Paul Blom (pictured left) is an alternative musician (V.O.D, Terminatryx, F8, Makabra Ensemble), freelance entertainment journalist, movie-maker, and creator of the South African HorrorFest-, and X Fest Film Festivals – the latter of which ironically had its Extreme Music edition late September 2008
And so the wheel keeps on turning…
As has been the case with everyone from Judas Priest and AC/DC, to Marilyn Manson et al, Metal music is again the scapegoat for ignorant religious agenda pushers and buck passers. And it is no surprise that cases brought before the court trying to nail these bands all failed each time.
A kid in the South African town of Krugersdorp, Morné Harmse allegedly arrived at school on 17 August 2008 with a couple of swords and a black painted face, and several masks “identical to that of Slipknot” – they say he was dressed like the drummer from the band.
Pierre Eksteen (of a school support network for children) went for the age-old, pathetic explanation of “Satanic music was probably the cause”.
Through the eons, that which people did not understand, they condemned as being demonic or satanic – not many people of a more conservative nature understand Heavy Metal…
For a start, Slipknot is not a “Satanic” band. They incorporate dark imagery in the band’s look and subject matter, and in my opinion is a reflection of the world we live in. Furthermore these highly skilled and talented musicians play roles, portraying characters, very much like Anthony Hopkins does on screen as Hannibal Lecter. Do the moral guardians knock on Sir Anthony’s door when a serial killer eats a victim?
How many high-jackers, murderers and rapists listen to 50 Cent, or Britney Spears for that matter! What does George W. Bush listen to? Or the generals recently invading Georgia? Do they like Beethoven? By their actions they must listen to evil Metal music like Cradle Of Filth!
If someone’s musical affiliation is brought up and condemned when they perform an inexcusable act, does that mean the Catholic Curch is the cause the staggering pile of proven pedophile cases (dwarfing any vague Metal-Murder correlations?).
The uninformed finger-pointers are also unaware of the many Heavy Metal sub-division and genre affiliates, be it Power-, Thrash-, Death-, Black, Nu-, Folk-, or Viking Metal, as well as Rapcore, Metalcore, Grindcore and Industrial Metal, to name a few. Sure, there are bands who proclaim to be Satanic, but that it is their right of expression just like a Gospel singer has the right to back their beliefs - the genre however get a condemned as a whole and slated for being evil, full stop. What about Christian Metal? Is that the only acceptable one?
You won’t hear any of this music on radio or see it on regular TV, but you can watch suicide bombing victims on the news every hour, or moronic wrestling at prime time, almost every second day (with only a PG10 age restriction).
It is naÔve and narrow-minded to lay the cause of an act as horrific as this school slaying at the doorstep of a global musical genre. Everyone needs a scapegoat, and every now and then a killer’s musical taste becomes the target. And it is an insult to the memory of the murdered boy to denigrate his death as a mere byproduct of a band’s music.
And until a thorough psychological evaluation is made of the perpetrator, we can waffle on and speculate about his senseless act ‘till we’re blue in the face. Even if the kid (or near adult) says he heard Slipknot’s Corey whisper into his ear to go and kill for him, that is his own twisted mind, not the band’s cosmic powers of persuasion.
For moral and religious groups to grab a hold of this redundant argument is very sad and merely reflect them as clutching at straws and using a sensationalist angle to further their own agendas.
I’ve been listening to this kind of music since the early ‘80s, and played in Metal / Alternative / Industrial bands since the late-‘80s, incl. V.O.D, Metalmorphosis (Cape Town), F8, Terminatryx, and SAMA winners K.O.B.U.S., and I turned out pretty well. I had a good upbringing with involved parents – they hated our Kiss, Iron Maiden, Slayer and Metallica music, posters and T-shirts but didn’t stifle us. They allowed us to be ourselves and did not oppress our choice (too much). Not all school kids like sports to get their adrenaline going or chill the raging hormones. Some can do that via listening to, or playing music, or escaping into video games and exciting movies.
Extreme music is by no means a commercial genre with the kind of support which backs a pop singer like Celine Dion – but, what people tend to forget is that it remains entertainment – and it is our choice what kind of entertainment we want – just like it is entirely our own business whether we want a saviour who died on the cross, or a master who choose to park off in flames. Musicians are entertainers, not your children’s parents. It is your responsibility to know what your kids are up to, not a band who is driven to express their view of the world via music not everyone understands.
How many so-called Gospel singers constantly prove they’re everything but holier than thou? It’s more often all about the cash. With more Gospel categories at the SAMA awards than anything else, it proves to be a lucrative genre choice (even local soap Rhythm City is centered around the Gospel music industry where the one person is more corrupt than the other).
You won’t find a local Metal band driving the kind of luxury vehicles some Gospel artists zip around in (unless they have a day job, which every single one inevitably has). You won’t get rich off this kind of music, especially in South Africa. It gets little if any media backing, let alone radio airplay. It is outcast and chastised, often labeled Satanic without the accusers ever hearing the lyrics. In their narrow frame of reference this is “what hell must sound like”. Would the devil be so stupid as to pick a form of music which comparatively has a very small fan base and repels more people than it attracts to preaching his evil gospel so blatantly? No, my friends, the Devil is meant to be cunning and sneaky, so don’t you think he’ll plan his take-over via something every household would find “acceptable” or “harmless”? Like Enrique Iglesias? Hip-Hop music litters the airwaves and kids TV shows, with all of its pimping, hustler, ho clichÈs – how often do you see a Metal band on there?
Music has become the white noise of our lives along with traffic, and no single musical force is so powerful as to take over someone’s psyche and drive them to do their bidding – the disturbance was there already, created by the world around us, or a biochemical anomaly. If the music is the trigger, then absolutely anything can be the catalyst to push someone over the edge – it’s just a matter of timing.
Metal music is extreme entertainment, just like horror movies. Skateboarding and BMX is an extreme sport – and like music and movies often come under fire. It is also rebel entertainment, and those who like it wouldn’t really want it to be mainstream – but, they also don’t want it to be crushed, having to obtain it at costly import prices.
It’s all about perception – financial perception of the record companies deciding on behalf of a numbed consumer society what they should listen to. It doesn’t matter if someone’s farting in a microphone – if it sells, they’ll call it music.
The recent Krugersdorp upsurge in condemning extreme music simply makes it that much harder for people who dedicate themselves to making this kind of challenging music to practice their art. Who has the right to condemn it to the underground and making it hard or impossible for musicians to make a living being entertainers? As entertainers, Gospel singers get all the exposure they want and reap the financial benefits. Shouldn’t they be spreading the word of the Lord for free, because they have conviction and want to save souls? Why do they need to get paid for it? Why do you have to pay for Gospel ring tones and Bible verses on your cell? Shouldn’t these benevolent institutions pass the spirit out free of charge?
It’s not about God, it’s not about Satan, it’s about money.
Television and radio is littered with Gospel shows. It comes with a guaranteed audience and the built-in guise of “righteousness”, and a lot of advertising revenue.
Kids (and often adults) are almost automatically ostracized when they are into music of an extreme or alternative nature, and choose not to be on the rugby team. But, this marginalization is also a bonding factor tying likeminded music lovers together – one can even say it is a global brother- & sisterhood.
Metal and its derivatives is a style of music that you either latch onto and enjoy, or hate and avoid. So, if you dislike it, leave it be!
What music do Taliep Pietersen’s killers listen to? What’s the relevance?
After a football match hooligans are fired up, watching their team burning their energy on the pitch, not doing so themselves. If their team loses, they storm out and cause mayhem. After a metal show the participating audience is drained from moshing and stage-diving, ready for a very peaceful night’s sleep – the energy of the music releasing tension in both the band and the audience, the symbiotic relationship more positive than negative. How many post Metal show riots or hooligan rampages have been reported? How often does football “the beautiful game” get raked over the coals?
If we find out how many high-jackers in South Africa like to listen to G-Unit and local Kwaito acts like Mzekhezekhe, and Zola, you may be shocked – then what will the media say? There is no angle for religious groups in that respect, so their traps are shut – shouldn’t they be worried about the decline of civilization as a whole and not still try and fire their “evil music” blanks?
Extreme music has been under fire from the first groove cut in Black Sabbath’s debut record. I am currently working on a compilation album of South African extreme bands, called Kopskoot (Afrikaans word for “head-shot”). With the recent resurgence in the condemnation of this genre, the title has become even more relevant, as the situation of Metal and Alternative music being shot in the head at face value is unlikely to change. Will this new attack on heavy music lead to no stores wanting to stock the CD, further marginalizing the bands who worked hard to create the songs and need all the exposure they can get?
If you choose to have children, or did not take precautions to prevent it, that life remains your responsibility until your last breath, not once they leave school. Communicate with them, nurture them, treat them with respect and tact, not beat the hell out of them because you were, or ignore them, leaving them locked in their room with Grand Theft Auto video games or trying to play their Metal CDs backwards. Talk with them, get involved, find out what they like and hate. Be a parent. Be a part of molding a human being who can serve a purpose, not another biological organism continuing a pointless cycle.
OFFICIAL HORRORFEST PROMO CLIP
[ director: paul blom / star: sonja ruppersberg / make-up fx: clinton smith / dop: marnus tredoux / editor: leon visser ]
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