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About a bad review…

Door: Selim op 10 januari 2003

The idea to write this column came to me after someone posted a rather icky message in this site's guestbook. I'm going out on a limb here stating that this individual was probably incited to write said message due to a certain review I did in the past. One in which I clearly stated my utter disgust about the artists album and made short work of it, so to speak. He wrote:

"Selim the cock sucker !!! You look like a gay, did you loose your hair? Where is it? I've been told your dick was fuckin' small, poor Selim, you really suck lazy bastard. Is your mother still suckin' dicks in Red Light district? Is she still so fat??? Cheers cock sucker..."

Of course Mr. Loudmouth, as I'll call him for the remainder of this story, failed to state his name, affiliation and means of contact, but our noble webmaster Judge M. provided me with Loudmouth's IP origin, which was France. This lead me to the conclusion that this individual has something to do with French label Oaken Shield or with one of the bands on the label that I've reviewed. I don't think I have to explain why this type of idiocy is so pathetic or why it mostly made me smile instead of falling into the rage Loudmouth intended, but I would like to say a few words on reviews, reviewers, bands and the relation these three have.

I've been playing in bands for over ten years now and have had several new assholes ripped by reviewers. People who either hated the music I was making or thought that the manner in which I was making was simply no good. Needless to say that I did NOT always agree with these opinions and sometimes was rather infuriated by them. But never in my entire life did ever I deem it necessary to start flinging pooh in the general direction of my critics and their media. Why not? Well, first of all every human being is entitled to his own opinion, however misguided or just plain moronic that opinion may seem to me. Secondly, when a journalist, however an amateur he/she may be, gets something to review he's going to look at it in his own subjective and personal way. This means that all the spirit, muscle, fanaticism and zest you have put into your work maybe got lost due to someone else's views on what a good metal album should be about. It could be that your 'true black metal' band is reviewed by someone who thinks a good production is a necessity for a good album. It could be that your prog rock band is being reviewed by someone who simply doesn't like eight minute songs. It could also be that someone experienced and knowledgeable about music smells your shit a mile away...

Fair? Maybe not. Fun to read? Hell no! Angering? Probably. But that's what you get when you send your stuff out into the big bad world and leave it to us to state our opinion about it. It could be that out of 100 reviews 98 say it's a brilliant album and two say it sucks, which would be a fairly good thing. It could also be that out of a 100 only two think it's any good, bottom line is you are going to have to learn to deal with negative criticism. If you can't, go live in a cave somewhere and never let anyone listen to anything you make. Making a fool out of yourself by offending the people that gave you a bad review only makes you look stupid and childish.

What would be a good way of dealing with it? Well in fact you've only got two real options:

1. Just don't give a damn. Do your own thing regardless of anyone's opinion. By far my favourite option because I believe that's what underground music has been about since the beginning.

2. Take a good, close look at the criticiser's claims and think about them for a second. Are they truly so idiotic as you thought when you first read them? Or might there be a good point in this tirade? Give it thought and don't be fooled by the same thing twice.

In the case of Oakenshield Records I had been receiving promotional biographies that were in such bad English that I could hardly make any sense of them. I used this in my review of Himinbjorg that used the same bad English in their lyrics as the guy that wrote the bio's. But then again was I wrong to do so? The bio stunk and so did the lyrics. Period. That'll get you points deducted from score any day, anywhere. A band or a label's top priority when it comes to promotion is to make sure that any idiot with a moderate understanding of the English language can figure out what the hell it is you are saying! Furthermore I think a professional band should check the grammar in their lyrics because, let's face it, otherwise they come across like uneducated fools. Criticising this kind of thing is like voicing your disgust on an off key singer or a guitar that's out of tune.

In other such cases I have been accused of spouting my mouth off in a very unfriendly and abrasive way. According to one individual these attacks were uncalled for since most of the time I was talking about smaller bands who in his opinion deserved some slack. And I, of course, totally disagree. Why cut anyone any slack when it comes to art and music? Music is either good, decent, so so or bad. No matter how long the band has been playing and no matter how little experience they have. I refuse to give any band a better review based on the fact that they've only been together for a couple of months. That fact is simply immaterial to the big picture; is it any good? If it is a good album who cares whether or not the band has been together for a month or a year or ten years? The only possible judgement I could make when it comes to age is a band that's been together for a long time and still makes albums that sound like shit.

I guess what I'm trying to say is: If you happen to read review on this site or any other and are offended by what you read, just be a man (or woman) and take it like one. If you see something that's just plain wrong (we writers are known to be wrong from time to time) drop us a line and tell us. Just be a bit respectful about it and don't start calling everyone all kinds of nasty things. In other words: Kids, play nice!

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