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View Full Version : Do fans of Goth and Death Metal take the sentiments of the artists seriously?


astro
12-15-2006, 12:09 AM
I was looking at this myspace page (http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=6593019) and wondered how some fans of musical styles like goth or death metal can take their genres seriously. These styles are almost self parodying comic affectations at this point. I realize they may have had some sort of serious message at some point, but does anyone (including fans) perceive them as artists with a serious message, or just as the entertaining pro wrestlers of music?

ultrafilter
12-15-2006, 12:19 AM
As a rule, some metal fans might take it all seriously, but the bands don't. They're just in it to make a living doing something they enjoy. Like any rule, there are exceptions--particularly the Norwegian black metal scene circa 1995--but they're few and far between. I'm not as familiar with the goth scene, but I doubt it's all that dissimilar.

And just for the record, while the young man pictured there may be a death metal or goth fan, that style of dress is peculiar to the black metal scene.

Diogenes the Cynic
12-15-2006, 12:28 AM
I played in metal bands for years and was as big a fan as anyone. In my experience, with a few rare exceptions, the vasy majority of both musicians and fans do NOT take it seriously. They like the shock value, the catharsis, the hyperbole, the theater and the cameraderie of the subculture. To at least some extent, all the death and gloom and satanism stuff is just a form of very dry, black humor.

I did see the occasional fan who was a little into it, and there are a handful of bands like that as well (especially on the scandanavian scene), but they dudes who take it too seriously or literally tend to be viewed as creepy and weird by most of the other fans.

Diogenes the Cynic
12-15-2006, 12:31 AM
I should add that I'm only talking about the lyrical constent of the songs. They can and do take the music itself very seriously and some death metal bands are really quite complex (Opeth, for instance).

Talon Karrde
12-15-2006, 01:04 AM
I like some goth music (though not goth metal). There's the band Bauhaus, which is considered by some to be the very first goth rock band. They sang about vampires, screaming whores, and death, among other things. It's very obvious that it's done in a very theatrical tongue-in-cheek way (and they'd also sing about utility belts with flashing lights and how to make fishcakes).

Marley23
12-15-2006, 01:12 AM
To at least some extent, all the death and gloom and satanism stuff is just a form of very dry, black humor.
I guess that explains how that kid can like Star Wars at the same time - because Star Wars strike me as pretty un-metal.

thelurkinghorror
12-15-2006, 01:48 AM
It depends. As said above, the fans tend to be more serious, while the artists have more of a tongue in cheek attitude.

Some artists (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varg_Vikernes) do take themselves a little too seriously.

how to make fishcakesBest.song.ever.

MrDibble
12-15-2006, 02:12 AM
I like Goth a lot- depends what you mean by "take it seriously", and depends what you mean by "goth"
Some of the songs are about serious subjects, and those I approach with some respect for the artist's intent. For example, a lot of early Sisters of Mercy songs are coded polemics about drugs and clubbing, and artistically convey the sensorium quite well, I think. Alice, Floorshow, Adrenochrome, Body Electric, all great. Spirit by Bauhaus, one of the greatest songs about performance ever. SOM's Some Kind of Stranger is a great lovesong (of sorts). I take all that stuff quite seriously. Some are just great soundscapes - SOM's 1959, lots of Dark Wave/Ethereal like This Mortal Coil or Black Tape for a Blue Girl.

But then you get Bela Lugosi's Dead, or Flood, or any Mission song, or the entire Fields of the Nephilim corpus (heh) - How to take songs about Crowley, Cthulhu or vampires seriously? Or the SOM's cover of Jolene, for that matter? Clearly they're just having a bit of fun. Or missing the point, in the case of The Mission.

As for modern bands - while I have heard of uber-serious vampire cultists, I've never listened to any. All the bands I like are theatrical, and clearly not serious at all. You just have to listen to Type O Negative's Black No 1 or any Cleopatra label bands to realise that.

One thing that needs emphasis - Goth is Dance Music, really. I don't know how it is with Death Metal, but this is true for most Goth. It is best appreciated on the dancefloor. Most of it is written towards that end - driving beats, especially the post-90s stuff we like to call "DoofDoof", but it goes back to the roots. There's been a post-2000 revival of janglier Cure/Bauhaus stylings rather than the more electro 90s stuff, but all is still geared towards facilitating the "I've lost my contacts" dance-stylings of your local Countess or Batboi. Whan dancing, lyrical content is a little less important, and no-one who has ever done the Goth waltz can claim to take themselves seriously. Oh, many will try, but there are entire websites devoted to pointing fingers at them.

Dung Beetle
12-15-2006, 08:33 AM
I played in metal bands for years and was as big a fan as anyone. In my experience, with a few rare exceptions, the vasy majority of both musicians and fans do NOT take it seriously. They like the shock value, the catharsis, the hyperbole, the theater and the cameraderie of the subculture. To at least some extent, all the death and gloom and satanism stuff is just a form of very dry, black humor.


Well put.

Actually, I was wondering how some fans of musical styles like gangsta rap can take their genres seriously. This style is almost self parodying comic affectation at this point. I realize they may have had some sort of serious message at some point, but does anyone (including fans) perceive them as artists with a serious message, or just as the entertaining pro wrestlers of music?
:D

Lissla Lissar
12-15-2006, 08:51 AM
I agree with Mr. Dibble. Off the top of my head, I can think of two goth songs that I think are meant to be taken seriously, and are still excellent dance songs- Dissapoint, by A23, and Forever, by Bruderschaft. Both are about the death of an artist's father- one by suicide, and one from cancer. They're both EBM/futurepop (or "DoofDoof music).

Aside from those it's hard to take most of goth music seriously at all, and a lot of bands are deliberately silly. That guy looks ridiculous.

FlyingDragonFan
12-15-2006, 09:54 AM
Aside from those it's hard to take most of goth music seriously at all, and a lot of bands are deliberately silly. That guy looks ridiculous.
Aside from looking ridiculous, that guy's from Surprise, Arizona, which is like the suburbanest of suburban Phoenix. Gotta be hard to pull off that look at the strip malls when it's 115 degrees outside. Maybe that's why his makeup is running. If he's taking it seriously, it's a lotta work.

Lissla Lissar
12-15-2006, 01:05 PM
I did once see a guy in a complete Matrix getup at a RenFest. It was about 40C in the shade, and he was wearing a full-length wool coat. I expect he collapsed from sunstroke.

I hope that guy doesn't wear vinyl in summer. I suppose it keeps off the water weight.

Cluricaun
12-15-2006, 01:21 PM
Let’s not forget to separate Death and Black metal for the purposes of this conversation. There aren’t any Death metal performers who practice what they’re singing about (besides perhaps Cattle Decapitation since it’s all vegan themed death metal), they’d all be sitting on death row somewhere if they did.

Black metal OTOH often does take its subject matter seriously in terms of open satanic themes that often do reflect the personal views of at least the lyricist. Much of the look is kitsch, especially the spikes and corpse paint, but if you take a band like Dissection they’re most certainly practicing what they’re preaching.

Ludovic
12-15-2006, 03:11 PM
Another vote for "Goth artists don't take themselves seriously". Which is weird because a lot of hardcore Goth fans dislike semi-Goth bands such as Concrete Blonde, SoM, and Book of Love because they think they aren't serious enough.

Some songs are, like MrDibble said, dancable songs in their own right and actual expressions of lifestyle. I'll add SoM's Amphetamine Logic, which manages to be both of these and self-effacing at the same time.

AliceThat's early stuff? Hmmm, I heard that in concert and it sounded like some of his alleged SSV-era noise-droning. Then again I'm miffed because he didn't play Marian or This Corrosion, although the lack of This Corrosion I can understand because he likes to do slightly different versions (hah!) of his songs in concert and if he played that one he would never get the audience to not sing "gimme the ring" in the background.

MrDibble
12-15-2006, 03:44 PM
[QUOTE=MrDibbleAlice
That's early stuff? [/QUOTE]
1982. For reference, Marian's from '85, This Corrosion's '87.

Procyon
12-15-2006, 04:46 PM
I think that much of the answer to the OP's question depends on what "taking it seriously" means. It is undeniable that fans of goth music and extreme metal derive, at the very least, enjoyment from listening to the music and participating in the scene. Most of that enjoyment, I imagine, is entirely genuine and serious. To someone looking in from outside the genre, it might seem like everyone involved is acting a bit silly. In my own experience, it wasn't too hard to see this ridiculousness at the same time that you're appreciating the music for what it is. The level and kind of appreciation varies from person to person: as Diogenes the Cynic mentioned, there are many emotions and enjoyments to be gotten from metal. Yet pervading the whole scene is an attitude of irreverence and self-mockery. Kind of like "we all understand that everyone here likes this stuff a lot, but come check out these ridiculous lyrics."

One time a friend of mine and I were talking about metal around another friend who didn't listen to it. After a while he interrupted us and said, "hold on, do you guys actually like this stuff or not?" It's a fine balance between liking something a lot and thinking it's absurd. That's how some people get introduced to it: they listen to it kind of as a joke and then get hooked. Yet I think this outlook is fairly prevalent.

One exception, I think, people who adopt the extreme political positions of various bands they like. Some extreme metal bands have, or at least claim to have, overtly fascist, racist, or otherwise misanthropic political agendas. I have no idea if this is a problem anymore, but when I was more into the scene there were a decent number of people who'd start spouting the same kind of nonsense 'cause they heard Graveland saying it, or whatever. Metal-fans are by no means the only kind of people who do this, but I think a lot of people, naive people, in my opinion, really do take that seriously.