Metal often gets a bad rap from anyone who doesn’t listen to it, with the usual “all it is is screaming” or “what is this crap?” comments usually spouting from their mouths during the first few seconds of the song. These comments usually come from people who a) don’t listen to metal and usually b) people who tend not to listen to rock music at all. But why?
Yes, there are certain metal bands whose vocals focus heavily on screaming rather than singing – but so what? It is their choice of showing emotion in their song, rather than singing it. It’s exactly asking why hip-hip artists rap, because they want to. Screaming in itself is somewhat of a talent, it’s not easy to keep it going for any notable length of time. A live show can last an hour or longer, and I bet most people couldn’t keep up the strain on their voice for that long. So why the sly remarks toward the music? I don’t complain about a whole genre being awful, I’ll point out if I don’t like a song but not that the whole scene is a big pile.
The lyrics too fall under heavy scrutiny, with the sarcastic comments such as “rar rar rar kill everyone rar” or “yeah worship Satan rar rar”. Now, I can’t say that some artists don’t say a variation on these things but most bands tend not to. Once you travel down toward the heavier area of metal, the lyrics are often darker. Here’s a very brief example of how metal gets heavier:
This is how metal gets progressively heavier and how it is split, and yes the heavier it gets the more screams and growls are prominent in the songs. But lyrics of metal bands are seen as abusive and outrageous. Yes there are bands who use very colourful language in their lyrics such as the black metal band Mayhem in their song ‘Ghoul’ “The sweet smell of warm blood/It fills the air/Your fucking guts/Splattered everywhere”. Not nice by anyone’s standards, but there are bands out there who aren’t metal and have questionable lyrics too.
Punk bands such as Dead Kennedys and The Misfits have lyrics containing these so called “kill everyone” lyrics. Dead Kennedys have songs entitled ‘Kill The Poor’ and ‘I Kill Children’ and The Misfits song ‘Last Caress’ features the lyrics “I’ve got something to say/I killed a baby today/It doesn’t matter much to me/As long as it’s dead”. Now I’m not condemning these artists, I’m a fan of both, but people don’t often pick up on punk as being as abusive as metal in terms of lyrics. Why not?
Is it the image metal bands have? The fact they’re seen as long haired, leather bound angry men who just scream at everything. Is it that they do scream? Perhaps screaming instantly means angry to some people, which causes a cocky remark to be made about the quality of the music. Who knows?
I don’t think metal bands are ever going to become ‘mainstream’ at any point in the near future, especially the heavier ones. Similarly I don’t think they’re going to be accepted by the masses as an ‘acceptable form of music’, purely for the stereotypical view people have. And that is just sad.