The joys of being a headbanging metal purist
|Strictly only for metal heads and not for weenies, chicken-hearted, Metallica, metalcore, AX7, Lady Gaga, Justin Beiber and Slash fans. I have only bleeps written for you.
Over the years people have questioned me, although not verbally, but with the confused looks on their faces. And it’s the same bleeping questions. “What is with you and heavy metal?” “What is it so good about metal that you dig so much?” “What on earth is metal?” And many a times the razor-edged “Stop listening to that rubbish” or a long time back as my mom asked me “Nang mojing aken nalaro ba?” which translated is “Are you listening to the devil’s music?” So, here’s to everyone who needed the answers years ago. I’m due a long time back but hear me out.
First of all, the number one reason is just one word. Metal. That’s it. The second reason is, metal says “Who cares! I don’t give a damn”. Well there you have your answers. Not enough? Okay first allow me to invoke the metal Gods and allow the spirit to bless me with the inspiration and the brutality to answer you and justify myself.
“Oh great spirits of metal transcending all human intellects, come and behold! Shower one of your kinds with the gut-wrenching brutality to bring out and spread the gospel. Help me bring out the metal sickness in me. I am calling all metal Gods. Oh God of Pantera, Megadeth, Lamb of God, Necrophagist, Evile, Savage Messiah, Obscura, Decapitated, Death and all those awesome brutal bands I’m forgetting to mention, grant me the authority to reach out to the non-believers, the audacity to invoke your counsel when I’m behind enemy lines and above all the attitude to deal with the lost souls. All these I pray in the name of brutality. Forever and ever, metal.”
Alright now I’m ready to share my joys and I hope you too realize my joys and be astounded by my energy. Metal is not just that rubbish you so like to call it. But like I said metal doesn’t care. In fact, it glorifies us and you're actually doing us a big favor. Metal is many channels. It is a fountain of energy and a channel to drain your anger, anxiety and depressions. It is an avenue where you meet only the coolest, most brutal and sick people and by brutal and sick I mean in a sick, brutal metal way. It is a boulevard that leads only to happiness and confidence. You may counter strike saying “Well that is present in every genre. We experience that everywhere.” With all due respect, you cannot headbang to Justin Beiber’s songs. You sure don’t listen to Beyonce’s “All the single Ladies” when you break up with your lady. There never was, is nor will be a time when you listen to Miley Cyrus when you lost your dog. You only listened to Lamb of God’s “The Subtle Arts of Murder and Persuasion”. The only break-up songs were “Everything about you” (Ugly Kid Joe), “Love is for suckers” (Twisted Sisters) or “Kiss my ass” (Ted Nugent). Dio never sang “Pop and Hip children”. He only sang “Rock and Roll Children.” Pantera never did “Proud To Be Hip” They only recorded “Proud To Be Loud”. If anyone is taking me for a misogynist, lemme clear the air. I’m just standing in defense for my awesome metal brothers who might have had a bad break-up. In fact on the contrary there are female metalheads. Who can forget Otep Shamaya’s beautiful enchanting voice when she growled and howled like the devil himself when she did “Blood Pigs”. Who can forget Archenemy’s front woman Angela Gossow and just who the hell forgets the lovely, amazingly talented Tarja Turunen. All I’m saying is metal bands and their songs are relevant and can relate to each and every moment of life.
You come back happy from the church and you listen to Christian metal bands like Impending Doom, Thy Will Be Done, Living Sacrifice, Extol, Antestor. You wake up in the morning and your breakfast song is “Appetizer” by Freak Kitchen. When you’re feeling unwell you listen to Freak Kitchen’s “I’m a Healthy Man” And your only analgesic medicine is “Painkiller” by Judas Priest. You go out for a walk and your iPod is playing Pantera’s “Walk”. You fail at something and the obvious is Judas Priest’s “Some Things Are Worth Fighting For”. When you’re asking for a favor you’re background song is “Bleed For Me” by Black Label Society. When you’re at a party you play “Party Hard” by Andrew WK. When you’re standing up for someone, the song is Andrew WK’s “Never Let You Down”. Your loved one sings “In My Darkest Hour” when you’re gone and your goodbye song is “A Tout Le Monde”. Even when you’re sleeping you have Pantera’s “Sleep”. Alright that’s just 100 instances too many. When life presents you with truckloads of goodies, why go for horseshit? Not that pop, rap and the other insignificant genres are insignificant; it’s just that they are just so synonymous with insignificance. Metal even helps you do your chores. Your mom asks you to dust the furnitures and sweep the house. All you have to do is bring out your trusted ahujas, logitechs, altec lansings or the boses and crank up the volume and bass till it completes 720 degrees of revolution and watch it clean the entire house sparkling clean. Or if you wanna wake up your sibling you just press play and Megadeth starts “Holy Wars…the Punishment Due”. You can spook your annoying nieces, nephews or the kids by playing Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath” or Ozzy’s “Crazy Train”. You can even convert the sound energy into enough electrical energy to run your TVs, refrigerators, ACs, light bulbs and fans and even your washing machines! Alright I may have stretched a tit-bit with the electrical thing but metal does help you with your chores. If that’s not reason enough for you, let me go into the technical details of metal, the meat and potatoes of the real deal, to quote Jeff Loomis.
Guitars dropped to C? Check. Basses? Check. 16”,17”, 18” and 19” crash cymbals? Check. 6 more chinas? Check? 6 splashes, a hit-hat, a tom-tom, a bass? Check, check, check and check. Double bass? That’s a check too. Badass, brutal, mean, gruffy, sick, in-your-face-vocals a.k.a Randy Blythe a.k.a Phil Anselmo? Check. Cool!! So whatcha waiting for? The gears are ready, the rig is all set, GO!!! Oh the energy, the brutality, the shear rawness, the sweet sound of distortion. The vocalist flipping birds at everyone. Can you just feel the emotions? No? Apparently there is something wrong with your hearing sense or perhaps the five senses itself. You should go check an ENT doc after which I highly recommend you to visit a shrink and possibly take a psychology test to check if you are okay. Lemme know when you are back. As for the rest of you, gather around children for I will tell you the story of how men invented wheel and how men began to roll. Metal is a multifold path and each path is headbang, fists in the air and the use of horns. Metal is akin to pursuing an art. Metal as a word is overly misused and deeply exaggerated. Metal as an art is sorely underestimated and metal as social impetus should be seriously understood. Metal overall should not be grossly underestimated but its weakness should not be overestimated as well for it has little or negligible.
The dunces consider metal boloney and they are more than ready to blame metal for all the negativities. Robbery and killing? Metal. Fights? Metal. I suppose the metal Gods also told us to help people as well, yeah? Weenies. The only fight I know of is the madness inside the core of the moshpit at Lamb of God’s Killadelphia with the swollen lips, blackened eyes and sometimes broken ribs but the metal spirit intact. As a matter of fact LOG’s Mark Morton and Randy Blythe fought as well but they’re best friends now because of that. Or the one fight at Cephalic Carnage’s concert only to play “Eye of the Tiger” and bring back peace, laughter and horns. That’s how metal bring peace. As for the shooting, killing and suicides, well lemme just say this, they are as confused as you are about metal. They are clueless. They are not true loyalists. People looking for ideologies and propaganda found their’s. My kind of metal never did, does or will kill people, rob, rape, burn churches or worship Satan. I found what I was looking for and those are everything but those mentioned earlier. My metal brings the world together (Extreme), raise funds and aides for the needy (Hear N’ Aid). In fact I found religion because metal introduced me to Dave Mustaine and Nicko McBrain. My metal speaks against political hypocrisy and nuclear wars (Lamb of God and Megadeth), and climatic woes (Gojira). It speaks about humor (Freak Kitchen, Cephalic Carnage), dreams and poetry (Iron Maiden), fantasy and epics (Dream Theater, Shadow Gallery and Allen Lande). It sometimes talks about getting pissed (Pantera, Lamb of God, Ugly Kid Joe). But that’s as far as I go.
So, the question to your answer is “No, ma.” I don’t listen to metal anymore for Satanic ideology. I admit I was into all those stuffs back then but I was naïve and had no idea about metal back then until I graduated into being a metal purist. Yes I wrote gory lyrics but that was just for fun. Didn’t you notice the 1 million watt smile on my face after writing them? And just so you know “The Number of the Beast” is about a dream Steve Harris had, ma and the guys in our colony harassing shopkeepers, stealing our dog, flower pots and buckets for crack are no better than Sepultura or Slayer. My metal keeps me away from serious kibosh chinwagging, troubles, substances and shit. I’m glad you always let me blast Pantera, BLS, Nercophagist, Death and Nile while you’re sitting beside me reading your beloved Tir Yimyim. Doesn’t it just sound super peaceful? Thanks ma. Although not metal, all thanks to dad for introducing me to music and buying me that guitar which, of course, took me 2 years to lay my hands upon, without even asking me! Thanks for your CCR cassettes and the Soft Rock collection 1995. Those were the first of many steps to be taken. A note of thanks to me friend too for letting me have his dad’s AC/DC and Deep Purple cassettes without even asking his dad. I still have those, Toshi (RIP).
Metal is an art. How many lives have metal saved all because a man can play blistering guitar solos, come up with mindbleepingblowing guitar riffs on a wooden board with steel bars and steel strings? Thousands. How many families have metal brought back from the verge of destruction and given life just because the son/daughter can growl, swing the hair and headbang? Millions. How many millions does it contribute to the country’s economy? Bleepillion dollars! And the fans, the metaheads? See that nerd over there with the Jackie-O type specs and the braces? That’s one of our own. See that girl helping her mother with the grocery marketing wearing a tee with the word “Sacrament”? That’s our metal sister. See that soldier serving his country or that kid helping the elderly dude cross the road? That just a spec.
We, metalheads, unlike the others don’t use mascaras, black nailpolishes, sport golden teeth, wear baggy pants and dangle a 5 kilo gold chain from our necks for identity. We don’t have to pierce our lips, our ears, eyelids, wear gauges and wear skinny jeans or spandex to listen to Necrophagist. We listen to them anyhow, anytime, anywhere. Chuck Schuldiner didn’t need a foot-long stiletto like Gaga to play songs. He headbanged bare footed. Speaking of Lady Gaga, does the law of gravity become stronger wherever she stands or is she really an alien? Paul Balloff and Bon Scott didn’t have to digitally twig their recordings to sound like Beiber or Enrique. We just accepted them as they were. As for your mandatory dancing crew that always accompany JB and Beyonce, we have our own crew and we call ourselves headbangers and headbanging is what we do.
Underestimating the power of metal and metalheads will only guarantee you a rude awakening when you find your favorite boy bands missing from the billboard charts. Where is Westlife? Where is Boyzone? Where is Blue and Backstreet Boys? In fact where the hell is everybody? Want to push the panic button? Go ahead, press the button. Lemme know if any of your guys show up, be it Nick or Shane or Mark or Steven or the rest. While for us, we still have Lemmy Kilminster alive, Iron Maiden are still the legendary troopers and flying aces high, AC/DC is screaming like they are bats outta hell. The world never forgot Ace of Spades. Back in Black is omnipresent. Iron Maiden entered the brave new world with “Brave New World” and Judas Priest, still the metal gods. They were very much alive at the recent American Idol 2011. So where’s your N’SYNC and Shaggy? I didn’t see no Boyz II Men either. Maybe they didn’t receive as much energy as we did back then, do now and forever. Metal is immortal. We never lost our old warlords and warhorses. We are forever marching with them to the Silver Mountain. The loyalists altogether themselves become the torch bearers under the watchful eyes of the old warlords and the baton is relayed.
The next generation being Megadeth, Anthrax, Testament, Slayer, Death. They’re still here today, matter of fact, getting only stronger. The new progenies are Evile, Savage Messiah, Bonded by Blood, Warbringer, Warpath, Gama Bomb, Diamond Plate and the likes. Who the bleep is Bullet for My Valentine? What the hell is Avenged Sevenfold? In fact what is metalcore? No wonder Joe Stump called it horseshit. I apologize for Metallica though, ladies and gentlemen. Agreed they are the pioneers of thrash metal but where’s the technicality in their works? Lars is literally the laziest drummer in the world and Kirk Hammet will be rendered helpless if you take away the Cry Baby and the one scale he knows. Too bad Cliff died early but good for him that he didn’t live to see the embarrassment that Metallica is bringing into the metal community. Metal militias were shocked when “St Anger” was released. It was pure molestation and a disgrace upon the tribe. My deepest regrets for Slash as well. No doubt he inspired many but take away the pentatonic and the wah-wah pedal, what can he do? Even the opening riff in “Sweet Child O’ Mine” will be missing. But with all due respect to all of them, you can take away AX7 and the metalcore and screamo bands and convert them into boybands. I’m sure they will be better than Westlife and 98 Degrees...just so I can watch their demise.
Coming to the technical aspects, don’t you just love when the alternate picking session begins? Goosebumps all over the body. Pantera’s groovy riffs make you sway and groove which is a gazillion times better than PCD’s “Sway”. Iron Maiden’s galloping guitar rhythms makes you feel like you’re riding the horses and marching into the battle against the faggots. Tremolo picking is to metal what spinach is to Popeye. Whammy bar has the same effects as Viagra and arpeggios induce ecstasies. Triplet time signatures give you a mental orgasm every time. And by guitarists I mean the monsters like Dimebag Darrell, Jason Becker, Dave Mustaine, Randy Rhoads, John Petrucci, Nuno Bettencourt, Muhammed Suiçmez, Mark Morton, Zakk Wylde, Michael Angelo Batio, Joe Stump and Rusty Cooley.
Who forgets the thumping bass? The architect of rhythm and backbone for any metal band. Alex Webster of Cannibal Corpse can saw away whatever and whenever he wants on the bass. It fills the gaps within the songs and weaves the part together beautifully. When I say bassists, I mean the real bassists like Rex Brown, Steve Harris, Lemmy Kilminster and Alex Webster to name a few. Rex Brown like any real metal bassist was the trusted lieutenant of the awesome, highly technical, often drunk and the very funny Dimebag Darrell, the legend himself. Steve Harris never fails to make his presence known with his triplets, strings slapping on the fret boards and he gets to have the best moments onstage when he shoots the Maiden fans with his Fender. The luckiest person onstage. Lemmy is time and time is Lemmy. Lemmy is never dying. His sloppy, grungy, bold basslines are as legendary as the legend himself.
Metal never sets out on a journey without a trusty skinsman. Vinnie Paul, the pedal-to-the-metal guy, George Kollias, the Greek God of Drums, Nicko McBrain, the one-bass-one-pedal-can-compete-with-double-bass-drummers guy and of course the robot programmed to play drums, the machine himself, Tomas Haake. You get chills when you listen to Vinnie Paul’s footwork in “Fucking Hostile”, “Primal Concrete Sledge”, “The Art of Shredding”..in fact everything and he is among the firsts to introduce the triplet time signatures in drum history. Nicko “The Funny Man” McBrain gives double bass drummers a run for money when he sits behind the kit. Each song he has played on is a masterpiece. The entire album of “Brave New World” itself is a drumming masterpiece. If the Greeks had a drum god, it’d be George Kollias, the 280+ bpm drummer, the killer blast beats. And if you think you’ve seen and heard everything there is to drums and drummers, just listen to Meshuggah’s “Bleed” and listen to Haake’s robotic feet at work.
Who leads the army to the battle? The vox, the frontman. From the screams of Brian Johnson to the operatic voice of Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson and Goeff Tate to Chuck Schuldiner screaming death to Dave Mustaine’s snarls to Phil Anselmo and Randy Blythe’s in-your-face voice to the gruffy Lemmy Kilminster to Jorn Lande with the manliest voice on earth.
Now you have an army of metalheads that can take on any army be it Alexander’s army or Napoleon’s point blank canons or the Third Reich’s panzer divisions or USA’s entire naval fleet or USAF. Metal can take on anything, anyone, anywhere, anytime, anyhow.
Metal taught me to be loyal, determined, never say never, faithful, love for the art and a sense of belonging. Metal took away my fears and anger. It soothed my dispirited soul and injected a spirited soul in me. Metal took away my burdens and gave me energy instead. It gave me the courage to stand up on my own, to dust off myself and say “Who cares” when I failed. Metal taught me to be real and not pretentious. Metal told me it was okay to look the way I looked, okay the way I sounded, the way I walked and the way I bathroom-sang. Metal taught me to plunge into the unknown and still come out in one piece. Metal made me sleep. It is my alternative to all the life destroying substances. Metal taught me how to kill time. Metal taught me how to approach a total stranger and share a few bottles of beer regardless of how he looked, spoke or what he wore.
Metal does to me what faith does. That is not to say metal is my substitute for religion but my faith and my metal are parallel universes and neither can substitute the other. Both must exist and I have the best of both the worlds. Metal cradled me and nurtured me. Metal made me the man I am today and above all metal told me to be me by saying “Be Yourself By Yourself”. In the end, you may say shit about metal and me but I like what I like no matter what the world says because metal doesn’t care and metal is me.