Sunday, May 16, 2010

Waiting and watching, part II - an ironic exhortation

I honestly can not remember another time in the metal scene (What metal scene - right? Wasn't it proven that there isn't any one "scene" at all? Let's call it the "international metal community", then, and raise our noses even higher in the air!) quite like this, or which felt like this time, this year and last year and maybe the year before. You might know what I'm talking about right now, and I don't even have to go on explaining things...as you're tuned in, coasting, in the bloodstream, part of the pack (for better or worse - usually worse, metal ruins people's lives...as Jeff Tandy of Averse Sefira once explained to me), you're...er...a parcel of the organism. We are in the middle of a long, deep, dark, chilling depression here, down in the depths/midst of the viscera where artistic movements either collapse inwards upon themselves, folding flat like overripe fruit, or gestate in their internal corruption and begin life over again, fermenting, rising, overflowing, bursting forth. Because I've been involved with the "international metal community" (head high, chest out, stomach in!) for some time now I've been blessed/cursed/whatever with seeing lulls, dead calms, dead seas, drooping spaces in the beast - basically long periods of exhaustion and reorientation in the progress of the viral infection. The energy of evolution has momentarily passed towards species of metal which I would rather see exterminated than drop into buckets of agar and yeast - dosed with acid perhaps, drowned in fragrant vinegar. In the wake of black metal's collapse and immense physical/mental/musical exhaustion - sated, dropping at the edge of pertinence, asleep at the wheel, given over to stale, stagnant clichés and misquoting, anemic, bloodless, water-thin gruel where huge feasts once reigned - which way are we to turn?

Is the world actually waiting for something to fill the space/absence left by the death of black metal's initial inspiration?

A period of experimentation ended...and what's more, truly dark experimentation, looking to express something monstrous and frightening in the soul, not prefabricated, shallow "dark art" for surface people, ended as we had known it as a thousand musical groups reached an epoch of quiescence and "aesthetic satisfaction" at almost exactly the same time. This is to say: a great period of searching ended, and an entire mass movement of musicians decided, all at the same time (perhaps influenced by the black metal movement as a whole, or the zeitgeist, international communication, new trends, new ideas, a generation undertow) to "consolidate" their findings and "mature" towards machinery of expression/communication that they felt could stand the light/scrutiny of the "more serious" musicians in the mainstream. In other words: commerce infected the underground...but not commerce itself, the entire "spirit" (what floats with the current? dead things) of the commercial, professional attitude towards art and music, the philosophy behind compartmentalization, packaging, bourgeois values of surface shine and sparkle - look at The End Records for prime examples of this utterly shallow, plastic aesthetic in art. Utility, then...art that fills spaces and looks shiny and new, art that decorates well as long as one doesn't look too closely or have too much pain in one's heart, art for the Brave New World, art for flaccid minds and weak eyes, art for the emotionally challenged, art for those who can't feel reality. And an entire musical movement choked to death.

Those who "prosper" at this point are the ones who never understood black metal in the first place, who were halted at surface values, who could not feel...

The metal community sits and waits, twiddles its thumbs, adjusts its sitting positions, crosses its legs, and a hundred albums are released a day and it's all just thumb-twiddling, leg-crossing music. Music for waiting rooms. Music for those who are waiting for something better, something real to descend again.

Metal clichés...

In the meantime there is an entire generation, right now, who are taking this sick, one percent solution for whole body nutrition, and who fill in the empty spaces in their lives with even more pretension, vanity, and posing. I suppose attitude - even the most ridiculous - can carry one through the lean periods, the desert fasts, the droughts and dustbowls, although I would rather starve while searching subterranean chambers for one last brackish pool of sustenance/substance...better to die in pain than subsist on the substandard (it simply can not feed some of us). So, back to sleep again, turn over, sniff the air, bury oneself in the moist dirt (soil of souls), feel the chill of an overreaching winter (that has lasted for years now), and dream...of darker times, of things that were real - and may be real again someday. In the meantime...wait, wait for the death of everything on the surface, and that period of rebirth after a holocaust, wait for all of them to fall to dust...

U. Amtey
8/17/04