I figure metalheads and non-metalheads alike may find a bit of an issue with this Facebook page my friend Doro (aka codeaires) came across earlier today. The term “Girlfriend Metal” is offensive to female and non-female fans alike as well as the bands classified under this term. Doro explains it in much further detail, so I’ll let her take the reins…Sludge Metal is “Girlfriend Metal”?
*This is going to be a pissy article, so just warning you in advance - you might get offended by a few things I write here*
For the most part, every type of music that is popular now once started out as a local or underground scene. Of course, when that scene gets bigger and bigger, there will be a few “purists” who cry foul. Sadly, such has become the case with the sludge metal scene at large, especially with “swamp metal” bands in the Southeast.
Due to the growing popularity and success of Mastodon, Kylesa, and Baroness, someone on Facebook has taken the liberty of dubbing the scene at large as “Girlfriend Metal”. HERE IS A LINK TO THE PAGE.
Some excerpts from the page’s description:
Kylesa, later Isis and The Sword are all excellent examples of Girlfriend Metal. Inoffensive, fairly melodic metal with enough pop structure that even your girlfriend who dislikes most metal will enjoy listening in the car.
Frequently talked up in more mainstream music media such as NPR, the AV Club and Pitchfork Girlfriend Metal is an excellent placeholder for when your gash just isn’t in the mood to put up with Impetuous Ritual.
Inoffensive, hmm? Do they mean inoffensive as in these bands generally steer clear of using explicatives such as “fuck” or “shit” in their songs, or do they mean inoffensive as in every song doesn’t have to do with cannibalism or Satanic rituals? After all, girls can’t handle anything that “br00tal” or “h4rdc0r3”. Having albums built around a theme or concept is not the least bit wimpy or “girly”, so to say. It just means that the lyricists actually put thought into what they’re going to write before they wrote it.
As for the pop structure argument, Black Sabbath had a lot of melodies and pop structure in their songs. Ozzy Osbourne wasn’t exactly the most “metal” vocalist, he had a clean range and never growled or screamed through a tune. Guess that made Sabbath pretty “inoffensive” too, right? Haha, wrong.
But wait, it gets better:
I can’t believe I forgot fucking Mastodon, they’re the ultimate girlfriend metal band. Play one of their bullshit songs about white whales made out of birch cracking the sky made out of fire ants and you’re bound to get your chica wet. Obviously my knowledge of the band goes no further than the first album and the handful of singles I’ve heard.
…And therein lies your problem. It would probably be a wise move to get familiar with a band’s material before you make a flip judgement about what their music means or stands for. My guess is that this dude probably had a girlfriend who was nutty obsessed with Mastodon, and she dumped him for some reason (can’t imagine why), and so he just decided then and there, “Mastodon sucks”. Either that or they *gasp* starting singing their songs with actual hooks around Leviathan. You know what metal meatheads hate more than anything else? Vocal melodies, and God forbid, harmonies. That’s boy band bullshit, AMIRITE?
Here are two plausible theories as to why the success of these sludge metal younguns are bothering duder here to such a high degree:
- There’s a large amount of female participation. You know, metal guys used to whine about not being able to find a cool “metal chick” who liked their music, and now that more metal chicks are sprouting up and coming to shows, they whine about how metal is “pussying out”. Uh hon, you can’t have it both ways. As previously stated, I think that sludge is probably attractive to women because it’s a scene based solely around music and is largely void of components that focus on sex or physical appearance.
- Once again, the popularity angle. If bands start to get signed to major labels and get mainstream coverage, then that must mean that each band involved is on its own little trail to Sucksville. Among other bands that this guy or page fans called “girlfriend metal” are Sleep, Eyehategod, and Buzzov*en. Seriously? Even vets aren’t immune to this bullshit? Here’s the deal - some of the old vets were once signed to major labels too, and they made the conscious decision to leave after their contracts ran out. Matt Pike, Buzz Osborne, and others have all been through the mainstream cycle and willingly left. It’s quite possible that Mastodon might one day do the same. Either way, it didn’t effect the music Sleep or Melvins made, and it’s not going to affect any other band who makes the major label jump, either.
To wrap this up, having melodies in your songs is not a bad thing. Having female vocals is not a bad thing. Having lyrics that are abstract and take a little thinking to understand is not a bad thing. Having your name on a pair of shoes is kind of trivial, but still, it’s not a bad thing. What is a bad thing? Well, saying that women only like a certain type of metal, for starters. I know a lot of girls who love black metal, death metal, extreme metal, and whatever else you purists love so much. It’s all in personal taste.
Also, I bet that dude’s got a Wham! CD somewhere in his collection…LOL.
courtesy of codeaires
So the logic of “girlfriend metal” is this:
- Girls are wimps because they’re women and women suck because patriarchy but we don’t really recognize patriarchy because we’re men
- things that girls like, aren’t for normative, masculine men, which is what metal is for
- see: makeup, flowers, the colour pink, boy bands
- therefore, if lots of girls like something, it must suck because girls suck and are wimps (because all girls are wimps)
- therefore, Baroness, Mastodon, sludge metal in general must suck because GIRLS
lol it was hard coming up with bullshit things for 3.
Urgh. Kyriarchy, please GTFO of music.
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