Hey guys, I’m thrilled to share a piece I wrote for Vox on art/alt/heady metal music, why I love it, how to get into it, and some bands to try out. I haven’t had this much fun writing something in a long time.
And now some words for the purists. (Whom I love, despite myself!)
- I knew going in that a lot of metalheads would hate it. It was inevitable. You can’t write the words “heavy” and “metal” on the internet, even if you’re a chemist, without somebody showing up to tell you You’re Doing It Wrong. Didn’t write the piece for them.
- Some people’s unhappiness seems to stem from the headline, which I grant does suggest that this will be a piece specifically on doom metal, a particular subgenre within the world of metal. That’s unfortunate, and I would have preferred they use the term art metal or alt metal. There are, however, two things to say about this. First, “I’m not in love with the headline” is a thing approximately 100% of writers on the internet have said about the stuff they’ve had published. (It amazes me that some people still don’t know this, but writers almost never write their own headlines.) But listen: publishers, particularly those who pay, have a right to decide what the headline is. Headlines have everything to do with whether a piece gets shared, and whether a piece gets shared determines if they’re going to get any advertising revenue. Vox is paying me actual American currency for this piece; they have a right to influence the headline. Second, you could solve this problem by reading the fucking article instead of only the headline and the band names.
- If you want doom metal as such, my friend Gavin recommends Thergothon, Skepticism, and Shape of Despair
- I had a much longer bit discussing what I was talking about and what I wasn’t, mentioning names and genres of more traditional kinds of metal, and defining why I wasn’t writing about them. It was cut in editing. And you know what? That was the correct decision by the editor. The draft I initially handed in was legit 4500 words. I wrote defensively at the beginning because I knew I would take some hits about what is and isn’t metal. But the piece is for exactly the people who don’t care about that; they’re who I’m trying to reach. The piece was improved in editing, and again, when you get paid, the publisher has a legitimate right to cut.
- The piece isn’t, and doesn’t purport to be, a comprehensive guide to any particular genre. It’s saying “here’s some music I’m into, here’s why I’m into it, here’s how to get into it yourself, and here’s some great songs and bands to try out.” Because I really do love it and want other people to love it too.
- I did my time. I spent years going to mostly-terrible and occasionally amazing local metal and hardcore shows at the El ‘n’ Gee club in New London (RIP), followed great metal and hardcore bands like God Forbid and Converge, spending my time in the mosh pits. Met Kerry King. Again, you can never please people. I did my time. I’m too damn old to worry about if I’m a true metalhead.
- I’m opening up comments, so pop in and discuss, ask for recs, give recs, or yell at me about what a hipster/poseur/fake I am. And thanks to Vox and Dylan Matthews.