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No, come back!

I’ve not been giving much love to the six-string worshiping and much maligned world of heavy metal of late. Mainly due to a glut of good new dancefloor electronics but I’m starting to wonder that a subconscious part of me… hesitates. As if it would put people off.

It’s not that I’m ashamed (far from it) but in the love-or-hate-it stakes nothing really comes close to metal – sure, people get obsessive about many sounds, scenes and themes but a lot of people really don’t like metal. Frequently in need of defense whether it be in a courtroom or just over a beer, the pure unabashed directness and extremity that metal strives for is commonly interpreted as empty macho posturing, artless noise for idiots and thugs to bang their heads to. ‘Why is it so angry?’ they ask, but I’ve never seen it as mindless violence, more the most exciting, clear and perfect representation of the joy of being who you are and being alive. ‘YES’ I would (and still do) think, age 16, pressing play on Pantera’s Far Beyond Driven, ‘life is FUCKING AMAZING and I’m gonna GO to the FUCKING PARK’.

It’s easy to laugh at. Endlessly pretentious, histrionic and camp, the best way to take it seriously is to not take it seriously. Treat it like a glorious pantomime, not humorous music but made with an un-ironic awareness of its own absurdity and that of the world around it. It’s the ultimate good time but in a way as cerebral as it is physical. That’s when it’s good I admit, a fair amount of it is utterly crass, ignorant shit but that’s just the byproduct of anything that has such a profound, timeless appeal – it’s as likely to be embraced and regurgitated by one sort of person as the next.

It’s one of the few places that the base, the primal and the carnal truly meet the highest and most progressive forms of art. It can be regressive and avant-garde simultaneously. In a way though, if that’s what you’re thinking at the time then you’re not paying attention. Shut up and listen.

Joe Stannard wrote this great piece about metal’s wonderfully contradictory identity for the Wire. He mentions true metal pioneers such as Slayer, Voivod and Celtic Frost before touching on metal’s recent reapraissal thanks partly to Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson’s Sunn O))). Read it, it’s an excellent primer especially for those who never thought they’d be interested.

Maybe more metal soon.

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