Friday, July 31, 2009

Marching To A Different Beat.


Lyrical content in Nationalist music has been a source of much debate over the years. Many believe that certain bands go over the top in their language and content on CDs which some see as a turn off. I personally am dissuaded from buying CDs because of this very reason, however, we have to realize that some of us have been around for a while and are seeing lyrical "extremism" in a very different light from newcomers. The truth of the matter, whether we chose to accept it or not, is that RAC and Oi generally began and continues to be the voice of angry youth. In the UK, vilified by the left for their colour and Nationalism, and marginalized by the right for their economic status and "undesirable" lifestyles, working class White kids were voiceless. Oi, then RAC gave this rage a voice, so no one should have ever expected that voice to be one of moderation and quiet contemplation. Anger rarely takes the form of deeply considered erudite critique, it comes as it comes, brutally and reactionary.

In recent years much of the music has become more honed, more professional both musically and lyrically. Bands, aware that not only will excessively profane and violent lyrics turn some of the older crowd off, but will also place them firmly in the sights of law enforcement, are beginning to tone down their lyrical content. While retaining the raw rage that inspired and continues to inspires the scene, they have begun to shy away from the overt lyrics of the past. And this has certainly worked to open the scene up to new audiences.

However, with this emergence of more moderate content, a somewhat derisory tone has appeared to take hold. Bands such as Aggravated Assault fall into this category of much maligned bands, their OTT lyrics attracting criticism because they are not "high brow." Yet, as much as I am glad to see more considered input from bands like Teardown, Blue Eyed Devils and Sedition, there is no escaping the fact that bands like Aggravated Assault and other much-maligned groups represent the basic anger that spurred this whole scene from a group of angry kids in garages with three chords and a lot to say into the international scene we know today. The implication that it is somehow "low brow" is to assume that "high brow" will have an equal or superior impact. If the discussion were turned to the notion of positive and negative, rather than erudite and reactionary, the debate would be more relevant; however, this goes to a greater argument as to the nature of the scene and the divisions therein between those whose agendas vary radically from one another, a topic for another time. But there is a legitimate expressed concern that the use of inflammatory language and narrative will be used as a template for action by younger kids. We don’t need to see any more kids serving long prison sentences and being used by the media as a stick to beat us with simply based on their inability to distinguish between songs' lyrics and reality. While each individual is free to choose their path, sometimes a song is just a song and needs to be treated that way.

In conclusion, if the call for more outwardly critical and self-aware lyrics is to be made, it needs to be done in a fashion that neither alienates nor dismisses those bands who have a more overt tone. This argument is not a musical one but a political one, not about aesthetics but about the perceived negative attention drawn by bands that by the very nature of their violent lyrics are usually the first port of call for kids coming into contact with the scene for the first time. And, without demeaning any of the bands mentioned, you don’t stand on street corners with heavy volumes to distribute, you start with a pamphlet.

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