The Problem with the Metal Community

We’re all a bunch of fucked up, can’t-fit-in misfits with a strong appreciation of quality music. We like to scream, we love to swear; we head bang and mosh like there’s no tomorrow. We dress in black, our hair is crazy, we’re probably pierced in weird places and tattooed in weirder. And above all that, we’re a community. We love each other like family. We fight for our music and our scene. We stay true to what matters and don’t sacrifice morals for artificial popularity. We are one.

The initial viewpoint of sixteen year old me discovering for the first time this truly mental scene was fantastic. The idea that there’s other people who listen to this kinda stuff, that there’s a world where you don’t have to pretend you don’t know what metal music is, is something that comes as a shock to many late comers. A world where it’s cool to be this different – where doing so is encouraged. It’s like a group of outcasts that have all banded together and collectively put up a massive middle finger at everyone else. Badass bands and artists that don’t require superficial awards to validate their talents, yet still encourage fans of those awards to at least see what our side has to offer. Everyone ultimately just wants to have a good time and appreciate good music. Unfortunately, this is only the case part of the time.

We can be hypocrites. We spend a great amount of time bitching about the fact that heavy rock and metal isn’t recognised enough. We complain about how it’s never on the radio, how it’s rarely represented in award shows and how generally not enough people listen to it. All valid points. So why is it, then, that when a band brings out an album or song that caters to both sides, it’s a massive issue (see: That’s The Spirit, The Black, any Muse song that isn’t fast-paced…etc)? All of a sudden they’re ‘sell-outs’, not worth listening to because they’re ‘too mainstream’ or – my personal favourite – they’ve simply ‘changed’. As with creators of any form of art, as a person grows, so do their creations. So no, Metallica’s tenth album won’t be the same as Kill ‘Em All. And sure, Avenged don’t scream anymore. But at what point did these factors constitute good music? Bands like these strive to build that bridge between the heavy metal fans and those that like it a bit lighter in order to draw more people over to our side. As mentioned before, this is one of the prime complaints heard from metal fans – not enough people listen. Well, now they’re listening!

There’s apparently a fine line between popularity and being so-called ‘mainstream’. We seem to take the idea of being different to new extremes where it is essential that the smallest amount of people plausible listen to what we like, otherwise it isn’t cool to listen to it any more. Isn’t it ironic that the same group of people who walk around with ‘You CAN Sit With Us’ t-shirts immediately get up once too many people sit down? The whole idea of getting rid of the status quo and fuck trying to be cool is one that this community once attempted to broadcast. Now we’re recreating it.

Our favourite thing about our favourite bands, be it the legends – Maiden, Metallica, Motorhead, Megadeth – or the upcoming ones, is the idea that they do whatever the hell they want whenever the hell they want to. Isn’t that the definition of a rockstar? So, if what they want is to build a platform that connects two worlds constantly warring with each other, I say that’s metal as fuck. And if they end up being played on a radio station that isn’t known for being particularly alternative, or they get a small segment of song played during the Olympics (yes BMTH, I’m looking at you), we should be celebrating that and feeling that slow acceptance rather than complaining that we’re not ‘edgy’ any more. We quickly forget that what matters the most is the music itself.

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