Can Metal Stop With This Gatekeeper Mentality?

Don’t tell me, I already know what you are thinking with that title. Yes I am guilty of doing such in the past and I completely understand I am living in a glasshouse with a rucksack full of good-sized dried, hardened lumps of shit. But let’s take a step back and let’s re-prioritize a couple things in 2017 seeing how it’s not exactly 1997, or 1987, shall we?

‘Member that cankerous old fart in 1984 family classic “The Neverending Story.” I’m sure you do. If you don’t then you weren’t creeped out at the right age before you found your Dad’s hidden porn-stash when you were older. If you had re-written the monologue between the kid with the annoying 80’s bowlcut and creepy old fart, apply by today’s standards….it would go something like this:

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Go ahead and admit it….we’ve all been this dude at one point or another.

Mr. Koreander: The Apple Store is down the street. Here we just sell small rectangular objects. They’re called vinyl records. They require a little effort on your part, and make no bee-bee-bee-bee-beeps and digital buffering. On your way please.

Bastian: I know records, I have 186 of them at home.

Mr. Koreander: Ah, all MP3s.

Bastian: No, I’ve listened to “Master Of Puppets“, “The Number Of The Beast“, “Reign In Blood“, “Tomb of The Mutilated“, “British Steel“, “Iowa.”

Mr. Koreander: Whoa whoa whoa, who were you running from?

Bastian: Just some kids from school.

Mr. Koreander: Why?

Bastian: They think I listen to out-dated music and call it “Dad Metal.”

Mr. Koreander: Why don’t you give them a good iron fist to the face, hm?

Mr. Koreander: Your bands are safe. While you’re listening to them, you get to become Rob Halford or James Hetfield.

Bastian: But that’s what I like about ’em.

Mr. Koreander: Ahh, but afterwards you get to be teenager again.

Bastian: Wh-what do you mean?

Mr. Koreander: Listen. Have you ever been James Hetfield, trapped inside the struggle within while the frayed ends of sanity are attacking you?

Bastian: Yes.

Mr. Koreander: Weren’t you afraid you couldn’t escape?

Bastian: But it’s only a song.

Mr. Koreander: That’s what I’m talking about. The bands you listen to are safe.

Bastian: And that band isn’t?

Humor aside, this is how a large portion of both mainstream and underground fans still act to this very day. This isn’t me getting my panties in a bunch over so-called “elitists.” For one that’s the biggest safe-answer and laziest excuse that a person can use in 2017. It’s like someone calling you a Nazi for no apparent reason. Second, if “elitists” still exist then they don’t go about proclaiming themselves to be such. Instead they are keeping to themselves and off the grid. Far away from trying to obtain online points. Truth be told I don’t consider ANYONE under the age of 34-ish a legit elitist. Unless they were actually there in the 90’s, but that’s neither here nor there and I don’t want to get too far off topic.

I get it. We live in a day and age where anyone can really find anything on the internet and the rules and laws of the old seem to practically no longer exist. Said laws of old guard still exist, but it’s just a small following that still practices those laws but we’ve grown older and are giving less of a fuck these days seeing how our lives have changed since we were kids. It’s kinda like how Punk Rock was based on nihilism and giving the system the finger. Those OG Punk Rock fans have grown up and changed with families, kids, and all go to bed at a decent hour. Of course they still have the occasional cold one with the boys, but at least now in moderation.

It might seem like I’m back-tracking on my words when I say these sort of things, but I can assure you that I’m not. If there is anything I dislike more is some mediocre jack-off who thinks he’s some all-knowing and all-seeing wizard gate-keeper from Lord Of The Rings to some unknown bastion of music….even if it’s music/bands I listened to about a good 5-10 years prior to meeting this spergy individual. And the pretentious cum stain is just mildly lurking around in the comment section of Loud Wire or Metal Injection FB page waiting for his key-master to arrive and vice-versa. Worst part is the fucking attitude. That I cannot stress enough. And not only to someone who doesn’t even remotely fucking care about his scared cow(s), but then also has the audacity to act as if he’s the only idiot that knows the bands he listens to.

If I might propose a simple solution to this minor problem that seems to overblown and out-of-proportion; if the person doesn’t give a fuck, just shut up and end it. There’s no way you will convince a Stone Sour or Machine Head fan to check out the new Spectral Voice or Death Worship and enjoy the reaction of them staining their jockey shorts. Or if you are trying to impress some 5/10 looking female who is a lonely Army housewife who listens to Five Finger Death Punch singles at some local watering hole to start listening to Sepultura. Even if you do recommend “Roots.” That like how I don’t expect a fan of Lamb of God to automatically start praising Immolation or Mythos. You’re best with joining FB groups or whatever other open-based platform of expressing opinions and finding like-minded people to chat with. At least keep the comments sections clear of this type of cancer that unfortunately a bunch of angry, pent-up, overgrown metal dorks have given the art of spreading the name an actual bad name.

I know this is a pipe-dream and I’m more than likely yelling at a brick wall, but this isn’t fucking Ghostbusters either so may be there is a chance that some day metal fans can drop this pretentious shit. I guess I’m more or less showing my age and own personal mentality and love of helping spread the name of Band X and going about the whole (and I quote Chuck Schuldiner on this one) “keeping the metal faith alive” but in a more down-to-earth manner. I can understand you making recommendations to someone who is legit interested in wanting to know more. That’s not my issue. FORCING people to check out a band and knowing they could care less and rather listen to what they want while you’re left in the dust stamping your feet as if you were personally insulted. I say to hell with those people. let them listen to what they want. But to someone who legit wants to know….just be courteous for fuck’s sake and don’t expect the world out of them.  Stop giving the media a reason to write articles that are going to  make you wonder what Corey Taylor thinks. Actually be a more civilized and less of a  neurotic human being, and just MAYBE that 14 year old kid or mid 30’s dude will check out and listen to your favorite music. Small things like that add up, but only metalheads with gatekeeper mentality are subtracting any sort of credibility and making it loose so much in the eyes of assholes such as myself.

True Black Metal Fan Born in 1995 Defends The Past From The Mainstream In 2017

Lord Asmodeous The Infernal One (a.k.a Colin Page) was in his bathroom at his parent’s house staring into the mirror and applying his mock Abbath corpse paint to his face. He had been saving up all of his minimum wage money for this month’s Slayer/Lamb of God/Behemoth show taking place in Orlando. He was super-excited, but not because he really wanted to see the bands. He was intent on finally finding his Dark Queen once and for all. Since graduating from Altamonte Springs High School three years ago, he had vowed to fully integrate himself into the Florida Metal scene and to do that he not only had to lock down his dream-scream-queen, but he had to prove himself unto his lady that he was the blackest of the black- by boring her to fucking death and completely defeating his chances of even getting a handjob (even a half-hearted sloppy one).

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I hope my Mom doesn’t walk in on me while I am trying to perfect my salute to the gods of rock n roll!!! All hail Norsk Arisk Black Metal!!!!

Finishing his Gorgoroth-inspired corpse paint (they all look the same anyway, don’t they?), Colin picked-up his phone to double check the time. He still had a few hours before he had to leave for the concert venue, so he would chill momentarily in his bedroom by going onto Youtube and seeking out posers who were not True Norsk Black Metal who might be commenting on his favorite clips of Xasthur‘s “Portal Of Sorrow” album. Almost every comment he read made his blood boil. One particular comment made him fly into a such a massive nerd-fury that it triggered him severely.

I just got into this music and I am loving it!” – BlondeWhitney03

It was a poser! Why did this insignificant worm crawl it’s way onto his internet turf? He would show this wimp a thing or two with all of the knowledge he had accumulated ever since he stopped listening to Deafheaven 5 years ago. He replied to the comment under his Youtube handle, the handle inspired by his first listen of Emperor‘s “In the Nightshade Eclipse” 4 years ago. The dark day spewed forth his brutality.

OMG, I’ve been into this band for 3 years now and I can tell you that this music isn’t even for you. Do you know anything else about black metal? Do you even Burzum bro? Are you even suicidal? Go back and listen to your Five Finger Death Punch!!!” – ThyCosmicMurderOfTheUnborn

He clicked the reply button and Colin felt a hulking sense of superiority.  He scrolled down the page further to find a comment that made him feel completely dumbfounded. He couldn’t believe this THING was happening.

Soooo did you hear that they are making a Lords Of Chaos movie?” – FallenAngelofDarkness666

Eyes twitching, pulse racing, hands sweaty. The pangs of nausea hit him all at once. The Jewish mainstream had infiltrated just like Varg Virkenes had said in last month’s vlog video. Colin was trying to come to terms with this heed of warning and having a hard time believing. His white anglo saxon family of upper middle class had no history of raising him to even think or consider such views, but that didn’t matter. The mainstream was exploiting his favorite form of music in the worst way possible. He had to take action.

I promise to go directly to Hollywood and burn down the studios that are making this film. It’s going to do nothing but invite posers and hipsters into black metal. The last thing the true cult needs is to have it exploited and put into Hot Topic stores! Black Metal was NEVER meant to be mainstream and these trendy turds are trying to do just THAT! The jewish media wishes nothing but to contaminate the black metal underground with it’s filth! Who else shall ride forth with me on my steed that is named Despair to desecrate their studios as a way to let them know that black metal means serious fucking business?!?!? Let us all be rid of these fucking posers who do nothing for black metal! When I was 15 I was already into black metal, fuck this poser generation!!!

Breathing heavily with massive anxiety and extra-dramatic emotions running through him, Colin checked the clock. He had to leave so that he could mingle with all the hot single ladies in the crowd. He adorned his spiked gauntlets he got off Ebay from MetalDevastation’s Ebay store, inverted cross necklace, and spiked collar that he got from Wal-Mart that was meant to be put on a Rottweiler. The last bit of attire for the evening was his spiked denim vest with a Marduk logo pack patch on it. He hopped into his Toyota Prius (grad gift from good ol’ Mom and Dad), and blasted Dark Funeral‘s “Diabolis Interium” from the speakers. It chilled his blood, still quite heated from the poser scum he was dealing with today. By the time he would arrive at the concert, he would be the unofficial spokesman for TRUE Norweigian Black Metal and be the gatekeeper to it’s secrets of the dark arts.

Upon arriving at The Beacham Theater, he saw the line was already moving into the venue. From a distance he could see a few females that looked liked prime prospects to woo over with his vast knowledge of black metal. He slowly made his way up to security and was forced to basically strip down every bit of his black metal garb. Forcing the line to be held up by an additional 30 minutes, he ended up pissing off all the Mountain Dew-smelling redneck Lamb Of God fans and aging edgy Slayer fans with mullets. There was one female who burst out laughing.  She still held a petite figure in her age and was wearing a Grand Belial’s Key shirt and denim jeans. She was watching while sitting at the bar with a friend. Her chubby/curvy younger friend was only a couple years younger, wearing a skimpy Perverted Ceremony shirt that she had crafted into a skirt while wearing a black denim vest covered in band patches by Der Sturmer, Profanatica and Bestial Mockery. Colin knew he had found the ONLY two human beings in an entire fucking crowd fit to socialize with. He adopted his gentleman-like and “nice guy” traits and offered to purchase the two ladies drinks. After introducing himself as Lord Asmodeous The Infernal One to the one he had his particular eyes on, it went all fucking downhill.

I like black metal too. You like Behemoth? I read ‘Lords of Chaos’ three whole years ago. Burzum is cool but have you heard Nokturnal Mortum? Probably not, they’re Ukrainian and hella underground. Check out this cool band I just found, Deathspell Omega.

She just stared at him. Internally screaming out to God -only she knew damn well he wouldn’t hear the cries for help.

Here’s a clip of me playing my Flying V shirtless in my parent’s garage, it’s a Death cover. RIP Chuck.” He flipped thru his photos on his Iphone that had a Watain phone case on it.

That’s cool. I guess.” She was beyond unimpressed. This motherfucker was boring her to tears and was making her drier than the Sahara desert. After about 30 minutes of completely sperging out and making himself out to be an obnoxious twat, the two ladies kept spacing themselves away from the dude and made it known that they were tired of listening to his entire self-absorbed personality. They would simply go have fun elsewhere at the show while completely avoiding eye contact and interaction with this try-hard for the rest of the night.

For the rest of the show, Colin stood at the very back of the crowd and crossed his arms in true contemptuous stance. This had been the 27th show he had gone to in the past 3 years and the same thing happened every single time. He was pissed and whenever he got back home, he would channel all of his satanic fury into writing music that sounded like a terrible version of Ancient‘s “Mad Grandiose Bloodfiends” (minus the vampires and keyboards). He had decided long ago that keyboards are for pussies and not metal at all.

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“NO SUBSTITUES ACCEPTED! I MUST FIND MY DARK QUEEN TO PERFORM GOAT-WORSHIPPING RITUALS OF DECADENCE WITH!!!”

47 Year Old Metal Fan Living In Tampa Is Still An Overgrown Edgy 16 year Old!

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So there he was. Mr. Dave Warner woke up with his lower back aching on his sagging Serta mattress and prepared to face another day of the miserable life he had created for himself.  He’d always installed himself as the life of the party, but the party was catching up with him. Next month would be his 47th birthday but he was sputtering on fumes just to get there. He woke up in the usual Debbie downer style that he was accustomed to- reaching for likes on social media with self loathing posts. Afterward, he would start by self-medicating with a 24 pack of Natty Ice, then pick up some weed, take a trip to the local dive bar where he might get a few bumps of coke off the local crystal meth dealer in a bathroom, possibly make an ass of himself, and, if he made it home, pass out on the couch.

He rolled his morbidly obese body out of bed and moved sluggishly through the house, gasping for air.  He hobbled over to the kitchen table to take all the medications that he was prescribed. The Prozac and Xanax kept him from falling back into depression. Rounding out his dailies were Metformin for the diabetes, the Lyrica for diabetic nerve pain in his swollen feet,  Prednisone for psoriasis and the Albuterol inhaler to manage the out of control asthma and COPD. He also indulged in  Oxycontin, what with the bulging slipped disc in his lumbar region of the spine spawned from years of not exercising and carrying a mass of weight on his pint-sized frame. Last but not least, he relied on his hormone therapy regimen and thyroid meds to help with his unusually low T levels. With a 5’1″ frame carrying 375 lbs, he had carefully crafted a BMI that would make most physicians eyes go blind upon first sight. He used to be the out-of-control ‘party’ dude and the ‘wild and crazy’ guy who was a ‘rock n roll rebel’. He always said he was going to “shake shit up” with his band Death Wizard. Death Wizard had only played three shows in their entire 15 years of existence, but he still considered the band and his boys his life’s work. These days he was so terribly out of shape that every other week he was convinced he was dying and became a regular fixture at the Emergency Room. Through Medicaid he was able to get the medicine that he needed to prolong his miserable and partying lifestyle.

Dave always knew it was just a matter of time before he found the “right people” to jam with. He was going to get his dream of being famous off the ground and running . He fantasized about sharing the stage with Slayer and Morbid Angel. He wanted Evangelical Christians protesting outside of his shows the way he had seen them protest outside of the Genitorturers show in Tampa in 1995. He imagined going onto the Jerry Springer Show during daytime television and saying outrageous stuff like “GG Allin is God!” and that he “worshiped the altar of rock n roll!!!” while quoting lyrics by The Mentors and Gardy-Loo in a complete manic-like state. He just wanted to get back at all the rednecks and jocks who had made his life hell in high school. He needed to make every girl that turned him down and told him to fuck off regret that they decided to go with healthy, fully functioning guys who had stable careers and made them feel secure. He had to turn the clocks back to keep the party and zany antics going on forever. More than anything, he dreamed of being the dude that NOBODY could tell what to do – he should do whatever he wanted whenever his young heart pleased, even if his heart was beyond clogged and at risk for a heart attack.

It seemed like those dreams were still far away. All he really needed was the right people. Those right people did not include his now retired parents who had owned the same house for the past 40 years. Dave still remembered the day he moved into that house. He was 13 with a head full of hair and a “Mom’s Special” bowl cut that touched the tips of his ears. He remembers wearing a Motley CrueShout At The Devil” tour shirt that he copped from a friend who, let’s face it,  was a fucking poser. Those right people didn’t include his one girlfriend from 15 years ago that he was still brooding over. That break-up was the one which he contributed his years of hard partying and constant self-medication to. Those right people didn’t include his son who was supporting himself and his wife as a plumber and who was planning for a family of his own. He rarely talked to his wife who ringed his ass financially through the past 15 years of child support. Those right people didn’t include his brother who was about to retire from the Air Force with full VA benefits. In fact all the right people didn’t include ANYONE that actually knew him, which was 4 people total. They had all more or less given up on him after numerous attempts to get him the help he needed to get him into a better state of living. Oh sure, he attended the local Everest University located off Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd for computer programming . He proclaimed at age 42 that programming was his passion in life. He thought it was the sure-fire way to get everyone to respect him again and to also get them off his back. He was just trying to bide time. Outside of his failed attempt at trying to have a career in computer programming, his time was well-spent smoking pot, drinking Jaeger and blasting Slayer all hours of the night so that he could piss-off who he referred to as his “faggot” Christian neighbors. Time was well spent making lists of all he wanted to do with Death Wizard. To solidify his commitment, he even went to a local tattoo shop and got a huge anarchy symbol tattooed on his right shoulder. The tattoo artist welched him a good $300 for it and claimed it was a great price. He had never gotten any tattoos before. He did consider getting a barbed wire tattoo around his leg as a way of showing people he was not to be messed with for a whopping $500 price tag. He was still deciding on whether to get that one or not.

He just looked back on this and wondered -where did all the good times go? Fuck it. Today he was going to ‘live it up’ and continue those good times. To hell with the ‘man’!

He started off his productive day by updating the same profile photo on FB that he originally used 5 years ago and posted it three times in a row. Then he posted a status update of  himself- “Tired of being single and feeling that no woman ever wants me”. About an hour later he posted another status update and talked about doing nothing but wanting to “have sex and fuck all the hot young college sluts.” The third status update came an hour later -“Man, I wanna rock n roll all night and party everyday, but I don’t want to listen to faggot disco music and sell-out!” Only two likes for each, but those were from people he called “friends”  he met on the Plenty Of Fish dating website. Two of those friends were females who he had briefly chatted with on the dating website and had long since found mentally and financially stable boyfriends and husbands. 30 minutes after the third post, he updated his status again a fourth time stating how much he hated Republicans and cursed Donald Trump’s name and screamed about how he was going to be stripped of his entitled American benefits. He looked at his Casio wrist watch and then started to get ready for work. He just started working at Burger King two weeks ago but his health made him feel so out of shape. He called into work and when his manager told him he was getting fired, Dave was triggered in thinking it was another person telling him what to do with his life. “YOU’RE A FUCKING ASSHOLE! I HOPE SATAN BUTTFUCKS YOU AND RAPES YOUR WIFE AND FORCE FEEDS YOUR CHILDREN TO EAT SHIT!!!”  He slammed the phone down on the plastic Ikea table. He got up and proceeded to slip on a Slayer shirt he purchased at Hot Topic back in 2005 and put on his baggy, dirty Jnco denim shorts that he found for $5 at a local Salvation Army store- they smelled like senior citizens and moth balls. He put on white socks that came up to his calves and slipped on a pair of shabby all-white New Balance shoes his brother got for him from Sears for his last birthday. He wobbled out of his roach-infested trailer and hobbled over to his beat-up 1992 Dodge Neon. He bought the car for $400 from some alcoholic from the neighboring trailer park last year. He was told it was in “excellent shape” but he was now the proud owner of a car with no air conditioning and an oil leak. Already out of breath, he sat down in the broken driver’s seat, pulled out the Metro PCS LG phone that his parents bought for him and did a Facebook live stream. He told everyone about Death Wizard getting back together for the umpteenth time. He would tell everyone like twice a month but everyone knew he was just saying it for attention.

The music was “going to be a bit on the heavy metal side. Not like that faggot disco music or anything posers listen to.Death Wizard was all that he dreamed about. Outside of Death Wizard, he sang in a band called Dickbutt who sang about “fucking sluts in their butts”. It was nothing more than a crappy Punk band that sounded like a lazy Sex Pistols cover band. Sex Pistols, NOFX, and Rancid were the extent of what he knew about Punk music. He always thought that punk rock music was for posers. As far as Death Wizard went, the music was described as a “heavy as hell metal band”. It was nothing more than an atrocious Metallica/Slayer mish-mash of completely uninspired riffs and nights of partying and drinking Natty Ice from the local Marathon gas station. Song titles include  “You Fucked Us Up,” “I Get High,” “Dick In My Hand,” “You Don’t Know Fucking Shit,” “Fuck Your Goddamn,” “Bullshit I’ve Dealt With In My Life” and the little ditty about ‘fucking sluts up their butts’ which he was still trying to give an appropriate title to. He was a local legend and important to the Tampa Bay metal scene in his own mind. He had tried to attract a local musician who was in some semi-famous death metal band from the 90’s, but after the gentleman dealt with Dave’s shit for about two weeks he gave up. He saw Dave as just another white trash loser douchebag from one of the various trailer parks in the area and made fun of him whenever he updated his status on Facebook.

Man, I really can’t stand some people. Those that tell you what to do with your life. Those that try and think they know what is best with you and all they do is hold you back“, he slurred through his live post for fifteen minutes. He put his cell phone in the corn-syrup stained middle console drink holder and drove over to another trailer park a few minutes away from his. He pulled up to a mildew stained double-wide that was similar looking to his own. He met some guy that he drove from the county jail two weeks ago. The guy had hitched a ride from him outside of a Circle-K at 4:00 am. In return for the ride post-central processing, the shady-looking guy promised to sell him the best weed he could find in all of central Florida. Dave KNEW that smoking weed was the best way to control his fluctuating mood swings and daily bouts of depression. He handed Shady Guy the money and the guy said “We’ll smoke this shit at the bar dude!” He was broke and his rent was due 3 days from now. It didn’t matter because they would be off to the local bar where he would try and mingle with all the females and tell them how he was a musician. Tell them about Death Wizard. He was going to continue to have good times that night. It was also karaoke night at the bar so he decided to sing Slayer‘s “Raining Blood” and dedicate it to “all the faggot ass posers and stupid Christians” in the crowd but not before telling everyone to kiss his ass. He thought this was a way he could build an audience for Death Wizard when he would hit it big on Earache Records and brace them for the oncoming storm of the return of, in his own words, REAL hard rockin’ metal! Shock and Awe! After he drunkenly and barely slurred his way through the song he went back to try and mingle with the females in the bar but they wanted nothing to do with him. He got so furious that they didn’t want to know the local legend that was Dave Warner.  THE legendary Dave Warner who years ago walked through the same bar proclaiming that nobody knew what REAL black metal was while wearing a Cradle of Filth shirt- the one with “Jesus Is A Cunt” on the back. THE legendary Dave Warner who would have profound conversations about how Jesus didn’t exist and that Satanism was a better religion. THE super-legendary Dave Warner who claimed that he did coke with Pete Sandoval of Morbid Angel in Ybor City while giving him his 3-song CDR demo that he burnt off his Dell Computer he got in 2003 by using Limewire. THE super special snowflake Dave Warner who one night while getting drunk vowed that he would never sacrifice his artistic credibility and ‘sell-out like Metallica by cutting their long hair.’ How dare the local denizens of HIS stomping ground not know the hulking mass of flesh that struck terror in the eyes of mere mortals of whosoever even made eye contact with this pint-sized wobbling weeble of screwed-up metabolism, thinning-out long hair, and a fucked-up grill that he received from smashing a microphone in his mouth while doing a Dickbutt concert at the same bar he was currently located at? How dare they deny him of getting laid even though he had extremely low testosterone from years of drinking shitty Natty Ice and smoking crappy fucking ragweed??  He was FURIOUS and would let everyone know the next day on Facebook. The night ended with him getting kicked out of the bar for being an asshole to all the females. His buddy that tagged along with him stayed behind and went home with some methed-out female in her late 30’s.

The next morning he woke-up on the couch. he didn’t remember how he got there. He looked outside and saw his beat-up ’92 Dodge Neon parked on the lawn. He slowly walked over to his PC and made another Facebook status.

Everyone in Tampa can kiss my fucking ass! Nobody is real and wants to stir shit up. I’m going to do what I’ve always wanted and write a book about a homicidal maniac who fucks sluts and then stabs them with his long-ass dick like a fucking spear-chucker! This dude is going to murder all of those rappers and their bitches and hoes and plastic money! All they talk about is their bitches and how much money they got! They don’t talk about REAL shit, man!

It got 2 likes from the same people the previous day. A fellow dude he didn’t know from Nevada who was 45 years old commented on how Dave “finally someone had the courage to say what needed to be said ages ago! Rap stands for Retards Attempting Poetry!” Dave Warner then updated his same profile pic from 5 years ago again and then turned away from his aging PC and proceeded to take all of his medications prescribed to prolong his life. After taking everything, he thought…

Man…where did all the good times go?

 

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(slow heavy metal music playing) 

Helping Yourself To Help Others; Being Strong While Dealing With Mental Illness.

I just woke-up to read that a long-time friend whom I have known since my reckless and carefree youthful days in high school committed suicide by hanging himself. Two weeks prior to reading this heartache-inducing news, another suicide on a mainstream world-wide news level hit me hard- Soundgarden lead singer Chris Cornell. Just fifteen minutes prior to reading the news about my friend, I almost posted a usual jamz status on my Facebook profile announcing that later on tonight I was going to see this band live at Will’s Pub in Orlando. The song was titled, ironically and in the cruelest of fashion, “Suicide Brigade” by Wolvhammer.  After reading the news I decided to delete that status update in progress and not post it simply because it was too much of an eerie coincidence and out of respect for the gentleman who had contributed the humor to my life that I was too cynical, unoriginal, and lazy to find at times.

For the last fifteen years I’ve had to come to terms with hearing about the topic of mental illness and dealing with it has been constant and very personal. If any of you have actually read my blog , I am no stranger to it. I personally deal with Major Depressive Disorder. I’m a prime candidate for never being fully capable of finding the light at the end of the tunnel. It also means I’m not the most hopeful or cheerful sonofabitch at times. I can be downright grumpy. I also have a penchant for self-medication, gallows humor, impulsive and risky behavior. I listen to music that seems to thrive and make bank on exploiting mental illness in the most cringe-inducing of ways. It doesn’t help when you come from an environment that treated mental illness and depression as the norm. I grew up experiencing and seeing the damaging effects it can have on not just you but everyone around you. Experiencing it yourself, it makes known that it is a chemical imbalance brought on by different factors and YES it is hereditary. It’s a constant raging war that at times never seems to be able to come to an end even though you might win a battle here and there.


As if you didn’t know how it feels to lose
As if you didn’t know how it feels to lose at dice with fate
At least have some dignity
As if it wasn’t a lifetime spent on connecting the dots
There was no pattern
As if the irony was more than a defense mechanism
And we could actually laugh for a change
As if steel hooks in our backs were more than a nuisance
And we could actually feel something

I have been approached more times in my life by people who to this day can’t understand why I continue to be the same person I always have been, especially musically. For a guy who has been on a cornucopia of heavy-end psychiatric medications that have included Seroquel, Depakote, and Cymbalta, you would think I wouldn’t want to listen to anything BUT music that promises good times and ‘good vibes’- music with the message of ‘Live, Laugh, Love” or whatever the fuck it’s called. One particular comment I received made me laugh out loud from someone whom I am not on good terms with. This clueless person said “all this black metal shit is going to fucking take you to a place that you don’t want to go.” My reply wasn’t a defensive response of any sort. Me having to explain myself to him would be completely futile. All I knew was that he was the type of person that would try to start caring after 15 + years of damage. Completely late to the party. As far as going to a place I don’t want to go? I didn’t exactly want to go there as a child. But it happened. It happened for a specific reason. That reason was to make me a survivor and a stronger, more well-educated person- more educated about how it affects myself, how to prevent it, and to help others around me. That’s helping others while not being a condescending cocksucker. I could be the stronger one. I could be their rock and help them. I could be there for someone when nobody was there for me.

I have always been open about my issues with mental health. I have always been brutally honest to as why I’m the kind of dude that goes around with sp00ky tattoos -with words inked on my own skin that say “a light that never warms,” and “no hope in sight.”  You can say that I do wear my heart on my sleeve. A lot of people would view that as a possible negative seeing how individuals like me can be the ones that are walking open targets for negativity, and it’s true. I’m not going to turn this into a phallic-measuring contest. I’ve had a nice big heaping pile of shit thrown over into my hole. If someone feels that I have an image, it’s anything but. It’s me being an overgrown 16 year old in a 34 year old body. Only difference now is that I’m currently medicated and able to keep depression, anger, frustration, anxiety, and panic attacks at bay.  The sp00ky ‘image” that someone may feel I have is more or less an outward expression of the music that I feel most connected to in terms of emotional cathartic release(s). As much as why I created this blog. As much as why I write and touch base upon this topic quite often. It’s a release. Complete and total catharsis. And for the people that can’t or won’t understand this; I don’t expect you to help me fight my battles. I don’t expect you to hold my hand. I don’t ask anything other than having an open-mind and open ears. Actually listen to what I am fucking talking about. If one would like to understand these notions a bit better then go over to Decibel magazine and read a beautifully written article by Krieg‘s Neill Jameson about the topic of mental illness and this culture and just about everything that correlates with it, both positively and negatively.

Both my friend and Chris Cornell meeting the same depressing fate- it’s a smack in my face by reality. It’s a pimp slap to the left cheek that reminds even though I may have some stuff going for me and I’m currently experiencing wonderful and overwhelming new things in my life, I have to keep myself strong. I have to stay strong, not just for me- for the ones around me. It reminded me that I have to call the V.A. Outpatient center and re-schedule an appointment with my psychiatrist. I reminds me to keep tabs on myself so that I can be there for others who possibly need the same help even if they don’t have the same access to professional mental health doctors and resources. It reminds me to provide them with the strength to continue going on and soldiering through the muck and swamps of sadness just a little bit longer. Even if that only means one day at a time, as cliche as that may sound.

Stop the fucking presses! Apparently Metal is the worst and is officially dead.

Plot twist: It’s not and never will be.

So it was a slow, easy day full of cleaning up around my house and jammin’ out to random jamz when something caught my eye.  A recent article for CLRVYNT.com written by David Hall(director of Maryland Death Fest documentary) popped up on my newsfeed causing a massive shitstorm. Like other writers for music-related websites, he is another person making rather cynical crass and asinine statements about how Metal is supposedly the absolute “worst” and is “dead.” The first thing that went through my mind was how this is probably the billionth time someone has said along the lines of what David Hall is trying to make an argument about. Unfortunately, I have to hear and read about it on my Facebook newsfeed. It was a stupid thing to say in 1997 and 20 years later in 2017 it still holds no water or weight. You know the old saying that goes something like time is a flat circle and that everything we do, we will do again and again and again? This is a clear example. Journalists, writers, bloggers, and online complainers have done this time and again. They might make the argument that I am the proverbial 16 year old trapped in a 34 year old man’s body because I continue to listen to Metal and I could easily make the case that they simply got old, stopped caring, and became the father figure that I am not going to show respect for- especially when that father figure has been largely absent. The article is a clear example of “tl;dr” in the most cringey ways. Combine it with an edgy as fuck clickbait title, you would think this was Axl Rosenberg of Metalsucks in disguise. This shit had me seriously debating whether to ignore it, or take a step back and give him room to explain himself. Well I did the latter obviously in this case. So let’s just breakdown this example of the misguided anger-cynicism-edgy bull’s eye that David Hall is blindly trying to throw darts at and failing to hit.

David Hall starts his shit-list of complaints with this gem:

Is there any other genre of music that is so self-absorbed, so desperate for validation, so pathetically obsessed with itself, so childish and image-conscious, so accepting of conformity and mediocrity as metal? No. There isn’t. Because metal is the fucking worst, at least in North America, and it needs to get right or go away forever.

This depends on your source, dude. If you are basing these observations off the Metalocalypse-inspired goofy mainstream metal bands that sound like the really fucking TERRIBLE miasma of Arch Enemy/Behemoth/Opeth/Machine Head crud, I agree. The same goes for the Rockstar Energy Drink crowd of Korn/Five Finger Death Punch/White Chapel/Suicide Silence mainstream bros with plugs in their ears. Mainstream Metal for the most part has always been fucking goofy as shit. Glam Metal in the 80’s. Nu-Metal in the 90’s. Metalcore/Sweden-worship and Deathcore in the 00’s. Hipster Metal in the 2010’s. Mainstream Metal will always have it’s trends and fads and that’s all they are for the most part. BUT, if you are basing this off bands who are currently fucking things up in a positive way in the underground, then my good friend, you are seriously misguided. Let’s continue;

Metal is a petulant little child that is wrought with an Oedipus complex, an oral fixation and a collective transference of identity issues (somehow stemming from a lack of identity) that causes it to be constantly screaming for attention. Metal ALWAYS needs a great big dick in its mouth to calm it down and stroke its melodramatic ego. Metal wants to be heard and seen. It wants to rebel; yet, if you look at it, it ironically shuns your gaze because you are not credible enough to soothe its aching teats. Metal wants to be different, but only within a strict set of guidelines. Metal is a tireless masochist. It suffers, it moans, it whines, it annoys; it is a culture of emasculation, castration, penis envy, communism, capitalism and third-grade intellectualism. Metal is weak, ill-formed, small-minded, an accident. Metal is modern man in search of a soul, yet it looks not to the heavens for answers — instead it stares in awe up its own gaping asshole, whispering with quivered lips, “You go, girl.” Yes. YES. Metal is a cliche, a reproduction, derivative and fucking lame. Metal is an echo chamber.

Metal is in constant celebration of a victory it has never achieved.

Ok, the “You go, girl.” part did raise a smirk on my face. I will be the first to admit that some of these things are true. Some of these are things people don’t want to hear. And some of these are just down-right fucking stupid. These are also some of the vaguest fucking crass statements I have heard. David Hall sounds like some random ex-writer for Rolling Stone magazine who is bitter that this month’s issue didn’t have that eagerly-awaited review on the 40th re-re-re-re-re-release of a random Bob Dylan album. Combine that with him trying his hardest to pull off an wannabe-Bukowski sense of smugness and tortured artist soul , just reading his vapid and fleeting words make me feel like I’m going to get a bad case of Taco Bell shits.

David Hall then talks about the importance of the first Black Sabbath album. Which at this point in the game of “I listen to REAL metal” might as well be this automatic safe answer that every writer uses as some sort of leverage in their arguments. It’s like an art student straight out of high school and going up to his university college professor who has been teaching his class for the past 20 years and saying “Art is dying. Dadaism is pretentious bullshit, but Picasso is the start and finishing statement of my argument.” After which he completely fucks up the time-line as far as Metal’s evolution and misses some rather important key points to it’s evolution:

From the first spins of Black Sabbath, metal grew fast. As bands like Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple focused on songwriting, riffs and performance, other musicians crawled out of the swamp and started to take metal in new directions, effectively creating the first subgenres of metal that would lead us to our present state of affairs. Speed metal, black metal, death metal; which led to doom metal, glam metal and thrash; which led to grindcore, technical death metal and crossover; which led to a whole array of sub-sub-sub-subgenres; which ultimately led to “blackgaze,” which, in my opinion, was the death knell of metal, and it’s where we are now, and it really sucks and is shitty and it’s the fucking worst.”

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FUCK ELITISTS! I’M GOING TO BE A NON-ELITIST ELITIST! NOTHING IS GOOD PAST A CERTAIN YEAR!” – David Hall in a shirt that I must admit I’m jealous for not having. Can someone find this for me? I’ll Paypal you ASAP.

Blackgaze? First I am triggered at this that he is not only being racist and homophobic but if he seriously thinks that’s an accurate timeline, then he gives an F for failing history class. IF my assumption of incorrect historical evolution is actually correct, I would highly recommend that he at LEAST read “Sounds of The Beast” by Ian Christe. Decibel Magazine has some really excellent reads concerning essential albums in Metal in all types of genres. Or watch any of the Sam Dunn metal documentaries on Youtube. Even as “For Beginners Only” sources of information, both are way more accurate in pointing out the evolution in an historically accurate fashion. How the FUCK did Speed, Black, and Death Metal lead to Glam Metal? That’s like saying Exhorder is responsible for the existence of Korn. Unless you were to do a Six Degrees To Nu-Metal, that’s a jump that Evel Knievel couldn’t make. And as far as “blackgaze” being the death knell of metal? Have you heard of Five Finger Death Punch? You want to talk about goofy fucking bands? There’s you an easy target.

So, what happened? When did it happen? How did it happen? How did a fertile, underground, credible, artistic and meaningful genre of music go unfettered for almost 40 years before it suddenly hit a wall? Well, like many journalists suggest, it wasn’t Nazism, misogyny, racism or elitism. It is a fallacy to assume that one genre of music is discriminatory — a) music is inanimate; it isn’t anything but sounds and words delivered on whatever medium is most profitable; b) music cannot “be” anything but music; any social and human behaviors attributed to music is transference and anthropomorphization; c) fuck off and put your personal politics into a medium or social construct where it belongs and works: social work, politics, medicine, engineering, volunteering — you can’t change a light bulb with a piece of cheese, and you can’t fix (or ruin) society with art.

I can agree with this for the most part. I’ll give him a gold star for today for not using tired, worn-out, and over-used accusations and slander. Good job in not making this piece part of the online social-political echo chamber.

No. Like most artistic movements, metal’s death blow was commercialization. And more importantly, the widespread acceptance of said commercialization. I can pinpoint the exact point in time when this happened: June 11, 2013. What happened on this date? An album called Sunbather by a band named Deafheaven was released. This was the apex of metal’s commercialization. 1999 – 2012 were creatively fertile, but financially lean times for underground labels. The vinyl boom was just starting to hit. Metal was not quite hip yet. Metal needed a kick-start. And thanks to commerce and cultural appropriation, it got one.”

Soooo, you’ve pretty much stroked yourself  for the first half of this article just to be ready to fire-off a lazy orgasm into your proverbial cumsock? OVER DEAFHEAVEN? Of all bands, you choose Deafheaven to base all of your misguided anger towards? If you were any less impotent, you would pass as a prime candidate for erectile dysfunction pills.

Like Black Sabbath — who did not invent the genre of metal, but perfected it and made it real and signaled its arrival in a measurable, quantifiable, identifiable package — Deafheaven made real (did not invent) a subgenre of metal called “blackgaze,” a combination of black metal and the indie rock subgenre shoegaze. Yes, many other bands played this kind of music before Deafheaven. Yes, many bands in the parenting genres of black metal and shoegaze laid a fertile framework of music prior to Sunbather. But like Sabbath’s Sabbath, Sunbather was a signal post. This post said, “We are blackgaze; we are marking this territory for our own; there will never be a better blackgaze album than Sunbather; we are taking a stand, planting our feet firmly and announcing that from this point forward, WE are the progenitors of a new scene.

And people bought it. Thanks to a propaganda campaign led by Pitchfork, Sunbather became a cultural force in the “underground” world of metal. Except it wasn’t underground metal that was listening or buying. It was children, and those uninitiated and unaware. You know how Nirvana’s Nevermind “invented” grunge, even though those of us who were there can clearly remember an organic scene called “indie” or “alternative” that existed for years before Kurt and co., appropriated it and sold it out? People at Dinosaur Jr shows weren’t listening to or buying Nirvana. People at Pixies and Meat Puppets shows weren’t listening to or buying Nirvana. And yet suddenly Nirvana dropped Nevermind and every asshole at the mall was wearing a flannel shirt. Well, that is Deafheaven and Sunbather. Nobody I know was listening to that band or buying Sunbather. In fact, anyone in the know resented their blatant skip-the-line success. But suddenly everyone at the mall was wearing corpsepaint and praising Loveless by My Bloody Valentine. No, the music on Sunbather isn’t terrible. That’s a personal call. Musical enjoyment is subjective. Whatever goes in your ears is for your ears only. But suddenly Deafheaven were everywhere, had the Breaking Bad of “metal” albums, and for a time, you know, it was fine. People wanted to buy their records. Sure. Cool. I mean, Pitchfork was guilty of selling an album as black metal that has no business being called black metal, but for the most part, the success of Sunbather was organic and fan-based: real, dedicated metal outlets pretty much ignored and/or scoffed at the band, and fans drove the album’s success. Hey, there’s no accounting for bad taste, right?

Stop. Please, for the love of Cthulhu. Just stop.

What happened next, however, was not organic, was not fan-driven or relatively harmless cultural appropriation. What happened next is what killed the underground scene and brought us to the point we are at now: Deafheaven, too $uccessful to ignore, started to be given credibility by the metal press. And even worse, other underground labels — much like the “grunge” frenzy in the ’90s — started to look for more Deafheavens. Blackgaze, and other nonsensical subgenres that have no business being sold as metal, started to be sold as metal. And bands began to change their style to profit from this. Suddenly, a niche was making money. People were selling out. People were following their wallets. And the worst part is no one seemed to care. On August 4, 2016, eyewear conglomerate Luxottica, through its child company Ray-Ban, released an ad campaign featuring Deafheaven. It used their music, their images and their story. (Well, the campaign spun their story anyway.) Suddenly, Deafheaven were brave innovators who stood up to their critics, and against all odds, released an album. They had courage! #ittakescourage. That was the hashtag given to the Deafheaven campaign. Metal. Reduced to a fucking hashtag and a sunglasses commercial. And the worst part? Nobody said shit. People loved it! And any form of criticism was brushed off as “haters” or “Well, Deafheaven has always just been about seeing how far they can take it.” The band sold themselves out and sold out underground music, and people fucking loved them for it. They were heroes. And anyone who said otherwise was a misogynist, racist, homophobic “edge-lord.” That’s when underground metal died for me. Not the music — I love the music … well, not Deafheaven — but the spirit and ethos and individuality of metal. Sold to a fucking sunglasses company. It made me really depressed.

I suddenly felt like I was in The Matrix or Inception. At metal shows, everyone looked the same and acted the same. Throw the “horns” up and party! Be blind to the conformity that surrounds us. Eyes wide shut, please. Buy. Conform. Don’t criticize. Go inside and eat supper with the pigs. Accept. Blame! Be inclusive for THE SAKE OF SOCIETY! WELCOME ALL CONSUMERS TO THE TABLE. MAKE METAL YOUR IDENTITY. CLICK. BAIT. CLICK. BAIT. MORAL SUPERIORITY THROUGH THINK PIECES!!!!!!! BUY TWO PAIRS OF RAY-BANS, THAT TAKES COURAGE.

Fucking weak, man.”

Before I disagree, I DO particularly remember when the accusations of anyone being against Deafheaven was met with the PC brigade- whatever the accusations they did and can dish-out in total non-sensible fashion as usual. Even I didn’t understand this and I’m not even invested in a band like Deafheaven. I’ve always been extremely indifferent to them -to me they simply don’t exist. I have way better shit to pay attention to, like David Hall’s arguments for example.

BUT

If it takes a band like Deafheaven for you start making comments like this, then YOU are weak. You are what we look at and feel completely taken aback. It’s a total sense of dumbfounded reasoning. Why take every negative thing of both past and present out on one single band? That’s a total cop-out. Mainstream Metal for the most part has always been more or less goofy. Even when the mainstream flirted with the underground in the 90’s, it was goofy to certain degrees. If you equate Deafheaven making black metal acceptable for swoopy-haired hipsters with flannels to cultural appropriate in 2013 as the death-knell of metal, then I would hate for you to be around in the late 90’s to early 2000’s when Cradle of Filth made it acceptable for Marilyn Manson fans to cultural appropriate with contact lenses and write shitty poetry about vampires named Lestat.

This was the apex of metal’s commercialization. 1999 – 2012 were creatively fertile, but financially lean times for underground labels.

I seriously doubt you were around in the late 90’s. If you were then you would not be trying to sound like some washed-up 45 year old Dad with a mullet wearing a sleeveless Metallica shirt – one who complains about how metal past the year 1991 sounds like shit because of “cookie monster vocals.” As far as metal’s commercialization starting in 1999? I think you have mistaken Nu-Metal’s success with whatever else you are talking about, but then I still can’t even tell.  If you had a point, you lost me. My advice?  Instead of giving a band like Deafheaven more press and clicks, go listen to new and recent albums by Blood Incantation, Loss, Power Trip, Ulver, Immolation, Death Worship, Nails, Necrot, Full Of Hell, or a dozen other bands and releases from the past 3 years that you can give more attention and energy into. Do that rather than make asinine and crass statements that will only grant you favors and sloppy handjobs from the authors of Metalsucks. If this was clickbait, then you one-upped Axl Rosenberg when he claimed that Todd Jones is a scene-bully. Congratulations Dad.

Closing statement to David Hall:

Raisin’ Hell: Life As a Metalhead From the South.

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Crackin’ open a cold one with the boys. Photo courtesy of Alexandria Erickson.

As a human being and speaking about this particular topic, my opening point is not directly based on any connection to music what-so-ever. Let me just start by saying that I feel it’s important to experience as many different cultures as you can in your lifetime, even if you don’t see eye-to-eye with them. As bullheaded and bone-fucking-stubborn as I can be when I want, I try to keep an open-mind. I know that where I live is NOT the center of the universe. Nobody else on this ball of dirt floating around the sun should think that way either. If you do that, you are really missing out on the grand scheme and big picture of life. But what happens when you come from a certain part of the United States that is viewed as backwards, ignorant, sketchy, and an area of general negative shit? Now combine that with the fact that you’re also a metal fan. That takes a bit more explaining to do.

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Eldehelm of Gravehill with Matt Heffner of Morbisidad performing in Texas. Photo courtesy of Alexandria Erickson.

Just a couple of months ago I had a friend visit me from the west coast. Where I currently reside in Florida came as a total and complete cultural shock to this person. We come from two completely different backgrounds, and I’ll be the first to admit that the first impression of the state of California invokes eye rolls. The idea that pops into my head is a sprawl generated by the mass media with stereotypes of gentrification, tech industry people, Hollywood celebs, health-conscious suburbanites in upper middle-class houses, etc. It’s the kind of place that would make me feel completely out of touch with humanity, as I come from a completely different world. To me, the only positive about the west coast would be not having to deal with the humidity-drenched swamps and general moist environment of Florida. I would definitely stick out like a sore thumb as well. Not that I would let it completely ruin my day, but it’s really the whole of where I come from -the South.  It has a certain stigma that I TRY not to bring up. It’s a negative stereotype that I’m stuck with even though I do not carry that ignorant mind frame with me wherever I go. Call it guilty by association just based on the region where I live.  The media which, as usual, likes to create these little divisions between working-class people of all different backgrounds, creeds, races, religions, etc. Because of this, people like me, people of the South, are the constant butt of all jokes. To this day in the year 2017, these stereotypes continue. Well I am here to help shatter that fucking mold and give you an insight to living life in the South as a metal fan.

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Elsie Bordon of Vile Productions and Chris Briggs of Universities Of Miami’s very own WVUM’s Metal Revolution college radio show. Photo courtesy of Elsie Bordon

Things get trickier when you add the fact that I’m a Metal fan into to all of this. It’s bad enough that in the past, southern metal heads have been painted with a broad stroke and generalized as uncouth. It’s even more difficult to make a fellow hesher understand that regardless of where we live, we are not at all completely different. We who are south of the Mason-Dixon line really just don’t give a fuck. And a lot of people cannot understand why. They can’t understand why this lack of couth hasn’t served us for any positive benefits for the most part. And with the advent of social media, for those of us who are more vocal than others, it gives outsiders the wrong impression. It gives them the idea that we are all fat, sweaty, McDonald french fry-stained Pantera shirt-wearing, trailer park-dwelling idiots. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Let me just sum this all up for you. Let me tell you what it’s really like being a hesher/underground maniac  living in the dirty south.

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Good times and good friends. Photo submitted by Elsie Bordon of Vile Productions

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Mob Murray of Miami’s My Phantom’s Kiss hanging with friends. Photo courtesy of Mob Murray.

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Moshing it up in the pit. Photo courtesy of Cat Anton. 

Let’s get to one thing right off the bat: We’re not all Trump supporters. Nor are we all democrats. We’re not one-sided when it comes to whatever political party is currently causing trouble in the country’s capitol. A lot of us are apolitical and that just generally comes from a complete lack of trust of politicians. Too many facets to that ugly many-sided dice. While yes, conservatives have an iron fist wrapped around our laws, many of my friends including myself have what many would consider liberal views, but politically-speaking when it comes to liberal politics, we simply agree to disagree. The majority of my close friends come from conservative-minded families but that does not hold us or keep us from being friends with others who come from different backgrounds.

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Hell’s Fauna of Ocala. Fl. Photo courtesy of Stu Everson.

Religion: That’s a major factor in our regional make-up. The church side of things is full of hypocrisy and really does give Christianity a bad name. At this point ‘the devil’ does have the best tunes and his infernal influence has been rather splendid because the music is honest and exposes a lot of what is wrong with things today. I was raised in a Roman Catholic family by very loving parents. I was taught excellent values. I still hold on to the ideas of treating others the way I want to be treated and being an all-around decent human being. The church however is the result of giving people power in the name of God which typically results in absolute corruption. Not trying to go into an elongated rant, but that bold statement DOES come from a deeply-rooted southern lifestyle that I have lived for the majority of my life. With the religion part said, a lot of my fellow southern headbangers are non-religious. Depending on the individual, you’ll find a wide variety of beliefs: atheists, agnostics, deists, and satanism. Some have explored the darker regions of the occult with dedication. All-around the vast majority have a rather confrontational outlook on organized religions of all sorts. Our previous experiences of growing up and dealing with snake-handlers, swindlers, charlatans, hypocrites, lairs, and what-have-you have more or less forced us down a rather left hand path in life. For some it’s based purely on defiance. Others we still have yet and refuse to see the light in the words of Hank Williams. It makes perfect sense when you hear the sounds of the South: Morbid Angel, Absu, Black Witchery, Nyogthaeblisz, Necrovore, Deicide, Grave Gnosis, Funeral Ash, and countless others are the ones representing the anger and bitterness towards those who have promised a light at the end of the tunnel through blind servitude.

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Devoted to the black arts of the coven. Photo courtesy of Funeral Ash singer Malfeitor 

There are other issues that we deal with. Drugs and addiction are always a hot topic in our day-to-day lives. Bands such as Down, Pantera, Crowbar, and Eyehategod have written about and sang the blues through drug addiction for the majority of their careers. Alcoholism, painkillers/opiates/heroin, and crystal meth are a daily virus that plague our friends and families lives and run the local news networks with stories of personal defeat. Why is it such a predominant factor? It begins with the fact that a lot of us weren’t born into this world with a silver spoon in our mouths. Throw in the fact that we are not located in say, New York or LA, -that “good life” is a dream that we defiantly give our middle fingers to. It doesn’t work for us. So we have to go out on our own and build our own lives enforced by our own rules and philosophies. A lot of us do not go to universities, by the way. We are forced to take whatever general labor job with menial pay and it usually means working out in the god-forsaken oppressive heat and humidity. I’m not here to preach or sing the gospel according to Jesus Christ, but I have seen nothing but problems come from drugs. The painkiller/opiate epidemic is by far the worst affecting every single walk of life and is basically a quick trip to living in a trailer park in the more rural areas where everyone is in a constant downward spiral of addiction, going to jail and or prison, or a life of crime. With that said, I’d say stick to weed if you need your fix. That’s one thing everyone down here DOES agree upon. Hail the leaf indeed!

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Serving time in the middle of the Everglades . Photo submitted by Jess Harris

While not focusing so much on drug addiction, there’s also its depressing sister named poverty. Even a problem within the major cities, it’s everywhere you go outside the confines of steel and concrete. It’s why we aren’t as(what we like to call) high-falutin as you city folk from the East or West Coast. Many of us are either in the more rural parts surrounded by swamps, bayous, mountains, cow pastures, or stuck in towns that had a massive shit-bomb dropped on them. Promises of prosperity and jobs at one point might have given hope to our families, but those all went away due to the passing of time and multiple lay-offs. The only roads that those shitty jobs lead to are a dead-ends, barely making past minimum wage. Some of us do live in the major cities such as Miami, New Orleans, Houston, Tampa, Atlanta, Charleston, Memphis, etc. Some cities are nicer than others. Some are dirtier. Some have more to offer with music heritage, particularly New Orleans, being home to Sludge, and Tampa being ground-zero for Death Metal.  A lot of those music scenes and cities are EXTREMELY open-minded in comparison to the more rural areas. Miami is a massive one where the majority of the population is Latino(Cuban/Puerto Rican/Haitian). New Orleans, Atlanta, and Biloxi, have substantial African American communities. If you’re the kind of person that cannot get along with any race other than your own, don’t come strolling through our cities. Simply put, if you bring that attitude with you then you’re more than likely to have a lousy afternoon. That goes double in the rural areas. Do NOT under any circumstance go out to those parts and start preachin’ about whatever is currently the hottest topic of racism, safe spaces, unemployment, or xenophobia. Don’t talk down to people or seeing them as somehow below you. People down here have a hard enough time trying to get through the week and they don’t need you coming around and making them feel like a giant lump of shit. Don’t stroll through here and enforce any sort of negative stereotype and fuck it up for the rest of us who have more serious shit to worry about instead of whatever the color of someone’s skin is.

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Live in Hell, Norway? Went to Tromaville High School? BLOCKED. Photo courtesy of Youtube vlogger Joshua Armijo aka runnerjma.

That brings us the the ugliest issue of all: Racism. That is by far the darkest and often misunderstood facet of our way of life. The idea and stigma of online social media and mass media is that we all are hanging up confederate flags in our windows as curtains. That couldn’t be further from the actual truth. The majority of people in the south are not racist. The racists you see in online videos make up a really small percentage of all who live here. The truth is that for many of us growing up, we had to deal with the bastard offspring of genetically and intellectual lacking late term abortions. Most of us who are all part of the same generation (Generation X and Millennials) all came from the same obsolete public school system where many of us were bullied and given a lot of shit because we listened to “that devil-worshiping music.” These were the same ignorant jack-offs who drove pick-up trucks that blared Hip-Hop music, while blatantly using words such as “nigger”(yes it is an ugly word and I personally do not like it myself) and did other sketchy things. In other words, these lowlifes should have been kicking their own asses instead of ours. Essentially it made us not want to be associated with said trash in any sort of way.

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Achin’ feet, warm steps. Photo courtesy of Jay H Gorania writer/reviewer of Blabbermouth.net

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“Born dead into this world, to starve and rot in agony” Photo courtesy of yours truly.

At the end of the day, all these issues factor into one thing. They make us Southern. Southern lifestyle is far different than the negative white trash and redneck images and stereotypes that are fed to you on a constant basis. Yes, many of us say “Sir” and “Ma’am.” Some of us come from families that still say blessings at the dinner table before a huge meal. And we all have many friends and family members all comprised of multi-ethnic backgrounds and beliefs. We are welcomed with a huge pitcher of sweet tea and a plate of soul food ready to to fill bellies and hearts up with the old stories of our families and friends that we hold very close to us. That happens right before we are hit with food comas and diabetes and want to take an afternoon nap or go straight to bed. We are no different than anyone else that lives outside of our region of this great country. We’re all struggling to make it on our own, and at the end of the day we all listen to and support Metal and have been for quite some time. So when you find yourself in the South be it visiting, driving through or whatever other reason that you have….just show respect and you will be given respect back, and if someone offers to feed you their family’s cooking, you’ve struck gold. You’ve hit the jackpot. Keep blasting out that ‘hard ‘n heavy devil music‘ and y’all come back y’hear!

Record Stores In The Central Florida Region That YOU Should Be Paying Attention To.

As a massive metal nerd that spends most of his time on the endless search for that next piece of music that will blow his socks off, record stores is an important part of this process that I’ve been more or less doing ever since I first walked into a Spec’s Music store and had my Mom purchase my first cassette tape of Alice In ChainsFacelift” album at the wee lad age of 10 years old. It’s probably the only thing outside of concerts that I feel my most comfortable in as far as social settings go and conversing with people…..unless you invite me out to a bar and get a few drinks in me, but that is a completely different topic.

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Are you a sick fuck? Call these motherfuckers ASAP and talk shit about posers! No wimps allowed! 

Central Florida, mainly the Hillsborough, Polk, and Orange County areas have always had a loooooong history of Mom and Pop record stores that have catered to the general metal audiences and most recently have opened-up to our brother and sister crowds being the Hardcore/Punk/Goth sub-cultures. But especially the metal underground crowd, we’ve always in one form of another had a niche’ type record store that catered to our needs even if some of these stores only last no more than 5 years at a time. Most of you who are older know of/heard of Ace’s Records in Tampa, Florida. The one record store that had every Death Metal band come for signings and autographs/meet-and-greet type events. Shortly after they closed and left behind a legacy. One store that tried to do this in the early-mid 2000’s was Splattergod Records located off Fletcher Blvd in Tampa right next to the infamous Brass Mug venue. After they closed the slack has more or less been picked-up in the past several years.

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Those Von and Sisters of Mercy posters. Do want.

Newest record store to open-up it’s doors to the ravenous metal maniacs scattered about in the Central Florida region like rats, is Steelworker Records. Several hours early of typing this, I visited the store myself which is located off MLK Jr. Blvd right on the edge of the ghetto area of Tampa. It’s located in the same building/plaza/business place as Grindhouse Video which is a niche video store that caters to Horror/Gore/Exploitation/Sleaze/Cult Classics/Sci-Fi fans. Steelworker Records opened it’s very well-curated doors to the public in September of last year. Hands down, this place is legit as fuck. I walked in and immediately knew I was in the right place. The first thing that caught my attention was a massive SarcofagoINRI” poster flag and a small end table that had all the recent Cogumelo-issues starting from their “Rotting” album. To the right of that was a YUUUGE selection of demos and albums on cassette tapes, most of them being from Wohrt Records (an underground cassette tape based label from Tampa, Florida). As I was flipping through the vinyl which had everything from punk, metal, hardcore, goth, noise, blues, jazz, avantgarde/experimental, classic rock, kraut rock, country, indie rock, and more, to the blank wall next to the huge Sarcofago poster flag was a screen projector playing old-school Thrash/Death Metal music videos from the likes of Megadeth, Mogoth, Unleashed, and Candlemass. From the selection I saw……hands down if you are like me being an autistic weirdo for metal or anything dark/weird/out-there, this place is definitely for you. If you are a false….DO entry and pick-up some killer releases from these guys. They are worth your time and money.

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Staying in the Tampa/Brandon region, we now shift our focus towards the series of stores with the name Sound Exchange. Sound Exchange is another Mom and Pop record store that has doors open in 3 locations: Tampa, Brandon, and Saint Petersburg. Not really a niche type store, this one is more curated to the general record-buying public. All three locations are the usual Buy/Sell/Used type record stores. They are also one of the longest standing in the Tampa Bay area even during the Recession of ’08.  At all 3 of these locations you can also buy new/used/vintage stereo equipment. So all you hipsters out there that want that authentic 70’s vinyl turntable…hit these guys up. As for selection, it’s no different than Spec’s Music but you can find something good every once in a while. I generally go to these stores when I’m not buying anything brand new or looking for jamz outside of metal and don’t want to spend $30 on an import re-mastered version from Europe such as The Stone Roses self-titled debut. Again, you’ll find all formats of music here including fucking 8-tracks!

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Bombs away!

Last location would be in the Winter Park area of Orlando. Located somewhere in the hubble of the more upper-middle class section of this particular area (it’s really nice btw I won’t lie) is Park Ave CDs located off Corrine Drive. The one particular good thing about Park Ave CDs is that the vast majority of their stock is all brand-new. Very little of it is used with the exception of a small selection of the used CDs/bargain bin….past that, everything is new and you don’t have to shuffle through a bunch of moldy mildew-ridden vinyl copies of Kiss‘s “Unmasked” to find a brand-new LP copy of Artificial Brain‘s “Labyrinth Constellation.” And this particular record store even carries cassette versions of newest/latest releases as well so if you just so happen to be looking for a copy of the latest Gorguts on cassette….they definitely have it. Add in the fact this is another record store that carries a wide-variety of releases from labels such as Nuclear War Now Productions, Profound Lore, Season of The Mist, Norma Evangelium Diaboli, Caligari Records, and just damn near about everything in between. If you live in the Tampa Bay area, it’s a bit of a drive but it’s totally worth it.

For the record (That’s not a pun, btw) these aren’t the ONLY record store in the central Florida region. There are other record stores located but these are the ones that if you’re like me, and are a music-obssessed asshole, then these particular stores are the ones that above all definitely deserve your business, money, time, and nerding-out.