Decibel Magazine Addresses “Bad Shit in Black Metal” in Excerpt from New USBM Book


Decibel Books recently announced a new book, USBM: A Revolution of Identity in American Black Metal, penned by longtime Decibel (and MetalSucks!) contributor Daniel Lake. Since black metal’s history is littered with all sorts of sketchy associations, Lake has come out of the gate addressing those issues head-on in the very first excerpt to be released from the book.

“Before we can engage in an honest exploration of black metal’s history in America,” Lake begins, “we must first be fully aware of the genre’s nauseating and not incidental association with misogynist, racist and homophobic tendencies.”

What follows is a series of quotes from some of black metal’s best-known voices, Grand Belial’s Key, Black Anvil’s Paul Delaney, and Agalloch’s Aesop Dekker among them, each sharing their opinion on how they’ve reconciled their own ideologies with some of the genre’s most hateful elements. Many of the quotes seem to serve the author’s viewpoint that these hateful elements should be allowed to coexist peacefully beside the genre’s non-controversial bands, which is not a premise I agree with (I believe that silence is complicity), but Delaney certainly makes a good point that those “assholes” dig their own graves in some respect:

“A lot of people did shit to provoke when times weren’t as fiery. It’s not that deep. I think it’s childish to have that shit in your music. Am I going to go out of my way to take them down? No. I think they make themselves look like assholes as it is.”

I’m certainly sympathetic to the case of Woe, unabashed, vocal leftists, who lost a show in Germany because they had once shared a stage with Inquisition, unquestionable pieces of shit:

“Woe also hammered out a statement that gave no quarter to the idea that they were themselves at fault, excerpted here: ‘For years, we have been exceptionally vocal about our [liberal] political and social stances, but still careful to not let them define us as a band. Along the way, we introduced countless black metal fans who had never considered politics [to the notion] that it is possible to take an anti-fascist stance without sacrificing the harsh, abrasive stance of a black metal band. Black metal encourages questioning systems, offending those in power and evolving beyond outdated beliefs. If we were to only play to crowds who were squeaky clean, nothing would change, nobody would grow. If we choose to participate in an event, it is because we are confident that it does not compromise who we are.’”

Still, I don’t like the implication, by the way the above quote is situated in the piece, that all (or even many) black metal bands who are dropped from festivals or scorned in other ways are innocent victims of the free speech police. It is absolutely the case that many such bands (not Woe) deserve what came to them.

You can read the full excerpt right here. The book will be out in late November and is available for order here.

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