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A Perspective on Perspectives

January 22, 2010

Metal is fuckin’ br00tal, yes. You’d assume it was all serial-chainsaw-murdering-satan-worshiping-thrash fests all day, all night. Metal commonly employs some powerful imagery to go with those passionate guitar solos and over driven double bass drumming techniques. Sam Dunn already covered this topic in great detail. Metal confronts what we’d rather ignore; it celebrates what we often deny, it indulges what we fear most. And that’s why metal will always be a culture of outsiders.” Yadda yadda yadda, add some more awesomely nuanced interviews, and you get the gist.

You’ve already seen the spectacles (sometimes involving blood, Satan, mutilation, and some pretty silly costumes). You assume metal is going to come at you full force and dunk you headfirst into a blood filled toilet. You’re prepared for an awesome horror movie, if the horror movie was a giant party where all your friends were invited, the beer was tasty and abundant, and the music gave you an overwhelming feeling of power. It’s a celebration.

However, metal does more than that. It definitely acknowledges those unpleasant things we don’t bring up in polite conversation. It deals with taboo topics. But here’s the rub: metal takes on more than one angle in its portrayal.

Bad shit’s happening? People are dying? Blood is being splattered everywhere, ruining your favorite drapes?

The conservative dipshits claim metal music fuels serial killers with all that angry screaming about death. They don’t account for the metal songs that describe the violence from a victim/survivor’s perspective, or the metal songs that detail the horror from a bystander or observer’s view. Metal provides a much needed release for some fans, validation for others, whose voices may not be heard or valued. Metal has enormous potential to be transformative for that reason – to change the conversation. There is TONS of feminist potential there.

Metal sees the world through too many sets of eyes to boil it down to something easy to digest.

There are plenty of examples of metal bands looking at violence from a different vantage points. My favorite would have to be 2 songs on Hypocrisy’s 2005 release, “Virus”.

The first is “Incised Before I’ve Ceased” (complete lyrics here). Excerpt:

“I’m wide awake but I don’t feel alive
Drain my blood and wait for me to die
Cut me open, knives slashing my flesh
Black empty eyes that drills holes in my spine
They remove my organs, limb by limb
Drink my blood, my heart will stop to beat
Where am I, what do they want from me?
From the blade’s work I’m done

Take me away from this hell
No matter how much I’m screaming
They won’t stop cutting me
I don’t need this surgery”

That’s powerful stuff. It contrasts very sharply with the very next song, “Blooddrenched” (complete lyrics here). This song has a very different take on violence. An excerpt:

“Don’t you try to run and hide from me
You cannot escape, I won’t let you escape from me
You’re my trophy and I’ll never let you go
I need you alive ’cause I wanna watch you die

Violated, blood drenched, naked

I cannot hide my feelings, my feelings tell me more
A sickness I’ve been given, a sickness that’s so pure
Come here and let me taste you,
Your blood that tastes so sweet
Reach out and seek forgiveness
You’re my chainsaw-butchered whore

Look in my eyes and watch the chain as the engines going berserk
A gush of blood that sprays my face as the blade is breaking your skin
Screams are freezing, you’re chopped into pieces – nothing is left of your limbs
A life may be lost as I tear you apart but at least you’re out of your misery”

Same band, same album… worlds appart. I will look into this theme some more, but I’m going to call bullshit on the theory that listening to metal will make you a serial killer. “Incised Before I’ve Ceased” takes the position of someone being dissected against their will (and while their still alive) by an unidentified party indifferent to the pain and suffering of the subject.

In order to be violent against another person, one of the first steps is to no longer consider your target human (at leastto the extent you are). If they’re no longer human with subjectivity, emotions, feelings, and rights, violence can be easily justified. You can no longer identify with them. So, if Hypocrisy is telling you what it feels like to be the victim of violence, do you really think they’re telling you to go on a murdering spree? Metal is brutal in lots of different ways. This is just the beginning.

-Ms. Anthropia

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