The article I'm about to cite, from a source with bona fides in both academia and metal, formalizes what I've been saying for a long time: the post-1994 boom in indie-influenced "hipster metal" has created a new, non-metal genre that is a parasite on metal.
The article, "No Hipster Metal Here," says this more delicately.
I still stand by my defence of mainstream metal – that it is filled with irony and humour, that it offers an organic link to the avant garde that is vanishingly rare in musical cultures – but I’m aware that mainstream metallers have no need of my excuses.
German metal, you are my reproach! You laugh at my intellectual metaldom!
Gazing at this flyer, at a German rural roadside, I see metal at its least cool. Away from the cosmopolitan city, middle Europe’s metal hordes gather. They embrace the ‘bang your head’ rituals, the cheezy graphics, the beer-soaked denim-jacketed-arms-aloft devils horns. They worship metal’s blue-collar anti-art past, the legendary Geordie faux-Satanic speed metal stylings of Venom and the exhumed Thin Lizzy shorn of Phil Lynott’s troubling blackness, the proudly clichéd Edguy. Lower on the bill, Sabaton proclaim their cartoon war-obsession, Diamond Head try and remind us that in the early 1980s they actually mattered, Tankard offer endless variants of their odes to beer. Only Ireland’s Primordial forlornly fly the flag for metal’s subtler side.
But why the f&@#! not? Why not metal at its least hip? Why not German blue-collar crassness in a field?
Written by Keith Kahn-Harris, famous for his multiple academic writings about metal and his Metal Jew blog, this article relies on the same "class warfare" analysis of hipster metal versus true metal that I covered in an earlier article, and that I think is incorrect.
The reason people go for this analysis is simple: academics write about revolutions. Revolutions involve the dispossessed versus the entitled. Thus, all things must be explained in terms of class, which includes race, gender, sexual orientation and other groupings we use to explain dispossession.
One of the reasons many of us left academia is that this viewpoint is very limited and amounts to seeing people as financial transactions.
Instead of seeing "true metal = blue collar metal, hipster metal = urban and middle class metal" I see this conflict for what it is: a clash of ideologies.
- True metal has an eternal, impersonal, epic and mythological perspective. It is not songs of protest about the misery of life. It is songs of war, of triumph, of things that escape our neat categories of good and evil, whether gore/disease or occultism. It is lawless and organic, inhuman and vast.
- Hipster metal has a human, personal, moral and emotional perspective. It is like most of rock music protest songs against oppression and misery. It does not glorify the lawlessness, but the imposition of moral categories and personal emotions that limit the natural world beyond humans.
In addition, there are musical differences. True metal is about knitting riffs together into a labyrinth of thought; hipster metal is about using "cool" metal riffs in rock-style songs, which keep returning to a state of balance centered on the listener. True metal takes you away from yourself. Hipster metal panders to you.
The most important of the hipster metal bands, like Gojira and Mastodon, are indistinguishable from rock music if you take away the distortion. True metal sounds like metal even if you play it on the fruitiest of fruity Casio keyboards.