Heavy Metal Screamers
Self Defeating Styles
I have been a huge Heavy Metal fan since the first time I heard Quiet Riot and Twisted Sister. It wasn't long before I realized those guys were lightweights in the metal scene and I discovered Slayer. At the age of fourteen when music leaves its most profound mark on each of us I had found the band that echoed my soul. Was I a troubled teen? Sure, why, weren't you? It was 1984 and having lost my father to an untimely death at the young age of forty I was simply angry beyond my ability to control or understand what it was I should do with all that rage. Thankfully Slayer gave me that outlet. I would crank up the volume and stomp around the room and get my game face on just to walk to the convenient store. The town I had moved to a year before my dad died was full of racial tension and had more than its fare share of troublemakers. I was without true friends, fatherly guidance or options.
I have friends from the other side of the spectrum, of course. They didn't have all that much real anger about anything in particular. They simply found themselves enjoying the music. To one friend three years younger than myself I asked, "What about the singers and the words?" I'll never forget his reply. He said, "Who cares about what their saying? The music is great!"
My chin dropped and I remembered the dividing line that existed in the eighties. There were true headbangers and their were those who listened to Glam metal. I'll admit the guilt of having bullied some colorful dudes who listened to bands like Poison and Motley Crue. It was hard to resist when I knew that the only reason they listened to that crap was because the girls liked it. Even today guys listen to music girls like so they can get their attention. I understand it but I think it points to character weakness and a lack of self identity. When I listened to Slayer through my boom box and walked down the street you should have seen the looks of utter contempt and scorn as people passed me in their cars. Do you think that made me rethink my music choices? No. If anything I had to find something that was even more offensive to the unimaginative world at large. In my young mind I was being ostracized for something as small as what music I chose to listen to. I was not wrong.
The truth was I had been forced to grow up much sooner than was healthy and in doing so I took it very seriously that Heavy Metal was the one and only form of music that seemed concerned with spreading a message. Now, for those who have no love for Heavy Metal you must be saying, "What kind of message? How to be angry and hateful?" Well, your kind of right.
The messages in early Heavy Metal were foremost of conscience. So many bands were screaming out to the world to stop the violence, pollution and political corruption just to name a few of the world's issues. Yes, that's right. The screamers were tackling world issues while other music was helping you get a girl pregnant. Politicians were lining up against Metal in droves and why? Because they said it was feeding and fueling the anger of a generation. A generation that for the most part would never reach old age. The rage they felt was not caused by the music. It allowed the angry an outlet and what were they angry about? An entire generation had foreseen the doomed future of their world. A future that is now.
The problem as far as I see it was the fact that the ordinary meathead couldnt get past the loud, aggresive music and the gritty, bellowing vocals. It was too hard. The truth is most people have a basic comprehension level when it comes to music. Anything too complex frightened and confused them rather than intrigued and amazed. In short, sorry if this offends you but I am incapable of anything but the truth, lazy and less intelligent people need easy and simple music. The slow mind panics with too much on its plate thus we have R&B, pop, rap, Country and Rock and Roll. All of these types have easy to remember chorus lines and constantly repeating riffs and melodies that tattoo themselves onto you psyche. It happens to everyone regardless of what music you choose as your favorite. I wake up all the time with a song in my head that I would never really listen to unless someone else had control of the radio dial. Listen to some tribal drum music and just try not to tap your foot or nod your head. There is a primal trigger in all of our brains that responds to the most basic and simple of musical sounds. Many of those same sounds exist in Heavy Metal but amplified or sped up to make them different.
What I am so sad about is that musicians have not figured out what Slayer knew and still knows. While its cool that your presenting a positive message if no one understands a word you are saying that message is lost. Also, any respect you might have been afforded due to that message is lost as well. Appearances, in this nation of capitalists and faithless critics means entirely too much while true substance and intent become secondary to the mindless need of the masses to be entertained.
What's my point? Before you bash something simply because of the way you intitially percieve it is short sighted. Delve a little deeper into what many of these loud and abrasive bands are saying and you will find that they are more concerned with the world around them than other entertainers. On the other hand, if you have a metal band and your singer is just screaming away unintelligibly and your wondering why your not getting the respect you feel you deserve remember that for a message to be properly understood it first must be recognized for what it is. Again I'll use my favorite band as an example. While Slayer is know for their speed and screaming solo's their singer is actually quite understandable. They have a message and it can be heard without finding the lyrics online. Remember, people are lazy and the key is making things easy for them. No, I am not suggesting you sell out. I am simply saying that all that screaming may as well not even be there. If Heavy Metal in all of its forms ever want's to reach the public like the rest of the world's music it is going ot have to let go of that single stigma. Even the old Metal Heads are losing their ability to take the constant growling unintelligible vocals for long.
I have a dream. I would one day like to be able to turn on the radio and hear something I would actually like to listen to. I would like to stop being ostracized because of the music I listen to. I would like the strong, positive messages conveyed by Metal bands to be heard at last.