Some years ago, a young man by the name of Sam Dunn made a documentary that showed another side of the Metal World, which I don’t think too many have ever considered existed (unless they are part of that world, of course.) Dunn is a graduate of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC. His degree is in anthropology, but his passion is metal music.
During the course of researching his first documentary, “Metal: A Head banger’s Journey”, he discovered that the metal world has a very bright and positive side, which inspired him to release a second documentary called, “Global Metal”. This journey would have him traveling to places such as, China, India, Japan, Indonesia, and Israel, to name a few places.
This video in turn, inspired me to write an essay for a college communications class about metal and it’s little known impact on the world; an impact which is not insignificant and is a little mind blowing.
Over the years that I’ve listened to metal, I’ve often found myself talking to other metal heads about the music and bands that we love. Usually these conversations start based on a band T-shirt that I may be wearing; waiting in line at metal gigs, or in a store or what have you. I hate to admit this: I usually don’t start the conversations myself as I’m a bit shy when it comes to starting conversations. But once I get talking, you can’t get me to shut up! These conversations are always pleasant; metal heads are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet.
What is the point? Let me discuss a band from Israel called Orphaned Land, who is a brilliant example of the positive side of metal music.
OL is a band which writes lyrics about the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Some of their albums are concept pieces, telling magnificent stories set to “doom-death” metal music. The base of the music is very heavy, but they incorporate middle-eastern music, Spanish music, classical music and various other styles, to enhance the mood of their songs.
But the most interesting thing to me is, they have fans from all three religions (and from many who are not of those religions) and their shows in the middle-east often have these “enemies” together, enjoying the show and the band they all love. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsPb1-uPIic
What you will discover about the metal world is that we don’t care about things such as; if you’re black, white, Mexican, far eastern, gay, straight, fat, skinny, male, female, or whatever else you may or may not be. This world is truly blind to that sort of thing; it doesn’t matter. What matters is the music itself.
Is metal music the great utopian answer to the world’s problems? Well maybe not the be all, end all; there are of course exceptions to this, but those are very small compared to the entire society that is the metal world.
It cannot be denied however, that heavy metal music does have a way of uniting people and overcoming these barriers in a way that is unique. So next time you see a “scary” metal head, consider talking to that person. You’ll find that we ain’t all that scary and in fact are really nice nerds, who like a very powerful type of music.