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Suicide Silence Pioneer “Mediocrecore”, Experience Worst First Week Sales of Their Careers

I really hate to say I told you so.

Fuck that, I love saying I told you so. I fucking called this a month ago.

Actually, if anything, it was worse than I thought (Whitechapel only did 50% as well as their previous album, Suicide Silence soared around 30%). Apparently diminishing returns is a thing in real life. Who knew?

The critical acclaim for this album is completely non-existent.

Unless you count Metalsucks, who seem genuinely surprised the album sales didn’t set some sort of fucking record.

I don’t feel particularly bad for the band – they’re reaping what they sewed. Insulting the majority of your fanbase while you’re in the middle of selling out will get you exactly 30% of the sales you’re looking for.

I do, however, feel bad for the mindless drones who read metalsucks like it’s the fucking bible and worship at the altar of Suicide Silence. Like this kid.

whineyelistdeuche

Who literally unblocked me the day after Suicide silence went on record bashing metal fans at their shows as patch wearing weirdos for the express purpose of quoting the band to insult me (before promptly blocking me again). It was magnificent. But now that the band’s eating crow, who will think of things for people like him to say?

Also, I’ve heard a lot of people saying bad things about the band for talking shit about other deathcore bands. I would like to offer an alternative viewpoint here – the single greatest thing about Suicide Silence’s PR campaign for the new album is the fact that they were talking massive amounts of shit about deathcore bands.

Now, I shit on deathcore bands all day long. So, in my opinion, knowing that even deathcore bands can’t resist shitting on deathcore tickles my irony bone to no end. And that, dear reader, is a silver lining worth noting.

Bear with me here, it gets better. The deathcore scene (as well as the tail end of the metalcore scene) is almost single-handedly responsible for the negativity towards “metal elitists”. It’s been inflated by the metal media, and Metal Sucks is a perfect example of this. I’ve written a few articles dealing with this in the past, and the contradictions inherent in the “elitist dichotomy”. This viewpoint is expanding on the premises outlined in those articles.

You’ve got a metal news website (metal sucks) who is notorious for propping up the elitist controversy, participating in a bland (and played out) PR campaign for a band from a scene that germinated the whole elitist dichotomy. The metal news website (who never misses a chance to bash elitists) is openly promoting a deathcore band who is doing exactly what they (the site and the scene) pretend to hate.

In other words, they’re virtue signaling a hatred for elitists while openly supporting elitist behavior.

Is there a term in the English language that describes this phenomenon? Oh, wait a minute…

hypocrite

Fucking textbook.

Also, Suicide Silence obviously wasn’t being original or groundbreaking. The thing about being an original, groundbreaking artists – it’s like being rich. If you’re rich, you don’t have to tell other people you’re rich. If you’re a creative, groundbreaking artists, you don’t have to explain it to people.

In fact, in both cases – the fact that you need to tell people implies exactly the opposite.

Hiring a one trick pony producer who lost all cultural relevance to metal 20 years ago (and then writing in a style of music that played out and died 20 years ago) isn’t brave, or groundbreaking – it’s exactly the fucking opposite.

Puke.

 

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Why are Hard Rock and Metal Artists Suddenly Drawn to Country Music?

 

At first glance, this might seem like an odd phenomenon. In their current states, country and metal are polar opposites. And research into the personality type/musical preference connection clearly shows that fans of heavy metal have far more in common with fans of classical music than fans of country. But, the more you look at it, the more it makes sense that there would be a mini “exodus” from metal music to country. And, arguably, it’s a good thing for both genres and their fans.

 

Background

First and foremost, it needs to be mentioned that country and metal music share a common ancestor in the blues. Early rock and roll acts and early country acts were almost interchangeable – for example, Johnny Cash and Elvis toured together. Elvis is commonly referred to as the godfather of rock and roll (of which heavy metal is a derivative) and Johnny Cash is widely recognized as a progenitor of Country music. In fact, country music at it’s inception was simply a rural version of rock music.

Now, the two genres have had decades to evolve into two separate entities with distinctive fanbases and cultures that (generally) don’t overlap. But there’s always been a common thread connecting the two – the Rolling Stones “Honky Tonk Woman” is a good example. “Southern Rock” bands have kept a fusion between the two genres (rock and country) alive through the decades, but it wasn’t really until the 90’s that country music and heavy metal met and mixed.

No article dealing with the cross-cultural zone between country and metal would be complete without mentioning two bands – Pantera and Hank Williams III. These two groups bridge the gap between the two genres quite nicely. To further the connection – Pantera’s last real album (even though the lead singer, Phil Anselmo, wasn’t part of it) was a collaboration between the band and David Allen Coe entitled “Rebel Meets Rebel“. Artists like Kid Rock and Aaron Lewis from Staind have kept the connection going.

The Present Situation

Within the past year or so, there’s been more of an “exodus” of metal and hard rock artists in some form or another to the country music medium. Now, it’s not always a full blown transition, and it’s actually been going on for a while (technically since the dawn of both rock and country). I think it’s more accurate to describe the country/hard rock/metal phenomenon in terms of a spectrum: Dabbling (One-Off Country Albums, Collaborations)->Fusion Styles->Full Transition Between Genres (Including solo albums/projects).

In the dabbling category we have  Devin Townsend’s side project (Casualties), Nergal from Behemoth’s country/folk album, Jimmy Bower’s (Down/Eyehategod) Country album, Jonathan Davis’ (Korn) collaboration with country artists Big and Rich, Bon Jovi’s Country album, Chuck Billy (Testament) doing his country tribute to Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades”, and considering I don’t know where Aerosmith stands at this moment I’m going to include Stephen Tyler’s country project as well. And Bret Michaels (Poison) country album.

As far as fusion styles – obviously guys like Pantera and Hank III go without saying. The mutual blues ancestor of metal and country music make them more compatible than you’d think at first listen. In fact, due to the Pantera connection we wouldn’t have groove metal without country.

And for full transitions you’ve got Kid Rock (This guy’s such a redneck, it wasn’t that much of a transition. I think he plays the CMT awards semi-regularly), Aaron Lewis (Staind),  David Vincent (fucking Morbid Angel), and Danny Worsnop (Asking Alexandria). So we’ve got Metalcore, Death Metal, Blackened Death, Doom, Nu-Metal, Hair Metal, Hard Rock, Groove, and Prog represented in country music just from the bands mentioned in this article. I’d say that’s enough of a spectrum state that this isn’t a genre specific phenomenon – the appeal seems to be pretty universal among metal artists.

What Metal Culture Can Learn From Country

In terms of the metal community, a look at the current state of country is a sobering reminder that the music industry (all bureaucracy, in fact) can be a very toxic thing . So, as much as people like to go around bashing elitists – that particular core demographic of the metal community is a big part of the reason metal isn’t a shell of it’s former self. The pop machine has literally eviscerated the entire genre of country music, and left nothing but a hollowed out meat-puppet of a shell that they make perform for fans in a mocking, pandering sort of way. Don’t believe me? Check out this video.

This is what the pop machine does – it analyzes a core fan base to find things they like. It then arranges them into a palatable, pre-digested formula with literally zero integrity. Anybody who’s been alive through the 90’s should remember that country music was a pretty big thing back in the day. And in a matter of a few decades, it’s been reduced to a cultural and artistic void. Boots, cold beer, lemonade, lying in pick-up trucks, some sort of romantic rendezvous, and the month of July – hey, throw that in a 4-chord song format with a steel guitar playing in the background and you’ve got a #1 Country hit! Pandering at it’s best, there’s next to zero substance left in the genre. Probably part of the reason metal artists are occasionally dabbling – they’re filling the creative void.

Also, poser bashing is designed to prevent this sort of thing from happening in/to the metal community. Granted sometimes people take it a little too far, but sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. And in this case, a defense against entryism is much better than the alternative.

 

What Country Fans Can Learn From Metal Culture

Country music, as a culture, has zero defense against entryism. In layman’s terms, this means that there is no cultural “check” or way to stop an outside group from entering into Country music culture and changing it from within.

At first glance, this might not seem like a problem. It didn’t when Country-pop experienced a revival in the 90’s. But, here’s the problem. If any group can gain entry into an artistic culture – that includes a group put together by a record company. And their focus is on dollar signs, not art.

Unfortunately, because record companies already have a lot of money, they can afford to hire people to do studies into what the fanbase likes and doesn’t like (and then plug the results into the pop-machine formula). At this point, it’s not a matter of if or when it happens (because it already has), it’s a matter of what to do about it. I think that country music as a whole can benefit from a little “heavy metal sensibility”.

First and foremost, the artists getting into country are considered staples of their respective metal genres. These are top-notch artists with creative energy to spare. So, you’ve got a bunch of artists entering the scene and playing real music in the creative void left by the pop industry .

Second, I would hope they bring a little of that “elitist” attitude that has helped heavy metal stay out of the clutches of the pop industry for almost 6 decades. Combined with the DIY ethos of metal and punk, it just might be the breath of fresh air that country music needs.

Third, I hope a few metal artists reintroduce a bit more of that rebel attitude country music deserves.

Conclusion

I think it’s good for metal artists to branch out a little bit. Considering how saturated the market is with metal bands right now, it’s certainly not hurting heavy metal at all. And it could make country music tolerable again. Overall, I’d call it a win/win situation.

Digital Journalistic Poser Holocaust

No, I’m not one of those guys who just calls everyone a poser. Yes, I think posers exist and can be a bit of a problem. Depends on the nature of the offense. More importantly, I think proper use of the term poser is an important mechanism within the subcultural space of heavy metal. Here’s why.

Introduction

So what/who is a poser? A version of the term exists in most big subcultures (at least the American ones) – and it’s generally used to refer to a person (or group) that adopts the look, language, and attitudes of a subculture without actually internalizing the values of the culture. In other words, it’s a person trying to be something they’re not to gain some sort of social status.

The practice of calling out posers is what’s known as a “defense against entryism” – it’s a way for the metal culture to police it’s own borders to prevent outside groups (like hipsters) from entering the culture and exercising undue influence to change social mechanisms and structure, and in so doing gain a large degree of socio-political power within that group. It has some negative consequences – but like “metal elitists” that everyone seems to be railing against, I think it has more to do with a misunderstanding of certain aspects and social mechanisms within metal culture.

As far as I know, the first real instance where people have infiltrated metal culture and are actively trying to change it from the inside is the present. I’ve discussed various aspects of this phenomenon before, from Social Justice Warriors (SJW’s) in metal culture to the co-opting of Underground Metal Festivals by mainstream metal/culture.

With the current generation, (unlike prior generations) there is a movement of “scene tourists” who infiltrate and participate in various subcultures long enough to change them into something socially palatable to the general public – a good example of this would be the whole #gamergate/#metalgate fiasco. The two incidents happened right on top of each other, and the consequences of #gamergate are still being realized.

Case Study – Social Justice Warrior/Hipsters affecting Cultural Change
(Poser Type A)

To see what I’m talking about, let’s take a look at the “God of War” franchise. When it was released, it was quickly recognized as one of the greatest games of all time. It had violence, gore, the works. However, the most recent “God of War” installment shows the series protagonist, Kratos, is now living with his son. And instead of being the violent bloodbath that we all know and love, Kratos is now a father. The basic moral of the storyline is Kratos has to learn to deal with his aggression in a healthy way, and in so doing be a healthy role model for his son and make amends for past transgressions.

Seriously? Fucking seriously? SJW’s neutered one of the (arguably) greatest video game franchises of all time.

Nobody thought it could happen, but it did. One of these SJW’s who had been prominent during the whole #gamergate debacle was actually installed at a gaming convention and featured as a commentator/speaker. She didn’t even play video games, literally the only connection she had with video games was complaining about finding them offensive.

So what happened? A culture designed around an entertainment medium considered a transgressive art form (video games) had a large influx of people from a certain demographic group – Hipsters(from here on this will be referred to as the “hipster influx”). Now, not all hipsters are bad. And not all hipsters were trying to make video games politically correct. But everyone who was successfully part of the internal movement to self-censor video games was a hipster/SJW. The internal movement was the second part of the hipster influx.

Because in this instance, like every other instance of entryism, a social group that joins a larger group does so to gain social control of and power within the larger group. Gamers didn’t have a defense against entryism, and this was the result.

Case Study Discussion
(Poser Type A as They Relate to Metal Culture)

Like video game culture, Metal Culture is centered around transgressive art. Extreme Metal, in particular, crosses the line from “shocking” people (rock and roll territory) to “disturbing” people. Ironically, one of the (metal) bands most famous for starting the trend of visually and lyrically pushing the boundaries into truly disturbing territory was Carcass. This is ironic because the members of Carcass are all vegans/vegetarians, who were using metal as a springboard for their version of social justice ideals.

So, when SJW’s are railing against the disturbing aspects of extreme metal music – what they’re really doing is railing against the avenue paved by their predecessors to present a social justice issue through an acceptable avenue within metal culture. They understood the mechanics of the culture, and used them as an avenue of artistic expression with a valid socio-political message that was important to them. And they’re not alone, if I’m not mistaken Cattle Decapitation follows a similar vein.

What I’m trying to illustrate here is that there is a difference between participating in a culture (and using the various mechanics of it for personal expression) and infiltrating a culture (and trying to change the things you don’t like/understand about it).

Various entities have tried throughout history (unsuccessfully) to change video game culture from the outside in exactly the same way they tried to change metal culture. And the result was the same – both video games and albums with content deemed “offensive” to mainstream culture received warning labels. The intended purpose of these labels was to try and shame retailers from carrying said products – but the result was exactly the opposite. Those warning labels told consumers exactly what to buy – humans have an obsession with anything forbidden.

Now, we’ve seen a group practicing “entryism” and then using the social influence of membership within a group/culture to change the cultural landscape with video games – and the same cultural demographic that infiltrated gamer culture has a strong hold in metal culture. I’ve spoken about this previously, in an attempt to call out a writer for Metal Injection (Shayne Mathis) for his hipster shit. This is a direct example of entryism in metal culture – and the concept of a poser exists in metal cultural space specifically to prevent whiny shits like him from gaining prominence and turning metal into another bland, formulaic, mainstream medium.

posertypeaVisual representation of “Poser Type A”

Conclusion
(Poser Type A)

Shayne Mathis and his ilk are what I refer to as “Type A posers”. They’re pretending to be something they’re not and trying to use accumulated sub-cultural capital for the purpose of affecting social change where it isn’t needed or wanted. They are undesirables within metal culture because of the nature of their desire to impose a cultural overlay of self-imposed censorship within the metal community, and labeling them as what they are (posers) serves the function of marginalizing them to where they belong – the fringe/outside  of the culture.

Case Study – Try-Hards
(Poser Type B)

This is a category I’m not entirely in agreement with, but in the interest of holism I’ll include it.

Example 1) Try-hard bands

Bands that adopt a position and posture themselves as something they’re not fall into the “try-hard” category with me. An example would be someone like Papa Roach.

Papa Roach present themselves as genuine, creative musicians within the mainstream genre known as Nu-Metal. Now, I understand the fact that it becomes increasingly difficult to write an original riff as time goes on – chances are someone else has written something close to it (if not that exact riff).

But when the riff of every single one of your hit singles is a direct ripoff of Iron Maiden, your authenticity comes into question.


(one example can be chalked up to coincidence, two of them is questionable but still possible, three strikes and you’re out)

And when every single one of your songs also follows a pop machine/record industry formula (A,B,A,B,C,B), you get another strike against you. Then, when you start apeing fashion trends like wearing makeup to appeal to the emo crowd it pushes me over the edge. Nevermind the fact that they decided to jump on the djent bandwagon. They’re just a bunch of trend-wore, try-hard posers.

Example 2) Try-hard fans

Yeek, this is one that gets overused a lot. In fact, I think the overuse of this mecanism is pretty much single-handedly responsible for the whole “posers v.s. elitists” thing that’s apparently a thing in metal nowadays.

Most commonly misused on people who a) have opposing taste in metal from the accuser or b) display a certain ignorance when it comes to the nuances of sub-genres – the typical response is to call the offender an elitist. In this case both parties are wrong, if you’re interested in reading why I suggest checking out my articles dealing with the difference between elitists and assholes  and why sub-genres are a good thing (but assholes ruin them for people).

It’s interesting to note here that a person using the term poser to knock another person’s taste in metal is, in fact, the poser in the equation 99.99% of the time. They’re taking a position to try and look like something they’re not, and that is the fucking definition.

The exception to this rule is best displayed by example; You’re speaking with someone who is making blatant misstatements such as “death metal is my life” or “I only listen to hardcore/brutal/death metal”. When asked to list examples, scene/emo bands (asking alexandria, blackveil brides, blood on the dance floor, etc) are generally listed off. In this case, correcting the record might hurt this person’s feelings – you’re blowing up their spot and calling them on bullshit, so of course they’re going to be a little put off by it. But, they were presenting themselves as something they weren’t.

This isn’t a case of elitism, calling out someone for being a poser when they’re genuinely being a poser is calling a spade a spade. I can’t believe I have to actually say this, it always just seemed like something that would be common knowledge. I’ve seen a lot of blogs/etc stating that posers don’t even exist.

A guy who I enjoy and even agree with quite a bit (coverkillnation) recently made a video that more or less stated (at about 5:00 into the video) that posers don’t even exist. I’ll admit, he makes some good points, and I understand why he’s saying it – because of the blatant overuse and misuse of the term. I happen to agree with the spirit of everything he’s saying, but disagree with how he presented some of his points. Posers certainly do exist, but 99.99% of the time it’s used incorrectly.

There’s no shame in having musical taste (diverse or otherwise), but lying about your musical taste in the hopes that people will like you more is frowned upon in pretty much every genre of music – it’s just an exaggerated frown in metal culture. And it earns you the label of poser.

The only other example of a try-hard poser I can think of is summed up much better by Infidel Amsterdam here:

Case Study Discussion
(Poser Type B/Try-Hards)

Like I mentioned earlier, this is an instance where the term/cultural mechanism of poser gets overused and abused. And the coverkillnation video I referenced earlier touches on a lot of those misuses of the term as well as I could, I highly recommend checking out his channel.

I feel like I gave two solid examples where the “try-hard” category of poser is not only applicable, it’s correct (and serves it’s intended function as a cultural mechanism). Labeling a band like Papa Roach (that probably should have been sued for copyright infringement and obviously changes social trends more quickly than they do clothing) as a poser band isn’t something I would apologize for – in fact I would love to hear an argument to the contrary. Mostly because I can’t think of one.

And calling people who pretend they listen to bands or genres (to try and gain positive social attention and credibility within a culture) posers might hurt their delicate feelings, but it isn’t wrong. Likewise, in the case of Infidel Amsterdam’s video, a person who adopts the look and language of a metalhead but drops the whole thing later on and writes it off as a phase is totally a poser – and has earned that label.

Conclusion
(Poser Type B)

The situations/people that fall under this category of poser are ones that I would use with relative caution. Like I mentioned before, the tendency towards misuse or abuse of the term is very high. And a lot of assholes like to use it as an excuse to make another person feel inferior because that person doesn’t share exact musical preferences. At the same time, this term does serve a specific (if misunderstood/misused) purpose to the greater culture.

However, the name “try-hard” is a bit misleading. Because there’s nothing wrong with trying to learn more and participate in any culture or activity you’re interested in. Quite the opposite, I think most people would agree that’s a pretty good quality to have. And the ones who disagree are just assholes.

Case Study
(Poser Type C)

The last type of poser is probably the most recognizable, accurate, and most difficult to defend.

A few months ago I was at a store in the local mall and I saw a guy wearing a Megadeth shirt. I complimented him on it, and asked if he had listened to Dystopia yet. He looked confused, so I told him it was the most recent Megadeth album. He informed me that he didn’t listen to Megadeth, he just liked the way the shirt looked.

What the actual fuck.

I tried not to be rude, I just said “Oh, sorry” and walked away.

Case Study Discussion
(Poser Type C)

Seriously though, did I miss something? I mean, there are always going to be people in every subculture that try to be something that they’re not to fit in. I feel more sorry for them than anything – but I think it’s still safe to call a spade a spade in this instance. It’s false advertisement, and I really can’t think of a place in society where that’s considered a good thing.

However, I do have a big problem with people who just want to look like a metalhead because it makes them look edgy or cool. I can’t believe that’s even a thing. That’s why I went to the trouble of going back and finding every instance of it I could and documenting the phenomenon. I’m not saying my knowledge of the topic is 100% perfect, and I might have missed a few things – but it does display a pattern in popular society where people are picking up pieces of the metal “uniform” and adopting them as an edgy fashion trend.

This is probably the most important purpose of the term “poser”. Nobody wants the label – and in learning that you don’t wear a shirt of a band you don’t listen to, you learn an important rule that applies to every genre of music. You only wear a shirt from a band you listen to.

When you’re wearing a band shirt, you’re non-verbally advertising your musical tastes. The purpose of wearing a band shirt (beyond showing support for a band) is so that any fan of the band who sees you wearing it has the opportunity to compliment it or strike up a conversation. If you’re a metalhead, you might have noticed you don’t get a lot of chances to talk with people about music in everyday life. Talking about metal on the internet is one thing, but hearing someone yell SLAYER randomly in public when they see your shirt is a horse of an entirely different color.

Conclusion
(Poser Type C)

I really can’t think of an argument within metal culture or outside of it where you would call someone who does this anything besides a poser.

So what does all of this mean? If you’re not a metalhead, nothing. Within the metal cultural sphere, I think it means that it’s important to recognize and be able to differentiate between assholes and people who are performing a role in the community that’s served it pretty well for at least 30 years.

The term poser and the social implication of it serves a role critical to the maintenance and function of the culture in at least three different areas – it maintains a continuity of culture (with type a posers), it serves as a reality check for members and a ready way to recognize cultural outsiders who are more concerned with exploiting social trends for financial gain (type b), and most importantly it conveys the values and norms/practices of the culture (type c).

Clean Vocals: Partially Selling Out or Completely Selling Out?

Contrary to the title, I actually really like clean vocals in metal. As long as they’re not whiny and angst filled.  This does seem to be a major point of contention in the metal community.

Some people absolutely love it, and some people can’t stand it. Especially in sub-genres like Melodic Death Metal (and it’s American cousin Metalcore), clean vocals have become so commonplace it’s almost camp. Bands like In Flames, Soilwork, Scar Symmetry, Solution .45, Killswitch Engage, Shadows Fall, All that Remains, and the like have been using clean vocals for years – with great success. The list goes on.

And more recently bands like Lamb of God, Whitechapel, Hatebreed, and Amon Amarth have had clean vocals on at least one track of their albums.

The way I see it, there are two things you need to look at when evaluating a band using clean vocals.

  1. Why are they doing it? This should be pretty obvious. If a bands been playing pretty much the same thing for over a decade, sometimes they just want to switch things up. Which is cool, you have to respect artistic integrity and the willingness to branch out and try something new. If the band hasn’t gotten a lot of radio play, and suddenly they have a song with a clean chorus on your local rock station – then you know exactly why they did it. Not cool. I understand wanting to get popular, but if you’re even remotely familiar with heavy metal you should know that you aren’t getting into it for radio play.
  2. Do you like it? I’m actually talking about listening to the song objectively. Maybe this will be the song that makes things “clique” in your head and makes you enjoy a clean chorus now and then. Maybe you just absolutely hate them all, and this will only confirm it for you. If you don’t give it a chance and actually listen to it first before passing judgement – you’re just a fucktard.

Personally, I think there are certain vocalists who should never do clean vocals. I don’t see Karl Sanders from Nile or Corpsegrinder from Cannibal Corpse branching out and doing clean vocals just yet. And that’s cool – if they did I’d be more worried about the world ending.

But clean vocals are a pretty integral part of metal. Besides the obvious Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, guys like Phil Anselmo from Pantera and Warrel Dane from Nevermore have been incorporating clean vocals for years.

And if you have anything negative to say about Nevermore, you’re wrong and I hate you. Those guys fucking rule, and Jeff Loomis is a god.

In fact, even bands like Arch Enemy have been toying with the idea of incorporating clean singing. Alyssa White-Gluz did a lot of them in her prior band The Agonist (they’ve actually gotten a lot better since she left the band, Victoria is a much better fit with their sound).

Also, Manowar has clean vocals. And Manowar kills posers with steel. Your argument is invalid.

In summation, if you don’t like clean vocals pull up your big kid pants and don’t fucking listen to it.

Quit Your Bitching: Metal Elitists are the Reason Your Precious Genre Has Any Integrity

First and foremost, let me get a few things out of the way. We might not have the same definition of metal elitism. And that’s fine. One of the beautiful things about metal culture is that it’s not beholden to corporate control – meaning each fan has the opportunity (and responsibility) to define heavy metal for themselves. And this definition will more than likely change and expand the longer you’re a fan.

Before we go any further – let’s set some definitions so we’re all on the same page, and know what I’m speaking about when I use a term.

  • Heavy Metal – (noun) A type of highly amplified, harsh sounding rock-based music with a strong beat and a heavy emphasis on bass. Characteristically uses violent or fantastic imagery.
  • Metal Fan – (noun) A person who enjoys listening to Heavy Metal
  • Metalhead – (noun) A metal fan who completely immerses themselves in the heavy metal culture and lifestyle. Also referred to as a “lifer”.
  • Metal Purist/Elitist – (noun) A metalhead who will heavily criticize bands (and social aspects of) metal culture that do not meet their personal definitions of what is acceptable. Opinions are often based on popular opinions within the greater metal culture.
  • Asshole – (noun) An irritating or contemptible person.
  • Poser – (noun) A person who pretends to be something they’re not, for the express purpose of impressing other people.
  • Corporate Music Industry – (noun) A group of assholes who happen to have money, and are in the business of selling music and related memorabilia. See Poser and Asshole.

So, what’s the real difference between a metal fan and a metalhead?

OK so, you’re welcome to disagree with me on this. You’d be incorrect, but it’s a free country so go for it. As a metalhead who’s immersed himself in the music and the culture for 20+ years, I’ve come to use the term “metalhead” to refer to a very specific group of people.

Now there’s nothing wrong with simply being a fan – the majority of heavy metal listeners and cultural participants are. Quite the opposite, being a metal fan is a very good thing, as I’m sure any metal fan will tell you.

But for a small percentage of people within heavy metal culture, being a fan is simply not enough. You cross a line and immerse yourself in the music, and in turn the culture. Metal finds it’s way into nearly every aspect of your life. It can be a blurry line to cross, and generally speaking the only person who can really say whether you’re a metal fan or a metalhead is yourself.

What sets heavy metal culture apart from other sub-cultures? First and foremost the music. Without heavy metal, there are no metal fans and there are no metalheads. Secondly, the insular nature of the culture. Because of it’s purposeful lack of marketable mass appeal – heavy metal is a music that is sustained by the participants in the culture. The more a person immerses themselves in the culture, the more they do to support it and keep it going.

So, by definition, a metalhead would be more integral to the metal community and culture simply because they do more and participate more in the culture. There’s actually a sociological term for this phenomenon, it’s called mundane sub-cultural capital. Mundane sub-cultural capital is accumulated by participation in the subculture itself. It’s intangible and difficult to earn – but with it comes credibility. There’s one other type of sub-cultural capital, but as it does not apply to this particular topic we will not be discussing it.

A little history lesson for your bitch ass.

Context breeds clarity, And the main purpose of this writing is to clarify a few things. So, on to the history books. For those readers too young to remember, there was a genre of metal that was 100% music industry created and maintained. We call it “Hair Metal.” And for a period of time, it helped make metal the most popular form of music on the planet. But because it was so strictly defined and never deviated from the industry formula, it defined it’s own mortality and died off. The killing stroke was with the rise of the new industry clone – Grunge. With the advent of grunge, metal was declared dead. And hair metal (and therefore “popular metal”) really was dead.

So who kept metal going when mainstream culture announced it was dead? Oh wait, the metalheads. The elitists. The Purists. The people who knew that the industry couldn’t destroy what it didn’t create, and are directly responsible for you being able to listen to real metal that has artistic integrity and is unbeholden to corporate bureaucracy.

So, what does all of this mean?

By defining what a metal elitist/purist is, we’re better able to see just who someone is really attacking when they make an all-encompassing claim like, “Metal Elitism is out of control” or, “Fuck Metal Elitists.” By making claims like this, all you’re really doing is insulting the people who have, through participation, helped make it possible for you to listen to, play, and enjoy the music you love without corporate music industry intervention. In other words, they’re keeping out the real assholes.

A common mistake people make is confusing the term “metal elitist” with the more accurate “asshole metal fan”. An asshole metal fan, for the purpose of this article, is an asshole who happens to like heavy metal. Seems simple enough. We’ve all met one or read one of their comments on the internet. In fact, I believe these people are the intended targets of public criticism of “metal elitists.” I hate to be the one to break the news, but there are assholes in every walk of life. Including metal culture. That’s just an inevitable fact of life.

Now, can a metal elitist be an asshole? Sure. And when presented with an unsubstantiated or uneducated statement about heavy metal, there’s a very good chance the metal elitist in question might come across like an asshole. But you know what? If you tell an expert on classical music that a particular song comes from the Baroque period, and it doesn’t, they will most likely correct you and come across as an asshole. So you might not like it, but chances are they’re right. This leaves you, really, with two options. You can either a) suck it up and learn your shit or b) whine about it on the internet and get people to throw you a pity party because someone disagreed with you.

Which brings me to another point – not everyone who challenges your metal knowledge or integrity is an asshole. This has been a part of metal culture for a long time. Everyone who’s been around the block knows that when someone in the metal community challenges you, the proper thing to do is make an educated response defending your interests and musical taste. At face value this might seem like a cruel thing to do, but there’s a purpose to it. If you’re wearing a band shirt, or have a patch from a band on your jacket, or you’re talking about a band like you’re knowledgeable about them – you better know what you’re fucking talking about. Band t-shirts and other memorabilia are the universal means of communicating participation in the metal culture. If you’re wearing a band shirt, and you can’t even defend what you like about them to a person, you might want to ask yourself if you really like them. If you are able to make a solid argument for what you like about the band and why, the person will always back down. It’s literally an ongoing rite of passage within the metal community. And it’s a fool-proof way to weed out anyone not dedicated to the music. As such, once you’ve made your argument defending your personal taste you’ve gained a fair amount of sub-cultural capital, and in turn credibility. That’s just how it works.

And when you lay it out like that, anyone who’s been active in the metal scene for any significant amount of time will certainly agree that it’s a good thing. Or at very least, a necessary evil. Does it get annoying? Sure. You know what’s more annoying? Posers and try-hards who are only there because they think it makes them “cool” or see it as a way to piss off their parents, but in reality barely like the music.

OK, I think that’s enough on this particular topic. In closing, if you have a problem with assholes who happen to like metal – join the fucking club. We all hate them. It doesn’t make you special, and you’re not making some groundbreaking observation that’s going to revolutionize the genre. You’re just a self entitled little shit who wants attention and got their feelings hurt. And if you hate true metal elitism, you can fuck right off and suck a chode.

Tune in next time to find out why metal sub-genres are one of the most important things in modern metal, and why not liking them makes you a fucking loser who’s completely wrong.

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