Think Tank: Does Nile support ISIS?!

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No, no they do not.

Before we begin, apologies are due for the semi-clickbait title, but it just goes to show how just a headline, or in Nile’s case a song title, could provoke outrage, misunderstandings, and a whole lot of shit. Apologies, gentle readers.

The topic for today’s think tank is the never-ending debate between intention and interpretation. Case in point, we have Nile’s lyric video for their song “Call to Destruction” off 2015’s What Should not be Unearthed. The controversy stemming from this video has simmered down considerably over the two years since its release, but the issue of intention versus interpretation at the center of it is still very much relevant to discussion in our greater extreme metal community today. I might be getting ahead of myself here, so let’s first break down the incident and then talk about it. Cool? Let’s do it.

Nile is well-known in our community for not only being consummate tech death legends but for singing about ancient Egypt history, Middle Eastern religions and cultures, and some Lovecraftian horror to boot. So, it is only natural that having exhausted some of their usual subject matter that they would explore some new lyrical territory. Enter: “Call to Destruction.”  The song features lyrics drawn from ISIS (ISIL, IS, Daesh, LA-based post-metal) propaganda and proclamations. The particular theme borrowed from the IS propaganda in question in is the advocacy for the destruction of historic pagan or pre-Islamic architecture, art, and idols in those areas that come in IS control (hence the call to destruction). The lyric video features the lyrics scrawling over newsreel images of IS fighters tearing down monuments and destroying historic artifacts in places of occupation, like the historic site at Palmyra in Syria. And, as those of you familiar with Nile’s lyrical style, those lyrics read not as typical lyrics but as fully formed proclamations that are intoned along with the song’s riffing. In other words, the song presents up front the particularly heinous ideology of IS occupiers for listeners and viewers.

Screen Shot 2017-02-18 at 9.59.12 PM

Disclaimer – front and center

Now, let’s talk about intent for a minute. Nile’s intent with the song, lyrics, and accompanying video is not to support IS’s destruction of historical artifacts; it is intended to draw attention to the destruction of the artifacts and condemn them. In fact, the disclaimer front-loaded in the video says exactly this and more, leaving no room for alternative perspectives as to the nature of the exact message that Nile are attempting to communicate (or so you’d think). Now, I have to say that this is a unique song for the band as they have never featured a political angle in any of their lyrics up to this point, but it is easy to see why they – having an appreciation for all things ancient and Middle Eastern – are responding to IS’s destructive acts.

I mean, the dudes are condemning ISIS with a rad song about the destruction of artifacts – so far, so good, right? WRONG.

Dipshits are everywhere, people. They walk among us. The initial reaction to “Call to Destruction” is, let’s just say, not good.  Judging by the comments section of Nile’s video, about half of the viewers are to this day confused and outraged by the band perceived support for ISIS in the song. The interpretation is that Nile’s lyrics are not so much drawing from ISIS but communicating to ISIS supporters. In other words, for many dumb commenters, the song is a very literal call to action. And not only does outrage against the band occur en masse, but some virulent Islamophobia and intolerance shows up to the hate party too. I’ve taken the liberty of saving a number of these comments that give a better portrait for the dumbassery on display than I could ever just describe in my own words. I’d also like to note that I will not be blurring Youtube avatars or user names – these comments are still public for all the world to see on the video.. Enjoy (if some screenshots are too small to read, just click the image to embiggen):

Screen Shot 2017-01-27 at 9.43.23 PMIgnorant af, bro!


Screen Shot 2017-01-27 at 10.02.44 PMWhy does everyone think that IS needs a theme song?  What are they, fucking Saturday morning cartoon villains?


Screen Shot 2017-01-27 at 9.44.27 PMIronic or not, this statement is why I fucking hate Youtube.


Screen Shot 2017-01-27 at 10.02.27 PM

You’d think a big-ass, front-end disclaimer would be enough, but you’d be wrong then, wouldn’t you?


 

Screen Shot 2017-01-27 at 10.00.29 PMGranted, “consequence for practitioners of Isis…” could totally be a Nile lyric, but it’s still fucking stupid and misses the point.  Try again.


Screen Shot 2017-01-27 at 9.52.47 PM

So, not only does Louis fully understand and comprehend the disclaimer, he is still not convinced by it and will not support Nile any longer.  I guess your interpretation is the final word, dude.


Screen Shot 2017-01-27 at 9.50.56 PM

Sucks to suck, Jared.  Now go do your fucking homework.


Screen Shot 2017-01-27 at 9.53.00 PM

HAHAHAHA.


Screen Shot 2017-01-27 at 9.46.50 PM

Thank you, Mr. Nobody!  “Call to Destruction” is not even Nile’s first foray into Islamic subject matter in their lyrics. “Kafir!” off 2009’s Those Whom the Gods Detest, features lyrics drawn from the Muslim call-to-prayer; the following is an example: “There is no god but God / There is no god but the one, true God. / Allahu Akbar.” There has been no standing accusation that the band is Muslim for including these lyrics in their previous song, so why is there is problem with interpretation of lyrical content now?


Screen Shot 2017-01-27 at 9.46.35 PM

Even after the final statement, this comment is still misguided and idiotic, proving once again just how very powerful and wrong the interpretive abilities of people can be.


Screen Shot 2017-01-27 at 9.44.55 PMI agree, Billy Bob, what the fuck?  It’s almost like you have to read the disclaimer closely to understand what’s actually going on!


Screen Shot 2017-01-27 at 9.43.58 PM

Did you actually read the disclaimer, bruh?  Damn.


I decided to leave out some of the more ignorant and hateful comments, but you can feel free to peruse the comments section on your own and maybe even engage with some of these dumbasses if you’re so inclined. So, the general theme here seems to be that despite there being a very prominent disclaimer in the video that explains Nile’s intent, there are still a good majority of individuals who have taken to the comments in outrage over what they perceive as Nile’s proclamation of allegiance to the Islamic State – Nile, an almost 30 year old American band from South Carolina.

This is where intent and interpretation clash. Nile’s intent is to critique IS’s ideology by using it as the foundation for a metal song; the listeners’ interpretations range from confusion about Nile’s support for the destruction of artifacts to accusing Nile of being radical Islamists in league with IS. Intention versus perception – condemnation versus endorsement. It is a strange place for the band to find themselves. What they thought was supposed to be pretty damn clear-cut turned out to be clear as mud for certain listeners. I’m sure the band knows that they can’t win over everyone, but I’m also sure they didn’t expect to be labeled supporters of Islamic radicalism as a result.

What I take take away from this incident is that it is just another clash of intention with the interpretive abilities of dull minds.  It’s a conflict that has been at the center of the debate on subject matter in metal lyrics since the inception of the genre. I’ll personally never forget when I learned early on that the lyrics to Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath” aren’t actually praising the devil or hell – they’re issuing a warning, a cautionary tale about just what an awful place hell is and what a dick the devil can be.  Slayer has often found itself at the center of the same controversy, substituting Satan for Nazi imagery. Death Metal bands obsessed with cruel medical procedures, bodily harm, mutilation, and necrophilia do not actually advocate for those things, do they? I mean, Chris barnes seems chill in real life. As of writing this article, Marduk’s February 18th show at the Oakland Metro Opera House has been cancelled by Oakland PD because of threats against the band because of their “Nazi imagery” and perceived fascist ideology. I have no personal knowledge about Marduk’s true ideology, but I hear overwhelmingly that they are not fascists but instead that they use third reich imagery to evoke the sickest non-fictional evil out there. Again, perhaps this is a more recent example of intention and interpretation clashing in unproductive ways.

What do you think?  How can our community deal with the intention and interpretation divide? Weigh in below.

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  • Dumpster Lung

    Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh 2 things:

    1) People are stupid. That’s like saying Iron Maiden praises the slaughter of Native Americans because of the song Run to the Hills (half of it, anyway). Can nobody understand that sometimes it’s more interesting to speak from the perspective of the bad guy/antagonist/etc? That does not equal advocacy.

    2) Holy fuck it’s already been 2 years since that album came out!?

    • Old Man Doom

      There’s a tendency, specifically with metal lyrics, for listeners to literalize them to the point of absurdity.

      • Dumpster Lung

        Here’s the part where someone says it’s because metal fans are all a bunch of autistic shut-ins or something LOL

        • Old Man Doom

          What’s funny (or sad) too is that a good portion of the ignorant comments on the Nile video are from people who are outraged as non-metal fans.

          • OldMetalHead

            I can’t imagine a non-metal fan actually sitting through a 6 minute death metal song. Most wouldn’t even make it 30 seconds, no?
            Surely they wouldn’t be bitching about something they have no perspective on /S

          • Old Man Doom

            Check out the comments. I think the video might have been embedded on some ultra-conservative site and attracted… let’s just say a different audience.

  • GL

    Meh, people being people!

    Otherwise this is my jamz, bros.

    GL

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIB5Y9A8huI

    • GL

      What Should Not Be Unearthed is so fricking great. Bam!

      • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

        Heck yeah! I feel like it got a kinda middling response but I reckon its their strongest since Annihilation of the Wicked.

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

    Social media kills brain cells. Scientifically proven.

    • GL

      Social media can melt steel beams. Scientifically proven.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Social media: the worst idea

  • CyberneticOrganism

    Very well-written OMD, great idea for an article.

    Your screenshots from youtube have convinced me that most of this planet is unaware of anything beyond the glowing rectangle device in front of them.

    • Rain Poncho W.

      I’m almost convinced that Youtube comments are where the internet’s collective intelligence goes to die.

      • CyberneticOrganism

        Paging Reposted A7X Fan…

      • nbm02ss

        The wonderful double edged sword that is current technology: Everyone is now connected like they’ve never been before, but that also means Billy’s shitty ill-informed opinion extends beyond his small group of friends and family.

        • Rain Poncho W.

          Youtube seems to be the most egregious collection I’ve seen, though. Perhaps due to the ubiquity of the platform.

          • Eliza

            4chan is worse.

          • Rain Poncho W.

            I used to browse 4chan back in the day. The content there is pretty vile, but I’d argue it’s not quite as out-and-out dumb as youtube.

          • Eliza

            When 4chan trolls and dumb YouTube commenters collide it’ll be safe to assume the internet will self destruct.

          • Sir Ukkometso The Based

            Aren’t those two the same thing tho?

          • Eliza

            Not really. 4chan users are generally more mean-spirited.

          • Sir Ukkometso The Based

            I feel like there’s a pretty big overlap

          • Eliza

            It’s a Vann diagram.

          • nbm02ss

            4chan is horrible, but I think W’s argument is that nearly everyone watches something on YouTube at some point.

          • Eliza

            That’s the best way of using YT. Just watching the videos, not anything else.

          • GL
          • Eliza

            This is the second song I’ve heard from this band.

          • GL
          • Eliza

            This gif>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

          • Max

            Probably indeed the platform’s ubiquity. But any mainstream, tabloid-ish news site that doesn’t closely moderate their comment section usually has threads that I find WAY worse than anything I’ve seen on YouTube or even Breitbart, for that matter – people who can barely even string a sentence together, let alone think critically and not be reactionary at the same time.

            That said, if there’s two websites that I can categorically state have changed the way my life is lived for the positive – that really do boast the transformative power the internet was always supposed to have – it’s Wikipedia and YouTube.

          • GL

            Look man, I am not sure you should be coming down this hard on Reposted A7X Fan. It is not his fault.

          • Rain Poncho W.

            Your second point is quite interesting, and I wonder to what degree that owes to the “black box” functionality of both platforms. Sure, Youtube is largely brainless fodder, but if you want to use it as a discovery tool for music or to find some DIY advice for home repair, you can do that. Wikipedia, similarly, can enable students to be exceptionally lazy researchers, but you can also use it to gain a meta-understanding of a topic and sort through the references at the bottom to find more reputable sources.

          • Max

            There’s one aspect about each website that really strikes me:

            For YouTube, it’s what you said about music. I have quite a good memory for minutae, and I’d spent all those years reading fanzines, recalling interviews where artists name-drop obscure bands, demos and deleted albums that I’d probably never hear – or even just significant albums that I didn’t have the money to collect. All of a sudden – there it all is on YouTube, easily accessible. That is a real, profound development in the way we consume music.

            For Wikipedia, it’s just the sheer breadth of the information that no physical encyclopaedia could ever cover. I remember the first time I ever visited it and read a detailed entry about Glenn Danzig. The same night (or soon after), I actually learnt what a “gravity blast” was – from Wikipedia. You’d never find that in any edition of Britannica. Just the sheer novelty of that has never left me.

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    Well done Mr. Doom, now I’m gonna listen to some Nile. Something I haven’t done in quite some time actually.

    • nbm02ss

      This was my thought as well. I’m so out of touch with Nile’s output, I haven’t really listened to them since “In Their Darkened Shrines”.

      • Señor Jefe El Rosa

        Good man!

        I’ve listened to and enjoyed all of their output, one of the few Death Metal bands I’ve really dug in to. Just been awhile since jamming them.

        • Dumpster Lung

          I actually really really like At the Gate of Sethu. I wish the mix or guitar tone or something was a little different, but otherwise I really enjoy the vocals on that one.

          Seems like everyone talks shit about that album though :p

          • Señor Jefe El Rosa

            Every band has at least “that one album” that people shit on.

          • Old Man Doom

            I love Sethu. Grooves and grooves and grooves

          • Dumpster Lung

            And Dallas did the majority of vocals on that one, didn’t he? His voice was the more shouty one vs Karl’s super deep growls right? Unless I mixed them up.

    • Hans Moleman

      Somehow I never really explored beyond Catacombs of Nephren-Ka, despite that being super fun. I shall revisit.

  • Rain Poncho W.

    This phenomenon extends back much, much, much further than our own little sphere of interest. Many people were quite angered by Jonathan Swift’s Modest Proposal about eating babies in 1729.

    How to address the lack of critical thinking is the far bigger question, one for which there likely is no universal solution. For my part, I think one way to help people reach a deeper level of thinking and analysis is to teach them through Bloom’s Taxonomy. I’m unconvinced by critics who claim that you simply have to toss someone into the deep end of analysis. I think some folks just need their foundations shored up.

    • Wait. Wait Wait. Swift wasn’t a proponent of eating babies? Because if that is the case I’m going to have to re-think this babies n’ kale diet of mine.

      • Rain Poncho W.

        Kale? You disgust me. Babies are best served in a burrito after a light braising with cayenne and cilantro.

        • Cilantro is disgusting. Get out of my kitchen.

          • Rain Poncho W.

            (I actually don’t like it much. It’s far, far too easy to overdo it cough Chipotle cough.)

          • GL

            Oh man now you did it….

          • Dumpster Lung

            Fuck that. I ask for extra cilantro:

            “Oh yeah, can I have some extra cilantro? How much? How about more than you’re allowed to?”

          • Dumpster Lung

            PUT YOUR JOB AT RISK FOR MY CILANTRO ADDICTION

          • Hans Moleman
          • Dumpster Lung

            Alright so when does the trap beat kick in?

      • Count_Breznak

        Why kale you sick bastard ?

    • Old Man Doom

      As someone who teaches rhetoric at a college, I wholeheartedly agree. That’s the real problem with fake news: people do not have enough of a critical foundation as a reference point to deal with fabrications and “alternative facts.”

      • GL

        Do you have specific example that you have seen first hand?

        Must be interesting doing that kind of work?

        • Old Man Doom

          Go to cnn.com.de

          It’s a site that looks exactly like cnn but publishes absurd fake news articles that people eat up (e.g. Obama bans national anthem in executive order, Trump thinks the earth is flat: interview). There are hundreds of vile, ignorant comments on these articles written by Jimmy Rustles and Ass Dan.

          The dude who runs the site makes $30,000 USD a month in ad revenue.

          I show it to my class and they freak out.

          • GL

            Is that link NSFW? If so, I will wait till later.

            Interesting.

          • KyleJMcBride

            There are numerous sites like these. People see “CNN” or “NBC” in the url and assume it’s legit.

          • Old Man Doom

            There’s an article that makes mention of “an anti-masturbation dolphin mascot,” but that’s about it I think.

          • GL

            I’ll wait then, thanks!

          • Rain Poncho W.

            I dunno, man. Your bosses might be into that kinda thing. Might as well find out if they are!

          • GL
          • That site is hilarious. And there are still people who think it’s real.
            …Or do they? Maybe some of the commenters are being satirical with their responses. We have no way of knowing any more.

            Several months ago I was at a friend’s house and a Nickelback song came up on her radio. I said “hey it’s the best band ever!” to which she replied “they’re good but not that good”. I think it broke my brain.

          • Hans Moleman
          • i honestly did not know there was a name for this concept, but i am glad to know it exists. thanks Hans! perhaps it’s time for me to become less ambiguous about my daily interactions…

          • Old Man Doom

            You are the problematic shit-poster IRL

            love you, Jimmy

          • yes i sure was. but now that everyone’s doing it, i must move onto something else…

          • NDG

            Freak out because they realise they’re wasting their time at college when they could be making $30k a month writing fake news?

            I am also freaking out.

      • Rain Poncho W.

        One of my favorite teaching techniques is the use of learning objectives to shape and guide learning, so whenever I get asked to do a lecture on how to use learning objectives, I always tie them back to the taxonomy.

        • Old Man Doom

          Bloom >>>>>>>>>>>

  • Pretty sure people have always been this stupid. Social media just affords them a worldwide distribution network for their stupidity.

  • Seems like reading comprehension is lost on the people who saw the disclaimer and then had it in their head that this was a pro-terrorist song. Face palms all around for those folks.

  • Eliza

    As someone who uses YouTube very frequently, I’ve taught myself not to pay attention to the comment sections, in order to protect my brain cells from the sheer stupidity on display. Once in a while you’ll get an insightful comments, but these are very much the exception, not the rule.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      The “Don’t Read Comments” twitter account can be pretty entertaining: https://twitter.com/avoidcomments?lang=en

      • KyleJMcBride

        But if I didn’t read comments I wouldn’t be here. : (

    • Hans Moleman

      I find myself scrolling down way too often; perverse fascination takes control of the mouse wheel. I understand there are browser plugins to kind of hide YouTube comments, I should look into that.

      • Eliza

        I admit that sometimes YT comments can be so bad they’re good, but that, unfortunately doesn’t happen too often. Most of the time I try not to look at the comments.

  • pneumonoultramicroscopicsilico

    The embodiment of YouTube comments basically got elected into office.

  • fuckin’ clickbait title from a bunch of dudes who sell toilets, don’t fuckin’ tell ME to learn context.

    • Old Man Doom

      Yeah, fuck those guys!

      • Joaquin Stick

        Toilets R Us.

  • Max

    No, there’s not much you can do with people who simply don’t read properly. It’s well established, for example, that in a sample group of subjects who all watch a video where somebody explains somebody else being cruel to animals, many of the test subjects will come away assuming that the person they were watching was THE person that was being cruel to animals. I haven’t got the source for that, but yeah – there’s always been a tendency to shoot the messenger.

  • Black Smallbeard

    Nile is pure jihadi trash straight out of Greenville, SC!!!!!

    this shit is becoming so infuriating, and it truly is pushing me farther and farther away from the mainstream

    • Maik Beninton™

      I mean you are at the bottom of the comment section.

      • Black Smallbeard

        right where i belong

  • Hans Moleman
  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    Whenever a culture attains a quasi religious status ignorance and downright nonsense are inevitable. Patient, good natured reasoning is the only solution. Well, that or a battleaxe.

    • Hans Moleman

      Tell me more about this battleaxe.

  • atchdav

    I’m some tired of reading about these thugs using threats / violence to intimidate people.

  • GoatForest

    Old Man Doom, this is a fantastic article, and it highlights a very serious problem in the world: namely moron misinterpreting art and creating unnecessary controversy.

    • Old Man Doom

      Glad you liked it, my forested friend