photo & text by nacrowe
POLITICS in METAL is kind of a TABOO subject. it is one thing to have PEDESTRIAN observations about the BRUTAL nature of WAR (i.e. "WAR PIGS" by BLACK SABBATH, "TERRITORY" BY SEPULTURA), CAPITAL PUNISHMENT ("RIDE THE LIGHTNING" by METALLICA, "UNDER THE GUILLOTINE" by KREATOR) or CORRUPT POLITICIANS (literally every other MEGADETH song), but it is entirely something else to promote a full-blown perspective. METAL fans tend to skew CONSERVATIVE and seem en masse to prefer first or third-person narratives related to HORROR (SLAYER, PIG DESTROYER), HISTORICAL (MOTORHEAD, IRON MAIDEN) or even FANTASY (DIO, KING DIAMOND) themes probably because there is a disconnect from reality in the lyrical content. it seems when METAL bands decide to get clever and go for DOUBLE ENTENDRES (JUDAS PRIEST) or write in PARABLES (TOOL), such efforts leave the majority of the audience behind. im not attempting to disparage METAL fans by insinuating that they are on the whole pretty UNSOPHISTICATED, but then again i guess maybe i am in fact saying just that. they want what they want and INNOVATIVE lyrical conceits is not part of it.
which to me is what makes the debut REEK OF PUTREFACTION (EARACHE, 1988) album by CARCASS such a deviation from the status quo. it is just so baldly POLITICAL. several members of the LEGENDARY GRINDCORE band are famously VEGETARIANS and from the jump made their PROGRESSIVE opinions on ANIMAL RIGHTS issues front and center lyrically, sonically and artistically. sonically they take off where fellow EARACHE RECORDS label-mates NAPALM DEATH took off, with an unrelentingly DEVASTATING DEATH METAL pounding charge into COMPLETE DISSONANCE and AURAL OBLIVION. if one could even understand the lyrics then they would come to appreciate quickly that in the eyes of CARCASS, there is nothing more VILE and BRUTAL in history than INDUSTRIAL FARMING. and its hard to argue with them on that point. if you concede that animals are SENTIENT beings capable of SUFFERING than modern technological practices within the FACTORY FARMING INDUSTRY meant to maximize PROFITABILITY, PRODUCTION and ECONOMIES OF SCALE (including GENETIC ENGINEERING, MECHANIZED SLAUGHTER, CONFINEMENT IN CLAUSTROPHOBIC CAGES, CASTRATION, DEHORNING, HOT-IRON BRANDING, TAIL DOCKING and DEBEAKING SANS ANESTHESIA) are beyond CRUEL and represent an elevated ORWELLIAN level of INHUMANITY and GORE. in other words its a VALID and thoroughly EMPATHETIC position to uphold while also being incredibly METAL. just look at the original artwork, which was made up of cutouts from one of the band-member's sister's nursing textbook. its all OUT-OF-CONTEXT LIMBS and APPENDAGES from surgery photos pastiched together to showcase what equates on first-glance to be seemingly INDISCRIMINATE BODILY CARNAGE. makes you reconsider what you are, in fact, eating at the dinner table.
METAL as a genre itself, despite its limitations, has always been about rebellion and going against the grain, even if the music broadly speaking over time has paradoxically become more RIGID and CONSERVATIVE over time. REEK OF PUTREFACTION and STANDOUT tracks like "VOMITED ANAL TRACK," "MAGGOT COLONY," "REGURGITATION OF GIBLETS," "FRENZIED DETRUNCATION," "PYOSISIFIED (ROTTEN TO THE GORE)" and "GENITAL GRINDER" represents a unique thematic departure from the lyrical and POLITICAL conformity of the genre in the late 1980s. even if a band is not explicitly POLITICAL, that choice is paradoxically a POLITICAL STATEMENT in and of itself. if DIO chooses to sing of WARLOCKS and WIZARDS instead of REAL-WORLD WAR ATROCITIES from the period, than said artistic choice is his to make and equates to a POLITICAL CHOICE.
part of me wishes that MODERN METAL had more to say, rather than just aping past artistic choices repeated down the line. but then again, thats what makes REEK OF PUTREFACTION what it is and CARCASS the CELEBRATED BRITISH GRINDCORE / DEATH METAL band that it is. definitely worth checking out.