We’ve all got that one friend, unless you’re dishonest or just really good at dissociating from other humans, who says and does dumb and sometimes really offensive shit primarily due to the lack of an ability to think what they’re saying or doing all the way through to its logical…
There’s an inherent alchemy required to successfully combine two seemingly disparate forces into something new. Famous, enduring pairings can be volatile and even counter-intuitive at first glance, but when done properly the result can be something far greater than the sum of each part. Peanut butter and jelly are each perfectly enjoyable on their own, but when paired together they create one of the most well-known and universally enjoyed sandwiches in modern history. Likewise, Calvin is a perfectly funny — albeit bratty – cartoon character and, similarly, Hobbes is a charming and occasionally profound tiger. But it’s their pairing that creates something greater: a friendship that serves as a vehicle for an entire comic strip, a philosophical and temperamental foil for each character to bounce off, and the sheer intangible joy the strip provides readers by allowing us to live inside their friendship. By fusing two independently enjoyable ingredients, an effective pairing can not only allow for a greater appreciation of the pair’s individual components, it can simultaneously create something richer and more meaningful in the magic as well.
In the past year as I stood around at a house show, engaged in my normal Saturday night rituals of alternating between watching whatever band was playing and socializing, I heard a statement that disturbed me deeply. Among the casual chatter it was delivered as a light hearted quip, one not meant to shock but rather to gently tease. It came as someone recognized my friend but could not put a name to the face. My friend, casually joking with the stranger, said “just remember me as the one black guy who goes to shows”. They both laughed and I did as well at the time but something about that statement rubbed me in the completely wrong way.
When I found out that Ben Hopkins was outed as an abuser and rapist I was heartbroken. I was heartbroken for my friends who loved PWR BTTM. I was heartbroken for all of the queer kids and young queer adults who looked up to this band who (at the time) appeared to really care for their communities. They were activists. They were one of us. They held space for a community of people who didn’t quite fit in anywhere else. PWR BTTM stood up for us. They were just like us, and when people like us are ousted we see ourselves in them and we lash out. We grieve. We process. We take action. We compartmentalize. We move on and hope we won’t have to deal with this again until we do, because this is work that never stops.
Black metal deserves every single piece of criticism laid at its doorstep. Let’s be very clear on that before we begin. You don’t get to base your genre of music on despicable, and sometimes plain murderous, figures and then act surprised when people levy enhanced and abrasive scrutiny against you. (I mean, you definitely can do that but it’s just childish and coy.) A genre which actively courts racism, nationalism, violence and shock images should not be surprised when people pick on it; you’re asking for it and, deep down, you fucking love it. Black metal wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the knee jerk reactions of mainstream culture towards it, clear and cut. If black metal’s original antics were simply taken in stride, if they were treated as the petulant children they so often were, the genre would have been stillborn.
Over the past couple years we’ve published two massive articles about the current state and impending trends of music consumption—my deep dive on the tough realities of streaming platforms and Nick’s bullshit-free synopsis of Nielsen’s 2016 music industry report. While both of these pieces had minimal references to metal, the research and analysis we presented outlines some staggering changes to the entirety of music, changes that continue to expand and show no sign of slowing. And though it’s been just over a year since I channeled my B.A. thesis on streaming for my deep dive, Billboard published a story that compelled me to revisit the topic and write down my thoughts as soon as possible. The facts of the story are relatively simple—because Billboard now incorporates track streams into the sales figures they consider, The Weeknd’s Starboy remained at #1 on the Top 200 for this week because it technically “sold” more albums than The XX’s I See You, landing the British indie pop trio at #2 on the list despite selling more actual albums. If you don’t see why this fact is reason for at least some concern, then please head past the jump to consider the following question – are streams and purchases comparable?
Ah, Meshuggah. Whatever one’s opinion of them might be, there’s no denying that the Swedish masters’ constant innovation has had an enormous impact on metal of almost all kinds. However, we’re at a point where the amount of bands that are either heavily inspired by them (or choose to ape their sound entirely) increases exponentially year after year; and so, the question of whether the forward-thinking giants can remain in their long-held position at the top arises. With a new record hardly two months away, we’ve recently been treated to “Born In Dissonance”, the first new track from the band in about four years. But how does it hold up, and what does it bode for the new record?
It’s become rather acceptable that at this time in my life, musicians that I knew who played music from the 60s, 70s, and even 80s, will pass away. David Bowie, Prince, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston are all names that come to mind when I think of “gone too soon”. However, when I woke up to…
Metallica is the first band that got me into really heavy music. They made me enjoy fast-paced music, aggression, anger, and music that just makes you want to headbang forever. For most people, this is also the case. I know many of my friends give Metallica credit for being their “gateway”…
As many may recall, last year the band Whirr said some truly insulting, transphobic things on their twitter in regards to the LGBTQ hardcore band, GLOSS. And, while I am honestly not a huge fan of GLOSS’s work, it frustrated me to see a band whom I enjoyed say such horrendously ignorant things, even with it being Whirr, a band known for their provocative, less than pleasant social media presence.