Friday, July 31, 2009

BLACK METAL PENCIL

There's really nothing like a sweet bit of come-uppance, and after decades of humourless digs at all and sundry in the world of music via his artistically null cartoon, Edwin Pouncey (aka Savage Pencil) feels the heat and sweats cold. All because some Wire reader without a life felt the need to write in and complain about Pouncey's inclusion of an utterly obscure heavy metal band in a playlist; and thus it seems panic has broken out at the magazine's offices, and said Pouncey has had to grovel for mercy by means of a public written apologia.

Of course, what he should be apologising about is his singularly embarrassing taste in music, not to mention his crimes against humour. As far as I'm concerned, black metal is what boys listen to after they've finished all their Harry Potter books; I imagine Iron Maiden would also still be cool, but not a band to be namedropped in The Wire. Graveforests And Their Shadows indeed. Seriously, Stars In Their Eyes is more experimental than this crap.

But that aside, here is Pencil's awkward obfuscating squirm from the latest issue, with annotations.

"My inclusion of Walknut's album in my Black Metal 15 was based purely on the group's music rather than any ugly fascist message..."
hang on, 'ugly fascist message' as opposed to 'nice fascist message'?

"...that they may have secretly buried in the mix."
what, like backwards messages?

"Although ignorance is no excuse,"
...

"...I was blissfully unaware that Graveforests And Their Shadows contained material that supported extreme racist viewpoints."
...so ignorance is indeed an excuse

"Instead, I heard what sounded like an excellent example of ABM (Atmospheric Black Metal) that I felt was worthy of mention for its musical and experimental qualities."
I'm sure The Wire complainant will be most grateful for having the acronym ABM explained to him - cf. 'paediatrician' (a doctor who looks after the health of children)

"Should its inclusion in my chart have caused any distress to readers of The Wire,"
'distress'?!?

"...or embarrassment to the magazine's staff, I sincerely apologize and promise to be more alert and responsible in the future. I also agree that racists should not be allowed to have a platform in the pages of The Wire. That said, however, I do feel that Black Metal is producing some of the most interesting and diverse music today, and for that reason alone I shall continue to support it. Savage Pencil"
so, by definition of the 'that said/however' contrast, does it mean Mr. Pencil does feel that it/they should be allowed to have a platform in the pages of The Wire, or that he'll just continue to support it/them for demonstrating excellent musical/experimental qualities?

This was the guy who got so hot and bothered over an erect penis on an album cover? Oh dear.

13 comments:

Ea-M. said...

Dear Mr Bennett, I would appreciate you reading Harry Potter ( i think you would be pleasantly surpriced ) before you link the people who really enjoyed these books to teeny metal fans... But i might be wrong...
Edited for typing

LJP said...

Walknut -- funny name for a band. Yep, found out they were connected to Temnozer, the sub-Jethro Tull NSBM band (yawn...) I used to listen to a dodgy internet radio station that played that stuff but it gets boring real quick TBH...

SYpHA_69 said...

Black Metal is such a silly genre anyway (though I suppose one could say the same about most metal genres). I researched it a bit last month and quickly came to the conclusion that in many cases the band names, album/song titles, lyrics and cover art were vastly more interesting than the music itself, sadly.

William Bennett said...

I know how much you love those HP books, Ea-Marie, and as you point out I've not actually read them, I (once again) plead ignorance! :-) x

Richo said...

Wholly agree with you on this, William. Metal in just about all its forms is imbecilic anyway. What's ironic with Sav's situation here, however, is not only the double-standards at work but his complete and utter spinelessness. Mind you, I personally feel The Wire lacks any backbone anyway, so he at least fits in...

Would like to know more about his being offended by the sleeve depicting an erect penis, though. Offended or just uncomfortable with the very thing I presume he also has dangling between his pins? I seem to recall the poster to The Dead Kennedys' LP, 'Frankenchrist', by HR Giger and depicting a 'Penis Landscape' also creating a huge stir.

Richo said...

Ah, just read the link to the piece about Sav playing 'Shitfun' in an Invisible Jukebox. Interesting. Seems as though he has a very stymied (and rather predictable) view of Whitehouse...

Thomas Bey William Bailey said...

"so, by definition of the 'that said/however' contrast, does it mean Mr. Pencil does feel that it/they should be allowed to have a platform in the pages of The Wire, or that he'll just continue to support it/them for demonstrating excellent musical/experimental qualities?"

I guess it just means he'll continue to be lazy in conducting his musical research (and how much of that is really required in making these self-aggrandizing 'top 15' lists, anyway?), so long as he's allowed to use ignorance of fact as a legitimate defense of his conduct.

Sadly, this could have been turned into an interesting discussion on sound's ability to transcend or escape even the ideological intent of its creators and to be infused with whatever values the listener's malleable brain wishes. However, in S.P.'s desperate bid to cover himself he decided to settle on a nerdy apology-cum-'serious statement' akin to those public service announcements given by team captains before FIFA matches.

Also related; I recently wrote a long-ish piece on the ideological contradictions and general weirdness inherent in Black Metal, titled "Loving Indolence and Hating Peace" (kudos to Tacitus for that one), which ought to be online soon if anyone's interested.

William Bennett said...

do let us know when you post the piece, Thomas, look forward to reading that

Thomas Bey William Bailey said...

William- it'll be up on the edition of that "Perfect Sound Forever" web-zine after the current one (perfectsoundforever.com, of course)

Originally written to, er, "commemorate" the release of black metal firebrand and historical revisionist Varg Vikernes, it spiraled into something else entirely when I realized just how insane this scene has gotten since the 1990s...

"NOUMENAL ANIMAL"[sic] said...

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! Good work there - Gavage Wastrel had it coming!!!

x

Mykill Von Doom said...

"Seriously, Stars In Their Eyes is more experimental than this crap"

I hate for my first reply to a post on here to be contrarian, but I have to point out that, for most black metallers, experimentalism is far from the point. They cherish (sorry, "hail") orthodoxy in extremis. Copy existing musical and lyrical forms (invariably: satan, ancient Northern European paganism and/or a juvenile brand of National Socialism).
The bands who embrace more experimental forms tend to be shunned by the hardcore. Even a band such as Darkthrone, seen as founders of the genre, have on recent albums demonstrated a sense of humour about the whole thing, and eagerly acknowledged/embraced the inherent ridiculous of the genre and, predictably, are now considered "false metal" by the bedroom vikings.

Steven said...

Contrary to SYpHA 69's comment, Some BM music can be quite sonically pleasing, it is actually the trappings which are laughable (Walknut being a perfect example). What is "interesting" about half-assed attempts at sinister Nazi chic and juvenile Satanist delusions? Speaking of juvenile content, by the way, I mean, I am a WH fan, but "I'm coming up your ass"? Could be found a tad childish by some...

maldorortrismegistus said...

A lot of interesting comments here. I'd like to throw in a bit of defense for metal here. Some of what Bennet says about metal culture being a bit immature. I would consider myself a "metalhead" but I personally disdain both the tribal "truer-than-thou" metalheads as well as the shallow fantasy nerds. There are quite a few metal fans like myself that enjoy aspects of the music while viewing the stupider aspects with ironic pleasure.

As a few have said, there is quite a bit of recent black metal that has taken the genre in interesting directions. Deathspell Omega, for instance, (a band that the extreme traditionalists of black metal have disowned) has done some interesting experiments in the genre (unique to black metal, but not necessarily to metal and rock as a whole), but what I find more interesting is that their compositions and lyrics are based on the writings of Georges Bataille and perverse dissections of Catholic theology which suits the atmospere of their music perfectly. It's a step up from horror movie Satanism.

What Thomas said about sound transcending ideological intent is a good starting point when talking about some of black metal's right wing tendencies and fans that may totally disagree. The main reason I don't listen to NSBM bands is that I find most of them boring and derivative. But since most of the racist black metal is indistinquishable from the non-racist stuff, a non-racist fan who doesn't care about the lyrics isn't necessarily committing an act of cognitive dissonance.

One last thing. It's a good idea not to generalize all black metal with the views and activities of certain members of the early 90s Norwegian scene. Many of the early black metal bands like Bathory and Sarcofago have openly denounced the acts of violence and pagan-fascist religiosity of their followers. The early bands are actually interesting cases to examine before dismissing all of it as juvenilia. While it's true that much of the Satanic and horror content of these bands is laughable and immature (they were often teenagers at the time of writing these songs anyway), I place some value on their transgressive value for the time. The Brazillian band Sarcofago, despite the terrible English, were doing somehing rather daring with the extreme blasphemy of their lyrics and imagery in a society of conservative Catholicism. I would hope the author of songs like "Prosexist" and "Rapeday" could appreciate that aspect.