The Metal Symposium, which took place at the Walsall Art Gallery on the Friday of Supersonic, was quite excellent though unfortunately all the ideas and thoughts it generated in my head were smashed to pulp by the subsequent festival. Thank heavens, then, for this New Statesmen article where Daniel Trilling takes the themes and runs with them.
At the Walsall symposium, a group of tattooed, T-shirted men gathered to discuss the question in earnest. Nic Bullen, a founder member of Napalm Death, described his band’s low, guttural vocals as a form of “pure sound” that connects with listeners at a primal level. The music critic and artist Edwin Pouncey agreed, telling how, the first time he saw the ultra-noisy industrial metal band Swans play live: “It was like having the air pumped out of the room, so you could hardly breathe . . . It was scary, but the greatest feeling in the world.” Pouncey later expounded on the attraction of heavy metal’s grotesque imagery and lyrics, which draw from the “cesspool of human existence”.
I hope a video, audio or transcript of the symposium makes it out soon. I’d love to pour over it.