I am an old school fan of anything loud played on guitars (read: I’m old and I grew up hearing it). Whether it’s Prog Rock (Rush, Yes), Hard Rock (UFO, Golden Earring) Glam (The Sweet, Queen), Heavy Metal (Iron Maiden, Motorhead), Thrash and Speed Metal (Anthrax, Megadeth, early Metallica), Punk (The Damned, Art Bergmann / Young Canadians), Industrial (KMFDM, Skinny Puppy) or any other, I’ll listen.
But aside from Mercyful Fate, the genres of Black Metal and Death Metal never appealed to me. Maybe the musicality is there, but I don’t hear it and I don’t like the overall sound of the genre nor the topic matter (i.e. “death”, “burial”, “afterlife”, “war”, “hopelessness”, etc.). But even if I didn’t mind, the number of Black and Death Metal bands that tread into white supremacism and satanism put me off. (That’s not to infer that all such groups can be defined that way. I’m just not inclined to sift through drek to find the good stuff.)
Which leads me to a stupid kid from Louisiana, an “aspiring Black Metal artist” who decided the way to make himself famous in the Death Metal scene was to burn down churches in Black communities. Instead, he was charged with hate crimes, pled guilty and will serve a long prison sentence. Now watch, a Black Metal band will probably write a song about him….
Fortunately, no one was injured in any of the attacks. These were arsons, not bombings, and no one was inside at the time of the fires. Would it shock you to learn he’s the son of a white cop?
Holden Matthews, 22, admitted to starting the fires to raise his profile as a “black metal” musician, prosecutors said. He burned three Baptist churches in the Opelousas area over 10 days beginning in late March 2019. He faces 10 to 70 years in jail when he is sentenced on 22 May. On Monday, Matthews entered several guilty pleas for federal and state charges. The three churches Matthews admitted to torching had predominantly African-American congregations.
Matthews, the white son of a local sheriff deputy, set fire to those churches “because of the religious character of those buildings”, they said.
Each church was razed to the ground by the fires Matthews lit, prosecutors said. No-one was injured, as it was the middle of the night. During his plea hearing, Matthews said he specifically targeted those churches. He did so because he sought to emulate church burnings carried out by black metal music fans in Norway in the 1990s.
If your response is, “They’re just churches,” do me a solid and go away permanently.
To quote The Damned’s “I Just Can’t Be Happy Today”:
“They’re closing the schools / They’re burning the books
The church is in ruins / The priests hang on hooks
The radios on ice / The telly’s been banned
The army’s in power / The devil commands”