The Wild Beast Manifesto: One writer’s response to Metalsucks

Every American presidential election has a profound, lasting impact on the entire world. The recent election has been incredibly divisive online and in person, driving wedges between friends and family more so than any other election or event in recent memory. There are protests, riots and hate crimes. This hasn’t been a normal election cycle. Passionate responses and reflection is understandable and inevitable. Metalsucks certainly stirred the pot yesterday in the realm of metal by publishing its manifesto that explicitly states their staff’s underlying values which most readers, fans and detractors probably already recognized.

They proclaim that they’ve never been an unbiased media outlet: “We believe in progressive, liberal values, and we will wear those values on our sleeves through our writing.”

Openly stating their political leanings is commendable. They are not apolitical. No one can misconstrue that now. Readers can, if they didn’t already, expect ongoing subtle and/or explicit political commentary. Metalsucks stands against president elect Donald J. Trump, a man who inarguably stoked the fires of division with vitriolic rhetoric and direct language. They are proud SJWs (social justice warriors). They are more likely to cover artists who are in line with their views, and “artists who actively do not espouse (their) values will continue to get called out for it.”

I can’t help but wonder that by regularly shining a spotlight on openly racist artists like Varg Vikernes of Burzum they may be unintentionally operating counter to the spirit of their manifesto. I wasn’t aware that Varg made a racist role-playing game until Metalsucks published a blog about it. They pointed me toward his YouTube channel. They included a direct link providing more information about the game. They included a direct link to a point-of-purchase site for the product. Make no mistake about it. That is promotion. But I digress…

They have every right to their opinions. It’s their website. But is it really “time for all of us — ALL of us — to decide what we want metal to be”? I’m not obliged to answer that. No one is. But I’ll throw in my two cents.

Metal shouldn’t be safe. It should be a wild, primal beast. I might not always agree with the content, but I’m glad that metal exists as a format for boundless, extreme expression. I’m inspired by the left-leaning, charged political nature driving a band like Napalm Death. Their music has raged alongside many of my beliefs, many of which seem to be in line with the folks at Metalsucks.

But what if one doesn’t toe the line with Metalsucks’ perspective entirely or with regard to a particular contemporary issue? Is metal about championing a collective position where we all rally around a specific outlook, or is it about individuality? Of course there’s oftentimes a sense of unity revolving around some shared values and experiences. But is everyone required to subscribe to a set of homogenous ideals? Is groupthink metal? I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s very metal at all.

I may agree with some of their beliefs. I proudly stand against racism and misogyny. Yet by drawing a line in the sand, you create a clear dichotomy. Binary politics don’t actually fit reality by failing to take nuance into account. I assume that some of my own positions on some contemporary hot-button issues are out of sync with theirs. Should I consult with someone to make sure I’m drawing within the lines of a prevailing viewpoint? (I won’t.) Isn’t their espoused ethos which extends the notion that metal should be an inclusive culture undermined by drawing lines in the sand since people are complex, unique creatures who don’t always march to beat of the same drum?

In my (not so) humble opinion, metal should celebrate individuality. Metal should be a wild beast. Metal shouldn’t have a rulebook. Everyone has an opinion, and some will disagree with mine, especially those advocating strict binary politics. Some may throw me into the racist and misogynistic side of the fence called Trump for walking outside of the clearly marked path. I won’t lose any sleep over it.

The opinions expressed in this blog are the author’s own and are not intended to reflect the view of the entire staff at Hellbound. Jay Gorania is about to enjoy some of his foreign-born mother’s Indian food while listening to SOD’s Speak English or Die, if that’s okay with you, of course.