High and low
Nick Tosches has a fine riff on how rock is essentially trash for our consumption and that calling the ephemeral experience of rock art, preserving it, elevates the music beyond what it can stand. Lester Bangs keeps butting into the same problem throughout his later work (am I pushing too hard to say that this is the subtext of the great Peter Laughner?) and Richard Meltzer's collection is titled A Whore Just Like The Rest so we've got a pretty good idea where he's coming from.
But the most eloquent discussion of this subject is a rock song itself. It's the ultimate closer, even if it's sequenced second on the record.
Club Mekon - The Mekons
I saw a world where the dead are worshipped
This world belongs to them
Now they can keep it
Maybe I push too hard on the allegory of the "world" of the song as rock itself, but the way Sally Timms sings the above as the song closes is a pretty strong indictment of the rock death love. Definitely a strange sort of referential whiplash the song accomplishes, enhancing its power even as it obliterates itself. So much so that I find it hard to get through the rest of the album. In fact, there aren't too many songs that can withstand "Club Mekon," even among my favorites.
But High on Fire can. No shame, no irony, no pretensions toward art. Maybe this purity is the trick, or maybe living squarely in a genre, and metal in particular, adds an element of deflection. Or maybe it's because the songs are actually about death worship. That's a joke. From Matt Pike: "My imagery comes from everyday life, even though it’s masked in some way to seem like fantasy or sci-fi." The lack of magic there seems about right to me. That and my vivid memory of him stalking the stage at the Double Door like a wounded panther after his guitar broke; I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone on stage as moved about anything, and that includes trips to the Goodman and Steppenwolf.
The Face of Oblivion - High on Fire
The Mekons Rock n' Roll
Blessed Black Wings