Hate Mail (#8): The Reviewer’s Response to Steve Cefala’s Comment Spam

Article by Lance Viggiano responding to Steve Cefala’s comment spam on Lance’s Sadistic Metal Review of Nothing Left’s demo.

People really need to understand that reviewing – when you aren’t listing the objective qualities of the music – ultimately comes down to the reviewers taste and experience.

The problem is ultimately that our culture cannot discern the difference between values and facts. More specifically, they treat values as if they were factual statements. So, habitually, they lose their shit over contrary irreducibly individual judgements.

I’m sure this guy can find a hundred other metal critics to praise what I think is lack luster. Still, the most embarrassing bit is that a 40 year old man has to resort to trying to fight at the flag pole after school over differences.

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43 thoughts on “Hate Mail (#8): The Reviewer’s Response to Steve Cefala’s Comment Spam”

  1. ODB says:

    The problem with SMRs now is that they don’t originate from one source and therefore lack credibility. When you’ve written for some time, your readership understands what to expect and where you’re coming from. The current editor and a couple of others who compose these reviews don’t have an extensive record of expressed opinion and have on occasion contradicted themselves in a laughable manner, so to any kind of sensitive interpretation, their edginess appears little more than pandering to the party line.

    The thing I get from some of these reviews is the utter lack of respect, or, even more damnably, love for the music. Acanthrophis, for example, is not the sort of band that deserves the outright dismissal it got and the guy who wrote it then had the nerve to suggest in the comments that it was his “impressionistic appraisal” of the music. Are you kidding me? Where’s the end to your conceit?

    1. Read bylines and comments more carefully. There have been no contradictions; the staff writers simply have varying tolerances for beer, caveman, and rehash metal.

      Acanthropis deserves to be tossed in a burning, trash heap with the rest of the lame worship of the Göteborg scene. This crap deserves no respect, no mercy, and no grave.

      1. ODB says:

        Do you have any idea what the “Göteborg ” sound consisted of? What was considered “Göteborg” in the 90s was general melodic Swedish/European metal and included bands like In Flames, Dark Tranquility. Pre- Crown Crown Of Thorns, Crypt Of Kerberos, Dark Tranquility, AtG when they streamlined, Soilwork, Autumn Leaves, etc. Hear those bands, sift through them because at least two of them weren’t all bad. Then go hear Acanthrophis and tell me how you draw a line from those bands to the latter. Better yet, write an article on it, but for the love of God, stop making random, provocative associations.

        1. Acanthrophis says:

          Maarat is a joke, and his embarrassing tenure here won’t last very long.
          Thanks for he support, ODB.

          1. Johan P says:

            Hey man, I wrote to you via bandcamp, but no reply!

            1. Acanthrophis says:

              Apparently all bandcamp messages go to my spam email folder for some reason. Writing you back now.

        2. C.M. says:

          Hey ODB, good to see you around. Gotta point out though, that all the bands you’ve mentioned there were heavy metal/hard rock hybrids with death metal guitar tones and vocals for an edgy aesthetic was carefully tailored for commerce. It’s eunuch metal. The musicians are skilled, the songwriting is clean, and the music is lacking utterly in viscera. Same applies to Acanthropis.

          1. ODB says:

            I agree with the first of your observations, but I’m still failing to see the connection with Acanthrophis. If anything, they sound like a more linear version of Averse Sefira on Advent Parallax, certainly far removed from the verse-chorus, speed metal-with-growls schtick of the Gothenburg bands.

    2. mordor guy says:

      Hello ODB,I like your blog, but I think it has a lower standard compared to DMU. Acanthrophis is OK(just by listening to the first track, that song has great structure), though stylistically confusing. I see them coming as a techdeath band trying hard to be melodic black. Therefore, the melody effects are minimal,transitional parts sounding vague. Overrall, hard to listen to after awhile.

      1. ODB says:

        Thanks for visiting. I agree that my blog is not a patch on some of the writers this site has had over the years. Of the newer lot, I do like Lance and Johan’s insights. I’ve written a few times on here, also, so I’m no ill-wisher of the idea of Death Metal Underground. That’s also where my occasional frustration arises, with that “idea” being diluted albeit in forms that may seem outwardly inimical to the mainstream.

      2. Yes, Acanthrophis is non-random tekdeaf made from little bits and pieces of Gothenburg refuse. It’s actually worse than something like House of Atreus as Ara doesn’t have a clue why the heavy and black metal ideas worked in Gothernburg pop songs.

        1. Acanthrophis says:

          What you’re saying shows no indication of anything other than the fact that you don’t like the style of music on the record and are confused as to what side of the fence it lies on. This says nothing about the objective aspects of the record, and you are critiquing the release based on the supposed motives of the writer rather than the music itself. This is pure ad hominem fallacy disguised as a music review.

          1. Acanthrophis, your music makes me wonder how great it would be if you dropped loads all over our readers’ faces. Please get in touch. Our manholes are ripe, gaped, and ready.

            Axl Rosenberg

            1. Acanthrophis says:

              I’ve actually considered starting a pornoslam side project called Gapeshit. You want in? Then after, do you want to join the band?

              1. C.M. says:

                Can I get in on this? I can play blasts on a cowbell or triangle.

                1. Acanthrophis says:

                  I’ll take all comers.

                  1. You know, if people look at the start you have made with Acanthrophis, even if they do not think it is good “as it is,” they could see the seed of something potentially really good. You know, like how groups influenced albums like De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas and Onward to Golgotha. A little support from other musicians and thinkers could go a long way. For example, people could contribute lyrics or riffs. Just my $0.02, which is now worthless under the Clinton-Bush-Obama economy.

                    1. Jerry Hauppa says:

                      I’m not opposed to the idea entirely, but as much as I do want to contribute to the bettering of the metal genre through recordings, writing and making records are first and foremost a catharsis for me as an artist. This may be a kind of hollow individualism, but it’s a passion of mine and one I want to continue to improve on. That being said, as a melodically-based (not in terms of saccharine tones but as a leading voice that defines a song) writer, if someone doesn’t like the fundamental approach I take, they aren’t going to on future records I make. And that’s fine, but despite the new anti-melody trend with war metal and the like, melody has as much a place in metal as atonal power chord barrages. Arrangement is key, and how you tell a story with it is what will define a song successfully or unsuccessfully.

                      Your idea for contributions is not one I would shy away from, and I can’t speak on behalf of Joe (vocals and lyrics) but musically a way I wouldn’t be opposed to approaching it is if someone were to give me a basic melody that I can manipulate and build a whole song around. The stylistic parameters of the band have been pretty well defined, and if I were to let someone else lead the project musically, it would be akin to writing an article using someone else’s catchphrases for a majority of the content, and I do want to see how I improve on the way to getting this band off the ground. Regarding this, criticism is something I wholeheartedly welcome, and have seen strides in my writing occur mainly from valid criticism from others. I reached out to David Rosales for a critique and he brought up very valid points which will help me see my writing differently. The negative comments about the record seen on here so far haven’t done that, and that’s where my frustrations lie. You can dislike the record all you want, but if you don’t provide valid points on what needs to be improved, I’m going to interpret your criticism as rooted in opinion and taste and not see any objective substance in it. I mainly don’t see the rationale for such vitriol regarding this record.

          2. Rainer Weikusat says:

            Ad hominem is not a fallacy, it’s an argument against a person making an argument instead of against this argument itself. Depending on the circumstances, this may be perfectly valid, eg, I’ve heard that his Donaldness claims to be the most successfull US president pretender ever. A sensible retort could be “Well, we can’t all have millionaire father”. There’s also no ad hominem in the text you replied to at all, just a conclusion drawn from the music: »It’s made of bits and pieces of Gothenburg refuse«, ergo, whoever did that »doesn’t have a clue why the heavy and black metal ideas worked in Gothernburg pop songs.«.

            Assuming there was a 2nd Acantrophis release, an invalid ad hominem argument against that could be as well all know that … has no clue why …, there’s no point even listening to this.

            NB: This not a statement about merits (or lack thereof) of the original criticism. But »Twilight of the Vanquishers’s Reign« has an air of out-DeMajoing DeMajo to it and the picture is full of elements suggesting sexual symbolism, the axe, the horns, the animal(?) head on the shield and even the mountains in the background.

            1. Jerry Hauppa says:

              Ad hominem is a fallacy, and is especially fallacious if you consider the record to be the initial argument. The second you bring up the artist, as in saying the artist doesn’t know why such techniques worked in previous unrelated albums, is the second you start theorizing and formulate presuppositions about creative mindsets you can’t understand instead of looking at the objective material. If he had said, “the harmonized melody of the title track (which, mind you, is the ONLY directly-Gothenburg-influenced part on the record) doesn’t fit tonally with the vibe of the rest of the record,” I would acknowledge a potentionally valid point. But entirely debasing the record because of the melodic basis that makes it up is more about your personal taste than what is actually on the record. I don’t care if you don’t like it, but it’s not ground for being ostracized from Valhalla over, so since I’m not going to stop making metal records at least provide actual points as to where the songwriting fails, or move on because frankly, it’s a four song record I made mostly at home that isn’t going to have a label, isn’t going to be adored by metal sucks, and isn’t going to change the definition of metal to a poser-inclusive one. It’s a 20-something blip on the radar, so save your knee-jerk hate for something that actually deserves it.

              Regarding the cover art, it’s a redesign of this image of the Death Adder character from the Golden Axe game that the record is based on-
              Is this fruity as hell? Sure, but no more so than the 10 billionth Tolkien or Lovecraft-influenced metal record made so far and since I have nerdy tastes it is actually more sincere subject matter for me to take on than pointless metal posturing. The character has a brutal, tyrannical story behind him that I thought was good subject matter for a record. It’s not typical Hessian/Viking shit but in a way it is- either way, all that stuff is pretty fruity as well. Large bearded men conquering other weaker men- it gets me all worked up just thinking about it. But apparently not as much as others who see multitudes of phallic evidence on album covers. Whatever turns you on, man.

              1. Rainer Weikusat says:

                Not everything on the internet makes sense. Moreover, knee-jerk aggression as defence against perceived criticism, when that perceived criticism was actually an explanation of something else and explicitly stated it wasn’t criticism, never makes any sense.

                To state this again: Ad hominem means argueing against a person which made an argument instead of argueing against the argument itself. This may be valid (first example) or invalid (second example). Especially fallacious fallacy makes no sense: Something is either being used fallaciously or it isn’t. That’s binary — true or false. There’s no such thing as truer or falser. A long time ago, you could have been ostracized from Athens but not from Valhalla, certainly not in Greek, and especially not as Valhalla is a place where heroes who died on the battlefield and were chosen by the gods are forced to eat roast pork and drink mead until the end of time when they’re going to be killed again (with a sigh of relief, presumably). There’s no way a majority of them could decide to get rid of some unpleasant minority by voting.

                I’m blissfully unaware of your preferred kind of junk entertainment, I just believe to have an idea why the picture caused the reaction it caused. That’s also criticism and even of the kind you claimed to welcome earlier.

                1. Jerry Hauppa says:

                  You can try to derail my arguments over semantics or you can actually participate in the conversation. You were actually the first to comment on the cover so I explained it to you. I do welcome criticism, and so far I have not seen any that are free of the bindings of personal taste- and the ones I especially challenge were the ones that said I “fail consistently at music” and that the music demands “no respect.” On what grounds? On what grounds does it “lack in viscera” given the violent nature of the music? On what grounds is it rock with metal overtones? As stated here time and time again, what exposes that is the arrangements, which are clearly not rock. Like I said, I am one who strives for excellence so if you are going to completely shut it down, fully explain the grievous offense that is deserving of it so I can learn ways to improve, or the criticism is without merit. Or you can continue to browbeat me which isn’t going to further the argument which is currently cordial but teetering, and will instead cause neither one of us to allow each other’s argument to hold water out of animosity.

                  1. John D. says:

                    This is totally cool to me. “Acanthrophis” at the beginning of this comment section holding his ground, and now here. Finally, artists holding criticism accountable, and doing a fantastic job of it (though my sense is Rainer is a cool guy too, just a little too given sometimes to the pedantic. It appears unfortunately to have led to a bit of a misunderstanding, when it looks like it wasn’t meant to go that way). Changes the entire dynamic and tone when the artists themselves are present. No more back-talking or ridiculous over-the-top trashing and trolling. I’d love to see more of this. More artists should jump in and just make their presence known for a short and potent burst of time in fan-critic comment-boards and forums. It’s not even necessary to do so for a long time. It changes the narrative back to where it should be, pulls it out of the mire by its bootstraps, as it were, and places it back on solid ground. The artists even for all the flaws which may be found in their attempts, after all, are the ones who come out of the process not just with abstract theories but with some real wisdom and authority based on hands-on experience.

                    While those who don’t make music, or have never tried their hand at any kind of art study a map, complaining that not enough detail is in one place or the color is not quite right, the artists are the ones who return from having explored the actual terrain. Good critics using their imagination to project themselves into the terrain, are at best skilled readers of maps, interpreters. But they are nothing without the artists. That should never be forgotten.

                    Another time something like this happened at this site, in my recent memory, is when David Rosales reviewed Chthe’ilist’s Le Dernier Crépuscule. On the comment board one of the artists of that band chimed in, and another artist too, and that was great. That puts everything back in proper perspective and in a productive direction.

                  2. Rainer Weikusat says:

                    I get a sense of New Model Army here but – alas – on to the hopeless cause. This was an explanation.

                    If I may also offer an opinion: The cover image is a clumsy »heroic fantasy« rip-off. It really lends itself to the I AM THE VANQUISHER! text. I’ve listened to two more songs and the best description I can give of them would be “pointlessly irritating”: People who like At The Gates etc may find something in that but I thankfully missed the “Can’t we do something like death metal and put melody into that? Shurely, this will sell!” idea when it came around for the first time and it really just misses both marks: Combining two deficient parts doesn’t result in a whole but in twice as many defects. I’m gladly unqualified to be a worthwhile audience for this.


                    1. John D. says:

                      Straight up honesty can’t be faulted. The Gutter Instinct art shown in the video link you posted I like. Music isn’t the most dynamic I grant you. Not something I’d listen to repeatedly, but I wouldn’t call it irritating like nails on a chalkboard or a jackhammer rat-tat-tatting outside one’s window when trying to sleep off a hangover. But this is all subjective taste. You, Rainer, clearly have a mind with exquisitely fine discernment down into fine nuances and grasp more complex forms and now you require more challenging listening experiences. You’re an advanced metalhead, while most are still in high school. That’s cool.

                    2. Jerry Hauppa says:

                      Thank you for posting a link to a Prosthetic Records band as a half-hearted counterpoint, allowing me to completely disregard your entire argument. Why couldn’t you have done that in the first place?

                    3. Jerry, have you ever thought about doing a Sodom-style project?

                    4. Jerry Hauppa says:

                      There wasn’t a place to click to reply to Brett, so this was the closest reply button I found. Anyway, regarding a Sodom type of project, I wouldn’t be opposed, but as you know I am into extremes, and would prefer a more off-the-rails Defleshed type of approach. In fact, that would be really fun.

                      Since getting into home recording I have a number of things I want to attempt- the Acanthrophis record was actually the second thing I had written, the first being a more stripped down, power chord based death metal record that the drummer dropped out of but may still come to fruition someday.

                    5. Sounds exciting. I mention it because Sodom is such a good place to get to the roots of much of blackened death metal, black metal and death metal. You might have some fun writing really basic songs that can be powerful because of their stripped-down approach.

  2. Ggallin1776 says:

    Taste is subjective,that being said the internet is oversaturated with both shitty bands & shitty reviewers that think they are the end all be all.
    With the amount of available free exposure these days & the fact you don’t have to suck corporate a&r ass to put out material successfully these days,if you’re still not selling out venues you either a)suck or b) your promotional/marketing skills suck worse than your music.
    People need to be realistic with themselves but all the rampant petty narcissism & participation awards these days i don’t see that happening.

  3. Vigilance says:

    Apparently we need to put the authors name under each SMR so we can establish a tangible chain of authority and taste for ODB. It’s not like some of us, ahem, don’t have any lengthy SMRs published or anything.

  4. John D. says:

    I’ve only recently begun commenting at this site, and the pandering that happens I’ve also observed. It’s easy really to tighten the screws on others and have them looking like total incompetent idiots. I’m certain it can be done to me too. All for cheap laughs at another’s expense. That’s the pandering part. The wonder of it to me is that one figures most everyone who follows and contributes to this site has an absolute passion for the spirit of metal. One could quibble about what that means, but everyone who loves metal feels it in their heart and guts. From this generalized rich feeling, the base foundation, then, one must ask when confronted with any new piece of music in the genre, is there anything in it worth retaining and developing?

    Each individual is at a certain level of development, some more advanced than others, but to me it’s the height of hubristic folly for the fewer more developed at the top to be so ridiculing and relentlessly harsh toward those who need a little help and encouragement down near the bottom. It’s basically playing bully in the schoolyard. The few bullies get together, steal the lunch money, and make everyone else look like fools, laughing among themselves. I think bullies are cowards. It takes a greater and nobler spirit to rise above petty squabbles and petulant, mean-spirited arguments, and actually want to help out one’s fellows with whom one shares a genuine passion. That’s the only way the metal movement is going to survive and grow stronger.

    Masked behind so much macho-posturing and belligerence, there’s such a fear of being associated in any way with “social justice warriors” that basic human decency and common sense – fuck, even good humor, the kind everyone can share in – is undermined. By straining so hard to remain exclusive and elite the mind slowly hardens and narrows, a strangulation of the spirit of the movement happens from within, and any genuinely free and independent spirit which actually is rare and elite and mighty and strong and ennobling and richly imaginative and ingenious is undermined. One destroys the very thing one has tried so hard to preserve. To me it’s rather ironic, speaking of zombies and monsters, that here at this site the “social justice warrior” is the thing that has the dreaded “cooties” and acts as the boogeyman.

    Having grown up quite awhile ago, I laugh and shake my head.

    1. Ok John but, do you enjoy sucking cock or not? Cuz I don’t think you cleared that up, and seriously, that’s all that truly matters here. So next time tell us about your cock sucking abilities.

      yours truly,

      Axl Rosenberg

      1. John D. says:

        I politely refuse your hairy and pimply rebuttal. Others I refer to this gentleman. He likes to roleplay obviously, so maybe that’s a bonus to you.

    2. C.M. says:

      Yeah well you are gay.

    3. Billy Foss says:

      Well said John D., I noticed the same shortly after I started browsing this site, and only recently did I begin to comment in spite of it. Honestly, it’s enough to repel me. Who can argue with Axl there? However, I never would have found an artist like Serpent Ascending on my own. So for now I stay and learn.

      I rarely enjoy the SMR articles, they occasionally give me a good laugh, but if anything I just treat them as passive suggestions and investigate them if anything strikes my fancy. At the very least, if some sort of comparison is drawn to another band or style, I’ll look into it to try and better understand how they came to that conclusion and hopefully further educate myself in metal. With that said, the artists who can’t resist the urge to comment after they’ve been reviewed are fucking pathetic. No exceptions. As an artist once you’ve developed an idea and guided it to completion that’s it. It’s been created. You can’t shadow it around the internet like a fretful mother defending every decision that someone disagrees with while you rabidly scramble to immure it in your womb. If you truly believe in what you are doing and feel that it is a noble, worthwhile endeavor then you have to let it stand on it’s merits. Like Lance said, it ultimately boils down to taste. That is, his subjective opinion as an individual. If he thinks your demo is shit, that doesn’t necessarily make it so. I feel like I’m talking to fucking children.

      1. Acanthrophis says:

        This site has on multiple times raged against the idea of reviewing based on what one likes and instead focuses on objective merit with a meticulous focus on musical construction. Of course taste matters to an extent and will color a review, but what sets DMU apart from others is the focus on the music itself rather than the whims of the reviewer.

    4. Vigilance says:

      My feeling is that SMRs are posted too often and there is less emphasis on essays and such but hey I get why it’s done.

  5. OliveFox says:

    Isn’t humor a prime goal of the Sadistic reviews? I guess if you happen to be in the band being shat on it isn’t so funny, but a whole bunch of feelings and opinions seem to be flying about for what appears to be no more than a funny way to unload on some piled up submissions the site receives.

    1. Ggallin1776 says:

      Yup pretty sure that’s the case olivefox,people just have no sense of humor anymore.

    2. John D. says:

      I actually agree with you, OliveFox. I get the humor of the Sadistic Metal Reviews. The intention is in the title. It’s a peculiar humor, however. It’s the equivalent of a shit list, and no one wants to end up on a shit list. I’m certainly not a kill joy, and there’s much that’s pretentious which deserves to be on the receiving end of satire. But I think you hit on it that one doesn’t really know personally those who are in the bands which make it on those shit lists. (Maybe some do, but I don’t.) What’s central about my longer comment is about the lifeblood of the movement. For that to grow stronger there must be a going down into actual individualities, connecting with those and taking those into account, not just attacking what are essentially just images. To me it’s a weird solipsism. The Sadistic Metal Review attack is like the bull bucking and snorting itself in a delirious rage and then finally by its very nature impaling itself on its own horns.

      1. Hello John D.
        Every time I read your comments I think of your butthole as if it were a hairy pussy. Tight but smelly with a nice hairy bush encircling it.

        Just wanted you to know. Peace.

        – Axl

  6. John D. says:

    “People just don’t have a sense of humor anymore” is utterly ridiculous. That’s something an old curmudgeon might say. “Ah, back in my day…” The point I’m making is simply logical. It’s a psychological truth. One who has the metal spirit who attacks another who carries the same metal spirit (regardless of the particular manifestation, from high quality goods down to low-grade fare) is in a profound way attacking himself. Or you could say fucking himself. It sees the host/parasite relationship from a higher vantage point, in the symbol of Ouroboros.

    My sense of humor is quite in tact; I’m just out and looking in and seeing the larger joke. Watching a person try to fuck himself is quite funny. The attempt to provoke others to join in, the rolling around and rocking back and forth and not being able to reach. The return to trying to provoke others to join in. It has nowhere to go but keeps trying, and failing, and failing again miserably and pathetically within its limited range. It’s slapstick comedy.

    Billy Foss, thanks for your response. I think you and I generally approach all this similarly. I have actually learned a lot at this site and have been introduced to bands I might otherwise never have found, or maybe would’ve taken longer to find. Not only is my sense of humor intact, so is my gratitude. I also read all the reviews, even the Sadistic ones, taking it all with a grain of salt.

    As the saying goes, “non disputandum est” – there’s no disputing about taste.

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