Outsider Section – Silly

The German band Silly was founded in 1978 in Eastern Germany. Their charismatic singer Tamara Danz died of cancer in 1996, leaving a great number of songs that make your skin erupt in goosebumps. Her voice still reminds me of my childhood, when I felt unable to comprehend their poetic, political, and at times strangely distressing lyrics.

“Schlohweißer Tag” (from “Bataillon D’Amour, 1986) live:

Personal Histories: Of Taste and Suppression

Ronnie James Dio, godfather of Heavy Metal horns

Ronnie James Dio, godfather of Heavy Metal horns

You may have noticed that my excursions about music history are much more objective than my passion for Metal might justify. I like to stick to the facts, extract as many details from my memory as possible and provide you with ample anecdotes. Yet today, I will tell you some things personal, for the simple reason that there would be no blog of mine without my indestructible enthusiasm for Heavy Metal or my inner urge to share it with you. If you don’t care, I won’t blame you. There are too many blogs out there filled to bursting with subjectivity.

As far as my memories go back, I have always felt drawn towards music. One of the first things I was conscious of possessing was a gaudy children’s radio. My sister and I used to dance a lot, like all children inherently do, I suppose. My parents, perhaps unconsiously, encouraged me, because we listened to music virtually everywhere: in the car, while eating or cooking, or while taking a sauna. We all adored Queen, and actually still do. As soon as I was able to comprehend some English, I could not help but memorising all the lyrics I came across, and today I can still sing along with most Queen songs. I also grew up with the German bands Silly and Karat, with Mike Oldfield and classical music. My mother introduced me to the impressionist magic of Claude Débussy, as well as Bettina Wegner’s chansons, Chopin, Ravel, Vivaldi. My father played Neil Diamond songs for us. We discovered the music of Tracy Chapman together, and got into Jazz and Dixie with The Top Dog Brass Band. Annual visits of Dresden’s Dixieland Festival were family trips, and sometimes still are.

I was presented with many different styles of music – but I had to discover Metal all by myself. I had already found out that there was a tendency for harder music in me, always having especially relished the most heavy, resonant, bassy songs of Queen and other Rock bands.

I was thirteen when I saw Rammstein for the first time. MTV played their song “Amerika” and I was amazed by much more than just the video: In this music there was an incredible power, a sense of threat, a seduction of the masses. Industrial Rock had caught me in its fangs. A classmate of mine, whom I happened to hear talking to a friend about “Amerika”, provided me with “Reise, Reise”, the full Rammstein album from 2004. This was the beginning of both my career as a Metalhead and my fruitful music-swapping-relationship with the headbanger who would later become my boyfriend.

I rapidly became obsessed, but I had to carry out this obsession in secret. My parents never strictly forbade hard music, yet I feared discussion, snide comments and incomprehension. I already had some experience: I used to listen to some Punk music which my mother and sister disliked, and which also promoted my mother to question my clothing, my attitudes towards Punk culture and the fact that Punk albums rotated more often in my player than any other records during that time. She feared I might listen to Punk and adhere to uniform dressing in order to please others, because Punk was quite fashionable back then, or in order to be just different. However, I was never much of a rebel, and I certainly never played music just for the sake of annoying or alarming my family.

Controversial and political:

I hardly dared step into the light back then also because of Till Lindemann’s controversial lyrics. Don’t misunderstand me: I love these lyrics! They are forceful, poetic, each one a precious piece of extravagant yet brute grandeur. I listened to “Reise, Reise” so often that I could soon recite every single line by heart. For the first time I was completely crazy for music. And I was lucky, too: My father was introduced to some Rammstein songs by a colleague, and when I finally stepped into the open, he was quite interested. I caught my sister with some of the choir samples on “Reise, Reise”. I caught my mother, God knows how. It is hard to retrace this development after so many years, but by now my entire family enjoys Rammstein.

 

Aged fifteen, I set ears on Machine Head. The above-mentioned headbanger played some of their songs to me. This is how I came across “Supercharger” (2001). Machine Head fans from the early days complained about the band’s change in style that occurred with this record. To me, however, the album will stay something special and wonderful forever, because it was the first Machine Head record I couldn’t stop listening to. Still I was regularly using headphones. Although my family was already used to hearing pounding bass from my room once in a while, and refrained from trying to intervene, I did not want to disturb them. Up to today, they cannot find their way into Heavy Metal, or understand in the slightest why the hell I have fallen for this music of all genres.

Infectious:

 

I want to plead for tolerance. Children and adolescents can suffer immensely, if adults – and especially parents – try to twist them into a different shape than they really are. I have encountered much scepticism, I have argued heatedly, and debated whether Metal uniformity affected my personality (it obviously doesn’t, since I don’t even look particularly ‘metal’…). This was one of the more complex experiences of my adolescence. Particularly those in the act of growing up deserve some openness. I don’t aim to advise you to be careless. Parents should indeed take an interest in their offspring’s musical taste, especially when there is some controversy, lyrics considered inadequate, or a dubious scene. These mouths are made for talking, and first impressions are not necessarily true. With respect to all people, we might be well advised to accept that taste comes in a broad range. De gustibus non disputandum est.

The Nineties Pt. 2: New | Nu Metal

Heavy Metal was in any case marginalised, cornered by radio music. Only the fact that new and old bands continued to live on Metal as a source of inspiration proved that Heavy Metal was far away from death. Acts like Machine Head or Pantera worked well by fusing grooves and Thrash Metal aggression. Hardcore and Rap influences were embraced as well, leading to a fusion of Hardcore and Metal by 1996. Again Machine Head but also Dog Eat Dog and Biohazard provided amazing examples of this explosive blend.

Special among the newcomers were those bands who accompanied Ozzy Osbourne on his primal Ozzfests. In 1996 the madman organised the first of many minifestivals, sporting his mad majesty himself, famous Slayer as well as emergent bands such as Biohazard and Sepultura. Over the next years Ozzy helped Metal to its feet again by introducing ambitious young musicians to the Metal stages. Korn, Slipknot, Soulfly, Deftones, Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit developed a style that was soon called Nu Metal and comprised Heavy Metal rage, funky Rap, electronic devices, Hardcore, Hip Hop and Death Metal elements. This fusion of “raw guitars, emotional singing and sonic trickery” (Ian Christe) with powerful anger and ample volume proved highly successful: Slipknot’s debut album “Slipknot” (1999) overtook Machine Head’s first album “Burn my Eyes” (1994) as Roadrunner Record’s best-selling debut ever.

Particular to Nu Metal bands was their at times exaggerated use of Heavy Metal stereotypes and youthful rebellion, inlcuding piercings, tattoes and dreadlocks. Older, supposedly ‘true’ Metal musicians more than once made the mistake to judge these bands for their Metal adolescence, which – due to Slipknot and Co. being born later – included influences quite different from those of their predecessors. Sceptical Metal veterans also criticised a similar sound of all new bands (quite disputable, if you ask me). Ian Christe claims that there seemed to be rebellion in the new, political lyrics, but Metal did not appear to be outsider music anymore. I’m not sure at all whether this is true. I certainly don’t feel like a mainstream listener of mainstream music, and my preference renders me an outsider in many groups of people.

Watch Papa Roach perform their greatest anthem live: “Last Resort” (from “Infest”, 2000)

One Limp Bizkit hit is “Take a look around”, but actually the album “Chocolate Starfish and Hot Dog Flavored Water” (2000) contains nothing but hits:

The 1998 and 1999 Ozzfests saw Limp Bizkit (with their DJ Lethal), System of a Down, Papa Roach and Godsmack emerge. The era of computers and internet helped Nu Metal bands along even more. American band Limp Bizkit is especially famous for their anthem-like songs which saw the light of day in rapid succession. Virtually everyone knows Papa Roach’s song “Last Resort”. System of a Down were out of the ordinary due to their strong, political lyrics. Yet no band was as special as the Iowa phenomenon Slipknot.

The Nine: Slipknot

The Nine: Slipknot

The nine-headed hydra from Des Moines came into existence in 1995, after having released a demotape titled “Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat.” under the name Painface. The band name is derived from a special hangman’s knot. Even more sensation and mystique caused the members’ appearance in similar overalls, all numbered, and different masks. Their terrific first album was succeeded by the brutal “Iowa” (2001), providing extremely raw sounds and the notorious “Heretic Anthem”: If you’re 555 then I’m 666. The last two albums, “Vol.3: (The Subliminal Verses)” (2004) and “All Hope Is Gone” (2008) brought differences in style, yet not much softening. I love every single Slipknot record and I have seen them live. It was a great experience which I hope to share with you at some later time. Sadly enough, the Nine are not complete anymore: bass player Paul Grey perished in 2010, having overdosed on painkillers. Joey Jordison, in my opinion one of the most skilled drummers in the whole Metal world, decided to part with Slipknot in 2013. A new album is currently recorded all the same.

The first single of Slipknot’s self-titled album starts with the famous sentence “Here comes the pain…”

Listen to the classic! (from “Iowa”) Eight, seven, six, six, six, five, four, three, two, one, zero:

Rage, beautiful noise and confusion? “The Nameless” (from “Vol.3: (The Subliminal Verses)” ):

Amazingly, Slipknot can indeed play midtempo: “Wherein Lies Continues” (from “All Hope Is Gone”)

 

You definitely can’t kill the Metal!

The Nineties Pt.1: Mainstream Victory and Mainstream Metallica?

Although Death, Black and Heavy Metal raged on during the 1990s, the mainstream voiced the opinion that Metal was dead. The political America of 1995 no longer caused such a strong need for dissent as had pervaded former decades. Ian Christe (in “Sound of the Beast: The complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal”) calls Hardcorepunk bands such as Green Day or The Offspring child-safe alternatives which turned Punk into entertainment suitable for the mainstream. Despite those newcomers filling popular magazine covers, Metal remained a bestseller. However, with MTV cancelling “Headbanger’s Ball” and alternative mainstream bands being on the upswing, die-hard fans of Metal had to rely on underground sources again.
Metallica –causing uproar among fellow musicians and fans – went commercial in 1995, enjoying the spotlight on tour with alternative bands. Their self-titled album (usually called the “Black Album” (1991) due to its dark cover) as well as its follower “Load” (1996) with its bluesy simplicity resulted in radio successes. Interestingly, admirers of Metallica were especially annoyed by the band’s newly cut hair and simpler ‘un-Metal’ gear. Moreover, Metallica’s lyrics underwent a change into more intensive and emotional realms. With ’emotional’ I don’t mean heartbroken moaning and schmaltzy rhymes, but Hetfield reworking personal experiences reaching way back into his childhood. To no one’s surprise it were Manowar who criticised Metallica most cruelly for moving into ‘untrue’ fields of music. During their shows, Manowar – who themselves were traditional to the point of musical patriarchal dictatorship – are said to have dragged fans wearing Metallica-shirts onto the stage, where those were humiliated, forced into a Manowar-shirt and congratulated on being a true fan thereafter. These accounts harden my incomprehension and rejection of Manowar even more.
Taste Metallica’s debated new style with “Sad but true” (from “Metallica”, 1991):

Another far-reaching event was Rob Halford’s split with Judas Priest in the mid-nineties. He was replaced by the former singer of a Priest tribute band, Ripper (civil name: Tim Owens). At the same day Judas Priest introduced their new frontman to the music world, Rob Halford publicly announed that he was gay. Surprisingly, this confession resulted neither in worldwide agitation and uproar among Metalheads, nor in other homosexual (Metal-) musicians’ coming out. I consider the Metal community more tolerant than most parts of the world. The way Metalheads and musicians alike calmly accepted the gayness of one of the toughest Metal musicians of the eighties is further evidence for this claim.

Rob Halford during the eighties: He drove onto the stage on a motorbike every night.

Rob Halford during the eighties: He drove onto the stage on a motorbike every night.

With the giants of Heavy Metal deviating from their hallmarks, splitting up and generally being under a constant pressure set by commercial mainstream music, Metal seemed weak and empty. However, I have to cite Tenacious D once again: You can’t kill the Metal!

Want more? Read Nineties Pt. 2: New | Nu Metal

Outsider Section – Carpe Noctem

Here comes a band that is close to my heart. Carpe Noctem is a student band from Jena/ Thuringia in Germany. The first time I experienced them on stage was during a student party in Jena. I had to buy their album, I was infected  immediately. The band works with one violin, two cellos, drums and bass. Carpe Noctem has recorded two albums, the first one (“op. 1: Obscuritas”, 2010) being comprised of great cover versions from Rammstein to System of a Down.

Their second album, “op.2: allegro con fuoco” (2012) includes wonderful songs of the band’s own creation. Their own songs are mostly instrumentals, yet once in a while they work with excellent guest singers, often from Metallic realms. Take some time to search through the Carpe Noctem youtube channel.

And enjoy this one at FULL VOLUME. Does it give you the goosebumps?

“Aesthetics of Hate” – Machine Head

You tried to spit in the eye of a dead man’s face
Attacked the ways of a man not yet in his grave
But your hate was over all too soon
Because nothing is over, nothing’s through ’til we bury you

For the love of brother
I will sing this fucking song
Aesthetics of hate
I hope you burn in hell, go

The words I read on the screen left me fucking sick
I felt the hatred rising, you son of a bitch
You branded us pathetic for our respect
But he made us driven, deep reverence far beyond the rest

For the love of brother
I will sing this fucking words
Aesthetics of hate
I hope you burn in hell

Long live memories
Live his freedom vicariously
Defend tenfold
His honor we’ll always uphold

For the love of brother
I will say these fucking words
No silence against ignorance
Iconoclast, I hope you burn, burn in hell

May the hands of God strike them down
May the hand of God strike them down
May the hand of God strike them down
May the hand of God strike them, strike them

May the hands of God strike them down
May the hands of God strike them down
May the hands of God strike them down
May the hands of God strike them


The marked words above allude to Pantera’s 1994 album “Far beyond driven”. Click them to get to the full playlist.

 

Opposing Conservative Condemnation

In 2004 Heavy Metal guitarist Dimebag Abbott was shot on stage by a demented fan while performing with Damageplan in Columbus/ Ohio. The assassin did not only shoot the co-founder of Pantera, but also several others attempting to come to Dimebag’s aid. Nathan Gale, the lunatic fan, died by the hand of a police officer. Dimebag’s tragic death provoked shock, grief and rage among the Metal community. Yet it also inspired William Grim, conservative journalist and editor of the website ‘The Iconoclast’, to publish a disgusting article.

In “Time for Conservative Imagination” Grim does not only blame the victim for his untimely death but also attacks his fans. Heavy Metal represents “squalor, inhumanity, […], depravity, ugliness and ignorance”. Thereby it attracts “semi-human barbarians who [are] filthy in attire and manner, intellectually incoherent and above all else, hideously ugly to the point of physical deformity.” Grim’s rantings don’t stop at backbiting the deceased, whom he describes as barbaric, untalented, “freakish in appearance [and] more simian than human.” His abominable judgement peaks in the exposure of his conservative aim to teach youngsters the difference between good and evil. Grim claims that if adults cannot teach their offspring “to realize that Johann Sebastian Bach is superior to Dimebag Abbott, [they] have failed as parents and mentors.” By publishing an indelicate posthumous defamation, William Grim has created a dichotomy: a binary of good and bad, valuable and worthless.

Apart from that I despise Grim’s one-sided degradation of a subculture, I consider it equally wrong to judge with only the most common of all binaries in mind. Neither mankind in general, nor musicians in particular can we divide into ‘inferior’ and ‘superior’ beings. The world does not consist of black and white aspects only.

The attempt to classify humans into Metalheads – obese, dumb, hideous – and conservatives in the intellectual elite, can but result in the realisation that some people combine both. Metalheads might be successful, eloquent and educated, whereas conservatives are not necessarily bright and beautiful. Just take Margaret Thatcher: the British conservative and Prime Minister was certainly not considered perfect by the majority. I myself might represent the opposite: I certainly love Heavy Metal, but this preference did not prevent my receiving top school certificates and a very good university degree.

Moreover, Grim’s values should be hard to teach. How to make plain to children who is good and right, who is bad and wrong? And why attempting to do so, if we only turn young, open beings into narrow-minded ultraconservatives? Like Grim, they would ultimately further the exclusion and persecution of ‘others’ in matters of taste, political attitudes and sexuality. Judging people for their musical preferences is just one step away from prosecution for race, class or gender.

Finally, Mr. Grim himself provides living proof for that a solid Christian conservative upbringing and lifestyle does not necessarily create a pious, tactful and humane individual. Attacking Dimebag Darrell shortly after the musician’s demise, thereby affronting an entire community, is neither a wise move nor does it betray the special “emotional range” that William Grim claims so exclusively for himself and the conservative elite.

A rigorous cutting of the world into light and dark has never worked, nor will it ever do. If we were asked to describe our personality in one single word, we would be hard put to find one suitable trait. Thus, every human being is composed of numerous facets. By chance, someone might combine all the traits William Grim has accused of representing Metal. But how plausible is the existence of a homogenous mass of similar people aiming to spread evil by aid of Heavy Metal?

Scrutinising Grim’s torrent of hatred leaves us with a heap of various attitudes of a close-minded, hot-headed and arrogant idealist. Heeding his words will far from make the world a better place. If we support persecution, we might one day be excluded and punished ourselves. We need to be a counterpart emphasising the significance of understanding, tolerance and open-mindedness. To make up for these crucial lacks of our world, it is worth to dare open our mouths to speak a word of warning, fairness and mutual respect.


 

Find both the original rantings and Robb Flynn’s answer on this website:                                                          http://s4.zetaboards.com/CoD2Regulars/topic/9263751/1/

Machine Head’s Robert Flynn, a colleague and friend of Dimebag Abbott, published an answer to William Grim’s article which circulated on heavy metal websites from all over the world for months. The band’s 2007 record “The Blackening” includes a song titled “Aesthetics of Hate”, an honest, brutal statement of accusation. The solo part of the song is a tribute to Dimebag Abbott.

If you ask yourself why there are several awkward pauses in Flynn’s singing: this is were officials have deleted the f-word. I don’t approve of this cleansing, it steals some power of the lyrics. For the ‘dirty’ original version, watch the video below.

For lyrics and some hints read the next post.