Many call the genre of heavy metal “Satan’s music.” Many call it noise. But I refer to it as beautiful aggression.
The so-called “dying genre” of rock-and-roll/heavy metal has had a place in my heart since my days in elementary school. When I used to box on the southside of Youngstown, that’s what was always playing during training. From winter to spring, we may have listened to every song Metallica has ever made at least twice. Their greatest hits CD was the first I ever owned. I still have it to this day.
The summer leading into my senior year of high school is when life began to drastically shift. I wasn’t mature enough to properly cope with the situation on my own, so I turned to many different alternatives that also proved unsuccessful. During my first semester in college, I developed a little voice in the back of my head, also known as severe anxiety with a touch of seasonal depression. Of course, I tried to just brush it off as just a minor issue, but it continued to worsen. A year later, I was sweating through about four or five shirts a day and had little desire to even leave my dorm. I lost close to 20 pounds last fall because I couldn’t stomach the food I looked at. This voice monitored and controlled every single action I took throughout the day and made me feel as minuscule as a speck of dust. Counseling was a bust for me, and the medication that I was prescribed was hurting more than helping, throwing my mood every which way possible. It was the lowest point of my life.
I can note one specific November morning from last year. I had just left another counseling session, feeling as hopeless as I did while entering the building. When I got to my car, I opened Spotify and the band “Slipknot” appeared on my screen. I was briefly familiar with who they were but couldn’t name a single song they wrote. I turned on their top song at the time, “Duality”, and instantly recognized the chorus. But something different happened this time upon listening. My mind melted into every single syllable that Corey Taylor belted into the microphone. I felt the numerous kicks of the bass drums throughout my body. Each strum of the guitar somehow made sense. This may sound strange and/or vague to you, but I simply do not have any more words to describe this event. For the very first time, I felt like I had something that understood what occurred inside my head on a day-to-day basis. Although metal is usually quite intense, I felt a nostalgic calm overtake me on my ride home, which was a feeling that had become foreign to me. For just a small portion of that day, I felt normal again.
Since then, I have been listening to a steady diet of metal every day, specifically Slipknot. This band of nine from Des Moines, Iowa, has given me a type of home that I really cannot personify nor explain. They make me feel like it’s okay that I’m not like the rest of society. There’s simply just something different about metal compared to other music genres. You can feel the raw, unchanneled emotion in the lyrics and in the instrumentals, which I feel is a lost art in most popular modern music. I’m not saying that this is the end-all-be-all cure for these disorders, but it works for me. Listening helps me face and release the anxiety and aggression in the healthiest way I can.
I have been contemplating on writing this story for about two months. I’m not one to complain about my life or my problems because, let’s face it, we all have them, and no one likes a complainer. I know I am not the only person who struggles with these disorders, and this ultimately led me to my decision to write this piece. No one can take my love for heavy metal away. I wear my Slipknot t-shirts often, and every time I get a weird look from someone because of it, all I can do is smile. If listening to a certain type of music makes me “weird”, then so be it.
If you take one thing away from this, please remember that there is always a way. There is light at the end of the tunnel. There is a home for you.
That is what metal music means to me.