I’ve been absent for a while, I know. The excellent and plentiful reasons for that will be covered in an upcoming post. There was absolutely no way I could keep quiet though when Metal Sucks decided to publish a manifesto. We all know how much I love manifestos, right?
Go get yourself some context over at the MetalSucks site, have a read, finish either banging your head against a wall or pumping your fist going “fuck yeah!” and then strap in because – surprise! – I don’t agree with it. I don’t think I’m going to be the only one either. The problem is, I reckon what’s wrong with this manifesto requires a nuanced explanation which is a bit different from my normal method of napalming shit on a subject from a helicopter. After having a quick peek at their comments field, I think it’s past the ability of most people there too.
First, a disclaimer. I’m not some Alt-Right fan. I’m from Australia so I’ve only the vaguest notion of what that sort of shit is anyway. And I’m no fan of Trump. I think anyone cheering him on in “smashing the system” or “draining the swamp” is in for a rude shock. The dude’s a con-artist, always has been, and isn’t fit for mayor let alone president.
I have to make these sorts of disclaimers because their manifesto begins by making the ham-fisted link between anyone they’re opposed to and Trump supporters, conservatives, or white bigots. It speaks volumes about their political acumen that they lump conservatives in with this bunch. “Conservatives, terrified of change, lash out….” – and Trump doesn’t represent that change? I thought that was the whole point behind people voting him in, lots of change to everything? Anyways, my disclaimer is because by dint of being a white middle-aged dude I have to make it explicit that I’m neither a Trump supporter, nor a bigot, nor a fan of some political-news movement that means nothing to anyone who doesn’t live in what’s soon to be known as the Former United States of America*.
I was going to address their manifesto point-by-point, but then decided to try and keep things brief. My arguments against this manifesto don’t so much boil down to the individual points as the entire vibe, and it goes something like this:
Under such ideals, there is no place for Cannibal Corpse in metal. Their songs are the last word in brutal misogyny. There is no place for Slayer. They sing about Nazis and use SS imagery. There is no place for Morbid Angel. Their song ‘Bleed For the Devil’ has a bit where a girl is dismembered for a satanic ritual. Kreator have that song ‘Twisted Urges’ where they talk about people selling their kids as sex-slaves. There is no place for S.O.D. Their song titles immediately ‘mis-align’ them with the ideals expressed in the manifesto. There is definitely no place for Infernal War. Their music is a veritable feast of anti-semitism. There is no place for Manowar and their neanderthal objectification of women. There is no place for Pungent Stench. There is no place for Dismember. There is no place for Gorgasm. There is no place for a lot of fucking awesome music.
And when you drill down to the personalities of the people involved in the bands and start examining the people making the music and how they behave in our Brave New Highly Visible World, then the grounds of exclusion blow right out. You can forget about Burzum, or a large chunk of the black metal scene for starters. Forget anything that gay-stabbing Faust has done. Glen from Deicide shot that squirrel, so he’s probably on the wrong side of whatever fence MetalSucks are building. Lemmy was into collecting Nazi memorabilia. And despite Pantera having done songs about unity and equality, Phil has caught the ire of MetalSucks square-on for acting like a white supremacist bonehead. Look, nearly anyone in a metal band is, or has been ghastly at some point.
See what I’m getting at here? A lot of the great metal bands and artists would have no place in the direction these guys are pushing in. MetalSucks contends that the roots of metal are in “proletariat ideals and political protest”. I contend that the roots of metal are actually in idiots. And if part of your new direction is to turn your back on the idiots then you are turning your back on the majority of metal.
Here’s the funny thing. I agree with a lot of the manifesto points when applied to the real world. Bigots should totally be mocked whenever possible, lest they start thinking their views are normal. If you have an online blog or news site, you are under no obligation to cover anything you don’t want to. But these guys are going past that and are talking about deciding on a new direction for metal, under the cover of pushing back against what they see as global political conservatism. I lived through the years where metal was actually under attack from actual-conservative mainstream forces trying to censor, ban, and decry it at every turn. That was fun. However these guys are talking about the metal world censoring itself which is more insidious. It goes against everything metal is about to be second-guessing yourself when you write songs or think thoughts.
For me and a lot of other people, metal is not the real world. It’s the escapist safe-space for freaks, where you can float any stupid idea all the way from your crazy brain and out of your mouth no matter how horrible it is. The music and genre is set up basically to scare away anyone who would police these thoughts. The whole point of the music traditionally has been to offend, transgress, and get up people’s noses. A lot of this is done by measuring themselves against the current mainstream standard and standing in opposition to it. This manifesto is clearly aligning itself with the mainstream standard.
MetalSucks may think well, fucking good. If taking this stand and making the world a better place means less Waco Jesus, then whatever. However this doesn’t achieve that. This means that in the last area where people with a head bursting with shit can actually release that out, they are now policed by people who once upon a time used to be their co-conspirators.
I suspect the real ideal behind this manifesto is because they run a popular website, and once you’re popular and online you get swamped by the utter dregs of fuckwittery. Online trolls are anonymous, they’re just a bunch of words on a screen, but goddamn they can get you down until you develop a thick skin. And fuckwits are everywhere online, drifting away from talking about A.C. lyrics to give their demented opinions on women in the gaming industry and so forth. It feels great to have a target you can actually punch sometimes and that’s what this whole direction they’ve taken is about. The want to identify some highly visible targets in the metal world and give them a good whack. Problem is by whacking visible metal targets you’re missing the point. The reason for their existence is to offend, transgress, and provoke. To deny otherwise is to deny the history of metal up to this point.
Seeing the world strictly through the lens of politics ruins fucking everything, particularly art. I believe that to remain a healthy functioning human, you need to sometimes indulge or express in ways that totally don’t make sense. Yes, you need to give those irrational feelings full reign over yourself sometimes. Metal is the space to do that in because it is expected of you in that space, the world has grudgingly made way for that space to exist. The response to art (and much of metal is great art) is a very niche feeling and sharing that feeling is what will transcend borders and barriers and spark conversation – not manifestos.
I am 100% against anyone who defines themselves by what they’re offended by. Fuck off. Our common ground is in the opposite direction. Meet me there, or have pictures of Ronnie Radke posted at you.
*I’m pretty sure this is a joke