Metal is rarely easy to put a label on these days. Headbangers are full of differing ideas on which Metal is real and which is “for posers”. I’ve met aging rockers with biker moustaches claiming that a good song hasn’t been written since 1979, skinheads who refuse to listen to anything not Satanic and Scandinavian, straight-edge kids who don’t feel fulfilled unless there’s a drop-C or lower breakdown, and most everything in between.
As I write this, it’s hard for me, also, to discern what constitutes Metal and what does not. As always, we just have to go with what feels like Metal, and go with that.
REASONS YOU PROBABLY DON’T LIKE METAL
1. The screaming. Older listeners especially, always seem to despise the vocal styles of modern Heavy Metal. Screamed lyrics are even more difficult to understand than usual, and are impossible to sing along with.
2. It’s evil. Songs about the occult, death, and general evil are commonplace in Metal. Even if you aren’t an especially prudish type, a lot of Heavy Metal sings about subjects that no one wants their kids hearing about.
3. It’s “guy music”. Most Metal caters to masculine tastes, and while it’s not as one-sided as it once was, females are still a minority in the mosh pit and on stage.
Be sure to make a sandwich or something before going through these songs, because a couple of them are long.
1. Dream Theater – The Glass Prison
God, I could probably write a whole article on a Dream Theater song, I like them so much. I’ll try my best not to rant, and just tell you the essential facts. Dream Theater does not scream in their songs, although some growling is done sometimes (6:17 on the YouTube link).
2. Maximum The Hormone – Koi No Mega Lover
MEANWHILE, in Japan…
This song (and video) is just so quirky I had to put it in this list. Maximum The Hormone is one of the few Japanese Metal bands I ever really enjoyed. I think there might be some English swear words in there, but I’m not entirely sure.
3. Avenged Sevenfold – I Won’t See You Tonight Part I & II
Another really long ordeal of a composition. Taken by themselves, neither Part 1 or 2 (which are on the original album as sequential, separate tracks) seem all that unique or different from stereotypical emo music. Part 1 is a song about committing suicide, not really anything original. Part 2 goes the extra mile by displaying how the dead man’s friends and family feel, but in a way that doesn’t seem like much more than emo ranting without the context of Part 1.
When the chorus from Part 1 repeats in Part 2 (3:57 on the YouTube link), it just kind of clicks with me what the real message is. That everyone loses in this kind of situation. It’s a screamo song about suicide, no doubt, but it most definitely does not glorify suicide in any way.
4. Andrew W. K. – Party Hard
(SEIZURE WARNING: The whole video is pretty frantic. Alternate video can be found here)
Okay, now that we’re done with that really depressing song, let’s hear something a little more upbeat, shall we? I think Metal has a deficiency of fun that Andrew W. K. helps to relieve. The lyrics are also squeaky clean, and safe for just about any kid, save for the rebellious line of “we will never listen to their rules”.
5. Leaves Eyes – Elegy
Hey, there’s a chick singing! And it doesn’t clash with the instruments, either!
Mr. Italics, this is Leaves Eyes. And yes, the feminine vocals don’t clash with the Heavy Metal instrumentation at all. It’s nice.
6. Dragonforce – Through The Fire And The Flames
This song is pretty well-known, especially after gaining notoriety as the hardest song on Guitar Hero ever. Not sure if it still is the hardest song, seeing as there have been a few more Guitar Hero editions since Through The Fire And The Flames was added, but the reputation still stands.
As for the song itself? It’s long, but not quite as long as a couple other examples shown here. No screaming, no vulgarity. Evil is mentioned, but in a very vague way. Whatever “evil” is mentioned is obviously not glorified, anyway.
7. Nightwish – Wishmaster
Another female fronted band. I’m hoping that Nightwish can eventually help me overcome my complete lack of interest in opera music.
8. Mindless Self Indulgence – Shut Me Up
Mindless Self Indulgence is a band only for those with a very twisted sense of humor. It also helps to enjoy a bit of Club beats in your Rock. This particular song is relatively clean by this band’s usual standards, but that’s partly because the curse words are edited for the music video shown here. I still wouldn’t play it at work, and I would encourage listening closely first before you let your kids in on it.
9. Apocalyptica – Burn
A Metal band famous for using absolutely zero guitars. For classical music fans, Apocalyptica makes a fantastic gateway drug into Metal.
10. System Of A Down – Science
I find System Of A Down’s mainstream success confusing. They seem far too quirky to have had so much attention, but what do I know? In any case, I love their intense, manic style of playing.
So what’s some Metal music that you think I should hear? Tell me about it in the comments, please.