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December 05, 2019 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily

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2B — Thursday, December 5, 2019
The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com


For better or for worse, black metal broke the mold
in the 2010s. It was a long time coming, too. From its
inception in the early ’80s until shortly before 2010,
black metal, with regard to both its sound and its
culture, had barely budged. In any other genre, this is
a completely foreign idea — artists are supposed to live
and breathe, experiment and develop. But not in black
metal. In black metal, bands are supposed to live within
the common sounds of the genre, nudging up against the
boundaries but never pushing (or even breaking) them.
Before, artists were supposed to look, sound and carry
themselves a certain way, or else they were doomed to a
lackluster, dead-end career. In the past 10 years, though,
bands suddenly stopped caring and started doing their
own thing, and some bands became very popular as a
result. To some, this was a long time coming. To others,
though, this was damn near the end of the world.
You see, metal purists (especially black metal purists)
want to be familiar with every piece of music they hear.
They want to be surprised by how each artist bends the
genre to meet their desired sound, but they don’t want
any curveballs. They want what they know, and they
don’t care about anything else. So when black metal
began to turn outward in the early 2010s, heads from
every corner of the music world turned. Critics began
to find themselves drawn to new black metal musings.
Casual music fans began to dip their toes into the
subgenre. Notably, though, metal heads began to turn
a blind eye to the progress that lay in front of them. As
black metal began to turn to the sky, the heads began to
look to the stagnant pond that is metal, pretending their
world remained unaltered.
The first band to really break the mold was Liturgy,
a group of Brooklyn hipsters (largely unversed in
black metal) led by vocalist/guitarist/theorist Hunter
Hunt-Hendrix. In 2009, Hunt-Hendrix released a

manifesto titled “Transcendental Black Metal: A
Vision of Apocalyptic Humanism” at a black metal
theory conference. The manifesto explained the idea
of transcendental (American) black metal, a subgenre
of metal that could transcend the “Haptic Void,” the
imaginary boundary that contains all other forms of
metal, a task that Hyperborean (Scandinavian) black
metal could never accomplish given its fixation on death,
executed through its signature pummeling and lifeless
drum technique, the blast beat. Transcendental black
metal, focused instead on life and growth, was to be
accomplished through the burst beat, a drum technique
that lives and breathes as each song progresses. Don’t get
it misconstrued, though: the music is still heavy, but it
attempts to reach a higher plane. Given the radical ideas
and rampant experimentation they fostered, Liturgy
was met with some serious backlash. In fact, some
claimed that they were nothing more than hipsters set
out to ruin another good thing. Others claimed that they
were too pretentious and didn’t carry the spirit of black
Liturgy came close to realizing transcendental black
metal with the release of 2009’s Renihilation (the opposite
of annihilation), but it didn’t quite meet the mark. It was
still heavily influenced by the so-called Hyperborean
black metal, but moments like the chilling, evolving
“Ecstatic Rite” show the potential of transcendental
black metal. The band came even closer with 2012’s
incredible (and incredibly polarizing) Aesthetica. The
album broke the boundaries of black metal with songs
like “Sun of Light” and “Red Crown,” but it didn’t quite
transcend the Haptic Void. After 2015’s misstep The Ark
Work, the electronic and hip hop influenced release that
left fans flustered, it seemed that the band had run its
course. The Ark Work simply was not metal, nor could
anyone consider it to be metal. Liturgy, specifically
Hunt-Hendrix, jumped too high and inevitably missed
the mark. However, after an electronic release from
Hunt-Hendrix and four years away from the genre,
2019’s surprise release, H.A.Q.Q., set Liturgy back on the

right course, keeping things metal as hell but correctly
introducing electronic and glitch elements. From heavy
hitters brimming with life and humanity like “GOD
OF LOVE” and “HAJJ” that utilize electronic stutter
steps in lieu of sonic progressions to challenging yet
palate-cleansing interludes like “EXACO I,” H.A.Q.Q. is
evidence that even though it will not be easy, eventually,
Liturgy will transcend the Haptic Void. Black metal
purists be damned, the band has already begun to
transform, and there’s no reason for them to stop in the
next decade.
Similarly, the advent of atmospheric black metal
has ruffled the feathers of many metalheads. Bands
were creating rock and alternative-infused black metal
that more resembled the Cure than it did Darkthrone.
Expectedly, metalheads were largely unhappy, and no
band made them more unhappy than San Francisco’s
Deafheaven. Formed in 2010, the band released Roads
to Judah in 2011. Musically, the album was typical black-
metal fare, but with a twist. Rather than an onslaught
of destruction, the violence was often broken up with
glistening piano and acoustic guitar ballads. They
are, like so many other boundary-pushing black
metal acts, inspired by Japan’s Envy, one of the
first bands to blend black metal with countless
softer, more accessible genres. Lyrically, the album
diverged from black metal’s typical depictions of
the wilderness and critiques on various religious
and governmental institutions, instead focusing
on vocalist and lyricist George Clarke’s substance
abuse and general tomfoolery. The album was
generally a success, finding a home on several year-
end lists, but it started to make purists grumble.
Once again, the hipsters were dead-set on ruining
yet another good thing.
Deafheaven didn’t stop there, though. Their
next release, 2013’s Sunbather, blew the iron gates

of black metal wide open. First of all, the album cover
was vibrant peachy-pink. Never has this color ever been
associated with black metal. Second, the music — it was
beautiful, often crushingly so. Just listen to “Dream
House,” far and away the band’s most popular song.
Guitarist and songwriter Kerry McCoy introduced
elements of shoegaze and new wave (two very un-black-
metal genres) to the band’s sound (hence The Cure
comparisons). Third, and finally, the lyrics. Similar to
the idea of Transcendental black metal, Clarke writes
about life. However, he writes about man’s never-ending
pursuit of perfection and man’s accompanying, inevitable
failure. Critics adored this album, which made black
metal purists hate it even more than they already did. On
top of this experimentation, the members of Deafheaven
are conventionally normal looking and could potentially
function normally within society, which is inherently
not very metal. Worse yet, the members of Deafheaven
like other genres of music, including hip hop, a genre
generally disliked by metalheads for its materialism and
supposed lack of lyrical depth.

The fear, fame and faces of black metal in the 2010s

Daily Arts Writer

To Ricardo & our friends at the
printer: Words aren’t enough to
express how grateful we are to
you. As far as best-ofs go, you’re
XO, Arts.


The best selling poet of 2017 wasn’t Shakespeare,
Homer or William Blake. It was Rupi Kaur, a 27-year-
old Indian-Canadian woman whose success can be
largely attributed to her following on Instagram. In fact,
so-called “Instapoets” made up 12 of the top 20 best
selling poets in 2017.
Anyone with a passing interest in poetry has likely
encountered Instapoets in their social media feed.
They’ve come to define much of the literature of the
decade. Their poems often deal with themes like
relationships, loneliness and mental health. Their
meanings are clear so a reader can usually “get it” on the
first read. Most importantly, they’re short, making them
perfectly suited for the brief encounters social media was
structured for.
Instapoets have almost single-handedly brought
poetry back into the mainstream, and yet they’re taken
less seriously than “real” poets. There’s a tacit assumption
that their poems are about just feelings and emotions and
can’t be compared to their print-only counterparts. The
critique, when fully thought out, is that Kaur and other
Instapoets too often oversimplify their work, hoping to
appeal to a large audience, and supposedly resulting in
poetry that’s hollow and boring.
While there’s truth to this claim, it would be
irresponsible to dismiss Instapoets without asking why a
social media presence seems to diminish their legitimacy.
One similarity among many popular Instapoets is that
their pages aren’t simply free spaces where they casually
share new pieces; these pages are polished, deliberate
and well thought out. More than just a platform to share
poetry, they are an effective marketing tool. There are
promotional materials, book release dates and clear
intents to build a brand. They’re reminiscent of the pages
of Instagram models — they blend a carefully curated
marketing message with an intimate space to share and

interact with fans.
The use of social media as a business tool isn’t an
innovative practice. It is difficult to find a sizable company
without a twenty-something “Social Media Specialist” in
its marketing department. It would simply be an oversight
to sell anything without having some kind of social media
presence, so any poet trying to make money will follow
suit. Social media, however, tends to favor smaller units
of content as many accounts compete for the limited
attention of users. Platforms reinforce this tendency with
character limits, dense layouts and systems of ranking
posts with an eye for maximizing advertising revenue at
the expense of long-form content.
What we find is that medium dictates form. Poets
have to meet their audience where they are, and where
these readers reside is a space that is hyper-commodified.
Everything, right down to a user’s attention, can have a
price tag and be sold to the highest bidder. Poets, whose
content can’t cleanly fit into this paradigm, are forced into
the impossible task of competing with actors willing to
instantly gratify a user’s base impulse in search of profit.
It is then unsurprising that Rupi Kaur’s specific
brand of poetry is notoriously able to capitalize on social
media’s potential for content promotion. That being
said, the success of Instapoets on social media is not an
affirmative indictment of their quality. Despite what a
tenured English professor might have to say about them,
Instapoets have attracted an otherwise disinterested
audience to poetry. In doing so, they’ve expanded into
subject matters that were previously ignored, and have
been highly inclusive of marginalized communities.
These are poems that are worth something to many
people, and there’s no reason to be concerned about that.
Instapoets as they exist aren’t the issue. It is the limiting
constraints of social media that keep so many Instapoets
from ever being called poets.

Instapoetry, then and now

For The Daily


In January 2010, I sat in the waiting room of a
doctor’s office, squirming impatiently in an oversized
chair — the entire room was designed for adults, but
I was only 11. On the side table next to me sat the
obligatory vase of fake flowers and pile of severely
outdated magazines. On top was the previous
December’s edition of TIME. The front cover offered a
sneak peek of the issue’s topic: a decade in review. The
rest of that memory is quite blurry. I don’t remember
where the office was or what I was there for, but that
red cover sticks out like a bright light. Barely older than
a decade myself, the concept of 10 years was hard to
wrap my young head around. I remember wondering
where I’d be the next time TIME had to make another
decade in review.
And here we are. I haven’t checked in with the
offices of TIME, but The Daily will do.
Despite my ongoing disbelief and denial that 2020
is right around the corner, I will acknowledge that I
feel quite removed from that girl in the doctor’s office.
She is hidden deep inside the dustiest of my brain’s file
cabinets. I don’t remember the specifics of her day-to-
day thoughts, but in retrospect I do know that she was
in for a whirlwind of a decade.
In 2010, the iPhone was barely three years old. None
of my friends nor I owned any sort of cell phone and
the only screens in my house were an old box TV and a
desktop computer.
Later that year, Instagram came to fruition. In
2011, Snapchat would be founded by a trio of friends
at Stanford University. Vine started in 2012, only to
receive an ongoing international mourning upon its
demise in 2016 — that same year — TikTok was born.
All of this is to say: my 2010-childhood world was
teetering on the brink of an unprecedented social
media revolution. At the same time that our parents

and grandparents grappled with a world turned
upside down, my generation became tasked with
finding our places within the rubble. This challenge
came alongside a decade of pop culture that would
permanently define our coming of age.
Such experiences made for many interesting
debates, a handful of seriously influential events and
a constant cascade of new memes. I gave up on my
attempt to list all of them. Instead, here is my highlight
reel. Consider it my own version of a Vine compilation.
2010: At the MTV Music Awards, Lady Gaga walked
the red carpet in perhaps the most infamous fashion
statement of all time: her meat dress. I was barely old
enough to be deciding on middle school dance outfits,
none of which involved steak.
2011: The final Harry Potter film hit theaters and
ended a full childhood of fandom.
2012: I was in eighth grade when a man shot and
killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook
Elementary School. I remember sitting in my morning
English class the day that the story broke, looking up
at a teacher who I worshipped. He’d been teaching for
far longer than I’d been alive, but I still remember the
look of his eyes that day, searching for answers that he
did not have.
2013: The Jonas Brothers cited “creative differences”
upon announcing their breakup, wreaking havoc on
pre-teen fans across the world.
2014: Over Thanksgiving vacation I watched
my cousin, a St. Louis native, stream the footage of
Missouri v. Darren Wilson after the police shooting
of Michael Brown. After the officer’s acquittal, I saw
friends and strangers rally behind the newly formed
Black Lives Matter. At the time, I did not realize or
understand the importance and longevity of the
anger that sat behind the hashtag.

Identity, through the years

Daily Arts Writer





The thoughtful thrifter
On Aug. 27, 2012, Macklemore released his
hit single, “Thrift Shop.” In it, the Seattle-
raised rapper lists the gems he’s discovered
at his local thrift store, from a leopard-print
mink to a flannel button-up donated by
someone’s grandpa. He pities all the jerks who
waste money on designer clothes and flexes by
telling us how little his pre-worn pieces cost
(“I’m gonna pop some tags / Only got $20 in my
pocket”). Bragging about saving money was a
massive lyrical departure for the mainstream
rap of 2012 — the year’s other chart-topping
songs included Drake’s “Started From the
Bottom,” an anthem for getting rich or dying
trying. Still, “Thrift Shop” soared high,
spending six weeks at the number-one spot on
the Billboard Hot 100.
“Thrift Shop” didn’t do well in spite of
its anti-mass market messaging; it did well
because of it. Just two years into the second
decade of the millennium, the youth of
America were ready to embrace a new form of
conspicuous consumption, one that finds more
allure in a pair of old gator shoes than a $50

The 2010s introduced the U.S. to a wave
of conscious consumerism. National media
warned us to watch out for greenwashing,
friendly. Once a burden to mass production,
sustainability became the focus of a new
generation of Instagram-friendly clothing
sustainable practice to gain traction during
the decade? Secondhand shopping.
From 2010 to 2019, my wardrobe has
purchased clothes to a mish-mash of mostly
preowned pieces. If my estimates are right,
I’ve purchased no more than 30 new garments
in the decade, which isn’t a lot considering I
went through puberty during that time frame.
In my 10 years shopping at predominantly
vintage and thrift establishments, I’ve come
to the conclusion that there are three kinds of
secondhand shoppers: those who know it’s the
most sustainable way to shop, those who want
to save money and those who, like Macklemore,
just want to wear your grandad’s clothes. All
are valid reasons to choose used over new
clothing, and they’re not mutually exclusive.
You can thrift because you fear climate change
and because you’re tight on funds and because

you love the look of an ’80s windbreaker.
As the 2010s draw to a close and the impacts
of climate change become more dire, I realize
that no motive for secondhand shopping is
more dignified than the next. If you’re doing
it, you’re hurting the earth a little bit less than
you could be. It doesn’t matter why.
— Tess Garcia, Daily Style Writer
beauty products that are
better for the environment
brands that contain more
ethically sourced, natural
sustainable packaging. The
decade started off with
color cosmetics and pop
looks. However, the beauty

industry shifted gears some time in the past
few years, and the spotlight shifted to clean
ingredients, “no-makeup” looks and more
positive associations with concepts like the
aging of the body. This is reflected by the
changing popularity of brands, as shown by
companies like Glossier and Philosophy gaining
traction while demand for traditional industry
leaders like Olay and Estée
Lauder has slowed down.
as “sustainable,” “ethical”
and “vegan” are now more
with a 175 percent increase
in the launch of vegan
products between 2013 and
2018. However, the impact
of these shifts has been
restricted by a single factor:
the price tag. Even in 2019,
the most popular products
that meet the golden trifecta
of being clean, ethical and
sustainable tend to be way
out of the price range for an
ordinary college student.

Daily Style doing the decade’s best sustainable fashion

Daily Style Beat



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