Metal Misconception by Marnina Herrmann

Posted: February 22, 2009 by Maximum Mike in The Rocking Chair Blog
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At five feet tall, with blond hair and an insatiable appetite for accessorizing I look like the last person one would expect to be a Metalhead. Yet, when you look through my iPod it tells a very different story. People often see a disconnect between my musical preferences and me. The thing is, the disconnect does not lie between me and my 14.60 G of music, but rather between reality and perception.

People hear metal and they automatically think death and blackness and yelling and evil. Admittedly, that is what a lot of heavy metal is. Black metal bands prefer screaming to singing and death metal bands enjoy morbidly themed lyrics. Fortunately the reality is, a lot of metal is so much more.

Gothic metal and melodic death metal for example, tend to have soft, melodic vocals and hauntingly beautiful lyrics. Bands such as Within Temptation and Lunatica sing emotional ballads of enchantment, love and tragedy.

Power metal has clean vocals, fast guitar solos, brilliant keyboardists and is so much fun. Tony Kakko of Sonata Arctica gets audience members at his concerts to belt out various animal noises during his onstage renditions of “Old MacDonald had a Farm.” The band Battlelore’s songs have a single consistent theme: The Lord of the Rings. And when discussing power metal it is impossible to skip over Helloween and their wacky track “Heavy Metal Hamsters.”

Metal is also known for having some really obscure sub-genres. For a Genre of music so intent on not subscribing to labels, some bands sure know how to pigeonhole themselves. There is Viking metal, troll metal and folk metal. These odd categories can usually be fit into some of the more classic subgenres of metal, but when a band seems content to describe themselves as “True Scottish Pirate Metal,” why take that away from them?

Some of the greatest metal bands borrow sounds from completely unrelated genres. Nightwish’s original singer was a trained opera vocalist. Many fans thought the blend of opera and power metal where what defined the band. They were furious when Nightwish gave Tarja the axe. Finntroll mixes black metal with Finnish polka, called the humppa. And no, they don’t sing in Finnish. Apparently Swedish sounds more trollish… One of my new favorite bands, The Diablo Swing Orchestra mixes progressive metal with swing music. Israeli band Karma Noir blends gothic metal with opera, rap core, electronic and Oriental music.

What I am trying to say is, labels are for grocery stores, not for music. Metal is an extremely diverse genre, so diverse that some of my anti-metal friends have been known to admit to liking songs playing in my car without ever expecting to hear that those songs are actually metal. Before writing off this powerful and eclectic mix of artists, try listening to some of them. You may be surprised with the results.

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