Steve Wilson of Porcupine Tree recently conducted an interview with Metal Wani. In the linked second part, he suggested an aesthetic reason for the backlash against the swarm of “progressive” metal acts – according to him, there are too many progressive metal bands that are overusing the “metal guitar sound”, to the point that such loses its impact. In the mean time, Wilson is trying to explore dark and melancholic themes outside of metal, most notably in his collaboration with Mikael Akerfeldt in Storm Corrosion. This is obviously a different perspective than our usual narrative here at DMU – if you ask us, your pseudo-progressive band failed not because metal guitar is a cliched sound (which doesn’t eliminate the possibility), but more likely because your songwriting either took the form of modern pop in disguise or incoherent nonsense.
Safespace Jihad Worriers (SJWs) generally insist that they are metalheads who are not in favor of censorship. Those statements however include two lies, which are only tolerated because they are indirect: first, SJWs are in favor of censorship because they intend to exclude everyone who does not agree with them. Second, they are not metalheads, although they are pretending to be metalheads, as the following somewhat neurotic article shows:
The heavy metal fan-base also has a problematic history with race. While many bands (including those within the Big Four) contain people of color, more often than not, the heavy metal audience in the West is mostly white. Bands that are solely comprised of people of color, like the Bay Area’s Stone Vengeance, have reported that labels would be interested in signing them based on their sound. However, when the labels saw a photo of Stone Vengeance, they would backpedal, saying the band did not have the “right look.” Some great discourse is arising around this subject, with scholars and journalists such as Laina Dawes raising their voices to unpack issues of race, as well as gender, within the heavy metal music scene.
As a burgeoning heavy metal academic, I have attended several academic conferences on heavy metal. Heavy metal academic conferences that I have attended have consistently had a high percentage of women presenting. This stands in stark contrast to conferences I have attended that are dedicated to other fields of study, in which women are less represented. Some conferences, like the latest one I attended, the inaugural Legion of Steal Metalfest and Conference in Berkeley, California, was organized solely by women.
So, to my heavy metal colleagues and friends, thank you for fostering discussions on gender, race, and sexual orientation in heavy metal music that make me a better feminist.
The usual SJW agenda is here: the one-sided, unsubstantiated accusation; the implication that no good person could disagree with the agenda; and finally, the calling together of the group for action as one. And in that, there is an admission: this writer is feminist first, and only secondarily a metalhead. She wants to conquer metal and make it into a subset of feminism because feminism is where her loyalties lie.
SJW incursion into metal became noticed when people pointed out that these “new metalheads” were not very much into the classics of the genre. Instead, they listened to only SJW-music: late hardcore, indie rock and other SJW-leaning genres. Of course they found metal not to their taste, and it had nothing to do with politics — these people do not actually like metal, but they like the idea of being metal so they can act cool in front of their friends, and thus they claim to be metalheads… if the metal is SJW-correct, and sounds a lot like indie rock.
Dual loyalties never really work for anyone. You can be a metalhead and listen to lots of other types of music, and think lots of other types of thought, but when your agenda becomes a mission to replace how metal thinks with how those other groups think, you are no longer a metalhead. You are someone who wishes to destroy metal and replace it with something more like the rest of the drivel out there. And that is indeed a problem.
#Metalgate explodes in full bloom as the gloves are off: SJWs, who call themselves “Social Justice Warriors” but are more accurately referred to as “Safespace Jihad Worriers,” are using mass messages on Facebook — and secret, anonymous profiles — to coordinate to mass-complain about anti-censorship Facebook accounts.
During the last 48 hours, accounts belonging to Brett Stevens and Richard Corbin, founder of the Anti-Censorship group Make Baltimore – NO PLAY ZONE!, have been deleted by Facebook after receiving hundreds of complaints coordinated by Safespace Jihad Worriers (SJWs). The Baltimore group has been under a lesser form of attack as SJWs have swarmed it to post negative messages, memes and pornography in the hope of getting the group banned. Facebook, which itself vigorously supports certain kinds of censorship and nagging nanny content restrictions, has complied despite these accounts not having anti-immigrant speech at all.
In particular, Stevens’ account was attacked for his posting of a feminist article about positive body image. Although no other users complained, and although Facebook can see the secret group from which all complainers were coming, Facebook rubber-stamped the deletion because of its policy of censoring content that might offend someone somewhere, mainly because it wishes to create a “safe space” free from controversial news items and images. This is in addition to censorship where Facebook works with repressive regimes to remove content contrary to the official propaganda. Internet users have compiled a long list of privacy and censorship violations by Facebook.
Others have pointed out that Facebook’s nebulous content censorship policy permits abuse of the type that is happening here. Certainly, it seems odd that Facebook would allow secret groups to form lynch mobs against pages on its own site. Then again, Facebook censors mentions of its competitors as well as blocking trending news stories that contradict the political leanings of its administrators. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has rated Facebook a censorship risk that has failed EFF’s censorship test, and many in the moderate wing of the tech industry have expressed doubts about Facebook’s intentions. Some have even started watchdog groups to track Facebook censorship and political bias.
In the meantime, rumors about as to who is the mystery “MAS” or “ALS” who coordinates the hidden group, which is reminiscent of both the JournoList scandal and the foundations of #metalgate. In the meantime, SJWs such as Mary Spiro, whose daughter reportedly dates Bestial Evil guitarist Shawn Rucker II and who book shows in Baltimore with rumored political intent, can be seen justifying the mass attacks via Facebook:
In the middle of #metalgate, we are familiar with regular outrages as SJWs attempt to silence anyone who does not agree with their narrow-minded, politically-motivated viewpoint which they use as a means to achieve personal power by delighting in the destruction of others. Before this creepy behavior moved into the spotlight, its roots could be seen in an early incident involving the black metal band Nyogthaeblisz:
In the build-up to the fest, the usual rush for the aspiring pretentious festival goer to research all of the bands playing so they wouldn’t get caught looking ignorant was on. Chaos In Tejas attracted a variety of types to the festival. One of the more unfortunate types are the “I still think punk is a platform to fight the good fight politically” PC punk type.
The 2012 edition featured anarchopunk legends The Mob & Antisect, so the festival promised to have more PC crust punks than usual in attendance. As kids started to research the lineup, they found “irregularities” in Nyogthaeblisz’s background. First, they were on the label Satanic Skinhead Propaganda. The label, run by the oft maligned Antichrist Kramer, had a reputation for releasing questionable / sketchy music. Second, Nyogthaeblisz’s lyrics made crushing commentary about the Jewish faith, though not specifically limited to it. The criticism / outcry from many parties quickly became deafening.
The height of this outcry was when The Mob / Antisect both threatened to walk out of the festival and drop if Nyogthaeblisz was not dropped. Eventually, the festival’s promoters made a tactical decision and relented. They dropped Nyogthaeblisz. For the PC types, this was seen as a victory. Defeating the evil that is intolerance and racism wherever they may find it.
Nowhere else has the problem been more clearly documented: invaders from the long-dead punk scene, where people buy bands for “the message” despite low musical quality for the past twenty-five years, muscled into a metal festival and used their media power to force removal of an act singing about a fairly middle-of-the-road black metal message, which is a critique of Abrahamic religions (Nyogthaeblisz targets Christianity, Judaism and Islam as being the same philosophy).
While many of us are sensitive about people who dislike Jews, remembering the horrors of Kristallnacht and The Holocaust, this does not insulate any religion from criticism no matter how minority its status. The whole point of religious toleration is to allow ideas to be compared, and this includes defense of those who are critical of religion or specific religions. “No gods, no masters” is OK in the PC world, but saying “not this god” is not.
Their use of the term irregularities brings to mind a group who, in the name of a Good ideology, killed over 100 million people, many of them in death camps. Their favorite tactic was to kill off the intellectuals and leaders in any field and then replace them with politically-obedient substitutes. This group was the Communists, whose idea of universal equality and ownership by the people of the means of wealth sounds good on paper, at least. You can just see a Commissar, in uniform with pistol at his side, saying “Comrade Nyogthaeblisz, vee haf found some… irregularities… in your papers. Please come with us now,” before the train to Siberia or the guillotine departs.
This mentality was described extremely well centuries ago by Fred “God is Dead” Nietzsche:
There it comes willingly: welcome, tarantula! Your triangle and symbol sits black on your back; and I also know what sits in your soul. Revenge sits in your soul: wherever you bite, black scabs grow; your poison makes the soul whirl with revenge.
Thus I speak to you in a parable—you who make souls whirl, you preachers of equality. To me you are tarantulas, and secretly vengeful. But I shall bring your secrets to light; therefore I laugh in your faces with my laughter of the heights. Therefore I tear at your webs, that your rage may lure you out of your lie-holes and your revenge may leap out from behind your word justice. For that man be delivered from revenge, that is for me the bridge to the highest hope, and a rainbow after long storms.
The tarantulas, of course, would have it otherwise. “What justice means to us is precisely that the world be filled with the storms of our revenge”—thus they speak to each other. “We shall wreak vengeance and abuse on all whose equals we are not”—thus do the tarantula-hearts vow. “And ‘will to equality’ shall henceforth be the name for virtue; and against all that has power we want to raise our clamor!”
You preachers of equality, the tyrannomania of impotence clamors thus out of you for equality: your most secret ambitions to be tyrants thus shroud themselves in words of virtue. Aggrieved conceit, repressed envy—perhaps the conceit and envy of your fathers—erupt from you as a flame and as the frenzy of revenge.
What was silent in the father speaks in the son; and often I found the son the unveiled secret of the father.
They are like enthusiasts, yet it is not the heart that fires them—but revenge. And when they become elegant and cold, it is not the spirit but envy that makes them elegant and cold. Their jealousy leads them even on the paths of thinkers; and this is the sign of their jealousy: they always go too far, till their weariness must in the end lie down to sleep in the snow. Out of every one of their complaints sounds revenge; in their praise there is always a sting, and to be a judge seems bliss to them.
But thus I counsel you, my friends: Mistrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful. They are people of a low sort and stock; the hangman and the bloodhound look out of their faces. Mistrust all who talk much of their justice! Verily, their souls lack more than honey. And when they call themselves the good and the just, do not forget that they would be pharisees, if only they had—power.
The article adds a nice analysis of the situation from a neutral viewpoint:
What happened to Nyogthaeblisz was a textbook case of what people who are intolerant of intolerance do. You’ve heard stories about Antifa protests at shows over the years. Antifa members calling the police (the ultimate cardinal sin in the subculture) on shows they protest, intimidating attendees of shows they protest, and threatening promoters for their bookings of questionable acts. None of this is okay. This kind of Kristallnacht, lynch mob, seeing red mentality at the mere possibility of questionable content is not okay. Nyogthaeblisz was judged and attacked without even getting to issue a statement in their defense. The biggest tragedy of the anti-racist position is the claim of a higher understanding / intelligence that their racist opposition lacks. If this higher understanding / intelligence truly existed, the research on Nyogthaeblisz would not have stopped at Anti-Jewish, but arrived at Anti-Abrahamic. What happened to Nyogthaeblisz wasn’t the triumph of good over evil. It was one side becoming what they hated to root out an entity that they did not understand.
This is the face of the SJW: someone who has failed at life or at least is less important than they think they are, demanding to be made important through ideology and their ability to summon a hate-mob to destroy others who have achieved what the SJWs have not. Nyogthaeblisz’s real sin was not having the wrong views, but succeeding without having an SJW ideology and lifestyle. That is the face of the group that wants to take over metal, replace its leaders with SJWs, and forever turn it into a mediocrity like hardcore has been since SJWs took over there.
Despite being mostly in favor of the SJW infiltration of heavy metal, media sources sometimes reveal skepticism of this rigid mind-meld that is replacing quality metal with an inferior but politically-correct substitute. In fact, the political correctness is merely a method of inducing you to buy it because it has the right “message,” while ignoring the low artistic quality of the material as a whole.
But the SJWs don’t know that. They are not unique, having appeared first in the 1980s with a group that would not call itself politically-correct but acted the same way as today’s SJWs. As hardcore waned, local scenes arose in which people wanted to participate for social reasons: to be popular, find dates, have parties. Their music was not ground-breaking, so they took over with superior numbers, and used politics as a means of filtering out all other music. Thus they triumphed, and promptly made punk so boring it self-destructed in dissipation.
Today’s SJWs are not history students of hardcore punk or any other subject. Their goal is to make themselves important, and to seize control of a genre they think will give them social power, but they cannot replicate its greatness nor understand it, and so they are doomed to failure. What do they care, however — they will simply move on to the next genre, take it over, and have their five years of glory there too before covering up those tats and going to a cubicle job just like everyone else.
But doubt is spreading already. In an editorial over at Stereogum, Michael Nelson launches into the usual SJW rhetoric, and then does something really interesting. The article is a top 50 of metal of the year, but as is typical these days, it must editorialize. So he makes an introduction and then cuts to the real topic on his mind:
But mostly, more than ever before, metal found its very character scrutinized by a hyper-aware, politically divided public — a public largely informed by metrics-focused media outlets eager to weigh in on the issues of the day. This was a carryover from late 2014, when popular blogs like Metal Injection and Metalsucks ran essays with titles like “The Problem With Heavy Metal Is Metalheads: Stop Calling Everyone A Faggot” and “Why Is It Okay To Be Racist And Misogynistic About Babymetal?” And in 2015, the takes arrived on an almost daily basis, via articles like “Racism And Sexism In Heavy Metal Highlighted In New Study” and “Why Is The Convicted Murderer Of A Gay Man Being Celebrated At A Major Metal Festival?“
This past July, renowned metal journalist (and occasional Stereogum contributor) Adrien Begrand wrote a piece for Pop Matters titled “Some Talk, No Action,” putting the entire metal community on blast for failing to effectively flush out certain musicians whose art and/or actions seemed to suggest some form of bigotry or separatist ideology. Begrand called out by name such bands as Cobalt, Inquisition, Lord Mantis, and Bölzer, but he extended the indictment to include countless participants — primarily the media and fans who support (or fail to condemn) any artists who support (or fail to condemn) intolerant worldviews.
This is actually a good (albeit incomplete, but give him a break, he had two paragraphs) history of the explosion of #metalgate. In the late 1990s, the underground fizzled because it had no more greats to offer, and the imitators surged in. Since that time, record labels and hipsters have been trying to find a way to make rock and punk rock — which, unlike metal, which emphasizes transcending the individual, emphasize the importance of individual desires over attention to consequences — into a “metal flavored” form. This is an ideal product for local mediocre bands to make and labels to hype since anyone can do it so there can be a steady stream of profits. SJW-metal is just their tool of forcing everyone else out and taking over.
Nelson goes on to look into the chaos that followed Disma being accused of being horrible Nazis, and he pretty much beats the SJW tin drum here, but then, something interesting happens:
The last thing any of us here wants to do is give additional exposure to artists who peddle or preach hatred or intolerance. The other last thing we want to do is act as some Orwellian thought police slowly sanitizing metal by doling out oxygen only to those artists whose views reflect our own, whose actions meet our personal standards of acceptability. It’s easy enough to treat Burzum’s Varg Vikernes as a pariah: The guy is an enthusiastic, unrepentant bigot and a convicted murderer. (It helps, too, that he hasn’t released a decent album since 2011.) I often wonder, though, how the world would react to “Angel Of Death” or “Unsuccessfully Coping With The Natural Beauty Of Infidelity” if those songs were released today. This is dark music! It’s not supposed to be safe! It can be safe, but nobody ever got into this shit because it was safe; we got into it because it was scary and transgressive and primal. Who are we to make it safe?
Then again, who are we to promote art or artists fostering unsafe environments?
I’m not winding up for some big, poignant conclusion here, sadly. I’m leaving this as an ellipsis.
There’s a certain subtle brilliance in this. The whole point of this lengthy introduction was to get himself SJW cred, then point out that censorship is just like the totalitarian ideologies that SJWs claim to dislike. In fact, Nelson writes that it is even worse, since it is done in the name of good, and points out that many of metal’s classics would not pass this test. Then he leaves the question up to us, since he obviously cannot directly contradict the herd or they will amass and ruin his life (or a least get Stereogum to fire him, and then mob his Facebook account!).
SJW is still a potent movement because it gives power to the unmemorable by allowing them to take down people better than themselves. It gives a voice to the mediocre and a reason why their mediocrity should jump the line ahead of artistic superiority. Like all mass movements, it is a revolt against quality, with the pleasant notion that everyone will be equally important concealing the reality, which is that when everyone is the same nothing good can rise. Metal stands against that, and this is why SJWs target it. But the tide is turning even now.
Although the death of Facebook has been widely reported, it remains the market-leading source for metal bands and others to share information. Last night, SJWs mounted a mass attack of complaints against my personal account, leading Facebook to remove it early this morning. Coupled with what looks like an attack on our database server, this shows exactly how mad and defensive SJWs have become about recent #metalgate activity which has revealed their censorious nature. Their decision to censor via a complaint attack simply confirms this, and reveals a fundamental weakness in Facebook and a reason metalheads should distrust it.
For most of the bands we cover here at DMU, indirect influence from classical music and musicians is rather more common than direct performance of classical music, to the point that you’ll find more discussion of authentic period-style performance than metallic recontextualization. When word reached me of Exmortus honoring the 245th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth by releasing an adaptation of his 23rd piano sonata (the aforementioned Appassionata… well, the final movement of it), I figured listening to what the band could do with this material would make for some interesting writing. It’s worth noting that Exmortus has already done something similar for Beethoven’s Moonlight sonata, shredding their way through its fast and technically complicated final movement.
Since I’d never actually sat down and listened to the original Appassionata in any form, I started by listening to a performance. It’s been a while since I was properly attuned to Western classical music, but in my quick inspection I was able to pick up on many of the period tropes (it’s worth noting that Beethoven bridged the often lighter styles of the late 18th century with the melodramatic and more technically accomplished works of the early “Romantic” period of classical music), and I noticed how much mileage he was able to get out of a few relatively simple leitmotifs through various elaboration techniques. The sonata is clearly worthy of further study, although in the mean time one of our more classical-oriented writers would probably be able to shed further light on its hidden depths.
My main goal with this article, anyways, was to take a look at what Exmortus themselves did with the material. In their original moments, Exmortus plays a modernized speed metal style that takes some aesthetic cues from contemporary death metal; this recipe has in the past produced things like ATG’s Slaughter of the Soul, although this band’s usually a bit more subtle in their exploration of such tropes. Their adaptation of Appassionata makes very dramatic changes to the organization of the original. Much of these would be expected due to the mere change in instrumentation; perhaps the most notable is a consistent layer of percussion that understandably makes for a different texture. They’ve also condensed their adaptation down a bit; it would take me further listening to say which parts were specifically cut, but this is definitely an important change. Perhaps the greatest weakness of Exmortus’s version is that it also compresses the dynamic range down to nothing, and it does nothing with texture or rhythm to compensate for that. While the aesthetic needs of metal music often allow for reduced dynamic range, one of the more striking parts of the 3rd movement of Appassionata is that a skilled pianist can create strong contrasts despite the lengthy periods of rapid, stamina-draining performance, and that the ‘metal’ adaptation feels somewhat diminished for lacking this crucial element.
This track is still an interesting novelty that might push a few people to explore the original work. The album this single belongs to (Ride Forth) will go on sale January 8th, although I don’t expect it to contain any more neoclassical efforts. For an example of how original work in this vein can open up new possibilities, try Helstar’s “Perseverance and Desperation” off Nosferatu.
Freaked out by the refusal of metal to bow to their guilt-induced accusations, SJWs have reverted to their first tactic: acting as wise teachers, instructing us in how metal thinks, which always includes the narrative of progress and enlightenment replacing those bad old ways.
The latest comes from Vice, which should know better but keeps hiring cheap talent. In this year-end review, somehow an agenda of political control slips in:
Once the go-to genre for tasteless gore and shock value, most younger bands seem to have cleaned up their image. The violent misogyny that frequently appeared in the genre’s golden age is now passé if you’re not a generic slam band. There just isn’t any room for “Entrails Ripped From a Virgin’s Cunt” or “Skin Her Alive” in today’s metal scene, and more importantly fans have responded angrily when actual violence against women occurs, as blackened death band Deiphago learned when guitarist Sidalpa was accused of punching a woman in the face backstage.
…Death metal listeners are also clearly taking a stand against racism. Over the summer, Malevolent Creation were raked over the coals because of blatantly racist and xenophobic Facebook posts. In the fall, Disma were booted from multiple festivals due to frontman Craig Pillard’s alleged Nazi associations. Netherlands Deathfest organizers said that “at least 10 bands” would have refused to play on the same bill as Disma had they not been removed. Pillard is a major figure in the scene, having been an integral part of Incantation’s prime years, but even in the normally apolitical (and extremely white) world of death metal, fans and artists are starting to lose patience with prejudice—even if the majority of listeners are not yet swinging left.
…So, what is the state of death metal in 2015? The music is still as vital as ever and the genre is flooded with talented musicians.
“Vital as ever” seems a stretch considering how the writer struggled to find examples and came up with very little other than classic bands continuing, but in order for his narrative to succeed, he has to brainwash the audience into believing that the new material is just as good as the old. And as usual, this is implied to “prove” that metal has simply matured, not been taken over by the same people who converted hardcore punk into insipid soundalike material in the name of political correctness.
Article by David Rosales
Pretty much once in a lifetime does an artist of the greatest kind offer a work that has added to its musical consummation the ability to summon entire worlds into the conscience of the listener. The three following examples of this achievement go about this in the same way that Tolkien’s mystery mythology is built: by broad strokes, consistency in themes and marvellous artistry in strategic details. These also form a triad that describe three concentric spheres of human experience: the physical, the mental and the divine.
Stormcrowfleet: The Metaphysical Will
Here is a pondering on will, vision and the embracing of the self’s calling:
Devouring the world through the senses, only to slowly flood back into it and extend Will yonder. Powers sifting awesomely in vast expanses according to harmonious law. As the fruit of work materializes, impetus is satiated and now serves as pulse. Arcane forces call beasts of desire into action, as does the disciplined mage through obedience to true aphorisms attain silent influence.
Destiny is embraced, faced with passionless determination. Beyond what is felt, what is seen, what is heard, closer to the truth, there proud and solitary existence awaits. In that place, sensation and impression are fused with meaning. It can never err, it simply is and is ever becoming. Such is the fire-lit secret of unclothed reality.
Dol Guldur: Mind and Imagination
Longing for earthly beauty and the majesty of man’s handwork and a respect for the purpose that is instilled into them cries out in whispers through the crevices of undead statues. High culture and nature are melded in absolute harmony through a revitalization of Tolkien’s verses. Man is here but a speck in the middle of the grandeur of this Earth, this center of our cosmos, the most precious of gifts to mankind.
Mythic transpositions of stone structures and forests from a mortal’s character and inner struggle are interleaved. The landscape painting of the master linguist is vibrated in shy cadences that sustain melodies gradually taking us aloft to places not corresponding to our physical present, nor to a faithful idea, but somewhere in between. This is where dream and reality meet, whence manifestation of destiny ensues.
Blood, Fire, Death: Cruelest Present
Without leaving behind legendary imagery as an aim and placeholder for imminent action, we are shown an unapologetic picture of crudeness. This is the here and now of human experience. It is the visceral rushing of adrenaline-charged blood through the limbs.
No glory, no shame, only happenstance. In this nihilism is the truth of the triune complemented and completed.Things are or they are not. You live or you die. Revel in the ritual of life and attach no special meaning to anything.
In response to stories of political censorship by the Maryland Metalfest, attacks on Demonic Christ, and alleged SJW exclusion of political non-conformists, a loose-knit group of fans, musicians and writers has formed the Facebook group Make Baltimore – NO PLAY ZONE! to express disagreement with censorship.
The group organizers issued the following statement:
This group was founded to promote the idea that bands should stay out of Baltimore or risk millennial crybabies attempting to ruin band’s careers over the numerous things they find offensive. Every city has this problem, true. But, the children of Baltimore have made this particular city undesirable for having a good time and enjoying a show.
ENTER BALTIMORE AT YOUR OWN RISK!
Once in the underground, #metalgate is heating up as people oppose the idea of censorship and political conformity in metal. Many remember what such herd-thinking did to hardcore in the 1980s and the attempts to censor metal from right and left during the same decade. Others simply believe that genres dedicated to extremity should keep all ideas on the table, especially when the standard of political conformity seems to agree with what most governments, media and large corporations endorse. Time will tell.