Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Change is boring...

My mate Evil Dave came back off tour for a couple days… my folks being away, we got a few ales in and got ‘tipsy’ in my back yard… for once the sun was out (ish) and it wasn’t blowing a gale, and so there we sat chatting… about Rock and changing the world… like you do.

Now, Evil Dave, he worked at the Live Earth[1] thing that happened a bit ago (07 July 2007). We are both a bit ‘right on’ and I suppose the idea of something like Live Earth basically appeals to us… thank f**k I had Evil Dave there to give me a eye-witness account… “Why can’t saving the world be more fun” says Dave. I’m not going to give you the details (because I’m not Dave) but, I think, it really will come as no surprise to you that the whole thing was about as ‘Eco’ as Jeremy ‘the environment is gay’ Clarkson… and how could it be?

What Dave pointed out so succintly, with his plaintive statement, was that for all the good Live Earth may’ve done to ‘raise awareness’ about climate issues, the fact is that going to concerts will not save the whales… and I should point out that I’m not justhaving a go at this Live Earth thing… the point is that whenever there are these big, super-bloated, feel-good ‘Green/Eco’ events, it take the initiative away from individuals… it helps to instill the belief that massive, radical social change – change that all serious people (like my mate’s gran and the barman at the local) recognised is needed – will come about, primarily, by the activites of Establishment institutions… it’s all part of way that Establishment power structure take away people’s sense of connection with the world they live in… ‘Yes’, we think, ‘climate change: bad… but so long as I go to Live Earth, give to charity, buy fair trade… it’ll be fine… THEY are on it…’

The problem, typically, with Establishment attempts to tackle the problems facing humanity – and the earth as a whole – is that they only reinforce the notion in the populace that we need a leader to sort stuff out, that it is beyond our reach and capablities. It’s all incredibly subtle and never expressed in any explicit way, but it’s the underlying presupposition that Establishment institutions are thinking for us…

So yeah, changing the world is boring… it is the day to day commitment to work towards a future you will probably not live to see… handing leaflets out, watching lectures, reading news, talking and debating with people, trying to increase the common perception that if the world is f**ked, as most of us suspect anyway, it is only up to us to do something – anything- about it...

But it’s not so different from other thing in our lives…

…take me… I wanted to be in a Heavy Metal band… First, I had to learn how to use a guitar… years of boring classes and quiet practice… never mind the hours of air-guitar in the mirror, learning how to make it look good… then, finding a band, people who you can work with… then writing material that is at least coherent, the endless string of s**tty gigs… of course, having chosen possibly the most unlistenable form of music yet created it was always going to be a struggle…

…and that’s my point… if you have a goal or aim that does not resemble the status quo, that opposes the way things are, you’ve got to expect it to be difficult to realise, with bearly noticable results… stick to the way things are and you can have an easy, ‘fun’ life… choose to work for an alternative perspective and it will be boring and slow and unrewarding…

…but that’s how Power is, and has always been, challenged and defeated…

Bing!x - www.bing-em-all.blogspot.com

[1] http://liveearth.org/070707_liveearth/

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Metal means... (Pt3)

Putting your money where you mouth is, is quite something… probably the most overwhelming revelation of my past two weeks has been how incredibly mundane being serious about revolutionary social change actually is - needs to be…

…the biggest struggle, the most challenging part of actually trying to ‘lead a complete, a noble, a rational existence’[1] - of trying to do something about the things I love moaning about - is the deconstruction of a whole lotta nonsense in the ol’ noggin… it’s a mess up there, turns out…

I’ve really had to sit myself down and give myself the ‘you will never be a Rock Star’ talk, which is heart-breaking… I’ve been able to console myself, slightly – being a generous and compassionate fellah – by pointing out that no matter how genius my Rock maybe, unless I am a business man ready to sacrifice and devote a large part of my personality to ‘working in the industry’ my art will never be known… yep… I gotta cast off all my dreams about appearing in really poorly directed Rock videos, adorned with Python, clad in vac-pressed leggings… Rotherham, or wherever you maybe, is not glamourous…


I’ve noticed that I have to really believe those bits about equality, justice, peace, freedom, meaningful work, enduring community relationships, that I say I agree with… all that stuff and the rest… really necessary to actually believe that s**t and carry it all around with me, baring it in the forefront of my mind, letting it hang from the tip of my tongue like lung-butter ready to flobbed out into a doubter’s face – obviously in a compassionate way…

…the reason I, and anyone who is serious about social change, have to be thus is that there is so little in the way of support for these ideas… more accurately, you just don’t hear or encounter much evidence for these ideas in an average day… if you did, it wouldn’t take such a conscious effort to bare it all in mind…

…stood on the stall with my crane-driver mate, handing out leaflets and getting people to sign petitions against the privatization of the Post Offices I did notice that, other than the odd nutter (glad of a bit of human attention), older folk are much more ready to come up and take a leaflet or sign the petition or have a natter about the state of this or that… if I were being funny, I could make some joke about the old buggers having nothing better to do, but that would be in bad taste…

But you get no young f**kers coming up to you… the girls, especially, look like you just asked them if they would mind terribly being spaffed on… the lads just look sheepish and call you w**ker, not realizing the bone-shaving accurateness of their flippant remarks…

But my hilarious gags aside, I think I know why this is, why old folks are a bit more willing to engage…

…they remember Thatcher telling the world “T.I.N.A.” – there is no alternative and that there is no society… and they remember thinking that it was b****cks then; and it is still b****cks now… us young uns, well, we don’t know that Thatcher said these things; at least 30 years ago people knew that Trade Unions existed and were up to something…

…but we (and here I place myself in the ranks of the young) have been brought up in a societal environment that has gradually accepted these ideas and implied them into our consciousnesses, along with their associated values and presuppositions, so now they act as a kind of filter, only letting through concepts about the world that resemble the way it already looks… more, these filters allow us to structure our attitudes to resemble the very narrow spectrum presented to us in education, media and art; which means the closer we are able to resemble these values, the more likely we will be selected from the pool of like minded non-thinkers for a well paid position as cheer-leader for the status quo…

…you end up wanting to be a rock star, in a spandex jump suite with sequins, standing in front of millions of people chanting your name because you ‘co-write’ songs that sound like cheap, toothless versions of songs by bands no-one listens to anymore but who everyone has a T-shirt of…


Bing!x - http://www.bing-em-all.blogspot.com/

[1] http://flag.blackened.net/daver/anarchism/kropotkin/atty.html

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Metal Means... (Pt2)

*Disclaimer – more people into Metal is cool… people younger than me, who are into Metal do have brains. Metal bands, record companies, merchandisers etc are entitled to make money from whatever they do, if they want to. There has never been and there never will be a Golden Age of Metal... ta!*

This is how I remember it. Early nineties, big f**ked up hair; big, daft glasses, band t-shirts with skulls and angular band names, going to gigs and seeing the few other such atrocities and knowing – just knowing – that you were amongst your own people. Seeing a Metallica song once a year on TV and going berserk cos Metal was right up in peoples face.

The first time I heard Sepultura, I did believe that the Devil actually existed and had a band. I heard that awfulsome dirge of loosed anger and wanted to know if he actually thought in the same way I did; I wanted to know what the f**k Satan Cavalera was so pissed about. Sure enough, a few Machine Head and Fear Factory songs later – amongst many others, I realized that there was indeed a sort of shared Metal credo, a sort of unspoken, informal understanding that Metal was a combination of outrage, independence and pro-activity like; ‘stuff is s**t, I don’t like it so I best do something about it…’

Yeah… you just weren’t into metal unless you meant it. I think that things are a bit different today, no doubt, those a little longer in the tooth would have had similar things to say to my age-group. But the point is that Metal has gradually been absorbed into the mainstream, becoming an Establishment form of business, I mean, Iron Maiden T-Shirts being sold in Top Shop… you what?

When something becomes ‘mainstreamed’, and becomes part of the Establishment scenery of society, then it necessarily has it’s fangs pulled out. See, if something like Metal, is seen to be encouraging dissent amongst rational people, it is perceived as a threat to the way things are – the Establishment. Obviously this just will not do, and the threat has to be eliminated.

But it is not effective to smash dissent in the face with truncheons and smother it with overt repression. Martyrs are made thus, instead it is much more effective to absorb the cultural force (whatever it maybe – Metal, Punk, Hip Hop, Blues, R&B, Film, whatever) into business; make it a new, novel way for people to spend money. Impose some ideas of hierarchy; make it about big heroes and unattainable levels of celebrity; about the piercing, clothing and tattoos, about an image and crucially, maintain the rhetoric of ‘self-expression’, ‘individualism’ and dissent, to show what diversity your culture allows. Make it so when people say that ‘nobody tells me what to think’ or ‘I do what I want’ they are telling the truth, because they don’t need telling, they just adopt and internalize – then repeat - the mantras given to them.

Metal isn’t anything special in itself. The ideas that give Metal teeth are things shared by all manner of people; the bits of Metal that tell you to give the finger to anyone who tries to tread on you and to tell them to f**k off should be like friends you will never lose if you treat them with the honesty and respect they deserve. The same honesty and respect you and all people expect and demand.

Otherwise metal will go the way of Ernesto Guevara’s face, a sad relic of resistance turned into a exotic and risqué money-maker.


Bing!x - http://www.bing-em-all.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Metal means... (Pt1)

I spent last Saturday walking around Leeds city centre with a friend who I had known for about 4 years. I can’t remember what we were talking about, but all of a sudden she told me that at the age of 17 she used to listen to Metal, wear ripped tights and loads of Mascara; that kind of thing. I had no idea that she had ever been into ‘The Word’ but she replied; “Oh yeah; my mum used to hate it!”

While I was sad that my friend had long left the ranks of believers, I did take a lot of heart from the fact that it was to Metal that she had turned when she felt the need to protest against the incumbent power structure in her life.

When I think about why I got into Metal, I can now articulate what I couldn’t have at the time; Metal appealed to my innate sense of independence and disobedience. It was the idea that the world was not full of people with the same attitudes and modes of existence, it reflected the heterogeneity of society; that which is vital in society, and of course that which cannot be allowed to flourish in a society with as much potential freedom as ours.

Also Metal did not just spring up out of nowhere, it was developed and made into something which nowadays cannot be recognized from people at the different ends of the Metal spectrum. I remember a Def Leppard versus Metallica argument that went on, literally, for months, within this art-form itself then, we see this idea of heterogeny.

While as Metal-beasts and beastesses we can bare witness that Metal is for life not just for puberty, we can also, I think admit that Metal does indeed have strong associations to ideas of youth and rebellion… at the same time I think that it is often implicit in these associations that both youth and rebellion are equally childish, transient and idealistic.

My old man even says to my face that it is embarrassing to be seen with me in my leather jacket… (for full disclosure – I am 28).

But the point is that in my youth I believed certain things, not because I was taught them explicitly, but because I felt they were right – and they were my right; things like freedom of expression, the right to challenge authority, the right to use my own wits to solve problems (and so on) and the education system was there to make sure that these rights were smothered, belittled and eventually abandoned.

And my education would indeed have succeeded in cutting me loose from my innate sense of me, but was thwarted by Metal. This, to me, proves that Music is MORE than “just entertainment folks”[1], more than just dancing and having a good time.

Democracynow.org, on Monday May 4th had a special programme dedicated to Pete Seger’s 90th (!) birthday. Turns out, this is a man who has used his form of music to fight power for, well, all his life, by the sounds of things. He wrote once on his banjo “THIS MACHINE SURROUNDS HATE AND FORCES IT TO SURRENDER!”, you can’t call him childish or idealistic; he hates power with all his heart.

I mean, How Metal can you get!?

Now it’s your turn, use the Metal that has been bestowed upon you.


BING!x - http://www.bing-em-all.blogspot.com/

[1] Dev Townsend, “Earth Day” Terria, 2001

Monday, 4 May 2009

My Dying Bride - For Lies I Sire CD Review

My Dying Bride
For Lies I Sire

My Dying Bride return with the full force of doom on this epic record. I had not heard much other than their "A Line of Deathless Kings" album, which in it's own was great. For Lies I Sire was practically and impulse buy, and now it has definitely peaked my interest in this band. The special UK guitar edition pack even came with an extended booklet, a custom pick with the My Dying Bride logo on it and a 12 page guitar tab book! Never before have I heard of a band releasing their music with tab (or sheet music) to accompany it.

The album kicks off with the first epic, My Body, A Funeral, which sets the mood perfectly for the album to come. There's a mixture of instruments that make appearances throughout, including a piano interlude in Echoes From A Hollow Soul and cello in My Body, A Funeral. The album is full of memorable moments with riffs that play over and over in my head even long after hearing them. Santuario Di Sanguine is one of my most memorable songs, and rightfully so. It contains an interesting interlude with violin and sounds of horses and people, before going back into the most epic riff/vocal line I can recall.

The second last song in the album, A Chapter In Loathing, is completely different to everything else on the CD. It's fast, aggressive, and completely scream vocals. It reminds me a of of Diabolical Masquerade for some reason I cannot put my finger on, only that that must be a good thing. The production is flawless, and sounds great! Everything on this record is awesome, the artwork looks amazing in the extended booklet. I can't think of anything they could have done better, which is a rare occasion. I only wish they'd tour to Australia, but that's a topic for another day.

My Dying Bride - For Lies I Sire is out now through Peaceville Records, I recommend it for any fans of decent metal.

Track List:
My Body, a Funeral
Fall With Me

The Lies I Sire

Bring Me Victory
Echoes From a Hollow Soul


Santuario di Sangue

A Chapter in Loathing

Death Triumphant

Total running time: 59:51