Resist the “gentrification” of metal

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Metal theorist and critic Old Disgruntled Bastard unleashed an accurate tirade at the “gentrification” of metal, the process by which hipsters, journalists and indie labels wear down the extremity of metal to make it more like shoegaze, jazz, emo and alternative rock. He says:

People need to look inside themselves and find out why they listen to this music in the first place. If you don’t have a raging fire inside of you regardless of age or sex, if you don’t have real demons in your past or your present, if you don’t share anything more than a surface fascination with the topics the music talks about, then what the fuck are you doing here? Beyond flowery words and pretentious descriptions and the need to pose and be accepted into a group, beyond simple enjoyment on a musical level even, this is extreme music for a reason, and it has nothing to do with having the world delivered to you like comfort food on a platter.

Kill the gentrification of metal or you’ll kill metal itself.

In every society, there must be some regions which are reserved as frontiers. In these, the normal rules do not apply. They are both anarchy zones and, by necessity, the type of self-managing places found in the Wild West and feudal Japan. A code of honor regulates the warriors who apply discipline when needed to an otherwise lawless place. These societies are not easy to live in like the big cities, but they offer fewer rules and no dominant social attitude about what is the “right way” to do things. For people who think society is mostly held together by human pretense of how good and moral people are, when people are in fact mostly selfish, these areas keep the herd at bay.

Heavy metal takes the form of these societies. It has no rules other than a code of honor and “no city rules.” We aim to choose another path. As a result, metal celebrates all the things that society aims to deny, starting with death and consequence and stretching further to extreme fears like apocalypse and disease. Metal should be scary and an outsider to human settlement. It gains its power from its flexibility to think without first worrying how that will look to others, or potential customers. As one of the few cultural free spaces, metal is naturally a target for various ideological and religious groups. If they take over, its spirit dies, and the music will fade out as well as people flee the collapsing ruin.

Uncensorship is still censorship

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Twisted Sister vocalist Dee Snider, who famously spoke at the PMRC-induced Senate hearings regarding obscenity in music during the 1980s, recalled the era with a warning toward our current time of the dangers of what we might call “uncensorship,” or the use of “soft” pressure to eliminate speech that is perceived as dangerous:

Sadly, the aftermath of the debacle was even worse than I feared. Our First Amendment constitutional right to freedom of speech had been eroded, yet the average record buyer was apathetic. The most typical comment about the sticker was, “Now we know which records to buy!” The music consumer just didn’t understand how that sticker would be used against them. (And used against them it was.)

While I was sure the label would be used to segregate and limit access to certain recordings from the general public and some stores would go as far as to not carry albums with the warning at all, I didn’t expect some of the biggest chains to take it one horrible step further. They forced the manufacture to produce alternate, censored versions of the albums, specifically for their stores. The average adult or young-adult record buyer (and even parents buying them for their younger kids) had no idea that the album they were purchasing from Walmart had content either “bleeped out” or completely removed. The “stickering” of recorded product wasn’t giving the buyer the knowledge to make an educated choice, it was being used to decide for the record buyer what they could or could not listen to. This is the subversive nature of ultra-conservatism. If they can’t manipulate you overtly (through the passing of laws, regulations or restrictions) they’ll do it without your knowing it’s being done to you.

The history of the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) showed us an important pattern: by creating mass fear, people can compel even large corporations to essentially censor their material. As Snider points out, stickered albums quickly became second-class citizens, much like controversial speech on the internet today is flagged as “offensive” and removed or quietly hidden on social media. This happened not through laws but through actions of the market once they realized that a large enough group of people would complain.

We have seen this before. Think about how American buildings rarely have a 13th floor, not for any logical reason but the perception that thirteen is an unlucky number. Or the Great Vaccination Debacle of 2013. People, like a herd of cattle, can be stirred into terror by a few loudmouths. Companies fear this. For that reason, they bow down to any group that can show it has victim status. With the PMRC, the victims were children. Now there are more groups — gays, ethnic and religious minorities, women, neckbeards — in whose name an outrage can be fabricated.

This misses the point of free speech, which is that what we do not want to hear is often what we should be hearing. Not always, since nonsense is perpetual within humanity, but often. History is full of examples of good ideas being shot down because they were unpopular or offended some group, even if that group had relatively little power in society at large. Make yourself a victim and you can force others to pay attention to you. That means that you can tell others what they cannot say be implying that they are mean, cruel, extremist, fundamentalist, bad, whatever. In fact, we often need opinions that scare us and the irascible, ornery people who promote them.

In Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America (2010), Barbara Ehrenreich maintains that getting rid of all of the “negative people” in your life is a recipe for disaster: “What would it mean in practice to eliminate all the ‘negative people’ from one’s life? It might be a good move to separate from a chronically carping spouse, but it is not so easy to abandon the whiny toddler, the colicky infant, or the sullen teenager. And at the workplace, while it’s probably advisable to detect and terminate those who show signs of becoming mass killers, there are other annoying people who might actually have something useful to say: the financial officer who keeps worrying about the bank’s subprime mortgage exposure or the auto executive who questions the company’s overinvestment in SUVs and trucks. Purge everyone who ‘brings you down,’ and you risk being very lonely or, what is worse, cut off from reality. The challenge of family life, or group life of any kind, is to keep gauging the moods of others, accommodating to their insights, and offering comfort when needed.”

Just as ecosystems become less resilient, and more fragile, when you reduce their biodiversity (by eradicating species), epistemic communities become less resilient, and more fragile, when you reduce their intellectual and ideological diversity (by eradicating radical ideas). Numerous studies have demonstrated that the only thing worse than thinking through important political matters alone, is thinking through important political matters amongst people who share all of your assumptions. We need to be exposed to challenging unorthodox ideas on a fairly regular basis. But social media (and search engines like Google) are making it easier and easier for us to silence radical voices (by dismissing them as “trolls”), and retreat into homogeneous online echo chambers.

The problem for us now is that we live in a time ruled by commerce, not governments. You buy your music from somewhere; you find it through some search engine, on some streaming site. What happens if Google receives a few million complaints about Satanic or un-PC music? Or if Bandcamp does? Or Facebook? These large corporations fit into a role a lot like that of government because they are the sole providers of a service valued because everyone else is using it. Sure, you could hunt down a Facebook alternative, but it has 1/10 of the people there. So you go to Facebook. If they decide, based on complaints by a small angry group, that what you are trying to say is “bad,” then you will not be heard.

In the same way, free speech has become a mockery as the amount of information has risen. The question now is not whether you can publish your free speech, but whether it will find an audience. The people who control that audience — now a “big six” of corporations — can decide at will to censor your content through a process called uncensorship because it is not direct censorship like through a government, but it silences voices from reaching the audience they need nonetheless. Companies react to complaints even if they do not represent what most people want or need, simply because small highly vocal groups can create a media frenzy and cause a tacit boycott of those products.

We already know there is reason for concern when companies merge and one of the parties has a strong political agenda:

Rupert Murdoch has just bought a controlling interest in all of National Geographic‘s media properties. The move turns the long time non-profit into a for-profit media corporation in the process….Murdoch has famously not been quiet about his denial of climate change. National Geographic gives grants to scientists… so, is anything going to now change with the focus of National Geographic‘s organization?

If we worry when a media magnate who opposes global warming buys a science magazine, we might worry as well about companies that do not have an explicit agenda, but can be manipulated by people who have an agenda and a voice, such as the one that victimhood bestows. We already have worries about corporations and their control of information. This can be most challenging when their control intersects with the ability for an audience to request removal of information anonymously, as happened with Google in Europe:

The Guardian protested the removal of its stories describing how a soccer referee lied about reversing a penalty decision. It was unclear who asked Google to remove the stories.

Separately, Google has not restored links to a BBC article that described how former Merrill Lynch Chief Executive Officer E. Stanley O’Neal was ousted after the investment bank racked up billions of dollars in losses.

Anonymous complaints — or complaints by anonymous groups — can tear apart public information. If, as is the case with Google or perhaps Bandcamp, most of the public uses a certain service, this means a loss for us all. This “uncensorship” means that a group of Offended Victims™ can easily yank down any data they find fails to support their point of view. Even more, they can destroy anyone who fails to agree with them, even bringing major media outlets to obey the raging herd:

Nicole Arbour, the YouTube personality whose “Dear Fat People” video sparked a massive online backlash, has been fired from an upcoming film she was working on…

“‘Dear Fat People’ is an unfunny and cruel fat-shaming video that guises itself about being about ‘health,’ ” Mills said. “It’s fat-phobic and awful. It went on for over six minutes. I felt like I had been punched in the gut.

“I’m gay. I was bullied a lot as a kid,” Mills added. “I am no stranger to ridicule and loneliness.”

When a large corporation finds itself under assault by victims groups, the best strategy is to find another victim, which is what this producer is doing here. Most likely the higher-ups had a conference, decided that they did not want to risk alienating the plus-size audience, and dispatched this little guy to remove the problem. Our future under corporate information control resembles this situation more than we know, and thanks to “uncensorship,” can silence us without even the recourse that Dee Snider had back in the 1980s.

Even Barack Obama disagrees with SJWs

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They called him a secret Muslim, and they called him a crypto-Socialist, and those may or may not be true, but even America’s most liberal president thinks SJWs are bunk:

Sometimes there are folks on college campuses who are liberal, and maybe even agree with me on a bunch of issues, who sometimes aren’t listening to the other side, and that’s a problem too. I’ve heard some college campuses where they don’t want to have a guest speaker who is too conservative or they don’t want to read a book if it has language that is offensive to African-Americans or somehow sends a demeaning signal towards women. I gotta tell you, I don’t agree with that either. I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of view. I think you should be able to — anybody who comes to speak to you and you disagree with, you should have an argument with ‘em. But you shouldn’t silence them by saying, “You can’t come because I’m too sensitive to hear what you have to say.” That’s not the way we learn either.

It would have been even better if he expanded the scope of his comments beyond college to the everyday life, watercooler talk, casual discussion, public debate, politics and even The Blighted Internet. We either can talk about anything, using polite language and structured argument, or we become an echo chamber. Polite language means that you use synonyms for the angry words you might want to use; structured argument means offering fact and logic instead of emotion and impulse. With those, we can have any conversation and, as our society plummets downward into chaos, clearly we need to.

This extends to me. Metal is offensive because it rejects social pretense. It wants to talk about everything you fear, the spectres that haunt your dreams, the yawning emptiness of death below, and the thought that maybe — just maybe — Charles Darwin was not wrong and we still live in times of strife, predation, extinction, warfare, violence and parasitism. Metal trusts nature more than humanity. It looks at the big picture, tens of thousands of years and the world beyond our immediate locality, and it does not care if old Aunt Mabel (or even little sister SJW Susie) is offended. Reality is reality. Human pretense contradicts reality and must be destroyed, whether that pretense is hippie-yuppie 1960s love-jive, yuppie-consumer 1980s job propaganda, hippie-consumer 1990s peace out palaver, or even 2010s special snowflake individualism. Reality is greater than humanity. Metal is the messenger of that idea, and it will never be flattering to the herd, therefore will always be opposed when found in its whole form.

Elitism is Darwinism for heavy metal

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If you are a false, do not entry. – Sarcofago

Elitism gets a bad rap because it has been appropriated by hipsters to justify their interest in low-quality but obscure bands. The obscurity of those bands makes them rare, which makes them valuable in a social situation, as you can always one up someone else by suggesting something more obscure, connoting greater knowledge, experience and “being in the know” on your part. This is the inverse of elitism however which is a simple formula of quality > quantity, which hipsters confuse with simply measuring by quantity alone in order to find the least popular and equate it with the highest quality.

Inferior substitutes replacing quality originals is after all a trope if not the defining feature of what happens over time in our society. A good idea becomes edgy, then hip, and so a dumbed-down version is made for the masses to democratically share in the hipness, at which point declining quality (dumbing down) destroys whatever made the idea important in the first place. One needs look no further than the progression of Metallica from their second album to their fourth to see this in action. Over time, the complexity and intensity erodes and is replaced by a friendly, vapid and appearance-based substitute. The story arc of black metal shows this most clearly, moving from an outlaw genre that upended all rock and pop conventions to a pale imitation in the form of indie rock with incomprehensible screaming.

It is no wonder the hipsters want elitism misunderstood. It would eliminate the entirety of hipster bands by pointing out that, instead of being quality because of their rare quantity, they are impostors and pretenders. Poseurs, if you will. Then again, what defines hipsters is the formula appearance > reality, so that entire genre of people are by nature poseurs, scenesters, day-trippers, tourists, pretenders and the like. Elitism offers cynicism with hope: that by raising our standards, we can raise quality. World-weary observers may note that this has something in common with the theories of Charles Darwin, which held that better adapted creatures reproduce more and thus over the years their traits predominate; on the other hand, traits which are not used die out. Cynicism by itself leads to a dark place where nothing has value, but cynicism with hope leads out of the confusing harangue of nonsense that most people rationalize themselves into liking, and shows instead a chance to clear the clutter, value the good, and spend life on more meaningful pursuits than what is new or obscure.

Darwin gave us a warning, however. Humans now control the index of selection, and so if we value the wrong things, those will predominate over other traits and exclude those traits. For example, in black metal it became fashionable to like the novelty of hybrids with indie-rock, and those sold more as a result, and this displaced most of the original material. In turn, the originalists attempted to preserve their music through exaggerating its external characteristics, which led to self-parody and low quality. Elitism is recognition of what our ancestors could have told us: most people, most of the time, are engaged in useless or stupid activity in order to appear important. The self-importance of the individual is the death of humanity, perhaps, but it certainly forms the death of music. One needs look no further than a thread of favorite bands where each user busily types in the most obscure bands he can think of in order to appear wise.

Misanthropy has long been a trait of metal. Compassionate misanthropy would be much like cynicism with hope, or a recognition that most people are busy with the useless, but that some are not, and if we value those good, we get more of the good; on the other hand, if we ignore them, they die out. Darwin would nod and smile at this implementation of his theory. Unfortunately for humans, only some — those with the intelligence, experience and honesty/aggression to pursue the truth — can articulate the difference between gunk and glory. These are opposed by the rest because these tastemakers will point out the the Emperor has no clothes on at all, which invalidates the posing and posturing of the majority. This in turn renders the hipster, scenester and try-hard irrelevant, and they fear this and as a result fight hard against any quality > quantity assessment, which leads them to try doubly hard to find the obscure but mediocre and champion it as the apex of the genre.

Majorities however determine the order of the day. They have more money and in democratic societies, political power; their misery is that by “winning,” they self-destruct by replacing quality with inferior substitutes. The last twenty years of heavy metal reflect this anti-Darwinian approach and quality has declined proportionately. Even record labels find that following the most recent trends — the way to success in a mass society — has stopped working for them as consistently as it used to. This intensifies the desire to replace quality with quantity, especially by claiming that a small quantity or being ironic, different, unique or contrarian signals quality. On this point, hipsters join with the bourgeois mass consumer marketers in the same theory, and through two different pathways, produce the same inferior result.

Cornell & Diehl – Billy Budd (2015)

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This enterprising blend combines a raft load of Latakia with a base of Burley and bright Virginia, then salts it with Maduro cigar leaf. This presents a challenge because the Burley and cigar leaf both present dark, rich flavors, in contrast to the sweet of the Virginia and the spice of Latakia. Like lower sounds, however, these dark flavors are stronger than sweet or spicy, which means that bowls of this burn in three levels: first, a friendly but slightly overwhelming Latakia spice; then, a smouldering Burley sensation with undertones of cigar leaf; finally, a merging of the flavors into a pleasant hum of lower registers, with the Latakia emerging as a slight alkaline flavor.

While Billy Budd has its charms, the Burley flavors dominate this blend after the Latakia boils off, which gives it a different flavor than its smell and breaks the balance established by harmony of its ingredients. Cornell & Diehl’s Burley is second to none, and many of us enjoy its rich and nutty flavor, sort of like a cedar-roasted chestnut. In theory, the higher flavors of Virginia and Latakia would balance this out and hide the cigar leaf so that it retained a “condiment” status, but in actuality, the cigar leaf becomes too present and the Burley dominates everything else. The rough cut of this blend, which has big chunks of moist Latakia in with shredded Burley and semi-ready-rubbed Virginia, means that flavors do not occur in a smooth transition as they do with the thinner ribbon cuts from, say, Dunhill. Further, little marriage of the flavors has occurred as happens with blends from Peterson for example. Those little “maturation” processes can make a huge difference, and here it is definitive. This blend has a good start but needs improvement.

Quality rating: 3/5
Purchase rating: 1/5

Supuration posts new track “Ephemeral Paradise” from album Reveries…

French progressive/indie/death metal band Supuration has posted a new video, “Ephemeral Paradise,” from its upcoming album Reveries…. This showcases the firm blend between alternative rock of the indie variety, death metal and grind, and progressive notions of concept albums and harmony that has propelled this band since its inception, and its peak with 1993’s The Cube.

Nan Elmoth / Maldicion – Live at Festum Tarnis 2015

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This live split contains two lengthy songs from Nan Elmoth and five more conventional ones from Maldicion. These two bands could not form a greater contrast: the prog-oriented, folk metal informed Nan Elmoth with long discursive songs, and Maldicion with fast gripping songs like Mayhem meets Terrorizer.

Nan Elmoth kicks the set off with “Unleash the King of Wolves.” This lengthy song shows what is good about this band and what it needs to work on. Nan Elmoth is confused in both genre, and trying too hard. This song mixed Graveland with folk metal and power metal influences, then tries to cram it into a lengthy death metal tinged song. Perhaps a better approach would be to synthesize those voices into one of the band’s own, and then to not use method as a substitute for content; let the content lead you to an epic song or lengthy instrumental if it can, but forcing it creates a disconnect. These songs hold up well with rhythm and repeated motifs, and stand as some of the more deliberately “pushing the envelope” in extreme metal at this. The next iteration may bring more fluidity and allow them to breathe a bit. Nan Elmoth covers wide ground on riffs and themes and pulls them all together in this song, and a longer second song, “Nan Elmoth,” in which the variation sometimes seems pro forma but some excellent riffs stand out. This fades out into somewhat repetitive violence and then segues into Burzum “The Crying Orc” for a hint at what the past wrought.

Maldicion takes over with its songs which are dark like Mayhem, and feature periodic powerful internal collisions, but mostly seem to be more in the vein of fast death/grind. The result generates a lot of energy, gives it mystique, and then leaves it hanging about half the time. Songwriting is more proficient than most of metal but it could use some editing to determine the parts sufficiently relate to one another. Nonetheless, the raw aggression and vitality of this band outpaces most of what underground metal is doing now. Together, these bands create a set that is varied and strong, and point to future evolution of their sound that could push them farther in the world of underground metal.

Vociferian – Princess of Violation (2014)

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Vociferian comes to us from the European sprawl through members who are originally French, but now reside in Belgium, and make a type of death metal/rock hybrid that rumbles in the right places but never really gets enough direction beyond drone to make a point. The songs do not ramble, but also never reach that moment of really wrapping around what the riffs have unleashed and transforming it into a new energy. In addition, many of these riffs are clever variations of very well-known types, which makes one wonder what is being said.

Although the band lists “crust” along with its other influences, the main focus here is droning doom metal of the hard rock variety, more like Crowbar and Sleep than Neurosis or Amebix. Unlike funeral doom bands like Skepticism, the songs do not gain momentum from the increasing layers of atmosphere but move in a circular pattern much like Sleep Holy Mountain. The result is a pleasing veneer on background sounds of collapse with more aggression than most of these bands can muster, wandering into sludge territory with rock/punk patterns.

Princess of Violation presents an album that falls far from bad, and has some interesting twists, but for death metal fans will not be internally varied or purposeful enough to seek again. Like most music, it has found a method without a cause, and so while this band scrupulously avoids randomness or wandering, never gets to its end point. Now that Vociferian has mastered its basic style, one can only hope for greater expansion of content and internal dialogue for the next work, as that would give this fertile style the power it needs to cruise forward.

How SJWs destroy lives

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Many do not understand why MetalGate and GamerGate have so determinedly resisted the SJW incursion. There are several reasons, but the first is that if you do not resist invasion, you become replaced as SJWs have tried to do to metal fans. The second is that most people are inert and will simply allow it to happen. The third is the most troubling: SJWs and people like them destroy the lives of innocent people, just so that SJWs can get popularity points on Tumblr.

For example, consider the case of UK scientist Timothy Hunt:

In 1983, the British biochemist Timothy Hunt discovered cyclins, a family of proteins that help regulate the life of cells. Eighteen years later, in 2001, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. Between June 8 and June 10 of this year, the 72-year-old Hunt went from being a universally respected and even beloved figure at the top of the scientific establishment to an instant pariah, condemned everywhere for antiquated opinions about women’s role in science that he does not, in fact, hold.

In only 48 hours, he found himself compelled to resign his positions at University College London and at the august Royal Society (where Isaac Newton and Robert Hooke once fought petty battles) after being told that failure to do so would lead to his outright firing.

But what were these “antiquated opinions”? (“Antiquated” seems to be an easier way of getting rid of things than disproving them, so it seems one of those suspicious terms that indicates lazy reasoning). Ah, here’s an explanation from the petition to have Dr. Hunt reinstated:

His jocular observation, at a conference in Korea, that men and women tend to distract one another when working together in laboratories:

“Let me tell you about my trouble with girls… three things happen when they are in the lab… you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticise them, they cry!”

Source: The Guardian, Article by Robin McKie, 13/06/2015

He then continued: “Now seriously, I’m impressed by the economic development of Korea. And women scientists played, without doubt, an important role in it. Science needs women and you should do science despite all the obstacles, and despite monsters like me.”

Source: The Independent, Article by Heather Saul, 24/06/2015

Aside from the jokey, self-deprecating context, another deliberate irony everyone seemed to miss was that Sir Tim met his own wife whilst working in the lab! Not to mention the broader picture: “No one seems to mention his main speech in Korea in which, according to the ERC President, he was ‘very supportive towards women in science and he said that he hoped there was nothing that barred women from science” (Dame Athene Donald).

His crime: a joke about falling in love with his wife in a science lab.

His punishment: total destruction of his career with no trial and no chance of re-admission. In short, exile.

How was this done? SJWs raised a hue and cry which was then picked up by journalists, a group which overlaps significantly with SJWs because they have the same audience — people who cannot stop themselves from buying products and clicking “like” on Facebook if social guilt is involved.

As the original article observed:

The Timothy Hunt affair represents more than the gratuitous eye-blink ruination of a great man’s reputation and career. It demonstrates the danger of the extraordinary, almost worshipful deference that academia, government institutions, and above all the mainstream media now accord to social media. It is yet more evidence of the way moral panic and (virtual) mob rule can be accelerated and intensified by the minimalism of Twitter, with its 140-character posts and its apparently inherent tendency to encourage snap judgments, prejudice, and cruelty.

Fortunately, the story did not end on June 10. In the weeks following the initial assault, some of Hunt’s most ardent persecutors have been exposed as liars or blinkered ideologues, abetted by cynical hacks and academic rivals on a quest to bring him down or use him as grist to a political mill.

Across our society, people who have slept through the past three decades of thought-crime being used as a reason to destroy someone’s reputation, career, family and friendships are waking up and opposing the cancer of SJW-style persecution. In metal, the same thing is happening: we are realizing that SJWs are not helpful voices but immoral enemies who take joy in destroying the lives of innocent people. And we are pushing back.