In what's either a well-crafted publicity stunt or a ridiculous gesture of sincere protest, Schoolyard Heroes have found themselves the targets of an online petition supposedly started by an unspecified "group of upset parents" concerned with the band's violent and possibly satanic lyrics. The petition follows, and takes as its primary text, an anonymous e-mail written in response to Travis Hay's recent profile of the band for the Seattle P-I (sic throughout):

"Much to my horror, I read your review and was just... horrified at what I read, that [article] made their music sound all cutsie, let alone that the PI would glorify such evil. I clicked into their website and listened for 15 seconds, again to my horror, let alone the blood curdling lyrics that were spewing from their throats.

"I'm curious to if you clicked into their website and read their lyrics? I have never read such evil words in my life. If this band isn't avowed Satanists, I'll eat my hat... let alone their name... Schoolyard heroes: (Columbine:...that murder our youth) Did you catch some of the titles...? 'Serial killers know how to party'...everyone one of their songs glorifies death, dismemberment, murder, suicide. Where is your responsibility to society and the youth of today? Our kids are being murdered in the schools and on the streets by their own peers who feed on this sick music and you do write-ups and advertise this hopeless, destructive, evil music. Every parent ought to click into their website and see what their kids are being fed. These are satanic priests in their pulpits on stages and in clubs around the world. They understand the power in music and how they can plant their ideas in your children to make them do anything. They want to kill your children and their lyrics state this very thing. WAKE UP, it's nearly too late."

Cute, but the whole thing smells about as authentic as last week's purported Meg White sex tape.

First, there's the sheer outdated absurdity of it all. Parents trying to shut down a "satanic" metal band? By petition? So, so '80s. Even the dimmest parents should know by now that protest campaigns like this do bands far more help than harm. The band gets publicity; the kids get an easy, obvious way to piss off their parents. Then there's the stiff clichés in the petition: "Much to my horror," "blood curdling lyrics," "I'll eat my hat." It sounds like it was written by a Stolen Transmission intern trying too hard to sound old and stuffy.

Look, if I were a parent, I wouldn't want my kids listening to Schoolyard Heroes, either. Not because they're satanic metalheads, but because they're not that convincing (they've never, for instance, burned down a church). Even just in here in Seattle, you can find more credible practitioners of the dark arts, such as Book of Black Earth—they have upside-down crosses right there on their T-shirts (available up to a very metal XXXL). Where's Schoolyard Heroes' blasphemous graphic design?

I also wouldn't want this hypothetical kid listening to Schoolyard Heroes simply because their new album, Abominations, isn't that good. The band grafts classic metal riffs and double bass drums to nervous verses (those on "Dude, Where's My Skin?" and "Plastic Surgery Hall of Fame" are particularly pale imitations of the Blood Brothers) and sugary radio-ready choruses. It's a well-crafted Frankenstein monster—the band is able and singer Ryann Donnelly does have that classically trained operatic voice—but it's all terribly dull. Any parent actually scared by these songs should get out more. The lyrics that aren't lifted from horror-movie plots are pretty standard failed-romance-as-grisly-death metaphors, and Heroes are hardly the first (or best) band to do that. But, whatever, they'll do fine on their Def Jam subsidiary, selling goofy, glossy horror-metal pop to 15-year-olds, and stunts like this will only help them.


As evangelical funkers No-Fi Soul Rebellion recently pointed out on Line Out, Partman Parthorse are the band that parents should really be worried about. Their set at the Sunset last Saturday was an abrasive blast, and lead singer Gary Smith has serious evil-cult-leader charisma.


In other equine evils, be sure to drop by Pony on Thursday, October 4, for 7 Solid Hours of the Fall. Mark E. Smith's beat-punk rants pack more subversive danger into a single repeated word than Schoolyard Heroes could manage on an entire album. Also, Pony will turn your kids gay. And satanic. Gay-tanic.

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Finally, in less satanic publicity, Radiohead announced on Monday that they would self-release their new album, In Rainbows, for download via their website (www.inrainbows.com) on October 10, two months in advance of its release as a double vinyl/CD box set. The box set will cost £40, but if you download it you get to name your price.recommended

egrandy@thestranger.com