April 14, 2010

News Commentary: Gojira further the metal environmentalism movement, with help from sharks

Earlier today, Gojira announced that they'll be releasing a 5-song digital EP later this year. The proceeds from the sale of that EP will go to Sea Shepherd, an oceanic conservation society that is active on five continents with multiple campaigns aimed at protecting water habitats.

This EP continues Gojira's tradition of heavy metal with an intelligent message. Their breakout album, From Mars to Sirius, was a concept album about a character taught how to save the planet by flying whales. Yes, you read that right. Flying whales. And the best part about it is that it makes perfect sense when you listen to the album. This EP will likely contain similar themes and imagery, especially when you consider the campaigns in which Sea Shepherd is engaged worldwide. They work to save whales, dolphins, seals, sharks, Galapagos turtles - wait, wait, back up. SHARKS? Okay, this EP just went from good to awesome in one syllable.

If you can believe it, sharks do need help and protection from environmental groups like Sea Shepherd. According to the group's website, 90% of the world's large shark population has been destroyed for ludicrous reasons. Without sharks, the oceans would be overpopulated with other fish and habitats would rapidly be used up. Sharks are essentially the ocean's equivalent of the cheetah, mountain lion, and grizzly bear. They exist for the sake of population control, and without them, the ecosystem would run amok.

I support Gojira's efforts to save the environment and their concentration on the oceans. Campaigns like "Save the Whales" that were so prominent in the '90s have lost a lot of momentum in recent years, and it's rare to find such fervent support for the modern-day conservation campaigns from a music group, especially one not completely in the mainstream. Furthermore, giving money towards helping sharks definitely earns my seal of approval. Organizations raising awareness of shark endangerment are few and far between, when compared to the other popular conservation groups. Those organizations that do focus on sharks are often dismissed or ridiculed, mostly by people who were scared senseless by the movie Jaws back in the '80s. These people need to learn that sharks are not the soulless monsters hell-bent on eating people that Spielberg made them out to be in that movie. In other words, folks, IT'S JUST A MOVIE.

And honestly, I have to say, sharks are probably some of the most metal creatures on Earth. I know, I just went on about how they AREN'T killing machines, but any creature that is afraid of nothing and only has two thoughts - "eat" and "blood" - is definitely up there in terms of being truly metal. There's a reason why the Accept classic "Fast as a Shark" is so widely loved by the metal community (besides the fact that it's an awesome song). It's also the same reason why there are so many other popular metal/punk/hardcore songs out there with sharks or shark-related things in their titles, such as:
  • "Terror Shark" by Municipal Waste
  • "Hammerhead" by Overkill
  • "Hammerhead" by Flotsam and Jetsam (different song, same name)
  • "Straightening Sharks in Heaven" by Darkthrone
  • "Sharks in Your Mouth" by I Killed the Prom Queen
  • "In the Belly of a Shark" by Gallows
  • "Shark Ethic" by Most Precious Blood
  • "Shark Attack" by Senses Fail
  • "Half Man, Half Shark; Equals One Complete Gentleman" by A Static Lullaby
There are several more, as well as a fair number of bands with shark-themed names. Thus, the consensus is that sharks are metal, and therefore awesome.

The hidden theme in this story, though, is about an intellectual movement that is slowly permeating the metal and hardcore scenes, defying all preconceived notions about what the music is about. More rapidly than could be thought possible, metal bands are taking a stand on issues relating to the environment, protecting animals, and restoring balance to the natural order of the planet. Gojira is just one of a great number of bands that feature lyrics about environmentalism. Deadlock, The Agonist, Heaven Shall Burn, and Cattle Decapitation are a few of the more prominent metal bands to take a stand for the planet, and if I even tried to list all the vegan straightedge hardcore bands out there, the text of this editorial would take up the entire computer screen and then some.

To put it another way, it's now becoming accepted in the heavy music scene to care about issues. This is in direct contrast to the images of metal's early days, when the music was strictly about defying authority, being your own person, and having fun. If all the metalheads in the world rose up in support of the environmentalism movement, organizations like Sea Shepherd would never need another donation. Therefore, it's imperative that those who still aren't educated about the real-world issues discussed in modern metal get some information on those subjects. If the metal community can rise up, take a stand on an issue like environmentalism, and succeed in causing some impact for the good of the movement, the benefits will be twofold. For not only will the metal community get some well-deserved good press, but metal will also be forever validated as a legitimate form of music in the mainstream.

So the message here is simple: when Gojira's new EP comes out, go buy it, help save the planet, and show the world what metal is really about in the modern age. As thanks, you'll get to ride a whale. And if you make the mistake of downloading this EP, I'll send a hammerhead shark after you the next time you go to the beach. You've been warned.

No comments: