Dirty, Dirty Rockstar

You saw him on your TV

A God that you had wanted

Lust that grows with peoples hatred

Every protest, and you feel insulted

He’s the man of your dreams

His words are more divine than your priests

His sound is the voice of your screams

And yet you think his style is grounded

 

He’s an angel with scabbed wings

A demon to save your world

He said he loves you like his little girl

And you felt the pain in his voice

He was the end of your misery, its dirty demise

 

Now you wear the same brand of lipstick

That he does, and the mascara he wears

His gothic black boots are your parents nightmares

He cuts himself on screen

With words too obscene

You waited in line for hours, you wanted to meet him

But he went too soon, didn’t get a chance to greet him

You were so frustrated you broke out at your parents

And spat at the guy from school who claimed you’re the dearest

That was the night you put his songs on loop

You slipped into a depressive cocoon

Of your lustful devotion

A bag of hallucinogenics and a mindful of twisted emotions

 

 

He’s an angel with scabbed wings

A demon to save your world

Watch as he lets his darkness unfurl

You wish he would be yours

Because he looks so sad and lonely

But little did you know that his story is phoney

You’d bathe in his sorrow

But all he did was piss on you

Because power always pisses on the weak

 

He’s a drug addict now and part of a scandal

He wasn’t too merciful with his groupies

And did things to them that you can’t fathom

But he’s the love of your life

And you stand by him even though he sold you lies

You thought he held your hand when you were alone

But heroes die too soon, and your models are decievers

You cut your arm for real but his blood onscreen was fake

His entire facade was built to target your emotions

 

Now you plead for the Angel

The demon you left your love and family for

You thought he was true, but he left wounds so raw

Your insecurity is his market

It’s not the sadness but the drugs that made his face rugged

You thought he would be yours

But as always, you’ve been cheated again and left alone…

 

Giving Voices To The Voiceless: Why Tragedies Should Be Given The Cultural Significance They Demand

I remember the first time I listened to Metallica’s ‘One’ from their 1988 classic album ‘…And Justice For All’ when I was 14 years old. It was slightly different from the usual testosterone-pumped hyper aggressive and abrasive music that I was so used to listening from the Thrash Metal stalwarts. This particular song had an atmosphere that was somber and serious and spoke of great pain and tragedy. The song, inspired by Dalton Trumbo’s 1971 anti-war drama ‘Johnny Got His Gun’ chronicles the pain a soldier goes through after being seriously injured when he gets hit by an artillery shell during World War I and ends up as a quadruple amputee with no arms, legs, eyes, ears or mouth.With no senses left in his body, Johnny is left alone with his thoughts as his life flashes in his mind and he reminisces life spent with his loved ones.

Fed through the tube that sticks in me
Just like a wartime novelty
Tied to machines that make me be
Cut this life off from me

Hold my breath as I wish for death
Oh please, God, wake me

-Lyrics from ‘One’ by Metallica

Years have passed since I last saw the music video for the song but I see images of the video flash in my dreams ever so often. The song and its imagery have left a very deep impact on my brain. Which had me pondering, why would Metallica (or Trumbo, for that matter) create something so tragic and disturbing in nature? The answer, I have realized after years of subjecting myself to tragic tales, is to generate that one emotion humanity needs the most: empathy.

Along similar lines is the Japanese animation film ‘Grave Of The Fireflies’ which follows the journey of two infantile siblings- a brother about 8 years old, and his baby sister- as they try to survive in a village devastated by American bombers during WW2 after both their parents are killed and the other relatives become hostile towards them. Tales such as these force you to see things from the perspective of those who we would never hear from. They put you in the shoes of the innocent lives who are destroyed because of no fault of theirs. Yes,they are tear jerkers and are extremely difficult to watch but the experience is always a rewarding one. I paused Grave Of The Fireflies more than 5 times because some of the scenes were too emotionally overwhelming, but the film gave me a new found sea of emotions about the World War and war in general. This is the kind of art that screams for peace by subjecting you to the agony of characters stripped bare of any melodrama, glitz or glam. The deliberate portrayal of characters belonging to middle class families and who lack any interesting personality quirks is a pattern I have noticed in many tragedies. Why so?

By portraying them as normal individuals who let us in on their psyche only through their interactions with others onscreen, we as the audience are left with no choice but to see a reflection of ourselves in them. By making the characters as relatable as possible and not going to great lengths to define them in any way- politically or religiously, for example- you end up making them far more universal. Tales like these make the underlying morals and the overarching story lines their protagonists, and not the characters themselves. As a result, you see yourself in the story. Tragedies thrive on empathy.

The very purpose of any art is to give its audience perspective.It carves out windows in our brick houses and allows us to have a view outside our cocooned lives. The best way to make an anti-war statement is to subject the viewer to the horrors of war faced by its victims.

The film focuses its attention almost entirely on the personal tragedies that war gives rise to, rather than seeking to glamorize it as a heroic struggle between competing ideologies. It emphasizes that war is society’s failure to perform its most important duty to protect its own people.

An excerpt from Grave Of The Fireflies Wikipedia page.

Immortal Technique’s Dance With The Devil from his 2001 album Revolutionary Vol.1 is another masterpiece that comes to my mind. The song speaks of a black/latino character named William. Raised by a single mother who works very hard late into the night to ensure her son gets a proper education and a respectful career, William eventually succumbs to pressures of the Ghetto lifestyle and chooses a life of crime instead. To seal a spot among fellow gangsters, he decides to showcase his skills as a cold hearted criminal and plans to gang rape a woman he and some men find walking alone down a street at night. An intoxicated William covers the womans face with a shirt from behind and beats her up brutally and then proceeds to violently rape her with his comrades. When they finish, it is up to him to decide what happens to the woman who is a witness of the crime and he chooses to kill her. With a gun in his hand and a smile on his face he pulls back the shirt covering her face only to realize that the woman they raped was his own mother.

She looked back at him and cried, ’cause he had forsaken her
She cried more painfully, than when they were raping her
His whole world stopped, he couldn’t even contemplate
His corruption had successfully changed his fate
And he remembered how his mom used to come home late
Working hard for nothing, ’cause now what was he worth
He turned away from the woman that had once given him birth
And crying out to the sky ’cause he was lonely and scared
But only the devil responded, ’cause god wasn’t there
And right then he knew what it was to be empty and cold
And so he jumped off the roof and died with no soul
They say death takes you to a better place but I doubt it
After that they killed his mother, and never spoke about it

(Excerpt from the song ‘Dance With The Devil’ by Immortal Technique)

The song, with its beautiful poetry and raw language can send shivers down the spine of any listener. Immortal Technique then proceeds to deliver some of the most beautiful lines of poetry I have ever come across:

The devil grows inside the hearts of the selfish and wicked
White, brown, yellow and black color is not restricted
You have a self-destructive destiny when you’re inflicted
And you’ll be one of god’s children that fell from the top
There’s no diversity because we’re burning in the melting pot
So when the devil wants to dance with you, you better say never
Because a dance with the devil might last you forever

The lyrics not only highlight the horrors of rape and intoxication but also the sorry plight of Ghettos and the African American and Latino American communities. The song also hits a philosophical and moral note by speaking of the ills of taking ‘shorcuts’ to success.

I feel tragedies are underrated by society and many people actually look down upon them. Be it Darren Aronofskys Requiem For A Dream which chronicles the descent into oblivion of 4 lives when all of them become drug addicts or Lars Von Trier’s Breaking The Waves which shows a mentally handicapped woman struggling to find acceptance in society or Eminem’s song ‘Stan’ from his album ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’ which tells the story of a fan who is so obsessed with his music that he ends up killing his pregnant girlfriend after Eminem fails to answer his fan letters (inspired by Eminem’s well documented hatred towards his wife who apparently cheated on him) or Anurag Kashyap’s Black Friday, about the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts which captures in the most brilliant way the anger of both the communities and the resulting bloodshed; well executed tragedies always manage to leave a lasting impact and give the audience enough fodder to empathize with the marginalized and the wronged and quite possibly alter the viewer/listener/readers perspectives about society. It comes as no surprise that the Nobel Prize for literature this year was awarded to an individual who spent most of her life documenting the pain and horror of war and its impact on humanity.

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001:A Space Odyssey and Cattle Decapitation’s Monolith of Inhumanity- My Analysis

Sadistic, insanely obnoxious, repulsive, ugly, offensive and downright disgusting- just some words that most people would use to describe Cattle Decapitations 2013 LP ‘Monolith of Inhumanity’ owing to the fact that the album and it’s subject matter is so brutal and bloody disgusting that even a seasoned Metalhead like me had great difficulty digesting the chainsaw-to-your-face treatment that the album dishes out. Songs with titles like ‘Forced Gender Reassignment’, lyrics that reek misanthropy, chaotic instrumentals topped off with the most ugly growling vocals you ever heard and you have the perfect recipe to create a horror show of an album, a typical metal gore feat that sick psychopaths might headbang to. But is that all or is there more? Yes there’s lots more, including one of the most beautifully and creatively constructed concepts in recent times. Monolith’s story is inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s widely famous and a cult classic, 2001:A Space Odyssey. The two pieces of art are so different from one another, the movie revels in its long silent scenes and scientific realism while the album is straight up misanthropic chaos.

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The artwork for Monolith of Inhumanity depicts a bunch of apes running from a stone structure-The Monolith while a couple human looking figures crawl towards it. A half monkey half human stares at us with desperation and evil written all over his face. This and the fact that the album is called Monolith of Inhumanity are clear indicators of the fact that this album is trying to rewrite the movie’s plot albeit in a different manner. Hold on. At this point I would like to tell you a little something about Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 movie and my interpretation of it

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In the movie you first see a bunch of apes that live who live a mindless, independent existence in an environment that isn’t really conductive of progress in any way until one day out of nowhere a monolith appears and upon contact with this monolith an ape realises the use of bones as a tool, obviously hinting at the fact that mankinds predecessors have made some progress in terms of manipulating ones environment for our own benefits

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The ape then throws the bone into air and it eventually transforms into a space station. Soon we are told about a mission to land on the moon wherein a group of astronauts encounter a similar monolith which emanates a loud piercing sound, the strange happenings soon lead a team of astronauts towards Jupiter where one of the astronauts encounters the monolith once again and has mesmerising visions of vast moving landscapes and strange lightey-things much like a drug induced hallucination. Soon he finds himself in a strange room where he sees himself as an old man who sits gloomily eating dinner and soon transforms into a star-baby sort of thing that floats away in space. Head scratcher right?

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Well, the way I see it, in the movie the monolith acts as a catalyst-for evolution. The ape upon contact with the monolith learnt the use of tools, evolved into man and eventually we reached the space age. Now man has become powerful enough to explore his own world fully and other celestial bodies as well, the monolith on the Lunar surface leads to a mission to Jupiter and a further contact with the monolith gave the man of the advanced ages a vision into his own future, the next step of evolution. The ape saw its future forms and developed a skill of its own. The second monolith lead man to explore Jupiter while the third one gave him a vision of maybe, just maybe, a creature from a higher dimension ( strange landscapes and ‘energies’ ). This monolith which helps in mankinds progress can therefore be termed a ‘Monolith of Humanity’.

Cattle Decapitation has a different story to tell. In their version of the story, mankind has already reached the summits of technological progress to the extent where he has destroyed his own environment and now lives by recycling vital nutrients from carcasses of other creatures. Existence is pitiable and degrading to humanity. There is no grass and no greenery, no flowers and no birds, all the beauty of Earth has disappeared and all you see in this bleak dying world is metal chips, scraps, and circuits which have replaced nature. Suddenly one of the ‘beings’ of this planet encounters a monolith, which unlike the one in the movie which is shown as something divine is portrayed here as a hellish device with blood flowing in its cracks- the blood of humanity that died a long time ago

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Just like in the movie, the creature stumbles upon a skeleton and soon realises the use of bones as a weapon

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Alas, but this time the story has a different ending. She is soon set on a murderous rampage and kills off all of her fellow beings in cold blood and murders their offspring as well and in an extremely grotesque scene unplugs her own life system and ends up killing herself, this bringing an end to mankind. This monolith gave her visions of her glorious past, when man and nature lived in harmony and there were animals and birds and beautiful landscapes on the planet. She has the sudden revelation that mankind has destroyed the planet through the facade of technological progress and in a fit of rage ends up killing her own kind. In this story, the monolith acts a device of devolution, it is in a sense a Monolith of Inhumanity.
Each song on the album has an individual thematic undertone and all the tracks are tied together by an overarching storyline inspired by one of the greatest movies ever, and presented as a contrast to the movie’s hopeful and heavenly atmosphere. The album also manages to convey a very important message about acts as a caution against rampant destruction of nature. Who knew that a Goregrind album can be so intelligent?