Monday, April 28, 2014

Metal Doesn't Give a Shit

No Masters. Not Even Liberal Ones.

On my first day of law school, my class was all gathered in a room to hear boring people talk. One of them made a joke about everyone there being a type A personality, which got a chuckle from everyone but me. This was absolutely news to me, a guy who spent undergrad surfing the Internet until 3:00 a.m. and finishing everything at the last minute.

Now I occasionally come across offhand references to metalheads being mostly liberal. I feel about the same there. I suppose I'm liberal on a few things, and conservative on a few others. But that's not really the point.

My impression was always that real metalheads don't give a shit.

Usually this comes up when some black metal band or other gets outed for being Nazis or whatever. I've poked at this issue a few times, but I think I've been coming at it from the wrong angle. This finally occurred to me when I found out about the debate over the cover to Lord Mantis's Death Mask. Apparently, it's "transmisogynistic." My spell-check doesn't recognize that word, but it's a term used to describe hatred toward "trans women." The linked article states the sentiment thusly:
I believe metal has the potential to offer a site of genuine resistance against hegemonic discourses, to become a truly counter-cultural resistance against mainstream society, and rediscover the shock and panic the genre used to inspire in guardians of mainstream morality.
No, I'm sorry. Metal doesn't care. Metal is horror films, snuff films, shock jocks, and pulp in music form. It has no higher purpose, and no social agenda.

Metal isn't left. It isn't right. It's up yours. Dee Snider didn't dress up like a woman because he was "ahead of his time" on queer issues, he did it to piss people off.

The only metalheads who do give a shit are punks who got into metal and a handful of bloggers. Not the dirty bastards who show up at every local show. Do you think Amon Amarth cares about social justice? The individual members, maybe. The band, definitely not.

That author was right about one thing. Metal does like to inspire shock and panic. Particularly among the mainstream. Guess what? Liberal identity politics is the mainstream.

Metal is Hells Headbangers and Iron Bonehead. It's just music. Yes, it can be groundbreaking, even brilliant music. That's why we have Profound Lore. But it's still just music. Music that gives far fewer rats' asses than any other kind of music.


  1. I guess I find if interesting, given how far-flung and varied the metal community is, that anyone would try to crowbar any particular agenda into it. I do happen to know a lot of liberal metalheads, but as you said it's not like you go to a death metal show to discuss the evolving nature of gender roles in modern culture.

  2. But but but if metal doesn't care then how can people project their political neurosis onto album covers and music genres?

    1. As I wrote in reply to the post that spurred this, you have to be looking for "transmisogyny" to find it in that picture. You get a gold star.

  3. Man I love the internet but you have to take the good with the bad. Only at some wordpress site would that issue be raised. The album is supposed to kick serious ass, too, BTW.

  4. Working on the Lord Mantis album. It's on my list to do here very soon.