It's Hard Being Metal-"METAL: A HEADBANGER'S

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It's Hard Being Metal-"METAL: A HEADBANGER'S

Postby Gutterflower » Sat Mar 04, 2006 12:04 pm

IT'S HARD BEING METAL - "METAL: A HEADBANGER'S JOURNEY":

February 27, 2006

A new doc complains that heavy metal is unfairly stereotyped and dismissed. But, J. D. CONSIDINE argues, true headbangers don't actually want your approval. So what's the problem?

Sam Dunn, the narrator, co-director and uber-fan behind Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, doesn't mess around when it comes to heavy metal's image problem. His documentary is barely under way before he begins to enumerate the ways in which metal is denigrated. "Critics thought it was unsophisticated music for unsophisticated people," he says, adding that the music's fans "were considered lowlifes, dead-end kids, the bane of society."

It's the perfect evocation of us-against-them fandom, with Dunn -- a University of Toronto-trained anthropologist and lifelong headbanger -- coming down squarely on the side of the lowlifes and dead-end kids. As such, A Headbanger's Journey is not so much an introduction to modern metal as a plea for understanding.

In the film, which opened on Friday in Toronto and Vancouver, Dunn and his camera crew don't just interview the music's stars; they go into the mosh pit and talk to fans, ranging from a thirtysomething, tattooed ex-Marine to a teenaged girl from Quebec who says metal "gives you confidence."

Despite their long hair, abundant body art and monochromatic wardrobe, the movie says, metal fans aren't lowlifes -- they're just misunderstood, marginalized by a mainstream that can't take the extreme volume and is, frankly, rattled by some of the music's fascination with death and dismemberment.

Yet as artfully as Dunn and company lay out their case for poor, misunderstood heavy metal, there's one point they forget to make: Metal fans don't actually want your company, unless you're willing to be like them.

Some of that seems to stem from the fact that metal fandom is generally all-encompassing and as permanent as a tattoo.

"No one ever goes, 'I was really big into Slayer one summer,' " rocker Rob Zombie says in the film. "I've never met that guy. I've only met the guy that's got 'Slayer' carved across his chest."

But there's also something deeply tribal about metal, something that marks a person as either in or out of the group. Dunn, for his part, has no trouble with this. In the film, we see him walking around the grounds at Wacken Open Air, a massive German heavy-metal festival, and as he talks to fans or wanders past stands selling CDs and T-shirts, the headbangers seem a very friendly tribe, indeed.

Then again, Dunn looks like one of them. He has the same long hair, the same black T-shirt and slacks, the heartfelt enthusiasm. At times, he almost seems to forget that he's making a movie.

He lets his fannish love for the music carry him away.

Sadly, merely liking the music isn't enough, as I've been reminded over many years of covering metal as a part of the mainstream music press. In 1987, when Dunn's love for metal was still being formed, I was sent to cover the Monsters of Rock tour, a stadium extravaganza featuring hard-rock superstars Van Halen, the Scorpions, Dokken and, opening the show, a then-little-known thrash band called Metallica.

Personally, I was keen to see Metallica, and made sure to get to the stadium early. But being a 30-year-old in a sports jacket, I stood out among the T-shirted teens, a few of whom approached to ask with bewilderment, "You don't actually like this music, do you?"

The message was as clear then as it is now: How could you possibly share our values if you're not one of us?

Variations on that theme have repeated ever since, most ironically during a Metallica-headlined stadium tour 20 years later, where the teen fans found it equally hard to believe that someone as un-metal as me might like that night's opening act, Korn. No matter how often metal musicians would insist in interviews that their music was aimed at outsiders, metal culture itself made it quite clear that the only outsiders they really wanted were, well, outsiders like them.

It wasn't always this way. In the eighties, when Dunn discovered metal, the music actually was part of the mainstream. This was metal's big-hair-and-spandex era, when the charts were packed with albums by Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, Poison, Van Halen, the Scorpions, Judas Priest and Ozzy Osbourne. Dunn goes so far as to say that metal had become "the most popular music in the world" -- he seems to have forgotten the contemporaneous success of Michael Jackson and Madonna -- and paints the current metal scene as a sort of life after the fall.

Metal, says Dunn, goes ignored despite the size and loyalty of its audience, and he has a point. Albums by Metallica or Korn routinely sell in the millions, and yet such groups are portrayed as marginal or fringe acts by the mainstream music press -- when they get mentioned at all.

Certainly, metal remains a blind spot for most rock critics. Although metal fans would argue that 2005 was a banner year for their music, pointing to the popularity of such aggressive and adventurous acts as Lamb of God, Shadows Fall and Mastodon, when The Village Voice polled 795 critics on the best albums of 2005, only two metal acts made the Top 100: politicized hard rockers System of a Down and the Swedish death-prog combo Opeth. Mastodon finished 750th; Lamb of God and Shadows Fall got no votes at all.

But there's something oddly self-perpetuating about that lack of critical respect. Although Dunn does interview a few music journalists (including Toronto's Martin Popoff), most of his movie's screen time is given to rock stars and fans. The stars tell funny stories, and the fans laud metal for being "a strong kind of music," as Montrealer Sam Guitor puts it. But when Dunn wants real insight, he turns to a pair of academics: UCLA musicologist Robert Walser and DePaul University sociologist Deena Weinstein.

Both are, believe it or not, metal experts. Walser's 1993 study Running with the Devil (which, early in the film, Dunn flips through at the University of Toronto's Robarts Library) draws musical parallels between heavy metal and classical virtuosity, while Weinstein's 1991 tome Heavy Metal: A Cultural Sociology not only lays out the history of the music but explains the societal forces that formed it. They clearly like the music, and have thought long and hard about it. They don't define themselves by it, however, and as such are able not only to see how metal works as culture and music, but recognize where and how it fits in the larger culture.

Dunn, on the other hand, offers only the knowledge and enthusiasm of fandom. So when he tries to sum up metal's appeal, the best he can do is suggest lamely, "You either feel it, or you don't." Not exactly a doctoral thesis, is it?

If metal is ever to attain the respect and attention Dunn believes it deserves, it needs to rely less on the sort of craven fandom and identity politics A Headbanger's Journey enshrines, and recognize that one needn't be part of the tribe to "feel it." Until then, headbangers will be stuck in a ghetto of their own making.

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Re: It's Hard Being Metal-"METAL: A HEADBANGER

Postby stratattack » Sat Mar 04, 2006 1:07 pm

Amen to that rappers are a bunch of posers sampling other peoples shit ther is no effort there, I have been a metal head sinc the age of 6 that and blues are my salvation .
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Re: It's Hard Being Metal-"METAL: A HEADBANGER

Postby frethead » Sat Mar 04, 2006 8:21 pm

ROCK HARD AND RIDE FREE uhhh, that's what I say about it.
NO sampling
NO "hoodies"
NO headphones
NOONE standing over a record player
NO "Yo ho," unless you're a pirate
NO rap, unless it's somewhere past the middle of a song, and lasts ten to fifteen seconds, max
Last edited by frethead on Mon Mar 06, 2006 6:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: It's Hard Being Metal-"METAL: A HEADBANGER

Postby Deansolo » Sat Mar 04, 2006 8:28 pm

Yeah!!!! What they said.......and since when did learning how to operate a couple of record players and a single fader qualify someone as a musician!!! Damn I hate that!! I hate FU**IN' DJ's!!
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Re: It's Hard Being Metal-"METAL: A HEADBANGER

Postby mrmetal » Sun Mar 05, 2006 12:21 am

Word!

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Re: It's Hard Being Metal-"METAL: A HEADBANGER

Postby stratattack » Sun Mar 05, 2006 9:18 am

yah but the bling is cool it works for YJM!!! LOL!!!!!
and I want tha hoes :twisted: and the cars too 8) they can keep the other stuff :evil: they cant have my metal !!!!!!!!!
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Re: It's Hard Being Metal-"METAL: A HEADBANGER

Postby Deansolo » Sun Mar 05, 2006 11:13 am

stratattack wrote:yah but the bling is cool it works for YJM!!! LOL!!!!!
and I want tha hoes :twisted: and the cars too 8) they can keep the other stuff :evil: they cant have my metal !!!!!!!!!


Most of that bling is UGLY in my IMO.....But YJM was wearin' his Rolex when most of those rappers were still suckin' on gov't similac and dey daddies were still first timers! Tha Hoes are bangin' tho' .... but what I dont understand is why they try to make TRUCKS into SPORTS CARS?!!....22 inch wheels and low profile tires on a truck?!?!!! :roll: Looks Stoopid, YO!



Anyway, RAP is CRAP..........You can't kill rock n roll...it's here to stay.

Disclaimer: All this is just my personal opinion and was not meant to offend anyone living or deceased. :D
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Re: It's Hard Being Metal-"METAL: A HEADBANGER

Postby stratattack » Sun Mar 05, 2006 4:37 pm

but its all true man!!!
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Re: It's Hard Being Metal-"METAL: A HEADBANGER

Postby Deansolo » Sun Mar 05, 2006 10:25 pm

Yeah, but I just want to clarify...I'm NOT A HATER...I just don't like rap. And I dont like way rap "artists" portray themselves in the media ... I also dont like the way rap has displaced Rock music in general. My whole life has been geared towards making rock music and I'm pissed that REAL rock music is now relegated to underground status. i feel like a guerilla fighter fighting for the cause. :x Why cant rap and metal/hard rock exist on the same level in a free society? Why cant we all just get along? :P

Disclaimer: All comments are just my personal opinion and not meant to disrespect or offend anyone real or imagined. :)
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Re: It's Hard Being Metal-"METAL: A HEADBANGER

Postby frethead » Mon Mar 06, 2006 7:04 am

whoops
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Re: It's Hard Being Metal-"METAL: A HEADBANGER

Postby frethead » Mon Mar 06, 2006 7:05 am

Dang. . . Deansolo, you really had me hooked there for a while, bud! I was really impressed wit yo da skreet! (LMAO, does that even make any sense?!!) Dude, to hell with getting along. If you're gonna be a bear, be a GRIZZLY.
We do live in a somewhat (albeit limited) free society, and although I don't think it will ever completely go away, there is no reason to contemplate allowing rap/ hippity-hop to exist on the same level as rock, if rock ever does regain it's proper dominion ( in the traditional sense). Sadly, I was expecting you to send a message to the rappers and hippity-hopsters to "get along," instead of suffering to make everyone happy ( Are you happy? I feel happy. Yes, yes, and I hope you do too! Hoo-hoo!! Do you feel good all-over? Wee!).
O yeah. . . I don't mean to bruise anybody's rapitude.
Last edited by frethead on Mon Mar 06, 2006 10:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: It's Hard Being Metal-"METAL: A HEADBANGER

Postby stratattack » Mon Mar 06, 2006 9:09 am

this is a hip hop free shredtastick ZONE!!!! and its Metal up yah A#S
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Re: It's Hard Being Metal-"METAL: A HEADBANGER

Postby Thajan » Mon Mar 06, 2006 10:07 am

May I remind you the wise words of Brian Johnson:
(All right)
Hey there, all you middle men
Throw away your fancy clothes
And while you're out there sittin' on a fence
So get off your ass and come down here
'Cause rock 'n' roll ain't no riddle man
To me it makes good, good sense

Good sense
Ow
Oooh yeah

Heavy decibels are playing on my guitar
We got vibrations coming up from the floor
We're just listening to the rock that's giving too much noise
Are you deaf, you wanna hear some more

We're just talkin' about the future
Forget about the past
It'll always be with us
It's never gonna die, never gonna die

Rock 'n' roll ain't noise pollution
Rock 'n' roll ain't gonna die
Rock 'n' roll ain't noise pollution
Rock 'n' roll it will survive

Yes it will, he, he, he

I took a look inside your bedroom door
You looked so good lying on your bed
Well, I asked you if you wanted any rhythm and love
You said you wanna rock 'n' roll instead

We're just talkin' about the future
Forget about the past
It'll always be with us
It's never gonna die, never gonna die

Rock 'n' roll ain't noise pollution
Rock 'n' roll ain't gonna die
Rock 'n' roll ain't no pollution
Rock 'n' roll is just rock 'n' roll

Oh Rock 'n' roll ain't noise pollution
Rock 'n' roll ain't gonna die
Rock 'n' roll ain't no pollution
Rock 'n' roll it will survive

Rock 'n' roll ain't no pollution
Rock 'n' roll it'll never die

Rock 'n' roll ain't no pollution
Rock 'n' roll
Oh
Rock 'n' roll is just rock 'n' roll

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Re: It's Hard Being Metal-"METAL: A HEADBANGER

Postby frethead » Mon Mar 06, 2006 10:19 am

There's a good one.

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Re: It's Hard Being Metal-"METAL: A HEADBANGER

Postby Deansolo » Mon Mar 06, 2006 11:30 am

frethead wrote:Dang. . . Deansolo, you really had me hooked there for a while, bud! I was really impressed wit yo da skreet! (LMAO, does that even make any sense?!!) Dude, to hell with getting along. If you're gonna be a bear, be a GRIZZLY.
We do live in a somewhat (albeit limited) free society, and although I don't think it will ever completely go away, there is no reason to contemplate allowing rap/ hippity-hop to exist on the same level as rock, if rock ever does regain it's proper dominion ( in the traditional sense). Sadly, I was expecting you to send a message to the rappers and hippity-hopsters to "get along," instead of suffering to make everyone happy ( Are you happy? I feel happy. Yes, yes, and I hope you do too! Hoo-hoo!! Do you feel good all-over? Wee!).
O yeah. . . I don't mean to bruise anybody's rapitude.


I realised I was starting to rant and preach to the choir. I also realised it isn't the rappers fault...It's the publics fault by accepting the crap that's being fed to them. Before I started my rant, I should have remembered that kids aren't the same anymore, guitars have a lot to compete with these days.... Video games, the internet, blockbuster, RealityTV, etc. Back in the day, you went to the record store and bought an LP for about 6 bucks, took it home put a needle on it, listened and looked at the album cover imagining what it would be like to be Michael Schenker (or any one of your guitar heroes), all the while wearing out the record by playing it over and over till you nailed that one solo that touched your soul. When you got good enough you formed a band and played kegger after kegger (remember those?) till you were good enough to actually make a few bucks playing clubs. Then you started saving to rent studio time to make a 3 song demo (it's called paying your dues). All that's changed... Now you learn a few barre chords, EMO your hair, download the tune, the tab and the software and burn the disc right next to your bunkbed and your pokemon alarm clock...instant recording artist :roll: . It's the same for rocker and rapper. It's all smoke and mirrors..You are what you APPEAR to be.

'Tis a different age, my friends.

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