Opinionated Metalhead: Explaining Metal to the Un-Enlightened
I’m often asked why metal? Why hard rock? Why punk? Do you listen to other genres of music? And then I am told that I should be open to all types of music. This just happened to me again. This time at a nail salon I visit to buff out the scuff marks on my nail beds from all the rough and tumble hardcore dance parties I attend.
Believe it or not this happens enough to where I feel the need to start educating people who belittle my choice in music. It’s not like I walk up to people and say “oh hey if you like rap or country… you like garbage because I don’t understand why that is considered music.” Although in all fairness if someone does say that they like some pop princess or boy band of 12 year old’s on an obsessive level it is an auto-reflex for me to roll my eyes, slightly gag and say “why?”
I should add as a disclaimer that I don’t think any other genre / artist “lesser”. I may not always share in the appreciation for the artistic stylings of other genres. But not everyone likes Pablo Picasso or Leonardo Di Vinci’s works. Even if art is disliked, it is still art.
Punk and Hard/ Alternative rock…
Honestly, in regards to punk rock, I listen to very little of it. I’ll occasionally put on Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys or some Misfits. I enjoy seeing punk bands play live like Never Ending Last Words, Hed P.E. and False Cause . It is not something i go out of my way for however.
Punk is very much a politically influenced genre. They say what they feel about the current politics of the world best known for its Anti-Establishment expressive lyrics. There are some bands that get into the total anarchist mindset of fuck the man and fuck the system that does not have as magnetic appeal to me. Punk all in all is about creativity, expression and individuality.
Hard Rock bands like Stonesour, Staind, Disturbed, Shinedown, Godsmack, Three Days Grace, Hoobastank, Foo Fighters… and so many more are my go to when I need to just chill and be able to delve into the deep thought exploration of my mind palace. Some of these bands do have some songs that go more into the metal genre , however they are primarily known for their hard rock content.
And of course as you can see at the time I wrote this piece from some photos I was a big Nu Metal fan …dipping my toes in that Nu Metal / Hardcore Rock pond before expanding even further.
Metal….enough said, but I will continue to indulge you …
METAL …. the war maiden that calls to me to join the ranks and fight with honor in hopes of gaining entry to Valhalla. She sings to my blood and soul. She is my one true musical love that I would fight to the death for.
What makes metal so unique to me is that it doesn’t need vocals to be metal. The complexities of the melody compositions between drums, guitars and vocals that metal is capable of IN JUST ONE SONG let alone an entire set are infinitely praise worthy. The emotions you can feel within the music on top of the emotions that went into the lyrics make my whole body hum and exude with euphoria.
So what is my Metal type….
There are quite a variety of types of Metal (over 40 sub-genres depending on where you look). My top 3 are Thrash, Folk/ Viking Metal and Melodic Deathcore. I will go out of my way to go see bands under any of these 3 designations. Not every song is going to strike my fancy or make my lady parts tingle and reverberate with the music. The way that the music hits you in the chest …that start of that first guitar string plucked…that’s when you know it’s time to RAGE!
And when I say out of my way …I mean really out of my way. I once drove 12 hours (one way) to Boulder, Colorado from Las Vegas just to go see Amon Amarth and Goatwhore play last year on a Wednesday. I talked up Slayer , Behemoth and Lamb of God coming to Vegas for 8+ months before they actually came and ended up getting 2 amazing tickets to see them as a birthday gift 5 months before their show came in August. I extended my stay in the San Francisco Bay Area for 2 days last October for Warbringer, Striker and Dark Tranquility. I will take days off of work when I know I will need extra time to recover from the aftermath of all the screaming, singing along and moshing.
Yes, I can understand the words coming out of their mouths…
Most of the time I can understand what the bands are saying. And if I cant make out the exact words I still can grasp the concept of the songs meaning/ message by its delivery as a whole. Lyrically metal addresses a person’s inner demons with the rawest of emotions stemming from the original Blues roots that metal and hard rock grew from. Not saying bands don’t still have fun numbers about random shit like the peanut butter sandwich they almost killed a friend over while high or how the lay their pipe.
Whether it’s drug addiction, mental illness, a bad breakup, loss of a friend or family member, witnessing something horrifically violent, being victim to violence, being so infuriated by something that they had thoughts of committing horrific violence. (hey man, sometimes you have to imagine throat punching someone to avoid actually doing it.) You name it …there is probably a metal song about it or inspired by it.
My ears are fine…
Quite frankly the volume of music at a live metal show in comparison to a club playing techno or hip hop is pretty much the same. There are protective ear plugs you can buy to protect your ears from the harmful sound waves while still hearing the actual music.
Guilty Pleasures …..
We all have them 🙂 …. Mine are in Swing Jazz and Blues. I’m talking Frank Sinatra, Rat Pack, Bessie Smith, Bill Withers, Aretha Franklin. I still listen to some hip-hop, pop, indie and rap artists like Tech N9ne, Meg Myers, Adele, and yes even some Ed Sheran
In the end my heart still belongs to Lady Metal. Sometimes she is willing to share my ears with other genres but will call me back before I am away from her for too long.
Writer Update 2020: Since publishing this article I have expanded my travels to attend festivals and show alike in Arizona, Southern California, Illinoise and am expanding this reach to Texas and even as far as Switzerland. I travel more so for Brutal Death Metal than any other genre currently. There are far too many bands to name after 2 rather extensive years of exploring music on a deeper level. Metal music is like the vast expanse of the ocean, and like it only a small percentage has really been explored. There is so much left for me to discover and so many young minds that haven’t written those riffs yet or perfected their first growl. The future is brutiful and bright for Metal and I am proud to call myself an Metalhead.
I recently was sent a pretty great article that takes a deeper dive into the history of metal and the music theory behind it’s moving parts. If you want to go exploring this is a great read : https://beginnerguitarhq.com/how-to-play-metal-riffs-on-electric-guitar/