Let’s have an argument.
Heavy Metal is outspoken, impassioned, unapologetic, and brutally honest. This applies to the music, the performers, and the fans. There’s plenty of room for intelligence, poetry, nuance and subtlety in the Metal dialogue, as long as there’s truth behind it, but we’re not going to flinch from any harsh reality. As a tribe, we tend to call ‘em as we see ‘em. Honesty is our only excuse. We’ll give you no bullshit and we’ll never pretend.
So let’s get into it about the subjects that matter most: Iron Maiden’s best singer, AC/DC’s best and worst albums, Bob Rock’s production style; Is Kip Winger a songwriter with integrity or was he just a shirtless “Hair Metal” poseur? Is Lady Gaga a welcome ally or a Pop starlet nuisance? Should King’s X have been a household name? Opeth’s best era? Pantera: underrated/overrated? Jackson, Gibson, Kramer, Fender, Ibanez, B.C.Rich: who makes the best Metal guitars? Is Primus a Metal band? Riki Rachtman, yea or nay? Should King Diamond have left grandma in the asylum (spoiler alert)? What do you mean you like Nickelback?? These are topics worth debating over beers, coffees, or Pepsis.
You know what arguments don’t belong in the Metal community?
Oh, there has absolutely been plenty of political and social commentary in Metal lyrics – – these calls of truth to power and cries of dissidence have always been part of the adhesive that bonds our community together. We grew up frustrated. We’re suspicious of authority. We don’t shy from the unseemly parts of society. And yes, many of our genre figureheads have also been outspoken away from the stage and recording studio: Schmier Fink, Dave Mustaine, Ted Nugent, Tom Morello, and Serj Tarkanian are some of the first activists that come to mind. Metal and music can be agents for social change, and that’s a good thing.
But we can agree or disagree with these guys – – and each other – – and continue to love the music.
And each other.
If an individual artist or band’s views or actions cause you to dismiss them, then that’s fine, but apply that on a person-by-person basis – – and don’t make demands of me about who I should cancel.
If you feel compelled to activism in your life, then wave your banner high (just know what you’re talking about and don’t be a dick). You absolutely should have a stance on the issues affecting society today. Maybe there’s a revolution calling you. Remember though that there are forums for these dialogues: the voting booth, legit activist organizations, other people’s Facebook walls (ha ha). There are places and times to talk about political and social issues. . . just keep that shit out of the areas where we discuss, revere, share, and argue about our beloved Metal music. If you want to brawl over politics (or sports or religion or Star Wars) then take it outside. Be yourself, by yourself, stay away from me.
But really. . . learn to compartmentalize, FFS. Some of you have become “that guy,” and it’s made you a lot less enjoyable to be around. Remember how much happier you were when you weren’t searching for political angles in every fucking song and show and innocent comment? Be engaged, but also enjoy things again and let other people enjoy their things.
To love Metal is to be a part of a community, drawn together by the greatest music on earth.
United, united, united we stand. We are strong, we will always be. We’re ten thousand side by side, not those who laugh and crowd the path and cut each other’s throats. Metal is a band of brothers and sisters, not a fractious community that will infight and fall apart from the inside. Cannot kill the family. We can rage against different machines and still support each other.
This is a call for Metal unity.
We can discuss the cultural significance of “Breaking the Law,” “Peace Sells (But Who’s Buying),” “Paschendale,” “Killing in the Name Of,” “Disposable Heroes,” “Five Minutes Alone,” “War Pigs,” “Stars,” “Greenhouse Effect,” “Territory,” “Blondes in Black Cars,” etc. I’m down to hear your opposing viewpoints, but the minute you switch the tone of the conversation to insults and/or parroted talking points from memes and media hate agents, we’re done. That’s not Metal.
Metal is about power, anger, aggression, rage, abandon, and release (among many other things) – – but it’s largely about standing together against the world, connected by our love of this music. Never cruelty or bullying or fisticuffs. Even if the moshpit gets a little fraught and hypercharged, you pause to help people up when they fall. The good ones do, at least. Confrontation and righteous outrage are common Metal themes, but let’s not forget two other important concepts:
Most of us want nothin’ but a good time (Poison: Metal or not Metal?). Heavy Metal brothers and sisters may have opposing views on some hot-button political topics, but these should not tear us apart.
We are Metal.
We’re bonded by blood.
Jack Mangan is best known in the Metal world as the co-host of the popular Metal Hall of Fame and MetalAsylum.net livestreams with Rich Catino, but he’s also the lead author/project runner for the “Am I Evil?” graphic novel and a journalist with MetalAsylum.net and the official Metal Hall of Fame. In an adjacent life, he was a podcast pioneer, with numerous appearances on Dragon Page, Escape Pod/Pseudopod, and many others, including his own productions: Jack Mangan’s Deadpan, and the Podcast novel, “Spherical Tomi.” Friend him on Facebook if you can find him, but be warned: he’s not great about checking Facebook Messenger.
PS: If you disagree with any or all of the above, then be mad at me, not the Hall. If I offended you? Oh, I’m sorry. – Jack