I often wonder where the preoccupation people have with Metal comes from, especially in the context of its irony-driven resurgence. Irony, as exhibited by the hipsters at Section 8, tends to be motivated mostly by nostalgia. When you’re ten years old, you wear totally dorky clothes. Then, when you’re in your teenage years and desperate to fit in, you strive to wear the trendiest (and I use that term very precisely) clothes you can find and/or afford. But then, when you hit your mid twenties, you look back on the clothes you wore when you were ten with a fondness that eventually becomes a fashion statement. You’re proud of your dorky jumper, because, lets face it, you liked yourself a lot more when you were ten, and are pretty keen to get that kind of self-love back into your life.
Actually, that leads me to another observation. We only really start to view our preteen years through this rosy glow once we’re out in the workforce. I guess it’s only after drudging our way to work at 9am every weekday morning for three or four years that the appeal of laying around listening to Ride The Lightning over and over again like we did when we were twelve really becomes apparent. Before those three or four years I guess we just thought we were bored. Which, you know, we were.
This ironic / hilarious appreciation of Metal bothers me for another reason, however. It’s essentially dishonest. When you’re twelve and listening to Metallica’s black album for the first time you’re not thinking about how ridiculous the lyrics or the homoerotic poses are. No, when you’re walking around listening to Unforgiven on your crappy walkman for the fifteenth time in a row, you’re not down with that kind of analysis in the slightest. No, there’s no irony here, just empathy. At this point, you’re just stoked that there is someone else in the world who seems to get it. Who seems to be as fucked up as you, as bummed out as you, as keen to yell and scream at the world as you are. When you’re a teenager the thing you’re craving more than anything is the impression that you’re not in this all on your own – a true cliché – and if you can’t find that camaraderie in your immediate surroundings, well, you’re going to look for it anywhere you can find it. Metal, with its community of fucked up folks, offers only open arms. And when you’re a teenager, you don’t ever consider this sense of belonging ridiculous or hilarious.
I remember reading a while back about that movie Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, and about how Metalheads across the world felt kinda like this – that Metal offered them a community they otherwise lacked. I quite enjoyed that notion, because it’s similar to punk, which I actually grew up with. I like the idea that I can travel halfway across the world and have a passionate conversation with someone who doesn’t speak the same language as me about the first couple of Dead Kennedys records, and fuck, if kids can do the same about which Iron Maiden lineup was the best, well, that can only be a good thing. We have so many things around us that separate us, keep us apart, that anything that brings us together should be considered first and foremost a good thing. Even Metal.
Before I began this diatribe about Metal I thought I’d just scrawl “Fuck Metal, punk’s not dead!” on the back of an old phone bill and scan it into the blog. But this week has been a pretty fucked up week, and I dunno, I guess being obnoxious isn’t holding the same appeal right now. I’m depending on my own music to get me through, and figure it doesn’t really matter what music you run to for shelter. I’m not usually this understanding. But I guess you already know that.