Pop in metal’s clothing (aka, “why is all the best-selling “metal” such trite junk?”)

The world seems full of “metal” fans who don’t really like metal.

That has been true at least since “hair metal” oozed its way out of L.A. in the 1980s, but I found myself thinking about non-metal “metal” fans today when I came across “Perfect Weapon,” a completely dreadful video by the ridiculously horrible Black Veil Brides.  This video will make you cry:

Black Veil Brides are the Motley Crue of today (notice how they shamelessly rip off the Crue’s “Shout At The Devil” leather-and-black-makeup look). But musically, these guys are so limp and “safe” they make the Crue actually seem dangerous. At least the Crue really did want to screw your girlfriend; all the Black Veil Brides want to do is cry on her shoulder and maybe share some makeup tips.

But, as Blabbermouth.net reported today, the Black Veil Brides have a Top 40 album, which means there are lots of kids plopping down dollars at Hot Topic and FYE stores all over the country for the weak, water-down pap BVB pass off as “metal.” That these guys are considered “metal” at all is an insult to metal’s true purpose and meaning.

This may sound like a “trver than thou,” elitist rant, but metal was never meant to be appealing to the broad masses. It’s not supposed to be sterilized to protect your sensibilities and safe for the radio and “TRL” audience. Frankly, metal is best when it’s dirty, scary and, most importantly, controversial.

The problem with BVB is they seem to be trying very hard to reach a non-metal audience by making their music as inoffensive and sanitary as possible. These guys are whining about their hurt high school feelings – a subject that has been a rock ‘n roll staple since the days of Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers. There will always be a broad, broad market for “hurt high school feelings” songs, but it’s low-hanging fruit … and it’s not particularly “metal.”

The best metal comes from bands with something to bigger say, and often what they’re saying disturbs the listener. That’s how it should be – The world can be a dark place with few happy endings and no guarantees. Metal is relevant because (when it’s done right) it doesn’t try to gloss over the harsh realities.

A quick glance at the news is enough to make my point that the world is an often unforgiving place. In recent years, we’ve seen the government being either incompetent (as the response to Hurricane Katrina), bumbling (like the failure of U.S. intelligence to gather accurate information during the runup to the Iraq war) or corrupt.

Religion hasn’t fared any better. The news media has kept Americans quite familiar with the Catholic priest scandal over the last few years. We’ve also seen news stories on the antics of the “religious right,” the shocking foot-and-mouth comments from television preachers such as Pat Robertson and the ongoing worldwide tragedy of religious terriorism, where men and women kill other men and women in the name of God. Using those examples, it’s not hard to conclude that most organized religions are either fascism, mind-control or a con job.

As for signs of failure in our corporate institutions and trusted industries, you only have to look as far as the feeble U.S. economy – which was brought down by excessive greed from Wall Street – and the oily dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Greed may not be a universal trait, but it’s the one that seems to guide most business decisions. To slightly twist a line from novelist Gustav Hasford, if the meek inherit the earth, the greedy will take it away from them

Those aren’t popular truths – most people would rather hide from them or put on a “don’t worry, be happy” veneer. It’s human nature to whistle past the graveyard and deny what’s unpleasant. But when people deny reality, they also guarantee those things will never change.

Metal is revolutionary in that respect; it takes courage to really look at horrible possibilities, like the potential for nuclear war, the hypocrisy of religious, corporate and elected leaders, environmental destruction and the mania of people who would dictate how others live, based on their ancient books and self-serving fables.

The best metal bands talk about real issues every day – and knowledge, as they say, is power. If you know injustice when you see it – or lies when you hear them – you’re less likely to stand aside, go along with the crowd or simply drift into indifference.

The only thing the Black Veil Brides are preaching is false empowerment to self-proclaimed Hot Topic “freaks.” That’s not revolution. It’s marketing.

That’s enough. Anyway, here’s something to wash the saccharine taste of BVB out of your mouth. This isn’t safe or pretty, but at least it’s interesting. Eat this, Black Veil Brides.

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2 Comments

  1. NOPE, I will not even watch that shit! I will take your word for it as I think we have a pretty similar taste in music. This crap is like you said, just a rehash of wretched hair metal from the 80’s. My friends and I always referred to hair metal as girl metal because it seemed to be what all the girls were into back then.I really dislike that crap and the people that create it. On the other hand though, I WILL happily turn up the speakers on the computer and blast the Kreator again…. Funny pit story about Kreator, 1990 Jannus Landing in St. Pete Florida i was stage diving and someone jumped feet first on my chest while I was floating above the crowd sending my skull crashing into the concrete and blood was everywhere, as I stand up a minute or so later some dude is standing there and he says” Hey man, I think this is yours” and holds out his hands completely covered in blood. They were playing “Some Pain Will Last” so now everytime I hear that song I reach up and rub the big scar and my head and yearn for those days again.

    • Hey, I had a similar experience at Jannus Landing. (Not as bloody as yours). I was in the front row during a Testament concert (late 80’s/early 90’s). Some big guy dove right on my head while I wasn’t paying attention. Knocked the crap out of me. I remember thinkiing “Man, I am going to pay for this 20 years from now…”. Well, now I have neck problems. Go figure. Oh well, price to pay for good livin’.
      Oh by the way, I was at that Kreator concert in 90. Great time. Hope you didn’t lose too many brain cells in the stage-diving incident… 🙂


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