The metal news of the last few weeks has been pretty disturbing. While the scene debates whether or not antifascists versus Taake should be a pay-per-view, there have been some pretty fucking disgusting revelations regarding a few bands and their behavior with underage individuals.
Unfortunately, sexual assault is not a new problem, nor is it one that looks like it will go away anytime soon, especially observing others’ reactions to this kind of news. The Decapitated situation last year is a prime example, the comments section littered with defenses that the band never treated the person commenting badly, plus the other side of the peanut gallery jumping in to point out that the band sucks. Yes, comments section, I’m aware they were cleared of the charges, but this doesn’t change the reactions many of you had.
It’s made worse when bands like Young and in the Way trivialize and normalize these accusations. It becomes a fucking pissing contest, just like how everything else in metal seems to. You’ll also have those who go straight towards the victim by trying to expose anything “questionable” they’ve done in the past, like it’s anyone’s fucking business. That’s if the victim is remembered at all. It just becomes another conversation about the band’s music, showing a complete detachment from the reality of the situation. We view these instances as though we’re watching a character in a movie, forgetting that these are real live human beings committing or experiencing trauma. We’ve become so utterly desensitized to people’s experiences, not just in this community but as a whole, that it’s difficult to comprehend having compassion or basic fucking decency anymore.
As bad as what I just outlined above may be, there is one step further down the ladder onto the bottom floor of a very shitty house. The news broke earlier this month that a member of Seven Sisters of Sleep turned himself in for being a pedophile. Apparently the rest of the band didn’t know, but they did the morally right thing and disbanded even though they could have just distanced themselves from him and carried on. Regardless of what the members do now, this is something that will always follow them even though they handled it with an amount of class that is pretty rare in 2018.
A few months ago, someone sent me a link from a burner account, telling me Jason Weirbach, better known as Inquisition‘s Dagon, had a conviction regarding child pornography and asked me to do a story on it. Beyond the link I couldn’t find any real information on it and considering the source was anonymous I held off from writing anything about it since it could have just been someone with a grudge or someone who thought they’d be cute and set up a fake story, kind of like that black metal band from Iraq a few years ago. I wrote Weirbach directly, sending him the link, to see what he had to say before I jumped the gun on it. I guess I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt since we’d played shows together over the years and I’m also growing increasingly sick of seeing everyone called out for offenses that haven’t been properly vetted or researched. Time went by without a response and I forgot about it, mostly because I figured that if it didn’t break anywhere and he didn’t give enough of a fuck to open the message that it was probably bullshit like I initially thought. I received a notification that he finally read it today, followed up by a message from elsewhere that others had apparently received the same message and did further investigating than I did and came up with enough evidence that their label dropped them and the internet was ignited. I’m pretty sure that, unlike his past Nazi accusations, this isn’t something people can use “but he’s from Colombia!” excuse to wash away, unless their mothers smoked during their pregnancy.
I feel somewhat irresponsible for not following up harder and going off on my way. It’s difficult to vet everything in the climate of outrage culture, but I should have done more than give him the heads up and the benefit of the doubt. This is a difficult lesson because anytime I write a piece on something like this I want to make sure that I’m certain about what I’m writing, and I also don’t want to launch a depth charge at someone who isn’t deserving of it. I don’t want to be the person who sponsors a tour for a band that publicly is problematic only to disown them years later when it suits me. But as someone who was sexually abused as a child, this is the type of thing that should have never left my radar, which makes me just as guilty of being distracted and desensitized as anyone else.
Now, I don’t have a lot of faith in the metal scene, or humanity as a whole, but I’d like to think one thing we can all collectively voice is that this shit is not OK, not acceptable and as an aesthetic, it’s probably the lowest you can go. And just as disturbing is the flood of people who’ve been longtime fans and will excuse this shit because “the riffs!” or some other fucking dunce platitude stolen out of metal’s playbook of idiotic shit. The one I’ve seen a lot is that we shouldn’t be surprised that people who make “evil” music might not be the nicest people, and yeah, I get that, but we all have lines that shouldn’t be crossed and I think this one is pretty glaringly fucking obvious.
That goes for any musician that’s accused of pedophilia or sexual assault. I don’t fucking care how great of a songwriter they are, this is 2018 and there’s been forty bands formed since I started this sentence; you’re not lacking choices here. Metal Archives shows like 100,000 bands. I’m pretty sure 99% of them don’t jerk off to/on kids. The percentage for sexual assault is probably closer to 90%. What I’m saying is you have a lot of bands to choose from that aren’t absolute degenerate shitheads. The same argument can be made about people who talk about how Nazi bands have “riffs” or whatever excuse is popular this week.
Possibly the most ironic thing that’s occurred since I started the draft for this piece a few days ago is how enraged people are that Karl Willets is wearing an Antifa shirt, especially so when it’s the same people who are claiming the Inquisition documents were forged by Metalsucks (while entirely possible, you have to remember you can verify these yourself, apparently and let’s face it, Metalsucks aren’t that creative) or whatever nonsense, while at the same time calling people who get upset over NSBM “overly sensitive.” It could also be that they’re stupid, since Karl’s political stance has been very obvious since the band formed during the heyday of anarcho-punk but I’ve given up on people utilizing critical thought anymore.
While this seems like an obvious end for Seven Sisters of Sleep and Young and in the Way, I’m pretty sure Inquisition will survive this just like the National Socialist thing a few years back, just without the massive amounts of cash being pumped into them from their label or the support of tours like the Satyricon one they were removed from. After all, the more nuanced members of the black metal underground are throwing support at them like they’re throwing water on a burning bus, probably because it means the only people who will be into them will be the deep underground, sort of like the kind of people who trade child porn: hidden but thriving. I just don’t know if I want to see any more of these people get outraged the next time a priest gets busted fucking some kid in his parish. These are the same people who talk about slitting Blake Judd’s throat for stealing a bunch of shit but are totally fine with alleged pedophilia. If this was a band that they didn’t like I’m positive the reactions would be entirely different.
If you’re so stuck on a band that has members who commit sexual assault because the music is good then it shows, at the very least, your laziness and lack of dedication in finding other bands who don’t have to introduce themselves to the neighbors every time they move or, at the very worst, it shows your character as purposely desensitized to reality. Just as bad are the people who will use these examples as a way to fit in their own narrative and agenda, trying to co-opt this for some left or right wing cause that suits them. These are the kinds of willful selfishness that cause us to forget victims and to forget basic decency and what allows these sorts of predators to stay hidden out in the open in the metal scene and the greater world in general. Stay vigilant and speak up, especially for those who can’t speak for themselves. We can all do better at this.