As a teenager I loved metal. Slayer, Maiden, Sabbath, the usuals. Once I delved further in I became fascinated by the goings on of Norwegian black metal, reading stories in metal magazines about Varg Vikernes, Mayhem, Gaahl, church burnings, murder, pagan ritual and on stage animal slaughter.
Since then I've found it hard to keep on top of what's been happening in metal. There are only so many hours in the day and something had to give. I didn't have the rage any more and finding art in metal was only going to drive me to distraction. I culled it, along with Q Mag rock, modern punk etc, hanging on to Opeth, Mastodon and old Slayer albums. This evening, to my delight, I find Tim Jonze has delved into that murky world and come back with treasure, a new wave of American Black Metal. Read his article, it's very good.
It lead me to a band called Liturgy, whose singer Hunter Hunt-Hendrix has written one hell of an essay on "Transcendental Black Metal". I can't say I've read it all but flicking through it would suggest this is all this guy thinks about. The gist is that BM need not be so negative. Given that metal as a genre is conservative, fucking with it's foundations is always going to cause ructions ...add that that this guy is a pretty wuss looking Brooklyn type and you've got the internets version of a stoning. I don't care a huge amount but I do rather like his response to some of the binary mud slinging:
"A lot of people don’t take metal seriously as art, and a lot of people don’t take art seriously as ethics. That’s fine, I guess — but as for myself, I do both. These days, when people detect ambition in someone they leap on that person like hyenas. The label 'pretentious' is unquestioned as categorically damning. But I think musical culture could use a whole lot more pretension, if anything. It suffers from false, dishonest humility, and from a lack of ambition to be more than either entertainment or a badge of identification with a group."
Well said. Has lead to a bit of soul searching for me (do I really hate big band production or do I just associate it with successful acts and dislike accordingly. Do I really hate big choruses? Do I actually like Pavement or do I just like the idea of cult figures. Do I even like music or is it just a way my way of finding a niche in the world)
...worrying to an extent but yeah, I do like music, although there may be some truth in the worry.
The point of writing all of this is (I think) to suggest you: read more Tim Jonze, read the Guardian on music, don't dismiss entire genres, don't dismiss art as pretentious (unless it is) and question the music you listen to I suppose.
The other point is, Liturgy are fucking excellent and only some of their stuff sounds like black metal anyway.