However cocky or clever you may be or think you are, the certitude with which the utterances you repeat about how ‘I know myself’, or ‘what I like’ or ‘what defines me’ or ‘what I don’t like’, comes, in all probability, from a narrowed definition of who or what you are; its probably a consequence that embodies an inability to deal with peer pressure rather than the end of an embarkation of a long journey of self-discover.
Metalheads, on the whole, love meeting someone with a similar love of music. We all love banging heads and partying on and on and on. I ought to know, the vast majority of the very best moments of my life were had that way. And as degenerate as so many of us are, why the fuck does that matter when we can bang along to the tracks we grew up with or came to love since then? No matter how crazy things can get in the moshpit, all will have been forgotten once we’ve sobered up right?
But when asked are you a metal head, or a fan of metal or into metal, how sure are you of the answer? If your reply is consistent, its more likely that you are being either unreflective or dogmatic rather than honest. Why do I say that? Well, because if you like a genre for decades: it will change and so will you. I stopped listening to metal for a decade once, I just got tired of listening to the same old stuff over and over again and moved into Electonica and its most extreme forms.
I have often wondered why I never did take to metal in the 70s. About 6 months ago I spent many weeks going deep into that decade, discovering many things I did and did not like but still could not put my finger on it, until last week. I did think it must have something to do with the technology in play back then but now know that isn’t true at all. Beyond early Black Sabbath, I cannot find any ‘metal’ from the 70s I like and I finally know the exact reason why.
A few months back, where I put serious effort into expanding my music video collection, I noticed that I liked more songs from Joy Division and The Sex Pistols than Black Sabbath, and concluded that I always like Punk more than Metal in the 70s. I even discovered material I had long since forgotten about that I still really like, the best example of which being The Stooges, a so-called proto-punk band in our modern age. In the following very documentary, the Sex Pistols singer John Lydon hits the nail on the head as to why Punk did what Metal could not in the 70s.
Music is a cultural phenomenon, in 1970’s Britain punk embodied the spirit of the youth of the day and their frustrations like nothing else: it was an outlet of escape and allowed them to be themselves. Metal paled in comparison; it was slow-paced, lacking in passion and almost like old man’s music. Take Deep Purple’s Black Night, a true classic but never one could I ever tune into it. It’s so lifeless and slow-paced. A great song yes but never once did I, or could I ever take a liking to it. It’s like old man’s music.
Punk, according to John Lydon, caught the spirit of youth. It was, comparatively, so charged with energy.
It was so anti-establishment and didn’t give a fuck about anything. The constraints by those more empowered were burst open, hence the bad press it was always subject to. Punk was raw, punk was so passionate and much more alive than rock and metal in the 70s, both of which appeared decrepit in comparison. This is primarily an account of British punk I should add, how it was perceived in America is another matter, and btw punk is an American thing not a British thing.
So am I metal then? Well yes but I am not just that.
What are your favourite bands?
How many times have you been asked that question? If you define yourself as metal, would you answer with bands that aren’t metal? I do. Only one of my favourite five bands can be defined as metal, and that’s how its always been…that’s how it will always stay also.
- Faith No More (Alternative Rock)
- Manic Street Preachers (Alternative Rock)
- Alice in Chains (Alternative Rock)
- Iron Maiden (Heavy Metal)
- Therapy? (Alternative Rock/Metal)
So am I truly metal? Yes I am: but it is the question that is at fault. You can’t define yourself so simply. Most of what I listen to is metal, some of it rock. Furthermore, those of us who remember how thrash died out, if being honest, will admit to Grunge being a welcome relief to what was a short-lived phenomenon. That means the 70s and the 90s are taken out of the equation. So do I define myself as metal when asked because I bow down to peer pressure or because at heart I am? The answer is probably both but the answer given will never be anything other ‘yes’ even though the question itself is unrefined and tells you little other than what is obvious, especially when you have long hair, wear nothing but black, are tattooed and sport a T-shirt which shows a metal band on it, and are just about to enter a concert for a metal band whilst already hammered.
You should know what you like but rarely is it the case that you only like a particular thing, and there’s nothing wrong in telling people that your interests are broad. But when it gets to the point that the most definitive aspects aren’t metal, then its where you need to stop and self-reflect. Why would the thing you like the most be almost absent from what you like above all else.
The best answer I have come up with is that I have always loved music and metal is what I love the most. In two months time, I will have reached exactly 30 years of listening to metal, and I still love the stuff I loved way back then. Some people will tell you they only like a certain thing but its rarely the case that its true. It’s probably nothing more than a lack of maturity rearing its ugly head again.
An Uninteresting Conclusion
The song, at the 02.07 mark that, whilst cycling to college, confirmed a harder sound was what I wanted, and that is how it stayed.
Descent into metal in 1988 was: Bon Jovi, Iron Maiden, Slayer…
That’s all for now. I want to conclude by saying that if you love music your passion for it is probably broader than you realize: the significance of that only you, and you alone, can determine…