Thursday, October 05, 2006

PMPEP is rather understandably bigging up Guitar Wolf over on Frothing Spleen (actually his smoothly measured, rather urbane prose style should fool no-one!!!!!) which set me to thinking about the way lots of rock has been recycled wholesale but with a retro-pastiche gloss in order to allow the educated to get off on it without compromising their self-image as essentially above that kind of adolescent/unsophisticated/prole/white-male stuff. I guess Guitar Wolf fall into this category (as do, say, Pussy Galore) along with all that Electro Clash and Kitty-YO/Ironic-Hoxton-AC/DC-t-shirt palaver (though PMPEP certainly doesn’t share that approach, I hasten to add (and I also suppose your allowed to listen to Sunn0)), Earth, KK Null’s stuff and so on, in other words bands that are “intellectually” interesting as they allow you to demonstrate your smarts by cross referencing Phill Niblock and Paul Shutze etc* ). You know how it is, you want to be dumb, but in a clever way, you wanna rock out to big, hairy, dick-waggling riffs but maintain your enlightened, Liberal-P.C cred, you certainly wouldn’t want to be seen to be really into it, you appreciate it with the refined distance of the connoisseur (just one more tasty morsel on the cultural smorgasbord of Late Capitalist life, pick and choose but don’t gorge on any one thing, now) and rather than being involved or overwhelmed by anything, agree instead to meet the experience halfway, I’ll listen to you, even dance, but don’t for a moment think I take you seriously, or that you have truly captured my heart, don’t expect me to commit.

There is of course a huge, unconsidered, infra-critical-dignatum area of rock that largely survives starved of mainstream press attention (maybe “Terrorizer” is it’s main outlet in the UK, maybe even “Rock Sounds”) the whole Thrash/Grind/Speed/Black metal/ hardcore fraternity which as far as I can make out has a lot closer ties to some of the hipper, current doyens of the dance/electronica scenes than we might like to admit. (Kevin Martin, Justin Broaderick, Mick Harris, whose Scorn seems to have been a big influence on Dubstep ( and if the “Isolationism” comp is a telling reference in that regard it’s worth pointing out how many old garage-rock revivalists and Metalheads there were on it, side projects from Zeni Geva, Skullflower, Godflesh, Napalm Death, God, ex Loop, Spacemen Three etc).
There’s probably a secret history of Nottingham waiting to be written somewhere.

Presumably the desire for “heaviness” for the disordering/disabling of the senses through sheer crushing immensity is common to both dub and metal, the desire to accelerate perception past the point of any critical/ analytical distance, toward a voiding of its own content through sheer propulsion, is common to lots of dance and to metal too. So why is metal such a no-no, why is it such a dirty secret, why is it so embarrassing? And on another level why is there something so disquieting, something faintly repulsive about it? Because of the hint of zealotry, because they really believe in this? That odd, slightly discomfiting, somehow inappropriate zone of life where actually, they really mean it, man, as both performers and audience. It’s A.W.O.L, Metal, (I mean, can you imagine anyone getting a “ Peaches” tattoo?) Remember the guy who SHOT Dimebag Darryl for splitting-up Pantera?

Given PMPEP’s inability to Blog from YouTube, I’ll do it for him and offer up what treats I can from that dank underworld where it’s not pretty and its not clever but where at the very least, you can headbang without having to pull ironic faces to your circle of similarly conflicted mates every two minutes just to reassure yourself that everyone is in on the joke.

*Am I the only one who picked up that Neurosis DVD on which they, amazingly enough, restaged Alvin Lucier’s “I am sitting in a room” with their own stuff**?

** I Kid You Not!


steveM57 said...

fun fact - the 'singer' from Anal Cunt recently spent a month in coma after a little crack-meth-sleeping pill accident. Life imitating art, no? Mind you, maybe some karmic payback for being such a virulent anti-semite - funny how I can liten to Pig Destroyer songs about serial killers yet blanch when someone starts talking about about everything being the fault of 'The Jews'.

Pedants Corner - as far as I understand it, Dimebag was murdered by a someone with a history of mental problems who believed that Pantera had stolen his songs. The blame for the break up lies at the door of Phil Anselmo.

But on the subjest of metal, I'll leave the last word to Dream Evil:

carl said...

yeah.. i had heard rumours that what shall we call them.. the cunt.. were/had gone Nazi which is odd as the the guys i used to know who listened to them were all ALF super anti- fascist small town punks.. shame that coma was only temporary then.. as to the link.. i can't even begin to describe the effect it had on me..actually i'm still laughing now as i type, yet really you know, i also rather liked it...not sure what's going on with my sudden tolerance for pantomime pastiche ( i mean i hated the Darkness, hate all the beatles/stones/who revivalism in brit pop.) hmm.. its got me thinking at least...right i'm off to watch it again.. stevem57 you sound like my kind of guy, drop me an email if you get bored!

Anonymous said...

Seth Putnam is a Nazi?
I always just got the idea they were taking the piss. I thought some of their "tunes" were hilarious when I was 14. "311 Suck" is a classic.

Anonymous said...

BTW, I'm not sure if they even took metal seriously themselves:

1. It, You're A Metal Band

you're not fucking hardcore, you're not avant garde
you're not punk rock, you're just a fucking retard
you're not something special, you're not something new
you're not fucking good, face it you're a metal band

pf said...

I write for The Wire and I really like metal. As in, I've seen Iron Maiden three times in the last three years, and have been to three out of the last five Ozzfests. From my perspective, sensory overload isn't the point - that may be why people are attracted to Sunn and Boris and all the low-end droners, but it's not the appeal of what I really like, or what a lot of other metalheads really like, which is ultra-technical (to the point of almost becoming jazz fusion) death metal by bands like Decapitated, Cryptopsy, Neuraxis and the recently reunited Atheist. That stuff is all about hyper-attenuation, speed and accuracy and being basically the electric guitar equivalent of Paganini or someone like that (of course with all the weird time signatures and bursts of atonality a comparison to Elliott Carter could be just as valid). It's music that rewards close listening as much as any jazz or classical you could name; it's not about sticking your head in the speaker cone. I think half the fun of liking metal for hipsters and rockcrit-type intellectuals is in seeing themselves as not only above the fans around them, but even above the artists, which is an absurd posture to take. Given the amount of knuckle-busting physical effort your average "real" metal band has put into mastering their instruments, a little more fucking respect is due.

I'm willing to play the hipsters/intellectuals' little games, of course, if it'll help me get reviews in print - I got The Wire to run a review of Dimmu Borgir's Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia by comparing it to Laibach in my pitch. They cut the line "If Derek Bailey was Yngwie Malmsteen, he'd be Mick Barr" out of an Orthrelm review, though.

throughsilver said...

re: Darrell Abbott's shooting. Nobody knows what the kiler's motives were. Yes, he had psychological issues. Yes, he talked with friends about writing Pantera lyrics. However, I think Jason Arnopp put it best:

"We may never know exactly why Gale killed Dimebag Darrell. While some witnesses claimed that Gale walked onto the stage verbally blaming Dimebag for Pantera's split, you wonder how audible he might have been, over the noise of a live metal band."

Pantera apparenly split due to the distance between Anselmo and D. Abbott - as the latter was in town, the opportunity was there.

Anyway, interesting post, and I sympathise with all who might be somewhat bemused at the current status of Metal as comic relief-cool.

I am also rather disappointed that Metal, even by respected (by me) magazines such as The Wire, has been reduced to either slo-mo headbang or simple Black Metal fetish.

Even Boris are more than slo-Metal (as evinced by Heavy Rocks and most of Akuma no Uta). It stands to reason, though, that the only music of theirs that gets attention is that which sounds most like sunn(o))), as they are the touchstone for any 'outsider' wanting to enter/blag the genre.

Funny thing is that, ten years ago, I was wishing Metal was more mainstream. Now it is, it's close to unbearable, but I guess that's what happens when anything close to one's heart blows up like this.

Besides, any 'ironic' trend that results in Slayer and Tool touring arenas can't be all bad, even if it does reduce those bands to dots when I see them...