Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ironically Metal

Given that we here at Death Race are increasingly straddling (with all the subtlety of a Cadel Evans attack) the subgenres of metal and punk rock, we find it difficult not to compare the differing views espoused by both groups.

One thing that comes up a lot though is the view within the punk community that metal fans are a bunch of glue sniffing, doltish people with no capacity for irony or subtlety. Personal offence aside, and while i do admit that permanent markers do smell nice, i think this is a little unfair.

When punks refer to metal as lacking in irony, they always pick out the obvious choices. Maiden, Priest, Twisted Sister. It's all big hair and big makeup. What punks forget is that this is just a small subset of metal.

If Black Sabbath's 'War Pigs' and Slayer's 'Angel of Death' isn't dripping in ironic sentiment, i'll eat my glue pot.

But perhaps what makes me most uncomfortable is the underlying implication in metal heads being described as slow and doltish, glue sniffers and fuck ups or, to put it another way, working class.

Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys makes the point that, there is a reason why, amongst the poorer countries in the world, especially in South America, punk is seen as aloof and abstract, and death metal is considered the sound that speaks to the kids. Kids don't have time to ponder over animal rights, anarchic philosophies and the evils of large corperations when all they see around them is death and decay.

The real pity here is that, given that punk so often has its heart in the right place, its message is undermined by its inability to communicate with those who stand to benefit the most from its message.

However, whatever punks attributes, i think metal deserves more accolades than it receives in how it shapes and influences millions of peoples lives. If some kid gets a kick out of Sepultura, rather than the Dead Kennedys, then this is all to the good. Inspiration to lead a better life can come from any music, so long as the urge to think for oneself is there.

I think it's there in metal too. Ideally, if we could just combine metal and punk it would al....

wait a minute...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Racing, Exodus, and Hope

Just as with being a metal head, being a cyclist requires you to endure unpleasant things. That said, whilst listening to the entirety of a Suffocation album is trying, it's really got nothing on spending a good hour wanting to vomit on a bike.

As i have recently discovered, bike racing requires you to pay money, in order to have the pleasure of hurting yourself, on the off chance you might win a little bit of money back. This is kinda equivalent to paying for an Exodus ticket, and having to remain for the actual gig. It's painful, boring, and largely unnecessary...but, you know, they might play Piranha.

But, despite the pain a bike race involves, despite the occasional boredom, pseudo machismo, and general risk to life and limb, you keep coming back. Week after week. Looking for something. What for? Glory? No, clearly if that were the case i would choose a sport that gets noticed. Money? Again, golf is where it's at.

No, the reason i race my bike is that, week after week, I receive a small, tangible confirmation that I'm capable of more than i gave myself credit for. The sensation of hope that surges through you as your body heaves from exhaustion, your belly wanting to vomit everything you have eaten that day, is unlike anything you feel in day to day life. It's the feeling of seeing, briefly, what your body could do, if you put your mind to it.

Hope, then, is a sickly feeling at the bottom of your stomach. Kinda like the feeling you get at an Exodus concert.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


A few months ago i visited my housemate Paddy's farm. It was a small place, nestled in a small valley, surrounded by green hills and paddocks. On arriving i noticed a long grassy hill with a water tower at the top. Seeing a rusty mountain bike in the shed, i set off for the top, with the eagerness of a ten year old who's just learnt to skate.

The weather that day was perfect. About twenty four degrees, without a breath of wind, and not a cloud in the sky, the countryside shimmered, green from the rain, not yet brown from the summer.

Bombing that hill on that rust bucket, my hair whipping around me, dodging near invisible potholes, was the closest i have ever been to perfect happiness.

There is a theory in the philosophy of mind, very controversial, that memories and thoughts don't belong entirely to the brain but, rather, too the place where they were conjured as well. I'm pretty quick to scoff at ideas like that, but that day on the bike, on that little hill on Paddy's farm, I could have sworn my happiness belonged, not just to me, but to the valley as well.