In praise of lyrical literalism (It's not much fun to sing alone)

There is certainly something to be said for the anti-allegorical impulse. Particularly when it takes the form of literalist doom metal lyrics that are actually about things such as...

Singing in the grave, the first track of Minotauri's eponymous album (which has great literalist moments later, in which we learn why they "are playing / loud heavy metal"). Layers of meaning be damned. This is about the pacing, sludge grind loop, slow-motion guitar chug, single-note organ lines, and... the lyrics, slurred out in a Finnish carnival barker impression (if said barker was high on codeine cough syrup).

I'm lying here in my grave
I'm singing a lonely song
It's not much fun to sing alone
I'd better call my friends to join

I'm singing in the grave
A song from the underground


Being lost in a necropolis, as in "Necropolis," the rockin' track from Manilla Road's 1983 Crystal Logic. Quite poetic and all, yes, perhaps there is a sense in which the post-war West and emergent neo-liberal forms of necropolitics leave us all "lost in a necropolis." But... nope. This is rather a D-and-D-esque anthem about actually being lost in a necropolis.

Never thought it would be like this
It feels like I'm living inside a dream
But my mind tells me I'm
Lost in necropolis
Lost in necropolis
Lost in necropolis
Lost in necropolis

Now I know what it's like to be
Inside the city of the dead

What to say of this? Deleuze's rejection of metaphor (in favor of the transformation of concepts, rather than x being "like" y) doesn't make sense, as we lack the metaphorical coupling. Nor should this be linked to an attack on Benjamian allegory (and not just because I highly doubt Manilla Road read the Trauerspiel text), for we have here that which is at once the iconicity of the death's head (as a ruin of the future, the inevitable non-presentness) with a solid rejection of something being better read as - and existing for - the making-sense of a past. Instead, we get a sort of allegorical presentness, an insistence on "this being the point" that suggests we get something closer to the bedrock of meaning that later texts would have to make sense of allegorically, if at all. (Although this approaches the comic, for despite the attempt for the described experiences to stand alone as resolute instances, but not symbols, of tarrying with death, the rather aware goofiness of these kind of moments seems to undo the stuffiness and hauteur of allegory.)

Maybe we need a European answer. As in, "Final Countdown" from Europe, that masterpiece of bar jukeboxes which is, as far as I can tell, very literally about space travel. Given the opacity of making more sense of it, one is called back, again and again, to those anthemic, not-soaring-but-still-trying-damn-hard synth lines. No allegorical, no symbol, just affect, "heading to Venus."

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