(just a couple of bros, hanging out, with their hairs out)
I have thought about starting a series of posts about "things I have changed my mind about" or "things I no longer believe, but used to", but today I want to write about only this: I used to listen to metal, A LOT. Black metal, especially. I genuinely used to think that it was the most raw, stirring form of expression. I just wasn't that into people singing in their normal voice (why do that when you could express yourself so much more intensely by screaming?!). I used to think that a double bass drum - no frills, just pummeling away - would improve almost any song.
When I was discovering metal, as a teenager in rural Denmark - or rather: excavating it, bit by bit, is what it felt like - I could genuinely believe that there were people out there, in Norway and Sweden especially, who genuinely believed and felt what they were projecting. That there were people who would roll out of bed (if they slept in a bed at all), smear their corpse paint a little more, and lumber through the silent streets in search of beer and misanthropy. It just seemed right, considering that I myself had the sensation (being a teenager, let's not forget) of feeling Everything Louder Than Everyone Else, All the Fucking Time. I wanted to find things to that were as dark and intense and po-faced and beautiful as at all possible, and I guess I was pretty literal about what that meant.
There was a bit of a metal "scene" in the town closest to where I grew up, so there were people who could recommend things to me, Swedish death metal and Norwegian black metal, as well as doom metal from England, and there were slightly older people who played in bands that I could be unreasonably impressed by (oh, Everticum, where are you now?! :-)). So, in that sense it was not entirely a solo mission, but I do remember spending a lot of time after school, internet-researching (when our high school got a computer room with internet - this was before Google, mind you!) what it was to be goth and what industrial was and whether there were people who actually tried to live like vampires. I also sought out everything I could find about the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, the North American Indian Movement, and anti-fascist activism in Denmark, but that is a completely different story. Feeling slightly out of place, in a fundamental way, it was pretty natural to look for people living very different lives, in very different places. I still have a tendency to see other people doing exotic things (crab fishing, teaching, shepherding, anything) and imagine that they possess some kind of completeness and stillness that is still just out of reach to me, but now I think I am better able to recognize my own hand in drawing those dream images, and be realistic about them. The thing is: All these subcultural fantasies seemed pretty plausible to me, at the time, because there were no real people to put them into context! They seemed way more relevant to me, than I think they did to any of my more earthbound metal friends.
Imagine my disappointment, when, years later, I left the village cocoon and realized that most goths (like most people) are slightly stupid, slightly overweight, work in customer service and are slightly scared of reality. Also that (like most people) they look completely ridiculous in daylight. Likewise, I was genuinely disappointed to realize that "having fun" seemed to be part of the deal for both goths and black metal musicians. It was not for me, or at least I did not feel that it should be. Gradually, I drifted away from metal and came, through a series of other attempted "extreme" forms of expression to an appreciation of metal as another one of a multitude of languages in popular music.
So where does that leave David, age 30? At this point, I still find myself looking for the elusive metal kick, once in a while - all the loudness and earnestness and grandiose intensity is sometimes just what you need - but I find it much harder to buy into the sincerity of the work, or to take it seriously without dismissing it as either stupid (sometimes forgivable) or pretentious (very nearly unforgivable). Metal can be so rigidly stylized that it seems as if record production comes to resemble musical sudoku, more than expression, and it can be very hard to find the feeling of artistic necessity under a mountain of genre tropes. Instead, I resign myself to digging out old favourites and playing them in small mouthfuls, until I become too embarrassed to let it go on. I have a love-hate relationship with "extremeness" in general, and I find hollow shouting to be one of the most aggravating things in the world.
Dear people: Stop the hollow shouting! It is annoying. Love, David
As a complete aside: The reason I came to think of all this, just now, is that Drowning.cc (a friend of Moongazing Hare) has recently released a free ep by another rural Dane, SOL, which I was delighted to find that I really liked, and was not at all embarrassed by: Black Cloud of Becoming
A couple of metal favourites:Satyricon: Nemesis Divina
(stupid and pretentious, but fucking amazing).Ulver: Bergtatt
(a little silly, but not too stupid or pretentious, and very beautiful and engaging)Neurosis: Times of Grace
(the only thing I don't like about Neurosis is that they made more records than this one, and that all of their songs and records are way too long)