I hate apologizing for metal fans

I love metal. I love metal. The first time I heard Ghost of Perdition was a religious experience. When I played Man Made God for the first time, I… well, I didn’t stop playing it for weeks. I can remember the first time I heard Player One. I know exactly where I was, what I was doing, and what I felt.

Earlier this year my fiance brought me to what was, basically, my dream show. Katatonia and Opeth. VIP passes.

I met my favorite band before proceeding to headbang for four hours, losing my voice somewhere in the process. I felt light headed. I was in heaven. I will never forget that moment. It was perfect.

I love metal.

It’s the energy — but not quite. There’s more to it than that. It’s the spirit, the absolute release. Sometimes that goes in an evil direction. Sometimes, though, it can go in an incredibly positive one.

But you know what?

Metal fans kind of irk me.

Not all of them, mind you. I’ve met plenty of great metalheads in my life. I’ve had dudes stand behind me (and my fiance who had to take off her boots!) during a Devin Townsend show to protect us from flying bodies. I’ve met metalheads at college who have been incredible people, helping me out whenever I’ve needed it. And hell, the metal musicians I’ve met have been incredible. Opeth? Class act. That Devin Townsend show? I watched as Devin sat down on the stage after the show ended, talking to every fan that walked up to him.

I don’t even have to mention the numerous stories about the legends. Just say the name Dio, and you know what you’re in for.

But — despite all of that — there’s… well, those fans.

You know — the ones that always think they are more hardcore. That they are totally kvlt cuz’ they listen to black metal or deathgrind bands that are so obscure you’re fairly certain they might be made up.

The ones that immediately drop the “metal quiz” on you. Or — worse yet — the ones that claim that band X really isn’t metal, because… well, because, man.

The thing is, these guys don’t bother me. They really don’t. I’m not in high school. I don’t need someone to validate my musical taste.

No, I dislike them because they have turned “metal” into a tag that tends to mean “taste elitist.” In the past month I’ve had three people come up to me, talking about music. As soon as I let the metal flag fly (usually by casually mentioning I’m a fan — nothing obscene!) I get a stare, followed by a look of fear.

“Oh… well, I don’t listen to anything like that. You probably wouldn’t like my music that much.”

Usually it’s followed my nervous laughter. You can just tell they’re waiting for their musical taste to be cross-examined.

I have to immediately backpedal. I bring up the fact that I dig prog rock too (which sometimes elicits the same response!), and hey! underground rap is pretty cool, and the mainstream stuff can be pretty okay too! I usually casually mention that I like a lot of industrial stuff, and that I was on a pretty huge drum n’ bass kick for years. I even have Lady Gaga on my playlist!

At this point there’s usually a bit of relief. Which is good! After all, I love talking about music (hell, I can hardly go a day without linking something on Facebook)!

It’s just… I know why they have that reaction. I just wish they didn’t have to have it.

Certainly, metal isn’t the only “thing” with this problem. While metal fans are notoriously outspoken, virtually every other genre of music has its elitists. And then outside of music, you’ve got all the other forms of media, each with its own brand of asshole.

And yes, there are much worse cultural problems than music elitists. Certainly.

But shit, guys. It’d be nice to have one hobby that I didn’t have to apologize for.

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