Castrator and Cannibal Corpse – A Love Story

CCandCastratorMashupSo as I finish up my thesis chapter devoted to the women of Castrator, I thought it would be nice to preface my section to the chapter with some lyrical comparisons from both Castrator and Cannibal Corpse songs, since really, each band has a way of textually inter-playing with each other.

In addition, Castrator’s decidedly feminist content make for some interesting call and response dialogue with Cannibal Corpse. The fact that Castrator can transgress the inherently masculine domain that is death metal, makes for an alluring discourse. Looking at the lyrics below, I’ve paired Castastor’s song Emasculator with CC’s Stripped, Raped and Strangled to offer a re-imagined version had the power shifted from the rapist to the victim. In my mind, I call it Emasculated Rapist and if I were any kind of musician, I’d find a way to actually cut and mix the two songs.

They think they know who I am
All they know is I love to kill
Face down, dead on the ground
Find me before another is found

Vigilante women on the loose 
Instruments of vengeance
Balance Restorers
The hunter will be hunted
Spirits of their victims rejoice
No longer will they endure

I come alive in the darkness
Left murdered and nameless
Dead, unburied and rotten
Half eaten by insects

Tightly she holds the blade
With which the rapist will be raped

She was so beautiful
I had to kill her

Tied her up and taped her mouth shut
Couldn’t scream, raped violently
Rope tight, around her throat
Her body twitches as she chokes
Strangulation caused her death
Just like all the others
Raped before and after death
Stripped, raped, tortured

Castration
Of the rapist!
Emasculation
Take his weapon!
Castration
Crush and cut the balls!
Emasculation
Oriectomy!

They’re all dead, they’re all dead
They’re all dead, by strangulation

I come alive in the darkness
Left murdered and nameless
Dead, unburied, and rotten
Half eaten by insects

It felt so good to kill

Castration
Of the rapist!
Emasculation
Take his weapon!
Castration
Crush and cut the balls!
Emasculation
Oriectomy!

I took their lives away
Seven dead, lying rotten
Unburied victims
Their naked bodies putrefy

Strangulation caused her death
Just like all the others
Raped before and after death
Stripped, raped, tortured

Form a line of prisoners
Led up one by one
Leaving genital parts behind
Penile amputation
Remove the weapon
From the offender

Review: Mortals show @ The Acheron, 7/18/14

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Mortals at the Acheron, 7/18/14

Finally got to see Mortals live! I discovered them through one of the participants in my research about women in extreme metal who recommended some local NYC bands with female members. Lucky for me that when I started researching Mortals, my delight was made sevenfold when I found out the entire trio were women who skillfully and creatively came together to play some of the best death metal I’ve heard.

They played last month at the Acheron to a full crowd as part of their record release party for their 2nd full-length EP entitled, Cursed to See the Future. Opening for them were the bands Mammals and Godmaker and though I usually write about opening acts, they really didn’t impress me much (apologies to Mammals & Godmaker fans!). Both bands did an adequate job of warming up the crowd, but you could tell what everyone was really waiting for; the proficient and technical abilities of Mortals’ pounding funerary dirges.

Mortals opened the evening with an almost art-school video viewing for the title track, “View from the Tower“.  Amidst good-hearted laughter and smiles,  everyone watched as the film unfolded; an homage to old school serial killer movies. As comical as the scenes were, it only added to the creative and satiric minds these musicians have.

They opened their set playing songs from the new EP as well as a song not yet released. Overall, drummer Caryn Havlik’s exuberant bats in the belfry playing never lost it’s pulsating preciseness. Add to that drumming, the vocal growls of bassist Lesly Wolf and the velocity of Elizabeth Cline’s speed guitar and you had a culmination of pummeling death driven songs. Heavy rifts and driving tempos abound as each song takes on it’s average five minutes or more spotlight. Wolf’s vocals give a fullness to each song, making one think of sludgy mire-full screaming.

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The fact that these Brooklyn Deathheads were women really didn’t detract or add to my overall impression of the what the crowd was perceiving. As an ethnographer, scoping crowds at each show I’ve attended has become part of my obersvation method and it was clear to see previous ideas by academics I’ve read, dismissed, at least in the particular show.

What’s often said about extreme metal music scenes is that there is almost always a lack of women in relation to men as well as a lack of diversity. That was not the case this evening! I witnessed a surprisingly diverse make-up of Asians, Hispanics, Blacks, and Caucasians, with Caucasians counting as slightly higher in number overall. There was also an overwhelming even count between men and women at this show with the average age looking to be between mid-20’s to 40’s. Clothing was as expected, with men and women wearing either heavy or extreme metal t-shirts. There were also a handful of fans wearing your non-affiliated standard uniform of a black shirt with black jeans. Otherwise, the other remaining styles that could be identified were some punk and hipster looks–after-all, we were in Brooklyn!

In terms of my research, the results of the attendees of this show confirms my belief that due to the location (NY Tri-State area), we’re seeing more diversity with fans and musicians in the overall EMM scene.  The increased accessibility of EMM here in NY has made it a little bit more acceptable to women and it will be interesting to see if my survey findings as well as interviews corroborate that assessment.

The bigger question will be whether female participants in the EMM scene see their involvement in light of any kind of feminist agenda.

Women in Death Metal

crisis1For some time, I’ve been curious about the absence and marginalization of women in an already marginalized musical genre like Death Metal. I was first introduced to the genre back in the early 2000’s by my then boyfriend, now husband. I’ve mentioned this before in one of my earlier posts, but back then I couldn’t grasp why the music was so appealing to my husband. Over the years though, I’ve grown to like the music,  I’m not comfortable calling myself any kind of expert on Death Metal but I’ve become a fan.

This newfound interest in all things Death Metal led me to question how other women perceive the genre. I, myself, did not gravitate to it until after my adolescent years, in my early 20’s. I attributed this gravitation to having endured a death in the family that changed my whole perspective on life.  The down-tuned guitars and growling guttural vocals correlated with the grief I was feeling. I did not embrace Death Metal with the angst of youth that so many males have and seem to do. So then, how do other women gravitate to it? It’s this and a slew of other questions regarding women and Death Metal I seek to answer with my marinating thesis.

During the course of my research, I’ve read many articles which present women participating in Death Metal on the sidelines; we know they are there, we see them at shows, we see their comments on threads, we even see them in some of the bands – though this is still a minority – and yet, for all their visible presence, it’s a seemingly silent voice.

Is this silence attaining a louder presence? With the rising growth of such groups as the International Society of Metal Music Studies, I can see women taking up about half of the conversation, discussing right along with their male colleagues topics of gender in heavy metal music, nationalism, the economy of metal music, and even such things as how metal music is perceived by both the public and academia. So why is it then, that women’s participation as both consumers and producers is so lacking in media?

The picture above is of the band Crisis, one of my favorite female-fronted death metal bands, now dismantled. Karyn Crisis is probably the second reason for my pursuing research on this topic, aside from my husband’s encouragement. I’m curious about her as both a creative and innovative producer, as well as consumer of the genre. From where do female producers draw their influences and inspirations? How do they balance femininity in a hyper-masculine environment? What challenges do they face with their own gender perceptions from other women? I’d love to see how other musicians like Jo Bench, Dawn Crosby (RIP), or even Krysta Cameron, would answer these kinds of questions.

As you can see, I have a lot of questions! I’m hoping the community and my research will help me to answer them as this blog continues (though slowly). and as I gain my balance between being a new mom, working full-time, and attending graduate school – I hope to answer these questions and many more.