Spinoza Ray Prozak Interview
this interview with mutlu yetkin of turkish fanzine studyoimge turned out to be a great insight into metal and the subject alike. if you live in turkey, support these guys, as they're thinking clearly in a world of fogbrains.
My oeuvre is an 'objective' retrospective that demands an individuality-neutral kind of writing. So while i'm aware that nothing is absolutely value-free, no gaze can be as neutral as to be purely objective and Metal can not be stripped down of it's instincts; i force myself to avoid questioning the authenticity of different approaches. I just try to trace the mutations of the Metal aesthetic and cover all that has been placed under the banners i focus on, while not staying totally blind to the genres' base instincts and strategies. But your writings are far removed from journalism and documentation. You're possibly the one and only Metal theorician who's trying to filter the 'essence' of Metal, and carving out a personal yet very complicated [and often controversial] body of ideas out of a subcultural history which many people regard as a purely aesthetic adventure or a parade of same attitudes and idealisms in different make-ups. So, in order to understand your opinions on particular matters, one should be familiar with the whole of your saga.
Thank you for a great introduction. I'll try to do it justice. You have captured the basic approach that is necessary, although for me it is not a distillation of essence as much as trying to understand what makes the culture distinct. Clearly, if it had wanted to be something else, it would have done that instead, so how did it end up where it is? In the United States, at least, metal has been a powerful indicator of social change and one which remains highly divisive today.
How did you discover Metal? What fascinated you in Metal? How did you start networking, Djing and writing on music? What was in your mind when you started anus.com? And lastly, what defines 'real', authentic, intimate etc Metal in SRP's opinion? What's your main criterion that seperates, for example bands like Cannibal Corpse and Pantera, whom you accuse as being illiterate, pig-headed and generic from bands like Master or early Sepultura?
I discovered metal through the music that my friends liked, after years of being first interested by punk hardcore (not punk rock) and before it, by distorted progressivish rock music and prior to that, classical music. My earliest experiences with music involved classical music, or at least, my earliest loves in music were that. I grew up around people who would listen to a lot of radio music and thus were familiar with music of the 1960s and 1970s, but I've never found in Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin the same clarity and depth of thought that classical music has for me. I listened to metal music in high school and credit it with showing me a path through the confusing time that didn't involve degrading myself unnecessarily, and gave me hope for being something other than a self-pitying whiner or self-pitying yuppie. That spirit in metal has always appealed to me. Later, I found that experiences like producing a radio show, live and on the air, were both frightening and appealing to me, so, having the opportunity, I pursued them. I have always been a writer and have had a similarly far-reaching background in computer networking, so putting these to use in service of the highest ideals of metal was a natural activity.
What defines "real" "authentic" "intimate" metal? There is no single criterion or main criterion except the music itself. To me it's clear that all things exist on a scale from the most simplistic to the most evolved, and the evolved things provide most of what I enjoy in life: thinking, interacting, solving problems, learning that which is eternal. For that reason, it's clear as day to me that a band like Cannibal Corpse is a distant ripoff of Morpheus Descends, and that Pantera are wannabes emulating Metallica and Prong from the late 1980s. Are they "evil"? No - there's things I like about each, but the whole package is always more than the parts, and, in their cases, the whole package represents something that is useless to those of us who wish to move toward the higher end of the scale.
This isn't to say I endorse a "progressive" view of history or any other idea that believes we're moving from a primordial state of ruin to an enlightened state of mind. That's the oldest con (ripoff) in the book: the idea that the world is terrible and there's a better way than nature, which is that which brought us to the state in which we're even able to think about such things! No - the world has always been perfect, and there are different places within it, from the most basic to the most advanced, which is often the simplest - but not the most simplistic (a word that means concerned with the most "lowest common denominator" motivations, like fornication, gluttony, amusement, etc). The "progressive" and Hegelian view of history is an illusion. But one can choose to evolve personally, becoming better at being what one is, regardless of position in life. I'm not at the highest, or at the lowest, but in the middle; however, in this middle position, I am trying to become the most evolved version of that, that I can. At some point, myself or my descendents will grow to that level and correspondingly pass to another level, all without leaving this world. It is better than what the priests suggest.
That which is authentic is that which expresses authentic thoughts. To me, bands like Cannibal Corpse, Ulver, Pantera and Cradle of Filth are pandering to an audience; they look at the crowd and say, "Oh, this is what pleases you? Here's our version, buy our records and/or make us part of your scene so we feel like we're important!" - that is the mentality of the crowd and of those who lack honor and leadership. It's more important to be honest and say "these are the values that are important to me and on this basis I create my art" in the way Morpheus Descends, Incantation, Averse Sefira, Belial, Ildjar or Sepultura did. There are deluded political bands as well, who pretend they're asserting their values on the world but are conforming to an ideal they think they should uphold. Most of these are leftist tools like Bad Religion and Phobia, but there are plenty of blockhead rightist bands who bleat the party line without exploring anything of what it means. I can say that Bad Religion and I agree about 60% in beliefs, and Landser and I agree about 60% in beliefs, but I'm not interested in artists who repeat beliefs. I'm interesting in people who make art to keep life alive.
Chris Mitchell, another interviewer, asked me a question about this and, I don't mean to be gauche or crude here, but my answer there occurred well and I'd like to simply post it here if you don't mind (you probably don't need to include this disclaimer, but I don't want to mislead about where it occurred), because art is what metal is and the better art is what I praise; the lesser art really isn't art, it's a product, or it's propaganda, or it's entertainment, and all of those are designed to keep you repeating something and to get you to do something very simple, like "buy this CD!" or "vote for john kerry!" or "be a false socialite asshole like us!" - here's that Q&A:
"1) Is there no point to art? Is art by itself, without any message or ideology a waste of out time?
Art is another form of communication; its message is the same message anyone might say, which is the process of affirming what they find meaningful and illustrating how it overcomes what they don't find meaningful. I think we expose ourselves to art to share connections to the process of life itself. Thus, art that describes the process of life is meaningful, but art that is corrupted by politics or sentiment, only, is an illness (I'm thinking of Ani DiFranco and Ulver here)."
The greatest bands, and I'd take examples like Enslaved or Demilich or Burzum or Ildjarn here, create out of their emotions, which they recognizes are thoughts, and are organized thoughts. They put forth a vision of the world and then explore it, finding a journey which takes you the listener from wondering what it is to understanding it, although you're not really expected to judge it as agreeing with it or not, just to find the simple beauty of life - discovery and the passion and sensation of living - in the process of descending into it. They don't propagandize you like Bad Religion or Landser tend to do (although Landser is better music than Bad Religion, and both are much better and more honest than Ani DiFranco).
During your career as a Dj, the Metal genre has experienced a hell of changes in aesthetic and discourse. How have different phrases of Metal's development affected your Djing? Were you willing to discover and mediate the new offerings in the genre? And does the criterion of 'radio-friendliness', which sets a standart lenght for songs to be played, limit your choices for your playlist?
Interesting and wonderful question. When I was first a DJ, there were no metal DJs in the area, so I just wanted to be one. Like the others. There needed to be one. My role was that of a venue or someone who puts up posters: I passed along the message and gathered people around a central idea (a radio show) to share the music. That was all. But I have my tastes, and I get bored with simplistic music and the people who like it above all else, so my influence started shaping the show. Luckily the DJ I started with, a really smart kid named Don Thornbergh, was good enough to say, "Look, people really like the heavier stuff you're playing so,... have a radio show!" He really was generous and I'll forever remember and appreciate that.
Once I got into the mindset of playing the music that I found was meaningful, something which I'll add was encouraged by the staff at KSPC who - despite whatever other failings they have, and whatever failed methods of choosing good music they have - have always espoused as an idea the concept of being selective about music and using that selectivity to better the genre and force it along the evolutionary ladder (thanks to Erica and Jos), I started to expand the show. At first, it was mostly late 1980s speed and quasi-death metal like Prong, Slayer, Sepultura and Sarcofago. Over time the mainstream stuff dropped out, in part because I had the support of the radio station in going for a "close to purer art" playlist, and this enabled me to stop caring about radio-friendliness or pleasing the crowd. I refused to play Pantera and Cannibal Corpse, and for every five people that alienated, I found someone who had a larger connection to the show. Sure, my audience could have been twice as big if I'd played to the crowd impulse, but I did instead what I thought was right and thus the quality of the show went up as did its importance, because instead of reaching people of transient lives and intellect, I was reaching the smarter people who could articulate the importance of bands.
So the different phases of metal... well, I came in on the note of the death of the speed metal, right before Metallica finally decided to chuck in the towel and become a pop band. At first I played death metal, but within a year I was rotating the best of the new (at the time) Norwegian black metal as well as some forgotten greats like Belial from Finland, and the result was that my show soon morphed into underground metal. I've never found heavy metal all that appealing, outside of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, because generally it's moronic rock music which is all rhythm and harmony with no structure. What I liked about classical music was its sense of design and structure. Naturally I picked music that was close to that and to my other influences, which in rock music were things like Yes, Camel, King Crimson and the Beatles. I still have a weak spot for AC/DC because they were so impassioned and unafraid to be simple, but their sense of melody and joy of living never wavered. Once the show went underground, it became a full-on phenomenon of its own. I can't even describe what it was here, but people would tune in every Friday to hear it and would contribute anything they could, phoning in the names of bands or sending CDs and tapes down to the station. Fan support was fantastic, and for awhile there, a community did exist.
Around 1998, I needed to leave California and my lifestyle there, and had an opportunity to move and took it. About a year before, the bottom had dropped out of black metal; death metal had slowed down in 1994 and three years later was nearly nonexistent. Basically, underground metal had become stagnant because the second and third generations of fans now had a template: "I want to be a brutal death metal band" or "I want to be a melodic black metal band"; it didn't take any brains to invent a style of music and make it structurally complex anymore. In fact, the classical influences (which came into the music in part through Bathory, but also through bands like Judas Priest) were starting to drop out of the genre entirely, replaced by a simplistic rhythm-music trend that I can only identify as coming from post-1987 punk (rock), rap, and techno. The music was dumbing down and my passion was fading, so I left. That was six years ago.
Your writings on Metal records are not simple record reviews but detailed and in-depth musicological analysis. Do you get negative responses from those who're alienated, confused or even repulsed by this depth of your gaze?
Most people don't expect much from music except a good beat and something new to talk about. They aspire to the simplistic. It's fine that they do that, but if that's their inclination, I don't think they should criticize those who wish to rise above it. Yet they always do, because of envy: they see someone appreciating something they can't see, and they get jealous. The ANUS site receives daily hate mail, frequent mail bombings, constant negative public mention and is nearly totally ignored by the press. We don't present the image of drunk, stupid, angry, out of control metalheads that they need in order to market their products, stories and self-image. This is fine because, as I said above, for every five of this type of person that I turn away, I connect with one who has the inclination and background to understand what I and the greatest acts in metal are talking about. Metal bands aren't homogenous, and like most musicians they can't necessarily articulate what they're trying to do, but if you look at the very best of metal, they all have this in common: they are serious about their art, and they share a spirit of independence and truth-seeking as well as certain historical idea backgrounds, such as Romanticism, national pride, naturalism, a study of structure. It is among this group and those who understand that idea that I wish to be regarded, and for the most part, I've succeeded (although, after the AOL-rush to the internet in 1997, I doubt many of these people will turn to the internet looking for real information).
"Information music", "neo-classical" and "post-modern". These terms often appear in your writings and they are of key importance to the terminology you use. "Information Music" has something to do with the structuralist intelligence of Metal, if i got it right. "Neo-classical" is your umbrella term that covers an array of alienated, adventurous popular musics. From Metal to Industrial, Neo-Folk and Ambient. And i'm aware that, in your dictionary, the term "postmodern" has nothing to do with the academically refined dissecting tools of contemporary philosophy. Could you please expand further on these terms?
"Postmodern" is undefinable in the context of academia, or at least was last time I checked. They make their careers from defining postmodern, so it's best they never come up with a concrete definition. My view of postmodernism is that it is an incorporation of relativity into modern thought; it began with Nietzsche's "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" and grew through Joyce's "Ulysses" and then flowered (heh, heh) into other types of art. It's a way of writing things, or making visual art, or making music, that emphasizes multiple viewpoints at once. It's also a way of collaging random stuff and claiming that you're doing the same, and a type of political view, in which the rising counterculture is freeing the people from the single-viewpoint of their oppressor. In that, it's a misunderstanding of the original, and these people should return to Nietzsche "Zarathustra" and Schopenhauer's "The Fourfold Root" (which inspired it) to discover the truth of this action. If you'd like an older source, the Bhagavad-Gita is a quick read.
Information music applies really to the music of Kraftwerk, as well as the better metal bands like Burzum, and refers to the tendency to use a motivic pattern to cause a melody to evolve over the course of a song of fixed aesthetic, so that without experiencing much of a stylistic change a song varies greatly, even poetically revealing a story or experience. I'd argue that Burzum is information music, especially the first two albums, and that other metal bands such as Ildjarn have a tendency to the same.
Neo-classical means any music with classical values, performed in the styles of a modern time. Obviously, this excludes some genres that tend toward structures contrary to the classical imperative; you'll never have a neo-classical techno band, or hip-hop band, or jazz/blues band: they're contra-structural. However, selected bands from electronica, metal and industrial apply. I'm not really jazzed by neofolk. To me it seems like a ripoff, but I haven't explored it much. Pre-rock folk music is more my style, but now you have to find it in "world music" if at all because "folk" now means "folk rock" like Ani DiFranco and Bob Dylan, which is essentially degenerate music dressed up in pastoralism.
Despite its intelligence and quality, why do you think Metal is not regarded as a form as valuable and creative as, say Ambient music? Because of it's public image as an adolescent and pornographically sentimental way of expression flowering from and returning to the "pissed-off" youth?
Mainly because of the behavior of its audience, and the fact that it allows itself to be marketed as angry music that hates society. Ambient music quietly makes its points; ambient metal bands like Immortal (Pure Holocaust), Burzum and Ildjarn do roughly the same, albeit in a louder aesthetic. But let me tell you this: as long as what most people see of your genre is Slipknot, Pantera, Cannibal Corpse and Cradle of Filth, they won't respect it. I don't blame them.
Your writings stress the intensifying thirst for organicism and authenticism in the history of Metal underground. An impulse to give up reactionary nonsense, self-marginalising attitudes, negative nihilisms and involve in intelligent action, constructive thought and procreative, 'pragmatic' nihilism. Yet in the eyes of the outsiders [they do not have to be necessarily 'prejudical'] or even in minds of some insiders, the process seems vice versa. Even to me, as represented by Mayhem and akin martyrs, Black Metal is the peak and perfection of for-the-hell-of-it self-annihilating urge – i dare to call it the endpoint of kamikaze mysticism: "the triumph of nihilistic will".
Nihilism comes in two forms. The first occurs when one approaches the concept with healthy values and says, "OK, so nothing 'means' anything out of the box, it's what I make of it, and the only reality is what is physically real itself, to which meaning doesn't apply as much as necessity." That's about how most black metal bands are. They awaken to being alive, look around and see in nature the complexity and continuous process of life, and they see in humanity reactionarism, a denial of mortality, and an indulgence in time-wasting amusement, entertainment and duty so that we can forget our mortality. Rising from this self-image problem is Christianity and all of the judgmental mentality that it embraces. This first type of nihilism is healthy, and even quite close to the Buddhist idea (and prior Vedantic idea) of "mindfulness," or seeing only what is there and filtering out the rest - the fears, the doubts, the things other people say, the social associations, the moralizing, the judgments of others, etc - but resembles the kind of discipline that anyone who has ever meditated or gone into difficult (non-modern) combat has felt. It's far different from the second kind of nihilism which is a "the world means nothing, I pity myself" mentality, and is really part of the same disease that is Christianity and all the ills of a modern time. This second form of nihilism, which is called passive nihilism, is like all passive things anti-heroic and has no place in black metal. The Norwegian black metal bands who invented this genre, as well as the early death metal bands, were if nothing else, heroic.
The first Scandinavian Black Metal bands claimed themselves rootless and distanced themselves very much from other genres of Metal. Their glorification of exile was very much like Punk bands did in their golden ages. What could be the motivation behind this self-imposed exile? And, as Black Metal is the latest and most mature innovation in the chain of underground Metal, do you think "Black Metal elitism", as claimed by some bands of the scene, is a favourable attitude?
Elitism is a celebration of higher values among those who understand them. It isn't really discussed, but demonstrated. The Scandinavians stepped away from the monochromatic angry sentiment, silly indulgence of degenerate and pointless minimalism, and lack of belief in meaning of most metal bands, and created something beautiful; not coincidentally, it was the musical and artistic height of metal, and of its popularity. There's a good reason they distanced themselves from other metal bands, and the proof that elitism is right is demonstrated by the "black metal" (really, "black punk rock") bands that have come after them.
Though i do not heartfully favor or curse that 'Pop-Black Metal' thing, in my opinion this turbo-commercialisation, 'Gothicisation' of Black Metal was an unavoidable process, something which does not totally rely on some populist-minded bands' decadent interpretation of a noble ideal. To me, even though the genre in it's birth was destined to be an utterly autistic, misantrophic and inhuman form of expression rather than an invitation to 'artsyness', the authentic imaginary of Black Metal was very resonant with the trademark fetishes of popular neo-Gothicism in it's love for dark landscapes and grotesque decorum. Also, unlike Death Metal which has always kept a 'fun' edge; the Scandinavians stalked some uncanny depths and their image became damn too 'serious'.. and the Gothicism came as a natural, 'karmic' response... And further, most importantly, Black Metallers of Norse fame was the extremest point in the self-asexualisation of Metal [with their hermit'like 'sexless' and evil faces] and Goths, with their fanfare crowd of dreamboys, vampirellas and belle-dame-sans-mercis were hailed as the saviours of the long-repressed Metal libido.. What do you think?
Goth and metal have always had a lot in common. Both realize that our world is delusional because it denies death, and that in affirming death, one CAN (but not necessarily always does) demonstrate the basics of higher value set. The artistry aspect has always been part of the best metal bands, even the rough ones, although they're not as articulate about it as the goths as goth musicians tend to come from the college-educated, art-school, cosmopolitan set, where metal musicians are often from the working or lower middle classes. (Side note: I use class to measure income and background. I don't believe in class. I believe in caste and every tribe sticking up for itself, and helping the best of its own. That includes both celebrating those who do great things, and drowning the failures, perverts and mediocrities in swamps.)
Horrible question. Scandinavian Black Metal surfaced at the same time while Grunge was the law. Both realities had attractive personas on their frontlines and both stories end up in messy, cathartic scenes. No, i do not have the guts to suggest an hermetic link between Black Metal and Grunge neither i can claim that Dead's passing away was a typical Rock'n Roll suicide. But i want to ask 1) What do you think of the 'suicidal tendencies' of Rock surfacing every ten year? 2) What do you see when you compare these different but in some obscure way identical subcultural responses which are fueled by the same zeitgeist?
Rock always has had suicidal tendencies, in that from its first days - when it was basically white country music with some black influences added marketed as something "forbidden" and "dangerous" - it has been progressive hype. In rock music as a concept is that idea that society is bad and no fun, and the counterculture - represented by rock music - will make it better. Grunge was an attempt to rediscover punk without the genre stereotypes, and really was a combination of sentimental folk-rock like REM with metal and punk of the 1980s. Look at Nirvana, who may or may not have invented the genre. They write punk like songs that are quirky, use a lot of punk riffs and are structured like metal songs, but have a lot of the vocal performance and emotional harmonic effects of REM's first four albums. Rock goes through cycles because it doesn't really have any ideas, and it follows the work of a few talented performers and then collapses, so it goes through the cycle again. Is Grunge really all that different from Jim Morrison?
You claim that NSBM is something utterly valuable because unlike RAC, it has risen from within the scene, carried out by Black Metal bands themselves rather than being an alien agenda imposed on the scene by outer forces. Oi Rock was a phenomenon that has risen from the stomach of the British working class. It drew inspiration from Punk's confusionist use of controversial political iconographia and it had some actuality, being a wave popped up when migration was 'the' problem, when skins were daily bashing fags and pakis.. Yet those NSBM hordes, they also are a posteriority but they do not represent anymore actuality than the authentic Black Metal itself. And i do not think the whole Black Metal mentality can be reduced to the NS thing. If this sticker had appeared in individual self-descriptions, then it would not be a problem. But unlike the notorious extremists of the Post-Industrial or Neo-Folk scene, the extremists of Black Metal love to group and gather under a self-made banner even though NSBM is just a scene.. not a genre or a style like they promote.. NSBM bands either play ambient and textured Black Metal like Burzum, larger-than-life Viking Metal like Enslaved or RAC influenced, rolling BM like Absurd.. To you, what are the distinctive characteristics of NSBM? In what ways it differs from an etiquette like 'Christian Metal'? If sampling Third Reich music is what makes all that difference, then wouldn't Kreuzweg Ost be the god of all..?
Black metal itself is now just a scene. There are only two bands today that play anything which has any relevance to that which made black metal great, and the rest is people making repetitive and mindless music. NSBM has followed black metal. The original OI followed the original punk into punk rock, and since then has embraced silly values as well. I don't think the black metal mentality boils down to NS, at all, but I think NS is one of the philosophies through which one can understand black metal. My philosophy is that of Emersonian Hinduism, as I call it, which is a mix between the philosophies of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Arthur Schopenhauer and Vedantic religions, and in that we believe also in naturalism, Romanticism, the meaning of actions being more important than their physical outcome, and the importance of nationalism. When you analyze its philosophy, NS = Nationalist Socialism, or the idea that every tribe takes care of their own and doesn't use money as a motivation to divide the tribe against each other, resulting in them becoming "internationalist" or of mixed heritage. I think even the most diehard anti-fascists will recognize that there's validity in this viewpoint, and this has historically been a viewpoint embraced by Romanticists and the most complex artists in the Indo-European tradition. Thus, I think there's good ground historically to say that it is part of the history of black metal, and I think it's beyond doubt that it was the founding belief behind modern black metal (Immortal, Burzum, Mayhem, Darkthrone, Enslaved, Graveland, Emperor, Ildjarn). To me, NSBM was about five or six bands that made a statement when it was relevant to make it. What qualifies as NSBM now is like most WP/NS music, as well as most leftist music like Bad Religion, people repeating dogma. Unfortunately black metal is in the same position, except that they're repeating the dogma of punk rock and not black metal. That's like Christian metal, in which people take ideas contrary to that of a genre and dress them up in something that resembles the music of that genre, hoping to brainwash enough people away from the original concept and thus, to destroy the genre. In black metal they're succeeding, mostly because of the selfishness of individuals who want to be "important" thus they create bands, labels, zines to glorify themselves, and, having no ideas of their own, parrot the leftist-individualist tripe of the punk rock bands. This has as much as any other single factor drowned black metal in its own excess.
The Black Metal underground is boiling with bands who revive the oldschool instincts of the genre. But it seems that Death Metal and Doom Metal scenes are away from this back-to-the-roots hysteria. Why?
Black metal is going through a phase where the newer people, who don't understand it, are trying to find its "pure essence" by going back to its "roots," which is an illusion since black metal's "roots" existed before its modern form, which was really its only interesting form (exception: Sarcofago). Death metal and doom metal are so similar to their roots in the first place that there's not much to go back to, but there have been revivalist movements in both genres. These occurred however when both were in decline, so almost no one noticed.
Metal genres are not one-dimensional forms of expression. They are expanding, multi-faced phenomenons that interact with each other and incorporate elements of outer, non-Metal styles ranging from HC and Punk to Industrial, Ambient, Gothic. Considering the situation of different esotericisms flirting with each other and the rising awareness of the Metal crowd on what's happening in non-Metal jenres, do you foresee a future where boundaries totally slip away, genres merge into an ecclectic body of popular music and polystylism become the credo?
It has already happened and in fact, that is the norm. Genres are something which arise because of the determination of a few individuals who key into a certain set of ideas that selected other people like. Think about the ambient noise bands of the 1970s like Tangerine Dream and Robert Fripp - they sought to express an idea of the time in which many people found experience, hope and desire. Metal has been a similar way. In 1969, the world was near nuclear war. The USA was losing in Viet Nam, the Russians were developing new missiles, and the existing social order was dramatically falling apart, with the people who represented the "new" seemingly just a more extreme version of the old. It didn't make any sense, but it could clearly kill you. Black Sabbath came around with this apocalyptic music, about eternal placement of souls and the Romantic values that apply to the direction of one's life, and what happened? People said, "yeah, OK, I was thinking of something like that." But that's not the norm. The norm is that all music exists in one big melting pot, and bands have a few variations between each other but are basically the same. Right now you can turn on the radio and hear rock, country or smooth jazz, but the difference between these forms isn't that great, just like rap/hip-hop and techno/electronica are for the most part very similar (the first hip-hop song ever sampled a Kraftwerk tune, and since then the mainstream forms of both have grown closer together). Metal is in the process of being absorbed by the mainstream. It really was a long road to the point of reaching underground metal where it had a chance of breaking away from the rock-crowd, but ultimately, its popularity caused it to divide internally as people saw that they could make a name for themselves in the genre. Just like society began to fail when it no longer had to worry about nature keeping it in line, when metal became a thing in itself and stopped worrying about competing, it began to fold inward. For awhile death and black metal held out, but after the first generation, they'd be inundated by emulators making simplistic, stupid, angry, blockhead music. That would drive away anyone else. So what killed metal? Its individualism. And now we're seeing the final stages of the decline. Heck, it's similar to what I see outside my window as the USA begins its slow descent into its own fall of Rome (this will be part of the healing process for all of humanity). Nu-metal absorbed rap, punk and metal, and even normal music on the radio uses distortion and metal-style aggressive breaks. For metal to keep ahead of that, it would have to do something like what Enslaved and Burzum were doing, which was to make music nearly as complex as classical music that undertook a narration, or experience, and with it went through a range of moods. It wasn't angry, simplistic music. It was semi-random recombinant jamming like jazz or post-1970s prog rock. That was the triumph of black metal, coming on top of something similar in death metal with bands like Morbid Angel, Incantation, Atheist, Suffocation. But right now, black metal is a genre filled mainly with angry people who are making punk rock renamed as black metal, with screechy vocals, and death metal exists only to a few who haven't become halfway to nu-metal bouncy Pantera-style bands. They believe that somehow by being as "different" as they can, and by trying to exist in tiny little dysfunctional undergrounds, they can avoid becoming what everything else is. But if you have the same values as something else, even if you look different, you become it. And the absorption has been gaining on us for some time now.
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