What We Can Learn From Heavy Metal And Alternative Music

Alternative music isn’t always about headbanging and screaming into a microphone. Some can enagage listeners with deep thought provoking topics.

When Reverend Rachel Mann, Church of England, said to the press that “Christians could learn a lot from heavy metal” it was clearly a contrast to the cliché of the metal genre being one that praises satanic rituals and wrist slitting self-abuse. Reverend mann said that the heavy metal genre is unafraid to tackle darker issues of human nature and can be a liberating experience.

Metal Bands That Use Concept Albums To Explore Deeper Meanings.

Many bands explore concepts within an album. This is bridged together by different songs representing chapters within a narrative. These concepts can be political, philosophical, spiritual and fictional.

When post-metal band Isis released their third album Panopticon 2004 it was a concept record that related to Jeremy Bentham’s all-seeing Prison. The human race exists in a prison and is surveyed by a higher being.

Thrash and industrial metal band Fear Factory has been tackling with the concept of man vs machine throughout several concept albums that became most notable from their third album Obsolete in 1998. The album tells a story in which humanity creates machines only for machines to render mankind useless.

Swedish progressive death metal band Opeth released Still Life in 1999 which follows a protagonist who is banished from his hometown and returns years later for his win back his former lover Melinda.

Poetry In Metal And Alternative Music.

Aside from the idea that metal bands writes lyrics around teenage angst and unrequited love-there are bands that use and create poetry within their lyrical content.

Alternative rock band Brand New, led by vocalist Jesse Lacey released ‘Sowing Season’ from their third album The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Of Me 2006 The song recites passages from Rudyard Kipling’s poem If.” If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools.”

A Norwegian gothic metal band known as Theatre of Tragedy released their self-titled album in 1995 with lyrics written in Shakesperean Early modern English.

“Behold a jocund morn indeed! –

Sun on high – birds in sky.

Yonder the whist firth eathing,

Fro where a gale erranteth” ‘A Hamlet For A Slothful Vassal’

Meanwhile other bands are also inspired to write their own poetry. Mikee Godman former vocalist from British-tech metal band Sikth included a spoken poem in their debut album The Trees Are Dead And Dried Out, Wait For Something Wild in 2003. In the poem-‘When will the forest speak’– Mikee writes about living in a world surrounded by modern technology and a struggle to find inner peace with nature.

Alternative Bands That Pay Tribute To Former Musicians.

Alternative metal bands do not necessarily reject other musical genres despite what Steel Panther’s had to say in Death to all but metal.

North Carolina progressive metal band Between The Buried And Me paid tribute to the musicians who died playing their instruments on The Titanic in the song ‘Aesthetic’ from The Silent Circus album in 2003.

Meanwhile Swedish hardcore punk band Refused named their final and most versatile album The Shape of Punk to Come in 1998 in regard to Ornette Coleman’s The Shape of Jazz to Come in 1959.

Album Artwork In The Metal Genre And It’s Subjectivity.

Not every album case will posses some deeper meaning beyond its flashy cover set to catch the purchasers eye. However Some bands will have a purpose behind the albums artwork.

Canadian cartoonist Todd Mcfarlane who designed Spawn comics along with Spiderman antagonist Venom worked on the artwork for Disturbed’s Ten Thousand Fists album. The artwork later became integrated into their music video ‘Land of confusion’. The video shows society rising up against corrupt politicians and their soldiers who resemble Hitler’s protection squad.

A Perfect Circle’s debut album Mer de Noms, meaning sea of names, has various symbols appearing on the albums artwork. They became transcribed as Mayan text reflecting certain themes within the album. The symbols became popular in tattoos and computer fonts.

Heavy Music Can Help You Overcome Your Personal Demons.

Although alternative music is one that is generally perceived as loud it does not necessarily convey a negative message to the listener.

Canadian hardcore punk band Come Back Kid released Wake Up Dead 2005 in which the album’s title track delivered a positive and unifying message. “Stop living under the weight; living under the weight of regret.”

Connecticut hardcore band Hatebreed in their single ‘I will be heard’ from Perseverance 2002 also brings to light the theme of overcoming hardships. “Now is the time for me to rise to my feet. Wipe this spit from my face and wipe these tears from my eyes.”

Metal Bands Who Have Christian Beliefs And Refer Directly To Jesus.

Despite the anti-religion themes that are often affiliated to metal; there are bands in the genre that do worship God and they are prepared to sing about it.

One example can be found from the former vocalist from Westfield Massachusetts metalcore band Killswitch engage. Jesse Leech was a Christian and his spiritual beliefs could be found in their second album Alive Or Just Breathing. Lyrically Jesse questions whether we are truly alive or just existing and refers to the biblical story of Babylon.

Florida metalcore band Underoath are also Christians and have been known to admit this to fans at their shows. On their fourth album They’re Only Chasing Safetly 2004 Spencer Chamberlain opening refers to Jesus.

“Oh sweet angel of mercy with your grace like the morning wrap your loving arms around me.”

The Teachings Of Heavy Metal: Lessons Learn’t The Loud Way.

Whether anything can be learn’t from alternative music depends on how far you are willing to invest time in it. These bands are indeed ones that all have something to say; and are not afraid to say it loud. Some will explore deep philiosophical issues and religous beliefs while others pay tribute to art and literature.

Either way it is safe to say that the cliches affiliated to the genre are created by those who are ignorant of it.

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