Ghost, the Swedish retro doom metal band whose medium goes beyond the music, are the only band successfully inverting the stale rock traditions.
In a recent social media post I lamented why Led Zeppelin marked the beginning of the end of rock music with the exclusionary and exceptionalist attitudes that followed from their obsession with occultism and celebrity-driven misogyny.
There can be little doubt that Led Zeppelin are one of the greatest rock acts of all times, but might it be possible they were the beginning of its end?
Rock and roll was initially viewed as an egalitarian art form. From its early history as a bridge between race and class and later as the soundtrack to the most powerful counterculture movement in American history, it brought people together and celebrated diversity and commonality simultaneously. But by the end of the 60’s the hippie dream was dying and rock was about to usher in a new era of excess and superstardom. Enter Led Zeppelin.
Right from the beginning Led Zeppelin eschew the lyrical romanticism and idealism of the hippy era and instead replace it with blues era misogyny. One cannot help when reading Plant’s lyrics to notice that women seem to be objects of male desire, lust and emotional insecurities.
From there we move on to the occultism, which prized hidden, secret and esoteric ideas. These were exclusive ideologies that were meant to separate Led Zeppelin and the ‘fans who get it’ from all the proles and ballad seekers.
Led Zeppelin effectively became an exclusive boys club governed by excessive maschismo and ideological pretentiousness. In the years since their demise the members have continued to shroud themselves in secrecy and suggestive superiority bordering on self-idolatry.
Punk rock recognized this and tried to fix it, but was instead co-opted by the same WASPish tendency towards aggression that eventually lended itself back to the same toxic rock masculinity and exclusivity that Led Zeppelin had taken the train off the tracks with.
As a vehicle for social change, rock and roll is almost entirely irrelevant, and Led Zeppelin epitomize the change that made that so.
This was written after I dissed the branch of magic generally referred to as occultism, then took a few swings at its most beloved figurehead, and finally provided an alternative perspective towards magical pursuits.
While I stand by my assertion that rock is dead, in the sense that it is no longer capable of being a vehicle for massive social change outside of entertainment, there is still the question of relativity. Are there any bands relatively relevant within rock music itself? Almost certainly many. But are any of them making relevant statements about rock music beyond the music itself?
If so then that band is undoubtedly Ghost…
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