What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word metalhead? If you are not one yourself, you probably imagine a child in an adult’s body, with grimy waist-length hair and perhaps an unkempt beard, who wears faded black band t-shirts and worn jeans. Your mental metalhead might be in a band himself, though if the universe has any sense of justice at all for normal people with a decent taste in music, that band won’t go anywhere, because the members have no musical talent or knowledge, and the vocalist’s definition of singing is an incoherent scream. Perhaps your hypothetical metalhead has dabbled in the occult.
Hi, there. Actual metalhead here. Let me clear up some of the misconceptions you guys seem to have about metal, metal musicians, and their fans.
1) Metal isn’t real music, it’s just noise
First off, “rock ‘n’ roll ain’t noise pollution,” and neither is metal. This might come as a bit of a shocker, but most metal musicians actually know what they’re doing. It is not uncommon to discover, after finding a band one enjoys and researching their history, that many of them actually have training in music. Tarja Turunen and Tuomas Holopainen helped form symphonic metal band Nightwish together after being classmates in school. Floor Jansen, Nightwish’s most recent vocalist, has also studied music. Roy Khan, formerly of Kamelot, studied opera for three years. And those are just a few examples from bands that I personally listen to. As it happens, most metal musicians and singers have taken lessons from an early age; especially the vocalists who scream, as screaming without proper technique can wreck one’s voice (as Mike Hranica from The Devil Wears Prada can testify).
2) Metal is aggressive and incites violence
This is a myth that has been so ingrained in the collective conscious that certain American subcultures (hi Evangelical Christians) believe it as fact, despite evidence to the contrary. Marilyn Manson, in particular, has been implicated as being an inspiration for the Columbine shooting, which is, of course, bullshit if you actually pay attention to his lyrics and look at the lifestyles of the two shooters (contrary to what is apparently popular opinion, they weren’t the outcasts that are Manson’s primary audience). As a matter of fact, there is at least one study I know of that shows that death metal actually inspires joy, and I know for a fact that metalheads around the world are rolling their eyes at anyone who is genuinely surprised by this.
3) Metalheads are dumb rebel teenagers who will eventually grow out of it
…Or, if they don’t, are doomed to live in their parents’ basement into their thirties. Or perhaps they’ll suffer the fate of Jack Black’s School of Rock character Dewey Finn, and, jobless, mooch off of their more successful friends. In reality, this is not the case. Sure, there are thirty-year-old metalheads stuck in their parents’ house, but I don’t think that’s a metal problem so much as a generational and an economic problem. There are plenty of functional adults in the world who are metalheads, and many of them are educated, myself included. Some of them are even successful metalheads, outside of the music industry.
There are plenty more misconceptions and myths about metalheads I could talk about, but this post is already pretty lengthy, and I do have a deadline. Perhaps I’ll do a part two in the future, but for now I must fare thee well. Raise your horns with pride and keep rocking.
*Title is a lyric from Tenacious D’s song “The Metal”