“This is silly.”

That was what was running through my head as I was reading an article by former Handshake, Inc. label boss David Hall over at CLRVYNT. He pontificated in rapturous fashion about how metal, once pure and innocent, is going through its death throes due, in no small part, to San Francisco’s favorite punching bags not named Colin Kaepernick, Deafheaven, their release of the infamous Sunbather album, and ultimately Ray-Ban™ slamming the coffin shut by endorsing them. Yep, silly. Many people have commented either for or against Hall’s insane rambling and myopic word salad, and many rebuttals have been typed in response (including from CLRVYNT themselves). Hell, I wanted to stay out of that particularly pointless battle royale to focus on far less trivial matters, but it did bring back some memories, and thus made me want to toss my own two pennies into this squared circle of insanity.

But first, a story. Once upon a time, twenty-odd years ago, I grew up in a sleepy town in New Hampshire that was famous for three things: Alan Shepard, Hood Ice Cream, and Pam Smart. As I’ve stated in previous comments, I didn’t click well with kids my age at the time. And like other kids my age, I clicked with the message of metal music in alarming fashion. Hearing bands like AnacrusisBolt ThrowerAt The GatesAmorphis, etc. brought me a sense of comfort and belonging. The music said, “Dude, no matter the shit that’s thrown your way, this music will be there.” As such, I guarded the music I loved, protecting it from being listened to by those who I deemed unworthy. So when a band I loved reached a bigger audience, either by maturation of sound or by changing their style significantly, I took umbrage. “HOW DARE THEY SELL OUT AND GAIN FANS?” I would scoff as jocks, trendsetters, and other people who gave me grief growing up for various reasons were suddenly enjoying my music, my safe haven, and my outlet. That very thing that was keeping me together was now being pandered to the very people I was protecting it against. How. Dare. They? Then something amazing happened, an epiphany that struck through the heavens, and hit my jaded, bitter soul, and caused me to stand back, and opened up my world view on life and metal music.

Plainly put, I chilled out and grew the fuck up.

Metal musicians, contrary to popular belief, aren’t rich. Okay, MetallicaIron Maiden, et al are, but work with me here for a second. Back in the 90s, death, doom, and black metal bands were touring their asses off, and making little to no return in doing so. Some of these musicians (GASP!) may even have kids to feed, or a house to pay for. Maybe they got sick and tired of driving for hours upon hours in a beat-up van, playing to maybe 20 people if they’re lucky, and then coming home to more debt, more bills, a fuck-ton of merch, and maybe even a bad habit or two. Metal music, for the most part, is not a profit-rich genre of music, so I get why bands either change members like most people change profile pics on Facebook, switch to more profitable genres of music, or just throw in the towel altogether. In an ideal world, your favorite band would be making mint by playing their hearts out, and killing it on stage, knowing that their music is being heard and they’re getting paid. But in reality, music is readily downloaded illegally by people whose tastes in music change as quick as they can snicker “Covfefe.”

So when I finished reading Hall’s exercise in jogging in dubious circles, I was both dismayed and confused. Dismayed because, in this day and age, there are still people who cling to that ridiculous mindset that only the Elite need apply here, and all the wimps, poseurs, and other riff-raff need to leave the hall. Confused because, of all the bands to go after for selling out to the masses by hooking up with a major company, why did Deafheaven of all bands bother you? Seriously. Were you not around when headbands with logos by AerosmithIron MaidenMetallica, and the like were being peddled at various amusement parks in the 80s? I was, and it happened. Also, did we forget that Dimmu Borgir were shilling on the back page of Decibel Magazine, hawking footwear? Not just any massive boots like, say, Wesco or Carolina, but fucking Converse? When the fuck has Shagrath and company ever gone on stage, in full panda facepaint, sporting spiked gauntlets and more leather than a Friday night at the Boston Ramrod, and kicked it in Chuck Taylors? Exactly. Scion A/V handling production costs for various bands? Right. Also, KISS and everything under the sun. But yeah, Deafheaven brought corporate money into metal. Okay.

Finally, one other bone to pick about metal being too image-conscious. Umm… hi? All music is image-conscious. All. Of. It. Do you want to see Madonna performing “Like a Prayer” in a cat t-shirt and Cheeto-stained sweatpants? Or how about Marduk sporting man-buns and rompers while blasting away on stage? No? Guess what? There’s a reason for that, and yet for all your talk of how metal “needs a great big dick in its mouth to calm it down and stroke its melodramatic ego,” you somehow penned an article almost as embarrassing as that one time a dude tried to convince everyone at MetalSucks that women made better vocalists in metal than men, and gloriously tripped and landed on his face when his frontwoman of choice he used to prove a point… was a guy.1 And the biggest thing of all? If what Deafheaven is doing bothers you, use all that vitriolic energy that was spent puking up one of the most inane diatribes this side of Alex Jones to promote other bands. It really is that simple.

Look, I don’t know David Hall. I know a few people who write for CLRVYNT, and they seem like good people, as are many writers and bloggers throughout the Internet. And yes, I also have a problem with the amount of co-opting in music period, let alone in metal. But if Hall could just focus on why this is a problem and maybe expand upon it a little he might have made an interesting point. Instead he opted for insulting the music we all love just for shock value, while attacking its new fans for discovering it, and using just one band that comes from a long line of metal groups joining the Corporate Bandwagon as his questionable example. As it stands, it’s a poorly-worded rant that had potential, but sputtered spectacularly, and this is not what metal music needs. Metal is not the fucking worst, but the toxicity spewed by certain elitists in the genre sure as fuck is.

Steel Addendum:

While I concur with all Brother Grymm writes above, I’d also like to add Mr. Hall has an imperfect understanding of his metal history. Firstly, if you go with the proposition that Black Sabbath released the first widely acknowledged metal album, as Mr. Hall appears to do, then doom was the original metal genre from which all others flowed, not something that evolved later.

More importantly, all his ranting and invective about how Deafheaven forever killed metal is so wildly delusional it smacks of a scorned lover’s rage. At no time was metal as commercial as it was in the 1980s. Metal ran around the clock on MTV, gained major exposure on mainstream radio and even entered popular consciousness through the evening news as metal luminaries like Dee Snider testified intelligently before Congress against the perceived censorship of the PMRC. If a little commercialization was enough to end metal, KISS would have killed it in the crib during the 70s (before or exactly at the point they released a hit disco song which reached far more ears than Deafheaven ever will).

Small points maybe, but since I’m a life-long metal fan, I must be a small, petty man.

Show 1 footnote

  1. And this argument needs to be put to bed for good. It shouldn’t matter one bit if someone is male or female if they’re fucking bringing their all in a performance. Quality, not genitalia.
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