When Did Metal Fans Start Hating Each Other?
As a metal head, I often face lots of people who assume I don't listen to anything else.
Of course, I'm guilty of it too. It's the first agitated thought I have when douche bags roll up next to my car blasting Soulja Boy and all I want to do is ram into them. I automatically assume they have terrible musical taste; which is the assumption made about many metal heads in society.
Discussion regarding heavy metal is often dominated by stereotypes. Yeah, yeah, heavy metal music is known for bring abrasive and aggressive, its dark imagery, and sometimes violent fans. Since it climbed out into the daylight in the late 1960s, it has been the target of angry parents, religious groups, and politicians.
But heavy metal continues to be one of the most beloved genres of the current popular music industry. It's roots in the blues manage to tie goofy dudes in tights to the days of American slavery, like some Tarantino retcon. It thrives for the underdog, celebrates the tritone, and explores dark, thematic terrain. To us, it implies something much more in-depth and primal than any other mainstream musical commodity. It celebrates very different cultures (hippie peace-and-love days and the hedonism of biker culture), but reaches to a very thoughtful place.
As musician/filmmaker Rob Zombie has said, "Heavy metal music is outsider music for outsiders. Nobody wants to be the weird kid; you just somehow end up being the weird kid. It's kind of like that, but with metal you have all the weird kids in once place."
So, why do all the weirdo metalheads feel the need to head up against each other? In an interview I had on Sunday with local eletro metallers Element A440, I started thinking about how hard rockers judge each other. Sometimes it's crazy to me that there is such a divide between heavy metal fans in different genres.
I talked with a couple of the band members for quite awhile, and we got on the subject of the separations of musical genres. This is a band that most take one look at and assume they must sound exactly like Marilyn Manson. After all, they've got the crazy stage sets of mechanical microphones and a hot chick bassist spewing cow's blood all over the singer, whose vocals could easily be compared to Manson's. But while they may look like the type of people set in their style and ways, their main fixation is to allow the boundaries of musical genres to bleed into each other--from punk to speed metal, EDM to glam metal.
Graven, the bassist/guitarist from Element A440, who singer Halo says "shits, breathes, and fucks rock 'n' roll," made a great point while we were talking.
"I usually go out every weekend to shows of different genres," he explains. "I go to glam, punk, extreme metal shows...one of the things that I do notice is that separation. Everyone has a grudge against somebody else, and everyone has a band that's better than someone elses'. It kind of kills it. Instead of thinking your band is better than another band, become a part of the whole scene. That's everywhere that I've been in the country."
This is where he caught my interest: "So what we did as a heavy band, we decided to play with bands that were more electronic and just go for it. It creates more of an impact and grows the scene out of the box. And it's worked out."
Phoenix's Mergence: Not a heavy metal band, but damn heavy.
So, put your differences and whether a certain band is Viking metal or folk metal. Branch out and try something new. Into speed metal? Mosh around at punk show, like the High Class Brats, Bricktop, and Radio Crimes concert at 910 Live this Friday, January 18.
Are you more of a bluesy, classic metal hipster? Check out such local acts Mergence, Black Carl, and Dead Eyes of London. These bands feature an arsenal of influences, like Led Zeppelin, 1950s tunes, James Brown, and garage rock 'n' roll. More interested in EDM? Check out Zero Zero, a band blending the thump and groove electro with heavy riffs. The band is performing Friday, January 25 at Yucca Tap Room.
And certainly don't sleep on Element A440 themselves, as they string together a circuitry of electro, industrial metal, and sexy grooves. The band perform February 1 at Joe's Grotto.
All of these bands I mentioned, the majority of them locally based, have some sort of element of heaviness. It may be screaming dueling guitars, or it could be more subtle, just an underpinning of heavy metal influences.
But maybe after reading this Metal Mondays your only thought is: "Who the hell is this chick to tell me to branch out into that rotting abyss fronting as a new music pipeline?"
In that case, maybe you should just check out our list of the top five heavy releases in Phoenix of 2012.
I promise, I won't tell the occult you're exploring new territory.
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