Those living on the fringe

If you know me well, you may be aware that I listen to a hefty amount of heavy metal. Despite the sensitive poet I can be at times, if you were to catch a glimpse of me in the early morning. You may notice me prancing around the house like a hairy Barbarian.

Most people battle to understand the genre at all, and simply label it as evil. The reason I’m drawn to it, is it attracts that seemingly small group of people living on the fringe of society. I love that. I’m fascinated by extremes that are around us and the “freaks” it gives birth to. I’m the type of person that lives in my head, I can sit for hours on end sometimes watching a couple or a group of kids interact. The novelist in me, will then try and build up a storyline based solely on their appearance.

So my history with heavy metal is a fairly short and succinct one. I once remarked to a friend, “The only reason I like this music, is I wanted to piss off my parents as a teenager. A started listening to this music, and then it started growing on me.” Despite my wry comment, there’s more to it than just projecting your anger on to others.

In my short time with the genre. Metalheads:

  • feel the need to be different.
  • love the arts.
  • are highly creative.
  • have the tendency to be heavy drinkers and/or drug users.
  • are misunderstood.
  • are highly talented musicians, or close friends with them.
  • piss off the general public (although once you get to know them they’re probably more loyal to you than your own dog.)

All the above is true for a number of reasons. I’ll leave you to do the thinking, instead let me debunk a few misguided opinions.

Why all the screaming? What’s the point of listening to music if you can’t hear all the words?

If you listen to music only for the words then you don’t really understand music. I think the reason most people point out the fact that the words aren’t recognizable, is because it’s one the first thing that jars a first-time listener. When your favorite song comes on the radio, you sing along to the chorus (i.e. the most catchy part of the song). The actual meaning behind the words, or the storyline isn’t apparent to you (unless you’ve really done your homework).

What makes metalheads unique is the fact that most of us study the lyrics. We spend hours reading them, and often when we go to gigs we’ll be singing along to the lyrics while they are performed. If you fail to believe me…go ask any seasoned metalhead about songs like Iron Maiden – Number of the Beast, Slayer – Raining Blood, Metallica – Master of Puppets. They might not know the entire song, but they’ll belch out a damn fine chorus.

That music is Satanic. Anyone that uses a pentagram worships the Devil.

Let’s face it, most of us metalheads listen to it for an outward reaction, initially. If you were to do some research, and pool all us headbangers together…only about 3% of us (if that) are “worshipping Lucifer” in our free time. Those who are really serious about it, won’t let you know either. My father spent some time counseling hardcore Satanists as a school teacher…and his remark was that the plain clothes people are the serious concerns to society.

If you’ve ever worn your favorite soccer shirt on the eve of a big game, that same feeling is what metalheads promote. I was in a queue in MacDonald’s the other day (dressed in work uniform), and the metalhead who was served after me saw my pentagram ring and said to me “I see we’re part of the same tribe.”

If I start listening to metal, I’ll end up dirty, badly-dressed, an alcoholic and a drug user.

The media is never a great guide when following popular culture. Journalists thrive on bad news, simply because fear sells papers better than warm feelings. It’s a sad truth. There are those who choose to ‘loose themselves’ in chemicals, but perhaps they need to start journeying into themselves, and learning the patterns in their own psyche?

Calling all metalheads alcoholics, is the same as saying that every guitarist will end up like Kurt Cobain. It’s that fair? I highly doubt it.

Metalheads are angry and pissed off with life. What’s the matter with being happy?

Pissed off and angry is one way of looking at it. We’re honest about the dark side. Most people are afraid to journey there. If I didn’t have metal with me, while I was a depressed teenager perhaps I would’ve committed suicide. If anything a large part of the culture has a never-say-die attitude about it. There’s a freedom to persevere and continue on.

Musicians who have committed suicide, want the easy way out. Living life and surviving, is far more difficult than ending it all. If you’re taking the easy road, you’re not learning anything. Like I mentioned earlier, the image and anger is just an exterior…once you know us we’re your friend for life!


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