Help me finish a journey you helped me start. This is an exerpt from a writing I have been working on. I hope to make it a book. I want prominent metal authors to each write their own chapter… tell me if you think it is worth pursuing. I have not edited this at all yet. Be merciful:
“Passive acceptance for bigotry, sexism, racism, and misogyny has no place in music. Before I go any further, I would like to make it implicitly clear that I represent no one but myself in this writing. My thoughts expressed herein are not intended to reflect the opinions of Ibex Moon Records, Clawhammer PR, Cardiac Arrest, Sallah, LBDC, Grindstix, Sick Drummer Magazine, or anyone I am associated with… but I hope that they do.
I have been in this industry, in one capacity or another, for the better part of twenty years. I have seen experienced many things that some do not get to; some good, others bad. The style of music I am involved with, commonly referred to as “extreme metal”, often carries extreme stances designed to capture the attention of the listener, as well as to match the intensity of the music. Subjects for lyrics or band image range from the basic themes surrounding death (the frailty/finite nature of life, ways to die, murder, autopsies, etc.), horror (everything from unashamed plagiarism of horror films to original horror fantasy fare), religion (Christianity, Satanism, and polytheism of all kinds have had their place in the lyrics of metal), political idealologies (from anti-establishment to fascist leanings, and everything in between.), and more personal tales (think a primordial version of a stereotypical country song).
From its inception, but, particularly in the last thirty years, the ante has been upped over and over again, “forcing” artists to get more extreme and militant in their approach. Similar to the phenomenon with the ever-increasing presence of violence in our mass media, society has become desensitized to the ideals (or lack thereof) in music today. Tales of misogyny, bigotry, racism, and hate are rampant in music today, particularly in metal. In the beginning, you would occasionally hear about a white power group (see: Skrewdriver), or a band that has songs specifically about women (The Mentors instantly spring to mind, and early Cannibal Corpse had its share of misogynist themes). This was often isolated, ignored, or simply not on the radar long enough to cause a stir. Also, in the more extreme sects of metal, the vocals are often unintelligible, making a translation of the lyrical themes difficult, at best.
White Power bands were often the construct of the hate groups themselves, looking to spread their message to a wider audience, simply by imitating bands that were popular. Usually, bands like this were easily shunned, simply because they were so over the top. Many of the bands didn’t receive media exposure at all, and were relegated to deep underground status (again, The Mentors come to mind). The internet age has arrived, and, along with it, more desensitization, ignorance, and passive tolerance for what were, at one time, utterly unacceptable. More artists and fans blur the line that we were never supposed to cross every day. Fascist imagery has become fashionable; racism has morphed into something subversive and hidden; the desire for religiously motivated genocide is a common theme in music now, flown under a flag promoting a converse idea. Now, I am not talking about the difference between being politically correct and not. That’s a whole other thing – that movement has made it so that people keep their mouth shut out of fear, and that’s just as bad. However, as much as the image and lyrics of music have become more confusing, there’s a whole other issue that really gets under my skin – the passive tolerance people have for these ideas.
We’ve all met a band (or been in one, for that matter) where the majority of the members were relatively down-to-earth folks… and then there’s the one. You know the one: racist, sexist, bigoted, or whatever. It always bugged me that people tolerated that in a band member, just because the fit in musically. If you worked at 7-11, and you had a cashier that was on time, did his job well, and was dependable… but occasionally spouted racist humor, you wouldn’t stand for it (or would you?). I’ve met plenty of people that fall into this category – too many, in fact. I’ve been guilty of the very passive tolerance that I am purporting to be sick of with this writing. Sometimes, my retaliation was to make racist jokes, directed at the racist, to show them how ridiculous they sound. It broke the tension, but never did anything to deter the behavior. The stench of my own hypocrisy in these situations makes me gag; it makes me retch so hard that I wonder what the hell is wrong with me.”