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From Hell's Heart
"From Hell's Heart..." is an editorial column written by the Metal-Rules.com team. Every other month or so we
pick a metal-related topic and share our thoughts, feelings and ideas on it.
Are you a metalhead if you remain loyal to only one genre? (September 2002)
Are you a metalhead if you remain loyal to only one
This is a very good question and I’m sure its one that will cause quite a bit of commotion when it is read and debated. I think my short answer to this question would be.. NO! As a young metalhead I always thought of metal as somewhat of a brotherhood and metalheads as more open minded than the average music listener. I mean, we all listen to a form of music that is underground as far as the average passive music listener is concerned. That leads me to the core of this editorial. Can you still be a metalhead if you remain loyal to only one genre and have little or no respect for the rest of the metal spectrum? To me how can you be a metalhead in that case? Where is the open mindedness that is supposed to be a main component of metal? Such a broad genre of music will of course create strong feelings in listeners who come from many economic, social, religious and national backgrounds. But one thing that should be a core of metal is respect. I personally like certain genres of metal more than others but I respect anyone who plays metal in an age where becoming a “rock star” is a thing of the past. Music is usually made for very different reasons. Mainly the love of the music is the overriding factor but whatever the case I respect them for making it even if I don’t necessarily like it. I am not going to pit one genre of metal against another but there are fans and bands alike in certain genres who feel that they are “above” those who don’t see their point of view on the “greatness” of their chosen genre. Its cool to support your favorite bands but to close your eyes to a wider world of metal makes me wonder why someone would consider themselves a metalhead in the first place?
Are you a metalhead if you remain
This topic reminds me of an older editorial called "Metalhead or Metal Listener?".
There is an underlying question contained within the question itself. The immediate and simple answer I suppose is Yes. If a person only listens exclusively to one genre of metal and that alone (including other styles of music) then obviously going by the basic definition they would be a metalhead.
However, there are subtleties within this scenario. I'll use an example. If a person enjoys a sport, hockey for example but only follow their local professional team, are they considered a hockey fan? Yes, using a most basic definition but compared to a person who follows the entire sport, many teams, many leagues and submerses his or herself in the "culture" of hockey then I would argue that dedicated person is a real fan in comparison to the guy who only watches a few games of his team on TV.
As with metal there is no right or wrong way to enjoy music, but there are diverse levels of appreciation of metal; from the most ardent black metal fan who rejects all deviations from Black Metal as impure to the most mainstream rocker who would argue that mallcore IS metal.
In my mind there can be a combination of…
It is a balancing act but if you can manage a reasonable mix of those three elements you may find the experience of enjoying the vast diversity of metal to be very rewarding and enjoyable.
"A person who only likes Vanilla Ice Cream,
but does love Vanilla, still is an Ice Cream Lover…."
The question presented is whether a person can only like one genre of metal and still be a metalhead. The answer, in my mind, is easy-of course!
Metal music is very diverse-some types of metal simply sound NOTHING LIKE other types. Assuming that we all agree that power metal, black metal, symphonic metal, true metal, etc. are all, nonetheless, metal, then we can all agree that not all metal sounds even remotely the same. Since it doesn't all sound the same, there is no reason why a person should have to like all of it in order to consider herself a metalhead. One doesn't have to love the whole in order to love a part. For example, a person may say that they love music, but not love country music. Does the fact that they don't appreciate country music mean that they aren't a music lover? Of course not!
Of course, being a metalhead is about more than simply enjoying metal music, at least to many metalheads. In addition to being a hobby or interest, it can also be a lifestyle, or something that a person feels in his or her blood. Some people feel that if a person bashes all types of metal other than the one type they enjoy, that they are somehow hurting all metalheads and the scene in general. Although I generally have a "Can't we all just get along?" mentality, in this instance I still think the people who like only one genre of metal are still metalheads, and aren't destroying the scene by sharing their opinions about genres they don't like.
I analogize this question to a Farrakhan essay I read recently, in which Farrakhan was basically saying that by virtue of being black, black people have to support all other blacks, regardless of philosophical or other differences. Somehow, by saying that black people should support all blacks (and only blacks), even if they don't agree with them, he appears to me to be arguing that black people should be mindless, and look only to color and not to underlying philosophies and beliefs. Similarly, if a metalhead lets go of his opinions and beliefs that a certain genre of metal doesn't sound good just because that genre is called "metal," that metalhead is also made mindless. To me, metal is about strong beliefs and sticking to them. Of course, name-calling and calling bands "gay" IS mindless-but sharing opinions or explaining why a person only likes one type of metal is VERY metal, in my opinion.
Are you a metalhead if you remain loyal to only one genre?
In my opinion, the simple answer to this question is NO. If you only listen to one particular type of metal, you are not a metalhead at all, just a metal listener. Is there anything wrong with that? Well, not really, but the bottom line is you are missing out on so much of what metal in it's many forms has to offer. I know my opinion on this topic might ruffle some feathers, but so what? I'm not deliberately trying to piss anyone off or alienate any certain fans of metal at all, just to tell it like I see it.
One example of a metal listener is the black metal elitist. This is the kind of genius who only listens to the most extreme form of "evil" black metal that is recorded on shitty equipment, mixed to sound even shittier, and then only sold to those "true" enough to comprehend the message contained within the "music." This of course doesn't apply to all black metal fans!! However, anyone who has seen the attitudes and opinions put forth by some of these people will know exactly what I'm talking about. One example of the type of asshole who fits into this category is the person who recently assaulted the vocalist for HammerFall, Joacim Cans. That person was wearing the t-shirt of a black metal band. Joacim was assaulted for being in a metal band that was seen as being not "true" or "metal" enough for this close minded clown.
At the end of the day, no one has to love all forms of metal. You don't have to like HammerFall or any other band for that matter. But to act out like that is not at all cool and not at all the actions of someone I would call a metalhead. The same goes for someone who only listens to pop-metal or whatever style of metal. If you hate more styles of metal then you like, you are not a metalhead. If 99.999% of the heavy metal bands out there turn your stomach, you are not a metalhead. It's ok to know what you like and to have the opinion that you love a particular style of metal more than all the rest and to mainly buy CDs from bands that fall into that style. If you presume to think that only what you listen to is worthy, that only the bands you like are cool and every other metal band is either "gay" or not true enough for you then you are not a metalhead in my books.
Is it possible to be a metalhead
For the first time, Metal-Rules presents me with an essay topic where my answer is basically, "Beats me." That may seem like a cop-out, particularly since the topic itself is nearly an invitation to genre warfare. I observe that little excites metalheads quite so much as (a) bashing subgenres of metal they hate, (b) lionizing genres they love, or (c) imploring everybody to just get along. Perhaps it's my lawyer's training, but in this essay I'm going to choose to do (d), none of the above!
Whether a "one-genre fan" can really be called a metalhead is a question that can't be answered without making a lot of generalizations, some of which may be untenable. It seems to me that people who like bands solely of one genre--black metal, power metal, etc.--would tend to fall into two categories. One is an absolute die-hard who is so into his or her own genre that they simply can't tolerate anything else. The other would be a casual fan, someone who likes only a few bands, and it just so happens that they all fall into the same genre. Are either of these types metalheads? There's a much stronger case, in my opinion, for the first type to be called a metalhead. They know what they like, what they're listening to and why, and they have a definite sense of their favorite genre's place in the metal hierarchy. So, if you had to pin me down, I'd say yes, they're probably a metalhead.
As for the second group, I guess it depends. My mother likes some Rhapsody and a little Blind Guardian. Is my mother a metalhead? That seems a stretch. Perhaps a better question to ask is, if she is not a metalhead, is she not one because the only metal bands she likes happen to be power metal bands? If she liked only three bands--Rhapsody, Blind Guardian, and Immortal--would that make her a metalhead?
Whether someone is a metalhead, I believe, depends entirely on their relationship to the music itself. I don't think you can draw a bright line and say that the guy in spikes and corpse paint is not a metalhead because all he listens to is black metal, but the casual metal listener is because he likes four bands all from different genres. These are all generalizations I'm not willing to make.