The last few weeks have been explosively stupid on the metal internet. I had kind of hoped to just take a back seat and let it all pass by while I tried to write about music itself and not hate my life and subculture as much. I was looking forward to some time off, hoping to remember why I was actually involved in this music. Call it a vacation of sorts.
That didn’t work out too well.
Tonight I read a Metalsucks editorial titled “Todd Jones from Nails is a Scene Bully,” which is about 1500 words (1459 too many) constructed on a lot of bias and misinformation, mostly to generate what you kids call “clicks.” I generally try to be somewhat open minded to other people’s ideas, which gets me labeled either an “SJW” or “Nazi” in many comments sections. I believe in a more centrist, grey kind of world where ideas from all sides can fit together in conversation and somehow work to improve our quality of life and intellect. Articles like that one, however, are the kind of thing that make the ideal I just described seem both impossible and also depressing. While, from what your comments tell me, I really shouldn’t be one to talk in terms of the quality of writing, this reads like it was written by a jilted 8th grader who would shoot up his class if the kick of the gun wouldn’t dislocate his shoulder.
The author begins mostly by making a roundabout comparison to Chuck Klosterman and a story about Marilyn Manson, which has fuck all to do with anything except that he tries to tie it to saying that Nails is mostly successful because they are manufacturing angst and rebellion. The only thing this does is give the impression that the author would like to be the Klosterman in this story, only with hack writing skills and a penchant for self-serving duality. I’d like to respectfully disagree with his assertion that “rebellion” is “first and foremost” fueling Nails success but I’d have to have respect here first so I’ll just go ahead and disagree. Nails has definitely been a punching bag as of late, especially in light of Jones’ recent harsh words for a music journalist on Twitter. That’s left an opening for people to try to interject and slow their success, same as a band like Deafheaven who—love them/hate them/be entirely apathetic to them/own their blanket—who undeniably hit a stride and moved forward at rapid speed. To say that this idea is what is helping the band with their current success is bullshit, just as the latter assessment of them being a poor live band. Nails are a genuinely aggressive and punishing band, both on recording and on the several occasions I’ve had the chance to see them live throughout their career, and their violent approach has been a major component since their first recording. To say that this is somehow new or manufactured is a complete fallacy.
You didn’t think I missed the part where the author bitches about how he saw an attractive woman wearing a Nails shirt recently, did you? Of course not! Let’s go into the various reasons this statement is both repulsive and differently abled. For a writer who seems proud to wear the tag “SJW” this is an incredibly sexist statement. He seems upset that this band has fans that don’t all look like they just emerged from six days of playing Xbox without showering, which is funny considering how hard he tries to be all inclusive and socially conscious. He’s also basically saying that he doesn’t believe that kind of person would listen to this music. This would be hilariously ironic if it weren’t so sad. Here is someone who writes about social agendas in music as a positive thing basically judging books by their cover. I don’t even know if he believes half the shit he’s writing or if this is just clickbait generated for a reaction which I’m foolishly giving. Good fucking game, son.
Later in the piece he claims that Jones and Nails are “anti-intellectual” but he’s missing the point of this band entirely. Anyone who comes to Nails for a cerebral experience is as naïve as someone going to a bar for a liver detox. Nails are emotionally driven, even if those emotions are aggression and anger, and to try to pin something onto them that they themselves are not even trying to pretend to be is just asinine. At this point I couldn’t tell if he was serious anymore and I don’t think he could either. Nails isn’t a nuanced band by design. Neither was early Napalm Death. Or Autopsy. Or fuck, even Venom. It’s urgent, primitive and violent. If you need absolutely everything in your life to share your intellectual sensibilities, then you’re going to live a stunted fucking life because you’re not seeing other sides of the story. You’re not challenging yourself. You’re creating your own bubble and you’re suffocating your brain within it.
With all this talk of “bullying” and wearing the “SJW” moniker proudly, this editorial is proving that the author is himself actually a bully. He’s using his platform to disparage someone, to drag their name through the mud with brazen generalizations and buzzwords that get tumblr users’ naughty bits damp. It’s tabloid writing. It is the fucking definition of being a bully. This is being written by someone who is offended by Todd calling someone “pussy boy” but also who defends repeatedly a junkie whose actions caused real life damage to people’s lives. This is the kind of myopic cartoon nonsense that’s being fed to you. And that’s where this is so fucking infuriating as is both sides of the “safe spaces in metal” debate. They only want you to fully listen to and indoctrinate yourself into their side of things. If you’re against racism or sexism, then you must also be against anything controversial a band may say. You’ve got to boycott them, no, you’ve got to DESTROY them. Instead of, you know, ignoring them and voting with your dollar elsewhere like rational people would do. Both sides sound like fucking fascists in these instances, just with stupider haircuts and a grand sense of self importance. And that’s why Nails say “You Will Never Be One of Us,” because it’s a rejection of this mentality—BOTH sides. It’s meant to distance free thinking individuals who are building their own codes of ethics through experience and not through some reddit thread. It isn’t angsty rebellion, it’s a declaration, and one that metal and punk is built upon—rejection of normal society. And maybe it’s time we remember those ideals instead of trying to invite the world that rejected these subcultures into them only to fuck them up as bad as their own lives.