A Rant on Metal Elitism
Metal is my music of choice since I was 12. Discovering it on varied musical repositories ranging from Myspace music to Realmusic.ru was like finding faith - the heavy guitars, the riffs, the melodies, the way harsh vocals harmonise with time-stopping clean passages and the lyrics they sang were satisfying. Every track was an experience.
However, growing older and finding more metal communities, I came to the conclusion that I enjoy the music and despise the community around it. Enter metal elitists - people who made it their day/night job to talk down to people because they a) criticise a band they like, b) disagree with them c) don't fit the generic metalhead/metal band template established long ago by close-minded people of the same mentality. People who love to pretend its the 1980s and living with a delusion that someone should care about something as ephemeral and pointless as "metal cred."
Authoritarian people who love double standards and think they are better than everyone else due to incredibly stupid reasoning, e.g. thinking they are superior because they listen to metal while dictating to everyone within a metal community how they should act and what they should listen to. Finally, I feel it's worth mentioning that I don't claim superiority nor do I claim to be God's gift to metal for any reason - just writing an opinion piece on the Internet's top 10 most cringy denizens.
My Start in Metal
Before we begin, I'll say that 80's metal is criminally overrated. Sure there is great material in the decade (a family of freaks always comes with a normal person) but in my opinion, the mediocre to bad stuff just ruins it; especially the bands that had the Satanic and evil schtick alongside the corny "epic" metal bands with their Tolkien tributes.
Why do I say this? The 1980s is, in my experience, the decade that most metal elitists latch onto as the paragon of the genre, therefore, always hyping up and promoting stuff from there while dismissing anything modern. Effectively, a metal elitist is another form of hipster, complete with a smug attitude and many delusions of grandeur. I saw a metal elitist say its because of them the genre still has integrity. Alright then, care to explain the concept of "metal integrity" and if you mean add parts not usually seen in the genre then you already failed because newer metal bands always experiment with their sound and thus, add more instruments and effects.
Despite many Internet metal hipsters loudly denouncing sub-genres such as NU metal and metalcore, many bands of said genres appear and establish a fandom solid enough to sustain themselves. Thank God for that. Even if you do ask one of them for a concrete explanation of metal integrity, chances are you won't get it.
The 1980s are, thankfully, dead and have been dead for decades. Metal has moved on and evolved for the better and thus, enter my counter-argument for the idea that a bunch of hipsters are preserving the genre's integrity by living in the past: if the genre did not freshen up and update, IT WOULD FIZZLE OUT AND NO ONE WILL CARE ABOUT IT!
I met some people (in real life) who were metalheads around that same era (the late 80s and early 90s) and in their words, they got bored of it. However, the more modern metalheads whose interests lie in the late 90s and early 2000s; people my age, grew to love the genre even more with time. Now sure, there is always the annoying "X band revolutionised/invented the sound" (funny enough, its always the band I destroy that gets this status - the last hurrah of metal discussion) while it may be true in some cases albeit less commonly so with more modern bands; (who sonically, sound more like their contemporaries e.g. melodic death metal band System Shock shares sonic similarities with Linkin Park) point being, anything needs modern touches to stay relevant and survive.
Try fighting a modern war with a musket or dogfighting F16s in a bi-plane.
System Shock - CHECK THEM OUT!
Metal elitists, in my experience, love conventions and therefore, love the generic, paint-by-numbers template of metal; inaudible, constipated, cookie monster vocals, references to gore, Satanism and something else that's dark and scary. (FYI, its not) That or some vanilla Tolkien fan-fiction that sounds like a lullaby and has the same effect to boot.
Therefore, as long as it meets said conventions, its "good" according to them. Now its OK to like what you like and have preferences, you don't need me to remind you of that but when said conventions are always forced on you, this is where the problem arises and the authoritarian side begins to show. If you are in a community and start to question this dogma, you will surely get pushback that is comparable to an overly sensitive, neurotic mess; accusations of trolling, name-calling, dismissal as "attention seeking" etc. Point being, there are metalheads who disagree with them and should be allowed to have discussions like that, adding a diversity in opinion and keeping metal fresh.
Finally, metal elitists can be rather pretentious and stupid when it comes to interactions - who cares about some useless trivia when I'm here to listen to music?! So much for the famed "inclusivity" of metal communities. "We are inclusive and accepting - unless you like what I don't and vice versa!"
So far, we have established that metal elitists are living in the past and trying so hard to force outdated and boring conventions akin to a fundamentalist preacher that just climbed out of his cave to tell us why electricity is bad; calling everyone who denounces him a sinner. However, what if I told you that some metal elitists are in their teens and not know anything about the music - a metal noob if you will?
Yes, they exist and instead of exploring metal by and for themselves, they ape whatever their elitist peers do - idolise the 1980s, attack anyone who disagrees and makes cringy, outdated Justin Bieber/Lady Gaga/One Direction jokes. Such elitists are keen bandwagon riders who are full of double standards.
E.g. Black Veil Brides, the elitists' favorite punching bag which is always a punchline but honestly, most 1980s bands they worship ALSO had a ridiculous, borderline feminine image (just look at Lizzy Borden or any hair metal band) and in my opinion, far inferior music to the former. What's funny, if Black Veil Brides had songs about decaying bodies, those metal elitists would be praising them to high heaven because they follow the template I referenced earlier.
So, conventions, unwritten laws no one voted in and dogma everyone is required to follow; such is the world that metal elitists create - defeating the purpose of metal altogether. Metal, to my knowledge and recollection from listening to the likes of MANOWAR, ACCEPT, Hammerfall, Judas Priest, Amon Amarth is about making your own decisions and being a renegade; fighting for your right to like metal. Standing up to tyrants and their oppressive rules and being strong enough to break any chain. Hence, the above just makes metal puritanical and not fun or creative anymore. In a metal elitists' logic, artistic freedom and expression is being a "poser" and therefore, not metal.
A band like Pestilence or Death, to me, sounds like what a corporate boardroom meeting conjured - tick every boxes and craft every song according to demographic charts while having as much gore and Satanic imagery on the cover as possible. This is what metal elitists stand for without even knowing it - the very corporate, sellout system they claim to oppose.
Overall, metal elitists are among the cringiest specimen of the Internet biome - ruining the musical genre by filling it with stupid rules and flame wars with those daring to oppose them while citing vague mentions of integrity and "true" metal. Both terms have little meaning to me. Such people love living in the past and keeping metal puritan and sterile - total antithesis of the genre altogether.
Talking to them is a waste of time because as with other Internet vegetables, you are talking to whatever and whoever they heard before and not the person on the other end so, my advice to all metalheads on Earth: enjoy the [expletive] music and walk the other way because metalheads are supposed to be renegades who think independently and make their own decisions. As cited by many a metal band past and current; leaving the metal elitists to accuse each other of poserdom till they die from oxygen deficiency.
© 2018 Jake Clawson