In The Line Of Fire

Paul André Blom

August 2008

paul blomPaul Blom (pictured left) is an alternative musician (V.O.D, Terminatryx, F8, Makabra Ensemble), freelance entertainment journalist, movie-maker, and creator of the South African HorrorFest-, and X Fest Film Festivals – the latter of which ironically had its Extreme Music edition late September 2008

And so the wheel keeps on turning…

As has been the case with everyone from Judas Priest and AC/DC, to Marilyn Manson et al, Metal music is again the scapegoat for ignorant religious agenda pushers and buck passers. And it is no surprise that cases brought before the court trying to nail these bands all failed each time.

A kid in the South African town of Krugersdorp, Morné Harmse allegedly arrived at school on 17 August 2008 with a couple of swords and a black painted face, and several masks “identical to that of Slipknot” – they say he was dressed like the drummer from the band.
He ended up attacking fellow pupils, resulting in the death of one, Jacques Pretorius. He has been charged with murder and attempted murder – an apparent accomplice was not charged.
It is reported that he was quiet and kept to himself, and was even considered to be “a nerd”. It is said he claimed that Satan made him do it.
The Columbine killers were also deemed “nerds” and bullied by the jocks. Could this have been a similar retaliation? Only time will tell – and since he didn’t commit suicide, hopefully some questions will be answered.

Pierre Eksteen (of a school support network for children) went for the age-old, pathetic explanation of “Satanic music was probably the cause”.


Through the eons, that which people did not understand, they condemned as being demonic or satanic – not many people of a more conservative nature understand Heavy Metal…

For a start, Slipknot is not a “Satanic” band. They incorporate dark imagery in the band’s look and subject matter, and in my opinion is a reflection of the world we live in. Furthermore these highly skilled and talented musicians play roles, portraying characters, very much like Anthony Hopkins does on screen as Hannibal Lecter. Do the moral guardians knock on Sir Anthony’s door when a serial killer eats a victim?
These musicians are normal people like most of us, living their lives, only with a more extraordinary day job.

How many high-jackers, murderers and rapists listen to 50 Cent, or Britney Spears for that matter! What does George W. Bush listen to? Or the generals recently invading Georgia? Do they like Beethoven? By their actions they must listen to evil Metal music like Cradle Of Filth!

If someone’s musical affiliation is brought up and condemned when they perform an inexcusable act, does that mean the Catholic Curch is the cause the staggering pile of proven pedophile cases (dwarfing any vague Metal-Murder correlations?).

The uninformed finger-pointers are also unaware of the many Heavy Metal sub-division and genre affiliates, be it Power-, Thrash-, Death-, Black, Nu-, Folk-, or Viking Metal, as well as Rapcore, Metalcore, Grindcore and Industrial Metal, to name a few. Sure, there are bands who proclaim to be Satanic, but that it is their right of expression just like a Gospel singer has the right to back their beliefs - the genre however get a condemned as a whole and slated for being evil, full stop. What about Christian Metal? Is that the only acceptable one?

You won’t hear any of this music on radio or see it on regular TV, but you can watch suicide bombing victims on the news every hour, or moronic wrestling at prime time, almost every second day (with only a PG10 age restriction).

It is naÔve and narrow-minded to lay the cause of an act as horrific as this school slaying at the doorstep of a global musical genre. Everyone needs a scapegoat, and every now and then a killer’s musical taste becomes the target. And it is an insult to the memory of the murdered boy to denigrate his death as a mere byproduct of a band’s music.
Sometimes people commit shocking and inexplicable acts, not even they can explain – the result?
“The devil made me do it!”
Ask Hansie Cronje.

And until a thorough psychological evaluation is made of the perpetrator, we can waffle on and speculate about his senseless act ‘till we’re blue in the face. Even if the kid (or near adult) says he heard Slipknot’s Corey whisper into his ear to go and kill for him, that is his own twisted mind, not the band’s cosmic powers of persuasion.

For moral and religious groups to grab a hold of this redundant argument is very sad and merely reflect them as clutching at straws and using a sensationalist angle to further their own agendas.

I’ve been listening to this kind of music since the early ‘80s, and played in Metal / Alternative / Industrial bands since the late-‘80s, incl. V.O.D, Metalmorphosis (Cape Town), F8, Terminatryx, and SAMA winners K.O.B.U.S., and I turned out pretty well. I had a good upbringing with involved parents – they hated our Kiss, Iron Maiden, Slayer and Metallica music, posters and T-shirts but didn’t stifle us. They allowed us to be ourselves and did not oppress our choice (too much). Not all school kids like sports to get their adrenaline going or chill the raging hormones. Some can do that via listening to, or playing music, or escaping into video games and exciting movies.

Extreme music is by no means a commercial genre with the kind of support which backs a pop singer like Celine Dion – but, what people tend to forget is that it remains entertainment – and it is our choice what kind of entertainment we want – just like it is entirely our own business whether we want a saviour who died on the cross, or a master who choose to park off in flames. Musicians are entertainers, not your children’s parents. It is your responsibility to know what your kids are up to, not a band who is driven to express their view of the world via music not everyone understands.

How many so-called Gospel singers constantly prove they’re everything but holier than thou? It’s more often all about the cash. With more Gospel categories at the SAMA awards than anything else, it proves to be a lucrative genre choice (even local soap Rhythm City is centered around the Gospel music industry where the one person is more corrupt than the other).

You won’t find a local Metal band driving the kind of luxury vehicles some Gospel artists zip around in (unless they have a day job, which every single one inevitably has). You won’t get rich off this kind of music, especially in South Africa. It gets little if any media backing, let alone radio airplay. It is outcast and chastised, often labeled Satanic without the accusers ever hearing the lyrics. In their narrow frame of reference this is “what hell must sound like”. Would the devil be so stupid as to pick a form of music which comparatively has a very small fan base and repels more people than it attracts to preaching his evil gospel so blatantly? No, my friends, the Devil is meant to be cunning and sneaky, so don’t you think he’ll plan his take-over via something every household would find “acceptable” or “harmless”? Like Enrique Iglesias? Hip-Hop music litters the airwaves and kids TV shows, with all of its pimping, hustler, ho clichÈs – how often do you see a Metal band on there?
More people listen to Black Eyed Peas than Slipknot, thus statistically more murderers, rapists and dysfunctional people listen to B.E.P. – do they ever get brought up when someone is nailed for a murderous act?

Music has become the white noise of our lives along with traffic, and no single musical force is so powerful as to take over someone’s psyche and drive them to do their bidding – the disturbance was there already, created by the world around us, or a biochemical anomaly. If the music is the trigger, then absolutely anything can be the catalyst to push someone over the edge – it’s just a matter of timing.

Metal music is extreme entertainment, just like horror movies. Skateboarding and BMX is an extreme sport – and like music and movies often come under fire. It is also rebel entertainment, and those who like it wouldn’t really want it to be mainstream – but, they also don’t want it to be crushed, having to obtain it at costly import prices.
If a movie or video game has an age restriction, that’s because there may be material which can upset some people, simple as that – the legitimacy of someone deciding what is subversive or disturbing is a whole other debate on its own. A parent’s job is to decide for their children and guide them before their brain is developed enough to take charge of their own lives. So, if a game contains cop killing and mayhem, it’s probably not something your 10 year old should be exposed to!
If someone is mentally unstable (be it socially, genetically, chemically or environmentally created), they will flip no matter what, and these signs need to be picked up and treated. Banning extreme music won’t stop people from having psychotic tendencies.

It’s all about perception – financial perception of the record companies deciding on behalf of a numbed consumer society what they should listen to. It doesn’t matter if someone’s farting in a microphone – if it sells, they’ll call it music.
And unfortunately, as we all know, bad publicity is often good publicity, as currently everyone in South Africa has now heard of Slipknot, whatever the connection.

The recent Krugersdorp upsurge in condemning extreme music simply makes it that much harder for people who dedicate themselves to making this kind of challenging music to practice their art. Who has the right to condemn it to the underground and making it hard or impossible for musicians to make a living being entertainers? As entertainers, Gospel singers get all the exposure they want and reap the financial benefits. Shouldn’t they be spreading the word of the Lord for free, because they have conviction and want to save souls? Why do they need to get paid for it? Why do you have to pay for Gospel ring tones and Bible verses on your cell? Shouldn’t these benevolent institutions pass the spirit out free of charge?

It’s not about God, it’s not about Satan, it’s about money.

Television and radio is littered with Gospel shows. It comes with a guaranteed audience and the built-in guise of “righteousness”, and a lot of advertising revenue.
Any Rock shows, or at least one single Rock radio station on the local South African airwaves? Ha! The last rock radio DJs got fired, marginalized and pushed onto campus radio stations to make way for uninspired two-dimensional personalities blabbing between the pre-programmed one-dimensional commercial pop pulp tunes.
The musical genius, talent and total awesome execution of a band like Strapping Young Lad will fly so far over the heads of the conditioned commercial radio listeners, it can only be deemed evil! The option for a young music fan open to whatever their psyche would crave is bombarded with the same banal fast-food music repetitions they’re conditioned into lapping up. They become part of the well constructed consumer assembly line keeping the uninspired music industry afloat.

Kids (and often adults) are almost automatically ostracized when they are into music of an extreme or alternative nature, and choose not to be on the rugby team. But, this marginalization is also a bonding factor tying likeminded music lovers together – one can even say it is a global brother- & sisterhood.
Youngsters into extreme music are more often open minded individuals who dare to choose beyond the prescribed, force-fed media packages. And if they end up experimenting with drugs, unfortunately that’s what many kids do, not because they listen to a certain style of music. Do Reggae listeners only experiment with dagga? Rave music fans only try E? What is the prescribed drug for Metalheads? Speed?

Metal and its derivatives is a style of music that you either latch onto and enjoy, or hate and avoid. So, if you dislike it, leave it be!
People pop out kids and leave them to be raised by the TV set or daycare. Bad parents breed bad kids (with many rising above their circumstances), but the bad seeds will turn out that way no matter what music they listen to. We all have the propensity to follow one of two paths. The music may give them something to identify with the alienation or anger they feel inside. There are no reports about how some bands actually helped kids through difficult times and turned them away from a path of self-destruction. Is this ever reported?
All teenagers lash out at some stage – some more lethally as in this tragic Krugersdorp case. If the lad listened to Kenny G, he would’ve done the same thing, maybe just in a different outfit.

What music do Taliep Pietersen’s killers listen to? What’s the relevance?
I believe Mˆtorhead’s Lemmy’s once said that, while unlikely, even if Metal music is the cause of someone flipping out and killing, the infrequency and rare cases like this make the odds pretty good! Think of the millions upon millions of them who don’t go out and kill…
If the music was so evil and influential, surely we’d hear about at least one massacre a day?
Society breeds its demons, and like rappers of the ‘80s reflected the violent nature of their inner city existence, for decades extreme bands have been doing the same with inner turmoil and the exorcism of psychological demons bred from daily life, through power and volume – often materialized in the shape of demons, monsters, dragons and devils in lyrics and album cover art – mythical, fantasy creations. Sure, many Black Metal acts go all out with the Satanic imagery and content. Although, someone who dives into that and makes it their reality has problems, and would probably do the same when watching those ludicrous Dragonball Z cartoons!

After a football match hooligans are fired up, watching their team burning their energy on the pitch, not doing so themselves. If their team loses, they storm out and cause mayhem. After a metal show the participating audience is drained from moshing and stage-diving, ready for a very peaceful night’s sleep – the energy of the music releasing tension in both the band and the audience, the symbiotic relationship more positive than negative. How many post Metal show riots or hooligan rampages have been reported? How often does football “the beautiful game” get raked over the coals?

If we find out how many high-jackers in South Africa like to listen to G-Unit and local Kwaito acts like Mzekhezekhe, and Zola, you may be shocked – then what will the media say? There is no angle for religious groups in that respect, so their traps are shut – shouldn’t they be worried about the decline of civilization as a whole and not still try and fire their “evil music” blanks?

Extreme music has been under fire from the first groove cut in Black Sabbath’s debut record. I am currently working on a compilation album of South African extreme bands, called Kopskoot (Afrikaans word for “head-shot”). With the recent resurgence in the condemnation of this genre, the title has become even more relevant, as the situation of Metal and Alternative music being shot in the head at face value is unlikely to change. Will this new attack on heavy music lead to no stores wanting to stock the CD, further marginalizing the bands who worked hard to create the songs and need all the exposure they can get?
Are we comfortable living in a society content to play the blame game and not look at themselves, washing their hands now that a culprit has been branded, comfortably cruising along in their little bubble of ignorance?

If you choose to have children, or did not take precautions to prevent it, that life remains your responsibility until your last breath, not once they leave school. Communicate with them, nurture them, treat them with respect and tact, not beat the hell out of them because you were, or ignore them, leaving them locked in their room with Grand Theft Auto video games or trying to play their Metal CDs backwards. Talk with them, get involved, find out what they like and hate. Be a parent. Be a part of molding a human being who can serve a purpose, not another biological organism continuing a pointless cycle.

On 14 April 2009 Harmse pleaded guilty to charges of murder and attempted murder (after a psychiatric evaluation deeming him fit or trial), and on 10 October he was sentenced to twenty years' imprisonment.

3 of the recent TERMINATRYX music videos directed by Paul A. Blom




Wildfire Tattoos
New Rock
Wildfire Piercing
South African Horrorfest


[ director: paul blom / star: sonja ruppersberg / make-up fx: clinton smith / dop: marnus tredoux / editor: leon visser ]

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