Metal music and escapism


Amazing Polish band Behemoth

I like most of music types. I know that when you ask someone what they usually listen to, this is the answer you get most of the time. It doesn’t make it an easy answer though so I would like to bring some nuance to it: I like most of music types as long as they make something inside of me resonate. Obviously I like more some music types than others, like everyone who has ever said “I like all type of music”. Music in general and countless genders coming with it are wide enough for everyone to decide to become an expert in a specific one or to keep giving a surface interest to all of them, keeping just what they prefer in it. After this comes the spiky question of genders and sub-genders, as in science the study of infinite small becomes as mysterious as the one of infinite big. For me, to discuss music as well as any other topic, is always at some point bringing to this conclusion: if we get to know enough about something, it is only to realize we know nothing about it (a not so famous dude, Socrates I believe, was saying something like that but I am not so sure).


Mind you though, I still would like to talk about a specific type of music today that is driving me nuts in the good way since I was seventeen years old, meaning later it seems than most of people who started to get interested in it during their glorious rebel teenager period. I am what we can call a Metal head. This confession is usually bringing me same kind of remark, for instance that I don’t look like one (I don’t dress up with corsets, I barely use any make-up so specifically not kohl saturated eyes or skin whitener, or even more clichés) and also than they used to like Metal but it was in high school, crazy years bro, then they went to something else, considering probably the music type too much teenage labelled to keep going on. Then come the other people, the ones that never came out of it, that kept digging in deeper and deeper with years passing by. For that matter, I would like to give a virtual hug to my friend A., being officially her Metal Padawan as she is the one that made me discover a vast majority of the bands I listen to nowadays, since it’s been 6 years we know each other. She is the one who brought me to concerts, that I joined in festivals, that let me countless CDs (yes we were a bit old fashion), that introduced me to her long haired and over trained cervical friends. Thanks to her, I discovered a community that I probably wouldn’t have suspected at that time, when Metal was more a solitary leisure for me. I was already a festival addict though but more the type accordion/pot/large pants ones that flourish everywhere in Southern France when bright days come, the ones that made my high school to current days so enjoyable. But let me tell you it was not exactly the same atmosphere.

I have never been a big fan of huge festivals so it is possible even without taking in account the financial problem, it is quite possible Hellfest or Waken can still wait long for me. So when A. told me years ago about MetalDays, middle size festival with only 2 stages, hidden within the Slovenian mountains near by a beautiful river, I didn’t hesitate that long. I was living in Budapest at that time and a bus ride to Ljubljana was only a few hours long. I participated in 2 MetalDays editions and it made me memories for life, I discovered amazing bands and met a wide range of new buddies. I discovered a really welcoming community beside all clichés, worshipping beer and Jägermeister more than hard drugs. I kept digging in after, penetrating deeper the very active Metal stage in Budapest.

Since I was seventeen and my cousin made me listen to Nightwish for the first time (also the first Metal band I ever saw in concert), I couldn’t find any other type of music with this mental evocative power. Since the beginning I was always fascinated by the imagery my under influence brain while able to produce while listening to it. I have a particular affection for Doom and Atmospheric, for their slow yet stressed rhythm at the same time. They were only 2 times so far that a concert made me cry but it was for them both. First time was in Budapest watching Sólstafir on stage for their Ótta album tour and the second time in MetalDays while observing Ghost Brigade singer getting crazy, always impressed to hear such a powerful voice coming out of such a cadaveric body as the one of Manne Ikonen, who was already way too drunk for it at the time.

It is mostly due to this universe taking us so much out of our daily life that is giving it this great evasion potential. Middle Age, paganism, ode to nature and its beauties, night and all its monsters and fears, romanticism in nineteenth century sense. Also the Nordic culture, as the vast majority of bands being from North America or Europe, and specifically Scandinavia. With the unpleasant part of it that it is making it a very “white” music, despite bands of bands coming from Maghreb countries, Middle East or Asia, particularly Japan, starting being popular lately. Brazil for that matter is an exceptional case in Southern America, with a very successful and strong Metal culture. Many Brazilians can actually be found in European festivals when they get tired of their own Metal scene. But we cannot really say they are helping increasing diversity, most of them being white skinned from the South of the country. The case of recent Sepultura singer, Derrick Green, with black skin, is still very exceptional.

Another type of audience is having trouble with their representation in Metal culture: women. Or at least women in other types than Symphonic Metal or doing something else than lyrical voices or chorus when they exist. Bands like My Dying Bride with Lena Abé as bassist are rare, also Arkona where singer Maria Arkhipova is getting out of classical feminine Metal singers clichés by doing grunts herself with her so flexible and particular voice. If audience feminization is rushing since a few years, we are still far away from parity (more info here).

I have to admit a strong attraction for melancholic music (please don’t say depressive), this is helping in hard as in softer daily life moments. Currents in Metal as in any type of music are countless and with very few exceptions hard and extreme Metal are not my cup of tea, I was never able to find sonorities and musicality nice in them (to the point of doubting there ever was one). Ballads and great flights of lyricism will always have my favor and I do hope to be able to cry in front of a stage because of too much confusing feelings soon again.


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