It’s Painful To Hear: Music as a form of torture

A case of crappy entertainment (not “art”) imitating life:

August Burns Red is a third rate “christian metal” group.  Desperate for any media attention, they agreed to allow their “music” to be used in an episode of “NCIS: Los Angeles”.

In the episode, it was used in a simulated torture and interrogation scene, their unlistenable “music” played at excesive volumes.  The group knew and approved of its use in the scene either because they’re desperate for publicity, or because they approve of torturing Black and Brown people.

August Burns Red Music Used as Instrument of Torture on NCIS: Los Angeles

The February 14 episode of CBS’ NCIS: Los Angeles, “The Frogman’s Daughter,” featured a plot point in which a character’s daughter is kidnapped and tortured via the use of “Bones,” a track from August Burns Red’s 2020 release, Guardians. You can watch the scene in question below.

What’s really great about this is that it makes for the rare story that every metal fan is sure to enjoy: August Burns Red fans will be happy the group got extra exposure, and August Burns Red haters will find that the jokes write themselves. Everyone wins.

Nobody wins.  Forget how crappy their “music” is, noise is torture and abuse.  And any show advocating and glorifying the use of torture as a plot point shouldn’t be on TV or in theatres (e.g. “24”)Torture doesn’t work, and everyone knows it’s only used by abusive sadists.

Unfortunately, the show’s use of music as a form of torture is not their own idea, it’s “ripped from the headlines”.  In 2014, the Canadian Industrial band Skinny Puppy learnt that their and other groups’ music was being used by military terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, torturing muslim people they had kidnapped.  The band took legal action, first filing a cease and desist order, then suing the US government for $666,000 in royalties.

More below.

Industrial band Skinny Puppy demand $666,000 after music is used in Guantánamo torture

A Canadian electro-industrial band is asking for thousands of dollars in royalties after learning that the US military used their music to torture prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. Skinny Puppy claim they filed a $666,000 (£368,000) bill with America’d defence department.

[. . .]

“We’re not making a point looking for financial gain,” Key underlined. But nor is the group entirely surprised that their songs were used as sonic punishment for Gitmo’s detainees: “We thought this would end up happening, in a weird way,” he admitted in an interview with the Phoenix New Times. “Because we make unsettling music, we can see it being used in a weird way. But it doesn’t sit right with us.”

Skinny Puppy aren’t the only group whose music has reportedly been used to torture terrorist suspects and “enemy combatants” at the United States’ base in Cuba. According to earlier reports, interrogators have employed songs by Metallica, Rage Against The Machine, Queen, Eminem, and even David Gray. “It’s an issue that no one wants to deal with,” Gray said in 2008. “It’s shocking that there isn’t more of an outcry.”

In 2014, Skinny Puppy’s Nivek Ogre (Kevin Ogilvie) appeared on Russia Today’s “Breaking The Set” to discuss the issue:

Admittedly, Skinny Puppy are an acquired taste.  But you have to admire their principles and willingness to take a stand against the US government.  From youtube:

“Crying Game”







  1. flexilis says

    I would confess to anything, even rat out my grandmother, if I were subjected to even five minutes of the torture of listening to “God Bless the USA”.

  2. lochaber says

    torture works.
    It doesn’t work for reliable information extraction, but it works great for breaking people’s psyche.
    unfortunately, that’s probably worse…

  3. jrkrideau says

    IIRC music was how the USA forced Noriega out of an embassy. I don’t know if Noriega or the ambassador cracked first.