For me: Heavy Music means Stress Management
“Whoever said metal music makes everyone angry obviously can’t see the smile on my face”
The above quote is actually verbatim of something I said to a friend recently. I would like to start by placing emphasis on two important things. For the sake of this blog entry, “aggressive music” is a very general and vague term. For decades, labels and genres such as “metal” or “aggressive” are almost obsessively debated. Labels are often overused, although they will continue to be used to describe music, movies, etc. By referring it as “heavy” music, I’m stating a vague sound that is likely the source of energy from various sources. It can be frustration for some, hurt for others, and the list goes on and on. Generalizing it allows it to be whatever you consider heavy, though I will likely cite various artists. Secondly, as with any group of people, there are members of the “metal” (or hard rock, heavy, etc) who aren’t an accurate representation of the community as a whole.
Although metal/heavy music arguably crossed over into mainstream in the late 90s/early 00s, how it was accepted doesn’t entirely meet the common definition of acceptance. In my opinion, this is a good thing. Emotionally driven music, loud at times or often, reaching more listeners and fans isn’t a bad thing. As with any kind of music, if a listener doesn’t like something, it can simply be turned to something else. Like anyone, there are forms of music that resemble an ultra-slow needle into my ear. However, the artists and fans of any form of music that may irritate you deserve fair respect. One reason it’s warranted is that, obviously, it is art. Over the centuries and beyond, art has a long-standing reputation for sometimes expressing something that many don’t appreciate being expressed. This blog entry will undoubtedly change nothing in that respect. However, that is the point of art. If all art was created equal and pigeon-holed into what only “most” people want, then what is the point if it is not expressing truth and honesty? Although, there is the argument and counterarguments that art and what is decent or “socially acceptable” likely dates all the way back to Ancient Egypt and beyond.
Many years ago, I worked as a line cook in a particular bar and grill for over eight years. Waking up before the sun in many cases and throwing in a Biohazard disc (example) and listening to “Five Blocks To The Subway” (off 1994’s State Of The World’s Address) not only helped wake me up but enough to walk in to work cheery which possibly improved another person’s day. This is aside from the fact of the song depicting the dangers and realities of living in Brooklyn, NY. The album also features “Remember” which is very openly dedicated to those who served in Vietnam, horrors they faced, and the treatment vets came home to. Another true life example of the emotional benefits of heavy music is such with Soulfly‘s “First Commandment” (featuring Chino Moreno of Deftones), which is based on Soulfly’s frontman Max Cavalera (ex-Sepultura, Cavalera Conspiracy), whose stepson Dana Wells was killed in a (still unsolved) hit and run car accident. Soulfly’s “Bleed” (featuring Fred Durst), “Pain” (featuring Chino Moreno, Grady Avenell) as well as each “Soulfly” (song) version that appears on every album in memory of Dana “D-Low” Wells. Deftones’ also recorded (with Cavalera) “Headup”, also in memory of Dana. For over 16 years, the annual D-Low Festival, honoring Dana, has taken place for the community to enjoy music together.
- Bands have included
- Incite (featuring Richie Cavalera)
- Lody King
- Sacred Reich
- Cavalera Conpsiracy
- Dillinger Escape Plan
Machine Head also advocated the dangers and slavery of drugs on their debut album Burn My Eyes with “I’m Your God Now”, which was written for a friend who had died of a drug overdose. Bullet For My Valentine‘s “Dirty Little Secrets” has a lead-in to their closing (approximately 3:17-4:10) that has a beautiful mix of power chords that makes me want to jump on a speaker with a smile and feel proud to just be myself. The point I’m trying to make is that we all have musical preferences and most of us have a type of music that makes us cringe, but there’s far more to heavy music than just screaming, being “angry”(accusation), and encouraging “violence” (accusation). The metal community is one of close music fans who can relate to each other, often in a world where nobody understands them. I don’t think even the mainstream crossover has destroyed that beautiful quality. Things do happen unfortunately, and heavy music can be tied into it but country music can also be potentially tied to excessive drinking & driving but I don’t see it as country music causing that. Darkness is just as natural and human as brightness and altruism. Suppressing it, in some cases, seems to only intensify that emotion whatever it may be.
However, in closing, I also believe that when society doesn’t understand heavy music, that’s one of the appealing aspects to it. I also believe that same reason that brought so much freedom and openness to heavy music is why “what is metal” is so often argued upon. In the end, often nobody wins because there isn’t really an answer other than an individual’s perception. By the heavy music community not being overly concerned on what will sell or be a hit seems to bring far more variation and artist freedom. If this is the case and this keeps this type of music unique and ever changing, then I hope that society never understands. Heavy, country, even opera…enjoy what you enjoy, it’s subjective and should be.