Saturday, June 9, 2007

metal behind the madness

“So you listen to Metal…whatever went wrong??” Today, a metal-head here is looked upon with as much empathy as one would accord to a dodo—a rarity sure to get extinct. The funny thing is, we still survive.

Is there anything more to metal than sheer ‘noise’?? In India, less than 0.25% of the population listens to any genre of metal. And from this staggering figure, if you remove all pseudos who think metal is embodied by the inimitable Jon Bon Jovi, and all those seen at rock shows doing the latest Hrithik Roshan dance step, you’ve got a bare handful.
So I guess the majority belief must be true, huh? “Get a bunch of scruffy, equally talentless anti-socials shaking their heads trying to innovatively commit suicide while either playing loud, untuned guitars, or simulating that action, and you’ve got metal!!” Right??


The biggest problem with metal is that its been judged by people who think it to be something SAIL makes, and used prominently in bathroom fittings. Have those who pass such a verdict ever even heard metal properly?? Atleast we guys who don’t eagerly buy the latest Bhupi tape know what indipop and its sister acts sound like. Having grown up here, no one can avoid being exposed to a certain amount of the “happening” music, and after that if we abstain, its because we don’t like it.
Then again, if we don’t dance at the few parties we cannot avoid, we’re labeled as “snobs”. I think the real problem is the other forms of music require some sort of collective sanction, that pleasure doesn’t come from within, but from without. But metal is a source of individual release, and does not really require a crowd for its working. Ofcourse, more adds to it, but less does not subtract. You’ll never find a metal-head urging, if not irritatingly coercing, others to headbang.

True, metal requires time and a certain level of exposure to be palatable. But isn’t that true of all forms of music?? Can you readily put on a Mozart or a Bach tape and enjoy it if you aren’t a fan of western classical?? But not even a Daler Mehndi (another Punjabi pop-god!) freak will dare call it nonsense. Then why discriminate against metal??

True, metal sounds very belligerent and unmelodic to the untrained ear. But does that denote lack of talent?? Ask any guitarist worth his salt whether it is easier to play Boyzone or Metallica and you’ll get your answer. Metal focuses more on speed and timing, but not necessarily at the cost of melody.

True, most metal videos feature unkempt men who would probably never be customers of Armani or Louis Phillippe. But is being yourself a crime?? Or is using women brazenly as sex symbols better?? At least metal does not require bare assed, skimpily clad women to sell. The music itself is strong enough.

Metal for metal-heads is more than just music. It’s a lifestyle. It is the purest and most sublime form of self-expression, and of energy release. Its effects are enormously cathartic and invigorating. Put a tape on when you’ve got a headache, and watch the pain disappear. Switch on some metal before your exams and see your confidence soar. Can any one single drug boast of the same??

And you don’t have to be a loser to appreciate metal. Most of my good friends are students of India’s premier institutes, and those working are well settled. Also contrary to popular belief, metal does not encourage alcoholism or drug use. That is purely a personal decision. And their users are also most often those belonging to society’s lowest dregs, or/and the nouveau rich who throng the city’s most “hep” party spots. Neither of whom are metal-heads in any sense of the word.

Metal does have its flip side-of being aggressive and addictive. But in that sense, excess of anything is bad. Also, music is an emotional parameter and cannot be tried under strict laws of rationality, and most of all by a jury comprising ignorant yet prejudiced non- metal-heads. For as the Bible says- “Let he who has not sinned, cast the first stone.” Amen.

peace, love, empathy
ram cobain

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