Rarely do I ever tell the truth on this website. As a matter of fact, the purpose of the site is to declare war on the asinine construction that we have termed reality. However, I feel an unnatural obligation to level with you this morning. I write all sorts of terrible things about strangers, why shouldn’t I write an article that entirely discredits myself as a metalhead and in the process alienates a good 2/3rds of the audience?
I’m going to admit to a few things in this article that may make you uncomfortable. They are all horribly true. I make no apologies for myself. I know what I like and what I don’t like. Unfortunately, many things I like are terribly embarrassing. The awful truth is…I’m a poser.
7. My favorite Judas Priest song is from the Ripper Owens era
Not many people have given the Ripper Owens years their just due. Two excellent studio albums from a vocalist who only years earlier was covering “Turbo Lover” in front of 12 Clevelanders on open mic Mondays. On the first of those albums, he recorded the song “Cathedral Spires” which is one of the most incredible pieces of music I’ve ever heard. He’s not Rob Halford, but besides Rob Halford, who is?
I know the correct answer is to say something from the Halford era like “Hell Patrol” or “Dissident Aggressor” in order to prove the depth of my Judas Priest knowledge. Or I could claim it is “Metal Gods” or “Electric Eye” and rail on about how one of these songs found me at a low point in my life and changed me at a spiritual level. But, truthfully, while I love all of the aforementioned songs, I’ll take Spires any day of the week.
6. I’ve listened to more Tangerine Dream in the past year than Iron Maiden and Slayer combined
I know as a metalhead I’m supposed to get on bended knee every morning and thank Odin that the gods deemed us worthy of hearing Bruce Dickinson howl the chorus to “Aces High”. Every moment of my waking life should be devoted to air drumming the fills from “Seasons in The Abyss”. I’ve listened to these records a million times. People would get sick of ice cream if they ate it everyday for twenty years. These, and many other albums critical to “the metal experience”, bore me to tears at this point. I’m much more interested in exploring music I’m less familiar with than sacrificing more of my time on The Altar of True Metal.
5. I have no idea what is happening in most black metal songs (“The Emperor Has No Corpsepaint” hypothesis)
There are about eight black metal songs I like. As much as I respect the fact that musicians who play this style of music are capable of producing noises that resemble a walrus with indigestion, I can’t say I really know what on earth they are doing. As a matter of fact, I have a theory that no one actually likes black metal all that much. We pretend to because we don’t want to be the one person who admits they don’t see the appeal in a bunch of grown men dressing up like the Wyrd Sisters from Macbeth, shrieking about their love Yog-Sothoth.
4. I really don’t care when legendary heavy metal figures die
I feel bad for everyone who personally knew and loved Dio, Hanneman and Dime. They lost real flesh and blood humans in their lives. However, the outpouring of RIPing that comes out of people based on the passing of people that they don’t know is staggering. I have no doubt that these people and many others had a huge impact on the genre and probably wrote a song or two that made a bad day better, but come on. People die constantly. Everywhere. It’s the one thing human beings are consistently good at. Turning a genuine tragedy for the friends and family of a person you don’t know into your own because the musician wrote a few riffs you liked is grotesque and bizarre. Life is miserable enough without parachuting into someone else’s misfortune.
3. Don’t Call Me Your Brother, Cause I Ain’t Your @#%^ing Brother
This whole “Brotherhood of Metal” thing is hysterical. I meet people all the time I can’t stand. Including metalheads. Generally, I have a low threshold of tolerance for morons, whether they have the first Overkill album or not. The minute you start mentally tormenting some sock-brained metalhead online for spouting off nonsense that would embarrass a self-aware 7 year old or telling some guy with a Deicide tee-shirt that his children will probably have hooves, one schmuck invariably chimes in with the “why can’t metalheads get along” nonsense. Here’s why…because the number of mouth breathing idiots in the metal community is equal to the amount of inarticulate dolts in the world at large. This isn’t kindergarten. I don’t have to be nice to someone because we both happen to like Sepultura.
2a. I dread going to metal concerts
I really don’t like to leave my house much anyway, but the idea of being crammed into a really loud, dimly lit room smelling the armpits of beer soaked strangers is a fate worse than death for me. Usually, the music is way too loud and I get aggravated waiting through opening bands which are often as entertaining as cholera. I was so bored watching Zakk Wylde at OzzFest I actually fell asleep. Which was significantly more enjoyable than having the guy next to me either A. ask me whether I think Phil Anselmo is back on the heroin or B. Tell me about the time he saw so and so open for so and so in some backwater, lice infested bar way before anyone had ever heard of them.
2b. The whole moshing thing embarrassing
Concerts are expensive and, as noted above, banal, disgusting experiences. The single worst part about them is having to spend the time I’d like to take watching a band I came out to see and dedicating it to not having my feet stepped on by some neo-Cro-Magnon lummox who, instead of hashing out his troubles in group therapy, has decided that running headlong into a group of equally troubled delinquents is a way to release the demons.
People talk about mosh pits like they are mystical experiences (“I’ll never forget the night back in 1987 when we made The Wall of Death at a Nuclear Assault concert”). Really, it’s just a bunch of people running around and bumping into each other with mean looks on their faces. It’s not all that different from Black Friday at Target.
1. I Don’t Mind The Last Morbid Angel Album
I debated putting this in here, because to be honest, admitting this is the equivalent of telling a beautiful woman you are interested in that in your free time you like to make masks out of human skin and paint using other people’s blood. This album was so universally panned by critics and fans alike that you would have thought it featured Kevin Costner with gills. I’ve made fun of it on several occasions. If Mother Theresa was still alive, she’d have made fun of it.
I remember reading this interview with David Vincent after the album came out where he said some preposterous thing like “you don’t know it yet, but this will end up being your favorite Morbid Angel album.” I couldn’t even believe he could get that out with a straight face. Yet, honestly, every time that silly “crossing the line since 1989” song comes on my iPod, I end up listening to the whole thing. I don’t even mind the “Destructos” song. Or the one where he starts babbling in Spanish. I’ve listened to those songs much more frequently than I’ve busted out anything else by them…so maybe he had a point.
#1 by Fried Chicken And Metal on April 23, 2014 - 11:45 AM
RIP Blak Dan… he’s not all that different from Black Friday at Target.
#2 by Keith Spillett on April 23, 2014 - 11:46 AM
BlaK Dan is alive. He’s been cryogenically frozen and expects to be awoken for the new Necrophagist album.
#3 by Nick on April 23, 2014 - 12:21 PM
I can relate as well. I think the “brotherhood” thing is stupid. Its just music. I like Pizza. Do I consider other people who like pizza part of a “pizza brotherhood”? Concerts I could do without as well. Nothing like being crammed like a sardine against a bunch of drunk stinky sweaty dudes..No thanks.
#4 by Keith Spillett on April 23, 2014 - 1:16 PM
I want Manowar to write a song called “Brothers of True Pizza”. That’s a brilliant analogy. I’ll probably be stealing it when I explain this idea from now on.
#5 by goldfish on April 23, 2014 - 3:18 PM
You should be ashamed! ASHAMED! says the girl who dissed metal in favor of punk through most of the 80s.
And I’m totally with you on #4 and 5.
#6 by Keith Spillett on April 23, 2014 - 3:45 PM
I am The Elephant Man of Heavy Metal.
I notice you are not with me on the Morbid Angel thing. Which is good. No one should be.
#7 by victoriagrimalkin on April 23, 2014 - 5:15 PM
All I can say is I love you, Bro. You have validated my loathing of crowds, especially loud, smelly crowds. Although I am unfamiliar with most of the bands you mention, I can relate to your revelations in so many ways. I am a secret Christian who lurks among pagans, witches and outright atheists on line, but I still like progressive metal and I still listen to Jean Luc Ponty and even Enya (though rarely).
#8 by Keith Spillett on April 23, 2014 - 7:51 PM
Ha! Thanks Victoria. Groucho had it right when he said, “I’d never want to be part of a club that would have me as a member.” I’m not sure if this quote really applies here and I’m not sure I can even find an argument I can shoehorn around it, but I think it every time I think about crowds. And body odor. And noise.
#9 by Curtis Hunt on April 23, 2014 - 5:56 PM
I appreciate the honesty here, If you dont enjoy those long established aspects of the genre. thats ok, you dont have to, honestly I’ve always kind of found it funny when people stick the “RULES” of a “SCENE”, like a mad religious zealot,its bullshit. If you dont like moshing, dont mosh, you dont like slayer, dont listen to slayer. But to come out like your being victimized by a community of passionate enthusiasts, is super shitty. You dont owe anything to metal, and it doesn’t owe you. So dont shit on the people who embrace all the nonsensical tribal behavior, as if your on some higher plane watching the peons in their meager existance. If you particaipated in anything that attracts the disaffected, the wounded, the lost. yea your bound to take a few ear beatings by an overly enthusiastic fan who may not be equipped with the best of social skills.
how dare they call you brother, right? why try to reach out a friendly hand to another patron of metal. we should all stand quietly picking at our fucking phones while the band sees all our disinterested faces standing shoulder to shoulder while still being miles away from each other starring at digital distraction, or writing about how shit the place is on our personal soapboxes.
If you want to reject the world of metal fine, thats ok. if you want to enjoy it casually, thats ok. its not a cult.
But dont shit on the people that still love it and live it.
#10 by Keith Spillett on April 23, 2014 - 6:57 PM
I think everything you say is completely reasonable and mostly true. Everybody does have a right to their own illusion without some misanthropic writer telling them their illusion is stupid. Extremely fantastic reply. Thanks for a well expressed counter argument.
#11 by Bo Bandy on April 23, 2014 - 6:32 PM
2/3? I feel you were a wee bit generous with that assessment but I’ve been told a million times to stop exaggerating, so who am I to judge. As for some of my observations on your essay.
7) Whom indeed but Rob Halford is Rob Halford? Ripper did an admirable job of filling iconic shoes and if you prefer him, that’s your prerogative. I’m certain Blaze Bailey has some who prefer him over Bruce. I’d view them with a little more critically but at the end of the day, it’s subjective.
6) I have been on a Three Dog Night, Bread, America, Bee Gees rut lately so I understand your point about exploring things outside the ‘realm of metallic acceptability’. I don’t think I would ever get tired of ice cream (or metal in this metaphor) but I fully acknowledge that after a break from genre, revisiting it makes it even more enjoyable.
5) regarding the pretension of Black Metal. I see your point and as a 47 year old adult, I do realize how ridiculous most of it looks (and sounds) but there are some notable exceptions that prevent me from dismissing the whole genre.
4) As you stated so eloquently, death IS the great equalizer. I liked the parachute analogy. It was very clever but celebrities of every persuasion make is feel like we know them personally. This lop sided phenomenon is not limited to metal, nor is it logical but surely you have been saddened when someone you admired passed prematurely (if for no other reason than the fact that their death ended the hope of more musical admiration from them. (To be continued)
#12 by Bo Bandy on April 23, 2014 - 6:52 PM
3) the “mouth breathing idiots” comment was both funny and sad. Funny because I agree, but sad because your level of misanthropy is even more pronounced than mine… and that jaded attitude denies the camaraderie for you that the ‘brotherhood’ still holds for me on small measures.
2) Every year I go to less concerts myself. Somewhat due to adult responsibilities, somewhat due to age and lastly because I dislike much of what the underground has become. It was always misfits and miscreants but intermixed within the rabble were some extremely cool people. That’s probably still the case but I just don’t have the enthusiasm to pursue it like I did before. The “lummox” jab was right on the money. One day I realized I spent more time looking at the skinheads and stooges ( and skinhead stooges) than I did watching the show. Several broken ribs from being at the edge of the pit when it expanded as I was unaware, created a lifelong paranoia of it. I’d gladly go back to the age of sedentary ‘head banging’ where the worst thing you might expect is getting whipped by someone’s hair. Black Friday indeed.
1) Once I got past expecting Covenant or Domination part 2, I began to appreciate what the last Morbid Angel was. It was entertaining. There are 4 or 5 songs I think are great, 2 or 3 I feel are decent and a couple I usually reach for the ‘next’ button on. I’m not ashamed to say I like it. I like it a lot. I still would like a Covenant part 2, but that’s what fans usually do. If they liked something, they want a second helping… Or tenth.
#13 by Keith Spillett on April 23, 2014 - 6:55 PM
I liked your review of the article more than I liked the article! Thanks for your considered and well articulated opinion on this.
#14 by Bo Bandy on April 23, 2014 - 7:04 PM
And I liked your article more than my review… (Too many typos that I don’t have the strength to fix) but I admire your writing style and how you express yourself. Plus ‘Shit sandwich’ was already taken… Haha
#15 by Keith Spillett on April 23, 2014 - 7:38 PM
Ha! Thanks Bo!
#16 by Gage O'Brien on April 23, 2014 - 8:16 PM
I’m glad I’m not the only Tim Owens fan. I loved those albums he sang on in Iced Earth.
#17 by Keith Spillett on April 23, 2014 - 8:33 PM
I like when people call him Tim. It illustrates how funny it is when an adult man is referred to as “Ripper”. I’ll tell you what…he’s a hell of a great singer. I loved The Glorious Burden. He rocked that album.
#18 by Jezebel Decibel on April 24, 2014 - 5:57 AM
Totally agree with Cathedral Spires! I love live music but I want noone to disturb me headbanging in the frontline. Moshing is for short-haired (and often short-brained) people who cannot swing their hair. Those are not my brothers!
#19 by Jimi on April 24, 2014 - 9:37 AM
Great piece. Wholeheartedly agree with all of it, so I won’t be using the insult form letter… just yet. 🙂
#20 by Keith Spillett on April 24, 2014 - 9:58 AM
#21 by Ays on April 24, 2014 - 4:34 PM
Black Metal isn’t for everyone. Just to let you know Black Metal isn’t about wearing corpsepaint, playing as fast as you can, and screaming about satan. Black Metal is so much more and way more diverse than any other kind of metal. That’s why it’s my fav kind of music. Just because you don’t get it doesn’t mean other people don’t.
#22 by Keith Spillett on April 24, 2014 - 5:03 PM
It’s interesting. I’ve had some people email me pretty impressive arguments for why black metal is worth spending time with. I’ve been somewhat compelled by this and am willing to keep an open mind to it.
I promise not to make fun of black metal any more than I make fun of other genres of metal.
#23 by Ays on April 25, 2014 - 5:14 AM
Look up the following bands: Dissection, Windir, Vreid, Enslaved, Woods of Ypress, Siebenbürgen, Catamenia, Boknagar, Deathlike Dissonance, and Naglfar. That would be a good start.
#24 by Keith Spillett on April 25, 2014 - 5:49 AM
Actually, the first Borknagar album is one of the few black metal albums I truly love. First Dissection album has 2 great songs. I like about 2 Enslaved songs. Have heard a bit of each of the rest (except Deathlike Dissonance) and thought they were decent but not all that memorable.
Ever heard Spite Extreme Wing? While their politics are remarkably dumb, they have an album called “Vltra” which, to me, is the template for how Black Metal could sound if it wanted to really get folks like me hooked.
#25 by hippocampusomphaloskepsis on May 2, 2014 - 8:06 AM
Sorry I’m late to the party.
This is one of my favourite articles from you. I can relate to most of this, even if just in principle (eg. I’m not with you on the specifics of 1, 6 & 7).
6) I definitely know the weird pressure on metalheads to constantly dote on various cornerstone bands, despite how much more rewarding it is to follow one’s own flake-ish whims, even if that involves going off the well-travelled path into the non-metal wilderness. It took me a while to get over the disdain I cause by eg. caring more about jazz and swing at this point than Pantera.
There are still Slayer and Sabbath albums I know nothing about, but I rest assured that they’re probably good or at least passable. That being the case, it’s more fun to explore the totally unknown. Life is just far too exciting.
5) I love black metal, but I can never explain why succinctly or without sounding like an uncritical douche. However, I promise you I do. Even so, my fandom gives way to weird behaviours like utterly loving a black metal album, yet never caring to hear it again, and having a vast black metal collection yet few favourites. Odd though this may be for other genres/subgenres, this is just how it seems to go for black metal. For me at least. I have no explanation for this.
I don’t think I’m refusing to see the Emperor’s corpsepaintlessness, as I find my breed of black metal fandom alienates me more than anything else. Am I a contrarian then? At this point I tend to lose my train of thought, wander onto my balcony, have a smoke, wander back in, make some coffee, get back to my desk and start blasting Windir’s ‘1184’. Black metal.
3) If there is a metal ‘brotherhood’, I’d like to think the common denominator is not singular bands or even any general approach to music/life, but more a non-specific, affectionate glow that connects and surrounds strong characters in a strange land. Much like the bacteria that see it fit to hang around suboceanic volcanic craters that are totally inhospitable to most other life forms, or the parasitic worms that can think of nothing better than to burrow through your skin and navigate through your veins to lay eggs in your liver. At some point, one of them is gonna turn to their neighbour and say: “Hey! …I get it”. Nothing more than that though. My reasoning is fairly disorganised at this point.
I hope I have eased at least as much mental anguish as I have caused, but suspect otherwise.
This is a brave article. I dig the honesty. I love the uniqueness of this blog.
#26 by Every Record Tells A Story on May 3, 2014 - 6:28 PM
Keep the faith. RIP Ronnie James Dio.
But the reason you don’t like mosh pits is that you’re just getting old. Man up.
#27 by Keith Spillett on May 3, 2014 - 8:13 PM
That is completely 100 percent true. I loved them when I was 18. Now, I couldn’t think of anything worse.
#28 by Every Record Tells A Story on May 3, 2014 - 6:29 PM
Good article btw
#29 by dannyemills on May 11, 2014 - 4:30 PM
I love the site, bloody hilarious and terribly readable but in relation to this article I don’t understand the allegations of misanthropy (either from others or yourself) – because a true misanthrope would neither set up this website, bother to write anything on it, nor be so honest (if you are to be taken at face value in this particular case) and self-reflexive about the context of what’s written here. I agree with most of it in principle if not in content. A misanthrope would not no easily accept the judgements of others. And maybe we can be a temporary misanthrope.
An ’emperor’s clothes’ mentality is always part of the mix when people subscribe so whole-heartedly to a ‘genre’ of lifestyle – there’s no room for a discerning taste for fear of rejection for transgressing boundaries of membership.
Interestingly – the online dictionary says that ‘misanthrope’ is often mistaken for ‘asociality’ which I think is much more appropriate. Why can we not all get a little disenchanted with certain elements of life, other people – society, without being labelled something or designated as ‘being something’. Most of the time we are just ‘be-ing’
Little philosophical but I’ve made my point!
P.S. the Danzig article is one of the funniest things I’ve read!
#30 by Keith Spillett on May 11, 2014 - 4:45 PM
An absolutely thought proving, brilliantly analyzed view of what has gone on here. I really need time to think through what you wrote because I’m thinking about it in a way close to yours but with some nuances that are slightly different.
I know I don’t know you but I’d like to ask you a favor. If you have time, I’d love for your feedback on a few other articles on the site. I’m not trying to drive up page numbers and don’t sell ads but it would profit greatly as a writer and thinker. Would you be willing to look through a few other articles on the site and give me your experience of them like you did with this one. I think we are close in thought and I trying to understand better whether I can derive a clear meaning for myself as to find a more efficient way to get those ideas across. No pressure, but your response really hit me for several reasons.
If it is something you can do, great, if not, I understand. Life gets busy.
Thank you your kind words and genuine questioning of the meaning of the article.
#31 by dannyemills on May 11, 2014 - 5:26 PM
Absolutely I’d be happy to. I’m doing a social research masters which involves a lot of philosophy particular to our experiences of and in (or outside) society – it’s really helping me to describe, clarify and discuss a lot of these complicated and/or interesting ideas in more depth. Please subscribe to my word-press if you’re a member. Always good to explore ideas with people who like ‘thinking about stuff’.
#32 by Keith Spillett on May 12, 2014 - 5:35 AM
Thanks!!! I subscribed and when things slow down a bit this week, I’m looking forward to reading your work!
#33 by Idi 'Big Daddy' Amin on June 15, 2014 - 3:57 AM
Love the Carnivore reference.
I wholeheartedly agree about mosh pits. They were fun when I was fifteen and possessed of the perceived invincibility inherent to every teenager, but now I’m in my late twenties and my body’s just hitting the onramp of the physical degeneration freeway, they’re about as enjoyable as accidentally falling off a cliff. And surviving. Lost count of the amount of gigs that’ve been ruined by palaeolithic ham-beasts smashing their bulk about during particularly beefy riffs.
My own confession isn’t so much embarrassing as bizarre: you mentioned Priest’s “Hell Patrol”, and I cannot hear so much as that song’s title without being reminded of “Love Patrol” by the Dooleys. Right down to picturing Halford and the boys stepping forward in a line and doing the Dooley lasses’ little salute. Find the song on YouTube, wait for the chorus and you’ll see what I mean.
I apologise in advance for ruining “Hell Patrol” for you.