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Concerns grow larger over missing landlord of metal pub

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , on 5th December 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Earlier this week, in the early hours of Monday morning (2nd December 2013), the landlord of a rock and metal pub in Nottingham was reported missing. Alastair Brown, aged 24, who runs the Hole in the Wall pub, in North Sherwood Street, was last seen at around 5am on Monday morning. Alastair, also known as Al, is described as tall, with a stocky build, long brown hair, a beard and facial piercings.

His friends have described his disappearance as completely out of character and a missing person’s poster has been shared on social media sites Facebook and Twitter. The police said a man had been reported missing and they were investigating. Over the years Al has supported many of the Rock scenes pubs and events within the Nottingham area, he’s also worked hard behind the scenes at the Bloodstock Festival.

If anyone does have information relating to Alastair’s disappearance, please contact Nottingham Police immediately (Tel: 101 with REF #860 02/12/13) or message the Facebook group at this location.

 

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Northern Oak set to launch Kickstarter campaign to fund new album

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 21st October 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Classy dressed Yorkshire folk metallers Northern Oak are set to launch a Kickstarter campaign to fund the recording of their third album, which currently remains untitled and will be the follow-up to their 2012 release Monuments.

To help promote this campaign, Northern Oak will be embarking on a campaign of the UK next month with Eibon La Furies. The tour, known as The Astral Chaos Tour withh begin with a Terrorizer Magazine Grindhouse Show at the Firebug, Leicester on 15th November. Northern Oak guitarist Chris Mole comments:

We’re really excited about using Kickstarter to raise the money – it’s a great way to communicate directly with our fans and get their support in making this album the best it can possibly be.

Flautist Catie Williams added:

We’ve been working on these songs for a long time, so it’s important to us that they sound perfect – we owe it to everyone who has supported us so far, whether that’s been buying a CD, coming to a gig or even just telling a friend to give us a listen!

Confirmed tour dates are as follow:

15 November – Firebug, Leicester
22 November – The Asylum, Birmingham
23 November – The Unicorn, London
06 December – The Snooty Fox, Wakefield
07 December – Corporation, Sheffield

Northern Oak online:

http://northernoak.co.uk
http://facebook.com/Northern.Oak

 

Chthonic announced as main support to Satyricon on 36 date Euro tour

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 16th September 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Symphonic orient metallers Chthonic have been announced as main support on Satyricon‘s 36-date European tour which will kick off on 7th November in Copenhagen, Denmark. The tour will see Chthonic visiting a number of European cities as well as their return to the UK since their Download appearance earlier this year. Chthonic‘s bassist Doris Yeh comments:

This is our first European tour following the release of our current album, Bu-Tik, and it’s great to be able to visit so many places. For some countries, like Sweden, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia, Poland, Italy and Spain, it will be the first time Chthonic has been there, so we are very excited to play for those fans we haven’t had the chance to reach in the past.

UK tour dates are as follow:

SUN 10 NOVEMBER / ACADEMY 3/ MANCHESTER
MON 11 NOVEMBER / THE LIMELIGHT / BELFAST
TUE 12  NOVEMBER / BUTTON FACTORY / DUBLIN
THU 14 NOVEMBER / O2 ACADEMY ISLINGTON / LONDON

Chthonic online:

http://www.CHTHONIC.tw
http://facebook.com/CHTHONIC
http://facebook.com/CHTHONICtw
http://youtube.com/CHTHONICtw

 

Huddersfield Heavy Metal Festival completes line-up

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on 8th August 2013 by Contra Mundi

The Huddersfield Heavy Metal festival now boasts a wholesome and intimidating line-up, headlined by symphonic death metal legends Fleshgod Apocalypse and Polish extreme death metal icons Hate. Within the diseased ranks as support acts are a selection of bands that are a true showcase of talent. First of all Scottish Death Metallers Scordatura, whose bludgeoning sound showcase all of death metal’s finer qualities and creates a symphony of madness. Joining them are Southerners Bound By Evile who will unleash their destructive brand of death metal upon the already tainted public and make them run for cover.  Grieve, with their groovy and heavy riffs encourage headbanging in the most seasoned of metal fans and hearken back to the likes of Black Sabbath.  Londoners Hades Lab offer blackened Grind and a suffocating cacophony of impressive technicality . Also featured are Yorkshire Old school Death metal plague Narcotic Death whose embodiment of possession and misery will make fans wish they’d never graced the good earth. Scouse Black Metal artists Ninkharsag also grace the line-up and offer the early 90’s Black metal scene nostalgia with a modern twist in their unique brand of frozen metal. As an ode to Thrash Yorkshire-men Redmist Destruction will bring down the walls with their furious music and fellow Grim Northerners Wort will serve to provide a melancholy and sludgy form of doom for the audience to be slowly murdered by. Huddersfield Heavy metal Festival, although still in its infancy, is already a pioneering festival and will undoubtedly attract a legion of a crowd to Huddersfield’s most impressive venue; The Parish.

The festival organiser Luke Diesektor, had this to say:

We only wish we could make this bigger, were looking at possibly taking this outside next year, if not, well be having it at another location. Works are already underway in terms of getting licensing and looking at sites but if we don’t have enough PR time well be doing another indoor event next year but at a much bigger venue and the open air in 2015. We’re hopeful to make this one of the premier metal festivals in Yorkshire and the quality of bands we have on is fantastic. Tickets are selling really well so folk need to get in quick to avoid disappointment. Everyone including the bands has been working really hard to make this a success so we predict it’s going to be a great day. People can check us out and the bands via our Facebook, Twitter and the usual places.

The festival takes place on sat 12th October at the Parish Huddersfield and is £20 advance or £25 OTD.  For any enquiries or more information please email: huddersfieldheavymetalfest@gmail.co.uk

Huddersfield Heavy Metal Festival online:

http://www.facebook.com/huddersfieldheavymetalfest2013
http://www.facebook.com/HuddersfieldHeavymetalfest
http://twitter.com/HH6662013

 

XIII announce new EP titled Deeds of the Saints: Chapters I–V

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on 29th July 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Hull’s premier thrash trio XIII have announced details for their new EP Deeds of the Saints: Chapters I – V. The band will be going into the studio 10th August to record the new EP.

The EP will be the first part of a two EP set, the first being released in November 2013 and the second in the first half of 2014 with both EPs combined forming one whole Deeds of the Saints package.

Track-listing for D.O.T.S: Chapters I – V EP:

1. We Are Everywhere
2. Narcotics
3. Acta Sanctorum
4. Deliverance
5. Nothing Is True… Everything Is Permitted

XIII online:

www.musicbyxiii.com
www.facebook.com/xiiirocks
www.twitter.com/musicbyxiii

 

Crossfaith launch new music video

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on 12th July 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Japanese band Crossfaith have released the first taste of forthcoming album Apocalyze. The band released the video for We Are The Future earlier today which offers a glimpse of what to expect from the band’s upcoming dance-orientated yet heavy release.

Crossfaith online:

http://crossfaith.jp
http://facebook.com/crossfaithofficial
http://twitter.com/CrossfaithJapan

 

A Feminist In The Metal Scene

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 30th June 2013 by Contra Mundi

The aim of this article is to be honest and unapologetic in the expression of my thoughts and experiences while being involved in the metal music scene and how these relate to feminism. I have often thought of documenting my experiences, but I was afraid of doing so in case I was branded with the label ‘man-hater’ and my points were therefore considered irrelevant. It is not my intention to express hatred towards men as individuals. I love men. I love a lot of men, but it pains me to be so aware of the cultural constructs that have divided men and women effectively into ‘us’ and ‘them’ and made any hope of equal footing in the world seem very distant. As well as talking about my own experiences as a woman and a woman in the metal scene, I have included some online articles that have been of interest to me and I have commented on. The links can be found in their relevant paragraphs.

I’ve been involved in the metal scene as a musician and a spectator for almost 10 years. I formed my band while I was in my first year of college and it has been going for 6 years. I have been the only female member and being the front woman is seen as something of a novelty. As we play Old School Death Metal that is in the same vein as bands such as Entombed, Autopsy and Suffocation, we attack the stereotypes around the ‘Female-Fronted Metal’ genre.

For the most part, during my involvement in metal, my experiences have been positive and rewarding, but also through my experiences, I have become a feminist. I imagine such a confession is met with a degree of indignation. It certainly has been in the past and I think this a severe situation. In recent years, feminism has become something of a dirty word and its true meaning of equality for men and women has been lost and manipulated into a slogan for man-hating, a lack of feminine traits and ‘not knowing how good you’ve got it’ as a modern woman. A fellow feminist that I interviewed as research for this article summed up the true meaning of feminism:  ‘I think a lot of people are misinformed really, it’s basic. It’s just equal rights for men and women. It’s not that women are better than men; that’s just femi-nazism, but I think a lot of people see it like that.

From a society that on the surface prides itself on free speech and extensive rights for women, there is obviously a sickness somewhere and it has its roots in the formulation of culture and I feel the brunt of it not just in metal, but in my everyday life. I stand at around 6 foot tall and throughout my life I have been targeted for ‘being too tall to be a woman’ and being a ‘he-she’. As a woman, I was expected to conform to society’s expectation of how I should look and behave. I was even met with this attitude from members of my family. I deserved my treatment because I chose not to conform and I was often greeted with ‘gifts’ of ‘normal clothing’ and make-up to make my appearance more appealing. Of course, this led to a negative body image, low self-esteem and my belief that I was a mistake that had to be corrected. The bullying died down when I left school, but I still get comments made at me when I walk down the street, or after I’ve been onstage.

People have approached me in the past and said ‘I thought you were a man until I heard you speak.’ It is difficult to maintain a positive and appreciative attitude of such comments. It seems at those times that to them, I was a puzzle to be solved, an anomaly that had to be corrected, and they were letting me know that they had solved the puzzle of my appearance and my gender and that I was accepted, but not entirely. I am uncertain too as to why people feel the need to share their observation with me. Do they expect me to be grateful for such a thing? I know that it is society that has constructed gender binaries and it is deemed unacceptable to embody traits from both genders, and so anybody that does is met with hostility, or ignorance disguised as compassion.

Another thing I want to address is the attitude towards sexual violence that I have found to be wanting. While I have been involved in metal and being the front woman of a band, I have had a lot of attention from men that was inappropriate and extremely un-nerving, but the thing was, every time I talked about this to other people it was called ‘harmless’ and they said ‘he’s only messing about.’ I think this stems from an attitude in our culture, or rather a misunderstanding as to what advocates sexual violence. I am not free game, but the attitude seems to be that because I am a woman, I am available and desperate for sex and I want to know all about what men would do to me if they were given the chance. I have been asked when I’m going to ‘visit’ people on my own and being stalked by different people on Facebook who do not understand that no means no. These people take advantage of naivety and the casual indifference of our culture. I up until recently did not realise that I had being sexually assaulted by one of my partners several times when I was younger as I believed that he could do what we wanted with me when he wanted because I had not been taught by anybody that I had a right to decide what happened to my body. In fact, people seemed more concerned that I had actually got a boyfriend considering my appearance and non-conformity. Because he was paying me attention and showing me what I thought was love, I didn’t challenge him but I didn’t consent either. I was just his property to do with as he pleased. I have since mentioned my experiences in counselling, and I was asked if I had reported it. I said no, because I thought it was normal. My idea was it didn’t constitute sexual assault as it wasn’t ‘proper’ rape, but I couldn’t have been more wrong and it made me think just how many other women or men do not fully understand what constitutes sexual assault and that it is serious; no matter what other people say.

While I have been conducting interviews with people within my local metal scene and I addressed the fact that I am stalked by people on Facebook, I was surprised to hear that other women were too. When we started naming names, it turns out that we were all getting stalked by the same people and they were saying the same things to all of us. That isn’t harmless, but calculating and desperate and evidently an on-going problem, but there’s only so much can be done when other people’s attitudes about it are indifferent.

This all constitutes why I am a feminist and as I’ve said before it does not mean to hate men and all they stand for, it stands for equality in all things. If men and women were equal, the attitude towards men and women suffering sexual violence would be more accepting as opposed to humiliating and we could do away with rape culture and not present men and women in a hierarchy as ‘us’ and ‘them’. In another interview I conducted, a woman told me about when she had been threatened on a bus by a drunken man and when another man had come in to help, the drunken man had punched him in the face. My interviewee told me that she had felt really guilty that he had come to harm because if she hadn’t been there, it wouldn’t have happened. This is quite a common occurrence across the board; women are made to feel responsible for the crimes committed against them because they are women. You need only glance into the media to see how crimes against women are manipulated in their representation in order to make the woman look like she deserved it. A prime example is the Steubenville Rape case, where in the media it was commented on that the perpetrators were going to lose out on illustrious football careers because they were convicted for having raped an unconscious woman. The victim was also attacked on Twitter and videos of her assault were put on Youtube. There is an article which can be found here – It sheds a light on the severity of rape culture in the context of the Steubenville case, but also in the wider world.

A lot of bands that have women in tend to be more of the symphonic metal genre that is favoured by bands such as NightwishEpica and Tristania and although it is liberating that women have carved out a genre all for themselves, it is doing it by effectively being cut off from the rest of the metal world and functioning separately. They have achieved a lot, but I cannot help but think they are doing that music because it is easier to be accepted and it is expected of you if you’re a woman to be involved in that genre. There are not many women at all involved in the more extreme branches of metal, and I can understand why. I have been told that people have walked out of gigs before we’ve played because they realised I was a woman and ‘would not be as good as a man’. On the other side of the coin though, we have received a lot of compliments and interest for the band because we have surprised people by not conforming to their expectations of the music and by performing crushing Death metal. However, if everyone were a feminist and men and women were on an equal par, it wouldn’t matter that I was the only female vocalist for miles around, or that I had chosen to play a form of metal that is usually dominated by men. The focus would be ultimately on my ability and what I’ve created as opposed to my biology.  The music I’ve made with my band mates is a brutal testimony to the fact that attitudes can be overturned and a whole generational thinking about sexual violence, relations and the role of men and women is capable of being changed with education and a dispelling of stereotypes.

metal and its associated subcultures pride themselves as being unique and different from the ‘normality’. Unfortunately, they still embody the practices of the culture they belongs to as there is no escaping the way gender is taught and patriarchal systems are enforced. In the aftermath of the Download festival, an article was written about women flashing their breasts to cameras. According to the article, the women were encouraged to do so by the crowd and were met with approval when they did so. If they chose not to however, the attitude of the crowd changed and ensuing peer pressure made the women buckle, or people in the crowd exposed them against their wishes. You can read the article here. The article sparked an intriguing debate about women enjoying freedom in a social setting and celebrating their bodies, but it was also commented on that they are being pressured into doing so and it is expected of them to do it even if they don’t want to. I agree more with the latter. It is shameful behaviour to berate a woman for not doing as someone else wants her to do, in this case expose herself in front of thousands of people. If she resists she is considered to be ruining the fun of the people watching her, most of which probably were men. A lot of the comments on the article claimed to be supporting the freedom of the woman and her ‘choice’ to show her breasts, but when the choice receives approval or disdain, how much of what she chooses to do actually depends on personal choice? It is difficult to make a judgement because we cannot know what the woman was thinking or how she was made to feel in that situation, but the conformity expressed in the crowd to a woman being exposed in public highlights a disturbing attitude in culture being played out i.e. the woman is an object to be looked at and she serves no other purpose. Should she resist the gaze, she is humiliated and made to feel as if preserving her integrity was a bad choice.

Another article I have read and wish to respond to is entitled Top 6: Ways metal treats women really badly.  Although I think the article was intended to be sympathetic and raise the flag for women’s rights, there were points made that I disagreed with or simply needed to be expanded upon so the initial and intended point about supporting equality for women in metal was not missed.

The first point that the article made was about the term ‘female fronted metal’ and how it is essentially a whitewash over genres and individual talent. This I can agree with, although usually in my experience, the term ‘female-fronted’ is usually followed by a genre that the music would fit into. For example, ‘female fronted old school death metal’, so in this way, it is what it is; a label to help describe something. It isn’t however always helpful as the term ‘female fronted metal’ forms assumptions about what kind of woman you’re going to be and it detracts from the seriousness of the endeavour. Instead of the woman being seen as a musician, she is seen as a gimmick and something that the band can exploit in terms of standing out from the crowd.  The bottom line is that it shouldn’t matter that it is a woman that fronts the band, but that is the society that we live in. If women had an equal foothold in representation, it wouldn’t be deemed necessary to highlight the fact there’s a woman in the band and that it is something unusual.

In light of the growing following for bands with female members in them, there are a number of festivals that feature only bands with female members. This can be received in a number of ways, but first of all it can be seen as showcasing women’s talent that may not be taken as seriously in another environment and having all the same sort of bands in one place allows potential fans to see bands they may not have heard of before. However, they can be seen to be excluding bands with men in them just because they are men and seemingly get enough attention as it is. These festivals also tend to favour bands that are symphonic metal and show a degree of bias against more heavy forms of metal such as Death and Black Metal. There are also problems with the naming of these festivals specialising in bands with female musicians; for example: Dames of Darkness and Metal Female Voices. They raise the flag for supporting women and encouraging equality, but at the same time they are only managing to do that by discriminating against men and certain women. The names also give the impression that the women at these festivals are going to be meek and beautiful and be exceedingly feminine when that’s not what is important; it should be the music that they are playing.

Point number two from the article was ‘Assume if you’re not dressed like you’re metal that you’re only there with your boyfriend.’ The problem with this point was the assumption that most men are full of presumptions and go out of their way to keep metal a male dominated subculture. Feminism is about equal rights, so by not drawing attention to the men that treat women as equals at gigs and engage them in conversation and share their opinions with them is doing them an injustice. I have had experience of this before when my band have played gigs. I’ve been told to ‘move out of the way, love’ when I was helping set up or received complaints that my voice is too feminine when I speak to the crowd while I’m onstage. I have also been asked to name three songs of a band who’s t-shirt I was wearing, so I am well aware of these assumptions, however what the article doesn’t even mention is that women like me fight against that sort of behaviour when it is directed at us. The article makes us out to be victims, and this is a common problem also with some feminist propaganda. Another point is that I couldn’t care less if anyone present at one of our gigs didn’t know who we were or wasn’t primarily interested in metal; they came to a show, which speaks for itself.

In the article, the third point was to do with ‘Hottest women in metal awards/features/specials’ that basically advertise women as sexual objects for the male gaze. In contrast, the other side to this is that through there being a medium for a woman to show off how she looks and be appreciated for it says a lot about the developing freedom of women and their rights to do as they please with their bodies.  However, no matter what the reasons behind a woman posing in photographs or for being in a band for that matter, there is always the fact that their image is always going to be exploited in some way. For example, I am always privy to pictures of barely dressed ‘Black Metal girls’ appearing on my news feed on Facebook, courtesy of fellow metal heads. The problem with it is, although it seems to be encouraging the development of the black metal scene and celebrating the fact that women are getting involved, in most instances it is little more than pornography. Whether the women choose to be like that, encourage pictures like that to be taken, or are celebrating their body image all becomes meaningless as they are just images; an image of how women are expected to behave and clearly it works as far as promotion and attention goes.

The attitude towards men appearing in the same awards/features/specials is more socially acceptable. Winning an award for his looks is almost seen as a badge of honour, even though his body image is also being exploited. A lot of men I know within the metal scene do get preyed upon by women, but from a personal viewpoint, it happens a lot more the other way around. I have often been told to ‘get my tits out’ or pose differently for the band pictures in order to appear more feminine, and effectively exploit being a woman in metal, but that way I would be doing the band for the wrong reasons. I care about the music I have made with the band and in a way, I don’t want the focus to be on me as a woman; I want it to be on the music I have helped create.

With ‘she’s really good for a girl’; the article exposes the gender binaries that keep men privileged above women. Of course, it depends on the context of the comment being made. I know that people don’t mean to be sexist or rude when they make such observations, but as you wouldn’t say ‘he’s really good for a man’ in the same context, it puts it into perspective. It also suggests that there is no real focus on the woman’s musical abilities as it always boils down to her sex and she is limited by that in the view that others take of her. There is a clear hierarchy between men and women being implied because the woman cannot hope to secure the same position and respect as a male musician even though onstage, their abilities are the same.

The point made about groping is relative to a wider issue of sexual violence that involves both women and men and how it is perceived. Metal is a huge subculture and is male dominated; so as with the rest of the world, while there are plenty of reasonable and respectful men, there are also plenty of lecherous ones. Other experiences include groping happening to people at concerts and them trying to get rid of the person and very rarely anyone stepping in to help and this echoes the crowd attitude seen at Download with women exposing their breasts to a baying crowd. I think therefore that groping is a symptom of a larger, more alarming problem that goes on and isn’t any closer to being stopped. I have seen it happen from the other side too. I know that some male musicians have stalkers that take photos of just them at gigs and follow them on Facebook and up and down the country. Overall, I think it is something that is far more common than is thought and reflect s our culture badly as a place where there is no free platform for addressing sexual violence in as serious a manner as it deserves.

Finally, considering the point of the ‘hot girl in the band getting the interviews’, that says more about the interviewer than it does about the band and is very common practice. However, those women usually have extremely constructive and interesting things to say and are involved more readily in the formulation of music and endorsing ideology than it may appear. With regards to my band, I am the one usually approached to do interviews. That may be because I am the vocalist, so I may be the one that people pay attention to first, but when I do conduct interviews, I make sure that the other members of the band have some input into what is said and are there in person if possible. It is usually the vocalist of a band that is approached first by magazines, but this definitely applies to men as well. I’m not sure anyone bats an eyelid at the vocalist in an all-male band getting all the interviews. I guess it relates again to metal being a male dominated sub-culture; as there are more men, naturally, when a woman appears it is seen as something unusual. That is not the way it should be, and in an ideal world both men and women would be fairly represented and treated exactly the same, however it is seldom the case.

I am certain that there will be a lot of negative response from this article. Nobody has to agree with what I‘m saying as it is how I feel. I wanted to talk about my experiences here not for the sake of self-indulgence, but so you get a real perspective from a real person. It was very difficult for me to write about some aspects of this, but I know that only when I saw what had happened to me through an objective stance did I really see what goes on in the world around me and how a lot of what people go through is because of inequality and cultural constructs dictating who we should be and how we should behave. It is hard admitting what has happened when there are a lot of instances on show where women or men talking about sexual violence, or casual misogyny and sexism are shouted down by others as nonsense, but it does happen and you need to see that. It may not have ever happened to you and if so, you’re one of the luckiest people in the world, but there should be more like you and I am trying to do my part to make that so.