Long before the Holst-inspired opening riff of “Black Sabbath” erupted forth from Tony Iommi’s Gibson SG, there was METAL.
Long before Vikings raided and conquered foreign lands, there was METAL.
Before giant reptiles ruled the earth, there was METAL.
METAL is a powerful force emanating from the center of the earth. It heaves, it cracks, it boils, it explodes. It does this constantly. It’s beautiful and it’s violent.
Those bands and artists who play metal have tapped into this force. The superior ones have a stronger connection to it, and obviously Iron Maiden comes to mind as a prime example; they’re fully in synch with said force. A band like Five Finger Death Punch, on the other hand, they can kind of sense it, get a peripheral whiff of fire and brimstone, but they don’t really get it and what they’re playing is merely a man-made imitation of the real thing.
True metal exists in harmony with the song of the earth. There are slow parts, fast parts, heavy parts, technical parts, sludgy parts, brutal parts, happy parts, sad parts, primitive parts, advanced, next level parts…
Heavy metal, thrash metal, power metal, death metal, doom metal, black metal, folk metal and all the various mix-and-match subgenres springing from combinations of these categories are the lava that flows beneath the ground. They are the thunder that rattled your windows. They are the tornadoes that show no mercy as they leave miles of destruction in their wake. They are snow-capped mountain peaks. They are frigid, damp underground caves. They are everything, and everything is metal.
Metal is the most multi-cultural music in existence. Americans, Brits, Swedes, Norwegians, Mexicans, Brazilians, Japanese, Iraqis, Israelis, etc etc etc. We all love the same bands, for the most part. I could get together with a metalhead from Chile and we might not even speak the same language. But damn it, I crank up some fucking Celtic Frost, probably Morbid Tales, and the flicker of recognition is going to hit his eyes and we’re gonna be on the same page for that brief, beautiful moment in time.
I’ve had such conversations, and they’re amazing; two people communicating successfully with nothing more than a shared love of earth’s mightiest musical genre.
I can’t count how many times I’ve approached or been approached by a fellow metalhead about our respective t-shirts. Mercyful Fate? Hell yeah, dude, you see king diamond in Dallas last year?
Metal is a language.
When I’ve met some of my teenage idols that I grew up reading about in magazines and listening to on cassette, they were always really cool down-to-earth fans of music. They do the t-shirt talk thing too. And of course they do, because even though they’re on stage and we, the audience, are in the crowd, we’re all just tapping into the power, and the glory. We’re breathing metal. We’re exhaling it. It courses through our veins. It’s electric. We are metal.