A Society of Control Exposed Through Death Metal. typically employing heavily distorted and low tuned guitars, played with techniques such as

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Oakland 1 Stephanie Oakland 29 July 2015 A Society of Control Exposed Through Death Metal As a more intense subgenre of heavy metal, death metal pushed the musical boundaries, typically employing heavily
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Oakland 1 Stephanie Oakland 29 July 2015 A Society of Control Exposed Through Death Metal As a more intense subgenre of heavy metal, death metal pushed the musical boundaries, typically employing heavily distorted and low tuned guitars, played with techniques such as palm muting and tremolo picking, deep growling vocals and screams, aggressive, powerful drumming featuring double kick or blast beat techniques, minor keys or atonality, abrupt tempo, key, and time signature changes and chromatic chord progression ( Death metal, Wikipedia). What was once feared by many as a subgenre is now a way for guitarists to express their abilities and bands to express their passionate aggression, while at the same time providing exhilarating music. Emerging in the 1980s, there is some controversy as to who was the first to coin the name Death Metal ; it is believed that it was either Jeff Becerra, the lead singer of Possessed, when he used the term for a class assignment, or the demo released in 1984 by the band Death entitled Death by Metal. However, the bands Venom, Possessed, and Death were the main influences for the genre. Venom, an English heavy metal band from Newcastle, brought the harsh vocals, speed, death growl, lyrical subjects, satanic themes, and aggression to death metal. Following, the band Possessed was influenced to continue in Venom s path. Possessed, believed to be the first true death metal band, was heavily influenced by both Venom and Motorhead, ultimately progressing the genre from thrash metal to death metal with their more brutal style of fast drumming, tremolo picking, and growled vocals (Metal Descent). Many death metal, black metal, and grindcore bands claim to be influenced by Possessed. During this period, another Oakland 2 influential metal band, Death, was formed in Florida. Death is known as the father of death metal and is not only credited with fathering death metal, but also with being one of the first death metal bands to experiment with and add other elements and sounds to death metal (Metal Descent). In addition, their manager, Eric Greif, held Day of Death, which was one of the first death metal festivals in North America. Death Metal reached its peak in 1993 as a result of the mass signing of bands by record companies, yet it failed to become mainstream as a genre, which is what made it all the more appealing. This peak lead to multiple subgenres of death metal, eventually resulting in melodic death metal, technical/progressive death metal, death-doom, goregrind, deathcore, death n roll, and blackened death metal. However, politicians began to strongly suggest banning death metal, as its lyrics were considered offensive. Though that was the case, that only encouraged more people to listen to it, and eventually, this controversy gave the genre the closest chance it had at reaching mainstream success. The intellectual and philosophical themes of this genre of music is a key separation between death metal and other genres. Though on the surface it seems as if all death metal invokes extreme violence, the lyrics also touch greatly on religion, occultism, Lovecraftian horror, nature, mysticism, philosophy, science fiction, and politics ( Death metal, Wikipedia). Though the lyrics seem to be more sinister, it could be argued that they are merely portraying the world in which we live with a deep connection to cultural studies and philosophy, the objective of cultural studies includes understanding culture in all its complex forms and analyzing the social and political context in which culture manifests itself ( Cultural Studies ). The aim of death metal lyrics tend to be geared toward exposing the power imposed from within by authority figures, as well as the resistance to that power, ultimately shaping society through a Oakland 3 political lens. The band on which I will focus on, Fear Factory, upsets society s view of natural facts and enables the listener to view authority figures from a different perspective. Fear Factory s album, Mechanize, reflects the band s beliefs on governmental corruption through the progression toward a society of control, the government s involvement in the education system reflecting our culture s poor ability to think critically, and ultimately the fear bestowed upon society to resist this power. Formed in 1989, the American band Fear Factory, went by the band name Ulceration. However, to reflect their progression toward the death metal genre in 1990, they began to go by Fear Factory. This new genre proved to be a great success for the band: the band has performed at three Ozzfests and the inaugural Gigantour its singles have charted on the US Mainstream Rock Top 40 and albums on the Billboard Top 40, 100, and 200. The band has sold more than a million albums in the U.S. alone ( Fear Factory ). Beginning with their interest in grindcore, the band became versatile in the subgenres of industrial metal, death metal, thrash metal, alternative metal, and groove metal. This innovative approach towards and hybridization of the genres industrial metal, death metal, and alternative metal has had a lasting impact on metal music ever since the release of their first album in 1992 ( Fear Factory ). This band is appreciated for its ability to lead listeners to more extreme bands, as well as its influence on modern bands. Though they are known primarily for their science fiction lyrics and concept albums, their seventh album, Mechanize, shows their perception of society as it exists in the present. Receiving mostly positive reviews, Mechanize has been praised by both fans and music critics for its heavy, aggressive sound, as well as its mixture of sounds and elements from previous albums; as a result, 10,000 copies were sold during the first week of its release in Oakland 4 February, Implementing the subgenres of groove metal, industrial metal, death metal, and thrash metal, this album became quite a success. Burton C. Bell, Fear Factory s vocalist, stated, In the past, the lyrical concept was of a futuristic, sci-fi nature. An attempt to protect the ideas and logic of those involved in Fear Factory; because those who incite progressive thought are always chastised and persecuted. By placing the story into a futuristic, fictional narrative, the words and ideas may not have seemed threatening (Bell). However, the album Mechanize held an entirely different meaning, these are the words of a reality that once seemed distant, that are now apparently, and evidently real. These are the words of the world in which we live; for what once seemed like a story of another time, has come to be our reality today. Welcome to the world of Mechanize (Bell). Before reading into the significance of this album, it is important to mention the relation between the author and the reader, as well as the signifier and the signified. Songs are limited with the amount of lyrics they can use to get their point across; therefore, every word is carefully chosen and can be analyzed metaphorically with each individual word acting as a signifier, which then acted to signify the signified meaning. That being said, one particular lyric means nothing without the presence of the others surrounding it and can be easily be exchanged for a dissimilar meaning, leaving the authority of the lyricist to the perception of the listener, authors may or may not intend for you to perform a certain reading of their work, but there s absolutely no way to guarantee the reception of that message (16 Nealon). As a reader of these lyrics, I have no choice but to relate the concepts to their relevance in my life and personal experiences, ultimately creating a more personalized meaning, since reading, in fact, has become a privileged metaphor for perception or experience itself (22 Nealon). Therefore, my reading of these lyrics is purely subjective, as it is relative to my own personal opinions and perception of life. That Oakland 5 being said, even seemingly objective facts are in turn subjective, since a fact cannot exist without a prior interpretation, suggesting that the reading of anything, whether it be song, history textbook, film, etc., is entirely subjective. The first track on this album, entitled Mechanize, discusses the world Fear Factory views as our own. The concept of individuality is erased and we become mechanized into our role in the machine of the government. The song starts with the lyrics faceless in the machine (Mechanize), but these lyrics are distorted to the point where they are barely recognizable unless you listen very closely. At surface level, this is merely text painting for the lyrics, showing the loss of individuality and the conformity to the machine with the audible blurring of the lyrics. Looking deeper, I take this as a portrayal of our society s poor ability to think critically. We have been manipulated and controlled into not looking deeper into things or questioning authority. The lyrics depicting a loss of individuality are indecipherable unless you take a deeper look and listen closely, which is a reflection on the issue of current governmental control over the education system. Using the persuasion of money, the government has been able to control and manipulate the school system into teaching and testing in the way the government thinks best, In 2009, during the recession the federal government doled out billions of dollars to the states through the American Recovery and Re-Investment Act (ARRA). But in order to get the money, states had to agree to make changes to education referred to in the documents as assurances as an alternative to No Child Left Behind, in 2010 President Obama announced his education reform package, Race To The Top. It encouraged states to compete for grant money. In order to win, states had to meet what s called state reform criteria. The criteria are essentially the assurances in greater detail (Morrin). Basically, in order to receive governmental funding, the Oakland 6 education system had to adopt the common standards and take on the pressure of high-stakes testing, ultimately removing the possibility to teach critical thinking in schools. Further in Mechanize, the lyrics state, Thoughtless and automated, lifeless and sedated. You re integrated, your mind castrated (Mechanize). These lyrics depict the educational world in which we currently live. Teachers are forced to teach to the test if they want to keep their job, but at what cost? This does nothing other than teach students there is a single answer to everything and if that answer is questioned or altered based upon individual perceptions and thoughts, it is wrong. With this, students are taught to be passive learners, ultimately turning them into passive members of society without the ability to recognize that their thoughts are no longer their own. Imposing this kind of authority over the school system creates schooling, not education, and ultimately students are not trained to be independent thinkers... they are trained to be massive skilled workers for corporations (Hurd). This ultimately causes our independence to be subtly stripped away as a nation as it takes away our ability and freedom to think for ourselves, further expressed with the beginning lyrics of the song, Slave to the industry, faceless in the machine. You do not realize you re dehumanized (Mechanize). Later in the album, the track Industrial Discipline consists of the lyrics, Whatever soul was left has been erased. Only a machine remains. Beaten into submission. That s what it is to be slaved (Industrial Discipline). Though governmental control is effective when protecting society from murder, thievery, etc., those lyrics prove it deserves no place in the education system, the root of the problem is that so long as government controls what students learn, these schools will never graduate individuals with independent and critical, objective thought. Government doesn t exist to do that. Government exists to impose, control and mandate (Hurd). Oakland 7 The adaption of the education system to standardized testing suggests there is only one way to learn and one way to show what you have learned, which is communistic in approach and the exact opposite of what educational research has proven. Those lyrics express the loss in individuality as students are being slaved into a machine, a correct way of thinking, without the slightest clue or concern, Independent thinkers. Independent, critical and objective, intelligent thinkers. That should be the goal of every moment sent in a school, or in any other intellectual or academic endeavor of any kind. If you actually believe that the Federal government is either capable of, or wiling, to handle such a task with integrity, then you re probably one of the few who actually believe that education as we know it is as leading edge as our technology (Hurd). In addition to brainwashing the minds of students, it enlists a type of fear that is widely and passively accepted. If a student does not do well on a standardized test, they may not get the scholarship they need to go to college. If a class collectively does poorly on a statewide test, that teacher may no longer be there for the following years. A few tracks further on the album, the song Fear Campaign, expresses Fear of loss and failure. Mind killing, restricting (Fear Campaign). As a society, we are allowing this control because it is seen as a necessary way of competition and elimination. However, that should not be the case at all, especially with all of the information that has been researched in regards to multiple intelligences. Ultimately, we are leaving the fate of our future generation in the hands of authority figures who have not taken the time to understand how a student learns best in reality, or are fearful of doing so. In pushing common core and standardized testing, the government can quite literally control the minds of our youth as depicted a few tracks later in the song Controlled Demolition, Our fate lies in the hands of men. Their lies, our fate, our lives, the grave. A master plan of damnation. A controlled demolition (Controlled Demolition). Oakland 8 Though this is seen as a result of ignorance, it is really a brilliant way to produce a society of control, In 2008 Rick Shenkman, the Editor-in-Chief of the History News Network, published a book entitled Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth about the American Voter (Basic Books). In it he demonstrated, among other things, that most Americans were: (1) ignorant about major international events, (2) knew little about how their own government runs and who runs it, (3) were nonetheless willing to accept government positions and policies even though a moderate amount of critical thought suggested they were bad for the country, and (4) were readily swayed by stereotyping, simplistic solutions, irrational fears, and public relations babble (Davidson). This quote is in pure relation to our society s yearning and ability to think critically. It is easier to not question authority, to just comply with whatever is told. Things are seen as natural facts and never questioned, resulting in a depressed ability to stand up for what is right and fight back. Another portion of the lyrics of Industrial Discipline state, Beaten down to believe. Beaten down to concede. Control is key to suppress me (Industrial Discipline). These lyrics support the fact that a loss critical thinking skills will ultimately lead society to believe whatever they are told, and in turn suppress and control those who do want to question authority by the amount of people who are not comfortable with that level of thinking. Again, this concept of critical thinking starts with the education system, public school systems have always had two primary purposes and critical thinking is not one of them. The schools are designed to prepare students for the marketplace and to make them loyal citizens. The marketplace is most often a top-down, authoritarian world and loyalty comes from myth-making and emotional bonds. In both cases, really effective critical thinking might well be incompatible with the desired end A suggestion has been made to forget about the schools as a place to learn critical thinking Oakland 9 appearing in Scientific American online, schools can t teach critical thinking because they are too busy teaching to standardized tests (Davidson). As depicted in the lyrics of this album, society has become mechanized to hold critical thinking to a minimum, and under such conditions people can be relied upon to stay passive about events outside their local venue until the government decides it is time to rouse them up in some propagandistic manner (Davidson). This society of control depicted in these lyrics can be dated all the way back to the creation of the Panopticon. Originally created with good intentions, this structure ultimately led to a society of control, similar to the lyrics in Mechanize, I build it to break it down (Mechanize). The architectural aspects of the Panopticon induce[d] in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assure[d] the automatic functioning of power (470 Foucault). Though the inmates are not being beaten externally, they are internally manipulated to do what they are told, with the fear that they could be seen at any moment, which is a similar concept to additional lyrics from the Fear Campaign track, What do you fear? It is the most strategic tool used to manipulate. Intimidation to make me weak in order to obey. Strategy to manipulate, paralyze, intimidate. Righteous greed suffocates, a powerful fear campaign (Fear Campaign). The inmates in the Panopticon, and ultimately our current society, are manipulated by fear. We are constantly visible by authority figures, yet we have no way of seeing them or knowing if we are being watched. Therefore, we are easily manipulated to sensor ourselves and comply, in order to be exercised, this power had to be given the instrument of permanent, exhaustive, omnipresent surveillance, capable of making all visible, as long as it could itself remain invisible. It had to be like a faceless gaze that transformed the whole social body into a field of perception (476 Foucault). The Panopticon still functions today through not just Oakland 10 governmental figures, but society itself. Religious groups throughout society take it upon themselves to discipline and control the population, as do activists. Fear Factory clearly states their opposition to this control in their expressed struggle to be a more individualized and defined self rather than subject of society in their Industrial Discipline track, I will not be defined, no longer stand in line. Your opposition. Stand in reflection. Pure abomination (Industrial Discipline). In our current society of control, individuals have become dividuals, and masses, samples, data, markets, or banks (5 Deleuze), which is a prevailing theme throughout this album, especially in the title Mechanize, You cannot survive, unless you comply. We become mechanized (Mechanize). In the music video for Mechanize, it is clear that individuals have become merely numbers in a system, Rather than a Panopticon, with a centralized focal point from which activity is surveilled, we have a diffuse matrix of information gathering algorithms. Everything is tracked and encoded, interpreted into patterns that are either acceptable or unacceptable (Crain). The human existence has become a mass of numbers thrown into a machine to use in whichever way authority figures please, which is what Fear Factory is struggling against. This struggle is especially prevalent in the lyrics from the album s track Powershifter, Always question authority, control my own destiny. Forcing change, breaking free. From the gears of this machine (Powershifter). Fear Factory is using their album, Mechanize, to show the control that is held over our soci
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