Are metalheads “extremists”?


International news contains few joys and even fewer for those of us who see the State as a criminal enterprise and morality as human pretense. And yet we read it out of a hazy sense of duty to be informed or maybe just boredom with the other half of news, which seems to focus on a race of people from Star Trek (Kardassians) and their sartorial difficulties.

Recently one story in international news caught my eye. In a search for metaphor to describe the tendencies of the diffierent political parties, our tea-drinking cousins overseas produced an interesting reference to the nature of heavy metal yesterday:

Tory “extremists” – or “head bangers” – had won out over moderates like Ken Clarke and Dominic Grieve, sacked in this week’s reshuffle, he claimed.

Depending on who you talk to the Tory party are either liberals, conservatives or anarchists. The idea of “extremists” and “head bangers” sharing a definition however stimulates the imagination. Are metalheads extremists? And if so are we extremists against what is de rigeur now in politics and society, or are we pushing it further?

In my view, metal is post-political or meta-political. Few metalheads I know believe that human answers come from voting for the right party or having safe opinions. Equally few trust a group of people assembled — usually referred to as “the herd” — to come up with anything but self-flattering answers based in self-pleasing pretense. Politics is to metal a dead issue.

But philosophy and the question of human futures still lives. We read H.P. Lovecraft and J.R.R. Tolkien; we watch Conan and Apocalypse Now. Metalheads tend to ignore school with slightly more attention paid in history class and often literature class. We see our society as a ruin, a failed empire like Rome. But we aspire to more, like medievalists dreaming of Viking battle and English jousting competitions.

If you scratch a metalhead, you might find a different kind of extremist. He or she is not a political extremist, but someone who totally rejects society as it is now. We dream of days when life is significant again instead of a competition to see how many hours you can attend your utilitarian job or indoctrination school without going postal and murdering your family. We long for a life of significance, an epic battle of good versus evil, and something to actually stand for.

So by the lights of the article mentioned, no, head bangers are not extremists. That was just one group of vote-collecting rent-seekers beating up on the other. But in the metalhead soul, there is something more extreme than extreme: we want to make this society perish in fire because it has no spirit and no purpose, and we want to encounter instead a life of meaning, purpose and conflict. We are more Nietzscheans than Tories, more Lovecraftians than moralists, and we see honor as more important than money or flattery.

Does this make us extremists? Probably not; we are simply off the scale. Unlike most extremists, we do not spent our days launching rockets at civilians or blowing up works of antiquity because they are from the wrong religion. We do not form little cults. But we are united in our dislike of society and our realization that it is a dead man walking because it lacks any feelings real enough to be extreme, or motivate it to save itself.

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11 thoughts on “Are metalheads “extremists”?”

  1. Martin Jacobsen says:

    If you love metal, you’re an extremist; if you love classical, you’re a connoisseur. Same old song, isn’t it?

  2. TheWaters says:

    These desires often lead Hessians to seek out extreme politics though, i.e., Nazism. Of course the problem with any modern political movement is that it is based on enlightenment values, and that includes Nazism.

    In a normal society our values and worldview would be considered normal. However, the modern world is not normal therefore we appear as strange in comparison, if anything the modern world is extreme.

    1. TheWaters says:

      The other thing worth considering is that most metal-heads are just emo-fags in disguise, and are therefore expressions of modern society…..

  3. Richard Head says:

    Moralists vs. Lovcraftians; there’s a comparison that I can get behind. “Lovecraftianism” very accurately describes my basic world view. Good article, even if it lacks any ideas that I’ve not heard yet on DMU.

    1. TheWaters says:

      What does a Lovecraftian world view entail? I have not read all that much Lovecraft (*gasp*), with the exception of At The Mountains of Madness (greatest short story ever), and would be interested to know.

      1. Richard Head says:

        The general theme of Lovecraft’s fiction is the perspective of humans within a cosmic and ageless frame of reference. Looking around us, we see people absorbed utterly in their own personal neurotic dramas. They are totally overlooking themselves from the perspective of a living mind that is far older, wiser, more violent and cruel than we could imagine. Lovecraft pits human minds against these alien minds as a way of stressing our very limited perspective of the universe at large and the wills and needs of the creatures that inhabit it.

        So, as a “Lovecraftian” (as opposed to a moralist), I see the world through the eyes of someone who might have little respect for humanity generally, even though I haven’t been visited by dark gods or hyperdimensional entities to prove to me that humans are not the great arbiters of rightness. This just because of their general arrogance and unwillingness to exposes themselves to the unfeeling and relentless clockwork that drives us all toward our end.

        One of Lovecraft’s most important points, though, is that humans are more unwilling than incapable of knowing the weirdness and irrational nature of the mechanical universe, because to gain insight into that reality would overload a human mind. This makes perfect sense to me because the handful of people alive right now that have shit figured out are called nutjobs by the majority, who are struggling hour-by-hour to fill their empty lives by compulsively indulging in solipsistic fantasies. Lovecraft was at least right about them.

        1. It’s the same mythical-historical view that metal takes starting with “War Pigs.”

  4. fine young catamite says:

    It’s interesting to read what other metal sites consider to be the best metal albums of 2013:

    funny how that Christian doom band Atlantean Kodex keeps coming up as last year´s best metal band.

  5. TheWaters says:

    Actually the “White Goddess” is a pretty solid heavy metal record. If they continue to develop their Bathory sound they could produce something exceptional in the future. I don’t think that the band itself is Christian per se, but they do draw inspiration from their European heritage, which would include references to Catholicism (especially since Catholicism retained everything worth retaining in Pagan metaphysics).

  6. TheWaters says:

    There is no excuse for putting The White Goddess above Old Mornings Dawn though.

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