By Jen White
Arts & Entertainment editor
Who knew? Metal is apparently an important genre, too.
I’m not gonna lie, I was hesitant when my boyfriend said he wanted to see Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey last Friday. I shouldn’t have been so surprised; he does sport the occasional Guns N’ Roses shirt, listens to System of a Down, and squeals with delight when he hears The Darkness.
Metal has never made me do anything remotely close to squealing. And trust me, it’s not for a lack of trying. As a kid, I was enthralled with the music my dad would blare, which included the Beatles, the Doors, Leonard Cohen, and yes, a little GNR – even though my mom forbad side A of the Use Your Illusion I tape due to “questionable content.”
So I listened to side B, but only as a means of being cool like my dad; I never “got” it. Metal then proceeded to glide beneath my radar.
I mean, there was that time Metallica was popular, but then James Hetfield turned into a whining sissy-pants when people illegally downloaded his music. As if there were many people downloading Metallica. And like he couldn’t afford it, if it was going on. Cry me a river.
And then there was the time that “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” became a massive hit. Who would believe The Darkness, a bunch of Brits headed by a guy with long hair, bad teeth and in a spandex jumpsuit, would make a ridiculous song accompanied by a crazy video with a giant squid?
Ok, so that’s really not that surprising. But who knew it’d catch on? Alright, I’ll admit it: I hated it because everyone loved it. I hated the long hair, the bad teeth, the spandex and especially the giant squid. I hated how every week, when I’d be copy editing at my old paper ’til all hours of the night, the guys in the office would blare the song, mimicking their best Justin Hawkins falsetto at the loudest possible volume. Trust me, it’s annoying at 1 a.m.
But once I threw out all of my pretensions and expectations, the song turned out to be pretty fun. So it was the same kind of thing when I saw Metal. I was entirely skeptical, afraid that Sam Dunn’s documentary was going to be boring and out of my reach.
I mean, it started out with Geddy Lee — never a good sign (man, do I hate Geddy Lee). But then it became evident that there was much more to metal than I had ever given it credit. The sheer volume of metal bands — big bands — like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Dio, Iron Maiden, Alice Cooper, Slayer, Pantera, Metallica, Judas Priest, Motley Crue, Twisted Sister, Van Halen, Tool, Rob Zombie and Slipknot should’ve been enough to curb my ignorance of the genre years ago.
And any genre that is created from a crazy hybrid of everything from Wagner to opera, blues to hard rock is at least worth recognizing as important in the musical realm. Dunn charmingly presents metal as something you “get,” with the gutteral vocals resonating in your chest and the driving guitars and relentless drums coursing through your veins.
And while I may not get Satan’s music (I prefer the sweet sounds of Ben Gibbard’s voice), there are millions of those who do. So, I guess it’s still a musical connection, just painted in violent black and red streaks instead of a nice, calm smear of Death Cab sky-blue.