On hatred, respect, and treating people like humans in heavy metal circles

I’m annoyed because today was supposed to begin our look back at the metal year 2014, one in which there were so many records I liked that putting a list together was extremely difficult. It’s also one where I had some of the most positive show experiences of my life, and that my local metal community has grown and become mightier.

Yet here we are, having to tackle an ugly issue that has plagued metal for a while and reared its puss-filled head over the weekend. By the way, I’m stream-of-consciousnessing this thing, so if it’s all over the map, that’s why. I’m not going to rehash the entire thing here for a number of reasons, the largest of which is I don’t want to further distribute the garbage that was disseminated via social media this weekend by Phil McSorley of Cobalt (who anyone who knows this site or me knows how much I love their music) and Mike Meachem of Loss. The talking points here are bashing people because of their sexual identification and wishing death on them; tearing down feminism and making women feel lesser for being in the scene; and being torn down publicly for having the audacity to be a person with feelings and compassion toward others. There are other statements that go even deeper that were not a part of this weekend’s idiocy, and they’re just as awful and despicable. By the way, a lot of this got sparked by an article based on an interview with Andy Curtis-Brignell of Caina and his disgust with women and other people being attacked by metal fans. Gee, how dare he try to act like a human? By the way, the band’s new record “Setter of Unseen Snares” is fucking awesome, and we’ll have an extensive review when it drops next year.

First thing I’ll say is the use of derogatory terms toward people of the LGBT community—or any, really—is not acceptable. It’s not metal. It’s not black metal. It’s not cult. It’s not cool. It’s not true. It’s not fun. It’s not funny. It’s not a joke. It’s garbage. It’s unacceptable. It’s childish. It’s evidence of a dense brain and a lack of intellectual thinking. It makes me laugh at you and also feel sorry for you. I don’t endorse it. I don’t want it near me. I don’t want to associate with music or musicians who freely use this kind of speech and honestly, meaningfully direct it at other people. It shows a black hole as far as humanity goes. You think it’s OK to jokingly say, “That band is gay”? It’s not. Stop fucking saying it. Challenge yourself and find a better word. Are you 11? The fact that prominent member of metal’s underground have publically used this type of speech, and that sheep followers have liked or endorsed or re-Tweeted, or reciprocated their words is so beyond stupid to me, I’m having a hard time grasping it. The fact that much of this was directed at a female writer who happens to be one of the hardest working, most respected members of the metal media infuriates me. And trust me, she doesn’t need my support or backing. She’s a bad ass, someone I am honored to call a friend, and someone who helps this site in a gigantic way. She also probably forgot more about metal than most people know. That pisses me off heavily to see her treated this way. It’s not fucking metal. It’s weak. I also understand one of the musicians above is raising a young girl. Oh boy. I don’t even know what to say there. Good luck, kid. I wish you well.

On this topic, I have a friend who is both a female and gay who told me that she often doesn’t like to even be around metal folk because of how she gets treated. The fact that anyone, much less this person whose metal knowledge likely trumps most people’s, has to feel this way in 2014 is a failure not only for metal but for society. It’s music. It’s a show. Are we not all laughing at Varg these days? Do we not our shake our heads in disgust over Faust’s heinous murder of a gay man in 1992? If not, you’re fucking doing it wrong. Metal can be a community. It can breed familial scenes and friendships. If not for this very thing, I don’t know how I would have gotten through high school. Maybe I was “lucky” to be a white heterosexual male, and perhaps that same thing is what makes me feel comfortable in my current circles. But I also know the company I keep are tremendous people who never, ever would stoop to the cowardice of the musicians mentioned above. I feel fortunate for that, and I hope my friend one day finds that for herself. And she always has a friend in me.

Now onto women in metal and their inclusion in the scene. Seriously, this is still a thing? We haven’t yet figured out women are just as worthy, just a worthwhile as men? I mean, this obviously is a problem not just inside metal’s walls. It’s still an issue in America. We’re still belittling and questioning and shaming rape victims. There still are people who openly mock the concept of equal pay for women. Sadly, there people in my Facebook feed who are a part of this shit, and it takes all of my strength not to respond. I don’t because it’s not worth throwing shit against a wall. I’m thankful I don’t feel the way these people do and I work hard to make sure people are included and treated justly. I don’t deserve a pat on the back for that.

Funny, the people trashing women’s plight for respect usually are white dudes who clearly feel threatened. Be confident in yourself, and if you are, it won’t matter to you that other people have the same rights and privileges as you. And look, the basic idea of feminism is striving for equality for women in all aspects of life. I’m a fucking feminist. A proud one. A boisterous one. I have a lot of amazing female friends who are listeners, fans, and musicians that I admire, respect, and look up to very day. It’s so stupid I even have to point this out. It should be a, “Duh, who doesn’t feel this way?” but that’s not the case. Funny, but these musicians above want to throw around the word “pussy” when describing bands, musicians, or fans who have the temerity to value women and want to celebrate their accomplishments in metal and the world. I chuckle when they use that word because their value as people drops as a result. Like, that’s the best insult you could muster? I’d also argue that people who take to social media and harass people and mock others aren’t exactly showing an admirable level of guts. It’s fucking weak.

Do you remember Iron Maiden ever trashing their female fans or fellow musicians? Harassing gay or trans members of their audience? Having to make some macho asshole statement just to prove what men they really are? How about Ronnie James Dio? Black Sabbath? Hell, Judas Priest? Those artists are legends. The cretin listed above might not even have a medium to pour their pure hatred if not for them. They don’t even deserve the honor of plugging in their guitars. You think those bands lose sleep at night that female or gay artists are afforded equal chances as them? No. Because they are/were awesome fucking players and don’t sit around worrying about what others do.

I see metal as a family. I feel fortunate to have a ton of friends—musicians, writers, label heads, metal fans—who I consider friends and who I interact with daily. This site is an homage to metal, a celebration of the sounds that fill my heart with joy and power every day. Yes, there is a place to express negativity and ugliness in metal, and we have covered and will continue to cover that music on a regular basis. But when that comes down to harassing people, to wishing real death upon others, to stripping people of their dignity and equality, it goes beyond dark music. It exposes a sick, dishonorable way of being that I refuse to celebrate. The artists listed above? You won’t find them here ever again. I’m sure they don’t give a shit. Fine with me. It’s how I feel about their careers now. I also commend Erik Wunder, the other half of Cobalt, for publicly distancing himself from McSorley’s bullshit commentary. Good for him. He’s a brilliant artist who does not deserve to be dragged into such sad territory. (UPDATE: Wunder has since removed McSorley from Cobalt and will continue on as a band without him.)

Although I did not do that here, I do hope people keep reposting the hateful messages these and other artists have the stupidity to put into public consumption. People need to see this. They need to know what artists are not worth supporting. Yes, it also spreads their message and gives them attention, and it’s the double-edged sword kind of thing. But awareness is key. I’ll trade these guys getting their names more attention and asshole followers endorsing them if more people realize what failures at life they are and stop supporting their art. In fact, if you disagree with what I’ve said in this piece, feel free to never come to this site again. I don’t need you. We’re not exactly a site with the highest traffic ever, but I don’t need to be if it means weeding out people who are just poisoned. I’m here because I love metal, and I don’t care if it makes me false or whatever asshole descriptor you want to add to it. Trust me, I’ve been called every insult in the book at one point or another in my life, and I have a pretty hard fucking shell because of it. I’d rather you trash me than the fantastic people who are facing such idiotic attacks.

In closing, I want to be proud of metal. I want to defend it to the death. I want to tell people they are wrong about their archaic misconceptions about metal and its artists. Then things like this happen, and it takes a lot of the piss out of my argument. Hatred, anti-women, anti-gay/trans, and racist undertones have been a part of metal for too long. It has to stop. It’s garbage. It’s a sign of a failure to evolve as people. It’s something I refuse to tolerate. It makes metal look like a meat-headed society. I know it largely is not that. The filth aspect in metal is a minority, in my experiences, but that ugliness clearly is still out there. I urge you, please, if you face this type of harassment, if you are under attack for your gender or your race or your sexual orientation, please know you have a friend here at Meat Mead Metal. Reach out to us. We want you to feel like family, like you are respected and wanted, because you are. You matter. If Phil McSorley thinks I’m a pussy because of that, I seriously could not care less. I think it’s clear what he’s about, and his views mean shit to me. Maybe part of his issue is the stress of being in the military or perhaps mental issues, and if that’s so, I hope he gets help. I hope anyone who feels this way gets help or gets a chance to have an eye-opening experience. Anyone can better themselves and change the way they are.

It’s going to be 2015. We can have a positive impact on the world and prove that metal’s not a cesspool of hatred. But we need to be active and vigilant and protective of one another. Real hatred should not be tolerated or accepted or celebrated. To do so makes you an archaic joke whose existence is just sad.

Brian Krasman