Sunday, May 22, 2011

Vegan Black Metal Chef

I am a vegan opera singer. That never struck me as a strange combination, especially since my friend Sasha has told me about at least one other opera singer who, though not a vegan, comes up with a bunch of tasty vegan recipes. I guess the stereotypes don't mesh: vegans are supposed to be stick-thin and generally chilled out, while opera singers are supposed to be obese and high-strung. But I just discovered an even weirder combination: a vegan black metal chef.

His name is Brian Manowitz, and he recently posted an instructional video in which he prepares pad thai. But he narrates in a scary, growly voice over what is, I assume, generic black metal music. The best part is his costume: he is dressed up as (and this is just a guess) Lucius Malfoy at a KISS concert. And he uses terrifying weaponry instead of regular cooking utensils to do things like slice his tofu and stir his sauce.

This hilarious little video has gotten a lot of attention. I'm not sure why the combination of vegan + black metal seems so ridiculous; it might be because of the rumored animal sacrifices that took place back in the day at Ozzy Osbourne concerts. But apparently, there is a whole subculture of vegan and vegetarian black metal listeners. Who knew.

Above all, I really respect this guy's eyeballing skills. He doesn't measure anything. It means that you have to be watching the video while you prepare the recipe, so you can put in the same amount as he does.

I can't try out this recipe yet since I've given up peanut butter for Prarial, but I like pad thai and I'm excited to make "the best pad thai sauce ever." I don't think I'll press my tofu into the symbol of the ancients, though, and I'm certainly not going to use any chilli powder (my tolerance for spice is the only thing lower than my tolerance for black metal music).

As a vegan, I am excited. As a singer, I am concerned. As I (fittingly?) head out the door to sing at church, I feel obliged to send Brian Manowitz a letter that says something like:

Dear Vegan Black Metal Chef,
Please stop destroying us.
The bloody stumps that used to be your vocal chords


  1. The growling, make-up, and attire that he wears are all very generic in Black Metal music. You can do the growls w/o damaging your vocals. An opera singers (of all people) named Melisa Cross who trains and coaches death-metal, black metal and hardcore singers how to do the growls and screams. She has a couple of DVDs out called "The Zen of Screaming"

  2. Brooke: Now that you mention it, I've heard of Melisa Cross! Maybe I should include a copy of her book with my letter to Brian.

  3. Seriously, abuse is abuse, no matter how you perceive the source. Singing in general will put a lot of work on your vocal chords. Opera singing is probably even more powerful. I know a few bands where the woman can growl and sing clean in the same songs or other bands who have been touring for over 15 years and who still have beautiful voices. It's common to hear cover of popular songs from a metal band where the singer sings clean and they still have a beautiful voice. It's not because you don't like it that it is damaging.

    There is just way too many stereotypes around metal and most of them are false. Such as lyrics about murder, sacrifices of whatever, for violent peoples, etc. Most metal is about denonciation agaisnt the horrible things of life and to do so, you need something powerful, such as powerful music. The metal crowd is one of the most tolerant crowd in terms of differences, such as homosexuality and such, simply because people who are used to be injustly judged are often much more tolerant to the differences in our society.

    So when you remove all those stereotypes, there's nothing odd about vegans and black metal. In fact, if I was to associate vegans to music, it would be to metal. All vegans I know don't eat meat not because they don't like it, but because they denonce the way the animals are treated. Metal is about denonciation as well and is often close to paganism, which is close to nature and veganism.

    About me, I listen only to two types of music : Metal and classical music (I include opera in classical music). One time I was listening to a classical radio and I heard them joking about the violence of metal music. I called them to give them the truth. It's sad that people judge what they do not know.

    Finally, you might even like my favorite band. It's death metal (I'm not a big fan of black metal, but I'll spare the differences)

    I'm not hoping you'll like metal. Just hoping you'll see past the stereotypes. Problem about that is that they are always fueled by the minorities. Like when I talked about homosexuals earlier. The minority of them who are 'flamboyant' bring down the hammer of stereotypes on the majority who are just regular people.

  4. Joanie: Thanks so much for your insight! I listened to Cry for the Moon and really got a kick out of the combination of the redheaded woman's lyric voice, the choir (which together reminded me of an epic film soundtrack) and the growling.
    I have to disagree that opera singing puts as much stress on your voice/throat/chords, since if it does (to quote LOL catz) you're doing it wrong. Maybe the same is true for metal, though.

  5. I'm no singer, but from what I know from other singers (I know a few metal singers, but no opera singers), yes, it is the same. I'd be out of voice trying either. :)

  6. there is lots of operatic metal about such as nightwish and within temptation. opera and metal is not dissimilar. veganism is prevalent in metal and punk scenes due to the straight edge movement

  7. lol. I came across the Vegan Black Metal Chef yesterday, and am very impressed with the overall quality of what Brian did. As much as it is funny, it is actually something constructive and useful - a PAD THAI recipe!!! Albeit with loads of sugar… what a champ :D

    Joanie: What you wrote touched me, and, thank you. All my life I been into rock/metal... back from early KISS, UFO, Uriah Heep to the likes of Gorgoroth, Dimmu Borgir, Arch Enemy… and everything in-between... It has been a life long struggle to defend what I listened to... although I have always been accepting of other people’s mockery, and cheap pot-shots of them not understanding it. What you said sums it up very well :)
    As much as there is such a stigma against metal and metalheads, I see more Christian like values and ethics in the metal crowd than in any other ‘commercially’ accepted community / crowd. Once you see the fellowship the metal crowd has, you will see that it is more moral and closer than a church group (at least I see it that way). They look after each other, and would give you the shirt off their back… if they saw a person in need. Even when one is broke and has no $$$, the crowd lends itself to shout a round or two of drinks in the name of good company, and good spirits (even to strangers whom become their metal brothers and sisters) – would like to see that a night club without the sleeze that goes on in them (sorry to be bashing :P I enjoy night clubs sometimes too).

    I also love "Classical", and am trained on the violin. I did my 6th or 7th grade AMEB here in Australia (yes we have kangaroos and koalas on our front porch - jk), back in the early/mid 80's. So it all stems back from the early modes, and has progressed into the scales we know of now :) I even have a PHd in mathematics, am left handed and love to program computers too (it’s what I do for a fun and get paid for it. Many call it a job).

  8. As a fan of black metal without taking it *too* seriously, this video/music Brian did is nothing short of brilliant.

  9. John, when I go to a Iron Maiden or Metallica show, I really do feel like I'm among brothers and sisters, as well. My tastes don't extend into black metal, but I find the religious issues in that community intriguing.

    I was checking the funnier Episode 2 out, and an hour ago someone made this comment:

    "This vid is epic, though I don't really get vegan logic. I mean do they really prioritize avoiding the labor of bees and cows [honey & dairy] more than that of the exploited immigrants who pick their produce?"

    Ouch. I find it really hard to get through a day without guilt, especially as an American. I try to do the best I can within my (relatively)meager means but it gets to me, especially when so many people seem conscience free. I admire you Meghan, both for the sunny disposition you radiate, and also for trying to make a difference. Inspiring!

  10. Austin: Thanks so much for all your thoughtful comments and for your support! I try :)

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