally promoting a band that would see black metal reduced to a socially acceptable construct, free of the transgression inherent in the DNA of the genre.

I guess it’s only worth writing about if it effects a rich American white kid who pretends to be edgy and like transgressive art. It’s a sad day when the metal media is so self absorbed that they miss something as huge and culturally significant as what is going on in Romania right now.

Hornsuprocksdarkfuneral2016

Thank god the members of Dark Funeral have the fucking balls to stand up for transgressive art and freedom of speech and expression in an area that obviously needs it.

 

Both the Romanian government and metal media should be ashamed of themselves for their conduct (or lack thereof) towards this situation.

EDIT:

A note to the Romanian people,

I am not writing this in any way, shape, or form to insult the Romanians as a whole. The purpose of this article is to shed some light on a disturbing situation that is unfolding in your country.

Recently there was a festival at Bucovina Rock Castle with roughly 10,000 attendees. Following the show, the cultural association “Saint Metropolitan Dosoftei” caved to pressure put on them by a local priest.

The reaction was to grant him the ability to decide which bands are allowed to play in the town. This is in violation to several sections of the Romanian Constitution.

It violated article 15 (All citizens enjoy the rights and freedoms granted to them by the Constitution and other laws, and have the duties laid down thereby) by giving the priest and his congregation the freedom to take away the freedom of the 10,000 concert attendees.

Article 15
(1) All citizens enjoy the rights and freedoms granted to them by the Constitution and other laws, and have the duties laid down thereby.

It violated Article 16 (Citizens are equal before the law and public authorities, without any privilege or discrimination) in the same manner as article 15.

Article 16
(1) Citizens are equal before the law and public authorities, without any privilege or discrimination.

(2) No one is above the law.

It violated Article 29 almost in it’s entirety by forcing the religious ideals of one group on the masses.

Article 29
(1) Freedom of thought, opinion, and religious beliefs shall not be restricted in any form whatsoever. No one shall be compelled to embrace an opinion or religion contrary to his own convictions.

(2) Freedom of conscience is guaranteed; it must be manifested in a spirit of tolerance and mutual respect.

(3) All religions shall be free and organized in accordance with their own statutes, under the terms laid down by law.

(4) Any forms, means, acts or actions of religious enmity shall be prohibited in the relationships among the cults.

(5) Religious cults shall be autonomous from the State and shall enjoy support from it, including the facilitation of religious assistance in the army, in hospitals, prisons, homes and orphanages.

(6) Parents or legal tutors have the right to ensure, in accordance with their own convictions, the education of the minor children whose responsibility devolves on them)

It violated article 30 by allowing censorship of the freedom of expression of the 10,000 concert attendees:

Article 30
(1) Freedom of expression of thoughts, opinions, or beliefs, and freedom of any creation, by words, in writing, in pictures, by sounds or other means of communication in public are inviolable.

(2) Any censorship shall be prohibited.

(3) Freedom of the press also involves the free setting up of publications.

(4) No publication shall be suppressed.

(5) The law may impose upon the mass media the obligation to make public their financing source.

(6) Freedom of expression shall not be prejudicial to the dignity, honour, privacy of a person, and to the right to one’s own image.

(7) Any defamation of the country and the nation, any instigation to a war of aggression, to national, racial, class or religious hatred, any incitement to discrimination, territorial separatism, or public violence, as well as any obscene conduct contrary to morality shall be prohibited by law.

(8) Civil liability for any information or creation made public falls upon the publisher or producer, the author, the producer of the artistic performance, the owner of the copying facilities, radio or television station, under the terms laid down by law. Indictable offences of the press shall be established by law.

It restricts access to culture guaranteed under article 33…

Article 33
(1) The access to culture is guaranteed under the law.

(2) A person’s freedom to develop his/her spirituality and to get access to the values of national and universal culture shall not be limited.

(3) The State must make sure that spiritual identity is preserved, national culture is supported, arts are stimulated, cultural legacy is protected and preserved, contemporary creativity is developed, and Romania’s cultural and artistic values are promoted throughout the world.

It opens the door to economic restrictions on local metal bands not approved by the priest, and allows for the possibility of future violations of your citizen’s rights by limiting their access to the local economy in violation of article 45.

Article 45
Free access of persons to an economic activity, free enterprise, and their exercise under the law shall be guaranteed.

And the town council members are in violation of articles 54 and 57 through this act…

Article 54
(2) Citizens holding public offices, as well as the military are liable for the loyal fulfilment of the obligations they are bound to, and shall, for this purpose, take the oath as requested by law.

Article 57
Romanian citizens, foreign citizens, and stateless persons shall exercise their constitutional rights and freedoms in good faith, without any infringement of the rights and liberties of others.

So, while I might not live in Romania – the internet allows access to your laws. And your constitution is obviously based on the United States constitution (which I am very familiar with).

Maybe instead of getting angry at a person you will never meet over the internet you can focus your energies on protecting the rights of the 10,000 people who had multiple constitutional rights violations perpetrated against them to silence a dissenting priest and his congregation. Nothing about this action is OK.

Council of Suceava

When anyone acting under the authority of a government (even a public arts council who appropriates government funding) – they are acting for that government. The Suceava Council (elected officials) have responded to a letter from a pastor – stating they will allow him to have some say in who does and does not get to play in the country. So, when I say “Romanian Government decrees” that is exactly what I mean, and it is 100% true. Because, until your government says otherwise – this is the will of the Romanian government and people. You’re allowing the church to remove the rights of taxpayers, and to dictate the use of your tax dollars into cultural events that have to be approved by the church. That’s not democracy – that’s oligarchy.

Say Hello to the Face of This Years Summer Slaughter Tour

If you don’t care who funds a festival (as long as the lineup is good) you should have no problem with this article. After all, you don’t care.

But if you’re like me, you know these people…

AA-asking-alexandria-23957158-500-344black_veil_brides_by_bleedingstarclothing

…have absolutely no place representing an extreme metal festival.

Don’t get me wrong, the lineup for Summer Slaughter this year is light years ahead of what it was last year. It’s fucking fantastic… but it’s brought to you by a movie entitled, “American Satan.”

At first glance, that seems pretty cool. The names kinda lame, but at least it seems to be a rock/metal oriented movie. But then, looking at the cast, I noticed it’s starring the lead singer of the Blackveil Brides, as well as a member of Asking Alexandria.

What the actual fuck?!?

When the Summer Slaughter tour started out, it was a force to be reckoned with. They’re continually billed as “the most extreme tour of the year” and have been pretty famously advertised as catering to fans of “extreme metal”. And for the first year of their existence, this was true.

Then came the slow descent – the lineup steadily got worse every year. I would argue that a big portion of this is due to the participation of Sumerian Records. Initially the label brought diversity to the bill, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s what you’re supposed to have at a festival. But I started noticing a pattern – a few big names in death metal were being used to add star-power to a tour that progressively started catering to an indie label (like independent startup label, not to be confused with shitty millennial/hipster Indie rock).

I’m trying to think of another tour that changed their business model to cater to an indie label with a shitty roster.

Oh wait, now I remember. The Mayhem festival.

I’ll take you one further – Mayhem started to go downhill the same year that Sumerian Records got their own stage (2013). The lineup that year was actually pretty awesome (on par with how awesome this years Summer Slaughter lineup is, considering the formats of the festivals). Post 2013, these changes cause the decline I’ve been referring to. Mayhem went so far downhill, in fact, that it literally dampened the concert draw of headliners like Slayer.

Slayer had played the same venues as Mayhem the previous year, selling out concerts. Strangely, Mayhem didn’t. But why?

Kerry King said it best:

“Do I know this tour wasn’t booked correctly? Absolutely I know this tour wasn’t booked correctly. Gary Holt made the comment that usually there’s the Main Stage, a second stage, a third stage, and then that piece of shit record stage…now what they’re calling a second stage is at best a fourth stage and they’re wondering why people aren’t showing up.

In case you’re not familiar with the whole Mayhem festival debacle, I’ll save you the trouble of a google search. It completely imploded and dissolved.

So let’s recap for a second.

Mayhem festival started out with huge names, as a rather diverse metal festival. They had some heavy hitters, and then filled the roster with up-and-comers from independent record labels that catered to scenes that weren’t even fully accepted in the metal community (This is a good thing, it’s how we keep the music going – but there’s a point, I promise. Bear with me). Slowly they allowed said the independent record label to change the business model of the tour – taking creative control. The label (Sumerian) started using this opportunity as a springboard for shameless self promotion. They even changed the business model of the tour, adding a stage exclusive to the label. After these changes, the tour had one more fantastic lineup. The tour continued with the failed business model and completely dissolved within a period of two years. And it wasn’t pretty. Even Slayer couldn’t save it. Fucking Slayer. This is just as much the fault of that complete garbage label Victory Records, but they never would have been included on the tour in the first place if Sumerian hadn’t paved the way.

Summer Slaughter started out with huge names. They were a specialized festival, but still very diverse. They started making changes and incorporating bands outside the format from a certain scene-catering record label.  Enter 2016. The Summer Slaughter tour lineup is incredible (exactly what happened when Sumerian got their own stage at Mayhem ), but the promoters have allowed Sumerian to use it as a springboard to promote their shitty movie starring members of Blackveil Brides and Asking Alexandria.

The point is…change is not, by itself, a bad thing. In fact, innovation is one thing that keeps metal going. However, when a festival makes changes that have proven to be fatal for their peers, it’s a very bad thing.

Now, I’m not knocking fans of BvB or AA. I personally, despise that style of music, but different strokes for different folks. I don’t have a problem with them, or their fans.

I do, however have a problem with them being the public faces of a tour that promotes itself like Summer Slaughter does (this isn’t the fucking Warped Tour). Especially when you connect the dots and see that this is exactly the sort of business move that shut down Mayhem. I, for one, will not let the majority of my ticket sale go to putting people from Blackveil Brides and Asking Alexandria on the big screen.

A common argument I hear in favor of this sort of sellout move is that the big tours need the money to keep going. Valid argument. Hmmm, is there something they can do to keep the festival in the running without selling out? Maybe they can do what Maryland Death Fest did. They decreased the number of stages to a manageable level, kept all the bands on the bill. A few people might be butt-hurt about it, but they made a sound business move while keeping the integrity of the festival intact. And those guys have been going for at least 5-6 years longer than Summer Slaughter. So, it is not only possible to keep the integrity of the festival intact by not bowing to corporate sponsorship – it might just add to the longevity of the event.Sponsors don’t just give you money and expect nothing in return. The guys at Maryland Death Fest know this.

I think it’s safe to say, if promoters think it’s ok for members of Asking Alexandria and Blackveil Brides to be the public faces of Summer Slaughter they deserve to go down as swiftly, painfully, and publicly as Mayhem. Long live Maryland Death Fest!

Cellphone Use at Metal Shows is an Abuse of Privilege – Quit Ruining the Show for Everyone Else

First off, I’m not saying cellphones should be banned from metal shows. That would be ridiculous. There’s always going to be a situation where someone might need to leave their phone on (emergencies, etc).

Secondly, I’m not saying people shouldn’t be allowed to snap a few pictures or record a song or two. That’s an awesome keepsake – and every time you watch it, it’ll bring you back to the experience.

But I am saying that cellphone use during concerts is a privilege – not a right. I get it, you paid for your ticket. You know who else did? Everyone else at the show. Meaning you’re on the same playing field as everyone else.

For anyone whining that people on cellphones at a concert are probably in the middle of an emergency – both you and I know that’s a load of shit. If it’s enough of an emergency that you need to use your cellphone, it’s enough of an emergency to give up your spot in the front row at a concert. 99% of people on cellphones at shows are texting or doing shit on Facebook.

And using the possibility of an emergency to justify texting a buddy during the middle of a song while you’re in the front row is an abuse of privilege. You can’t use cellphones at pretty much any other public entertainment venue (well, maybe a circus) – you’ll get banned.

This sort of abuse of privilege is why companies like apple are developing technology to stop cellphone use at events altogether.  And frankly, the only people who are to blame for this are the entitled shitheads who feel it is their god-given right to do whatever they want at a show because they paid good money.

If you drink too much at a show, you’ll get kicked out. If you start a fight at a show, you’ll get kicked out. If you get caught doing illegal drugs at a show, you’ll get kicked out. In general, if you’re disruptive and cause others to lose out on the concert experience you’ll get kicked out. So no, you don’t get to do whatever you want at a metal show.

As a matter of fact, that’s the attitude that’s literally going to ruin it for everyone who uses their phones courteously. If you care so much about the right to use a phone during an emergency, don’t act like a twat and make it so that people can’t use their phones at all.

And don’t ruin it for the people standing behind you – nobody who paid the same amount for concert tickets as you should be forced to watch the show through your fucking cellphone. How about the artists? Since people started downloading music, live shows are a big part of the reason they can stay in the music business. If you’re broadcasting the show, people have even less reason to go to the concert themselves. They paid for all the lighting and special effects, not to mention the wages of the roads crew and whatever other expenses go into making a show. Show a little fucking respect.

Corey Taylor (Slipknot) and David Draiman (Disturbed) were exactly right to call people out on using cellphones during their shows. I’ll take this one further – they are exactly the right people in the metal community to be doing this. Bands like Slipknot, Disturbed, 5 finger Death Punch, and the like are what I like to refer to as “starter metal bands.”

Nobody starts off listening to Second Wave Black Metal or Technical Brutal Slamming Death Metal – they start off listening to metal that’s easily accessible. Mainstream metal, if you will. Eventually, that isn’t heavy enough for them anymore, so they move on to the heavier “underground” stuff. This makes the “start metal bands” the perfect people to instruct people on how to act – like when Ivan Moody from 5 Finger Death Punch stopped his entire show in Albany to call out someone who was being a deuchbag in the pit. That way, when people start going to more underground style shows, they already know how to act.

And there are always exceptions to the rules – if you’re filming a set for a local band, this obviously doesn’t apply to you.

Publicity Stunts: The Art of the Five Finger Death Punch

When it comes to metal in the mainstream, sometimes it’s hard for a band to get attention. Mostly because any mainstream music is boring and contrived at best.

Enter Five Finger Death Punch. Admittedly, I like these guys. I even have a picture of myself holding invisible oranges with them.

Having said that, every single thing these guys do lately seems like a poorly planned publicity stunt. Like that time Ivan Moody had a “meltdown” on stage, and within a day or two the band announced they were working on a new album. Boy, what are the chances such random and unconnected events would happen so close to each other?

Or how about the time Ivan Moody was accused of domestic abuse when he wasn’t even married? Strangely, it coincided with the band announcing the release date of their new album.

The list goes on.

It didn’t bother me till Ozzy and Sharon got in on the action. A few days before a big announcement from the Ozzy camp, there was a large public spectacle as their alleged marital problems were made a public spectacle. Sharon even piggybacked Jay Z and Beyonce, taking advantage of a mainstream song/album about cheating through a not-so-subtle inference. Then, a few days later, they announced the return of Ozzfest and it’s combination with Knotfest.

Seriously Sharon? You guys had a stranglehold on the metal world 10 years ago, and you have to resort to the same tactics as Five Finger fucking Death Punch? You manage the prince of fucking darkness here.

Puke.

I’m excited Ozzfest is back though.

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