Metal Mondays: Those Dungeons and Dragons Nerds Are More Sane Than You

Categories: Metal Mondays

jimi-hendrixmetalmonday.jpg
Jimi Hendrix; like Blue Cheer and Sabbath, he may have "invented" heavy metal.
See also: Metal Mondays: New Music From Pantera Calls for a Home-Made Vulgar Display

I don't think I'm alone in saying this, but heavy metal helped make sense of the world when I discovered it as a kid.

It helped me realize that, in general, society is in denial, and gave an outlet for my frustration. It released tiny fists of minimally-damaging fury, and cost lots of allowance money at the record store.

I spent days listening to metal music in guy friends' basements and my girlfriends' cars, intermixed with Sublime and Eminem. I was lost in some time between the Parental Advisory stickers and "metal is the devil" lawsuits, and the modern metal we have today. Sure, there are plenty of red-flag waving parents about metal today, but the genre has plenty of competition in the parental worry department. Shootings at hip-hop shows and the fear that pop music star breakdowns with psychologically warp young minds are just as prevalent.

But hey, every genre has problems. I think metal musicians just choose to welcome these shave-your-head, snort-an-eight-ball meltdowns in a more private setting -- like backstage. Because biting bat heads off and enacting bloody decapitations is sooo Eighties, obviously.

With that in mind, I feel compelled to explain how I think that heavy metal brings a sense of saneness to the world, and how everyone can benefit from it on some level. While last week's Metal Monday was a whiskey-drenched mosh pit recorded in my bedroom as a Pantera music video tryout, this week I'd want to express how metal can be a refuge of sanity in a crazy world. (Minus the fact that I love to be belligerent.)

Metal sheds light on the world's underlying darkness, in a surprisingly more positive than negative manner. It shows the world in realistic clarity; dramatic and gritty. It allows you to tap into your primal instincts and lash out at society's inherent chaos.

Like punk, there's a distaste for grandiose and embellishment (though metal isn't afraid of technicality), and like punk, metal eschews the sweetly packaged and romanticized sounds of pop country or Top 40 radio.

Most metal lyrics read like poetry, are honest about human's disturbing nature. It's a protest for the underdogs, the people who don't fit in, the ones who understand the breadth of heavy metal's ties to music from hundreds of years ago.

And like other genres, heavy metal evolves with and reflects the cultural issues and indulgences of society (ahem, we're talking about you glam metal). But the music doubles up on something else. Think about it: Heavy metal's preoccupation with the end of the world and human destruction doesn't sound all that unreasonable given our political climate, even if the possibilities are explored through fantastical themes, imagery and dark drama.

Because without fantasy, there wouldn't be a reality, right? God bless those lovely metalheads who managed to turn "Dungeons and Dragons" into hardcore screaming goodness.

To a lot of folks, heavy metal and classic rock have merged. It's been 45 years since Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze," exploded minds and it's now regarded as one of the first heavy metal hits. 42 years ago was Black Sabbath's recorded debut. And almost 20 years have gone by since Pantera's Vulgar Display of Power dropped, which had a hand in metal's uprising during the plaid shirt, angst-filled grunge years.

I've only been listening to rock and heavy metal for 15 years, but the wealth of heavy metal fans that spans decades I'm guessing maybe those pop stars and politicians could stand to listen to a little angry music.

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