Protecting the Precious Flower That Is Music Journalism

Earlier this summer, VICE – the news website responsible for capturing, among others, Malefic’s autism on camera – published an editorial by Theis Duelund. The article can be compared to previous ‘think pieces’ calling out the black metal hive mind on its rampant bigotry. Noisey testified of this sentiment when one of its editors was crudely laughed out of a bar for bringing up Deafheaven, the only black metal band that has so far employed zero viking letters in its song titles. Music journalism hasn’t produced an exciting new voice in years, so why did VICE‘s article provoke a collective howl of discontent from the metal community?

“Somebody smash this cunt’s face with a brick. Its a fucking weak low quality bait by some bed-wetter on his man period who doesn’t even know how to string a fucking sentence together. Duelund, you might write about “extreme music” but you have missed the point entirely. fucking false ass poser bitch go read Lurker’s Path or Black Ivory Tower or fucking Trial By Ordeal you fucking pussy piece of shit. I would piss on you IRL for being such a terrible journalist, bitch motherfucker. #REKT”

– Commenter @degtBIT on Twitter about a day ago (Grammar has been corrected, which sounds wise-ass even though we left some errors in anyway ’cause WHO CARES RIGHT? – Mr. Ed.)

VICE’s spiteful and onanic code of conduct has kept a very tight lid on the true motivation behind the editorial; pretty much the only thing we know is that “Protecting the Precious Flower That is Black Metal” was meant to hop onto the recent bandwagon of defining worldwide phenomena such as metal with a few simple buzzwords. Allegedly, the main reason why black metal fans reject the band Myrkur is because its sole musician is a woman. Cultivating a smear campaign against metal isn’t unusual, but this article seems to have dropped from the sky. Who is Duelund, and why is he so angrily furious at black metal? The answer has to do with some unsurprising old problems and a handful of disturbing new trends in the world of music journalism.

Once online speculation had identified the writer, internet savvy metalheads figured out that Duelund is probably a fils de pute who likes to disguise his yellow press amateurism as as intellectual contemplation.  This Los Angeles-based scenester is, according to himself, a ResEarCh AssiStanT at Playboy, a magazine dealing in shopped, frankly boring teeny bopper visions of eroticism. Still shrouded in outrage, this quarter revelation nonetheless sparked controversy, re-igniting the tired conversation about integrity, the dead horse that music critics most love to beat. As one theQuietus pundit put it: “We can only assume this is clickbait, not proper journalism. De Mysteriis Dom Clickbait, if you will.”

Let me be straightforward and honest and state for the record as of now that I, myself, am personally at the moment one of the people very incredibly excited for this kind of journalism. This article holds incredible promise. This is high-tier (DID I SAY INCREDIBLE?) bait; poorly written, convoluted, suffering from a glaring lack of knowledge, but still set to rake in a lot of hits and advertising money in the Buzzfeed tradition (think Upworthy, Cracked, ThoughtCatalog). As a limp-wristed ignoramous in a world dominated by complacent editors, Duelund has the potential to be more than an appalling nuisance; the sensationalism of his writing suggests he is an emerging instigator of butthurt in the field.

Bier ist Teufel

A beer having metal feelings. Image via a flikker who likes Urfaust

Rather than condescendingly exposing Duelund’s writing for the abhorrent horseshit it is, I bring up his success in attracting clicks because it has game-changing potential to plunge black metal coverage into new depths by cultivating this obnoxious ‘outsider-looking-in’ perspective to a point where having any knowledge on the topic at hand is a disadvantage for those who want to get their writing noticed. Duelund’s impact is possible thanks to the generations of journalists who have neglected their duty and turned their profession into a synonym for slander and deceit. Finally, being a journalist no longer means coping the burden of “proof”, “audi alteram partem” and other infantilizing diminutions that echo the trade’s general discomfort with writers who discuss matters the existence of which was unbeknownst to them a week earlier.

But Duelund is not the first writer on black metal to cause a scene; earlier in 2014, an ambitious blogger burst into the online arena, publishing a lengthy hit piece on Swiss extreme metal masters Bölzer. Despite injecting black metal writing with a new-found political correctness by opportunistically employing ‘guilt-by-association’ tactics, the author was widely mocked for his pansy-ass posture: Look, a sociology drop-out writing about black metal!

“It matters because VICE have made a point to hide the author’s credentials because they knew nobody would read his shit otherwise. Having your facts straight means a lot to readers, so it’s best to state baseless assumptions as infallible facts even though your sources are random people on the internet. Readers want to be able to take your word for it, so the last thing you want to do is citing someone who actually studied the position of women in black metal who directly contradicts the entire point of your article. That might lead them to conclude that black metal fans reject the music of female solo project Myrkur on the basis that it is the same gentrified, watered-down Neigecore buggery that has been flung at them for years without pause. And that is just a whole lot less exciting than the assertion that black metal fans hate the music because it was crafted by a woman.”

-Commenter V.V. Putin in intoxicated rage.

Perhaps wisely recognizing that it is impossible to negate their lack of understanding of black metal, VICE has taken a different approach to its coverage of the genre. Appearing in the mold of a think piece, their intentions are concealed by an aggrieved, pseudo-progressive worldview, which sees them waddle in vocabulary that is meant to establish a sincere concern with social issues. But by distracting the reader from the true purpose – by attempting, as it seems so far, to keep them from seeing the reality that a considerable part of their output is the result of their rookie journalists not being able to fit into a scene that does not give a fuck about them – VICE makes an effective attempt to fool its readers into thinking the writers know what they talk about.

It’s hard to not read the nearly-immediate backlash against Duelund as a reminder of the scene’s seemingly bottomless intolerance of flannel shirt-wearing hipsters pretending to be experts on black metal after learning about Euronymous through Wikipedia’s ‘random article’ button in 2012, but the black metal community’s beef also has to do with a misguided disdain for pseudo-intellectuals. There’s a long proud tradition of nerds embracing sincere attempts to have their music recognised as a proper artform. What sets black metal apart is that it is so controversial that wannabe academics have to nerf it first before they can safely accept it into the artistic community.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puwllq0fBLs

Twenty years ago, a handful of bored Norwegian rich kids engaged in lengthy conversations about cornflakes in the record store of Mayhem guitarist Øystein Aarseth (better known as Euronymous) and were for one hot minute considered the most spoiled kids in Scandinavia (due largely to predictably absurd memes that ensued). When ringleader Kristian “Burzum” Vikernes brutally murdered his former friend Euronymous and burned down several ancient churches (and went to jail for fifteen years), the future dilemma for American suburban white kids was solidified. On one hand, black metal would make for an exciting new way to piss these kids’ parents off. On the other hand, they would not want to be identified with the extreme views and actions of the bands that were largely responsible for creating the genre’s characteristic sound. By murdering Euronymous, Vikernes gave black metal the power to confuse former punk scenesters by providing them with similarly filthy music, while not having the common decency to totally diffuse its impact with a naive faith in superseded utopic ideals.

In a time when magazines and blogs have developed a habit of catfishing audiences by creating controversies and blowing anecdotes out of proportion, Noisey‘s resident scribe Jonah Bayer describes mother site VICE‘s article with careful positivity: “It shouldn’t matter if the entity called ‘Theis Duelund’ has his facts straight, or if it is an elaborate, market-tested experiment emerging from the cynical desire to piss off niche audiences for advertising money.” It shouldn’t matter, and it doesn’t. I would argue that the publication of this article is making journalism, or specifically tabloid-style hit pieces, profitable again. He proves that you need not be hindered by an absence of knowledge, integrity or skill, as long as you can come up with cheap clickbait that rubs enough people the wrong way. Duelund is creating a new work method within the rigid confines of journalism and so far it has been pretty lucrative.

Follow Jesse Dolman on Twitter.

The editor of Black Ivory Tower magazine, of which the first issue was published in July of 2014. He writes about (black) metal, art, and himself in third person.

25 Comments

  • Reply September 4, 2014

    chuck

    this is the greatest thing I have ever read

  • Reply September 4, 2014

    Jonsan van Johnson

    Hey, I wrote the piece on Bolzer you cited in this. Not sure what prompted my inclusion, but if mine was the most aggravating article you could think of I feel somewhat flattered, so thanks.

    I suspect you don’t have much interest in talking about the issues raised by what you consider a clickbait article, but one thing the Noisey piece did get me and others thinking about was authenticity as it’s conceived within metal. It seems like a pretty bullshit concept to me that’s mainly used to exclude those who aren’t thought of as being authentic in a metal context. The irony is that there’s about as much authenticity in metal, black or otherwise as in any other form of music- which is to say, not much. Many bands’ images are as contrived and constructed as any pop artist, so those metalheads levelling claims of inauthenticity at bands that don’t meet their criteria are making a dishonest argument, I feel like. In a separate sense, anyone who’s deemed inauthentically metal, or insufficiently rooted in the music, has their opinion disregarded on the grounds of its inauthenticity, especially if they’re critiquing something about metal subculture they think is shitty.

    I think this is what you’re doing here, to be honest. I know you just wanted to take the piss out of an article you thought was shitty, but it betrays the same belief that, if a person doesn’t meet a benchmark of authenticity in a metal context, their critique/opinion is therefore worthless simply because of that. Maybe you do have a reasoned argument why you disagree with the article’s take, but based on this piece at least, you seem to be doing the same thing it suggests metal fans are doing to Myrkur- dismissing it out of hand because it doesn’t meet a definition of authenticity that, to me at least, has little meaning and is mainly used to exclude people from the metal circle.

  • Reply September 4, 2014

    Jared

    I second Jonsan van Johnson’s comment above. This article replicates the bigotry and intolerance of the BM community that Duelund comments on, while – almost unbelievably – failing to grasp that staggering irony. And for all the attacks on Duelund’s supposed lack of detail and nuanced argument, this article itself fails to specifically address any of the points raised. If Duelund’s points are really totally without merit and hopelessly ill-informed, then it should be the easiest thing in the world to discredit them with considered, informed rebuttual no? But I guess, as you yourself say, “being a journalist no longer means coping the burden of ‘proof'”. This is why, in the place of considered argument, for offer homophobic slurs and insults instead (“As a limp-wristed ignoramous…”); but where is the journalistic ‘integrity’ that you speak of in that?

    No one ‘owns’ BM (how is that even possible?). BM is a living and constantly evolving musical language – a collection of musical (and visual) tropes that anyone can use and adapt. The idea of BM ‘authenticity’ is total rubbish. Precisely WHY, for instance, can’t a ex-sociology student write about the metal subgenre of BM? What, precisely, is it about having enrolled in a sociology course that eternally discredits one from having significant things to say about an unrelated metal genre? Similarly, precisely HOW does wearing a “flannel shirt” mean one can’t be knowledgable about BM? If you’re insinuating (and it seems that you are) that one can’t wear a flannel shirt AND be knowledge about (or even create) BM, well, I’m sorry that makes no sense, and is indefensible and ridiculous. And lets say that someone’s deep immersion in BM did begin in “2012” after reading about “Euronymous on Wikipedia”, rather than at some earlier point in the ninties via fanzines and magazines – that decades main means of music information dissemination. So what? This person’s love and knowledge of the genre is no less thorough and informed; its doesn’t matter a squirt of piss HOW one first encountered BM.

    Oh, and the idea that the article is motivated by financial gain, or some attempt to “get noticed” is utterly ridiculous. Fame and fortune through writing about women and BM online? Seriously, for real??

    • Reply September 7, 2014

      Jesse

      Please read the original article and then this article again. Then take a time-out.

      Also, “You Wear a Flannel Shirt” would’ve made a perfect Anal Cunt song.

      • Reply September 7, 2014

        Jared

        You’re trying to insinuate that I’ve missed something in order to undercut my comment. But could you please be more specific about what it is, exactly, you believe that I’ve missed? Thanks. (I’ve now re-read the original article and the above article again. I’ve also taken some time-out!).
        As far as I can see, my comment above addresses the specific issues raised by both articles. If you have a rational counter-argument I love to here it; merely insinuating that I’ve missed something while leaving that ‘something’ entirely unsaid deliberately avoids and does not answer the particular points I make.

        • Reply September 10, 2014

          Jesse

          The point is that it is ridiculously easy to write a hit piece based on anecdotal evidence and to reduce your opponents (be they writers or the entirety of the metal scene) to stereotypes. People are right in saying this article does not offer in-depth arguments, because nor did the VICE original.

          Hence why a literalist discussion on whether wearing a flannel shirt disqualifies you as a black metal critic would be fruitless.

          • September 11, 2014

            Jared

            Granted, it may be incredibly easy to write a ‘hit piece’ (I do wonder, though, whether you aren’t being a little ‘sensationalist’ yourself in using such a phrase to describe the Duelund piece, given the relative smallness of the genre and the niche issue under discussion…), but that’s not all that is going on in your article. Yes, you mock Duelund’s shitty journalism, but you do so by way of evoking and reiterating the problemtaic idea of bm ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’. At varies points, for instance, Duelund and others are labeled “outsiders-looking-in”; “sociology drop-outs”; “flannel shirt-wearing hipsters”; “scenesters” etc. I get that your piece is a parodic inversion of Duelund’s article, but such terms have no direct correlation within that original article. These supposedly derogatory terms, moreover, have nothing to do with journalistic ability or lack there off (the ostensible topic of your piece). It is precisely this tired and baseless exclusionary tactic, which your article implicitly perpetuates, that I have a problem with.

            But by insisting that your piece is all parody, you hope to claim immunity from criticism, i.e. “my article doesn’t offer any in depth arguments because Duelund’s article doesn’t either”. Such a move – rubbishing Duelund while at the same time using him as a shield from criticism – is of course entirely disingenuous. As I note above, exclusionary terms such as “flannel shirt-wearing hipsters” are not, like other passages in your article, a direct parodic inversions of phrases from that original article. Rather, such phrases, and the exclusionary sentiments they betray, are entirely your own. (Again, to claim these vacuous sentiments parodically reflect what you perceive to be the ‘general vacuity’ of Duelund’s piece would be disingenuous). As such, they are very much open to criticism via literalization.

            Shitty journalism exists. Always has. This isn’t my beef. My beef is with the implicit exclusionary tactics that the above article deploys.

          • September 11, 2014

            Jesse

            Complaints about outsiders-looking-in are justified because there is a recent trend in niche entertainment and art whereby people who obviously latched on recently try to adjust said niche to their personal preferences/agendas instead of making a sincere effort to comprehend the ideas they have problems with. One can observe a similar thing happening in video game journalism and the insertion of identity politics by opportunists. My thoughts on that mechanic were already explained at length in my previous article so there is little use in repetition.

            Let me be clear that I do not express this concern because I care about ‘the scene’ or any sense of ‘purism’ (I have never been part of the black metal scene as such). My concern is with a growing number of critics approaching this topic from precisely the wrong angle. Maybe ‘outsider’ is not the right term for it because I and many others observe the genre from a distance as well; in the end the problem is people who don’t know what they are talking about. But again, these thoughts were already explained more profoundly in the previous article.

            The stereotype of an effeminate gender studies adept is obviously banter but contains a core of truth to the extent it made some people realise I was talking about them.

      • Reply September 10, 2014

        Lama

        That’s no proper way to answer….

        Also, when is Lurker writing about black metal again, and not about people they disagree with (wrongly or rightly) writing about black metal ?

        • Reply September 10, 2014

          Jesse

          Several reviews are currently in the works and should be appearing shortly.

  • Reply September 5, 2014

    Tanner

    “So what? This person’s love and knowledge of the genre is no less thorough and informed; its doesn’t matter a squirt of piss HOW one first encountered BM.”

    I’m kinda with you to this point, but actually, yes, it does matter. If you’ve only been reading and listening to anything for a couple of years no matter how passionately, it does guarantee that you don’t know as much as a similarly passionate person who’s been in it for 10 or 20.

    The one thing a lot of you people so very upset about finding yourself “looking in” on black metal, is that no one cares. You earn respect in black metal (or really any other subject) by writing good material that reflects a wealth of knowledge, understanding of context, and actually having something novel to say. The material at Vice doesn’t, nor does the material about Bolzer. Both display a superficial understanding of black metal’s history and current thrusts (contradictory that that they often may be). That’s not even half of it, what’s worse is that these articles don’t seem to have a very good handle on the theory behind their criticisms either.

    That said, sure, it’s silly to say a dude who wears flannel or is an ex-sociology student can’t be into black metal or whatever fallacy, or that . But who gives a shit? I don’t care; I doubt many people do either. But there is something to be said for authenticity. It’s your own, and you earn that. I’ve put up with inauthentic dickwads and authentic dickwads in many areas of my life, including black metal, and I will keep putting up with them. But dial down the rage. You’re not a victim. And if you feel deep down that you’re part of black metal then keep buying records, and magazines; go to shows (real underground shows). Learn about what you love. Then write articles if you still feel like having your opinion heard. Just be prepared to get schooled if you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, which, again, is exactly what would happen in any other context whether it be golf or jazz or philosophy.

  • Reply September 5, 2014

    Jared

    “I’m kinda with you to this point, but actually, yes, it does matter. If you’ve only been reading and listening to anything for a couple of years no matter how passionately, it does guarantee that you don’t know as much as a similarly passionate person who’s been in it for 10 or 20.”
    I’d have to disagree on this – its possible to for some people to absorb information quickly and learn a lot in a shorter space of time than someone else. And listening to BM for a temporally LONGER period than someone else does not mean your views on the genre will be, BY DEFAULT, more insightful or original than them. This whole “I’ve been into it longer than you so shut up!” pulling-rank move is silly and adolescent. If you know your shit, then you know your shit, whether you got in BM in 94, 99, 03, or whatever.

    “The one thing a lot of you people so very upset about finding yourself “looking in” on black metal, is that no one cares.”
    There’s no such thing as “looking in” on BM. Anyone who’s into it is into it – there is no ‘inside’ or ‘outside’. There’s only BM and the people – of varying degrees of expertise – who write about it and/or make it.

    “That said, sure, it’s silly to say a dude who wears flannel or is an ex-sociology student can’t be into black metal or whatever fallacy, or that . But who gives a shit? I don’t care; I doubt many people do either.”
    I wrote what I did in responce to Jesse, who does, as his writing bears out, seem to care. But we’re in agreement on this – it simply doesn’t matter what your clothes or education history are; these things have NOTHING to do with the ability to write insightfully about BM (or the ability to create good BM either). As for the rest of your comment, well, yes, there are ‘dickheads’ and wannabies in all walks of life. Of course. This is banal. And yes, someone ought to get “schooled” if they don’t know what they’re talking about.
    But … WHY, precisely, are the issues around Myrkur raised in the Vice article supposedly wrong-headed and ill informed? No one has yet explained why.

    • Reply September 5, 2014

      Tanner

      “nd listening to BM for a temporally LONGER period than someone else does not mean your views on the genre will be, BY DEFAULT, more insightful or original than them. This whole “I’ve been into it longer than you so shut up!” pulling-rank move is silly and adolescent. If you know your shit, then you know your shit, whether you got in BM in 94, 99, 03, or whatever.”

      Well, you’re discounting historical context here. You can “know your shit” in now, when at a touch of button you can download the entire discography of Moonblood or Archgoat or whatever, but that doesn’t mean the same thing as having to hunt down those records, and talk to other people out there in the real world interested in the same thing as you. And, yes, being into black metal in 94 or 99 or 03 means something different than it does to have gotten into it 2012. I’m not one to pull rank, but to ignore this aspect seems disingenuous.

      “There’s no such thing as “looking in” on BM. Anyone who’s into it is into it – there is no ‘inside’ or ‘outside’. There’s only BM and the people – of varying degrees of expertise – who write about it and/or make it.”

      Actually, there is such a thing. If you go to underground shows, or have traded records or have been involved for a long time, you would know that. Or maybe you have, I don’t know, and you’ve never been involved in any aspect of the black metal scene. Who knows. But there is a scene, whether you want to state that there isn’t, which does amount to both more and less than the music. In many ways, it’s not far off from hardcore punk, although I wouldn’t really compare the two beyond a fierce subculture of like-minded people who want to defend their scene from dilettantes and trendhoppers who just picked up a Crossed out or Darkthrone record.

      “I wrote what I did in responce to Jesse, who does, as his writing bears out, seem to care… As for the rest of your comment, well, yes, there are ‘dickheads’ and wannabies in all walks of life. Of course. This is banal. And yes, someone ought to get “schooled” if they don’t know what they’re talking about.”

      Haha, well, I guess I won’t trouble you with my banality anylonger and let Jesse respond for his article, as I’m certainly not trying to answer for him. But your self-righteous anger about this comes off as more than a little overbearing, and delusional, which is why I answered.

      “But … WHY, precisely, are the issues around Myrkur raised in the Vice article supposedly wrong-headed and ill informed? No one has yet explained why.”

      Eh, well, your question is for Jesse obviously. But seeing as I’m here — as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing wrong with raising the issue of sexism in the response of Myrkur; in fact that’s an admirable pursuit if it’s done with journalistic fortitude, craft, some history lessons. It has to be done with more than just random responses to blogs or a few reviews from stereogum. How does one create an editorial about an entire scene or (oh sorry) as you wrote, “BM and the people” or whatever, from some misogynists on a message board? This doesn’t quantify or qualify the experience of women in the scene(s) nor does it bring up little more than straw man arguments of, in Duelend’s words, the black metal scene’s “… seemingly bottomless capacity for misogyny…” He then goes on to the always dubious claims of “nerds” protecting their nerd scene in a quixotic attempt at authenticity while trodding out the tired hack-journalist shit-bombing black metal trope of bringing up Euronymous and that whole Norwegian 2nd wave murdering doowop — which of course ignores all the other bands and people who existed in bringing black metal to prominence (many of whom weren’t white or norwegian! gasp!). Nor does Duelend seem to recognize that women play more prominent roles in black metal bands right now outside of Myrku (Sortilegia is one, Horna another, among others, lists are boring afterall); these bands and people would’ve been a logical place to start in trying to get a sense how women are accepted in the scene. But then again, that means doing more research or talking to people or actually being interested in the “nerd” culture. But whatever, there’s just people who do bm and listen to records, there’s no scene, so why do you even give a shit anyway? It’s all one symptom of mass culture where fly by night blowhards can sprout their blogs and twitter feeds like so many necrotic mushrooms, before fart dusting away a year later into whatever trend they can glom onto next.

      • Reply September 5, 2014

        Jared

        “Well, you’re discounting historical context here. You can “know your shit” in now, when at a touch of button you can download the entire discography of Moonblood or Archgoat or whatever, but that doesn’t mean the same thing as having to hunt down those records, and talk to other people out there in the real world interested in the same thing as you. And, yes, being into black metal in 94 or 99 or 03 means something different than it does to have gotten into it 2012.”

        While I appreciate your responce, I’m still a little unsure about this. Granted, its much easier to access bm records now than it used to be, but again, how does the older bm fan having to work harder to track down the same music by default make his/her contributions to bm JOURNALISM more insightful or original than someone who bought the reissues of the same albums or simply downloaded them? I simply can’t see how someone could make a case for this. I get that historical context is important, but i wouldn’t want to say that someone who got into this music in, say, 1999 and has done the adequate research can’t make an original contribution to the discussion of bm music simply for being slightly belated. Think about it: would you say that its impossible, for example, for a young music critic to say something original about a Beatles album simply because they weren’t born when it came out? It might even be the case that those who aren’t burdened with too much ‘context’, and aren’t ‘too close’ to the music/scene are precisely the ones who might be able to see it from an original (and disinterested) new angle. I mean, if you learn hard on what your saying, then only those who were ‘there’ at the time can speak with authority (or indeed, speak at all) about bm, and that seems a very dubious (and undesirable) position to me.

        And while I largely agree with everything else you wrote, I have a problem, precsiely, with this notion of some people being “dilettantes and trendhoppers”. This is exactly how bm fans try and police who gets to contribute to the genre, and who gets to write about it. The underlying assumption being that only LIFERS can contribute. But why? There is no right or wrong way of being ‘into’ things. Some people – hardcore bm fans in particular – seem to assume the ONLY WAY to appreciate a musical genre is to set your flag in the ground AND STAY THERE. But some people are interested in a wide range of music, and move in and out of scenes at will, bouncing off different things and moving away from (and returning to) different genres over time. This is a no less ‘correct’ way of being into bm than any other. But bm fans continuelly assert that if you’re not an utterly dedicated lifer then you simply can’t contribute, which seems to me a very silly position to take. Bm fans always construct a vanishing horizon of authenticty as a means of discrediting new developements within the genre that, in the end, they simply don’t like (but are no less authentic ‘black metal’). Oh, you’ve only been into bm for 5 years, and not 10. Or, you’ve only been into bm for 10 years, not 15, and so on. Or, you’ve only got the CD reissues and not the original vinyl, or you’ve only got 30 albums rather than 100, or 100 albums rather than 1000, and so on, always pushing the requisite level of authenticity further and further back. In this way, bm fans try and distance themselves from those they perceive to be ‘trendhoppers’ but they never explain WHO sets these standards of authenticity, or WHY they must be adhered to and, most importantly, WHY THEY EVEN MATTER. But it doesn’t matter when you came to the scene, or how many albums you own, if you LOVE bm then you’re already an AUTHENTIC bm fan (and already on the ‘inside’).

        And while you call me ‘disingenious’, you’re being a bit disingenious yourself re: Myrku. While the article may lack sufficient examples, the overall point being had is that the scene is overwhelming male-dominated, something it’s a little disingenuous to deny. And many of the comments made about Myrku DO exhibit blatant misogyny no?

  • Reply September 5, 2014

    Barabas

    @Jonsan van Johnson
    eh what? Why are you bringing up the “concept of authenticity”? In howfar was it mentioned here?

    @Jesse
    Even though my school (+sitcom English) sometimes fails me while trying to read your pieces I enjoyed this one quite a lot. Being in a position where I try to write academically (yeah I know) to write about (extreme) metal I am faced with similar problems like journalists it seems. Especially since the academical qualification to write about metal seems to be to be able to name more than ten bands of the genre. Still I would like to say that your classification of semiotic battles (fights over vocabularty) as “pseudo-progressive” doesnt suit me very well and its not the first time I read something like this on lurker. Words define our thinking and the correlation of mind a “real” world. I believe in struggle aiming to change the world we live (which I would argue stinks) semiotic skirmishes play an important role.
    Oh yeah and my French isnt perfect but I figure you missed an “s” on “fil[s] de pute”. Dunno though.

  • Reply September 5, 2014

    Baron

    There is a certain wisdom that is gained from being immersed into a subculture for a long time. Subtle but important ways of speaking about the subject matter are developed. Patterns and cues are recognized. These outsider looking in articles are always missing that nuance.

    • Reply September 5, 2014

      Jared

      Ah, the ‘vanishing point of authenticity’ argument. I explode this myth in my comment above.
      Moreover, ever noticed how this myth always needs to assume that everyone in the scene is equally a ‘lifer’? Being immersed in a subculture means you can detect and decode ‘subtle nuances’ present in bm music that ‘outsiders’ can’t. But a lot of bm bands valorized by insiders are quite young – they themselves haven’t been immersed in bm for all that long, and who’s to say that EVERY member of EVERY band is equally well-versed and obsessed with bm’s history, and encrypt their music with these occult subteties that are lost on poor, dumb outsiders? The idea that bm has occulted at its core a secret knowledge that only a few (un)righteous initiates who have undergone a long listening apprenticeship can understand in clearly a fantasy.

  • Reply September 6, 2014

    Joe

    Well I’ll throw my two cents, via two observations, here regarding the argument of outsiders and time spent in a scene equates to the creation of a more authentic opinion.

    First, I think one has a remarkably different attitude towards any style of music, or for that matter any subculture, if they become immersed in it during puberty. This is a time in each individual’s life where their adult identity is first developed. The cultural ideologies and artifacts that one associates with at this time will hold a special meaning to that individual more than anything else likely will in their lives. These become the ritual rites of adulthood (read some Joseph Campbell if none of this makes sense). With the human brain continuing development till the early 20’s, let’s arbitrarily put 23-24 years as being the boundary at which this cultural ritualizing of becoming an adult ends. So if you’re being exposed to Black Metal (or Punk or House music) in your late 20’s there’s a strong certainty that you wont be able to attach the same degree of emotional investment in that art/culture as someone who started in their teens. So here we arrive as to why so many people have a negative reaction to newcomers, especially those already well past the transition period into adulthood. These people clearly lack the ritualistic and therefore emotional/existential bonding formed with this art/culture. Existential truly should be highlighted in this matter because the culture has helped create the very identity of these people we call true fans, diehards, lifers or metalheads (or Punks or Goths if we want to offer alternative cultures). When you come to this music (or any music/culture) beyond that point, you’re participating with no investment of your existential identity. This breeds animosity from those who do have that investment.

    Second, and perhaps more a tangent of the first point, one naturally wont be received well to a scene like Black Metal (or any culture) if you don’t take pleasure in the roots of it. If you can’t exhibit as much of a passion for the metal, prog rock, punk or other music that became such an important influence on Black Metal than you’re not going to have the respect of the lifers (those ritually attached to the culture, existentially invested as they became adults). If you talk ill about Sodom, Celtic Frost or for that matter even the big 2nd wave Norwegian bands but then try to say you’re a fan of Black Metal….. well it’s just not going to stick.

    (note: Regarding the first point, I’m not trying to say one can only be bond existentially with one culture. So much of of modern musical subcultures are born from people who have their feet in many musical roots. Classical music, Metal and Punk (or Ska or lord knows what else) can be all equal parts of a person’s identity, but you can’t say you’re on equal footing with someone when you got into any one at 27 and they did when they were 17).

    • Reply September 7, 2014

      Jared

      While this is all very interesting, it is in the end a very flimsy and unprovable argument to say that those who got into bm in their early 20’s are somehow by default more informed (and can write better music JOURNALISM) than those who may have become obsessed a tad later. Even given your argument (that people forge special bonds with things encountered in their teens) many people, of course, continue to grow, and develop lastly and passionate engagements with things throughout their ENTIRE LIFE; such life-changing experiences and engagements certainly do NOT occur only in ones youth. Similarly, some people actually grow and change and move away entirely from their adolescent interests (I know I have). In short, your argument is too universal – everyone develops differently, and forges (and re-forges) their identity at different stages in their life. Moreover, there simply is not way of objectively quantifying something like ‘passion’, and neither are there, of course, any objective grounds from which to judged one people’s passion for bm as being somehow ‘lesser’, or less ‘authentic’ than someone else’s.

      If you read my comments above, you will see that you are, once again, merely re-deploying the ‘vanishing point of authenticity’ argument here, which as I’ve already shown doesn’t hold any water. This rigged ‘argument’ always posits an abitrary set of qualifications (here, an age limit) whose sole purpose is simply to try, futility, to exclude those from the scene one simply doesn’t like. As per the dynamics of this argument, if a supposed ‘outsider’ is shown to meet these arbitrarily standards of inclusion then these standards are simply redefined, redrawn, and pushed ‘further back’, along a infinitely disappearing horizon. Indeed, these arbitary standards of inclusion have already been re-defined several times during this comments thread, your ’emotional-attachment-during-adolescence’ argument simply being the latest iteration, one that pushed the standard for inclusion to a near-absurd new level (ONLY THOSE who enountered bm in there teens can be TRUE insiders), while at the same time failing to see how ultimately silly the effort has become (‘true’ bm fandom now coming down to early brain develpment!).

      At the end of the day, it STILL remains the case that people can – and DO – forge passionate connections to bm culture outside of their early teens. And if someone HAS been into bm since their teens, it doesn’t in fact follow that by simply by virtue of this fact alone that they will have something INSIGHTFUL to say about it, or are capable of articulating something insight in the form of MUSIC JOURNALISM. Put differently, one’s level of passion about something doesn’t necessarily equate to one INSIGHT into it: there isn’t nesessarily a correlation there. I mean, can’t one find, if one wanted to, a passionate, long-time, but nevertheless relatively dim-witted bm fan who has nothing substantial to contribute or say about the genre? Of course one could (indeed, I know a few!)

      • Reply September 7, 2014

        Baron

        You know what, I won’t try to justify or argue for my point of view… I’ll just say “Jared you’re an outsider. You’re trying too hard to be ‘part of black metal’. You don’t understand the genre. And your behaviour here is one of many reasons why you clearly don’t belong in black metal”

        Now excuse me, I’m going to listen to some GBK while you steam over social justice issues, ingroup/outgroup dynamics, and bluntly, your ‘feelings’.

        • Reply September 7, 2014

          Jared

          Really, that’s it? Your manifest inability to refute or counter-argument my comment speaks volumes. And while you seem to think I have some hang ups over “social justice issues, ingroup/outgroup dynamics, and bluntly, ‘feelings'” the irony, is, in fact, that you are the one with such hangs up, as demonstrated by your continued and rather desperate attempt to police who gets to be ‘in’ and who gets left ‘out’ by appealing to exisitential experiances and ‘feelings.’ If your up for it then you should argue with me rationally, but you haven’t done that.
          Sorry but I am an insider because I know and love bm. You don’t anything about me, meaning your assertion that I’m not an insider is not only baseless but, in actual fact, wrong.

  • Reply September 6, 2014

    Simon

    That VICE article has a point that the metal subculture has a dumb tendency to subject female musicians to extra scrutiny because of their gender alone, but it just usually happens in a much more subtle manner than in the examples chosen. It’s overall pretty poorly argued despite having a kernel of truth, for that matter, spending as much energy on social signalling mocking the low status of the metal community as on constructing an argument. (the same “cultural snobbery masquerading as egalitarianism” attitude I find annoying about much of VICE’s target demographic even if I kind of belong to it myself)

    For the record I haven’t heard a second of Myrkur’s music.

  • Reply September 9, 2014

    T.H.

    I almost missed the social justice crowd hard at work in the comments section by the lack of trigger warnings. None of this really matters. Ten years down the line, the social justice crowd will have found a newer, “cooler” subculture to attach themselves to like the parasites they are. There’s no point in arguing with them.

    • Reply September 10, 2014

      Jared

      I presume that you’re referring to me when you speak of the so-called “social justice crowd”. Trouble is, you’re projecting traits onto me that I’d don’t in fact adhere to. I’m not latching onto bm as some “cool subculture” that I’ll soon move on from: being seen as ‘cool’ is of no concern to me at all, and I’m no more going to ‘jump ship’ to some other, ‘cooler’ subgenre than you are. I love bm music, I just have little time for the rigid conservative of some fans, who are desperate to police the borders of a music genre that, when all is said and done, no one ‘owns’, and that is open to everyone.

      But even supposing what you say is true, that I’m merely a “parasite” who has encountered bm but will at some point move on to another ‘cooler’ genre, this assertion relies on the fallacy that there is only one, ‘correct’ way of being into music, and that is to be an obsessed, dedicated ‘lifer’, one who plants their flag in the ground and stays there. But this is only one way – among many – of ‘being into’ music, and is no more ‘correct’ than any other approach, including that of jumping headlong into genres one may previously have known little about but have developed an new interest in. Many people develop new interests, and expertise in those new interests, all the time.

  • Reply October 31, 2014

    D

    I’m excited for this website be abandoned yet again. This is, all of this, is exactly why this site has gone to shit in the past year or two. Just give up already.

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