Fans of metal often hear frustrating statements when people try to claim that metal is “evil,” “always angry,” or any of the many other negative things that get said about the genre. The community knows the truth, and we should educate the outside world that is full of pop music, autotune, and a lack of black clothing. Outsiders, read carefully.
#5: The reason behind the negative lyrics stems from releasing out toxic emotions. Music and any form of art are based on emotions. Sure, not all of it is, but a vast majority. Creators get to take their frustration, sorrow, and anger out with their art, and in this case the metal they create.
Some people need positivity to knock out negativity, but some require a negative to cancel out a negative. Everyone deals with life differently, and hearing an ultra-optimistic tune will not succeed in putting some people into a good mood. Hearing a song like People = Shit by Slipknot relates to pissed off fans so they can positively cope with whatever problems life throws at them.
The same goes for depressing music. Hearing lyrics from your favorite band speaking to you directly helps with loneliness. Another aspect of relating to a song’s words is being able to articulate your feelings. Sometimes it is hard to communicate what is going on in your head, so finding the right song can help unleash those feelings. When listening to a track like Dark Days by Carnifex, plenty of fans will listen and feel better about their situation.
What the negativity comes down to is the taste of music from any individual. Studies have shown that if you like metal, it will make you happy. Nonfans will feel more stress, anger, and frustration when listening to such an aggressive style of music. So, if you despise metal, go listen to what you like and leave us to get hyped about the next Slipknot and Amon Amarth albums in headbanging peace.
#4: Black clothing is a staple that confuses many outside of this scene. I cannot count how many times people ask questions or feel the need to point out about my excessive need to wear black. Every community of any fandom has a culture to the common interest. In this case, wearing all black and other alternative looks is the style that metalheads have chosen.
A lot of themes surround extreme music, one of which is rebellion. Society wants one thing, and some people need to do the opposite. Plenty of which society tells is may be morally right, but often times it is a way to control people. When you look “odd” then people push you away, but in this case, when you get cast out, you find like-minded people to call you a friend.
Shocking the world has been around since the early days of rock and has embedded itself into the punk and metal DNA. Having tattoos, piercings, dyed hair, and wearing all black clothes will undoubtedly get an adverse reaction out of some people. That horror on people’s faces feeds what the rebellious fans want since it proves their point about people’s ignorance and quick judgment towards others.
#3: All metal is Satanic might be one of the worst lies spread about the scene. Certainly, some bands and fans are Satanists, but many are not. This comes from both the shock value from the previous paragraph and the dark nature attracting particular demographics.
A lot of rock back in the 50s, 60s, and 70s had a focus of sexualizing the music and appearances to surprise naysayers then a shift occurred. Metal took the things into something grimmer than men with feminine clothes and talking about sex and drugs. Violence and Satan were used to make the world fear this genre, and it worked. Satan became a part of the natural evolution of the horror element to the scene.
The rise of Satanism and anti-religious mindsets have other hobbies, so when wanting music that matches those feelings from their views, metal became the perfect candidate. The birth of black metal injected a lot of these themes into the veins of metalheads around the world. The new extreme style has done some good and bad for the community due to murders, racism, and church burnings, but plenty of bands like Behemoth and Satanic rock groups like Ghost are good role models for the big guy downstairs.
#2: Metal is causing people to be more violent simply is not true. Tieing together into other topics I have discussed from earlier, metal does not make people into murders.
Violence in this style of music along with other themes like Satan stem from a lot of what I talked about before and more. For non-fans to understand, think of horror movies. We witness murderers and monsters rip people limb from limb and enjoy it. Think of metal as the horror movies of music. Bands like GWAR and Slipknot look horrifying with their costumes while Cattle Decapitation and Infant Annihilator shock the world with their graphic lyrics.
Quickly going back on how negative music makes metalheads into a more positive headspace, same goes for the brutal side of metal. Studies continue to show that if you like the music, even if the band talks about murder and torture, you will get put into a good mood. Metal haters may forget that if you enjoy something, then you will feel joy, even if that thing might seem disturbing.
#1: How can anyone understand what is being said? Any fan will get asked some variation of this question. Compared to some other wonders that the average person may have, this is one of the most understanding because it is difficult to understand someone screaming extremely low or high sounds then trying to comprehend those words. The answer comes from two main factors, adapting to that style of vocalization and getting used to an individual vocalist.
Genres and subgenres within the realm of heavy metal that incorporate screaming are the least accessible styles of music on the planet, so you need to train your ear. Take baby steps by finding vocalists with midranges that can enunciate clearly. A lot of that can be found in hardcore and metalcore, think of bands like The Ghost Inside or August Burns Red. Once that starts to sound clearer, move towards a group like Whitechapel, especially their last few albums, which will increase the challenge while still being manageable. Keep going heavier until most people sound coherent, but not all will since some people are not clear in their screams, it always depends on the vocalist.
Everyone sounds different, whether you can tell or not, which is why one style of metal may not make the difference in understanding the words being belted out by these singers. Someone can start to understand the lyrics from any death metal band then get stumped by someone as low as George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher from Cannibal Corpse or John Gallagher from Dying Fetus. That is why practice makes perfect if someone wants to get into this style of music since our ears will not usually instantly adapt to these unusual sounds.
Hopefully, this clears things up for non-fans of the darkest genre of music. For the fans, what talking points did I miss? What other things drive you insane that the outside world seems to not understand?
Header image via commons.wikimedia/Morten Jensen