There are many hidden pleasures in being a metalhead. That moment where you start talking to a stranger and realize he actually knows that Peter Steele was in Carnivore before he was in Type O Negative. The moment where you are at the gym and you see a person on the workout machine next to you wearing a Carcass Heartwork tee-shirt. That feeling you get when you are watching a bad, 1980s made-for-television movie about high school and notice one of the extras wearing a jacket with a giant Nuclear Assault patch on the back. You’ll meet a ton of people throughout your life who think metal is nothing more than bad hairstyles, ripped up jeans and “Enter Sandman”, but that moment when you really feel the presence of another member of our bizarre little community is truly a compelling experience.
There is another type of joy that being a metalhead can produce. Very few things are as invigorating as the feeling of completely freaking out unsuspecting strangers with your music and all of the insane, preposterous imagery that surrounds it. A bunch of senior citizens walk by you in the mall. They notice you rocking that vintage Cannibal Corpse “Eaten Back To Life” shirt and quickly avert their eyes. You imagine them wandering around Sears twenty minutes later muttering about how society is in the brink of collapse and decrying the death of all that is sacred and humane.
I’ll admit, it’s a bit of a cheap thrill, but there are some days that this sort of savage and surreal amusement can fill you with a genuine zest for life. Over the years, I’ve learned how to create and actively seek out these sorts of situations. I’ve experimented with many different methods of achieving this sort of “gore-vana”, in some cases with disastrous consequences. However, the one sure-fire place I know I can count on creating a minute or two of total metal-induced awkwardness and not be forced to spend an evening in the county lock-up is at the drive-thru window at fast food restaurants.
You drive up to the window with the first track of Suffocation’s “Effigy of the Forgotten” (Liege of Inveracity) booming through your speakers. The person working there has probably spent most of the day having their humanity completely ignored or, even better, being scolded by vengeful, self-righteous morons deeply scarred by the fact that two weeks ago the Wendy’s forgot to include packets of ketchup with their Value Meal. They are in that mode we so often see in consumer cultures, where the employee is simply treading water in the hopes of surviving the low wages and disrespect that are supposed to one day connect them to that shining pot of gold that politicians and suckers like to refer to as The American Dream.
Then you come along, blasting Frank Mullen’s doglike vocals and Mike Smith’s demented blast beats. That blank stare quickly changes into an expression of total confusion. What sort of person listens to this madness on purpose? Is this person a psychopath who feeds on the blood-curdled screams of the children locked in the trunk of his car? What does this unshaven weirdo hear in this music that I can’t?
You are the great and frightening Other. The Alien. The one who awakens them from their post-capitalist, slumbering nightmare for a brief second in order that they have something to post about on Twitter before they collapse into the awful sameness of reality television and quiet rage.
Over the years, I’ve accumulated a few songs that I believe are perfect for these moments. If you are having a boring afternoon and want a little more adventure in your life, try blaring one of these the next time you are picking up a cheeseburger. (For added effect, wear corpsepaint and sing along loudly and off key)
10. Anything From Gorguts-Obscura. I say anything because, as much as I love that album, I have no idea of the difference between any of the songs. (This also applies to most pre-2000s black metal)
9. Vader-Decapitated Saints. Those fast, indecipherable vocals are great, particularly if you are able to bug your eyes out and work up one of those Charles Manson looking stares.
8. Misfits-Bullet (Before you start whining about the whole it’s not metal, it’s punk thing, please understand that I find that conversation almost absurd and pointless as listening to someone describe how to properly prepare hog maws) The lyrics from this one are bound to at least elicit a smirk from your mark. Particularly when you get to the part where he starts saying, well, you know….
7. Slayer-Altar of Sacrifice. This one is a bit tricky. It involves timing. If you can manage to have Araya bellowing “Enter To The Realm of Satan!!!” right as you are presented with your jumbo-sized Diet Coke, you will achieve maximum effect.
6. Metallica-Creeping Death. Same as above except you need to sync it up with “DIE…BY MY HAND!!!”.
5. Suffocation-Liege of Inveracity. We’ve discussed this.
4. Manowar-Black, Wind, Fire and Steel. It’s not the most intimidating song on this list by a long shot, but something about that note Eric Adams holds for a half an hour at the end of the song really works for the situation.
3. Cannibal Corpse-Hammer Smashed Face I’ve tried many different options when it comes to inducing Cannibal Corpse freakouts, but for my money, this is the one that produces the most terror.
2. Morbid Angel-Hatework Part 70s horror film score, part growl from the depths of Hell, this song has a way of leaving lasting scars on the uninitated. For years, I used the last three minutes of God of Emptiness, but this seems to make more of an impact.
1. Deicide-Dead By Dawn This song, by far, has gotten me the most perplexed, stupefied looks. Glen Benton isn’t good for much, but making some high school wage slave drop a Frosty all over the register is an area in which he excels.