Category Archives: Opinions/Views

Bare chests and weak women: Barbarian metal

Metal has been widely divided into many subgenres, mostly based on sonic elements. We have the death, doom, black, prog and so fort, but there are always certain streams that defy genre but are constant. For example, Viking metal can range from pagan black metal to cheesy folk metal, as long as the Viking theme is present. There’s another type I’d like to mention: barbarian metal!

Disclaimer: This is merely a bit of thinking out loud… excuse me, thinking on paper. I’ve not really delved into the literature on this, I’m just thinking about what our changing society might think of something like barbarian metal. Can it still exist? Sure it can, I think.

Let me elaborate on this subject. It’s not metal about barbarians, it does feature certain imagery and references. The imagery is close to the sword & sorcery themes, featuring strong looking men, often bare chested, wielding heavy weaponry. The sound is also strong, pounding and rarely features subtleties. I’ll elaborate on this in the following paragraphs. What I want to adres mostly is the inevitable question about this stream in metal. Does it have a place in the now? With gender equality and beyond, does Conan metal still have a place?

The Eternal Warrior

I came across the concept of the ‘Eternal Champion’, through a similarly named band. The concept is derived from the work of Michael Moorcock. Wikipedia has defined the champion thusly: The Eternal Champion, a Hero who exists in all dimensions, times and worlds, is the one who is chosen by fate to fight for the Cosmic Balance; however, he often does not know of his role, or, even worse, he struggles against it, never to succeed. But as the man describes it himself:

Now, if we look at fiction, we could define many versions of the eternal champion. Drizzt Do’Urden, Aragorn, Varian Wrynn maybe even. Any sci fi franchise has their own. There is one verson though, that I would like to isolate here and that is the one of Conan The Barbarian. Conan exemplifies the expression found in what I call barbarian metal, whose progenitors are Manowar. A band loved by many, but clearly embracing the essence of this Eternal Warrior.

Conan, Masculinity and Metal

Conan is pure in all his emotions, he is cunning, fierce or benevolent, but he is always a warrior standing alone versus the tide. Bare chested with bulging muscles, he epitomizes the masculine directness that we find in various characters in fantasy and that is embodied in pretty much every Manowar song. Manowar even has a mascotte, named Manowarrior, who is pretty much Conan, standing on top of his battered and beaten enemies.

The music expresses the same values, it features muscular riffing and a straight forward approach. There are the pumping, heavy hitting rhythms and everything about the sound is ment to evoke that same feeling of epic manliness in a barbaric sense. There is little doubt about the inspiration for this, especially if you see the picture of Manowar in their loin-furs:

Mind, this is not a write-up on the whole gender matter. This is a theme that has been present in metal and fantasy for a long time, where masculinity (as we seem to have defined it) is pushed to its human limits with bulging chests, curving biceps and a full display of the male body as an invincible tool. It’s almost resembling the way we end to depict women these days, but this is not sensual in any way. This is a warrior. His body is his weapon, it’s the engine that drives the blade or axe to smithe the enemies.

It’s easy to make fun of Manowar, but their appeal is worldwide. It’s a band that attracts through its particular charm of masculine power, remarkably catchy songs and brotherhood vibe. They’re one of the great bands in the metal history. 

The music is similarly strong, loud and boisterous. It deals with exactly the warrior themes, but without any complexities or discussion, morals or any crap. It’s a straight forward masculine approach. To want is to take, to fight is to win.

Warrior music

Bands following in the steps of Manowar hold on to that notion of aggression and climactic songs. It’s music to pump your fists to, to bang your head to and stand with legs wide and raised fists. It’s empowering in a very pure and direct way. Though some bands might include this in their package, there’s no attempt to be knowledgeable about history as Iron Maiden does. No attempt to incorporate the occult and spiritual, like Led Zeppelin does. No politics and social themes like in Metallica‘s music. It reduced it to force.

Force and power, those are the main values. Domination of the other and the continuous struggle. It oversimplifies struggle to something that can be resolved with fists and bravado. With flexing muscles and the warriors cry. These have always been part of the metal discourse, as discussed by the more academic analysis of heavy metal. But what does that mean for todays attempt at gender equality?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PQ6335puOc

The thing is just, this is something we love. Something primordial that lifts us up and makes us feel better. Listening to a Manowar album or even one by Conan themselves can lift you up. It can make us do things with less fear, because the music makes us feel better. It doesn’t make us feel superior as men, but it does profoundly affect us.

Gender Equality and battle music

Now, we live in a time where gender equality is kind of a big deal. In a sense this would seem to be one of those last bastions that needs to be conquered and overthrown. But does it really? Is this masculinity really something that is bound up with gender that much or is there a place for female listeners too? Do they perhaps have equal desires for some fight, for power and strength? Wasn’t there a Red Sonja next to Conan? Don’t girls play video games, where crushing your opponents is awesome? Don’t they love fantasy and science fiction and playing Dungeons & Dragons? There is no gender bound up with this mentality and love for the sword.

Perhaps we always will have some warrior element in us and probably this is not just bound up with man, woman or whatever one claims to be. It’s a part of us it seems, regardless where it comes from what charges it. We all feel affinity with the warrior, with glory, with brotherhood… or sisterhood?
So if we leave out the manly, maybe this leaves metal as a perfect bonding ground of whatever sex you are or chose to be. We can all raise our horns together.

 

Lessons Learned from playing Dungeons & Dragons

Not too long ago I started running a Dungeons & Dragons Campaign. Though the game we play is just the starter set of the fifth edition, ‘The Lost Mine of Phandelvar’, you can gain some insights. Though they are crude, I’d like to share them with you.

See, role playing may seem like a fun activity for your free hours, but you can learn a lot and apply a lot of it to, so here’s five lessons I’ve learned from playing D&D. But let me preface that with the fact that D&D’s magic doesn’t lie in the characters or setting, it’s in the collaborative effort. That’s where the magic happens and how that comes to be is not so different to work situations.

1. Being a DM is much like managing

For those who don’t know, a DM is a dungeon master. Essentially you play the monsters, other characters that the players encounter and you judge whether things that the players try to do work out. Most importantly though, you run the story and try to make everyone enjoy the ride. As a DM, more often than you think, you’ll try to guide the players or direct them. However, you shouldn’t, as this is exactly the part that they need to do themselves. As a DM you have to rely on the qualities of the party. You can suggest or hint at things, or throw some extra stuff their way, but basically you’re managing a team of skilled individuals. Trusting them is a challenge.

2. Role playing only works when you are vulnerable

Role playing is collaboration. Collaboration between the DM and the players and between the players. This only works fully, if you manage to be open and trust each other. As a DM I sometimes have to voice certain characters. Since I’m not a voice actor, it can be tricky, so the willingness to engage with my meager acting skills is extremely important for the mutual fun we want to have. Similarly, if I laugh or mock another player for attempting things in the game or imitating a voice, I might cause a big decrease in expression and joy of that player. He or she will think twice before speaking up again.

Do you have one of those managers or bosses that are hyper-direct, blunt and pretty much always right (even when they clearly aren’t)? Pretty much everyone knows the kind of character I’m talking about. It’s that person who chokes the creativity out of any project group or team, the one that makes refrain from sharing ideas/suggesting things. That’s exactly the same thing. Feeling safe and being able to feel vulnerable are key ingredients in any collaboration.

source: Dungeonsmaster.com Click the image for a great article (even though its 4) on engaging your players.

3. Engaging your players is harder than you think.

Apart from that safe environment, there is another huge challenge if you want to get things done. Engaging with your players is vital to the success of a D&D campaign. If they don’t feel invested or attracted to the campaign, they won’t get into it. Even less chance that they do in the way you want them to. In fact, to get the interaction going and the story rolling, you need every single person around the table to be invested. To achieve such engagement, knowing their various strengths and interests is vital.

This, again, is very similar to a project. No one wants to be bothered with a project that doesn’t offer any challenge. Why? Because it’s boring and doesn’t give you those positive vibes of excitement that make you go out of your way to contribute your best/to do your best, etc.. Simply ‘challenging’ someone does not make for a good project. It’s a matter of constantly estimating their attitudes and interest and working that on a personal level. Challenges have to be tailored to the individual. Have you ever been in a project where everyone was agitated and nobody felt like it was really his or her project? That’s the absolute opposite of an engaged group. If you find that exact bit of the story in which the player can excel, it becomes her story. The same goes for work-like situations: if you don’t feel engaged, you’re not switched on.

4. Reward effort, even when it fails.

Your players will attempt stuff, that will be creative, weird or even utterly out of place. Also stuff that you were simply not prepared for. So… sometimes they fail. Sometimes players come up with elaborate schemes and actions, but they roll, you roll and they fail. However, that’s not the end of it: the creativity of the players should always should be rewarded. Just let them succeed or do some accidental good to the players. Why? Because speaking out is brave, trying things is daring. Creativity already is stomped upon way too often in this world of ours.

Again, let me compare this to the bad manager that sits you down at a table and asks for ideas, yet somehow every idea gets ridiculed and mocked. How many ideas would you like to share with this person? None. So it’s vital to reward people that share thoughts, give feedback, offer suggestions and so on, because once that flow of information stops, you might end up having to do all of the work by yourself. For a D&D game, that would suck. For any work endeavor… well, what do you think? Always show grattitude for the input of others and reward the courage to stand up and say whatever you have in your head.

5. You could treat any project like a dragon

Ok, so I kind of added this one for fun, but also to wrap it up. If you spark the interest, engage players and manage to provide that environment where people feel cool and feel that they can be creative, you can do anything. Seriously, ANYTHING! You’d be surprised by how often you see a D&D party beat the odds with daring ideas, out-of-the-box thinking and the creative madness that is born out of the excitement.

You might think: well, yeah, but they’re beating paper dragons… Well, isn’t most of the work we do all just paper dragons. Paper dragons are, at their core, problems that need to be solved. If you can make your team feel like they are facing a dragon and if they get as pumped and inspired as my D&D party, you’ll be surprised by what you can achieve. Really, they might just slay it in a way you had never thought of.

Tuesday Thoughts: Discovering music

Back when I was still a much younger student, I was listening to music all the time. Music was carried on my iPod, casually called Archibaldt I (instead of Guido’s iPod, which I didn’t like). Now I have Archibaldt V on my desk. Now extreme and weird music feels home, but it wasn’t always like that. So that’s where my tuesday thoughts drift of to today.

Back before Archibaldt I died in an unfortunate laundering accident, years before Archibaldt II finally stopped working properly, I was in the fortunate environment of people that dug music. I mean, really were into music that I had never heard of. I was pretty much into punkrock and that was the way to go. Punkrock was all you need, not Love. Fuck the Beatles! Well, I was already looking outward, so that was a good time.

Leaving the small town I lived in for university was a big thing, but the amount of music that hit me was even bigger. Suddenly I got to listen to Opeth and Graveworm and both terrified me at first (yes, I was late to the metals at 19). I had been listening to a lot of more accessible metal music, but these really got me reeling back for a while. I wasn’t ready for that. Luckily I had other sources, like the great record stores Sounds and Tommy (or was it Tommie?) in Tilburg. I went there with a class mate, who was more of an music afficionado than me, I think.

“Have you ever listened to Godspeed! You Black Emperor?” he asked me one day, while we took the train to the center. For some reason that moment came back to me today, while I was walking to my lecture and listening to Meshuggah. “Godspeed! You Black Emperor… that sounds dark and heavy!”, I responded. He agreed, but his dark and heavy was something completely different than mine. I thought of black metal, he probably thought of the ‘Dead Flag Blues’. So soon I learned that dark and heavy had many different forms.

Departing from Pink Floyd (thanks dad) and punkrock (through postpunk and other stuff) I found a whole world of adventurous, daring music that I had not known about. I lived in a world of pop charts and punkrock samplers, but I found a dense and rich underground. Soon I was walking around campus with, next to G!YBE, bands like Mogwai, Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, The Residents and so much more in my headphones. All that great music, all for me to listen to!

So I’m thinking of that and of the importance of other people in your musical journey. Of discovering and exploring new musical realms, flipping records in a store or discussing tunes over coffee. I miss that… it would be nice to have some more of that.

 

 

Folk, land, heritage without hate

To me it matters where I come from, it matters where I feel at home and I feel a connection to certain traditions and religious tendencies. I’m happily embracing the harmonious ideas of heritage, This is something that is very persistently present as well in extreme metal music. The connection has provided us with endless political discussions, but does that make as much sense as we think?

Though there is the rare band that embraces national socialism, racism and nationalism at large, it’s a very rare occurence. Most bands say they are anti-political and not without reason. Extreme metal has one characteristic that defines it.

Individualism: Defining the self

Extreme metal has often been about the individual. This is probably why NSBM is such a weird mix of two world views. Metal is against the herd and for the self, but that leaves the void of identity for a person. We, as human beings, like to define ourselves as something, we are always looking for a sense of belonging and reason to be. Even black metal warriors delve into identity and spirituality on all sorts of levels.

Connecting to something like our heritage, traditions and maybe nationality is a logical thing to us. Sure, we can still accept that we are all one people, but we’re defined by where we are from. Does that make me a Germanic pagan? Not necessarily, but it might just as well. Bands like Skyforger, Winterfylleth and Moonsorrow had a hard time getting the difference across. Self-identification is an individual proces, which sometimes works as a concept and identity for a band, but that doesn’t make it the herd behavior of institutionalized nationalism or racism. It’s about defining the self, not the other.

The Other: Defining the opposition

The other side of the medal is when identification of the self is done in order to define the other. The other is, for some reason or purpose, the opposed of what the self should be. This is a lot harder to do in a way, so much easier to do by defining the other first. Now, here we come into the terrain of professional hate mongering. Defining the other with unwanted characteristics is very effective, because it defines both sides. This completely binds the relation to the other in an absolute relation of the lesser and the better. There is no need to approach the other anymore, because the other is evil, wrong, lesser and the enemy.

When we’ve defined the other, we usually end up with  a stereotype, with a group we’ve vilified. This puts us in a group too and sadly we soon will find likeminded individuals. The hate is concrete enough to fuel itself, but high-over enough to define all others. Though metal has the tribe mentality to form a cohesive group, it just isn’t in the nature of the culture to find such unity. Individualism is part of that identity and so is discussion and interaction. This sort of defining just doesn’t work in that environment.

Open hearts, open minds

It’s perfectly possible to have an identity bound up with the local, the past and belief, but be open and tolerant to others. Interaction between cultures is what shapes them, but if you define your opposed identity you’ll never know this beautiful variation. I talked to a Latvian metal singer once who said: “It’s ok to be proud of your country, your tribe or your belief, but if you feel superior to others you missed the plot.” Superior thoughts lead to isolation, which creates a fearful protection of what is yours. Of vague ideas of tradition and identity that don’t really matter at all. Imagine a culture on its own. How does it get any value if it’s not challenged by different ones?

I see this constantly in the metal world. People are embracing their own culture and past, but also interacting with others. Clearly showing that, a while ago a compilation album came out titled”One and All, Together, for Home” on Seasons Of Mist. Why would all these bands work together if they were the kind of nationalists depicted in the media? If they had superiority motives, why would they ever join on a record? It’s that sort of love for land, folk and belief that creates. It connects and enriches itself and the other.

If you open yourself up to the other, to culture of others, your identity and culture will change. We learn through interaction about the other culture. We adapt, we reform, we change. Change is scary, but not bad. This sort of change we are all too familiar with. We call it growth.

If we allow growth to happen, maybe we can even get some sort of enlightenment one day.

 

 

 

Stranger Aeons: An overdue introduction

When I started my own blog, I was over the moon with a broad scope of topics and I named it ‘Wheaton’s Law’. It was a geeky thing, but if you really look at any blog, it’s probably run by a geek of sorts. When I launched that blog, I decided to inform the world of what, why and how. Time to do that for the rebranded Stranger Aeons.

Origin of the name

Like any name, you want it to be original, to be yours. I’ve recently got a tattoo above my knee saying: “with strange aeons even death may die”. Now, this is an obvious Lovecraft reference. I love that phrase, I really do. So that was my first real idea after many, many failed ideas. I mean, I am the guy who came up with a tumblr blog titled ‘Fascism and Fascination’, so I have a history of bad names. Oh yeah, first blog ever was titled Psychosis Safari… Ah well.

So yes, obviously when one finds a unique name, registers it and all, you find out about things. Like an Entombed EP and a Lithuanian band named Stranger Aeons. You can’t win ’em all.

So why Stranger Aeons?

I picked the name because it resonates with the things that fascinate me in life. I’m an avid reader about past or fictional aeons and I feel that we live in a rather strange one as well. There’s a lot of mystery in the world and this is what fascinates me. It allows me to explore places, drinks, books and music and share it under the same banner. Surely, my focus is on music, but even in that I hope to offer the strange and mysterious.

So my focus is on extreme metal, folk and records that are just too unnatural, weird or haunting. I try to get some interviews in with bands that fascinate me and maybe more if my time becomes more liberal.

I think you should write about my band, we’re sort of strange

I would love to, so just contact me and I’ll check it out. Since this is still a one man endeavour, I can hardly cover everything. If I don’t sorry, but I always try to when I’m asked.

Just to be clear, I’m interested in anything that pushes the envelope, anything that is rediscovering our ancient past and roots. Things that explore and evoke thoughts. Be sure to contact me, I don’t bite.

Tuesday thoughts: Tiny bits make big things

I’m walking towards the university building where I need to be this morning. It’s around 10.15 and the sun is shining. I’m listening to The Fall on my headphones and quickly read the latest column by Henk van Straten. Henk writes nice little bits about his life and how they make him think. It’s good to know more people think.

I’m on my way to another day of lectures on communication. Because I have to catch up on some subjects I have a shortened pre-master trajectory, which features mainly communication subjects. I find most of them a  bit similar this far.

You can have a whole lecture series on one topic, one type of text and its elements. It’s weird science to me, focussing on all those little bits. Now, I’m more of  a fan of the big theories, the big thinkers and thoughts. Einstein, Kant or whatever their names may be. Titans in the cosmos of the sciences.

My thoughts switch to another fact. I’ve been married for a week now. Funny, it is such a tiny thing in a way. You stand in front of a desk and later an altar and you say yes a bunch of times. Has anything really changed? Not really, though I’ve been affected by a new sort of affection. I want to be with her as much as I can. But that was always the way of things.

And she’s so smart and independent, I don’t think she needs me
Quite half as much as I know I need her.
– Blink 182 ‘Josie’

It’s the little bits though. The tiny bits of research that form and break paradigms, the small steps that make a relationship grow and flourish. The small stories that make up the personality. That’s the lesson of today then.
Maybe I should do columns?

I say Dillinger Escape Plan? She says let’s go

Marriage, that’s old fashioned… Well, it’s just one of the things I heard when I told people I was getting married. Not in a negative sense, but as in surprise that someone still does this archaic stuff. Marriage is massively uncool but I’m nervous and excited for it anyways.

People that don’t feel positive about marriage usually associate it with the casual manner in which relationships are handled these days, and I can’t blame them. I see the cycle around me of people getting together, moving in, getting a pet, getting married, getting kids… and getting horribly fed up with eachother.

But sometimes you get to win, sometimes you find that person that you want to stay with. Yeah, sure, sometimes you’ll think that you’ve made the biggest mistake, sometimes you’ll be annoyed by everything. Relationships are hard work, they’re never easy and the work only keeps coming. You might feel that this is not what you signed up for. Not what you want.

Luckily, I get to think… but would any other just say ‘Yes!’  if I suggested going to see Dillinger Escape Plan?  She just says ‘when?’. Not because she loves the band, but because she knows it matters to me. And then I know that I’ve found the bestest bestie in the world… And I can’t wait to put that ring on her finger.

how do you top that?

Contemplations while listening to Rush on Train

Getting anywhere with public transport is rather expensive. That’s unfortunate, because not only do I like to do my part for the environment, it also allows me the great liberty of listening to records.

Something about the rhythm of the train that takes me to uni is calming, soothing almost. I’m on my way, I am actually moving forward today and towards new goals. It feels similarly when I’m clmbing, that moment when you reach the top, the moment just before when you leap. A moment of clarity and security.

Though ofcourse that one with climbing is way more intense and a short burst, not even lasting for a second. It’s soon replaced by the sense of completion, but isn’t completion the lesser of the feeling that comes just before? That desperate grasp for the ultimate, the leap of faith in a Kierkegaardian (and literal) sense?

But the train just rolls on, steadily and calmly, it takes me to that goal at its own pace and unlike the leap on the wall. That leap is my own doing, the train is just helping me get from A to B. Regardless, its a moment of contemplation and introspection. In the meantime Rush is filling my ears, I listen to ‘Moving Pictures’.

Though his mind is not for rent
Don’t put him down as arrogant
His reserve a quiet defense
Riding out the day’s events

– Rush ‘Tom Sawyer’.

Back to School

I’m just taking the liberty to write a bit of a personal thing here now and then. Though I’m super excited about this blog, I’m also very aware that my busy schedule will not be to its advantage.

Today I went back to school again. Yes, again, after four years I’m back to studying to get my masters in teaching Dutch. It really is quite a big step to take and I have to admit it feels rather scary too. The worst part of it is that you think everyone looks at you.

Most students are young and in the days where you live on a can of energy drink and a bun with ham and cheese and rage on for hours. I feel insecure being older, do they think I failed at life? Do people look at me as some weirdo? All that you have to put aside, but it’s weird not to have that bonding experience and excitement, but I’m here for me now. I’m not here to taste life and enjoy, I’m here to study hard and get ahead with my life.

The upside is that I’m spending quite some time studying by myself, so today I had a good listen to some excellent records.
Listener has done a great job on ‘Wooden Heart’. I never tire of hearing that one. ‘To Ride, Shoot straight and Speak the Truth’ by Entombed is a super motivational record in a way, it really helps you getting through a boring text. That ‘Magma’ record by Gojira was especially helpful in getting through the train ride there and The Hellacopters ‘By The Grace of God’ is an absolute masterpiece!

I did something new today, that I haven’t done since my first week at uni, about 10 years ago. I went to sit on the grass in the sun with my book and just enjoyed the day. I know I’m on the right path and I’ve already got a wealth of life experience. It’ll all be fine.

The Metal Gimmick Reviewed

A while ago I wrote this article about the increased presence of gimmicks in the heavy metal world. Not trying to diss any band or be negative about it, I discussed the prominence of bands like Ghost, Babymetal and Steel Panther.

The original article can be found here and I found out it even got to reddit for some discussion. Reading those responses, knowing that they might not be all friendly, I did realise I might have not fully made my point there and unfortunately may have come across as a genre purist. I am in a way for the sake of argument used to genre terms, but in the end its all about the music. Gimmick and purism are two extremes on a very wide scale and in some ways don’t even have to conflict.

Gimmicks

If we look at a band like Ghost, specially after their epic record ‘Meliora’ have shown that while maintaining the gimmick or show element, they are able to produce fabulous music. Interestingly, this coincides with a tuned down version of their stage presentation. There’s a bit more performance, but a little less ‘stuff’.

But what was that concern about ‘Gimmicks’ then? The concern I tried to voice is that some bands are gaining popularity only by the fact that they do something weird. Now, this is nothing new in the metal world. The whole black metal genre seems to revolve around that gimmick. Bands like the Misfits or Slipknot and even Black Sabbath added a mystique to their music by adding that element of showmanship to the band. There are band who push a bit further on that and the gimmick becomes their selling point.

When is something a gimmick? Probably when it is the first thing you have to say about your band, you probably are overdoing exactly that part. If your description starts with something that is not the music, the focus is on the wrong end of the stick. From a music purist point of view. Does that mean gimmicks are evil? Ofcourse not, it’s just whatever purpose you have with your music. For example, Hevisaurus is aiming their music at children.

A gimmick doesn’t mean it dininishes the band, a band like Ghost or Slipknot can hold its own with or without the gimmick. It’s sadly not just good music that comes out of the woodwork.

Antithesis

Luckily, things have a tendency to work themselves out. Glamrock and grunge prompted their own back to basic movement in the shape of the hard rock’n’roll movement that started out in the mid nineties and had a good run till halfway the noughties with bands like Audioslave and Velvet Revolver. A bit later followed Scandinavian bands like Gluecifer and The Hellacopters and now Danko Jones keeps the flame alive. It’s a movement back to something pure, where the stage outfit and decoration is not that wild.

Maybe grunge and stoner offered that to metal, but somehow the whole flamboyance seems to fly high and in a clickbait-culture of juicy headlines there seems to be little room for bands that offer something simple and pure. Although… that is the music press. There’s an amazing amount of bands that have been getting back to something pure. Ironically, the band I started my original article with was Deafheaven. In a way, apart from that slick album cover of ‘Sunbather’, that is a purist band. Even stripping the characteristics of the genre from the music. You see similar things happen. So the  whole focus on aesthetic will even out.

The future of heavy metal

So the real concern isn’t really the gimmick itself, but the way its lifted up to be the focus point for any journalism. If we talk about a band, the look and gimmick can’t be the point of focus. If that is the thing we talk about, two things may be wrong.

  1. The band is musically uninteresting.
  2. The journalist doesn’t have a clue.

Now, point one is really not so bad, because we recognise a boring band anyways as listeners and it just becomes ‘that commercial crap’. The point with metal journalism might be worrying, specially if the main sources for our music-info are just spitting out uninformed, politically correct garbage news, that puts people of the bands that should get some attention. I’m not telling you to love Deafheaven or whatever the new kid on the block is, but the press is surely not helping with some weird conservative hatred to anything new or blankly ignoring it. If Metal Hammer, Kerrang and the like writes page full about the weird mystique of a band, but forgets their music, then that’s the problem. Not to blame any specific media though, a site like Noisey really offers great stuff… and sometimes garbage. Same goes for most, but I think that’s more the writers.

But the problem is also the first, the lack of exploration of the fans. The overflow of information and the unfortunate side-effects of social media make it hard to find anything new or appreciate music solely on our own experience. We probably see some judgement pop up in our timeline and then just drop it.

So let’s keep exploring and listen to good music. Everything should be ok. I mean, Kiss was also kick-ass regardless of the make-up, right?

Short note on some of the accusations. Yes, I love my genre classifications. No, I don’t resort records in the shops from some priviligy point of view, just that I can’t handle disorder.

Cover image: Powerwolf, source press photo/Facebook band Though Cheesy as hell, probably not the worst out there.