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What is the definition of ‘asshole’? Is there really a finite way of determining what sort of behavior falls under the umbrella of ‘asshole-ishness’? And most importantly, is ‘asshole-ish’ behavior sometimes, if not often, based in simple truths, confidence and honesty? I’d like to think so, otherwise I’m an asshole, and a coward, and an unwise ignoramus. Good thing I’m just an asshole, ’cause I know I’m right about all of this gibberish.

The reason I bring any of this blather up is simple: talking critically about heavy music makes you a really easy target. For the foreseeable future, I’ll be writing reviews, articles and features, conducting podcasts and interviews, and I’ll probably say some things that you’ll disagree with. You’ll think I’m being a contrarian, and that I’m overly-analytical. You’ll think I’m an asshole. And when you’re about to slam away at your keyboard with the hyperbolic vitriol of BLARGH BLARGH BLARGH~, I want you to remember that I warned you about this from the beginning. I can be kind of a jerk when I write about heavy music, but the thing I really want you to remember most of all, and keep in mind when I say something inflammatory or controversial, (E.g. “Despite all its brilliance, Meshuggah‘s ObZen has served as a stylistic breeding ground for a lot of garbage, and has had a rather noticeable negative impact on music in the second decade of the century.” … See! I told you…) is that that my calling card is to say things that facilitate discussion. I’m not going to write a glowing review of the most recent Neurosis record and just leave it at “this shit rules hard.” I’m going to give an example of why it may be better than Through Silver In Blood, and why Scott Kelly and Steve Von Til may be more important to heavy music’s evolution than someone like Dimebag Darrell was. I’m of the opinion that if you’re not taking the process of music critique and subjective analysis seriously enough to incite some pretty pissed off feelings from maybe a few people, that you aren’t doing it right. It’s about making interesting discussion and moving it forward as much as you can – and you can’t achieve that without getting a little dirty.

With that being said, critique is opinion, and that’s that. When I started Brutalitopia with my main dudes and fellow Monolithians Sigma and Durf Diggler, the whole premise behind our blog was to be critical and analytical, but to be as fun and humble as possible. I’m never going to sit here and tell you that my opinions about music, or beer, or barbecue, or Spaghetti Westerns (note the nome de plume, dudes) or even fantasy sports strategy are superior to yours. That’s not my job. Again, my job is to move the discussion forward. Talking about how refined my taste in mid-90s stoner is or how I drafted Wes Welker in the last round of my fantasy draft in 2007 proves nothing (… although that Welker pick was pretty awesome). I pride myself on being the kind of guy who will talk with you about everything from the history and mysticism behind Mastodon‘s Crack the Skye to the brilliant stupidity of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, but consider everything you have to say about the matter, even if you don’t think Keanu Reeves’ performance as Ted is the best of his acting career.

In fact, I sometimes think I am the way I am as a writer and critic because of the people that can’t differentiate between opinion and fact. I took pride in being “that guy” when I was penning with Brutalitopia, I’ll take pride in it here. While I may say some stuff that will make you think Dave Mustaine is sane in comparison, I wholly invite you to prove me wrong and hold my feet to the fire. Because this isn’t about me, and it isn’t about you either. It’s about us, and moving the whole heavy music scene forward. If I say something that makes you think, fire right back and make everyone in the discussion think. That’s what we critics do this for; there are few things more rewarding in music media than furthering you and your audience’s experience with music and its culture. I want to do that with you guys. You’ll just have to accept those few provisions I mentioned in order for that to happen. And also deal with my occasional geeking on Iron Maiden, Stone Cold Steve Austin and IPAs.

I’m Django. And I’m an asshole. But I’m also an asshole that wants all of us to be happy and have fun. Besides…why else are we doing this if not for fun?

Favorite song of 2012 so far: ”Hawk As Weapon” by Conan, from Monnos.