April 30, 2014

Inquisition: Is Facism OK in Black Metal because it’s Art?

Metal News, Rage against the manuscript



There’s been a bit of controversy lately, after this article revealed the possibility that musicians Dagon and Incubus of Inquisition are possibly white supremacists. Metal is in the news again, for being bad music that supports hateful political and racial/sexual agendas.

Other bloggers have been adding their 2c – Full Metal Attorney penned Metal Doesn’t Give A Shit, and No Clean Singing’s Badwolf weighed in on the cover of Lord Mantis’ Death Mask album. Dagon even responded in a Decibel article here. This is my (rambling and probably ill-conceived) addition.

Disclaimer: I’m white. So there’s that. I’m also a woman, and disabled. And probably ridiculously liberal. So there’s that, too.

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.

Metal, as a musical form, is a way of expressing ideas and concepts through music. It stands to reason that with tens of thousands of metal musicians in the world, there are going to be some songs you don’t like, some personalities who irk you so much you refuse to give them the time of day, and some opinions you don’t agree with, and all manner of divergence in between.

So, as a metalhead, do you have a social responsibility to ensure that the music you listen to carries messages that you yourself agree with on a moral level?

To me, there is no right answer here. On the one hand, if you’re going to take a moral stand against something, it’s probably important that you don’t support artists or vehicles that oppose your beliefs. But on the other hand, do you have to love the artist and support and agree with all of their beliefs  to appreciate the art? And listening to music can be such a personal thing – what to one person is an Anti-Semitic song, is to someone else a story about personal struggles, and to somebody else just a badass tune that’s great to headbang to. Is one interpretation more relevant, more tr00 than the others? Does it come down to intention – why do we choose to listen to extreme music? And if so, which intentions are noble, and which not?

I think it’s something each person has to decide for him or/herself. I’m personally have at least one foot in the “don’t have to like the artist to enjoy the art” camp, and I believe that it is important to experience viewpoints outside your own world/beliefs from time to time, even if they make you feel uncomfortable or angry. Art is meant to confront assumptions and challenge expectations. I can enjoy the music of Burzum and The Project Hate even though their political or religious views abhor me, although I find overt messages of hatred tend to ruin a lot of otherwise decent songs (Burzum is a prime example, as the songs are often very nature-focused, which is a theme that resonates with me). The same is true for many other artists and writers and painters I’ve encountered.

But knowing that a band have staunch anti-Semitic views (at least, when this is confirmed, as it is not) definitely makes you view their music in a new, and not so flattering light. And makes you less inclined to show support for their work.

What say you, readers?