With the Republican National Convention descending on Tampa, Florida, the GOP has found itself right in the black heart of death metal country. Death metal legends like Decide, Obituary and Morbid Angel all hail from the Florida city. Reuters reports—rather obviously—that the ritual christening of Mitt Romney as the official Republican presidential nominee won't feature any brutal riffs, punishing blast beats, or demonic Cookie Monster bellowing. The GOP and death metal surely make for strange neighbors, but many death metalheads think the central conflict in Reuters' story is a media concoction. After all, the genre isn't so much anti-Republican as anti-politics, period.
Reuters' Andy Sullivan writes, "Some say it's ironic that a party that includes large numbers of religious conservatives would hold its convention in the city that fostered a musical genre known for album titles like To Hell With God and Butchered At Birth." But where Sullivan sees irony, the online metalsphere sees a non-story. Gun Shy Assassin's Chris Harris writes, "Dude, Reuters must have been ultra desperate for Tampa-related stories ahead of the upcoming Republican convention, because they ran this huge piece on death metal, and how contradictory it is that the convention next week is being held in Tampa, home of the genre." Metal Injection notes that "death metal musicians aren't losing sleep for not being invited." A writer for metal site Lambgoat writes, "Personally, I think Morbid Angel frontman David Vincent summed up the whole thing rather nicely." Reuters quotes Vincent as saying, "There is usually something far more creative and worthwhile happening that distracts our focus from the ever-important empty suits who promise everything and deliver nothing."
It would be absurd for Republicans rallying around a devout Mormon to align with a genre that aims to sound as vile as possible, while exploring Satanic lyrical themes to boot. But the reverse situation Reuters implies in this story—that somehow a Democratic National Convention would welcome death metal bands with open arms—seems equally absurd. Calling the Reuters story a "non-troversy," WUSF's John O'Connor points out that no political party with national aspirations would reach out to Tampa's death metal community. "Is it really surprising the RNC wouldn’t include a form of music that has content that could offend Republicans, Democrats and independents?" he asks.
And as for the death metal musicians in question, they shrug off politics altogether. The quotes Sullivan gathers reveal political ambivalence, not a concerted anti-Republican ideology. "The kind of people that are going to listen to Bob Dole's opinion are not the kind of people who want to listen to our music in the first place," says Cannibal Corpse bassist Alex Webster. "There are plenty of Republican death-metal fans. I'm sure we have fans on both sides of the fence."