Extremity, Conformity, Integrity
by: Henry Akeley
As you know if you read CoC, a lot of powerful and original music is coming out of today's extreme metal scene. But that's not what I want to talk about right now. No, right now I want to rag on a couple of ways in which the scene just seems to be getting lamer all the time.

The first and biggest problem is a major lack of originality on the part of the vast majority of bands. As we all know, a lot of bands who write absolutely great metallic music are just completely unoriginal when it comes to image, lyrics, and so on. The result is that way too much vital and energetic music gets bogged down in cliches - worn-out ideas that lessen the music's overall impact by giving rise to that stale, "same-old-same-old" feel. Extreme metal is supposed to be rebellious in spirit, right? Well, what's so rebellious about conforming to the same set of conventions as everybody else? Same vocal style, same guitar sound, same bloody cover artists, same damn symmetrical logos. And where's the fucking integrity in clinging to some tired and over-used image based on medieval religion and teenage horror movies, instead of being true to your own experience and your own creativity? Which path is -really- for those who are "true" - the well-worn and comfortable path of conformity, or the more difficult one of being original and true to yourself?

Of course, we're getting into some thorny territory here, because so many bands have decided to make the extreme metal stage into a platform for certain religious views. Still, it seems safe to say that most bands who sing the praises of you-know-who would -not- be doing that today if earlier, more original bands hadn't made this the hip, and sometimes profitable, thing to do. Nevertheless, if the members of some band really -are- sincere in their sonic worship of some supernatural being, then they do not deserve to be labeled unoriginal or conformist, since they are being true to what they believe. (Personally, though, I'm not interested in bowing down before entities whose existence I have no proof of - including you-know-who.) Anyway, I think we all know that most bands who sing about how excellent it would be to be in Hell, or who purchase magazine ads to inform us as to just how incredibly evil they really are, are probably not into the unholiness business with 100% conviction. Those who are faking it, instead of making art that's true to what they really believe, are the bands who deserve to be ragged on.

This brings me to my second big gripe. I am sick and tired of seeing bands try to cash in on the black metal trend. There is something very, very cool about the very best black metal - something which stands to be totally ruined by the attempts of these pathetic posers to gain some quick fame and fortune by copying the bands who originated the style.

It's not all the "Hail Satan" stuff that I find so cool. There's some great (but over-used) imagery bound up with all that, and I do respect those who are sincere in their religious beliefs, but personally I'm just not a "Hail Satan" kind of guy. (I also think that this idea of a black metal "war against Christianity" is really rather deluded, but that's a topic for another time.)

Besides being wild and incredible music, the best black metal expresses a deep respect for nature and envisions ways of living which are much more spiritual, much more natural, and much less fixated upon money than our own. (Of course, in the minds of certain individuals, this basic idea has become confused with support for some incredibly stupid political positions - but that too is another subject.) For this reason, it is nauseating in the extreme to see all these bands who are simply adopting the black metal image - totally faking a genuine spiritual outlook - in order to get more widely known and to make more extreme metal bucks. That kind of fakery and profiteering is completely and utterly false to the true black metal spirit, and bands who engage in it are self-serving trendies who the scene would be better off without.

(article submitted 2/1/1997)


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