In Glasgow, Scotland, UK a Satanic Warmaster show is under assault from local SJWs who are complaining about political content to Satanic Warmaster’s music or image. The promoter issued the following statement:
It has came to our attention that already after 3 hours of announcing the show people have been emailing us and the venue about the band being racist & to why is the show happening etc.
Let me get this straight for you. The band are not racist. They have stated it SO many times over the years and many of you still put them in that category, the band also posted a chart of their Lyrical Content which found not to have any Racism involved. This is a BLACK METAL show. Not a political protest. If you want to debate over racist nonsense please see yourself down to Westminster and debate with Nigel Farage or Britains First.
If anyone has any issues please email me. Just don’t ruin the show for folk who want to see the band.
There are many more reasons for boycotting a Satanic Warmaster show, but half-baked notions of what is politically acceptable to say serve as an instrument not only of totalitarianism, but opposition to truth. You wouldn’t boycott them if what they were saying was totally and obviously wrong, so your boycott says that they are at least partially correct. The comedy of media and hipsters trying to censor metal continues.
The anti-censorship movement known as #metalgate has become a permanent and ongoing event. Like the social justice worker (SJW) antics it combats, it is both activism and activity for those looking to have fun and bash back the insanity of a dying civilization.
If it has a Command and Coordination HQ, it is arguably Scott Vogler’s MetalGate Band group on Facebook. Here, the latest idiocy of SJWs and lapdog media are listed and mocked, with quality arguments against them arising almost instantly and spreading to the far corners of the internet.
We were lucky enough to get a few minutes of Mr. Vogler’s time as he was poring over transcripts of the Judas Priest backward masking trial at the Library of Congress…
What is metalgate and why is it important?
#Metalgate was inspired by the events which sparked #GamerGate. Metalgate serves both musicians and fans alike by standing up for both of their rights to express themselves as they see fit. Like GamerGate, Metalgate seeks to be a watchdog for the press and point out flaws, corruption, and calls for censorship. Metalgate does not exist to silence anyone; on the contrary, it exist to give voice to both sides of any given debate on the topic of heavy metal whether it be a social justice warrior, Heavy Metal Enthusiast, Religious Fundamentalist, Heavy Metal Musicians, or anyone else who has something to say.
You started a group, “MetalGate Band,” on Facebook that now seems like a command and control nexus for metalgate activities. What do you do with this group?
MetalGate Band is meant to attract metal heads, gamers, musicians, artist, and anyone else who would stand up to would be censors. It’s also open for those who disagree with the premise of #metalgate. This is not meant to be a hugbox of any sort.
I would like to live in a world where no one bans anything no matter how offensive it is.
The group appears to be the only lively community representing the hash tag and we are nearing 300 members. Which as of now is a small but passionate group who for the most part are totally on board with the idea of standing up to the censors who in this case are labeled social justice warriors. There are other areas of concern as well and we address a multitude of topics every day. It’s actually been really educational for me personally.
I want to use this group to create the idea that art itself should never be censored. If you have a favorite form of entertainment or art you should preemptively stand up for it along with anyone else who would stand with you. This is not freedom of speech without scrutiny as I leave the door wide open for debate, challenges, and other perspectives.
What would you hope the average person would learn from metalgate?
I would want them to learn some history about Heavy Metal and the challenges the genre has faced over the years. I would want them to see how often Heavy Metal has faced down and defeated the censors over ridiculous things like sexual lyrics, satanic messages, violent themes, and other contrary philosophies expressed through the lens of Heavy Metal.
Most of all I would hope they would learn that their feelings do not trump the individual’s right to express themselves how ever they see fit.
Why should your average metalhead care about metalgate, or anything beyond their own purchasing? Do ideas have consequences?
To answer the first part of the question let’s go back to 1985 and look at the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) hearings where a group lead by Tipper Gore challenged the entire music industry by introducing plans to outright censor artists and musicians from creating material deemed too offensive for the general population. If it weren’t for Dee Snider, Frank Zappa, and John Denver we might very well be living in a world where all of your favorite bands might not exist.
To answer the second half of the question I would hope a simple “yes” would suffice, but I know it won’t so I’ll share an event that happened recently. Just a little over a month ago a group of radical feminists demanded that a band named “Black Pussy” be exiled from playing music. Their belief in feminism led them to threaten a venue with vandalism and violence if it allowed Black Pussy to play there which in turn caused Black Pussy to cancel the show. Black Pussy stood up for their freedom of expression by pointing out how foolishly misguided this group of radfems (“radical feminists”) are, got the name of their band out there, recruited more fans, and have earned the support of MetalGate even though they aren’t a metal band. Good for Black Pussy. Bad for Radical Feminism.
So I hope you see that on both sides there are consequences. Depending on how you interact with society those can be good or bad consequences. So keep that in mind whether or not you decide to join the metalgate community.
When you talked to Shayne Mathis for his hipster podcast, he seemed to be trying to make the point that racially exclusive language can be coercive, while you were pointing out that socially exclusive language like the term “racist” can be coercive. Did you find middle ground on that part of the debate?
(Shayne, if you’re reading this I just want you to realize that I don’t hate you, nor do I totally disagree with you. I don’t think you’re a complete moron or a waste of people’s time or anything like that. To answer the question though I would have to tell you that I don’t feel like we really reached a middle ground.)
It was a good conversation. I agree with Shayne that racial slurs can be extremely ignorant and are coercive attempts to silence people, but want to point out that “anti-racist” shaming is also a coercive attempt to silence people.
We should resist coercive attempts to silence people; this falls under free speech. I don’t agree with being a racist at all but I think it’s worth actually listening to racists in order to know why they feel the way they feel. The idea that we should just avoid it at all cost seems rather dangerous to me. I think the biggest reason Shayne and I disagree on the topic is that he doesn’t feel anyone other than white people can be racist where as I feel the term itself can be applied to anyone from any part of the world or racial background.
I think it’s a dangerous precedent to set that only a certain group of people can be criticized for their racism while others get a free pass to be as racist as they want to be. The middle ground is pretty far away because of this disagreement and I would hope we could bridge that gap as all of this continues.
Do you think racism exists, and does the term “racist” have any meaning, or is it yet another politically manipulative term for someone who has noticed what our leaders would prefer they do not notice? (And if so, what is being noticed?)
Yes, I think racism exists and yes the term “racist” has a meaning but it also serves as a politically manipulative term, just as any word can take on that role over time.
Honestly, who knows what they’re really hiding? Maybe just the fact that they themselves have their own issues with bigotry and are projecting it on to others. Maybe there are more insidious things and skeletons people hide with that word and use it to shoo away those who know better but in that extreme it probably wouldn’t be quite so easy to stop someone from exposing you if they had real evidence. I think the term or any term for that matter can be used to socially condition a general response out of the masses.
We’ve seen this happen before through marketing, government propaganda, movies, songs, etc. I don’t think the lesson here is whether or not people use “name calling” to hide something and dismiss other perspectives. The lesson here is how you deal with such a turn of events. When someone calls you a really mean name for obvious political reasons don’t let the power of that word frighten you from standing for your principles. What they really want is for you to sit down, shut up, and capitulate. It’s a last ditch effort to silence an already pretty silent majority from pursuing any kind of “justice” that would come swiftly as a result of a big enough information leak.
Can you tell us a bit of your own background in metal? Are you also involved in gaming?
I recall hearing Metallica quite a lot in my early years I finally became a fan of heavy music (not heavy metal) the very first time I saw Tool’s video for their song “Sober.” It wasn’t until #metalgate though that I really took a dive into heavy metal and the history lesson that comes with it. It’s such a vast genre of music and have had to cram it all in by using Spotify and listen to as much as possible to and from work every day.
In just a matter of months I went from a progrock/progmetal/desertrock kind of guy to a mad man trying to listen to as much heavy metal as humanly possible spanning all the subgenres, generations, and styles of metal and I’m still not even close to having a good grip on reality when it comes to “Heavy Metal” but it’s been well worth it to me and will continue to learn because I just fucking enjoy it!
As far as gaming goes my earliest memory is Super Mario Bros, Kid Nikki, Zelda, Final Fantasy, and others on NES. That was on my sister’s console however so I can’t really say I was into it as much as I would be later. My very first console was a Super SNES with Super Mario World, Starfox, Chrono Trigger, Zelda 3: A Link to the Past, Final Fantasy, etc, etc.
I currently still mostly play retro games; if not I turn on my Xbox 360. I am disappointed with the direction of the video games industry. For multiple reasons, one of which sparked #Gamergate and in turn #metalgate, but other reasons as well. I don’t like to feel like I’m just playing a movie. So many games today are just that. While it looks impressive it doesn’t feel anything like a “video game” to me. I fully support #GamerGate for these reasons. I hope it sparks developers to start being more innovative and play to the strengths of their audience rather than for mass appeal.
I guess this is a question I wish someone would answer, because no one addresses it. If we have many different groups in our society, of different types (religion, race, sexual orientation, etc), and each group is offended by at least one things usually where it disagrees with another group how do we unite these groups into a society?
I would like to live in a world where no one bans anything no matter how offensive it is. I think we’re seeing the beginnings of a movement in this direction unfold over the last six months or so with things like #gamergate, #metalgate, and #comicsgate. It is not a conscious ideology so much as people just getting fed up with not being able to express themselves without some lunatic jumping down their throat with histrionic tirades. It has become a type of hobby to keep a watchful eye on the press, government, and radical groups and calling out bullshit as we see it hit the news. So for me right now the plan is to provide a platform for both sides of this argument to express their points.
I see this kind of attitude growing in light of the #gates spurring on people to stand up for the art and entertainment they love. I want to hear both sides but I am definitely in the camp that feel it’s important to take a firm stance against anyone demanding special rights, privileges, censorship, or other harmful precedents they propose. People do tend to selfsegregate but it’s not something I find to be particularly harmful. If people want to be left alone they can create that situation for themselves. People of all stripes should live the way they see fit and if that means staying in a community of people who are like you then by all means go for it.
On the other hand we’re free to criticize any community or group of people we see fit and they should be willing to stand up for themselves in light of that. This whole idea of “safe spaces” and “censorship” to me is a thousand times more harmful than any harsh criticism, ignorant slurs, or bigotry that might come out. So while I support the right to remain silent I also see that it’s important to speak up at times and not run away from criticism.
What is an “SJW,” how do I recognize one, and what is the purpose of SJW’s?
A “Social Justice Warrior” (aka SJW) is someone who concerns themselves in meddling with the affairs of different groups. It is someone who has taken on an extremely left wing world view point and will often be just as over the top with their beliefs as a fundamentalist Christian or Muslim. You can recognize them by their most obvious attribute, histrionics. If you dare mention a word about something they take personally you will see a display unlike any other. I would go so far as to say they do even crazier things than religious people do because SJWs claim to be all about science, atheism, facts, and logic but act out in such ways that contradict this precept.
You can find SJW’s hanging out at the mall, coffee shops, book stores, open mic nights, and on the internet (especially Tumblr). If you still haven’t a clue on where to look for an SJW go look at the #Gamergate hashtag on Twitter. The people who are antigamergate are almost exclusively SJWs. Also visit Tumblr and just search the term Social Justice Warrior. There you will find them waxing dramatically about how oppressive everything is. I see SJWs as, for the most part, cattle for more intelligent people to take advantage of. I believe that the more prominent SJW figureheads are not as stupid as they appear and realize just how easily lead astray people are.
I would love to see [#metalgate] leave…a reinvigoration of the kind of unfettered desire to express oneself without apology or compromise.
To ask their purpose depends on which kind of SJW you’re talking about. Some of them exploit others, while others truly believe in their nonsense. Over all I think their purpose is to get away with as much of the same things they complain about all the time. They will criticize one person while running away from criticism themselves. This is a hallmark of social justice warriors. They want to manipulate society into guilt and shame and reap the rewards by coercing more and more power, influence, and money out of society all while having a free pass to be as bigoted as they want to be because they’re special.
David Draiman (vocalist of numetal band Disturbed) raised an interesting point the other day. He was disturbed that GamerGate opposes censorship, but hadn’t spoken out against antiSemitism. Some said that gameragate should support free speech entirely, while others thought it should be against any “bad” speech like racism or antiSemitism if it was legitimately so. What’s your take?
David brings up a good point. If you’re going to stand against “bad language” then you have to be willing to stand against all of it. I would say however that there should be unfettered free speech. This goes back to what I said about conflict avoidance and how it’s actually more detrimental than the initial slur. You can be against the slur without being for censorship of any kind.
No one ever has all the answers and groups like Gamergate have a huge and diverse crowd who seem, to me at least, to support this notion of unfettered free speech and a willingness to address these kinds of concerns in a logical way without demanding silence from detractors. To me this is a step in the right direction. The opposite view would be to either ignore the bigots and never address the issue, or try to censor them without considering what they are trying to say. I think that’s the wrong way to look at it.
What’s next for metalgate? Do you hope it will leave lasting change, stay active as an ongoing concern, or get bigger, and lead to an ultimate showdown between SJWs and metalheads?
It’s truly difficult to say what’s next for #metalgate. I plan on continuing on with this by creating new content on YouTube, creating a WordPress site specifically for metalgate, and constantly signal boosting content creators on the Facebook page. Right now it’s all about cultivating a healthy, driven, and passionate community.
I would love to see it leave a lasting change in the landscape of heavy metal. I see that change not so much as a “change” but a reinvigoration of the kind of unfettered desire to express oneself without apology or compromise. I think the reason metalgate continues despite a slow growth and only a handful of passionate metal heads is because it represents something that’s always been a part of Metal: the desire to express yourself how ever you see fit and encouraging others to do the same even if you flat out disagree with them.
If we’re talking about real wishes, someday I’d like to put on a music festival. At this giant three-day event, there would be a showdown between the different forces competing for control of metal. The two biggest contenders would be mainstream metal and underground metal, SJWs and Metalheads if you will. I would invite all of the mainstream metal bands, underground metal bands, Christian bands and others to try to outperform one another. Imagine the lengths at which some artists would go to in order to leave the impression that what they are playing is METAL and what others are playing is merely rock and roll. That is the sort of attitude and competition that made early British bands, thrash bands, and black metal bands famous. The will to push the envelope of society in order to be the heaviest, most brutal, most technically gifted, most worshiped metal acts in the world.
I believe this has the potential to reinvigorate heavy metal if the right voices are lent to it and the right minds come together to make this leave a lasting impression on the history of heavy metal. Until then, I will just continue managing the Facebook group and welcome all comers to throw their name in the hat. Finally, I’m just an average guy on the internet with a full time job and starting out a family. If you are in the metal industry and you feel the way I and others do about this please give your voice, resources, and talent to it and shake things up. You could be the one to take this from an internet argument to the headlines as you make waves in the music industry by redefining heavy metal.
Thank you, Scott, for taking the time to do this somewhat prolonged and specific interview.
Scott and Jim “Kamikaze” Thompson have started a talk radio style podcast-ish video series in which they analyze the issues of the day according to #metalgate and #gamergate. Session One begins below.
Underneath the trappings of an underground death metal band, Toxemia create 1970s-style doom metal, formed mainly of heavy metal elements but incorporating stylistic influences from a variety of darker shades of underground metal, most notably Autopsy Mental Funeral.
In chord progressions, song structure and lead guitar, this album most closely resembles what might happen if old Saint Vitus crossed over with a primitive proto-death metal band like Master, albeit at the slower tempi necessary for doom metal. Each song features a riff loop for verse and chorus with discursive riffs and use of both freeform lead guitar and rhythmic lead guitar overlays to distinguish the song. Clear themes emerge and while tonally there are few surprises, the arrangement of these familiar elements in forms that fit the particular worldview of this band makes these tracks interesting. While the underground metal influence can be seen in tremolo technique and layering of drums and guitars around a tempo change in the death metal style, the essence of Ancient Demon remains in the hard rock/heavy metal roots of the first generation of doom metal bands.
Experienced listeners may find some kinship here with the first Varathron album which also took a theatrical approach to traditional heavy metal and created dark atmospheres which both fulfilled expectations of that genre and distorted them into outsider commentary on the conventions themselves. The use of doom-death technique accelerates this band past most of the bands heading backward in time in the doom metal genre, but its spirit remains in that ideal and its execution is both faithful and inventive.
Emerging from former careers in metal bands, Lech describes itself as “doom music,” with the metal absent. More accurately, this is organic ambient noise soundscaping — think Lull, Final and Suuri Shamaani — composed of found, distorted and manipulated sound.
Tracks begin with a single loop of sound and additional layers ride on top of this, many full organic in that they are like older K.K. Null works a sound “bent” to hit different notes but inexactly so that a melodic influence is felt. Usually the first layer creates a surge of noise that asserts a type of rhythm, heavily distorted so that it feels like a distant sound on a fall night, and other sounds are more distinct but still altered to make their source remain unknown. The result creates musical ambiguity that hides the work with tone going on behind the scenes, in sprawling interactions that like those in Tangerine Dream or Neptune Towers set a mood and gradually mutate it behind cover of organic noise.
The eight tracks that make up Lech both resemble each other and remain highly distinct, covering similar ground in an attempt to create a world more than have “songs” which separate themselves by isolating events. Instead, they aim for a kind of continuity where each track is like discovering a new area in a graveyard shrouded in darkness. This is doom music, indeed, but more of the existential darkness and mortal dread variety than the angsty stoned hippies singing about dragons type. While it does not have the instrumentation or format of metal, it follows the metal tendency to be through-composed and use prismatic order where similar patterns recur in different contexts, creating a sense of parallax shift as points of reference are altered and familiar actions appear in a new light. The result is more interesting than the pure drone of Lull and more like what Final wanted to be, but with less intent to be intense on the surface, preferring instead to create a pensive, tenuous darkness that embraces all that it contacts.
Some say the role of art is to show us what is in the future by amplifying what we refuse to notice about the present. Idiocracy takes on this task by showing us what happens to a egalitarian, sex-obsessed, entertainment-besotted and distraction-oriented culture over five centuries.
Set in 2505, Idiocracy follows the story of two people chosen for a crionics experiment because they are average in intelligence, physical ability and motivation. Absolutely expendable in the present time, they spend a half-millennium in cryostasis and emerge into a changed world.
Following the long tradition of hyperbolic absurdist comedy, Idiocracy portrays the world in broad brush strokes and basic colors. It does this because if it got any subtler, we would recognize America 2015 A.D. in this mess. In the future, the Dunning-Kruger effect — by which the stupid are arrogantly confident and the intelligent timorously hesitant — leads to a population of morons.
In the future world, society is ruled by entertainment of the most Beavis and Butthead variety, constant sexual and masturbatory stimulus, and the type of consumer hell that was imagined by 1980s thrash bands. People are not only brick stupid, but hopelessly vapid, living in a constant flood of distractions while their world crumbles around them. Idiocracy amplifies present problems to their maximum: pollution, corruption, incompetence and apathy have become not just commonplace, but dominant.
The film shadows past stories on this topic, notably Brave New World. In that novel, eugenics — the science of managing the intelligence of offspring — was controlled by government to produce leaders, artisans and drones. In the idiocratic world all eugenics has been abandoned and people survive through the buildup of technology which manages the world for them, having grown too stupid to do more than press buttons. As in Demolition Man, which alludes to the Huxley book, future authorities depend on maintaining the appearance of order through the absence of conflict. Citizens are threatened by insane police, bribed with sex and money, and kept distracted by Roman empire style circuses with a technological edge.
What this film does well is to show us a vision of hell. It keeps this vision on the line between what we recognize and what we can imagine, but the allusions to our present world are too close to be ignored. The future culture represents a cross between pro-wrestling, redneck culture, barrio living and urban lifestyles. Consistently the lowest common denominator is revealed in everything. The future population seems to be mostly Hispanic and white, with relatively few African-Americans but a health number of people of indeterminate mixed origins. This fits the theme of this movie, which is taking America A.D. 2005 and exaggerating it to reveal the natural end result of the path it is on.
In the intervening decade, the gap between reality and Idiocracy has narrowed to an alarming degree. What cannot be denied is that the future, like the present, is insufferable. People are fools, but if anyone smarter than they are arrives, they call him an idiot and metaphorically crucify him for their own entertainment. Arguing with them is like talking to people on the internet who cite Wikipedia and big media articles, but do not understand them, creating a kind of circular debate where the only people who understand it are in the minority and as a result are ignored. People lack awareness of anything more than their immediate needs in their immediate future, and have not only a lack of empathy but something worse than apathy, which is total obliviousness toward all consequences which cannot be immediately visualized. In Idiocracy, ignorance wins out over knowledge and intelligence every time, and the only way to get anything done is to lie to people and play to their superstitions and ignorance. It is a cynical and yet strikingly accurate view of the future.
Where this movie becomes difficult is that it is a cross between political polemic and cartoon, although it is not animated. There is no subtlety, no depth of character other than vague goodwill, and every scene exists to prove a point on the outline of an essay which might be titled Too Much of a Good Thing: How Humanity Won All Challenges and Atrophied Into Mental Retardation. The underlying pro-eugenics theme does not focus, as most of them do or movies such as Gattaca flirt with, on the production of superior beings so much as on the proliferation of average ones, and how that in turn induces average to consistently lower itself to avoid excluding anyone. The most crushing scene occurs when lead character Joe Bauers attempts to explain simple reality to a group of future-idiots, and is mocked for his trouble by those who rely on supposed “superior” knowledge.
I doubt this movie will find any fans in our established elites, for whom the idiots of this hypothetical — and it is best to put a big fat question mark next to that word — future seem like ideal constituents. Nor will it find many political supporters, since it avoids taking a side and instead points numbly and ardently at the elephant in the room. It is however most effective as a type of conditioning, in that after watching this movie the traits of people around in stand revealed in their full selfishness/narcissism, denial and manipulative distraction. For that reason, it fits within the metal worldview of seeing our society as a hugbox of denial of its own decline, and the rot coming from within and being masked by — not helped by — the rhetoric of peace, love, equality, subsidy and happiness which is the opiate of our fellow citizens as they zone out and wait to become idiots of the future.
Underground death metal band Morbid Angel has compiled tracks from a live concert appearance at Nottingham’s Rock City on November 14th, 1989 into a limited 12″ vinyl release entitled Juvenilia.
The recording, of which 1500 copies will be made, will be released on Record Store Day, which falls every year on April 18. If you want a copy in the US, you have to meet up with Morbid Angel bassist/vocalist David Vincent at Waterloo Records in Austin, TX on Saturday, April 18, 2015, beginning at 3 PM.
Cosmic guitarist Trey Azagthoth commented on the title, “”‘Juvenilia’ says it all; works of one’s youth; early works of an artist or author.” Emerging from the hazy days of 1989, these live tracks show Morbid Angel at the time of its first album, Altars of Madness.
Texas war metal band Trench Warfare leaked three tracks from its upcoming work in progress. These tracks revealed a sound that is straight raging war metal surge riffs on the verses, complex Perdition Temple style fills, and melodic undercurrents to choruses that resemble those of early Beherit.
Naturally this provokes interest from metal fans worldwide with caveats. War metal has give itself a bad reputation for being an entry point into black metal for the same droning three-chord nonsense that ushered hardcore punk into irrelevance when it became popular and all the tryhards and poseurs crowded the stage. Trench Warfare tries to balance the Blasphemy-inspired excesses of war metal with variety in riffing and flexible interruptions to relatively standard song structures.
While little is known of this obscure band beyond its contested origins and fugitive status, these tracks augur well for the future of this homebrew outfit. It has its own style and, while these tracks may require refinement to stand out in a crowded field, that is an inevitable and welcome part of experience and will make this promising material stronger.
Inspired by the mythos created by Clive Barker in his Hellraiser movies, Northern California black metal band No God Only Pain have recorded an EP of Cenobite-hailing songs to see release this May. Composed of experienced musicians with wide backgrounds in metal, No God Only Pain attempts to add more of an emotional component to a black metal scene which has either stumbled into indie-emo “emotion” or relapsed into naked mole rat style constant aggressive grating noise.
The two leaked tracks, “Human Stagnation” and “Joy of Suffering,” reflect a dark worldview translated into the metaphor of the Cenobites, metaphysical entities who exist to torment weak-souled humans who are foolish enough to open an innocent-looking puzzle box named the Lament Configuration. Recent polls indicate that if the Cenobites were running in 2016, at least 65% of Republicans and 45% of Democrats would vote for them. No God Only Pain have played one show in their native San Jose but look to branch out into new areas and are seeking a label to release future recordings.
No God On Pain’s music can be described as atmospheric black metal of a primitive nature, such that its moods emerge from abrasive primal riffing instead of the finer textures of sounds which explicitly resemble atmospheres. Instead, dark sensations emerge from grinding simple riffs and the elemental conflicts they unleash.
John Dough – Guitars
Tromme Slager – Drums
Vier Saiten – Bass/Vocals
For more information, stay in touch with No God Only Pain using its Facebook page:
Streaming music service Spotify recently crunched data on its users to determine which fans are the most loyal. Specifically, it looked for users who went back to their favorites over time. The results might astonish outsiders:
To find out, we first identified the “core” artists that, according to The Echo Nest (a part of Spotify), are most central to each genre, starting with the big ones, on a global level. Then we did the same thing with local genres in various countries around the world. To create a measure of genre loyalty, we divided the number of streams each core artist had by their number of listeners. All of the charts are normalized against the genre with the loyalest fans.
The first thing we noticed: Metal fans are the world’s loyalest listeners (we’ll get to the individual countries soon):
To metal fans, however, this is not surprising. Metal has a quality-focused worldview that is also highly internally competitive, and as such it is “winner take all”: bands acknowledged as better than the rest are upheld as highly desired, and everything else fades into the background much like the rest of society to a metalhead. The point is that novelty and personableness take a back-seat to musical power, because metal is music that worships power as a means of making the ugly into the beautiful, and so the quality bands once discovered remain favorites.
Spotify also noted something else:
This doesn’t necessarily mean Metal is “better” than Jazz (metalheads would disagree), but it does tell us that Metal fans are in fact the most hardcore, according to this new measure of genre loyalty.
Metal fans are the most hardcore because to them, the music is not an expression of self but of truth. A metal fan seeks music with power and that can only occur through ability, whether musical or artistic, and so music that is merely friendly or sociable does not meet this standard.
As we watch yet another wave of rock assimilationists assault metal and try to re-form it in the image of rock music with metal “flavoring” or surface touches, it becomes clear why metal is desirable: the audience is highly desirable because their esteem is not lightly given and will last for decades. This challenges rock, which is based in personal music with a high degree of novelty or a message with which the listener agrees. Metal undoes all of that; in metal, the message is in the music and the personal value is in finding the best, which is why metal remains an outlier in the music market.
One consistency in human behavior is a tend to lie about motivations and conceal them behind justifications, such as the kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar who claims he saw a mouse and tried to catch it. For this reason, most human arguments can be assumed to be not only wrong but malevolently deflective. One such argument is the “but music is subjective!” trope beloved of the internet’s zombie patrol of angry, isolated, lonely, vengeful and bitter people.
It is commonly used to retard the forward motion of anyone with an actual idea. When you find a great new album, and start talking about it, other people assume — as their glorious Simian ancestry would suggest — that you are attempting to seize power by appearing to be unique and wise. Perhaps you only want others to recognize the greatness of this album, but in their minds, that possibly is made remote. They retaliate by saying, “You might think that’s great, but it’s just your taste. Music enjoyment is subjective and so we are getting every bit as much enjoyment out of this album as you are from that one.”
This territorial response seems consistent across human times and ages. Any new idea is viewed as an incursion into the old, or if a realistic idea, as an assault on the fanciful vision of others which they want us to accept as literal reality. They fear that music might be shared and not entirely personal, because then it no longer serves as an expression for their own self-image. Most of the behavior you see in rock music is fans projecting themselves into the experience, and musicians attempting to use fan projection as a justification for self-esteem, mostly to themselves.
But is music subjective? The term subjective refers to any quantity for which appreciation by the individual is the only measurement. Nothing however fits this description because all quantities relate to something external to the individual; either events in reality, objects or concepts which in some way relate to elements of reality. The idea of subjectivity is in itself totally flawed. Even a priori conceptions are not subjective because they are intuitive and thus not properties of the individual, but pre-exist the individual. This calls to mind the troubling term “appreciation” which implies a type of preference, an action which itself requires an external referent, and also seems a typically human dishonest approach in that to “appreciate” implies enjoying something for its own sake only for the purpose of gatekeeping approval. That way, the individual can say “I recognized that truth, but I only appreciate this notion,” implying a truth-optional and reality-optional outlook. Obviously then the term “subjective” exists as a pre-emptive argument in defense of a choice rather than the reason for the choice itself.
This leaves us with the notion of objective, which in the human use is similarly flawed. Humans — being talking monkeys with car keys — view the objective as the universally recognized as true because it exists in reality. A more accurate assessment shows us that what is objective exists outside of individual humans, or in other words is reality itself. There is then no reason to label it “objective,” since it is merely real. However, the objective/subjective dichotomy arose as a type of euphemistic deflection designed to explain how something can be true and obvious, but appreciated by only very few because the rest are too distracted, narcissistic or physically incapable of the cognitive processes necessary to understand it.
We can then dispense with subjective and objective as a dichotomy, and look toward the question hiding in shadow behind the question that opens this article: is appreciation of music consistent between human beings? That is the definition of objective that people want because it translates into the statement “Beethoven is better than Bieber” not merely “most people prefer Beethoven to Bieber.” If music can be ranked in this objectivist way, then we can definitely say that Darkthrone is superior to Deafheaven or at least of a tier above it. On a social level, music becomes no longer “personal” because we the fans do not create it, or make it cool by our liking it, but discover it as it is and then alert others to that possibility. With “objective” appreciation of music, the music hipster fades away and the hype machine dies out, because both of these rely on projection by fans to make the otherwise unexceptional music they pimp seem important.
Certainly history seems to lean in this direction because the endless stream of favorites from the music labels tend to fade away, but a few bands that stand out seem to persist. History is not infallible because as any student of history knows, civilizations have a life cycle: at some point they start to decay and then die. When this is happening, they forget about all the good music and rush toward the trivial because people need distraction more than quality. In a healthy civilization however if a musician lasts for centuries it suggests something “eternal” about their music, as if it has a value beyond the immediate gratification of those who like it. Research suggests that humans recognize music as having certain attributes independent of culture:
Whether you are a Pygmy in the Congolese rain forest or a hipster in downtown Montreal, certain aspects of music will touch you in exactly the same ways. A team of researchers from McGill, Technische Universität Berlin, and the University of Montreal arrived at this conclusion after travelling deep into the rain forest to play music to a very isolated group of people, the Mbenzélé Pygmies, who live without access to radio, television or electricity. They then compared how the Mbenzélé responded both to their own and to unfamiliar Western music, with the way that a group of Canadians (in not-so-remote downtown Montreal) responded to the same pieces.
This provides a good argument that music can be appreciated across cultures and across ages of a culture because its language is universal. This could explain why some music, such as Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, find willing audiences across the globe. It also suggests that music which outlasts a generation and finds new fans who are unaware of its social, political and generational significance may possess qualities above the transient. Another source of support for the idea of universality of music comes from Arthur Schopenhauer, who wrote that music expresses pure thought:
That music acts directly upon the will, i.e., the feelings, passions, and emotions of the hearer, so that it quickly raises them or changes them, may be explained from the fact that, unlike all the other arts, it does not express the Ideas, or grades of the objectification of the will, but directly the will itself.
Without getting into a complex discussion of Schopenhauer’s use of the term “will,” we can roughly equate it to thought and awareness in the individual. Schopenhauer believes that music does not convey situations in which the will can be identified, but the will itself, meaning that it translates thoughts into sound and communicates directly. As written about on this site for two decades, music is a communication, in this case a metaphorical one in which can be seen many situations but which belongs to no one specific situation. This can be seen in many cases where musicians thought they were writing about a specific experience or condition, and found that people attributed the music to a broader state which appears in many types of situation. No matter how this is parsed, it reveals that the truth of music is not on the subjective side, and matches what people mean when they say “objective.”