Following a questionable outburst from former Pantera man Phil Anselmo, Getintothis’ Zach Jones contemplates whether metal music is racist.
Is Metal actually racist?
I, like the rest of the metal community, watched the Phil Anselmo footage at Dimebash slightly dis-heartened. The reaction for the most part, was split three ways.
People didn’t think it was a big deal, people where outraged or people thought Anselmo was ‘a bit of a twat’ but left it there.
One person didn’t agree though, and that was Machine Head frontman Robb Flynn, who’s shite band have been turning out big metal hits for near enough fifteen years, and in doing so become one of the rare household metal names. So Robb Flynn weighing in was already going to raise the eyebrows of the mainstream media. But in making a YouTube video where not only does he talk as slow as possible, but also accuses the ex-Pantera vocalist of being full blown racist. Not just ‘I made a bit of a joke sorry racist’, full on ‘n-bomb dropping, proud to be white’ racist. The internet swarmed to his appraisal.
Now that’s not a surprise, not reffering to Anselmo personally, even if he has been in sticky situations like this before (and before that, and before that), but it’s not a surprise that atleast one out of the hundred million metal bands in the world ended up having a vocalist with some fairly questionable views. There is unfortunately always a percentage. Don’t forget the success of Donald Trump in the states, National Front in France and the dear English Defence League. Racism exists throughout all strains of society.
But Robb Flynn doesn’t seem to see it that way. He talks about ‘only in the metal community would this happen’ and goes on to say if Justin Bieber or Metallica (as if Metallica aren’t a metal band) shouted White Power there would be an outcry.
Well he’s not wrong, Justin Bieber smoked pot once and kids nearly killed themselves while Anselmo’s career has kind of relied on the drug. It is obvious the mainstream are more sensitive to controversy. But does Robb Flynn genuinely think that metal attracts more racists?
I don’t think there’s a correlation. And the issue here is the idea of ‘the metal community’. I also don’t think that exists. Do Converge have anything to do with Slipknot? Do Renounced have anything to do with Electric Wizard? Do Melvins have anything to do with Babymetal?
It’s ridiculous, and lumping everyone into one pot and labelling it metal is also counter productive. All it does is open up bands who aren’t cockshandys like Anselmo, to be labelled with the shame shit brush. Bands that may have similarities musically do not nessciariliy have the same political veiws.
Politics is politics, it has a spectrum. People believe in what they believe for an array of reasons and where this sometimes coincides with art, 99% of the time it doesn’t. There is no metal band political party, the metal community only exists musically and creatively. People are free to believe what they wish outside of it.
Of course bands like Skrewdriver and the National Socialist Black Metal scene will obviously attract more right-wing orientated people, while Vegan Straight Edge and Queercore are on the opposite left wing side of the spectrum. The majority of bands have no solid poltical agenda.
We obviously want bands to have something to say, and music that has purpose, authenticity and meaning. But that doesn’t mean it has to preach to us or scream white power at the end of a show. Art is allowed to be art, without having an agenda.
That is where we’re getting lost. With the growth of social media we want our musicians to also be personalities as well, and we don’t always get what we want. You have to decide for yourself where you draw the line between the musician, and their philosophical and political beliefs. That isn’t something anyone should do for you, especially not Robb Flynn on a YouTube video.
For me, I don’t like Anselmo. This isn’t the first time he’s spewed hatred, and literally screaming white power isn’t something I can get behind. In the words of the spiritual guru that is Simon Cowell, it’s a no from me.
The metal community is not racist Mr Flynn because it doesn’t exist as a political idea. What does exist is thousands of hard working touring bands who bring pleasure into people’s lives, bands from different countries, made up of all different races. Surely that is the ultimate opposition to racism.
However, and there is a however, the support for Anselmo is what was worrying. One drunken idiot is no problem, an entire white power movement is. It is time to end racism by not just being ‘not-racist’ but by being anti-racist. By calling out artists who are, by not tolerating lyrical content that calls for white supremecy, by not buying their music, by not buying their merch. Don’t wear Burzum t-shirts, don’t buy Earth Frost records. Don’t support racism.
Metal is not racist, but there are people involed in it who are. To combat racism we need to boycott the artists with no third, fourth and fifth chances. No accepting ‘we’re not racist we’re just trying to be edgy’. Not tolerating ‘It was a joke about white wine’.
When there are hundreds of upcoming bands who are incredible, and also not Nazis, why do you need to support such bellends?
So here’s what’s going on in the North-West with 0% Nazism and 100% riffs:
Huddersfield bruisers are out and about again, following storming support slots with the likes of Heck, Cancer Bats and Krokodil they launch new EP Bring Your Own Blood at The Parish, Huddersfield on February 27.
With the Anti-Pop Records noise mob’s debut full length album Regurgitated for the People, the music is as disgusting as the name. Go grab a copy and give yourself tinnitus.
They’re back! With their debut on Holy Roar Records becoming a cult favourite, and multiple incredible Liverpool shows with scouse sludgers Iron Witch and Conan, Slabdragger return with a new record for a show at Bumper on February 20 with Ohhms in support.
Feminist grind maniacs Carnist descend on Drop the Dumbulls with The Repossessed, Howl, Noyade, Fair Dos and Dead Blends in tow. A truly ferocious band, if you’re a fan of the heavy stuff, do not miss this show, a definitie pick of the month… or even year.