Singing With The Enemy?
Recently I watched a documentary on BBC3 called “Singing With The Enemy”, detailing a concept of taking two bands of complete opposite musical styles and throwing them together to record and perform a song. Sex-positive lesbian band vs. Christian Rock, grime rap vs. bohemian cabaret, you get the picture. This episode had my interest in particular for its inclusion of Bristol Grindcore band “Amputated” in their collaboration with all-girl pop act Fallen Angelz, but it ended up provoking a different reaction to the pride of Metal which I was expecting.
The band themselves are represented as a fulfillment of almost every negative stereotype of the listeners of extreme music: immature, disgusting and closed-minded. They drink regularly, watch porn and write gory lyrics. At the least they demonstrate their sense of humor when introducing themselves: “Do you like to amputate things?” “Only on weekends and bank holidays”. But they do themselves no favors in upholding their image with the quip “every woman that we sing about is a piece of meat”. In effect, it becomes a battle of the sexes between sassy females and meathead males.
While the girls walk out during the Vader gig, the guys (to their credit) stay for the entirety of the Fallen Angelz gig. Eventually, the males have to eventually cave in with regards to both musical approach and personal lifestyle. It is also quite noticeable that the girls contribute almost nothing on the musical front. The end result of a song is a watered down Death Metal song with pop vocals, and a very awkward concert audience.
What irritated me most about this documentary was how poor a representation the Death Metal genre is given in the show. Firstly, in introducing the genre they don’t separate between Death Metal and Grindcore, whereas in fact there is a notable difference in both style and quality. Secondly, as noted, the band give most of the genre a bad name to those unaccustomed to that particular lifestyle. Their antics are at once hilarious and disappointing, especially deforming the cutout that the girls bring, and ultimately I felt a little ashamed watching it. The psychoanalysis part of why the vocalist writes such lyrics is akin to watching a schoolboy explain crude penis drawings on his notebooks, and the way the show describes “winning over” the guys divides the audience into the good and bad guys, an uncomfortable experience to say the least.
The fact that “Singing With The Enemy” focuses so intently on the title of Amputated’s début album “Gargling With Infected Semen” and the lyrics within is testament to how the show aims for the shock factor rather than showcasing the best of a genre. As many Death Metal and Grindcore listeners will know, there are many talented bands in their chosen subgenres, even those that are unsigned, which the show could have chosen. I can only pray that the next attempt to unite such vastly different genres goes a little more successfully, or at least gives a better representation of Extreme Metal.
“Singing With The Enemy” aired in 2008 and can be viewed in 6 parts on YouTube, starting here: