Surveillance clichés (II): Heavy metal


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There might be something in surveillance imagery that attracts heavy metal fans, or vice versa. In 1982 was released Electric eyeby British heavy metal band Judas Priest, as part of one of their best-selling albums, ‘Screaming for Vengeance‘ (1982). Apparently, since then the band always starts its shows with this song, about an Orwellian floating eye that keeps the country clean.  The also British heavy metal band Iron Maiden authored in 2000 ‘Brave New World’, a song condensing in around six minutes a great number of heavy metal platitudes, including some cheap fantasy lyrics, a pseudo-epic chorus and a too long guitar solo, featured in their double album ‘Brave New World(2000). In 2012, the American heavy metal band Metallica released ‘Don’t Tread on Me’, a song about war and peace with an ambivalent passage on surveillance (‘Shining with brightness, always on surveillance, The eyes, they never close, emblem of vigilance, Oh no, no, no don’t tread on me’). Interestingly, a decade before Metallica had become the first band to sue a peer-to-peer file sharing service, after paying a company to monitor all the users of the then popular file sharing service Napster in search of individuals who illegally shared or accessed their songs. In 2013, the American trash metal band Megadeth issued ‘Dance in the Rain’, a song with plenty of threatening voices decrying more or less everything in the modern world, including surveillance: ‘three letters groups listening in on you, under surveillance courtesy of Big Brother in your car, drones monitor each and every move you make‘, says the song. Near the end of it, after much heavy guitar, it would seem the problem with it all is that it threatens ‘the family‘ and ‘love‘. There is also a dark metal one-man band called Panopticon, from Minnesota, regularly publishing not heavy songs occasionally reverberating Bentham (e. g., ‘There is no God in buildings, this divisive, cunning method of control…’ from ‘In The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death‘), but more generally about fear, hell, and other equivalently dark metal subjects.


See also Surveillance clichés (I): The 1980s. For more music on privacy and surveillance, see also here and here. For films on privacy and surveillance, see here.