Don’t support the scene

by Cory Van der Pol
April 25, 2014 –

parasites

After death metal and black metal had made their meaningful contributions, a cry rang out: support the scene!

By that it was meant that you should go to local shows, buy records, and otherwise give monetary subsistence and publicity to local bands.

They left off a key detail: which local bands?

Actually, they don’t want you to ask that question. All local bands, they hope. That way, even if their bands are talentless, they’ll be able to sell merch and music because, y’know be cool man, support the scene!

In fact, what “support the scene” really means is “abolish quality control.” Forget trying to have good metal bands, let’s just have a lot. That way everyone can play at this neat game called being as cool as Euronymous or Azagthoth.

I have a different philosophy: support the good bands, and ignore the bad. This idea is often called “natural selection.” It means that if you want a strong scene, you only support the strong candidates, and let the weak ones die out.

Post-1994 people have no idea how cruel, judgmental and intolerant the older scene was — or how much this worked to its benefit. People shunned bands that weren’t the complete package: music, lyrics, name, imagery, music, production, visual art, and personalities. The scene was more elitist than these faux-elitist hipsters could ever dream of being.

It was downright hostile to people who didn’t “get it,” where “it” was a complex and insular culture so alienated from the mainstream it saw anyone who believed society had a future to be a mental failure. It saw society itself to be insane, and headed for doom. It realized how modern life was constructed of very many ancient lies, fluffed up and re-covered to look shiny and new.

The underground is not a place for joiners. It’s not a place for me-tooers. It’s not a place for the extra people of humanity who, having nothing they really care about, go casting around for an “identity” they can manufacture out of things they buy and activities they attend.

Don’t support the scene. The scene is a parasite. Support the good metal bands, and death to the rest.

no_fun-no_core-no_mosh-no_trends

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44 comments

  • Laozi

    Scenes are always something I found as problematic. Cliquey popularity contests with no focus on the music at all. Let them have their fun, being small minded busy bodies wallowing in their filth and continuing to destroy what the ‘ancients’ fought to build. Let them chase their gutterfoxes and their liquor.

    Great article.

  • Krabapple

    IT seems more like that ‘support the scene’ back in the day literally meant doing what you find reprehensible. THE ISSUE is that back then, there weren’t enough morons to drown out quality- nowadays saying ‘support the scene’ is anachronistic and a chemotherapeutic method of pushing out talent as stated.

    This is why, I think, guys like somebody from Beherit said ‘electronic is the future for metal’. Push back! To preserve the spirit, you must grow more distant. This paradox is thus matched by the infinite ability of hipsterity to disable and disarm any genuine culture.

    1. Nito

      Yes. Beherit, Burzum, and Neptune Towers all released great electronic albums at a time when good metal didn’t exist.

        1. Nito

          Yes, but before that MTV had interviews/showcases with useless bands like Anathema and Cancer in the “golden years” of death metal.

          Cradle of Filth were also smart to tour with Emperor around this time: by being from the UK with no real “black metal” competition around and big labels like Peaceville and Music For Nations being right around the corner, Cradle of Filth had all the resources to use this new “black metal” as an excuse to market being “different” (i.e. not death metal) to the local audience when being a bad Massacre clone failed for them in the past. The Emperor tour gave them that “cred” they needed for people abroad – “well, if they toured with Emperor then they must be good!”

          Also, BDSM themes are more tangible to depressed goth kids than Cthulhu.

          1. Brett Stevens

            Cradle of Filth had a brilliant business plan: be Iron Maiden in black metal clothes.

            At the Gates had another brilliant business plan, borrowed from Dissection: be Iron Maiden in death metal clothes.

    2. Nito

      Hmmm… I was thinking that distance also allowed the bands who went electronic to create good works. Using Fenriz as an example, in seclusion he wrote the Neptune Towers project. Once Satyr/Moonfog sank his corporate minded jaws in him, Fenriz quickly became the “fun Fenriz” we know today that panders to the needs of the NWN/FMP hipster (described in another post below) by rehashing a “cool and proven” formula of past bands that inspired them. When scene politics dictate your “art”, you’ll wind up making a product that may fulfill people’s expectations but nothing more. Kind of like Slayer after the 80s.

  • Lord Mosher

    quote:
    “A scene means music that is consistent enough for people not to care what band is playing, so they can socialize in the same environment time and time again. A scene are sellers of music who find bands that sound like each other so they can compare past successes to the next generation”[…]”That kind of consistency kills music by raising the level of expectation to an entry requirement”. – Spinoza Ray Prozak
    .
    On a side note, I wonder why Prozak deleted all the cool articles that could be found on the 2007 Anus version.
    .
    For anyone interested in delving into the man’s genius, I suggest the web archive search engine. The older Anus versions is where all the neat stuff is at. Hail Prozak !!
    .
    http://web.archive.org/web/20080204074011/http://www.anus.com/metal/about/metal/scene.html

    1. Carg

      Bands that make good music are not interested in whoring themselves out – when bands become interested in whoring themselves out, they have already ceased to make good music. This means one thing for metal: you, the listeners, need to go out and find the fucking bands. Don’t wait for them to come to you; don’t wait to read about them in a magazine, or on some website. If a band has enough time and energy to market itself successfully, there’s not enough focus on the music.

      The other thing is not to be half-arsed about it – if you find a good band, plug them to hell and back. The number of people I know who’ve found a good band, really dig their stuff, download all the records and never mention them to anyone else is ridiculous – if you think it’s good, tell other people! How the hell else is this music going to be propagated?

      Most importantly: TELL THE FUCKING BAND. This was true in the ’80s, and it’s still true now: there are awesome bands that get absolutely no feedback until they’ve already quit. Bands that actually put in the effort to produce good music are ignored; bands that are ignored stop putting the effort in. If you know a band, and you like their music, get in touch with them – it’s fucking great to hear that people like your music, it’s encouraging to no end, and it’s a chance to get an outside perspective on the music.

      Here’s a depressing quotation from an interview on this site:

      “Why did TIMEGHOUL fail to achieve greater success? …

      The problem back then was that nobody had any money, and the technology wasn’t there to record at home on the computer, so without some support we could never record any songs. And the labels weren’t calling us because we just weren’t out there enough for them to know who we were.”

      1. Carg

        Don’t know why this has come up as a reply to that other comment, as it certainly wasn’t intended as such!

  • trystero

    There can be no bottom up resurgence of metal because it lacks the sheer spark of creativity that is the mark of greatness. Natural selection in art is a great thing, but on its own its meaningless (i.e. w/o art). No matter how much you pick and sieve at a pile of crap, all you will have in the end is crap. The only approach that makes sense is top down, creators have to be willing to take that jump into no-mans land for its own sake. Not concerned about failure, not concerned about anything except what they are making.

    There are probably a handful of people who could do this from scratch, with minimal external influence but most people need to be shown. What gave the original metal scene its inertia? I want to one-up the other guy. I want to be more brutal, more awesome, BETTER. It isnt that much different now, only it is form over substance so more brutal means literally just that to the point of absurdity. What is missing? Those who led the way, the ones who provided raw creative substance which others were fascinated by and could mould into their own creations.

    Without that seed, the rest is meaningless. The only cure for the state of metal is people making great metal. Sure, everyone else can help by supporting the best etc. but that in itself cant do anything no matter how hard you try. So I would say, if you can do it, if you have some skill with an instrument and are not an idiot, try to make metal. The current status quo will not last, it will either collapse into nothing or we will get a resurgence. If you want to be someone who is responsible for tipping it in the resurgent direction then make great metal.

    The rise of the nerd and the internet has become, in my opinion, what killed metal. Not for any quality or crowd reasons, simply because creative people just waste time on the fucking internet or with all-pervasive nerdy shit. Masculinity also seem to be rather dead. I guess the people that could succeed exist but have been subverted by the modern world itself. There is a hint of reaction now though, so I am unable to lose hope.

    Some personal musing: Unfortunately the nature of reaction is it cannot accept the existing status quo. I believe a true resurgence can only come from outside the metal `industry` so perhaps the industry focus here is a bit misplaced. I am not sure about this though.

    1. Gabriel

      “The rise of the nerd and the internet has become, in my opinion, what killed metal.”

      Not quite sure what you mean by nerd, but Bolt Thrower, Burzum, Summoning, Gorgoroth and others all showed some kind of love for nerd material. Tolkien, Warhammer and D&D seem to have inspired good metal bands, or at least fostered the imagination that led to great music. If you don’t like nerds, then that’s fine, but it’s a bit misguided to blame nerds for metal sucking when nerds helped to propel metal.

      1. trystero

        What I mean by nerd is the type of person who goes all-in into `nerd material`. Obssessives, generally high intelligence, introverted, but most importantly, as a result of pursuing this material to the exclusion (to some degree) of normal life, infantile. The internet has supercharged this kind of person. Admittedly I am the same essentially, I like all of those things at least aesthetically. I am sure most people who come here are also like that, but it is a matter of degree, not tastes.

        So no I dont think it is misplaced at all, those potential metalheads are instead turning into super nerds, the result of various things but very importantly the internet.

        1. Gabriel

          Yes, I understand what you’re saying now. The internet has fostered an alternate life for a lot of people out there that’s made them incapable of normal social interaction and allowed them to form a life where their own pleasures feed them an approving alternate reality. Not so good.

    2. Brett Stevens

      There’s a split in nerd/geek culture (preferred name seems to be a function of locality). It’s between what I’m going to call “media nerds” and old-school geeks.

      Your old-school geek is a hacker, an inventor, a workaround-maker. A thoughtful person, generally purpose-driven, usually socially awkward.

      The nu-skool “nerds” are media nerds. They’re more fans of Star Trek than they are coders, inventors, writers, etc. They think what makes you a nerd is that you like all these nerdy products. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s actually just regular fan-dom.

      The FMP/NWN metal nerd type have the same obsessive personality as the media nerds. They’re actually very social. They want to like what other people like and they form groups to know hip and cool stuff so they can rub other peoples’ noses in it.

      1. trystero

        Media nerd is an excellent term, but just to make it clear I think both these types of nerd are deep down the same kind of person, broadly. From your comment about FMP/NWN I assume that you dont agree, which I believe is mistaken. I think if those old-school geeks were raised in the late 90s/early 2000s a fair number would become media nerds. The difference is not in essence, but in subsequent actions and circumstance. The internet massively shits up circumstance by providing a network of likeminded (and hopelessly addicted) peers plus inflating available content to extremes. Oh, and the porn of course.

        1. Brett Stevens

          I disagree in that: (1) I don’t think the rise of the nerd killed metal and (2) I don’t think the old school types would have become media nerds.

          What killed metal was that the ideas ran out, and it got popular. At that point, the popularity alone killed in: in came a huge new audience which wanted to participate. That created an opportunity for idiots to make mediocre metal and have it sell better than the originals. The originals saw this, and sold out as well in most cases. It was a cascade to the bottom.

          The nerd-type on FMP/NWN is pretty much classic media nerd. Those guys aren’t metalheads, they’re fucking hipsters (with a few notable and much-appreciated exceptions). Fucking hipsters are all inherently media nerds because they want to fetishize something and make it into a cause for their own uniqueness, differentness and “interesting-ness.” They want something to talk about with their friends. Thus, quality is secondary to novelty. No exceptions.

          The amount of spew from the funderground praising bands that would not have been given a second listen back in the 1990s is unbelievable. They praise the mediocre and ALWAYS, ALWAYS are quick to point out which surface attribute is “different”: guitar tone, instrumentation, vocals, theme (“these guys are using ancient Mayan myths to explain Babylonian scrotal tattoos”), who the band members are, what variant of the AIDS virus they all carry, etc.

          The rest of your original message I pretty much wholly agree with and wrote mine in support of it.

          1. Listen to Summoning

            Yes, we are in a dead zone – true metal came and went, and it is now just a way to assert the ego and get some cash or fat chicks. This will not be explained by NWN nerds, or even David Vincent, or Fenriz, or Varg, for it would destroy their sense of self. No identity no scene. It is really just a problem with existence. Funderground is no joke, but you cannot prove it. People want to believe everything is ok and that preordering the green splatter vinyl with fat sized t shirt will make them happy.

            1. Brett Stevens

              No identity no scene.

              True. Identity creates a shared sense of values/perceptions and from those movements arise.

              Trystero wrote:

              you cannot dissociate ideas from people

              About the same. Ideas belong to a group and that group has an identity.

          2. bitterman

            Sadly, if you meet any of these “old schoolers” like the FMP/NWN ones in real life, you’ll see how much of a parody metal has become (even on an “underground” level). Fat people drunkenly saying “dude, this is fucking brutal ass metal man” at a Behemoth album while wearing Burzum t-shirts of albums they don’t even listen to they bought in a Hot Topic covered in sweat and food grease, smoking regs out of a bong made from a cut up soda bottle and a trash can filled with water. A cut up Morbid Angel Altars of Madness CD booklet scotch taped on a wall next to prominently framed and proudly displayed vinyls of Dying Fetus and nu-Deicide. Women that looked like clones of a fatter version of Corpsegrinder with big saggy stretch mark titties sitting on their laps in a living room that smelled like cigarettes and had newspapers thrown over pieces of dog shit. This was the “after party” of a bad local band show where all the bands sounded like a crappy Incantation or Malevolent Creation clone (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7eYePigLBA0)…

            Basically, the Black Witchery interview meets the 30th day of Super Size Me with an extra splash of ghetto brewed faux-cocaine induced mental atrophy. It’s worse than Spinal Tap now.

            “Don’t support the scene. The scene is a parasite. Support the good metal bands, and death to the rest.” – This is the truth.

              1. Roger Waters' Unwashed Dildo

                ….and there’s that video interview of Averse Sefira where they sit in affliction hoodies and posture about going hard on Christianity. Specifically, that “more churches will burn!” but they weren’t going to be the ones to do it. GAY. Not really any better. At the very least, the infamous Black Witchery interview was obvious trolling (they take frequent opportunities to look away from the camera to LAUGH). I get that there’s a degree to which a BM band might want to appear as being deathly serious, but AVRS do it in a way that’s borderline poseur but definitely HILARIOUS.

                The point I’m trying to make here is that you can denigrate the entire genre for superficialities, including the greats. How many photos of bands in skinny jeans from the glory days are there out there? Funny enough, if you look at the inverse, how much of a DORK do people in black cargo pants look? A lot.

                1. Brett Stevens

                  Someone with some superficial behavior who otherwise makes a meaningful contribution is an entirely different animal than someone who contributes nothing (or worse, a stand-in for something).

                  1. Roger Waters' Unwashed Dildo

                    Right and thats the reason I mentioned Averse Sefira. However, focusing on fashion and antics makes the entire genre look stupid, if you really get down to it, so who cares what the NWN crowd “looks” like?

                    1. Brett Stevens

                      However, focusing on fashion and antics makes the entire genre look stupid, if you really get down to it, so who cares what the NWN crowd “looks” like?

                      I don’t, really. But the choices they make that contribute to that look say a lot about their priorities. People without pretense are good by me, however they look. What’s going on at FMP (and “nu-FMP”) is different: it’s pretense substituting for a purpose. Underground metal had purpose. Nu-extreme has pretense.

                    2. Roger Waters' Unwashed Dildo

                      Brett, I definitely get what you’re saying. My comment wasn’t directed towards anything you’ve said, it was directed towards Lord and Bitterman.

                      I’m a white collar man myself but outside of work, you’d never guess it. Appearances are what they are, it’s not important. In an age of choices, why the hell not, you know? As long as a person doesn’t choose what they choose for a reason as arbitrary as “non-conformity” or “standing out (lol)” I say whatever to the whole thing.

                      This is the second time I’ve heard the name FMP so I can’t comment on it. I’m actually a bit afraid to look into it, for my own sanity.

          3. trystero

            I think this is an unfair characterization of people who are pretty much like us (or me at least), and definitely metalheads, just unfortunately intolerable nerds. Not that I am debating their negative qualities, which are abundant, but I can see myself as one of these NWN people. That just makes it more sickening and makes me hate what they do though.

            For a long time I too thought that ideas simply ran out, but I no longer agree (the popular part is okay). This makes no sense to me anymore, the dearth is too total, it has been too long. Or rather I dont disagree, I do think ideas ran out, but only because their potential originators did too (as time went on). Maybe its a chicken-egg thing, maybe a lapse in creativity as people figured out what to do drove fickle creatives away. Maybe they were driven away first. The nature of creativity is its easy to say something is obvious when its there, impossible to replicate it before it exists. What is more likely, that people like those that were responsible for the Norwegian scene (remember, these were creators of a high calibre who blazed their own trails i.e. were not really beholden to existing ideas) simply stopped existing or that they started doing something else?

            1. Brett Stevens

              I do think ideas ran out, but only because their potential originators did too (as time went on).

              Most people have at best three quality albums in them. Some have more, and can re-connect to their inspiration. But when a movement happens, it’s a huge thrust forward that then needs to be picked up by others, or it fades away. The problem was that black metal rocketed everything to media attention very quickly and then burned out as quickly, in part because so many of its core members were in jail. The imitators came quickly then.

              As far as what’s keeping it going now, you’re correct: the audience shifted from social outliers to hipsters and media nerds. These people don’t want innovation, they want novelty. For them, ideally black metal would involve action figures and cosplay.

          4. trystero

            Perhaps my ultimate point is just that you cannot dissociate ideas from people. Abstractions are useful, but can be misleading. There can be no `natural selection` of a genius idea. If you find an extreme dearth of idea, look at people, not at the abstractions in themselves.

  • Chuck

    I’m loving these replies and this quick article. Scenes are genuinely awful, if you have half of a brain or more than the average scenester you will first become depressed, then either distance yourself or commit suicide. Support good bands, not scenes, truth!

  • Zach

    This guy has ONE good point:
    Don’t simply support the scene regardless of the bands talents, support the ones you believe to be fantastic.
    Scenes are retarded and cause mediocrity to be praised simply for the sake of enjoying the ‘scene’.
    However, this guy has a totally shitty attitude. Theres even a sign that says “no fun, no moshing” ?? so concert shouldn’t be fun?
    That’s taking shit too seriously .. i get it, scenes shouldnt be supported simply for the sake of having this senseless group to fit in to, that mindlessely support music without judging it’s quality… but it’s almost like he’s suggesting that you should be over-concerned with who you support, and attend concert simply to support the bands that you deem worthy. Don’t go cuz concerts are fun, go as if you were entering a voting boothe.
    This is the words of a bitter old soul, who takes shit too seriously.

    1. Brett Stevens

      Theres even a sign that says “no fun, no moshing” ?

      I think the point is that the reason you make the music shouldn’t be social or distracting.

      It should be art. It should not bend the truth to pander to what people want to hear or what makes them feel warm fuzzies.

      This is why metal equally offends anti-blasphemy laws, political correctness, politeness and social pretense. It’s about raw reality.

      Worship of life itself, the cosmos, the ancient gods, truth and beauty in darkness, but not the human being and the pretentious conventions it adopts to flatter its members in social settings.

      PW=KILL

  • kioss

    The old elitism was vital for maintaining high standards. It makes me laugh whenever some hipster raves on about some USBM Burzum clone like it’s the best thing in the world. And the only reason acts like Behemoth are so well regarded now is because the well is truly dry. There are barely any bands under the age of 35 making interesting music.

    It’s telling that so many of the bands from the 90s are still so huge. There was so much innovative metal in the early to mid 90s that even great foundational works like ‘To Mega Therion’ were almost a distant memory. But when i hear some 20 year old trying to convince me of the greatness of bands like Sigh and Septic Flesh–bands i loved as a teen in the mid 90’s–I just know things aren’t particularly healthy, irrespective of the their individual merits.

  • Judace

    I liked this article and the comments, thought i’d add my perspective. I live in a small town of 20k people. There’s no scene, no one to talk with about music. It’s funny to me that metal musicians and fans see this BIG picture, like I can’t go to the drive-thru without having a quick Gorguts chat. There is no big picture here, all that bullshit about legendary albums and bands is record company pandering. You want to know whats legendary here? Kid rock and Eminem. All this talk about the death of metal (har har) and the internet (and the mediocrity it brings) ruining metal, it’s a two faced bitch. All these shitty scene bands are nothing more then a few dudes sitting in a garage somewhere in the who the fuck cares, writing sub par imitations of the trumped up records of yesteryear. What if you heard some forgotten gem from some distant place, would you care if it was made in 1991 or last week? Of course not because it’s a solid slab of ivebeenlookingforyouforsolong. You would have never heard it without the internet,which is supposed to be ruining this art form. I find it funny that people will raise up a no name demo to the pantheon of well known trailblazers, while looking down on the hordes of new bands popping up all over. It’s still new ain’t it?

    I am not involved in the state-wide scene in any capacity, but I am aware of the bands and scenes dotted across Michigan. most everything east of Repulsion is forgettable, but some stick like glue to my ears. Masochist, Summon, Heresy, Halloween, Wind of the black mountains, Wastelander, Mortification, Aftermass, they all put out great material in my opinion. I think the point of my post is that quality makes itself known to the discerning ear and anyone not committed to discovering and supporting quality metal is really nothing more than a record store customer, a consumer in their own personalized slice of Mc hell. Now what I can’t figure out for the life of me is, did the aesthetic of metal culture (battle jackets, patches, black, lyrical themes etc etc) spawn from the artists or the consumers?