There’s just something about metal heads. Their lack of tolerance for other genres of music is the stuff of legend, and sometimes to a ridiculous degree. Everyone’s seen the videos of My Chemical Romance being bottled off stage at Download Festival a few years ago by a crowd of livid Slayer fans, but that was at least different styles of music. This is where it gets weird, though. Stories abound of Slayer fans turning their backs on support bands simply because they weren’t the kind of metal they preferred. It’s entirely possible that even Metallica in their Master of Puppets heyday wouldn’t have been able to appease these fanatically loyal (read: pathetically childish) music ‘fans’.
I’ve witnessed this first hand. I attended the Sydney concert of the ‘Hate Across Australia’ tour back in June that featured a lineup headlined by Australian band Thy Art Is Murder. American purveyors of gore Cattle Decapitation featured as the main support act. This did not sit well with the legions of heretofore unannounced ‘true metal loyalists’, who immediately took to the kingdom of the self-entitled socially retarded mumma’s boy – the online forum – to express their displeasure. There’s less online shit slinging in a YouTube clip of dysenteric monkeys on laxatives, and it’s both bizarre and stupid because both TAIM and Cattle Decapitation play very similar styles of metal. The only real difference is that TAIM have more breakdowns than Courtney Love and even then, it’s still not worth the amount of tall-poppy syndrome that was witnessed.
It got worse, though. At the Sydney show I attended, half the crowd left immediately after Cattle Decapitation’s set in protest. “Mate, I don’t wanna watch some pussy-ass fag-core band,” I heard one punter say as he walked past me. Now, this is a really disappointing thing. If you’re from Australia, like me, we haven’t had much international recognition in the past. In fact, it’s only been in the last 18 months that the scene has really picked up. When a local band headlines over a well-established international support, you don’t whinge. You pipe the hell down and support your local talent. Regardless of whether you like them or not, our local bands are the lifeblood of our world-class talent pool that is only now becoming recognised as the untapped powerhouse that it always has been and you need to accept that. This goes for Europe, the U.S., Britain, Russia, India, South East Asia, Canada, Brazil, wherever. You let your local scene die, you lose in the long run.
Secondly, and leading on from the last point, a local Australian band headlining is a good thing. For so long, we have been ignored and shunned as that weird-looking island down beneath China. The wealth and depth of our talent has been celebrated for years behind closed doors and every single Aussie metalhead I know has bitched at some stage about how we don’t get the recognition we deserve. Then, one of our own finally gets that recognition we’ve been clamouring for and those same people act as though they have been deeply and personally wronged. It’s stupid, it’s childish and it’s wrong. If it’s not your preferred style of music, then big whoop. I don’t like Missy Higgins, but she was huge for a while there and credit where credit is due.
At the end of the day, a ‘metal fan’ is probably the broadest descriptive term in existence. Black Sabbath and DevilDriver both fall under the banner of ‘metal’, but you’d be hard-pressed to find two more different bands. ‘Melodic death metal‘. ‘Progressive metallic hardcore‘. ‘Symphonic death metal‘. ‘Psychedelic sludge metal‘. ‘Djent’. I’ve seen all these get used at one stage or another and it’s ridiculous. Metal is the most diverse genre of music, and the obscene lunacy of the genre titles is as hilarious as it is groin-kickingly painful. What’s worse is the rabid fanaticism that some fans defend these labels with. The problem is both endemic and systemic and, worse, it’s here to stay. Concert lineups that feature bands of only one genre (although Summer Slaughter, to their credit, went a long way to rectifying that this year). Record labels refusing to work with any band too far outside the box. Bands dissing each other. It’s just extremism and intolerance. It’s the kind of religious fervour people normally reserve for their Apple iPhone vs. Samsung Galaxy debates.
To all these metal extremists, I say this: You are not the only ones, but you are by far the most disappointing. Everyone expects Paramore and A Day to Remember‘s tweeny-bopper fan base to be close-minded to every band that doesn’t have at least one member who’s, like, totallyyyyyy hawwwwwwt uuuu guyyyyyssssss. As Ice Cube said in ’21 Jump Street’, they’re teenagers, man. They’re really stupid. Most of the worst metal fans, however, are grown men and women with children, for God’s sake. The 4,000 men and women who booed the amazing psychedelic grunge band Simple John when they opened for Motörhead in Sydney a few years ago. The man who utilised a disgraceful homophobic slur to outline his stance on the musical output of one of Australia’s preeminent deathcore bands.
You guys all need to shut the hell up and enjoy the variety available to you. I’m writing this wearing a Mastodon shirt and listening to Dream on Dreamer‘s amazing sophomore album, Loveless. If you genuinely don’t enjoy the music because it’s just not suited to your personal tastes, then more power to you. However, if you say that you hate a band without ever having listened to a second of their music, maybe give them a try. You might like them. And you know what? If you don’t like it, shut up and stop ruining it for the rest of us. Any violence motivated by musical output is totally unjustifiable.
Perhaps the great Robert Brockway put it best: “If you’re considering physically attacking someone, ask yourself: ‘Would this make a good plot line for Rambo 7?’”
“If not, consider letting it the hell go and moving on with your life.”