Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Red And Anarchist Black Metal (RABM): Two Very Different Approaches - Part One


For those unfamiliar with red And anarchist black metal (hereafter referred to as RABM), it is basically a leftist answer to national socialist black metal (NSBM). NSBM is an extreme right movement, which attracts many neo-nazis and preaches fascism and often racism. Black metal is not inherently political and draws in people from both sides of the political spectrum. RABM is, to oversimplify a bit, left wingblack metal. Often with a strong overlap with the crust punk scene, RABM is often very far to the left.

Iskra is probably the most prominent example of the overlap with crust punk. While they import some of the grime from crust punk, purely sonically speaking, Iskra is a relatively orthodox black metal band. They play fast and unrelenting, and many of their songs sound very similar to each other. They are good at what they do, but they aren't very interested in playing with a left field sound. To be quite honest, when I buy an Iskra vinyl, I am buying it just as much for the packaging as I am for the music, maybe even more so. Their art is always interesting, and will remind some of the packaging of really well done crust punk (while certainly not the same, Dystopia comes to mind). For example, their side of the booklet with the Against Empire split is astounding. Featuring explanations, an essay and lyrics, it goes above and beyond, especially when factoring in the varied and politically charged artwork. Their aesthetic is very powerful and feels dangerous, something that a heavy political band always should.

Their lyrics are very left wing and radical. While they definitely make some valid points that need addressing, they sometimes drift into over the top, and even conspiracy theory territory. "Deep Intergration" off The Terrorist Act EP is a good example. In the essay outlying the thesis behind the lyrics, which are very essay-esque themselves, they allege that Canada is going through a process in which it will slowly be amalgamated into the U.S.A. Not as a complete state, but as an American controlled territory of sorts. They say that students in Canadian schools will be taught that they are North American and not Canadian and everything that embodies the Canadian identity will be eroded. An allegation of this grand a magnitude surely needs concrete evidence to back it up, which is not sufficiently provided. Other Iskra songs also have lyrics that allege things that they have no hard proof of or a hyperbolic version of reality. 

Iskra's lyrics often read like a poli-sci essay. There is no imagery or poetic leanings. It takes an issue and addresses Iskra's opinions on it and why they feel you should be angry. Many people have taken this in a bad way. On internet forums, many users complain that they find their lyrics to be overly preachy and basically demanding that the listener think like Iskra. One song in particular that people took issue with is "Acceptance Not Tolerance." The lyrics to this song is actually one of the bands least essay-like. What people took issue with is that they felt the band was trying to dictate how to act (and mind you, the vast majority of these people where pro gay rights) as well as preaching that everyone should think like them. 

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