On Metal and Horror and Humour


As with all true things in this world, there is a contradiction in terms that makes Death Metal and its satellite genres something three-dimensional in my opinion. It’s kind of like when you bring two sheets of paper together on a table and they curl up. I have never hidden how much I appreciate as a fundamental element of the genre it being rooted in adolescence, both from the point of view of aesthetics and the very way of conceiving a piece of primitive and muscular music that draws energy from a fascination with the morbid. It will come as no surprise, that the genre was created and had its fullest expression in a completely spontaneous way all over the world (on the silly paradox of accusations of being a racist and not very inclusive genre we will get to in a future post) by the fertile pimply energy of teenage boys and reached all and I mean – all – the compositional and message peaks through the hands and throats of people who were unlikely thirty years old. Don’t think that I am here criticizing a genre I adore above all others, on a primal level people have been eating and fucking since forever and I don’t see anyone so far getting tired of it (although there is some counter-message in the air). One can play and create Death Metal even after the age of 30, as long as one maintains that spirit of enthusiasm of youth. This is music that maintains you young. There are also the experimentalists, such as the jazz musician of The County Medical Examiners, but of course, these are special cases that reinforce the concept.

It is a matter of recognizing in his freshness of thought and his exclusively hormonal passion the creative matrix that leads one to smell blood, hate, and dead things.

Acknowledging, however, the pulsating core of the genre does not mean that I accept that it should be approached in a cheesy or, worse, demented way. I’ve never had much sympathy for groups like Lawnmower Deth or Spazztic Blurr, then later early CSSO with the Japanese comic books on the cover, crap like Akercocke’s fancy suits or that whole world of groups at Gronibard. There’s more than one reason why I’ve never gone to an Obscene Extreme show, certainly one of them is that I can’t stand people in their underwear doing ballets dressed as Pokemon. That kind of American movie dementia just doesn’t work for me in this context. I mean, it amuses me OUT of Death Metal. The arrival of the Internet and Social Networking has meant the arrival of an iconoclastic wave made up of memes designed specifically to desecrate a genre of which very few have a clear vision. There are excellent cases, such as Birdflesh and Macabre, even the early Carcass had a morbid ironic streak, but the Gabibbo and Tenerone on stage, I’m sorry but it really tired me beyond tolerance. That is, it has tired me for well over 20 years, well over.

The truth is that Horror and Death Metal once again prove to be one and the same. The humorous and goliardic vein of ’90s horror fucked it all up as the arrival of the Internet brought the generalist audience first through the Black Metal beachhead (more identifiable and manipulable for tabloids) and then to all the other genres of the extreme underground with the advent of the Internet. It was not a random happening that the best horror of the 1980s was that of Fulci, Bianchi, Soavi, etc. To find some decent horror once more, even outside the more underground market, we had to wait some twenty years, and in the end it is not surprising that today we are left with extraordinary almost self-produced realities even in the world of gore and splatter, somewhat the equivalent of gorenoise as far as music is concerned. This kind of irreverent humor is annoying not so much because it comes from people who entered this world more out of boredom than interest as because it tends to be totalizing. It seems that NO ONE today is allowed to pretend a project created to be taken seriously. It amazes me to read that some people think this genre must be gonzo crap to laugh at, just because this is the post-2000 geek culture that has opened all the drawers and made everything available to everyone.

At the root of the topic, metal must be primitive and RAW, and just like every beast, should not possess “self awareness” as mentioned in Don’s quote at the beginning of the post. It may be a bit counterintuitive to bring an adolescent soul to life with a pretense of seriousness, but it is the contradiction that makes these genres potentially inexhaustible.

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