Metal Lyrics: Fragments

>Shattered hope became my guide
and grief and pain my friends
a brother pact in blood-ink penned
declared my silent end

>Naked and dying under worlds of silent stone
reaching for the moonshield that once upon us shone.
–In Flames, “Moonshield” (The Jester Race, 1996)

>One day you’ll live in happiness
With a heart that’s full of joy
You’ll say the world “tomorrow” without fear
The feeling of togetherness will be at your side
You’ll say you love your life and you’ll know why
–Helloween, “Future World” (_Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II_, 1988)

Metal’s evil, eh?
>Nowadays the air’s polluted
ancient people persecuted
that’s what mankind contributed
to create a better time
–Helloween, “Eagle Fly Free” (_Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II_, 1988))

>In moments of silence when you are alone
You feel the desire is burning still strong
Open your heart and remember the day
When I sent you out on your way

>I’m a wandering man, the heir of the crown
A lonely knight, I’m roaming around
I’ll never rest, I’ll never give in
Until my quest, has come to the end
–Freedom Call, “The Wanderer” (_Crystal Empire_, 2001)

The Search For I

_Up next, on Melting Point Radio, “This Week in Metal History”. But first, here is a Maiden classic, “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”_. I toggled off the mic and spun my chair around to where my co-hosts were crouched over a laptop, busy scouring wikipedia for worthy events. _Ohhh, 1945: The firebombing of Dresden?_ I scowled. Could I deny it was not, indeed, metal for an entire city to be incinerated in an immense firestorm? Did this not epitomize the kind of bleak, cynical world view typified by [some of] our beloved music? But the music lifts my spirits, I am blissfully unaware of the words being scrawled across the airwaves. So I ____ to associate my beloved metal with such a tragic injustice, for fear of it seeming an endorsement of such a horror.

I step through the doorway; the shrine room swallows me in darkness glowing with dim fluorescent tubes, mounted bare to the wall. My eyes adjust to the cool light and suddenly I find myself face to face with a scowling demon — its face twisted in agony. Beneath his feet were tiny people, frozen in their desperate dash to escape his thunderous ego-crushing step. Then it hit me, all at once, in one contained _this is metal_ thought.

Metal is about many things, but it is surely MINOR and LOUD and FAST, at least archetypically.

How seriously do we take it? Alexi Laiho, possibly the most gifted songwriter in the metal world today, is a clown with a guitar as he admits during their epic live DVD in Stockholm, “So you see, basically we’re a bunch of fucking idiots… [proceeds to launch into a passionate rendition of a typically brilliant, pummeling, yet melodic song].” melt everyone’s faces with flowing, glorious metal]”

There are two amazingly cliché moments when metal played a serious role in keeping my mental peace. Both were also clearly clichés at the time, which I enjoyed immensely despite the circumstances. Heavy Metal & Breakups…

The first was my first real experience in romance, at summer camp the summer before 9th grade (I was 13?). Me and said girl’d been “going out” for about a week, I’d just been informed of the ending of our little arrangement by one of her friends. The important part of the story is that, devastated, I returned solemnly to my bunk, crawled in bed shoes clothes ‘n all, and fetched my disc-man and Marilyn Manson (c’mon, it was the closest to metal that I had). My friend stopped by and asked if I was alright. I said _sure_. I later laughed and told others that _of course I wasn’t ok, I was lying in bed with my shoes and clothes on, listening blankly to Marilyn Manson…_

End of serious 2.5 year relationship with basically no prior warning. Destabilization imminent or already occurring. I lay on my bed in Weybridge House and insert a very special CD into my stereo, “Into Oblivion” by Into Eternity.

Into Eternity – Buried in Oblivion
  1. Splintered Visions
  2. Embraced By ‘Desolation’
  3. 3 Dimensional Aperture
  4. Beginning Of The End
  5. Point Of Uncertainty
  6. Spiraling Into Depression
  7. Isolation
  8. Buried Into Oblivion
  9. Black Sea Of Agony
10. Morose Seclusion

This album is special because it is death metal, very melodic, with typically unintelligable vocals for most of the songs, but one can feel and at times decipher the real meaning of the songs. They really convey their themes [see tracklisting]… effectively. I grinned demonically as the cd began to spin, and the opening track’s blistering harmonized scale runs washed over me, connecting somewhere deep wounded within.

Research Notes

On Death Metal:
>But unlike the garbled sound emanating from the lovable and occasionally frenetic Cookie Monster, death-metal vocals seem to come from a dark spot in a troubled soul, as if they were the narrator’s voice on a tour of Dante’s seventh circle of hell… Early death-metal bands such as Death and Morbid Angel that emerged from Florida in the mid-’80s helped create the musical template that characterized the blasting sound as well as that of its Satan- and occult-obsessed sibling, black metal: fast, relentless drumming often featuring two bass drums; grinding, rapid-fire chording on guitars; squealing guitar solos; muted electric bass; unexpected sudden tempo changes; and a sense of theatricality that’s inevitably threatening–“a horror film put to music” is how Monte Conner, a vice president at Roadrunner Records, sees it… To be a true Cookie Monster vocal, said Mr. Conner, who signed some of the subgenre’s biggest bands, including Sepultura and Fear Factory, “it’s got to be really, really guttural. It should sound like they’re gargling glass… If you want to make music that’s terrifying, you have to sing about ripping people’s heads off. Singing about puppies and kittens isn’t too cool.”…[^cookie]
[^cookie]:Jim Fusilli, ”That’s Good Enough for Me: Cookie Monsters of Death-Metal Music.,“ The Wall Street Journal, February 1, 2006,

>But metal cannot be conceptualized as a mere steam valve for psycho-social pressures, even if the turning of that valve is conceptualized as an active process. The notion of perceptual agency is at the heart of the death metal participant’s ideology. While much of metal in general and death metal in particular is energetic and aggressive, the musicians I spoke with were quick to disabuse me of the misconception that metal is merely angry music. Saladin explained that metal was about exploring all the emotions that hold a person back in their life… Over and over again, the metalheads explained that music listeners must not merely let sound wash over them, but they should listen to music _actively_, engaging with the msuic and making it meaningful. What distinguishes death metal and underground metal in general from commercial hard rock and pop metal, they said, is that the music requires active listening…[^steamvalve]
[^steamvalve]: Harris M Berger, ”Death Metal Tonality and the Act of Listening,“ _Popular Music_ 18, no. 2 (May 1999), p173.

>While it is not clear to me if the motivating power of death metal is generating a vanguard of energetic youth or drawing artistic and creative young
people into a trap of naive individualism, I believe that the political significance of musical sound is rooted in the meanings that the participants
constitute and the consequences of those meanings for the participants’ lives and the larger society.[^motpower]
[^motpower]:Harris M Berger, ”Death Metal Tonality and the Act of Listening,“ _Popular Music_ 18, no. 2 (May 1999), p175.

>The tonal dimension of music and the meaning sthat emerge from it are constituted by the subject’s active, perceptual organization of the sound in time.[^tdimen]
[^tdimen]:Berger (1999), p161.

>Starting from widely divergent perspectives and serving widely divergent conclusions, most scholars of metal have interpreted the music as an expression of the frustrations of the blue-collar young in a de-industrializing society that neither requires their labour nor values their presence.[^bluec]
[^bluec]:Berger (1999), p169.

>Twenty-five centuries ago, Plato warned in The Republic that “any musical innovation is full of danger to the whole State, and ought to be prohibited… when modes of music change, the fundamental laws of the State always change with them.”[^platowarn]
[^platowarn]:William S Fox and James D Williams, ”Political Orientation and Music Preferences Among College Students,“ _The Public Opinion Quarterly_ 38, no. 3 (Autumn 1974).

_word_ METALLIC adjective: grating, harsh, jarring, dissonant.[^metalthes]
[^metalthes]: Christine A Lindberg, ed., The Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), p576.

_word_ HEAVY as an abstract adjective which also apply to its use in the term _HEAVY metal_.: weighty, forceful, arduous, onerous, dense, overcast, torrential, tempestuous, intense, immoderate, sad [^heavythes]
[^heavythes]: Christine A Lindberg, ed., The Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), p423.

_word_ EPIC 1. noun: heroic poem, saga; 2. adjective: heroic, grand, monumental, ambitious, great.

_word_ BRUTAL adjective: savage, ferocious, wicked, ruthless, sadistic; heinous, abominable. __antonym:__ gentle, humane.

_word_ INTENSE 1. adj: extreme, fierce; exceptional, extraordinary; harsh, strong, powerful, potent, overpowering. 2. adj: passionate, vehement, fiery, spirited, vigorous.

Digital Story Soundtrack

Yeesh. This took frickin’ forever to get together. Unfortunately I don’t have much time to make this digital story into anything decent, or that I’d be proud of. Here’s the soundtrack list for now. I’ve combined the following tracks into one song that is 5 mins 11 secs long (the outro is long for credits & such, so its really more like 4 mins). Craziness.

Metal Collage Credits: Artist – Song [Album]
Decapitated – Spheres of Madness [Nihility]
The Faceless – Leica [The Faceless]
Children of Bodom – Bodom Beach Terror [Hate Crew Deathroll]
(METAAAALL scream from Dream Evil – The Book of Heavy Metal [The Book of Heavy Metal])
Dimmu Borgir – Kings of the Carnival Creation [Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia]
Lost Horizon – Welcome Back [Awakening the World]
Children of Bodom – Triple Corpse Hammerblow [Hate Crew Deathroll]
The Faceless – Leica [The Faceless]
Gamma Ray – Valley of the Kings [Blast from the Past]
The Faceless – All Dark Graves [The Faceless]
In Flames – Jester’s Dance [The Jester Race]
Iron Maiden – Rime of the Ancient Mariner [Powerslave]
Children of Bodom – Clash of the Booze Brothers [Chaos Ridden Years-Stockholm Knockout Live]

Describing Metal

I sit down at my desk, pen in hand, headphones on, and click “play” on my iTunes playlist. How do I define this music that I love so? Is there a constant between these many disparate genres? It seems more like a series of spectra in various dimensions. Metal is a vague identifier that describes a subset of this multidimensional space, the boundaries of which are far from definite, and certainly not objective. I hypothesize that there are general lines within which most fans of this genre could agree to label “metal’. Sub-genres are sure to extend beyond this commonly held space, and not all sub-genres will occupy its entirety, necessarily (since some begin on the fringes and then continue into the distance). . Here are a few spectra I can identify..

Inner Peace Through METAL (an early draft)

This is really several pieces mashed together into a collage of different threads and narratives which demand more attention than I’ve given here. So this is a compendium of fragments, more rumblings to the tune of future works. Or something.

A Guitar tech tests a majestically evil-looking guitar while the crowd mills about, joking, posturing awkwardly, cheering on the tech sarcastically. The venue is small. Dingy would not be an understatement, and we can feel that we are in gritty Worcester, Massachusetts.

The crowd is filled with an unusual assortment of people. They are mostly men, and mostly white. Some have girlfriends or wives by their sides. The whiteness of the crowd is accentuated by the blackness of their attire; black shirts, black jeans, black jackets, long black hair. There are a few latinos, and one black man. Maybe. If he is there, people come up to him with curiosity and congratulations for upending the stereotypes of those who revel in subverting stereotypes (yet never really escape them).

Continue reading “Inner Peace Through METAL (an early draft)”

Refining the Question

Well, I guess posting this question to the metal forums was somewhat productive. It also reminded me what a shit-show the world of online discourse really is.

I received a range of responses. Most were pretty aggressive and tended to drip with condescension and judgment, something I’m sad, but not surprised to see in a metal forum. The academically-minded tended to sling piles of bullshit, interspersed with valid observations; a few of which were mildly enlightening.

And there were a couple of responses that succeeded in getting me thinking about more than just why I was asking the question in the first place, which I don’t find so interesting.

Here’s one of my responses to what people were saying (they tended to assume I was trying to justify metal in an absolute, universal sense. I guess I didn’t make that clear enough).
Continue reading “Refining the Question”

A National Socialist Rejection of Black Metal

An oddly refreshing article reproduced at the the White Nationalist cesspool that is (search for info)

Originally posted by Cezar
Impact 14 zine (Rumania)
Be consistent!
By Weisthor
It was early in the morning. Together with two comrades I was travelling to a black metal concert venue somewhere in Flanders (North-Belgium) where we were supposed to pick up a Swedish co-religionist. A black metal band, consisted of some his countrymen, was to appear on this concert, so he got to travel along with them. We would not go to this concert, we would only meet our comrade and go our way.My brethen and I arrived early at the concert and from our car we were able to observe the national socialist black metal crowd moving towards the concert hall. We were quite disgusted by the hippie-like or biker-gang looks of the people arriving. Long, unwashed hair, leather jackets filled with patches, a band shirt, black jeans and fancy boots seemed to be the standard uniform of the “nsbm soldier”. Oh, and let us not forget the standard spikes, chains and necklaces. Some were wearing make-up resembling the rockers of the band Kiss, but of course they were inspired by Immortal, Marduk or some other fancy band. From a hundred meters distance where the concert hall was, we heard one of those people scream “SATAN” followed by some more australopithecus afarensis-like screams. After this “rebellious action” he started to kick a garbage can. Obviously the garbage can was withstanding his aggression so this soldier of satan started kicking a phone booth. The windows of this booth were less withstanding than the garbage can; and at 10.00 a.m. in the morning the peace and quite of a holiday was shattered. Black metal had arrived.Our comrade from abroad was equally impressed with the people present at the venue. A French NSBM guy with an Arab girlfriend was trying to sell him a cheap “national socialist” magazine; consisted of low quality photocopies of lowbrow interviews, richly illustrated with pictures of “dead Jews” and such slogans as “Six million more!”. Yeah. Right. Don’t get me started.

Continue reading “A National Socialist Rejection of Black Metal”

Metal Manifesto Part II: The Radio Era

Continued from Metal Manifesto Part I: The Beginning

There are several major rock stations that are receivabble over FM radio broadcast in the Greater Boston Area (JOB?). Each tries desperately to define itself as THE definitive source of rock in the area, no matter how similar their mindless blathering DJ’s, or commercialized programming.

But it was a start. And WAAF isn’t so bad. Or wasn’t so bad. Dunno about nowadays.

There is no metal radio in Boston. Will there ever be? The metal scene is quite lively, especially out West in blue-collar Worcester, and I’m told in the Merrimack Valley as well.

So I spent my middle school years listening to crappy alternative rock/Hard Rock radio, searching for my musical identity. I found, and would later reject, for right or wrong, some bands: Sevendust, Tool, Powerman 5000, LImp Bizkit (the first step is to admit, right?).

Then I went to summer camp and met “Jesper Strömblad”.

Jesper was 16, I was 14. When you’re 14, 2 years is a bigger proportion of your life than it would be to me now, at 22. By exactly 4/77 times. Don’t ask me why that is important, it just is.

So Jesper was from a band called IN Flames, from Sweden. I would later learn that Sweden is the second most metal country in the world. (Data forthcoming). Though he was from Pennsylvania. He had long dark brown hair and a dry, caustic sense of humor.

He owned a stunningly gorgeous red Gibson SG that would inspire my own guitar years later. Why is the shape of a guitar so important? It just is. So Jesper started a band and recorded a song with them. I tagged along and gained my eventual nickname, “roadie”. But that’s a story for another time.

The next summer Jesper showed up with a CD and a story. The opening song on the CD (see below), captured my heart in an instant. The riffs were magical in their brutal beauty. It remains one of my favorite songs. And of course he had used the same main riff in the song he recorded the previous summer.

There he was in the liner notes, Jesper Strömblad. But the picture didn’t quite fit. The Jesper Strömblad in the liner notes had long blonde hair and was… a different person. Our Jesper told us about the strict Swedish laws — that prohibited minors from publishing music, thus forcing the band to use a stand-in for the photos (and live shows? So he could goto school or something?).

In any event, it’s unlikely I believed him then. I believed parts, but I was suspicious. I wanted to believe.

I also don’t remember when, exactly, the illusion dissolved and he shed the identity of Jesper.

So Jesper introduced me to metal. 4 songs from 4 bands started it all: Iron Maiden with The Whicker Man, In Flames with Embody the Invisible, Kamelot with Nights of Arabia, and Sonata Arctica with My Land.

Many people seem to have a “Heavy Metal” phase in their life. A temporary and immature indulgence in an angst-ridden sonic landscape. Especially for those who where at their angsty prime during the height of pop/glam-metal-mania (the 80’s). But metal means something very different today, in a world where it is very much not cool. Not that people don’t think it cool if you like metal, since it’s kind of unusual, but there’s definitely stigma attached to it.