Tag Archives: heavy metal

Metalheads Get a Bad Rap. It’s Time to Set the Record Straight.

Type the words “I hate metalheads” into a Google Search engine and you’ll end up with a menagerie of results.  Entire chat forums have been dedicated to this subject.  Disgruntled outsiders spewing vitriol about how metalheads are elitist assholes, satanic, homophobic, racist, and misogynist can be found all over the web in various formats.  Popular music journalists have dedicated entire articles to incriminating the metal scene for numerous transgressions.

The hate metalheads get (particularly online) has always been baffling to me.  I hang out with mostly metalheads and they are some of the kindest, most hardworking, trustworthy, and intelligent individuals I have come into contact with.  So where’s all the hate coming from?  In this article I’ve decided to tackle the biggest negative stereotypes pinned to metalheads and set the record straight on them.  There are eight that immediately come to mind.  If I’ve unintentionally omitted any, feel free to mention them in the comments.

Metalheads are Elitist

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This is probably the most common negative stereotype of which metalheads are accused. We’re put down for intentionally excluding people from being a part of our community for minor offenses, such as liking the wrong bands.  We’re also accused of abandoning an artist or band for receiving mainstream success.  The thing is, metalheads can be elitist, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Here’s why.

First of all, metalheads are passionate about the music they love.  We’re total nerds about it.  So why would we be accepting of fair-weather fans?  Why do we have to be? The fair-weather fan listens to metal to get amped up and angry instead of the relax and unwind the way many true metalheads do.  The fair-weather fan doesn’t have the kind of dedication to the scene that the true metal fan does.

These are the people who “outgrow” metal once they get a corporate job.  By the time they turn 25, listening to extreme music becomes “immature”.  It really doesn’t make sense to me that people view an entire genre of music as juvenile and I take offense to that.  These people are transparent.  They’re usually the 21-year-old kids who end up at Slayer and Cannibal Corpse shows and get into the pit looking for a fight instead of just a rowdy good time.  You literally only see them at larger venue shows with death/metalcore opening acts.  Their lack of dedication is obvious and it makes the hardcore fans a bit uncomfortable.  It’s almost as though they’re devaluing the thing we love most.  I’m certain no one is doing this intentionally, but it can come across this way.  This sentiment is rampant amongst any nerd subculture; anime, comic books, Star Wars etc.  It’s also rampant in the punk, indie, and electronica scene but metalheads take a lot more shit for it.

As far as the accusation that metalheads stop liking bands once they become successful, that’s easily explainable too.  Generally speaking, in order for a band to gain mainstream success, they have to water down their sound quite a bit.  Think about Rust in Peace versus Cryptic Writings or Kill Em’ All versus St. Anger.  The sound is notably different, more palatable, and less intricate.  St. Anger panders to the fair-weather fan.  That said, I wouldn’t say I hate Metallica.  As the catchphrase goes, I only like their old shit.  But there are disadvantages to any band gaining mainstream success, even if their music doesn’t lack in quality as they become more popular.

I don’t think any true metalhead would call Iron Maiden, for example, sell outs.  Even if you haven’t bought a new Maiden album since, say, Fear of the Dark, you can’t deny there’s nothing quite like the sound of Bruce Dickenson’s chops and Steve Harris’ bass lines.  But even though Maiden hasn’t changed their sound much as a result of their success, going to their live shows has drastically changed.  In order to see Maiden live, you now have to pay close to $125 to get piss poor seats in the back and watch the band from a big screen.  Beers at these big venues are $8 a pop if you’re lucky.  Many times, there are actually chairs in these venues.  That’s just what I want to do when one of my favorite bands is killing onstage, sit.  Everything about the show, aside from the music, is commercialized and lame and the band members are untouchable celebrities.  This is a far cry from the quaint atmosphere of the small club.  At underground shows you’re right at the forefront, the pit is rowdy, the beer and merch is cheap, and the bands are approachable.  It’s a much better time. Because Iron Maiden rules so hard, however,  metalheads endure the lamer atmosphere of the venues they perform at.

As far as “true” metalheads hating on deathcore, metalcore, and hipster black metal, the answer is easy as well.  Simply put, true underground death, black, and thrash metal is notably more difficult to play (in most cases) and these “poser” genres are clearly watered down to appeal to a larger audience.  Generally the people attracted to these genres are younger than the average true metal fan.  That said, every true metal fan has his or her gateway bands.  For me, it was Marilyn Manson and Danzig.  To this day I listen to those bands.  For others it may be Asking Alexandria.  Most of the older metal fans are willing to expose the younger, core fans to more extreme music if they’re interested.  Nine times out of ten, however, these fans are not interested in hearing something different and just want you to accept their shitty music as true metal even though it’s not.  And most of the time the “elitist’s” only crime is pointing that out.  Tell someone that Born of Osiris is not real metal and they’ll get their panties in a bunch.  Why?  We didn’t attack your character.  All we did was point something out.  Sure, we may rag on each other from time to time for liking, say, Slipknot, but it’s all in good fun.  The only people in the scene that actually do attack people’s character for the music they listen to are mouth breathing, internet trolls generally between the ages of 17 and 22.  Please stop it.  You’re making us look bad.

Metalheads are Racist, Right Wing Assholes

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This one irks me.  Metal is a diverse, worldwide community that is comprised of all different races, and political orientations.  There are entire genres of metal dedicated to left-wing causes like veganism.  Thrash metal is, by and large, left-wing.  Bands like Gojira are dedicated to environmentalism.  It isn’t fair to categorize all of us as right wingers. Still, the stereotype comes from somewhere, and judging from my own Facebook feed, metal does seem to attract several people who lean right on the political spectrum.  I have a few theories as to why.

The vast majority of metal fans are men.  This is changing over time and more and more women are finding themselves attracted to metal, but metal is still 90% men (not an actual statistic).  Generally, the type of men that are drawn to metal are strong, masculine men.  It makes complete sense considering the aggressive nature of metal. Statistics have shown that stronger, more masculine men are more likely to be right-wing.  I’m not sure how much I value these statistics but it does seem to add up when you consider the types of things stronger men value and are interested in.  Gun collecting, hunting, meat-eating etc. come to mind.  Liberals don’t tend to value these things as much, oftentimes attacking them outright.

As far as the accusation of racism is concerned, I blame Scandinavian black metal.  A lot of the second wave black metal bands outwardly expressed racist ideology.  The early second wave movement was virtually steeped in it and black metal has never fully recovered. Metal is a worldwide phenomenon, so it’s bound to have some devotees with less than savory beliefs, just like any cultural movement.  Black metal is also outsider art, and it’s not supposed to cater to societal norms let alone make the average person feel comfortable.

That said, the majority of metaheads don’t share these sorts of dangerous beliefs, even within the black metal scene.  Metal festivals are diverse events that unite people from all over the world in their shared love the extreme genre.  As for politics, ask the average metalhead their opinion on them and they’ll say they could give a fuck about them.

Metalheads Are Dumb

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 First of all, there are both dumb and smart devotees of any subculture.  But evidence has shown that metalheads may actually fair above average in the intelligence department, contrary to popular belief.  A study was conducted on the students in the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth that shows a disproportionate number of the members listed heavy metal as their favorite genre of music.  The National Academy of Gifted and Talented Youth represents the top 5% of academic achievement.  You can read more on the study in this article published in The Guardian.

There have also been studies the indicate that metalheads are similar to classical music fans in temperament.  Metalheads tend to be creative and sensitive types, according to these studies.  Many metalheads are also musicians.  It is pretty well documented that learning to play and instrument raises your IQ.  In my personal experience, metalheads tend to be above average in intelligence.  Many metalheads have nerdier hobbies, like reading or watching historical documentaries and enjoy learning.  Of course, there are dumb metalheads, but there are dumb people everywhere.

Metalheads Swear and Say Fag Too Much

This one is semi true.  We do swear a lot, when we’re out partying.  The only place metalheads are usually depicted is at shows, either playing or attending, or in interviews with other metalheads.  Beer is usually involved in those interviews, especially since interviews often take place before bands perform.  Metalheads are rarely depicted in the workplace behaving professionally.

We probably do say fag too much but, in all fairness, the metal scene in mostly made up of guys and that’s just how many guys rib on each other, whether or not they listen to metal.  Still, metal could stand to be a little more sensitive toward homosexuality and LGBT issues in general.  There is no reason a gay man should worry about coming out to fellow metalheads if he shares our passion for the music.  Metalheads have also proven to be accepting of this issue, however.  I don’t know anyone who stopped listening to Judas Priest after Rob Halford came out.  That says something.

Metalheads Drink and Party Too Much

To reiterate my earlier point, metalheads are usually depicted while at shows…. partying.  It isn’t fair to peg us all as drunkard cretins because we get a little rowdy on the weekends…… just like everyone else.  The truth is, metalheads are some of the hardest working people I know.  The punk aesthetic to quit your job and start a band doesn’t resonate with metalheads.  Most adult metalheads have fulltime jobs and start bands on the side. There’s an understanding that the underground nature of extreme metal doesn’t lead to widespread, mainstream success, and having a job is mandatory in order to pay for gear, gas, beer, and What-A-Burger.

Metal is also more difficult to play than other genres of music, requiring hours of practice and mastery of your instrument.  Many metalheads are musicians, so their lives are basically work, practice, work practice.  Can you really blame them for partying it up on the weekend when they work so hard?  As for those of us who aren’t musicians, metalheads are passionate and driven to anything in their power to support the scene.  Some of us write, book and promote shows, distribute merch, draw sick art etc.  We do all this while having fulltime jobs and sometimes even going to school.

Metalheads are Satanic

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I lol at this one because it’s so incredibly inaccurate.  Sure, metal bands may have Satanic imagery on their album covers and write blasphemous lyrics, but it’s all intended for shock value, and doesn’t represent the band’s actual beliefs, most of the time. Slayer is one of the most notorious bands that’s said to promote Satanism.  All of the members of Slayer are confirmed to be atheists except for Tom Araya who believes in a higher power of some sort.

This anti-religion aesthetic is shared by the majority of the metal community.  Atheistic beliefs are the norm amongst metalheads.  In my personal experience, metalheads who profess actual allegiance to Satan are mocked by others in the scene.  It’s seen as childish.  In all honesty, most of us couldn’t give two fucks about religion and are put off by the judgemental and restrictive nature of it.  That said, there is a such thing as Christian metal.  It’s not really my thing, but if you’re a fan, more power to you.  Overall, calling metalheads Satanic is laughable and simply makes you look uninformed.

 Metalheads Only Like Metal and Don’t Respect Other Forms of Music.

This accusation is about as inaccurate as the one about us being Satanists.  I hang out with a lot of metalheads, and exactly zero of them only listen to metal.  I personally listen to everything from surf punk to classic rock to trip hop.  Nick Cave is one of my favorite artists and performers.  Among my friends, there are fans of everything from gangsta rap to Taylor Swift.

The thing is, metalheads listen to all types of music but we’re picky about it.  Our standards are high and with good reason.  Our music is probably better than yours.  Yep, I said it and I’m not sorry.  Aside from classical and jazz, metal is arguably the most difficult form of music to play.  I know, non metalheads think it just sounds like screaming and noise, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  And those “screaming” vocals non metalheads hate so much are way more difficult to belt out than the whiny drivel venerated from mainstream pop stars.  The fickle nature of average pop music fans only strengthens my argument.  Pop stars are mostly forgotten about (except for those with real talent like Prince of Michael Jackson).  Metal fans, on the other hand, don’t stop listening to music just because it’s dated.  Venom’s Black Metal is still widely celebrated in the metal scene and it’s over thirty years old….. because it’s good and it stands the test of time.

I’ll admit, I mostly listen to metal, but that’s because I’m passionate about it.  Does anyone accuse sci-fi fans of only watching sci-fi movies and reading sci-fi books/comics?  Nope.  So why do we get crap for listening to tons of metal?

Metalheads are also accused of only listening to one genre of metal and dismissing the rest.  This isn’t true either.  Sure, we have our favorites.  I’m partial, to black metal, thrash, melodic black/death, and old school heavy death metal.  A lot of my friends are really into brutal death metal and grindcore.  Even though that’s not really my preference, I would never doubt their commitment to the scene or judge them for it.  People who do that are mouth breathing idiots who don’t represent the scene.  But having a preference doesn’t make you a judgmental prick, it makes you a human being.

Metal is Misogynist

This one’s a bit harder to tackle.  There are definitely some bands that write misogynist lyrics.  Pornogrind is a genre that often spouts blatantly sexist lyrics on their albums.  But I can’t reiterate enough, that metal lyrics are written for shock value much of the time.  Do you think Chris Barns actually wants to kill people and feast on their stinking, bloody guts?  Well, these brutal death and pornogrind bands don’t actually want to abuse women either.  They just want to ruffle a few feathers.

I actually know a few bands who’ve written some seemingly misogynist lyrics and they have turned out to be some of the sweetest most well-mannered men I have ever met.  The best relationships I have ever had have been with metal guys.  It isn’t fair to judge these men based on their lyric sheets.  Metal focuses on the darker aspects of society and many metal lyrics are simply based on true stories about serial killers and war.  Outside of the mosh pit, though, most of us are well-mannered and kind.

That was a long post, but it was necessary in order to ensure I didn’t leave out anything.  Again, if you think I left something out, please mention it in the comments.  To further clear up any misconceptions about metalheads, check out the documentary below.  A couple of my friends are in it and it’s pretty cool.  If that isn’t enough to change your mind, check out this link http://www.boredpanda.com/metal-cats-alexandra-crockett/.  It’s literally just hardcore metal dudes pictured with their cats.  I hope I cleared things up.  Thank you for reading.

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Satan- Atom by Atom

Satan

NWOBHM has been making a resurgence over the past few years and bands like Angel Witch and Iron Maiden have been enjoying great success. Listenable Records, known for having signed big names like Aborted and Gojira, wisely decided to jump on the band wagon and sign NWOBHM pioneers, Satan, back in 2013 for a long awaited reunion.
Satan is the kind of band that your dad’s cool friend with the motorcycle and the possible weed connection might listen to. Ever old school, their new album entitled “Atom to Atom” doesn’t deviate too far from the classic, heavy metal sound Judas Priest and Grim Reaper fans have grown to love. The first falsetto scream and blistering riff will have you squeezing your bloated ass into acid washed jeans and fist pumping your way back to 1982.

In many ways, “Atom to Atom” is a step up from the band’s last album, “Life Sentence”, and that’s saying a lot considering the album boasted rave reviews from both zines and Metal Archives alike. Admittedly, I found myself a tad bored during the first two tracks, entitled “Farewell Evolution-1” and “Fallen Savior”, but Satan soon made up for it with the third track on the album, “Ruination”. Definitely stand out track on the album, “Ruination” is reminiscent of Paul Di’Anno’s solo works, featuring epically smooth, clean vocals, and melodic guitar solos that bordered on hypnotic.

The album continues on this upswing, ultimately leaving listeners in a haze of arpeggios. There is a bit of a cheese factor toward the end, in songs like “The Fall of Persophone” and “Bound in Emnity”, but the band makes up for it by injecting blistering riffs into the songs that’ll make you want to punch your dad’s friend in the face. Overall, “Atom to Atom” is a solid release. A classic in the making.

8.5/10

https://listenable-records.bandcamp.com/album/atom-by-atom

Belphegor|Conjuring the Dead

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 It has been three long and cold years since Austria’s Belphegor has graced us with their legendary hateful sounds.  Lineup changes have interfered with Belphegore’s ability to record, but being ever resourceful, they’ve unleashed their ninth album to date on August 8th, 2014.  With Helmuth on vocals, “Conjuring the Dead”, takes on a more pronounced death metal feel than the band’s other releases.

Being a black metal elitist type, I found myself longing for the classic and frigid sounds of Blutsabbath or even the hate-filled screams of Bondage Goat Zombie, particularly in the beginning of the album.  That, however, could have been a personal preference.  “Conjuring the Dead” is solid, well produced, death metal release–a force to be reckoned with–bearing all of the ferocity of prior releases.

The album really starts to pick up around the fifth track–”Black Winged Torment”–with dissonant riffing and melodic undertones.  This trend continues to spread throughout the release like a malignant tumor, reaching a high point in the track “Lucifer, Take Her”, a particularly dramatic track, a prototypical Belphegor song, that accentuates all elements of the true Belphegor we’ve grown to love over the years. They end the album eerily, with the foreboding and slower track, “Pactum in Aeturnum”.

Overall, “Conjuring the Dead” is a solid release, even if it’s not truly representative of Belphegor’s career.  This release may get lost in the mix in comparison to the colder and more intense prior releases.  Even though “Conjuring the Dead” may not stand out as one of Belphegor’s more memorable albums, it will not disappoint fans. But listen for yourself.  Below is the official music video for Conjuring the Dead (some of the most evil shit I’ve seen in the past month).  Happy Listening.  Hails!

Acid Witch/Nunslaughter -Spooky

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Back in March of this year, Hell’s Headbangers unleashed yet another great addition to extensive, vinyl metal collections everywhere. An interesting mix of doom and classic death, the Nunslaughter and Acid Witch 7 inch split entitled “Spooky” is an off-color hymn to “stoners” everywhere.  The artwork hints at the tongue in cheek nature of the album.  Reminiscent of 1970’s Tales From the Crypt comic this album art is unique and eye catching.  The artwork, the sound, the feel of this split is definitively “gitchy” and doesn’t take itself too seriously, which makes it a great feel good listen, the kind of music perfect for blazing.

Acid Witch

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 Acid Witch capture the sounds of “spookiness” in the most befitting way on this 7 inch.  The opening track, Evil, begins with eerie sounding keyboards and has a sort of muted melodiousness that continues throughout the track, only to be broken up with Shagrat’s gloriously repugnant vocals and Mike Tuff’s classic riffing.  Listening to Evil is like hearing a whisper in a haunted house.  The keyboards continue throughout the track, organically giving Evil that sort of fun creepiness Rob Zombie’s is always trying to achieve.

Fiends of Old, Acid Witch’s second contribution to Spooky, veers in a different direction.  Resurrecting, the classic sounds of Acid Bath and Eyehategod, Acid Witch has managed to make Fiends of Old sound unique by adding their signature keyboard sounds to this heavier doom track.  It is perhaps, Slasher Dave’s vocals that make this track most unique with his snotty, tongue in cheek tone.  Acid Witch would do well to make their tracks a bit longer.  Doom-heads intuitively crave 15 minute long songs. Acid Witch’s three minute long tracks are a bit of a disappointment.  I must hand it to Acid Witch though, their sound is original.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcwidhyzTt4

Nunslaughter

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 Nunslaughter’s addition to “Spooky” doesn’t veer far from the brutal, irreverent death metal Nunslaughter fans have grown accustomed to.  “A Sordid Past” and “Spooky Tales” sound very similar to pretty much every song on their classic 2003 release “Goat”.  Surprisingly, I wasn’t disappointed by this.  Nunslaughter gives their fans what they’re expecting, without alienating them with heavy experimentation.  This is one band that will never “go soft” or sell out.  You get what you get with Nunslaughter.  Simple, three minute, satirically satanic death metal.  Their contribution to “Spooky” is no exception.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AKcl_9e9Kw

You can order this awesome 7 inch directly from Hell Headbangers.  Fucking do it and support underground metal!  For now though, smoke up and enjoy some killer death and doom.  Happy Listening.  Hails!

Craven Idol- Towards Eschaton

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The latest album I’ve had on cue is the epic LP entitled “Towards Eschaton”, by England’s black/death/thrash hellions, “Craven Idol”. One discernible characteristic of this outfit is that their hunger resonates loudly throughout the album. It is obvious that Craven Idol is playing the music they love and are not only in it to sell records. They’ve recently been signed to Dark Descent Records, a label that is quickly becoming one of the most important underground labels in death metal, as it’s known to be the home to great bands, such as Imprecation and Gorephilia.

Dark Descent made a smart move in signing this band. Towards Eschaton is a masterpiece that exudes of brilliant musicianship and strong writing. The album opens strong with, “To Summon Mayrion”. The track preludes with an slow and eerie yet methodical intro that quickly breaks into blackened frenzy, amalgamated with high energy old school death/thrash. This band coalesces genres ingeniously, with 80’s death metal-like drumming, thrash-y riffing and soloing, blackened vocals and haunting breaks. Similar to bands like Nifelheim, Aura Noir or even Absu, Craven Idol is a must listen for fans of ugly, blackened and unapologetic genres of metal.

But Towards Eschaton is about more than just raw and ugly riffing. The melodies found on this debut are somewhat reminiscent of early Swedish sounds. Especially on the track “Codex of Seven Dooms”. Their British fervor and love of traditional heavy metal can’t help but seep out on tracks like “Orgies”.

Overall, Craven Idol has managed to captivate me, not only with the stunning artwork that graces the cover of “Towards Eschaton” but also with their beautifully volatile and grotesque sound. Towards Eschaton is a listen worth checking out. So join me in the violent pits of Hades, with Craven Idol. Happy Listening. Hails!

Demonic Christ Returns!

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After nearly 20 years on hiatus, Ohio’s barbarous, black metal beasts, Demonic Christ, have announced their long awaited return. For those of you unfamiliar with Demonic Christ, the evil foursome formed in 1992 and is fronted by the unbelievably talented woman, Dana Duffy. They’ve released one full length album, entitled “Punishment For Ignorance”, a few promos and a compilation. Despite being an American band, their sound is very Norwegian. Demonic Christ were pioneers in the American black metal scene.

Having been recently signed to Ohio’s most popular metal label, Hells Headbangers, Demonic Christ are in the studio putting the finishing touches on the second full length album which will be entitled “The Great Purge”. We should expect the album to be released early next year. They are currently streaming the title track via Bandcamp and from the sounds of it, this album will be raw and blacker than ever. In celebration of their overdue reunion, Demonic Christ will be embarking on a tour of the east coast and Canada. The tour dates are below. Be sure and catch them in your town! Happy Listening! Hails!

November 22nd – Columbus, OH
November 23rd – Baltimore, MD
November 24th – Providence, RI
November 25th – Boston, MA
November 26th – Buffalo, NY
November 27th – Toronto, CAN
November 28th – Montreal, CAN @ Messe Des Morts Festival III

Maryland Deathfest Lineup Confirmed

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Below is the confirmed lineup for 2014’s Maryland Deathfest. Looks like it’s going to be sick as fuck this year, so be sure to pre-order your tickets in October, when they go on sale. The festival will be held in Baltimore on May 22,2014 through May 25,2014 (memorial day weekend). The venue it will be held at is TBA. This is going to be a hell of a time. I’ll see you there. Happy Listening. Hails!

DIOCLETIAN (New Zealand)
EXCRUCIATING TERROR
EXTINCTION OF MANKIND (UK)
GOD MACABRE (Sweden)
GORGUTS (Canada)
GRAVES AT SEA
HEMDALE
MACHETAZO (Spain)
MGLA (Poland)
NOCTURNUS A.D.
SACRIFICE (Canada)
SARKE (Norway)
SOILENT GREEN
SOLSTAFIR (Iceland)
TAAKE (Norway)
TANKARD (Germany)
ULVER (Norway)
UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS (UK)
UNHOLY GRAVE (Japan)
UNLEASHED (Sweden)
WITCHRIST (New Zealand)