Metal gets a bad rap.
While the generalization that it’s the darkest, most brutal form of popular music is largely accurate, we forget that darkness and brutality are a big part of being alive. Ergo, metal is actually among the most life affirming of art forms, even while the lyrics of many of its most popular songs focus on dying horribly.
Observe the tale of singer-songwriter and nonagenarian Inge Ginsberg. Currently four years away from her 100th birthday, once upon a time, Ginsberg had to bail on Austria when Hitler’s parade of assholes showed up in 1947. Eventually, she made her way to Hollywood where she co-authored hits for Dean Martin, Doris Day, and Nat King Cole.
Several decades later, a friend mentioned her poetry reminded him of death metal lyrics. She replied, “Death metal? What is that?” and Ginsberg suddenly found herself on the way to becoming this era’s answer to Nathan Explosion.
Of course, metal’s been co-opted into a novelty gimmick by plenty of dubious performers before. But unlike someone like Pat Boone (or, as much as we hate to admit it, Babymetal), Ginsberg’s penning original lyrics that resonate with sincerity instead of shtick. Her direct, spoken-word style delivery even recalls Lou Reed’s collaboration with Metallica a few years back, and as the only person I know who’s smart enough to realize Lulu is an underappreciated masterpiece, I mean that as a compliment.
Overall, it’s been a better than average summer for metal. Deafheaven are as deliciously polarizing as ever on their latest record Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, while Skeletonwitch deliver an overall more effective — if also more conventional — album in the form of Devouring Radiant Light out Friday. No sane person expects metal to reclaim the commercial heights it enjoyed in the 1980s anytime soon, but there mere fact that I can write about Deafheaven, Skeletonwitch, and Inge Ginsberg in the same article proves metal’s miles more versatile of a genre than it gets credit for.