Dysfunctional human interactions influence the creation of music and other facets of culture, and the world of extreme metal is a great microcosm to this larger idea. Be it rebellion against authority, expressions of negativity or all out misanthropy, metal often pulls few punches when it comes to expressing itself. Race, sex and gender also have a part to play, and today I would like to briefly bring up race in metal. Race and racism have played a large part in the shaping of the human world and the way people interact with one another, and this music genre is no different.
The world has a lot of metal fans and metal bands (the Metal Archives lists over 87,000 groups!) of various types and extremities. The history of the genre and some current statistics suggest a more Caucasian beginning and continued highest per-capita scene in the west. This being the case, more conservative elements in these areas/scenes adhere to more nationalistic/race based musical expressions. There are a lot of instances of racism/cultural relativism in metal, ranging from the naive (‘Oriental Metal’ = Orientalism) to the outright hateful (NSBM being the most well known).
The website entitled ‘Metalheads Against Racism (MAR)’ lists these three tenets as its mission statement:
By join. ing Metalheads Against Racism, we declare:
1. We believe that all human beings are born equal.
2. We believe that multiculturalism is neither unnatural nor dangerous.
3. The Metal scene is not open to those propagating the idea that some people are inferior to others because of their race or culture. We will not allow Heavy Metal to become a forum for their racist views.
Your band can add its name to a long list of supporters.
However, keep in mind that placing your band’s name on this list will not end discrimination and racism (it’s like the whole ‘awareness’ movement) outright, but it will showcase that the times are changing for the better and continue to further the sea-change in the way people think. Solidarity has been one of the better traits of the metal world (well, if you like the ‘correct’ kind of metal) and has probably aided in helping end prejudice through continued human interactions across the worldwide scene.
I would like to point out that I support national pride and celebration of heritage (as well as free speech…there are law abiding racists and unlawful egalitarians), but when such attitudes lead to active targeting and animosity towards others for reasons outside their own control (sex/gender, race, age, height etc etc) then it is the right thing to do for metal fans (and everyone else) to inform/reform themselves actively through music and its surrounding culture.
Make sure to read over the rebuttals made by the website against their critics so see where you stand on the issue beyond a support/oppose level and open up a conversation with fellow fans and most of all yourself.
Thank you for reading.