This is the Good Stuff.
Not like the old stuff. The Good Stuff. The stuff that reaches right down your throat and pummels you with your own intestines. A rain of salt on a raw fresh wound and a straight shot of hot sauce like the Devil’s Jism. It’s the stuff that’ll grow hair on your chest overnight, buddy – maybe sooner – results may vary depending on individual temperament.
This is the Good Stuff. The stuff that sets fire to all the sacred cows, and your wife makes it through about ten seconds before begging you turn it off, please, just turn it off, but by then it’s already too late and in the blast, the poor thing’s eyebrows have been singed right off.
It’s tectonic plates shifting beneath the world’s last and slowest glacier and your ankle has somehow gotten wedged in between.
Any art that’s worthy of the name – and much of what isn’t – is an acquired taste. It took me the better part of a decade before I could make my way past David Tibet’s vocals and make any sense of what it was Current 93 was offering. But at its most potent, Black Metal brings difficult listening to a whole new level entirely. This is out-out past the last outpost of civilization and up-up past the snowline in the dark in that season when the sun never rises. It’s the diving headfirst into the shadow side of yourself that you’d never ever volunteer to see.
Ahhhh the hell with it. If there is one thing forty-five years of Rolling Stone-quality music journalism ought to have taught us every one, it’s that talking about art – about music, about something that is at bottom pure experience – it’s less than useless. It’s a Mortal Sin, an exercise in extreme arrogance, an attempt to feign cleverness by fossilizing into words something that isn’t about that languagy part of the brain in the first place.
The only explanation of the thing is the thing itself.
* * * * *
I like to take regular evening walks around the neighborhood and when I do, I generally bring along my iPod and I drill the Mayhem, the Drudkh, the Deathspell Omega directly into my earholes. You know, a little something to provide an appropriate ambiänce.
And the neighborhood, it’s filled to the brim with a specific cookie-cutter-molded type of gay male couple: shockingly buff, upwardly mobile and stupidly grinning forty-somethings, sitting on lawn chairs under their rainbow flags, watching the sun go down while their purebred something-or-others chase each other’s tails across perfectly-manicured lawns…
And each evening they’ll wave as I go by. And I’ll nod. Nod and walk, nod and walk. Until the night when there’ll be something going on on down the block. Oh, like maybe a street poet’s getting hassled by the cops, and so Huey and Louie will be up out of their lawn chairs and out by the fence. And they’ll strike up a conversation and inevitably it will be, “What are you listening to?”
“What are you listening to?” This is the worst of all possible questions. It’s like asking another man in passing about his religion or his philosophy of life or how a nuclear reaction takes place. Because in my world, you can tell everything you need to know about a person from what s/he is listening to. So if I tell you what I am listening to, I’m going to have to offer an explanation along with it.
An explanation, even though the only explanation of the thing is the thing itself.
But Huey or Louie here – one or the other of them, and for the life of me I can’t tell them apart – has asked me what it is I’m listening to, and with a dismissive wave of the hand I mumble something about, “Oh… nothing, it’s just… just some sort of black metal thing, and…”
And by now, the cops are clubbing the street poet senseless-black-and-blue with their standard-issue nightsticks, but Huey (or Louie) doesn’t care, because I said “Metal.” And he giggles and says, “Metal? Spandex and testosterone, heeheehee,” and before I know what’s happened, he’s yanked the sounds out of my earholes.
Before I can even react, he’s thrown it back at me with a “Oh, it’s that GROWLY stuff.” Of course, it’s too late: the side of his head is burned away and there’s a darkness pouring out of his skull from his brief exposure.
But at least tomorrow, I’ll be able to tell which one’s Huey…
Yeah, Huey. It’s the growly stuff.
* * * * *
Chuck Palahniuk wrote a novel he called Diary, and he set it in a pleasant little island community. And the people he made up who lived there, he had them organize this plan where every eighty years there’d be a horrible tragedy which would chase away the corporations and the tourists for a couple generations.
|I went to Nepal once. The |
people there all drank Pepsi
and listened to Metallica.
“Damn it! This is the same thing that happened to my LAST kid seven years ago, and I thought Congress had finally done something about the temperament of those bears!”
I have to venture farther and farther out to get away from the spotlights and the gawkers, the golden arches and the advertising billboards.
Farther and farther out, to where even the gawkers and the advertisers refuse to go.
That place is called Black Metal and it’s the Good Stuff. It’s not the old stuff. It’s not the stuff that wins awards and sells feminine hygiene products and bottled water and movies.
The Good Stuff.