It’s a weird thought, but it may have popped into your head at some point. It came to me while reading interviews with one of the many angry misanthropes in underground metal. His music is awesome, his past is pocked with links to violent people, and his vibe is something along the lines of “The entire human population must be killed.” It’s not an act, a commentary, or an artistic distortion, he’s real about it. He’s been to prison, and he’s a bit nightmarish in that he doesn’t mind doing real wrong. Or maybe he’s enacting some Kaufman-style impersonation of the Columbine mastermind; today let’s proceed on the premise that he is not.
So here’s that weird thought, it’s probably way off, please help me make sense of it: Is it impossible that a future musician of his type would ever perpetrate something large-scale? Can you fathom the idea that one of them could cross the line from talking about a massive loss of life to facilitating it? They profess no interest in uplifting; many are Bundy-esque in their desire for everyone to experience their levels of psychic pain. (Well, at least that’s what they say all the time, maybe it’s said for a different reason.) Angry, repressed turds have turned clubs and concert halls into mass graves, would a musician ever be in league with one of them? Extreme metal guys have committed random murder. What’s the ramped-up 2016 version of that?
Let’s zoom back out for a second. Yes, there are those secret nutjob bands that proudly further racist ideology, and if one of us showed up at their fringe events, it would turn ugly. Heck, some aboveground bands — e.g., ones whose scummy publicists bombard us with their music but don’t mention that its creators profit from organized hate — might take issue with your presence at their gigs. You might have even attended a show that would’ve gotten unfriendly if, say, two guys in the front row started kissing. But in the scariest scenarios, provocation is not required anyway — even at its most indulgent and subjective. That is, if something about our existence angers a fanatic, then it’s their right to “strike back” at us. So if people deserve a warning before unwittingly attending a concert populated by race baiters, should everybody be wary of musicians who very seriously and sincerely profess to hate all life? After all, that’s the whole point of identifying actionable racists; our interest is not to end their dumb thoughts, but to advise those who might wander into the path of their actions.
Be honest. Does this pass “the logic test” for you? I tried it out: Over dinner, a generous friend requested that I take the position that an “artist-terrorist action” is inevitable, that some anonymous underground performer(s) will snap and develop the idea to plot terror at, say, a modest weekend metal fest attended by a few hundred people. Meanwhile, my friend would represent the opposite viewpoint (i.e., that I’m getting super-paranoid).
We established that the members of this hypothetical band angrily despise everybody — even the concertgoers standing before them. (Think that’s far-fetched? If you’re familiar with the artist described in first paragraph above, you don’t.) She and I went step-by-step from there, and our debate basically mirrored the four paragraphs above. Know what spooked her, though? That in underground metal, some bands are anonymous. Their members are identified by initials or not at all, their country of residence is known to few, and hoods obscure their faces. Furrowing her brow, she stated that if the audience is unable to discover their identities, then that’s no big whoop, that’s art. But when the band’s identities can’t be discovered by authorities, that’s concerning. She continued: There’s a difference between “anonymous like Slipknot” and “anonymous like the Unabomber.”
My pregnant silence after that statement ended the debate in my “favor.” (I didn’t even need to mention that factual MetalSucks reportage recently earned us the ire of a guy who directs people he doesn’t know to where we sleep at night with our families.) I cheerily promised to take the discussion to you, dear MetalSucks readers. That’s all this is.
So, every metal dude can identify the best-known nut in extreme metal — plus a few dummies who do stupid shit — but this question is directed to those of us into deeply underground misanthropic metal, we who attend their humorless shows, the experts on anti-social but not discriminatory bands and cultures (that are not named here and thereby tied to what’s still an ugly hypothetical, thank fuck). Here it is: To a non-fan of misanthropic, obscure, awesome artists, this discussion must seem totally absurd. After Orlando and Bataclan, does it seem that way to their followers?