Angry ≠ Extreme: A Discussion of Emotion in Noise


I am disappoint.

Our dear friend, Edward has been fairly vocal about his take on hatred and music. For Edward, Noise, Power Electronics, and related genres seem far more hateful and especially extreme, than the most extreme of metal. I found myself in agreement with the man. Until one particular conversation in which he stated that “[in noise] anxiety meets a savage, desperate violence”, and I began to question this aspect of violence in sound. Sure, this seems a pretty apt description of most artists we have covered here in The Toilet, whether it’s Swallowing Bile or Herukrat or even Grunt. But in the end, something felt wrong. Perhaps it was the rather tame experience that was Frozen Niagara Falls, lacking ferocious anger, that finally convinced me: hate is not only an unnecessary element in noise but also often a devoid one. I have begun to perceive noise as the child of disappointment rather than hatred.

You see, hatred is far too imminent to be disguised as anything else. What makes it extreme comes directly from its raw power, whereas disappointment draws it’s power from longevity. Disappointment will never disappear. Hate will eventually consume it’s bearer leaving him/her too powerless to go on, either completely or just go on hating. With disappointment there won’t be the inevitable collapse and lashing out that follows anger, instead a slow descent to helplessness follows. The only way to not be disappointed anymore is to somehow affect whatever you were disappointed at and change it. Of course, one can learn not to worry, but as things remain the same so do the feelings and you just ignore them.

In a way disappointment is responsible for many of our everyday actions, whether it’s a disappointing selection of goods at our grocery store or a failure of a politician, disappointment is known to us in some form. Naturally we are more shaken by something which we face rarely, something that appears much more fearsome than it is because we know nothing of it, something that seems so powerful it could push through any barrier at all, something that might already have pushed itself so far there is no going further. Something like hate.

This is not to say that noise or its derivative genres could never appear angry or that metal couldn’t express disappointment. If you listen carefully, most metal that does express disappointment chooses a way laden with melancholy and sorrow rather than menace or aggression. My point is simply this: Noise and it’s derivative genres are in most cases more extreme than metal because of (extreme) metal music’s obsession with anger and tendency to vent out frustration.

Hatred is too imminent to be disguised but it can be the disguise. Being disappointed leads to a showcase of emotion and I am a Finn (with a relatively conservative upbringing). This may be why I perceive things as I do (or maybe not, I can’t say for sure how much the social atmosphere and upbringing really have shaped my views). You see, I was taught never to show emotion, never to smile. I was taught that I must take the inevitable without a flinch. To me disappointment is (socially) unacceptable. Or rather: showing disappointment means that all is not well and at all times I was taught to give an impression the world could not touch me. This is why disappointment is bad, utterly wrong even. When I listen to noise, I am forced to come to terms with it. I am disappointed by more things any man should be, which means most likely so are others. It’s a world of emotion beneath the surface that I see. It is weakness but disguised as something more manly. Noise buries all this under layers of distortion and usually a showcase of aggression as well. Without this it could be too much to bear. For you see, aggression is the accepted (but simultaneously shunned) expression of having feelings of some kind. The only accepted expression.



We have faced music born of aggression countless times, have we grown so used of it there is no further extreme to be found there? And more importantly, is the notion that extreme is that which pushes boundaries a false one? Are our views of pushing the boundaries merely expression caused by breaking the social norms, is that enough? Tough questions, chime in below and feel free to call me an idiot for even having to ask questions this easy.


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