On November 16th, 2016, the online metal tabloid known as Metalsucks published their “manifesto” in which they very publicly announced “We will not tolerate racism, misogyny or any form of bigotry or hate speech” (because apparently it took them ten years of running a website, not to mention a good chunk of their adult lives to figure out these things are shitty).
Since then, Metalsucks have made themselves over as supreme leaders of the Metal Scene Police, calling out bands left and right for anything that could be considered even remotely dodgy.
But what they’ve failed to do is address their own dodgy history of promoting “problematic” bands in any meaningful way, not to mention the inconsistency and blatant hypocrisy that serves to prove they don’t have a sincere bone in their collective body.
Need an example? In April of 2016, Metalsucks announced their second sponsorship of a tour headlined by Norwegian black metal stalwarts Taake, a band who’s questionable exploits and beliefs were probably among the worst kept secrets in black metal at the time, just eight months prior to publishing their manifesto.
Indeed, Taake mastermind Hoest was no stranger to controversy when Metalsucks decided to sponsor the band’s North American trek with Young and in the Way and Wolvhammer, having infamously performed with a swastika painted on his chest at a show in Essen, Germany in 2007. Not long after, Hoest fanned the flames further by issuing a statement in which he told the owner of the club where said show took place to “go suck a Muslim.”
It took Metalsucks nearly two years and a cancelled Taake tour to get up the gall to publish an article in February of 2018 detailing all the issues surrounding Taake and even owning up to the tour sponsorships, but conveniently claiming ignorance about the band’s sordid past at the time of said tours. Never mind the fact that the 2007 swastika incident was widely reported by major metal outlets such as Blabbermouth, and Metalsucks had been established for several months at that point (the site was founded in late 2006), and one would assume that the founders of a metal news site would take an interest in, uh, you know, METAL NEWS, so ignorance is a bullshit excuse that simply does not hold up here.
Laughably, the same 2018 article condemns Taake’s 2011 album Noregs Vaapen for being “rife with nationalistic themes,” but doesn’t make any mention of the 2011 piece in which MS implored their readers “YOU NEED TO LISTEN TO TAAKE’S NOREGS VAAPEN.” Guess they weren’t quite as quick with the Google Translate back then, or maybe researching lyrics in another language was just too much for these hard hitting ace journalists to handle.
Taake’s questionable on-stage behavior and anti-Islamic stance became problematic for Metalsucks when it suited them, but what happens when a highly touted darling of the modern metal scene espouses similar ideas? Why, it’s no problem at all, silly! MS were more than happy to vigorously defend Amalie Bruun of Myrkur in 2017 after she made comments in an interview that drew the rest of the internet’s ire for being anti-Islamic, because apparently being “xenophobic” and “ignorant” is ok for her, but not for Hoest.
Of course, MS having Bruun’s back and continuing to promote Myrkur in spite of their supposed zero tolerance policy couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the fact that Myrkur’s label, Relapse Records, is affiliated with Blastbeat Network, an advertising company run by, you guessed it, the same people who run MS. According to a rather damning social media post by Todd Jones of California-based grind/hardcore band Nails, big metal labels such as Relapse pay Blastbeat for ad space on their network of heavily trafficked websites, which includes MS, Metal Injection, Cvlt Nation and others. Had Myrkur not been a hot ticket band on Relapse Records’ roster, Bruun would no doubt have been crucified.
The Taake debacle is just one very recent example. Metalsucks has a lengthy history of being more than willing to give column space to sketchy bands, as long as the clicks and ad revenue keep flowing in the right direction. They had absolutely no problem with publishing a lengthy interview with Varg Vikernes in 2011 (the same year they were telling us how great Taake’s nationalism-themed album was), or giving their latest target, Finnish black metal veterans Horna, props in 2013.
In spite of the fact that it only takes five minutes of research on Metal Archives (you know, the ridiculously comprehensive and easy to use online catalog of metal bands established in 2002) to figure out which bands and labels are sketchy and which ones aren’t, Metalsucks, the biggest metal website in the universe, loves nothing more than to plead ignorance at every turn.
Even better, they also like to feign innocence while at the same time throwing their own writers under the bus. Way to show that loyalty.
The above tweets were part of MS co-founder Vince Neilstein’s response when I started pointing this nonsense out on social media,shortly after getting wind of their latest morality crusade against the aforementioned Horna a few days ago.
Apparently things like conducting research and knowing your chosen subject matter weren’t terribly high on MS’ list of priorities for the first ten years, in fact those key aspects of good, responsible journalism don’t appear to have made the list period, if their weak excuses are to be believed. How does someone who knows nothing about metal or journalism come around to the idea of starting a metal news site?
I was having an especially hard time buying that Metalsucks didn’t realize that Varg Vikernes of Burzum, the original poster boy for black metal’s filthy underbelly, was sketchy back in 2011, but Neilstein graciously cleared this up by admitting it wasn’t that MS didn’t know he was sketchy at the time of the interview, it’s just that he wasn’t sketchy enough yet for them to worry about it getting in the way of those sweet, sweet revenue streams that only the finest clickbait can deliver (evidently being a convicted murderer, arsonist and avowed national socialist didn’t set off enough red flags for them).
The rest of Neilstein’s barrage of tweets contained the usual poverty level excuses about “being better” and other clichéd nonsense that’s become part of the backpedaling lexicon ever since everyone on the internet suddenly got “woke,” so I won’t bother to reproduce those here. There’s nothing at all wrong with being socially conscious, in fact I highly encourage it, but there’s a difference between being sincere about it and being an opportunist attempting to monetize its potential for generating controversy. If you’re going to take the stance Metalsucks has and you’re genuinely sincere about it (which they clearly aren’t) you might want to try not sacrificing integrity at the altar of the almighty dollar and owning up to your own shit without lame excuses first before you start carelessly pointing fingers at the rest of the scene.
That said, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve covered some fucking sketchy-ass bands in the almost ten years that THKD has been around for, knowing full well that they were sketchy. It’s something I’ve wrestled with for a long time and continue to wrestle with to this day. Is it ok to like a band’s music and not give a shit about what the band’s members are like as people, or what their beliefs and politics are? Can one ever truly separate art from artist? Does covering those bands make me an irredeemably shitty excuse for a human being?
Even after listening to metal for almost thirty years I don’t know the answers to those difficult questions, but I do know that I never claimed to be the leading light of the Metal Morality Police, nor will I ever.
Metalsucks on the other hand, would have us believe that they have all the answers for all of us with regard to what bands we should or should not listen to, what shows we should or should not attend and how we should consume art and entertainment, when in reality their only interest is in shitting out more clickbait in order to keep makin’ that paper. The only thing more terrifying than their phony proselytizing is the number of people they’ve managed to dupe with their empty rhetoric.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We could go on for weeks or even months sifting through MS’ archives and various social media accounts, finding even more proof that they’re completely disingenuous, but I’m already feeling pretty nauseated as it is and would like to climb out of this dumpster fire, ASAP.