How Heavy Metal Saved My Life
How I Came to Love the Music That I Once Feared
When you hear the word metal, in regards to music, what comes to mind? Before I became a full-on metalhead, I was afraid of metal. I hated the genre. Until my junior year of high school, whenever someone mentioned the music I would immediately think of Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Cannibal Corpse, Slipknot, and every other famously evil band that the genre had to offer. I was afraid of the music. I was raised in a very Christian household, and I thought that the music would somehow possess me, blacken my soul, pretty much everything the Catholic Church was saying throughout the 1970’s and 80’s, what my parents were taught as children. Little did I know, that I, and almost my entire family, would become Metalheads.
In high school, especially my junior year, I started dealing with a lot of stress, like every other high school student. This, coupled with depression and anxiety, made for quite a difficult time. To be perfectly honest, I was on the verge of suicide. I was contemplating it, embracing the fact that I wasn’t good enough for this world, and I was about to do it. Then, my mother, who I had been hiding my feelings from for months, called me into the dining room, where our family computer is. A friend of mine and my brother’s, a small arms and artillery repairman in the Army, who spent a surprising amount of time on Facebook, had shared one of the greatest and most interesting videos I had, and have, ever seen. It was a music video. The band? Van Canto.
You’re probably wondering who they are. I was, too. I had never heard the name before in my life. In fact, even now, I’d be pleasantly surprised if anyone else I know had heard of them. Unsurprisingly, they are a metal band. However, there’s something very peculiar about them. They are, as far as I know, the worlds only (or at least, the world’s best) acapella metal band.
I was captivated and astounded since the first second of the music video, for their song, "Rebellion." It was incredible, and, for lack of a better description, hauntingly beautiful. Men and women singing in perfect harmony, with the only instrument being a drum set. I could write an entire article about the band and their music, but that’s for another time. If you have time, they’re definitely worth looking up. It just might save your life.
Needless to say, the experience changed my life. I began to think maybe metal isn’t so bad after all. I listened to them nonstop for months. With every song I listened to, I became stronger. I didn’t feel sad anymore. This music, which I once believed to be evil, had made me much stronger. I decided to learn guitar, teaching myself with the help of an app on my phone, at first learning my favorite songs, AC/DC’s "Thunderstruck," U2’s "Iris," Boston’s "More Than a Feeling", until I was bored with playing such easy songs. As I developed my ability to play, my music choice grew as well. I began listening to other metal bands, and the very second band I listened to is my favorite band, even today. They are called AVATAR. A Swedish melodic, death, and avant-garde metal band, they astounded me, countless others with their beautiful, terrifying, and spectacular (to say the least) music. Their first song that I ever heard was called "The Eagle Has Landed," which remains my favorite song to this day.
I suddenly found that I couldn’t stop. I listened to Dragonforce, Five Finger Death Punch, Metallica, Once Human, the list goes on. With every song I listen to, every new band I find, I become happier, I feel better, I somehow find more friends. That’s one thing that movies and television never seem to get right. In nearly every show and movie, metalheads are made to look like angry thugs. But that’s the exact opposite of how it really is. Nearly every metalhead I've met is kind, considerate, and just a good person in general. The bands I’ve had the pleasure to meet have been even better, especially Once Human, the band pictured above, who were some of the funniest, nicest people I’ve ever met. Of course, there are exceptions, like the fans who get completely drunk and try to force people into a mosh pit, only to be thrown out of the venue by security, or bands that promote hatred, death, and suicide. But, from what I’ve seen, metal fans and musicians are some of the best people I’ve ever met. For example, I’ll compare a Dragonforce concert that I attended to a famous incident at a Kanye West concert.
I’m assuming that you’ve heard of the infamous wheelchair incident at one of Mr. West’s concerts. If not, here’s a brief summary. West demanded that everybody stand up for a song, and he saw that one man didn’t. So he sent security to kick him out, only to discover that he was in a wheelchair. This was made famous a few years ago, with just about every new agency reporting on it. Now compare this incident to what happened at a Dragonforce concert I attended last July. At the beginning of the concert, I noticed a young man in a wheelchair trying to get a good spot to see the show. Everyone immediately made a path for him, giving him the best spot at the very front, and when the band came out, they treated him like a VIP, asking if he wanted to come up onto the stage, if he wanted to hang out with them after the concert. It was amazing to see my idols treating someone like that so well. It made me realize, if these gods of music treat others so well, I should too. This was one of the many music-related experiences that changed my entire outlook on life.
Because of this genre, which I once hated with a burning passion, I have become a better person. This music has not only saved my life when I was at my worst, but changed me to be better. I used to think that all metal was angry, hateful people screaming about death and the devil, but if you actually listen to (most) metal lyrics, you’d be pleasantly surprised. Every Dragonforce song I’ve heard is about overcoming difficulty, and rising above it. September Sky wrote a song called "The Fight," which is essentially the band telling people to fight against depression, that they’re loved, to fight against the horrible feelings they have for themselves. Countless songs that people immediately believe are about hatred and death when they hear them are actually thoughtful, beautiful, and uplifting. This genre of music saved my life, and probably countless others, too.