The Hammers That Forge Heavy Metal (Part 3 of 3)

Text by: Kimmy Baraoidan
Photos by: Chris Quintana, Kimmy Baraoidan, and Bong Ranes.

In this three-part series, Kimmy talks about some of the problems that plagued and continue to challenge metal bands and fans, her experiences as a former member of a metal band and her personal thoughts about the local metal scene and those of several local metal band members. The points she raises take off from the documentary film Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey by Sam Dunn.

Previously, I talked about the moral panic that ensued in the West when heavy metal music started to reach a wider audience. Also, I shared some insights into the local metal scene, that although it is a tight-knit community, some haters try to ruin it for the metalheads. Here, I will go through how and why heavy metal music got a bad reputation.

Metal fans Photo by: Chris Quintana.

Metal fans Photo by: Chris Quintana.

Heavy metal’s trial and crucifixion

During the heyday of MTV, heavy metal got more public exposure and reached a wider audience. However, it did not sit well with some public officials in the U.S. who had conservative leanings. Sam Dunn’s documentary Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey showed how heavy metal became an easy scapegoat for certain crimes like murder and suicide.

On April 20, 1999, two teenagers killed 12 students and a teacher, wounded 24 others, and then committed suicide at Columbine High School in Colorado, U.S. The incident is considered to be the worst high-school shooting in U.S. history, and not surprisingly, the authorities and the public were keen on finding out what motivated Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. Speculations abound on what exactly triggered these two to carry out the bloodbath, and heavy metal music was on the list of culprits.

‘Shock rock’ band Marilyn Manson received most of the blame for the Columbine shooting when reports surfaced that Harris and Klebold listened to Marilyn Manson—though it is not confirmed that they were fans—and to a couple of other bands. The tension had gotten so bad that protesters showed up at Marilyn Manson’s concert venues weeks following the shooting. However, this is not the first and only instance where heavy metal music was blamed for violent behavior. Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, AC/DC, Slayer, Drowning Pool, and Slipknot are just some artists who also drew criticism for allegedly inciting mass killings and suicides through their music. If we go by this logic—that heavy metal music causes mass shootings and suicides—then surely everybody who listens to heavy metal music has at least attempted to kill either someone or themselves, right? Think again.

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