A Challenge to My Faith in The Myth

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Metalheads, generally, are an interesting breed of people. We like the fact that we are outsiders. We absolutely adore the fact that most people don’t get it. One of my greatest metal moments happened the other night. I was talking to my dad about if Nazi party scientists where involved in the Manhattan Project and the effect that American nuclear regulation on third world countries post-World War Two, and then the conversation shifted to Devin Townsend. No idea how or why, but it happened. So I played my dad some Strapping Young Lad, and the disgust on his face was evidence enough that at least I was doing something right. I played him some Ghost just afterwards and he asked if I can give him that album, so he can listen to it at work – so as dads go, mine wins.

We love being open about our opinions. I have never met a “closet-case” metalhead, only the vocal variety. We pride ourselves on placing value in friendship, brotherhood, and acceptance of that which is considered as against the grain… You know, “They can’t stop us, let them try! For heavy metal, we will die!” sort of thing.

Yet, at the same time many of us represent a walking contradiction; opposed to individuality on a fanatical level and we can be the most mean spirited hypocrites (I can feel the backlash for that statement already, but hear me out). We don’t like people who think differently than we do. It’s true. Can any of you deny it?

Nothing makes metalheads happier than being an elitist club/cult. At gigs, there are many of us who stare at and judge the people who look different from us. It’s like as if when in numbers we take a cold vengeance on the “others” who we may feel represent those who have chastised us when the situation was different. Lots of my non-metal and my metal friends have told me that they do not feel comfortable at metal gatherings. The non-metal people who are there to support a friend’s band or their significant others are lepers in our eyes.

“Those damn hippies with their damn white shirts. Who are they to disrupt this gathering of nine hundred shades of black!”

Then there are those who pass judgment on the “false” metalheads as well, like as if they themselves have breathed heavy metal from the day they were born.

“Damn posers, wearing Slipknot t-shirts or metalcore shirts. They better not core up the place! They should fuck off so we can listen to the five thousand melodic brutal technical death metal bands, or grim kvlt frostbitten black metal or raging, more-metal-than-a-metallurgy power metal.”

Meanwhile, the next time we walk in a public place or go support one of our friend/significant other’s band and someone looks at us funny, we feel affronted.

“How dare they! Fuck them! I’m an individual as well! I’m a metalhead and proud of it! I’m open minded! They should be too!”

Sabretooth Let us not forget bands and the “music police”. As Sabretooth stated in their interview here, people don’t see them as metal enough, due to their clean-singing vocalist. We listen to bands and discriminate, saying they are not metal because their songs have a melody, clean vocals and a catchy chorus. Yet, if someone says they are not into death metal, we freak out.

“How dare they! They just don’t get it! It’s all about *insert string of your own personal beliefs*. Fuck their interpretation of what metal they want to play!”

One of my favorite activities to do at a gig is go to the bar during a band’s set and see the music police. Do it next time. Or just look back from the front of the stage. The large, faceless masses standing there with their arms folded; judging every single note of every single song, and working through every single member. If you’ve ever been at a metal gig with these music police, you learn certain phrases, like ,”the band is good but their * sucks”, “they could be better if they only change *”, the scowl (Yes, it is actually audible when done correctly. Used mostly when they disapprove of the use of *) and of course the standard “Well, they suck”. You know something is wrong when you have more people evaluating you on a scale from one to ten than headbanging.

I feel that we have actually become the people we were trying (perhaps too hard) not to be. We were supposed to be inclusive of the misfits. We were the place where people could just “be themselves”. We can’t and you, my dear and beloved reader, know it.

Religion has always been a touchy subject and my philosophy is to each his own. If you love Jesus or Allah or if you are a pagan that sings hymns to the moon, or if you reject the idea of religion altogether and forge your own idea of what your morality should be, that is your choice. How many metalheads are open about their religion? Very, very few. Unless you hate Christianity. Then you are as vocal about it as any person on a soapbox can be. I know many Christian metalheads who just keep to themselves, because our sub-culture is not open to Christians. We chastise them, yelling “How dare they?” over and over again. “You hypocrite,” the metal children of the village yell. “How can you believe in god?! How dare you make a Christian metal band?! We don’t care, we are metalheads and we are open-minded!”

To quote a rather big and important metalhead in the cape town scene, “The metal brotherhood is a myth”. But I believe in that myth. I believe in the power of metal music, and I believe in the people. Tomorrow, I am going to watch some bands and I am going to enjoy it. And I will try to be a metal brother to everybody there. And you, dear reader: I hope that you do too!