Arghoslent, Incorrigible Bigotry, and racism in music


Arghoslent are an American band that gained a lot of notoriety for their lyrics describing vividly the trans-Atlantic slave trade, not from any neutral, strictly historical perspective but with a vested bias in white cultural supremacy and by conjunction the degenerative genetic plight of the coloured races. Over the years the band has reformed their invective somewhat, opting for a more “acceptable” stance that considers true strength to be derived from within and not from pigmentation or lack thereof, even going so far as supporting Barack Obama during his first crack at the presidency back in ’08. While this in no way means that the band has reneged on its formerly adamant, vitriolic assertions, it does hint at either a late-dawning but genuine maturity, or an appeal for greater inclusiveness within an often heavily left-leaning metal community.

This is more a subjective, and contemplative, piece on how personally-held convictions can color perception. Arghoslent play a blend of classic NWOBHM and death metal. They are well studied in the minutiae of heavy metal and execute the basics in a near flawless manner, but their music often tends to veer into overly saccharine areas that belie the acidic nature of their subject matter. Ares Kingdom are a band that follow a template quite similar to Arghoslent but do so far more consummately and with an innate zeal and vigor that this band has never quite managed to exude. Arghoslent are admittedly far more staunchly entrenched in the sounds of traditional metal and as such seem to favour laconic Iron Maiden-styled melody over outright thrash-infused aggression.

But for the longest time, this lack of aggression was justification enough for me to dismiss Arghoslent as bland and unimaginative with no control over how they went about achieving their vision. Ideas however cannot forever stay in stasis – or at least one hopes they don’t – and are open to embracing an honest dialogue with themselves. It now occurs to me that my dismissal of this band may have had more to do with an aversion to their open racism than with any intrinsic dis-qualifiers pertaining to their music. Make no mistake; the racism in their lyrics is still unedifying and not something I can ever agree with. But metal played in this manner by any other band with more regular, prosaic, hippy-dippy lyrics would be enough to send me over the moon in praise of a honest revival of an archaic sound. With Arghoslent, I have observed a blatant dishonesty in myself, heaping an opprobrium on the band’s music that it most patently does not deserve.

While this is no apology on behalf of the band’s hardline views, it makes one wonder whether we should perhaps pause a little before dismissing music – and art in general – that runs counter to our most cherished notions in life. Of course this is a moot question for a vast majority of people for whom music is just sounds, and ideologies don’t matter a whit. For such, Christians and other religious folks alike, deliberations of this sort would be incongruent with the hypocrisy they practice so adroitly in their daily lives. But the pertinent question for the more discerning and sensitive among us is whether racist music can and should be supported. Can the music exist in a vacuum of itself, and be encouraged for what it is without its underlying message entering our consciousness? Buying a record by Arghoslent or a NSBM band implies giving your hard earned money to people who you disagree with on a fundamental, moral level; money which can then be funneled towards causes which don’t entirely fit within your world view. Where and how does one draw the lines that support free speech and right to opinion while upholding one’s own private convictions? Should there even be free speech for all concerned – after all, a good chunk of NSBM bands are musically null and void, and exist solely as unrefined hate organs – and if not how does one go about proscribing it?

It is a slippery slope with many questions but few answers. What is undeniable, however, is that art cannot afford to be jejune and has to, needs to, elicit some kind of emotion in its audience. And emotions run a gamut far wider and larger than what most are willing to acknowledge. The artist has absolute right, and even a responsibility by the very nature of his craft, to express himself, and his innermost closet of skeletons, in the service of reproducing an ideal, as unappealing as it may be to the world at large. Because in a desensitized society, anything with the ability to strike a nerve and make it twitch deserves to be applauded.

This entry was posted in Death Metal, Heavy Metal, Music Reviews and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Arghoslent, Incorrigible Bigotry, and racism in music

  1. deckard cain says:

    Well i for one agree. If we are to go by that standard we’d be hearing no Burzum and the recent ruckus over Inquisition towing the same line would mean turning a deaf ear to them.

    Funny that, it was only yesterday that i was looking up political inclinations of metal in general. Opinions on the internet suggest there is more of the far right than there is of the left. Which i do not agree to of course.

    • I don’t care much for right and left labels. If you aren’t constantly whittling away at a form of syncretic ideology of your own, then you’re just following someone else’s template to the letter and stagnating in your evolution as a human being. I think it is more the visible metal community that tends to confused, and heaps their liberal ideas on an inherently conservative form of music. At least the more extreme strains of metal in any case.

      This bit was more a series of half formed,s lightly hazy thoughts on certain issues as they pertain to the metal we listen to. I don’t claim to have any answers, I’m just voicing my own ambiguity regarding the whole thing. It’s a work in progress 🙂

    • floup says:

      You do relaize that Burzum is (and always has been) totally apolitical, right?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Art is supposed to provoke a reaction. Your reaction is supposed to help form, shape and re-shape your personal stance on ethics/politics/aesthetics (all of which really are completely inter-connected).

    If your reaction is to reject the music because the message in it jars against your personal aesthetics, then your reaction is reconfirming to you that your current stance on that topic remains strong and unmoved. All of that stuff about where the money goes etc is a great narrative to why you would then go on to not support art that clashes with your own ideologies. The thing that really matters though is; in that moment you had a reaction and in that instant, made a decision from your gut. Your reaction was that definite.

    You may already know, that morality lies on a scale, quite like sexuality and that where you sit on that scale is apparent from as early on as age four. So a repeat offender of serious crime (serial rapist or murderer), is also likely to have at age four, plucked an apple off of a market display, eaten it and not bothered to pay for it. Nature? Nurture? I don’t know.

    But this is why, as an adult, very rarely will you have an experience, art or otherwise, that will fundamentally shift your stance on something. And if and when it does… That’s where the awe-inspiring moment of art appreciation comes in. That’s what makes me stand in front of a piece of art sometimes for a good twenty minutes. It’s energy, it’s communication that has challenged my aesthetics at that point in time.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I don’t think how much real ‘choice’ exists in your support. If your personal ideology differs naught from theirs, you support it. If it differs greatly, you don’t. That’s how ‘culture’ is built. If one is not attuned into their ‘gut’, then they need to make an intelligent choice on how they’re shaping the future of their environment.

    This is why conversation is important, free unrestricted speech is important. So the intelligent and self-aware can be heard and the switched-off masses can be educated. If someone wants to use that to freely condone something I disagree with, I can and will walk away.

  4. Anonymous says:

    What a bunch of pretentious vacuous babbling just to convey a cookie cutter point of view with a dollop of sanctimonious whining.

    “Oy vey have several adjectives conveying my abject disgust at their evil racism of these white men not prostrating for the big black dildo of self-hating moral relativism while I also making vague concessions Arghoslent is a good band and freedom of speech is important as a rhetorical red herring for my tender hearted anti-racist diatribe”.

    Also your blog is shit, your personality is contrived, there’s a million pretentious old pricks like you convinced sitting on the fence leaning towards the mainstream is “pissing on the mainstream” and your views are bland. What’s with all the un-ironic self-flagellation too? Its fucking pathetic to behold. I’d hate to hear you talk metaphysics its almost definitely taking all the worst aspects of Camus to prop up a self-righteous nihilism. Boring.

    Brevity is supposedly the essence of wit and you dance around issues like you’re at one of your geriatric salsa classes. Boring boring.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s