Think of our world — the human part of it. According to the most authoritative current estimates, Earth is populated by nearly seven billion souls.
Now think about the number of people in the world for whom music is a part of their daily lives. I have no idea of the number. But for whatever reason, music is part of what it means to be human. There is historical evidence of music dating back approximately 100,000 years (in the form of Neanderthal whistles made from animal bone), and it surely dates back far longer, before the time when Neanderthals or homo sapiens created any kind of record or artifact that would survive to the modern era.
Certainly, music is not a part of everyone’s life. Some people are literally comatose, and others lead lives that are duller than a pothole of muddy water after a rain. But I have to believe that some kind of music means something to the overwhelming majority of people in the world every day.
Now, think about the number of those people who listen to music they would call “metal”. Suddenly, the number plummets dramatically. Again, I have no idea about the actual count (and no one else does either), but it has to be a tiny percentage of the whole, on a global basis.
Now, let’s subtract the people who call their music “metal” when it really isn’t metal at all (but instead is just hard rock or worse) and the people whose definition of metal means music that hasn’t fundamentally changed since the 80s, or earlier. Let’s get down to the people who listen to the kind of music we cover on this site, and on sites like this one — the kind of music you can’t discuss or even explain to people who don’t already get it.
Again, I have no idea how to estimate the number on a global scale, and no one else knows either, but it has to be vanishingly small — an infinitesimal fraction of a percent of all human beings. (I do have a point, and will get to it . . . after the jump.)
That is our world — a numerically tiny subculture of the planet’s overall population. On the other hand, as few in number as we are, compared to the great global mass of humanity, we seem to exist almost everywhere you care to look. This morning I checked our Google Analytics account — which compiles data about the traffic on our site — and it reports that over the last 30 days alone, we had 17,581 “unique visitors” to NCS from 132 different countries.
Visitors from the U.S. constituted the largest national group of NCS visitors (of course), followed by the UK, Canada, and Western Europe. At the bottom of the list was a single visitor from . . . wait for it . . . Mongolia. (Don’t worry, those Google Analytics stats don’t convey to us any personal information about who is visiting — only the countries where visitors are coming from.)
We had visitors from almost every continent and region you could think of — from Eastern Europe and Russia, from India and Asia, from Central and South America, from islands in the Caribbean and the South Pacific, from Africa and Indonesia, from Australia and New Zealand — and we’re not nearly as popular as some other well-known metal blogs. That blows my fucking mind.
Apart from the widespread location of metal fandom, I’ve learned through working on this blog that metal bands are also spread far and wide around the globe. Many of them are creating music in small, remote places where there is little fan support and huge cultural obstacles confronting this kind of music — but they’re doing it nonetheless. At this site, we try to pay attention to those kind of bands.
Off the top of my head, I can think of only a few parts of the populated world where I haven’t yet heard about a metal band — mainland China and Africa between the Sahara and the savannah come to mind, though I would bet money there are metal bands in those places, even if I haven’t yet run across them.
So, on the one hand, as a fan of extreme music I sometimes feel like a member of an endangered species. On the other hand, thanks to the internet, I also feel like I have brothers and sisters all over the world — people who speak the same musical language I speak, people who get the same charge out of this music that I get from it, people who understand that this music is liberating and emotionally powerful, people for whom this music gets them through the crap of daily life with their heads up, people who feel a sense of belonging to a community because this music exists (and maybe only because this music connects them to others who share similar interests and a similar worldview).
And the point of this post? Just to get off my chest the fact that I feel damned lucky to be a part of this blog, fortunate to have made the human connections that NCS has allowed me to make, and proud to be a part of this world — our world. If you feel like getting anything off your chest today, that’s what the comments are for.
One last thing, a bit off the subject, but maybe not so far off: What has happened to the people of the Tohoku area of Japan — and is still happening to them — is truly horrifying. They need help, and one thing metalheads who care about this catastrophe can do — one thing our community can do for this one, no matter where we’re located — is to give a few bucks to organizations that have the ability to deliver help on-site.
There are many such organizations, but NCS reader Phro (who lives in Japan) suggested this one to me, which interestingly is based here in Seattle where we are. This site provides links for donations. If you’re moved to help, check it out:
Okay, enough sappiness from me for today. Tomorrow, we’ll get back to new music, with a little something special in honor of March 17.
What? Did you forget that tomorrow is the anniversary of the invention of the rubber band?
Our buddy Phro, who kindly suggested the donation idea, has provided an extra incentive for NCS visitors to contribute a little money to the relief effort in Japan. Everyone who contributes, either through the organization linked above or through any other relief effort, send me a quick e-mail and tell me how much you gave. Obviously, it’s the honor system, but we trust you not to make shit up about this.
I will keep track of the amounts donated, and if we can meet or exceed a goal of $500 by one week from today, then Phro has promised to do something inappropriate and ridiculous (e.g., wear a maid skirt and dance around akihabara) and send us photos of whatever it is he does.
And to show how really devoted he is to this cause, he’s asking YOU to suggest the ridiculous thing that he will do and memorialize with photographic evidence. He should be afraid . . . very afraid.
So, leave your Phro suggestions in the comments, and e-mail me a report of your donation at:
I won’t use your e-mail address for any other purpose and I also promise to give Phro an accurate tally of the donations. I do many bad things, but at least here at NCS, I don’t lie.
I honestly love that no matter where I go in the world, I can immediately meet people who love death metal. Even in podunk, hickville nowhere Japan, I met people who could discuss extreme metal with me and knew EVERY SINGLE BAND I mentioned. I went to a show in Tokyo a few weeks ago, and it was amazing. Usually at rock shows in Japan, the audience kind of just stands around and bobbles their heads like brain damaged dogs. Not here. The pit was brutal–but incredibly kind and courteous. (And brave too…I saw a girl accidentally get headbutted in the nose. She stood up and started headbanging while simultaneously checking for blood.) Extremely metal is, like all “fringe” cultures, truly borderless.
Oh wow, that just made me cry! *With watery eyes*: Hail to Metal! Let’s drink a horn full of ale to it.
Seriously now, I’ll transfer a couple of Euros, we don’t have “bucks” here. Think you can use Euros in Japan, Phro?
Also, if you want Chinese Extreme Metal bands, go here: http://deathmetalbaboon.com/tag/chinese
For African bands: http://deathmetalbaboon.com/tag/batswana
(I thought I had more, but can’t remember their nationalities)
I’m pretty sure whatever you donate to the Red Cross will work…
The Euro is still stronger than the yen, so there’s that too…
WOW! Those links are still more proof that I need to spend less time futzing with this blog and more time staying current on what’s up at The Baboon!
First, I really love Japan, despite some of the asinine shit they have done (and still do), but this is the only way I can think of to help the people who are truly suffering. There’s nothing I can do, but cross my fingers and donate money.
Second, I’ll try to accommodate your suggestions, but I reeeeeaaaaaaaally don’t wanna get arrested!!!
I love that metal is in tiny countries that almost no everyday person I see knows even exists. I myself call metal the “Real/True World Music”, not just because it can be found all over the world, but because it has musical influences from all over the world; look at bands like Finntroll, Turisas, that obscure Japanaese band whose name escapes me, Sigh (not that Japanese band), Melechesh, Orphaned Land and Alchemist. Metal has everything from saxophones, cellos, sitars, violins, synths, and pianos, to bagpipes, flutes, accordions, and mellotrons. World music and metal are meant to be together. Music is a universal language, and anyone can like music from another person’s country, but metal with that country’s music is like a Rosetta Stone language teacher thingy that brings with it many lessons which opens up so many musical options for you. I must admit that I did do most of the world music speech thing on the fly, but I have thought that metal should be considered the world music.
Also, my heart goes out to Japan and its people. I have for a while now wanted to visit Japan, and it’s hard to imagine such a positive, innovative country that’s been around for so long, being so devastated; here’s to hoping that Japan will pull through even stronger than before.
Y’know, it’s ironic, because I started watching this show on The HIstory Channel yesterday called “Prophets of Doom”, and it was where a bunch of futurists got together to discuss the future of the US, and near the end one of the furtursists states (this is not verbatim) “Humans are the only species that can form a community, that can help another community on the other side of the world.” I found this quite different from what I have started to believe the past couple weeks: that humans are wasteful, disrespectful and greedy organisms. Since then I’ve thought that we people aren’t as bad as some of us think.
Sorry about the wall of text.
Oh, and that obscure Japanese metal band I think was called Madare… or Mandare… OH! Megane I think it was called.There are also some other Japanese folk metal bands out there like this one, although I can’t say I’ve listened to this one or any of the others, I just know they use Japanese instruments occasionally.
I like what you’re saying about metal being world music, and it’s true. Bands from around the world have added their own cultural dimensions to the sound, and then other bands react to that and build on it, and the process continues like a feedback loop.
My two cents’ worth on your last point: Humans ARE wasteful, disrespectful,and greedy organisms. Indeed, part of the misery that’s happening in Japan is man-made, and of course human beings have slaughtered more human beings than all the lives ever taken by earthquakes and tsunami’s. But . . . it’s also true that people can and do join together to help others who are down and out, as we’re seeing again now in the aftermath of the Japan quake. Humanity is basically a real mixed bag.
Thanks. Nice to see someone agrees with me once in a while lol. You’re right about the mixed bag thing Islander, and thanks for such a cool post.
The only Japanese metal band I know is Blood Stain Child. I guess that means I’m too sheltered. I guess this week goes to show that bad stuff can happen anywhere, including the second riichest nation on earth. I can only imagine the terror those people have had to live through for the past week.
I was thinking in this vein earlier this week…That metal is the one true universal language, even though some of it is performed in various languages in different countries. Somehow, you can still understand all of it.
I’ve heard the music of a few more Japanese metal bands besides Blood Stain Child, but not a lot: Dir En Grey, Coffins, Metal Safari. Of course, there’s Sigh and Boris, though they’re not my thing. Also, i just got a press release about a female duo called Gallhammer who’ve got a third album due for release on April 25. Sounds like maybe it’s a psychedlic brand of doom.
Gallhammer is like blackend doom… Ive heard mixed things said about them. The band from Japan Id recommend (you knew Id have at least one) right now is Anatomia. Death metal with doom influences. Also check out Hyponic from China great funeral doom/death metal
I love the fact that metal is so multicultural..without that the music we love would probably have stagnated a long time ago. Who knows..maybe in 25 years we’ll be talking about the Morocan death metal sound
I’d also like to say how much my heart goes out to the people in Japan right now, bad enought to have a earthquake + tsunami, but then to add this nuclear shit on top of it. No one should ever have to suffer that much at one time.
I’m adding Anatomia and Hyponic to my growing list of Surgical Brute recommendations. And yes, there will be a Surgical Brute edition of MISCELLANY coming up soon . . .
And speaking of Moroccan metal, check this:
The multiculturalism of metal is one of the things I absolutely love. Allowing bands to bring in their own historical or cultural influences to create new ways at looking at the metal dynamic is one of its greatest strengths.
Although I also love the creation of more non-culture specific, modernised/future friendly versions of metal (akin to the shift Dark Tranquillity made from Swede-folk influenced melodeath to non-culture specific electronic influenced urban melodeath).
Great post. I feel somewhat blessed as I live in Finland, the country where some might argue that heavy metal is THE mainstream music. It’s terrible what happened to Japan. Now I just wish there won’t be any further damage through some nuclear plant explosions/meltdowns or whatever. Kudos to NCS!
Thanks! If you’ve been visiting us for long at all, you know how much we think of Finnish metal. In fact, I’m brainstorming with some folks from another site about yet another exploration of that subject . . . .
So much Finland… so little time. I’m going to try and get over there next year, as I’ve already been to Norway now (although want to go there for longer sometime!).
If you do go, and if this site hasn’t collapsed into a pile of rubble by next year, I may have to prevail on you for a travelogue . . .
As a matter of fact, i’ve been reading NCS for a quite awhile now. It’s the only blog i’m reading at the
moment, actually it’s the only blog i’ve ever bothered to follow, and you are doing a pretty neat job. Your
Finland tribute week was excellent, and yet there are still so many bands out there waiting for DISCOVERY!
So cool to read this! Makes me feel very good. As I mentioned in another comment, I’m brainstorming with some other folks who have their own site (I believe they are Finns — their site focuses on Finnish metal) about a new multi-post idea for exploring metal in Finland and introducing readers here (and at their site) to some bands they may not know. I’m dragging my feet on the project, but i do think it will happen.
the first Chinese Metal band that I dug but don’t listen to anymore is Frosty Eve
Their take on what Children Of Bodom are doing
Music is how I cope with everyday life, and Metal, most of all, has gotten me through some very rough times aswell as provided me with some very good ones. I consider it an honor and a privilege to be a part of this world with all of you fellow Metalheads.
I have to say that if I had any spare money whatsoever I would definitely donate. Sadly, I really need what little I have at this stage in my life.
That wasn’t the point though…
Normally I don’t get involved in world disasters because sadly they happen, and though they are very tragic, I try not to get emotionally involved.
Japan’s strife has really struck a chord with me though, especially because on the day it happened it was brought to my attention that a large amount of Americans are beyond absolute retardation.
Facebook Status Updates that are spreading like wildire (still!) along the lines of “Haha Fuck You Japan! Nature remembers! That’s what you get for Pearl Harbor! AMERICA RULEZ!!”
It’s sickening, it’s moronic and it HAS to stop. It makes me so fucking mad.
It’s like YOU NUKED THEM TWICE!! How much more do you bloody want?!?
It doesn’t help things that pretty much all the people who have statuses of that ilk are teenagers and are probably only aware of Pearl Harbor because of the Michael Bay movie.
I went on a massive tirade about this on the day. It’s just fucking despicable and makes me hate humanity.
Sorry about the rant…
Dude I read about that too….what kind of inbred, social degenerate even thinks something like that
No apologies needed. What you have written about makes me want to puke gallons of green bile. Unfortunately, this is but one of thousands of examples of American retardation in our current day. This is why I almost never read the “hard news” any more — it’s filed with abominations like this and depresses the living shit out of me. It’s one reason for this “Our World” post — I so much prefer the company of metalheads, whether in person or via metal blogs, to the great mass of people who are my fellow citizens. Anyone who turns human suffering into an excuse for a political diatribe isn’t worth a bucket of warm piss.
I agree Islander.
I just can’t believe they are still happening, the callousness and just sheer lack of understanding is unbelievable.
This is now the “socially accepted” status that everyone has to copy and paste: “Dear Japan, bit of a bastard when something sneaks up on you without any warning eh? Lots of Love All the lads at Pearl Harbour…….” as if, you know, it’s fucking cool. At the time of writing this the last time someone posted this was 7 minutes ago.
What. The. Fuck.
I propose that all of the people who post statuses of that ilk should have everything remotely Japanese taken away from them and see how long they last without their Televisions, cars, games consoles, films etc. They’ll be scratching at the walls!
For Christ sake guys I saw one girl who in her picture was brandishing a Pikachu plush!!!
Oh and this is the picture I saw on the day that it happened:
Oh and here is some more Japan related stupidity: http://i.imgur.com/peudc.png
It hurts my British head sirs…
Part of me is surprised that any of those people even know what happened at Pearl Harbor, and part of me is just dumbstruck. How do you even begin to understand this kind of flag-waving reaction? How do you begin to explain to people like this that none of the Japanese who were killed, maimed, and had their homes and livelihoods taken from by the quake had anything to do with Pearl Harbor? The overwhelming majority of the people now living in Japan weren’t even alive in 1941!
And if the morons on those message boards want to remember history, they should read up on the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the aftermath of those attacks, or the US incendiary-bombing of Tokyo, Osaka, and other cities that killed as many as 500,000 civilians in firestorms that reached temperatures of 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. And after that, these brutes are still hungry for “payback”? To what end? To rejoice over the misery of another human being is . . . I don’t have the right word for it.
And this is so true: “I propose that all of the people who post statuses of that ilk should have everything remotely Japanese taken away from them and see how long they last without their Televisions, cars, games consoles, films etc. They’ll be scratching at the walls!”
“Part of me is surprised that any of those people even know what happened at Pearl Harbor”
Ah yes. I think you have hit the nail on the head. It’s possible the people on that message board also believe that The Transformers movies were reenactments of historical events.
Wait a minute… are you trying to imply they aren’t?
🙂 🙂 🙂
Those people are simply operating at the level of children.
Children generally have a lack of empathy that we would expect of an adult.
Whether their lack of empathy is due to a poor upbringing, lack of knowledge, or simply sociopathy, I don’t see that there’s much we can do except put them in the corner for a time out and patiently explain to them why what they did was wrong.
Patience is a virtue. I think I am doing an admirable job being patient. I did not, for example, tell them to go fuck themselves in the ear until they’re deaf.
One of my friends posted a link where I saw what Limbaugh said.
It took me 15 minutes to calm down and stop looking for things to kill. Glad I was walking home.
I love this fucking post.
Islander, this is why I joined this site: because more than Metalsucks or Blabbermouth we celebrate internationally here: as a child of two cultures (American/Brazilian) I respect that above almost anything.
At the same time I think it’s sort of the NCS niche–we expose more foreign/exoticized bands than almost any other blog I know of. That’s evident by the multiculturalism present in our comment sections! It’s something we should be proud of and continue.
As for the international metal community: I think we metalheads have actually stumbled on something that the rest of humanity really and truly NEEDS TO LEARN and that is:
ethical communal individualism.
Metal is completely based around individualism and nonconformity/anti-authoritarianism. the issue with modern culture is we’ve taken individualism and turned it into a cutthroat society that worships what it consumes because to be an individual APPARENTLY is to consume and replaced any sense of communal well-being with mindless competition.
the thing about metalheads is we’re all dedicated to being individuals, but metal gives us all the common ground and mutual understanding of language to cross-cultural barriers and realize “i am an individual, you are an individual, if i enforce my beliefs and prejudices on YOU it makes me as hypocritical and filthy as the systems of power we both love to hate on. The only way to be a good metalhead is to have mutual respect.”
That’s the magic of our community. It’s also why the endless sub-genre war needs to stop. Because it’s hypocritical.
Thank you for the nice words about NCS bro, and for the eloquent expression of some ideas and ideals I believe in strongly, too.
Great article bro.
Yes i am very very glad i am a part of a musical culture that transcends the barriers of language, culture, beliefs and never ceases to amaze me, i mean, some bands don’t even share the same country, and still manage to write records and play live!
when i was younger i used to get a bit pissed off when people said “well you listen to metal, that’s not music, its just a bunch of fat guys screaming and playing instruments randomly, you should listen to (insert generic mtv/radio band) ….”, i’m glad i stopped being pissed off about it, i was being irrational, instead now i just feel sorry for them.
Actually thanks to metal, I’ve not just become a metalhead, i became a fan of music in general, and nowadays i listen to just about everything and admire so many bands and musicians i never thought i would when i was younger, and found out that countless other metalheads share the same experience and love for music as i do, regardless of genre/style.
Talking about numbers, we might not be many, but we are enough to keep the music industry from falling apart, because lets face it, metalheads are probably some of the few remaining music lovers, that love, record stores (not too many around nowadays sadly), buying albums, merch and supporting the artists we admire.
Excellent points. Like you, I think most metalheads are pretty serious students of the music, more so than most fans of other more popular musical genres. And that often does lead them to explore and become knowledgable about other genres. I’m usually interested to see what members of well-known metal bands listen to in their spare time, and quite often a lot of it is not metal — but it’s usually not crap either.