Elitism is Darwinism for heavy metal

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.

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17 thoughts on “Elitism is Darwinism for heavy metal”

  1. Meek Metalhead says:

    Metal needs its own eugenics program.

    1. Poser Patrol says:


      You’ll need a score of 30+ to receive your Metal Creation Certificate.

  2. Dualist says:

    SJW’s are also against Elitism as kind of a self-defense mechanism too. If the whole of metal had stayed focused on quality, like the dark legions archives did, then their bands would have been erased from history as being of inferior quality. Bands that hardly sold any records like Nox Intempesta and Tha-Norr were included because they had something unique to say whereas Satyricon was left out. Just as it should be. Liturgy wouldn’t even have bothered starting making music.

    1. Cock 4 All of U says:

      I didn’t know Nox Intempesta and Tha-norrĀ“s record sales were low. I still love those two bands! Those were the days. I remember reading the Tha-norr review and ordering the cd right away. So many awesome finds on the Dark Legions Archive, you could trust Prozak on any album, order it and be blown the fuck away! Sadly Prozak decided to retire and put this brett Stevens feller who is kind of, well, it’s just not the same. Prozak was a feral historian with balls of steel.

      1. Robert says:

        Same guy, dude.

  3. Cock 4 All of U says:

    Can someone please explain what’s the difference between a poser and a scenester?
    Are all SJWs hipsters or can a hipster not be a SJW??

    1. Dualist says:

      Its kinda like the difference between Bubonic and Pneumonic Plague.

    2. Poser Patrol says:

      A poser is a parasitic wimp who tries to ingratiate himself into the metal subculture even though their appreciation and knowledge of metal is entirely superficial. They like to cry about how asshole elitists bash their favorite bands and see it as an affront to their personality, which their taste in metal is an expression of, but nothing more.

      Scenesters, or “scene kids”, are a type of poser that listens to metalcore and look like this: http://www.dobi.nu/yourscenesucks/brootal/scene.jpg
      They usually have effeminate faces and look like a girl if you squint hard enough, so you can have them slurp your bone without being gay!

    3. morbideathscream says:

      They both go hand in hand. They’re interchangeable.

  4. LordKrumb says:

    I wouldn’t say SJWs have to be hipsters, but it probably helps.

    Poseurs can be one of two breeds, or even a hybrid of both:

    1. The IMPOSTER copies the stylistic qualities of a culture in order to pretend to others and themselves they belong to that culture, and to freak out people in other circles. They don’t follow the culture’s defining ideas and beliefs because they’re secretly offended by it, too stupid to understand it, or purely interested in acquiring freaky merchandise.

    2. The BRAGGER goes out of their way to boast about something they own and things they’ve done, often deliberately owning/doing things in order to give themselves extra bragging rights. Their aim is to make people jealous, but they usually try to mask that intention in some way.

    Then there’s the SYCOPHANT (the ‘Scenester’). Especially adept at bragging, they want the whole scene to admire them. They kiss the asses of influential people and then mingle with everyone else, trying to impress with name-dropping.

    1. morbideathscream says:

      Notice that posers, hipsters, SJW’s, scenesters and people of that sort have a certain look to them. Even if they grow their hair long and throw on a Nifelheim shirt or even throw on a denim vest there will be something that you’ll notice that will scream hipster or SJW. Then again I did say they were interchangeable. Some may still hold on to their thick rimmed glasses, grow one of those annoying full beards which screams try hard or even if they have some decent music taste they’ll always like certain core or hipster bands and will try to justify why they like them and how they are exceptions. Then there’s the ones who praise the agricultural post black metal bands which screams hipster who thinks he’s being clever or original. Maybe if I drink more fluoride then I’d see their point of view.

      1. Throughout the 1990s I attended shows wearing Slayer tshirts, khaki slacks and formal loafers. No metalheads said anything, but the hipsters sneered at me. I didn’t mind. I don’t want fake people to like me.

        But the “tolerance” difference between metalheads and hipsters is this: metalheads are OK with you doing things your own way, unless you are a poseur; hipsters are not OK with anything that is not “hip” as defined by hipsters.

  5. LordKrumb says:

    Just dug up this article about the merits of elitism and people’s hypocrisy regarding elitism in sports and art:


    Quite surprising to see such views published in a mainstream UK newspaper’s website, although it is supposedly a slightly right-wing newspaper.

    1. Dualist says:

      Yes, The Daily Telegraph has always historically been the UK’s only (remaining) openly-conservative, Tory-supporting broadsheet newspaper. In fact, now that the other broadsheets have all followed the hipster trend towards the ‘Berliner’ format newspaper, the Telegraph is the only remaining broadsheet in the UK full stop.

      But over the years it has, inevitably, been infiltrated by a breed of metropolitan-based, hipster-type of supposed conservative. Predictably the infection first started off in just the minor backpages ‘lifestyle’ sections but now is pretty much throughout the main current-affairs content too.

      Any good articles they still publish are by old-timers like the one you linked. The UK’s conservative fortnightly magazine The Spectator has been the same story. In the past it’s reviews and articles were written by minds of astounding education and character. It used to show-up the likes of the New York Review of Books to be the pretentious rubbish they really were. But the consensus of opinion in the country, driven by the institutionally-liberal BBC, the rest of the newspapers and the often-degenerate Academy and now also along with all their ‘useful idiot’ attack-mob followers in the twittersphere, has drifted so far to the left that even most of the members of the so-called Conservative (Tory) Party are rarely heard to utter a single conservative-sounding sentiment. Supporting any form of Elitism would be considered a faux pas.

      Here’s a good example. Anybody that supported the re-introduction of high-school selection tests (with the brighter 25% going to study tougher academic studies at ‘Grammar Schools’ whereas the the rest were given a solid foundation in more practical disciplines in separate schools), a system we had back when the UK’s schools were still the envy of the world before that system was spitefully sacrificed on the altar of equality by the Left in the 70’s, would now be regarded as being unfit for High Office in the current ‘Conservative’ government.

      The Left passed legislation to dismantle this great system – on the basis that determining your whole future education path with two exams in English and maths at age 11 (the so-called 11-plus exam) made some pupils feel ‘like second class citizens’. It hurt their feelings, basically. But back in the those days the executive boards of the Empire’s industries and businesses were full of bright lads from working-class backgrounds who had been given a free grammar school education and then gone on to free world-class UK universities. They couldn’t have dreamed of competing educationally against the richer output of the country’s private schools without the Grammar School system.

      But the left doesn’t care about them, of course. The main thing is that everybody is equal! Social mobility has actually gone down since the mixed-ability ‘Comprehensive Schools’ were made compulsory. Nowadays, if you’re clever but your family can’t afford a top private school ie. nearly everybody, you can forget about getting a good education. Bye, bye future. And all the pupils who would have failed the 11-plus in the old system (but who all still used to end up working in a good trade once they finished their vocational studies) now just end up with some dumbed-down, grade G (yes, it IS possible in the UK – all must have prizes!) qualification that isn’t worth the paper it is written on – before they settle down to a life on unemployment benefits. Even many of the left admitted this would happen before they implemented it – a price they were happy to pay. The irony is that the rich still send their children to brilliant private schools. But hey, it doesn’t matter if we’ve ruined the education of two generations and so put the country’s very survival at risk – at least we no longer have a system that only rewards the elite (they say)!

      And the main Opposition party (Labour) have just elected a new leader who is, for all intents and purposes, an unreformed communist. So we’re going to see any pro-Elitism views printed less and less…

      1. LordKrumb says:

        I doubt many of today’s UK Tory supporters really understand what Conservatism really means. Their gut instinct persuades them that liberalism is the wrong way to go, so they vote for a half-baked Conservative Party who, like their supporters, probably desire elitism but dare not speak its name (and act accordingly).

        The fear of being ‘too Right'(!)

        If that’s the case, then I can see why a business like The Daily Telegraph feels compelled to pander to those half-baked Tory supporters, and seeks to make them feel cosy with liberal niceties and gossipy distractions.

        We can concede that this liberal-veneered conservatism is better than nothing, and hope that at least it may propel some folk towards a more realistic view of the world.

        Much like ‘Repentless’ may lead some to explore ‘South of Heaven’.

  6. 920 says:

    Do you have a source for that warning of Darwin’s? Never read any of his work, but I would like to explore that idea more.

    1. vOddy says:

      I don’t think that he explicitly stated a warning. But when he wrote, in Origin of Species, that humans are no longer subject to natural selection in the same way as other animals are, because we build houses, cure diseases, and so on, then he implied that we are now in control of, and changing, the selection pressures upon us.

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