Although I have only been listening to the metal genre for a little more than three years, some things have become evident in metal that I would like to discuss. Perhaps some would question my knowledge of the genre, even my love for it. However, my fascination drove me to write an article regarding the state of metal and the good and bad things that have come from my experiences. I'm sure that there are exceptions to the rule, other experiences that will counter what I will say in this article, but please understand (not to sound too tree-hugging hippie-ish) that I would like to see a more conscious strive toward acceptance of differing stances within our genre. After all, it could be worse, we could all be listening to force-fed poppy bullshit.
I've always had a soft spot in my heart for a few bands in particular: Ill Nino, Chimaira, and Killswitch Engage. Without these bands, I don't know what the hell I would be listening to today. I don't know if I would've met the people that I've met, been the places I've been, and seen the things I've seen. I don't even know if I would be writing. Before I started listening to these bands, I was very involved in the nu-metal/hard rock scene. I listened to Korn, Godsmack, and Marilyn Manson almost religiously (no pun intended). I was very into the music, but felt no real connection to anything at all. They were too commercial to be rebellious, and almost as fake as the overpopulated pop/MTV scene that they portrayed themselves to be so against. Then I happened upon the three bands above seemingly before any of them broke. I felt something when I went to the Alrosa Villa (yes, the same place where the Dimebag tragedy took place) to see Ill Nino and Spineshank (what some of you roll your eyes at - I'll touch on that later in the article as well). It was my first real show. Yeah, I sat in the stands for Korn and stood out in the lawn for Ozzfest 2001 (check out the main stage lineup by the way), but never in the middle of a pit, never seeing the way people can be moved (and not just physically) by a band. That was my first taste of this genre, maybe not the truest taste, but a taste nonetheless. It was like a spark of a flame; the initial shock of that concert and the overall excitement grew. Using what I call those "bridge" bands as my crutch, I expanded, picking up Arch Enemy, Lamb of God, and Bleeding Through within the next couple of weeks to test out this genre from all angles. And now, I have grown into all aspects of metal. I fell in love with metal because of these bands some would call cheesy and insult the person wearing that band's shirt for not being "metal". Nu-metal in my case served a purpose (not to mention metalcore as well), it helped launch me into the overall metal landscape. The next time you find yourself judging a guy wearing a Slipknot T-shirt, introduce him to Shadows Fall, who knows what can happen from there. We need to stop being exclusive and start being inclusive.
I decided to jump into a mosh pit at Sounds of the Underground up in Cleveland this past summer. Unearth had just taken the stage and I wanted to release some aggression with my fellow metalheads. The first minute or so went fine then I got nailed by a guy twice my size. He picked me up off the ground and apologized for sending me flying through the air and almost getting trampled. I thanked him for the gesture and returned to where my friends were watching. I explained the situation to two people who had never been to a metal show nevertheless in a mosh pit. They were astounded. Why hit someone and then apologize, they asked? I answered with "Because" and a smile because describing the connection in the metal scene to fellow metalheads could very well have taken half the night. Unfortunately, at times, I fail to see the camaraderie when it comes to different styles of music in our genre. Some people are solely metalcore or black metal or whatever, and act almost elitist to those who find another avenue of metal to identify themselves with. To me, this seems almost like being the smartest kid in your class and making sure everyone knows it by condemning them time after time, juvenile if you will. I personally find progressive metal to be annoying but I will never be condescending toward anyone who happens to enjoy that subgenre. I would much rather talk to them and increase my intelligence about that certain style than call them "stupid" and go on my way. Yes, it goes along the same lines as the first paragraph, but it's even worse when metalheads patronize one of their own. I personally see the appeal in most of the subgenres, which is why I listen to the numerous styles that I do. You don't have to like what someone else listens to, but you should respect it. After all, we could be listening to Dave Matthews Band for Christ's sake.
In conclusion, these are a few of the numerous things that I felt I had to get off my chest. I love metal and nothing would be better than for this genre to grow not necessarily into the mainstream, but grow in numbers. I know some of you may have had different experiences but I hope you at least realize where I'm coming from. Stay brutal and stay metal!