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Our Newly Vegan Bandmate Won't Participate in Our Black Metal Band's Ritual Blood Sacrifice. Help!

Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist, and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her; confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.

Dear Fan,
 I am in an anonymous black metal/noise trio whose signature concept centers around the performance of music as an actual spiritual/occult ritual. We have been relatively successful despite not publicly performing live and have garnered some critical acclaim and a fantastic fanbase. Each of us comes to the table with distinct ideas about the practice of ritual music and we share a lot of common ground spiritually.

Up until recently all of us have agreed on the use of blood sacrifice in the performance of our rituals (recordings). But over the past year one of our members has converted to veganism and now refuses to participate in practices formerly utilized in the making of our music. The other member sees this practice as essential to what we do and I am on the fence about it. While I am for sacrifice as a spiritual practice I also understand the need to accept that people and their spiritual ideas change over time. But I don't see an easy way to reconcile the other two. What does one do when the spiritual beliefs of a band member change and then conflict with the core premise of the band? It's clear that we all want to stay together and continue, but something has to give. Please advise, MT

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Jessica Hopper
Contact: Jessica Hopper