"But there was nothing about the little, low-rambling, more or less identical homes of Northumberland Estates to interest or to haunt, no chance of loot that would be any more than the ordinary, waking-world kind the cops hauled you in for taking; no
small immunities, no possibilities for hidden life or otherworldly presence; no trees, secret routes, shortcuts, culverts, thickets that could be made hollow in the middle – everything in the place was right out in the open, everything could be seen at a glance; and behind it, under it, around the corners of its houses and down the safe, gentle curves of its streets, you came back, you kept coming back, to nothing; nothing but the cheerless earth."
Thomas Pynchon, "The Secret Integration"
This is Ian Mathers' Tumblr. I live in Canada. I've written about music and other things for Stylus, PopMatters, Resident Advisor, the Village Voice, and a few other places. Hi.
The way that we talk about ex-wives and ex-girlfriends is fucked. This is an issue that extends far beyond aggressive music, beyond music in general and into general culture. I realize this is just one more deeply anchored, grotesque tentacle of patriarchy manifesting itself in the world. Taking all of that into consideration, one of the easiest and most frequently employed means of stripping a woman of her humanity and turning her into a monster is transforming her into an Evil Ex.
The Evil Ex-Wife (or Ex-Girlfriend) is up there with zombies and Nazis when it comes to human punching bags of pop culture: figures so obviously repugnant that we can do anything to them, guilt free. Whether she reportedly cheated and broke a man’s trust, lied and manipulated him, or simply committed that most treasonous of acts — leaving the relationship while the man still happened to find her desirable — Evil Exes are fair game. Most lose their names, referred to only as “her” or “that bitch;” even other women cluck and coo over stories of the Evil Ex, that harpy and harridan who tormented their man (not realizing that they are always on the verge of transforming into such a creature themselves). We may as well be vampires or werewolves the moment our relationship with a specific man ends.
And heavy metal musicians absolutely adore writing songs about their Evil Exes. Some are classics: Type O Negative’s Slow, Deep and Hard, Jane Doe by Converge, and All Else Failed’s This Never Happened are record-length tributes to exes — some merely mournful while others are threatening. Sometimes individual songs serve as tributes to failed love, such as “Tearing” by Rollins Band, “Break Beat” by Dangers or Drowningman’s “My First Restraining Order.” Some are grimmer testimonies to violence, like Leviathan’s 2011 record, True Traitor, True Whore, which is entirely about Jef “Wrest” Whitehead’s ex (Whitehead is currently serving two years probation for aggravated domestic battery after being found guilty of assaulting his ex, down from the original 36 counts).
Many of these songs and records are beyond reproach, merely explorations of heartbreak and loss. Others are more combative and confrontational, even violent, seething with hatred for the Ex in questions. When I first began listening to heavy metal, it never occurred to me to consider the way that the women — all these ex-partners — were treated and portrayed in these songs. I may even have been typically sympathetic as a new girlfriend siding with a partner over his obviously “crazy” ex. Poor lambs, what all those shes put you through.
Then, one day, I became an Evil Ex myself; there was even a song, throbbing with anger, written about me. Suddenly the way I thought about all those women, all those exes in songs, changed. What followed still stands as the strangest, and often most frightening, period of my entire life. I stopped siding with the men in those songs; I started to wonder about the other side of the story. And when the Tim Lambesis story broke, I immediately thought of Meggan and felt a deep, terrible kinship.
I’d heard good things about For Professional Use Only; I still need to get around to playing Electronic Dream 2 (although who knows what exactly I’ve got), but the first one was great and, it turns out, one of my favourite albums ever to edit to. So I was looking forward to this one.
The version of Electronic Dream that I’ve got is 11 tracks in 35 minutes. There’s a “deluxe” version that loses “Streetz Tonight” (one of the best songs, so I assume there were rights issues or something) and adds six more tracks, but I’ve never been interested. This mixtape (and I’m not sure what qualifies it as a mixtape aside from the fact that several tracks here are instrumentals that have already been used as productions by rappers elsewhere) is 20 tracks in 67 minutes, and that right there is the biggest problem I have with it.
It’s definitely along similar lines to the songs I already liked, so it’s not as if there were a ton of songs here I wish he’d dropped; but if you reconfigured all of these tracks to be half as long, I’m pretty sure I’d like it more. I remember really liking some of track tracks, particularly towards the end, and some of them seemed harder-hitting than the Electronic Dream material in a good way (“SUCCUBI” and “World Is Lost” in particular) but mostly it seemed like a bit of a slog (my housemate agrees, so it’s not just me). Which is weird, because as I said each individual track seemed pretty good. He just needs better portion control, I guess? And I still need to see him play live.
just think about when we’re all old and when you listen to the oldies station its going to be party rock anthem
And when you snarl in disgust and turn it off the young person in the car will look at you and wonder silently how you can hate something that speaks so thrillingly of a vanished past, that pulses with a language no longer spoken, that opens aching labyrinths in their minds in ways that the dull, suffocating present can’t. You were alive in the magic year of 2011, and you didn’t even appreciate it, they’ll grumble to themselves. The past is wasted on the old.