Oh music. The exemplary sounds to reflect our inner condition as it pulsates rhythmically through earbuds, speakers, bluetooth devices and sound systems. Like pleasure, music can give us chills. And, just like people, some music rubs you the wrong way. Unless you’re like me and friends of mine, there is a chance that the music that feels like sandpaper to your senses is heavy metal.
“It’s so angry!” Say the hippies in an episode of South Park. Later, we learn from Cartman that they best way to get rid of hippies is to blast Slayer. (sidebar: Fun fact about Slayer, lead singer/bassist Tom Araya is a devout Catholic. Best troll ever!)
Metal dives into anger, frustration, disappointment, jealousy, consternation. No musical genre places clearer emphasizes on the Jungian archetype of the shadow more accurately than heavy metal. It elucidates the undertones of society that many are unwilling to face. The shadow stands up to ego in order to cast light on the unmentionable aspects of the self in an effort to understand them.
Avoiding the shadow constructs latent content that impacts the conscious behavior of an individual.
Heavy metal fears no darkness.
I would argue that Donald Trump’s candidacy is a construct of the shadow. He is a secular candidate that reminds his followers of a time that once existed. The hate and venomous attacks he spews are an antithetical shadow, the shadows true role is to bring light to the darkness for the purposes of integration. His words are antithetical because they imbue further darkness. His speeches on racism and fear of the ‘other’ (immigration) speak to the aforementioned latent content that reside in his followers. His voice acts out the darkness repressed in his audience.
The shadow resides in all of us, as individuals and as a humanity. It is an aspect of industrialization that maintains its repression through collective inaction. These include; structural racism, systemic oppression of women, the historical and ongoing genocide of Native Americans, removal of indigenous populations to make way for industrialization… the “lungs” of the Earth being transformed through industrialization. These are only some examples. Napalm Death has a lot more.
There’s even a deathcore (read: a subgenre of metal that contains elements of death metal and hardcore) band named Disfiguring the Goddess, perhaps referring to the maintained systemic destruction of the Earth.
The shadow opens the blind eye to the repressed nature of reality. It breaks through dissonance and one’s ego.
Metal’s association with the netherworld is not ill-conceived. Screaming, growling lyrics and iconography that is violent, brings into focus the true nature of our world that is challenging to face. It stands in opposition to the glamour and puff of pop music. It is concerned less with the individual, more with the collective.
Sadist Nation is from 2003. The echoes of their lyrics remain relevant (unfortunately) today. “One nation under the gun where forward thinking is shunned, a morbid tradition of archaic value systems…” It is a remote view of the structure of society and dominant heteronormative culture, maintained through a system of fear and violence. It is a way of thinking that can imbue our mind’s into a regressive state of trauma. One of fear, paranoia, anti-social personality disorders, neurosis and power-seeking.
Vide Infra is from 2000. Though indistinguishable to the undiscerning ear, the lyrics echo the importance of autonomous thinking, self-affirmation and garners concern for humanity as a whole. “No one, is placed higher, than another, no matter race or creed or gender; we much teach forgiveness and compassion for all life.” This is disrupts the culture of identity, identifiers that are the human construct and maintain distance between individuals. This idea has been further espoused by the poet Prince EA, watch here.
In Reign of Darkness (2012), the call is to deconstruct dogmatic ways of thinking, and calls to the listener to “lay waste the age of man, return to the Earth.” In the current vein, we recognize history is written by those who create it. The listener is encouraged to look into history, behavior and action to see what the world is, as it stands today. The age of man could refer to the rigidity of Enlightenment thinking, an era that emphasized the reproach of mystical thinking and teachings… and burned women and men at the stake.
Thy Art suggests that we as a species, stand on the precipice of extinction if our actions are not changed immediately, thoughtfully and thoroughly, to better work in conjunction with out planet. It also provokes individuals to consume consciously, as active participants without the imprinting of someone else’s perspective to influence one’s own. If we maintain the status than the same disfiguration and oppression will always remain.
Heavy metal brings people out of their comfort zones. There will be more written on metal in the coming posts.
Keep thinking, stay woke, break dissonance.