Saturday, November 2, 2013

How to Appreciate Death Metal Dialectics

Let's play a little game. Read this first.

Now, let's go down the line, one by one:

1. Pay Close Attention to the Tearing Guitars and Unusual Vocals. What could it be that urges these musicians to perform in this particular way? If they were going to play classical music, they'd have played classical music. But instead, they're playing death metal. What are they screaming about? Pay attention to the attack of the music and the particular themes of the lyrics. There's a question begged in all of this, and you shouldn't disregard any aspect of the whole to appreciate the whole. If the severity of the music or the inhumanity of the vocals annoy you, that is great. Never listen to death metal again, if you can. If you find yourself drawn again to this music though aspects of it startle or annoy you, that's good too. What does either response say about you?

2. Do Not Watch Any Live Performances by Death Metal bands. Do not observe how band members manipulate any of their instruments. There's nothing that should impress you in the process of making these sounds and it's the crutch of intellectual frauds to defend something that sounds like this by saying that it takes a lot of skill to do it. If you want to pursue something that will provide tools of understanding all music, study melody and harmony and the history of music on the whole, not idiots pressing fingers on fretboards. Studying the history and guidelines of music composition will illuminate that most death metal is too much fuss over very little. Playing in little chromatic boxes, moving hands up and down fretboards in a confused masculine performance.

3. Most Death Metal bands do not write their own music. They're regurgitating the same ten tricks that the originators of death metal came up with, with slight variations in technique or aesthetics. Most of their desire to be in a death metal band stems from 'the desire to be in a death metal band'. This means their music product itself is secondary to the performance of the role of the creator of the product. They need no more respect for indulging in their vices than any other pop music performer that's outright reproducing earlier material.

4. Take the context and subject matter completely personally. These songs are exactly about you. If they were not, they would not have reached you. In their function as products that enter the culture, their truth is communicated. There's nothing useless on a death metal product, everything about it tells you what it is. At the same time, there is nothing behind the curtain. Do not trust people that say you need to 'get' something to appreciate it. There's nothing to get. How do you feel listening to some suburban white man's fantasies of gutting prostitutes and raping the bastard Nazarene? If you're offended, take that offence seriously. If you like it, take that attraction seriously. What does it say about you?

5. Learn nothing about sub-genres. And never engage a metal fan in conversation about metal sub-genres of any other such trivia. Instead ask them how they feel when they listen to music about gutting prostitutes. Don't let them off the hook. Earnestly ask them to explain the joke, as it were, and watch them crash and burn. There are many fascinating things to explore about death metal and almost none of them have to do with the discussion of the form.

6. Show absolutely no respect for the artists.

Thumbs up.