Back when I started Metal Blast it was not only under a different name, but also with a clear end in sight. I never thought that things would go for as long as they have, let alone grow this much (and, believe me, there’s still plenty of growing to do). Not to mention that I never expected that we would actually develop a more or less loyal readership (we can barely get any of our friends and families to listen to us, so strangers paying attention is mind boggling). Don’t get me wrong, I have no illusions of Metal Blast being a particularly important player in the international press, but I am more or less satisfied with what we have accomplished so far.
Although I know that it is a cliché to say something along the lines of “we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you”, that is precisely the case. Well, kind of. I mean, maybe I would still try to publish the occasional rant about whatever the hell happens to rub me the wrong way that day, but I doubt it would be done anywhere beyond my wall, be it that of Facebook or my bedroom.
2014 was a year shaped by the increasing encroachment of Freedom of Speech that, sadly, is affecting the whole world, and this was reflected in several of my articles. Be it in the form of the criminalization of dissent that is affecting not only places like Turkey, Russia and Venezuela, but also several European countries, or the de-facto censorship of politically incorrect views, the world seems to be in a downward spiral when it comes to the freedom to oppose the generally held “truths”. While we look with contempt at the North Korean attempts at stopping a movie from being shown in theaters, let’s not forget that this type of rhetoric already exists in our part of the world, with people living in hiding because they drew a picture of the wrong
charlatan prophet, and whose plight has been portrayed by the “liberals” (a misnomer if there was ever one) as if they just “had it coming”or “they were asking for it”. We have come to accept as a given that some topics cannot be criticized or mocked, and so we are happy to see people destroyed, murdered or terrorized by saying the wrong thing. The idea seems to be that if you don’t want bad things to happen to you, you should just shut up.
In the realm of heavy metal, what happened to Cannibal Corpse in Russia, where the government made sure to crack down on their concerts as part of their push against “anti Christian” values, is nothing new, and it brings back memories of what has happened to bands like Marilyn Manson, Watain, Behemoth, and many more, even in many of the Western democracies that would otherwise paint themselves as bastions of free speech.
Social issues, as well as Social Justice Warriors, were also topics that we touched upon this year. We discussed with Melinda Tankard Reist the problems associated with the objectification of women, rape and the like. While I have been known to pull no punches when it comes to criticizing the attempts at making metal, or society, more “politically correct”, I have also no problem in pointing my finger at the very real problems that do happen in our midst, and that we should always be ready to tackle. Women are still the object of some abuse in festivals and concerts, with some people thinking that the fact that they dress in a certain manner gives them a free pass in regards to saying inappropriate things, or even touching them. Because of what the “PC Police” usually represents, that is the creation of an emasculated, passive and sheepish culture, many see this type of criticisms as a gateway to having a castrated metal scene in which the tone and the discourse are controlled by political correctness. Do not fall for those alarmists cries, and be open to criticisms and to accepting that some things do need to change if we want to make metal a better place for all fans. It’s simply about paying attention to the way in which the fans behave; I don’t care if you want to sing about fucked up topics, just don’t be an asshole to the people around you, male or female, and you’ll be OK in my book.
Speaking about emasculated music, another topic that caught my attention was the apparently non-stopping tendency of manufacturing the “rebellion” in metal. As prepackaged and mass produced bands like Butcher Babies, In This Moment, Black Veil Brides and Motionless in White quickly become “the next big thing”, following on the footsteps of subpar bands like Avenged Sevenfold and Slipknot, we come face to face with metal being more and more about the lowest common denominator. The rebellious message of heavy metal as an artform continues to dissolve, leaving political and religious criticisms aside, being replaced by the kind of edgy “I have tattoos and I drink and fuck a lot” message that already took over mainstream music. It’s a message that creates a sheepish society in which an “accepted rebellion” is promoted. You don’t complain about anything, you don’t know anything, but you’re covered in ink (sorry, #ink) you drink a lot (#sowasted) and you brag about how many notches you’ve added to your bedpost. Your mom pays for your tattoos, your mandatory denim vest with patches (pardon, #battlejacket), and you might even crown your asshole costume with ear gauges and a rainbow-colored mohawk. Now you can go to sleep content in the knowledge that your pointless, moronic, retarded and asinine acts amounted to nothing… but you sure showed them!
Seriously, if I see one more tattooed hipster asshole sporting a Ramones shirt, I’m going to punch his organic, handmade craft artisan beer off his hands.
I don’t want you to think that all of these words mean that everything is bad. On the contrary, as our reviews show, many bands are still putting out amazing material, and they’re making sure the flame of heavy metal stays alive. And I’m not talking only about obscure independent artists; bands like The Stone, Colosus, Exodus, Eluveitie, Judas Priest and Blues Pills put out material that demonstrates that heavy metal is far from over, and that all that is needed to make sure it stays that way, instead of just becoming part of “mainstream culture”, is for us to be a bit more selective in what we consume. Think of shitty bands like meth; it might make you feel good in the short term, but in the long run it will make you suck a stranger’s dick at a truck stop. Really, that’s pretty much what Black Veil Brides and Avenged Sevenfold are; they’re the equivalent of sucking dick at a truck-stop in exchange for drugs.
From the bottom of my heart, and in the name of all of us at Metal Blast, thank you very much for sticking around during 2014. We hope that you have enjoyed the podcasts, blogs, and every other piece of crap we throw at you. We wouldn’t do this if it wasn’t for your love, hatred, comments and occasional death threats.
I’ll see you again in 2015, I promise you. Stay safe, don’t drink and drive, and until we meet again,