Metal heroes

warrior of the world

Why do you have to die to be a hero
It’s a shame a legend begins at its end
Why do you have to die if you’re a hero
When there’s still so many things to say unsaid

– Judas Priest, Heroes End

Judas Priest weren’t far off the mark when they recorded their classic lament. It took death for, by all posthumous accounts, the good Jim Konya of Nunslaughter to achieve hallowed status among the international metal community. It is always a sad thing to lose a good human being, and one doesn’t need to have known the deceased personally to feel that familiar sense of vague but personal loss, especially in a close-knit community like underground metal. One hopes that this close-knittedness arises from shared ideals but as has been bemoaned on this blog time and again, this is far from true. Society loves a good samaritan, dead or alive; one that reaffirms their faith in the innate goodness of their fellow man. Conversely, society does not hesitate to piss down the stump of a villain who serves as a morbid reminder of the ugliness lurking within us all. Look no farther than the vastly contrasting reaction to the Joe Frankulin affair.

No life can be entirely free of its fair share of demons; the more you dig the more liable they are to come scowling at you, fangs bared and all. Presumptive condoning or condemning without evidence unfortunately seems to be the native state of man, but as was hinted in the post on the arrogance of heavy metal fans, many are all too eager to extrapolate matters peripheral to the subject’s primary vocation and, by some strange deception of the mind, project them on that same vocation, in the process imbuing or depriving it of the acclaim or criticism it deserves. Nunslaughter‘s simple take on death metal will most likely be the benefactor of this mobbish exaggeration but it remains to be seen whether Goatlord go the way of Chris Benoit or the steadily-accelerating vilification in liberal circles of H.P. Lovecraft. Neither of these incidents should be a badge of pride or an indicting blow to metal, but they will doubtless be talked about in such sensationalist terms by the masses.

Appealing to finer powers of judgement just because it is the “underground” is a vain hope; the internet has decimated the notion of a physical underground, in the process opening the gates to this music to a throng of undesirables: fashionistas, blowhards, and event organizers. The only recourse we have available to us now is to retreat to an unbreachable underground of the mind, and it is there and there alone that we can nurture and cherish the ideals we look for in metal. If it is heroes one needs, then don’t look to the people who make the music, though they can be wonderful role models in their own right; heroes, if any, are the ideals, imagined or otherwise, that you are capable of discovering in the music itself, and which inspire you to be the person you are or wish you would be. Once you are comfortable with this idea, you avoid risking disappointment in actions and events beyond your control.

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