It’s been quite a week for Dragonforce. With their new album about to come out, they unveiled their Johnny Cash cover and hoped to build up buzz. However, that got a bit derailed by an interview on Noisey, which instead chose to focus on a long-defunct band called Demoniac that three members of the band were in. Repeatedly confronted about the band’s racist and homophobic lyrics, guitarist Sam Totman unsuccessfully tried to deflect the past. Now that we’ve had a little time to digest the goings-on, the question remains, how accountable should a band be for their past?
Bram: The whole thing is unfortunate. Kim Kelly was a bit overzealous in her continued line of questioning in my opinion, but the internet wasted no time in dredging up her past to make her look hypocritical. However, Totman’s defense isn’t all that great either. He seemed nonplussed by being called out about the lyrical content, comparing the lyrics to Cannibal Corpse songs. I think that if he took shared responsibility for the band’s juvenile lyrics instead of trying to dodge any responsibility, it wouldn’t have been as big of an issue. It’s surprising that no one’s brought up Demoniac before, but if you have a past, eventually, it’ll catch up with you. There’s always been tongue in cheek, non-PC music out there, as well as music that espouses hate. The question is whether or not the audience listening to it takes it seriously or not. It seems like Demoniac was music made by 18 year-olds for 15 year-olds. I listened to plenty of S.O.D. and Anal Cunt lyrics when I was younger, which doesn’t make me racist or homophobic.
Zach: I am one who tends to argue that the past will always catch up with you whether you like it or not, and how it effects your future all depends on how you address it. Could Totman have handled the questioning better by admitting that he was young and dumb at the time (and maybe even through in a line or two saying how in hindsight, he realizes how immature those lyrics were)? Absolutely. Has this whole thing been blown out of proportion? Absolutely. Not saying Totman (or anyone involved, including Kim Kelly) shouldn’t be held accountable, but the fact that this whole ordeal has been made into such a spectacle is straight up unnecessary. If anything, we’re feeding more into the controversy than we ultimately should. Can we all agree that this has been dragged out long enough already, and that it’s time to move on?
Chris: First of all, I want to state that Kim Kelly is a journalist that I have a lot of respect for, and the fact that she came right out and took responsibility for her past promotion of bands that had racist or homophobic lyrics was the correct thing to do, even after the Internet decided to demonize her for her zealous pursuit of the issue with Sam Totman. She admitted to her past and said that it was a lesson learned, and that it would not happen again. I admire that and applaud her for not trying to dodge out of it.
As far as the actual offensive content goes, I don’t believe Sam Totman was the correct person to be asking about the lyrics in question. No disrespect to Totman, but he has always seemed like a very carefree, nonchalant person about every issue presented to him, no matter how serious it is. That’s the way he’s come across to me in every press piece I’ve read involving him and in the one time I met him. So it really doesn’t come as a shock that Totman basically brushed the whole thing off. When reading the lyrics themselves, though, it definitely comes off as childish content that is meant purely for shock value. I don’t believe for one second that anyone in Demoniac actually espouses the beliefs mentioned in the lyrics, and like Zach said, I’m ready to let the whole thing blow over and move on. If people really want to address the issue of metal bands that believe in the offensive and prejudicial content they put out, then there should be a massive crusade against every Nazi Satanic Black Metal band in the worldwide metal underground. Where’s the public outcry against those groups?