Love, Misanthropy and Metal

So as I promised some of these posts will deal with music and as warned, they will not always deal with beer.  Anyway, a few years back I went death metal festival (The Cool Tour) to see one of my favorite bands of that genre, As I Lay Dying.  Not surprisingly they are named for William Faulkner’s book which friend and author Kirsten Kashock praised as, “The best smelly corpse book ever written.”  Anyway, there were 7 or 8 bands on the bill and none of them (as would be expected from hardcore and death metal) could be described has being particularly happy or positive.  Indeed, even As I lay Dying are Christian yet still sound distinctly menacing.

Yet, much to my joy, the night held some rather ironic surprises.  The first was when I saw a young man wearing a shirt which read “Unbutu. When you feel pain, I feel pain.”  For those of you who are not aware the word Unbutu is an African principle which refers to the interconnectedness of humanity or as it has been put, “I in you and you in me.”  To see such a sentiment expressed in such a setting in which most of the bands were adorned with skulls and sang about violence and death, was a serendipity.

Yet this was nothing compared to the delicious irony I found in the stage speeches from perhaps the most menacing band of the evening, Acacia Strain. Image

Halfway through their set the singer stopped and went on a rant about how much he hated people… not any one group but humanity as a whole.  He went on to express that he hoped that humanity would be wiped out very soon.  Indeed, his sentiments are well summed up in the pic above.

Strong words but consistent with their act and so not at all surprising.  But what he said next caused me to do a double take.  After two more songs he stopped to dedicate their last number to a friend who had just died earlier that day.  He went on to describe this woman- her kindness, her compassion, and how much she meant to him.  He then described how hard her death from breast cancer had hit him when he heard about it a few hours before.

I was moved… both by his story and by the fact that this man who had just before claimed the universal hatred of all humanity was honestly broken up about the tragic death of someone who died too young.   It just goes to show that life can always  surprise you and that people are are much more than what they seem on the surface..


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