By: Jason Corpsemolester (master of the 4 string motherfucker for Gravehill)
As I sit here in the closed confines of my work cubicle stealing company time writing a column specifically targeted for my mom (Hi Mom! Love you! Remember to iron my heavy metal slacks!); I find myself drifting into the nether regions of my cloudy, almost brain dead mind dredging up what I’ve been listening to these past few days. Whether it has been in the car, on my iPod or computer, I’ve been floating in the heavy metal dark-matter void of music that some may call “cult” (or kvlt depending on if you’re REALLY cult or a member of the Nuclear War Now message board). But just because I sometimes veer into this region of heavy metal and partake of bands like Pallbearer or Stargazer doesn’t mean I intentionally stay there just because the bands aren’t widely listened to. I’ve found something about them that distinguishes them from the rest of the garbage out there. And there’s a LOT of garbage out there.
Garbage is a fascinating thing. You see, it accumulates everywhere you go. It could be some dog poop on the sidewalk or a gum wrapper at the beach. You probably have some garbage in your house you haven’t thrown away yet but you’ll get to it eventually. Hell, I still have several used condoms and a tennis ball with pubic hair glued to it under my bed (it’s best not to ask). Underground heavy metal music is similar. But unlike most of us, some connoisseurs of our scene feel the need to fill their homes full of garbage similar to a hoarder that collects piles and piles of bullshit until their entire house is filled with…piles and piles of bullshit! I like to think that a majority of us are discerning fans with refined tastes on what we like. On occasion we find that piece of garbage demo or album you grabbed a few days or years back, but on the whole, our collections are filled with pristine trophies and true classics. I may be deluding myself on that last sentence, but bear with me.
What defines cult in heavy metal music? Does it have to be so underground that the number of Hessians who listen to it number in the one of tens? Perhaps the band has a bunch of splits, EPs, and demos but no full length album? Or is the band long defunct; its members middle-aged, working 40 hours a week, raising a family, and have all but forgotten about a period in their life when they used to be a mediocre heavy metal band in the early/mid-80s? When does being cult and “true” become just more words in the hipster dictionary?
So this inevitably leads me to heavy metal hipsters. If you thought hipsters were regulated to the indie scene and all live in Portland, then you would be wrong. Hipsters are everywhere and can be involved in anything. There’s video game hipsters, sci-fi hipsters, horror movie hipsters, etc… Hell, I’ll even admit to being a know-it-all hipster asshole on occasion. Especially when I’m fuckin’ right!
Heavy metal hipsters are fellow Hessians who make it their goal in life to find the most obscure heavy metal/hard rock music, buy the expensive vinyl and then proceed to say, “You haven’t heard of Satan’s Love Pump? I thought you were metal. They put out a 7-inch in 1983 in Greece and have a song on a vinyl comp. They’re awesome!” And when you ask, “What else do they have out?” They look at you as if you’re retarded because that 7-inch and 1-song contribution to a vinyl comp is literally the ONLY music that band has released. What makes Satan’s Love Pump so awesome besides the incredibly badass name I made up? Is it the fact that they have no discography whatsoever? Or that the songs they do have are nothing more than basement recordings where the drums are too loud, the guitars are barely distorted, no bass at all, and the vocals aren’t in key?
Look, I’m not bashing obscure music; I love good obscure music. Yes, there were bands back in the day that never got the recognition they deserved and they’re discography is limited. I get it. But for a lot of those old bands, there’s a good reason why they never made it into the big time. All those demos, EPs, and contributions to comps never went anywhere because the band itself was subpar at best. The same goes for some of the newer music being released today. This obsession with bestial blackened war thrash “play-fast-as-fuck-with-no-discernible-riffs” metal has been trending for years with hundreds of bands vying for top position on who’s the most unoriginal. Do I like some of it? Yes. Again, there are always a few that stand out above the rest (i.e., Impiety); but the majority are fucking garbage and I don’t fill my music collection with garbage. See what I did there? I knew the garbage analogy would eventually work. I spent all day on that fucker.
I’m not telling people what to listen to or what to like. In the end, it’s all in the ear of the beholder. I’m just saying, be true to yourself and what you like. Finding an obscure band that really fucking rocks is refreshing and awesome; finding a mediocre, uninspired obscure band isn’t. Even though you may have stumbled upon something that no one else has heard in years, if you don’t think it rocks, then leave it alone and let it die. My record, cd, and cassette tape collection encompasses bands that I love; not bands that I think are “ok”. Padding your collection of heavy metal music with mediocre bullshit garbage isn’t metal. It’s hipster. Don’t be that guy, friend. Okay, pal? Thanks, buddy.