By the grace of our dark lord and saviour and bringer of noise Lemmy Kilmister, I—Knava—am a metalhead.
It is known.
Metalheads get a bad rap sometimes. It was once the case that heavy metal was a major moral panic. Manufactured by the self-appointed arbiters of ‘family values’ and the leaders of a certain brand of Christianity, heavy metal was painted as a dire threat to the morality of youth. Following the release of their magnificent breakthrough album, 1982’s ‘The Number of the Beast’, London’s Iron Maiden were welcomed into America by hordes of denim-clad fans eager to eat up their brand of unique, theatrical metal, but also by a nationwide outrage over the insidious Satanic inculcation that was apparently the ulterior motive of their music. That was all decades ago now of course, several life times in pop culture terms, and the conservative busybodies have long since moved on to other, greener pastures to sustain their need for misplaced outrage ( ‘We need to find examples of moral depravity in our society! Should we pay some attention to our foreign policy, or perhaps how we treat the weakest amongst us? Yeah, nice try you Commie, look: a new Grand Theft Auto!’)
But even as our presence has faded away from the mainstream; even as the guardians of morality no longer see us as a threat; even as our numbers have shrunk to a relative (nevertheless all the more fiercely devoted) niche—even now us metalheads still sometimes get a bit of a bad rap. We can come across a bit…Angry. Closed off. And hey, I get it! All that darkness, all that heaviness, all that aggression. It can seem hostile, impenetrable. Metal was born in the bleak industrial heartland of the English Midlands. Heavy darkness was the daily reality for its original working class proponents; who stripped away the last remnants of the blues from the American-influenced heavy rock that was then all the rage and who refined the hard metallic core into an instrument of bludgeoning power—but also immense depth and nuance—that could speak to the nature of their existence. But, hey, like I say. I get it. I know how it can sound and look to people not familiar with its world. Especially as it’s only gotten louder and heavier over the years. Even a band as gloriously layered and clever as France’s Gojira is still sledgehammer heavy and pretty much reinforces that stereotypical view of The Metalhead:
But dig deeper and you’ll see more. The sensitivity, the empathy, the love. That’s what it’s all about, man. A metal moshpit is the perfect embodiment of this disconnect between appearance and substance. On the surface of it a mosh pit looks like a roiling sea of violence. And it is. But the undercurrent is much more nuanced. For a start the violence is consensual. Everyone who is in a pit wants to be there, and has signed up to an unspoken code. No eyes, no spikes, no gouging. If anyone wants out, they can retreat, or be asked to be surfed out. There is always a friendly giant wandering a pit, having people bounce off him and willing to give anyone stranded a boost out. The hivemind dynamic of a pit reveals too the caring nature of the community. When someone goes down, the immediate area around reacts, instantly. The moshers closest to the fallen reach down and hoist them up, patting them on the back and grinning as if to say, ‘You alright? Let’s have some more!’, while those one or two layers away form a protective ring to ensure nobody gets hurt during the lightning quick rescue. Metalheads are caring, accepting people. There are exceptions, of course, as with any group. But as the metalhead community has shrunk over the decades to a very devoted core, it has absorbed a lesson that comes with being niche: Look after each other, and look after those who need looking after.
The Westboro Baptist Church. Remember them? Those snivelling, attention-seeking hatemongers who used be in the news a lot for harassing funerals and LGBT+ events—among many other things. Well apparently they’re still around, and up to the same old pathetic shit. They were in the news yesterday for arriving at the state Capitol in Virginia to protest the appointment of Del. Danica Roem, D-Manassas. Roem is the state’s first and only openly transgender lawmaker. She also happens to be a metal singer, as well as a friend of ‘Lamb of God’ frontman, Randy Blythe. Upon hearing that the hate group were planning to ‘protest’ Roem’s appointment, Blythe sent out a message to his followers, asking fellow metalheads to show up and lead a counter-protest. And to wear the most ridiculous clothing they could find. And to bring a kazoo.
View this post on Instagram
THIS is how you deal with clowns like the #westborobaptistchurch. They want hate. They want anger. They want screaming arguments. Most importantly, they want lawsuits- many of their members are attorneys just waiting for someone to punch them so they can sue the pants off them. What did RVA give them today? Outrageously costumed freaks. Dancing. Head banging. Drumming. Vuvuzelas. Oh yeah- and kazoos. LOTS of kazoos. The noise was INCREDIBLE- no one could hear a single word they said. They have the right to say those ignorant things- but you have the right to throw a party so loud they leave early, looking totally defeated. And that’s EXACTLY what happened today- we had a blast, & they burned through some of their bank account getting to our town. TOTAL VICTORY, so BEAT IT, KOOKS. I didn’t take a single photo today- too busy partying in the streets, MY STREETS. Everyone but the #westborobaptistchurch had a good time today- smiles all around, just the way I like it. Now I can get some rest & go back to my normal craziness. Thanks for showing up so early, RVA- y’all went HARD today. 🔥🔥🔥 #kazoo #counterparty #champagnejam #beatitkooks
Lamb of God lead singer Randy Blythe leading counter-protesters to an appearance by Westboro Baptist Church at Capitol Square Richmond, Virginia. pic.twitter.com/7jAwqijFKi— Chip Lauterbach (@ChipLauterbach) March 11, 2019
@hEnereyG hopefully this is a good start to your day. Randy Blythe from lamb of god organized a counter party to the Westboro Baptist Church today in Va. this is the result. pic.twitter.com/kN5MAcdkHG— Corgin Hammersmith (@Finn_Dingo) March 11, 2019
Suffice it to say, it was a rout. According to the Virginia Mercury:
About six members of the Westboro Baptist Church attended. They arrived before 9 a.m. and left about a half hour later. They planned a second demonstration on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University later in the day.
Roem was not in attendance, but had her own response to the Westboro Baptist Church visit, turning it into a fundraiser that collected more than $25,000 for her reelection campaign.
“I set out to make the best out of a bad situation by doing what a good candidate for office should do,” she said last week. “Flip the script on something negative by raising money off of the response without amplifying the original negativity and driving a unifying message about love conquering hate.”
So there you have it. Metal. The music of love and inner peace.
(Source: Virginia Mercury)
Header Image Source: Twitter