Metal and rock and roll in general has always been about being subversive. From Elvis’ swaying hips inciting lewd sexual behaviour to modern day Lindemann singing about the virtues of abortion and how he hates his wife, his family, his lack of riches and pretty much everything, these topics are meant to provoke a reaction.
There’s been varying degrees of offense that have resulted in everything from attempts at banning, like Cannibal Corpse in Australia and Megadeth’s lyrics in China (they recently had to perform many of their songs as instrumentals).
There’s also been attempts at government intervention with PMRC (Parents Music Resource Center) through the 1980s spearheaded by Tipper Gore. This group wanted to ban all music with any lyrics that they deemed offensive even if much of the allegations were hearsay. Songs like “Suicide Solution” by Ozzy Osbourne and the Judas Priest album “Stained Class” were either blamed lyrically or alleged to have subliminal lyrics that caused listeners to commit suicide. Both cases were thrown out of court, but the urban myth of metal music causes suicides persisted and somewhat continues to persist among the general public.
In each case, it was a misunderstanding. Either on the part of the suicidal listener: Suicide Solution is about the perils of alcoholism. Being literally a chemical solution dissolved with alcohol. And with Judas Priest a simple study of the master tapes showed no subliminal tampering.
While we all want to find a reason for our own suffering, blaming an outside individual ultimately shows lack of strength. Strength can come from those around us by way of community support. Strength from friends and family by way of encouragement. Strength from inspiring musicians who may have gone through similar struggles and share your pain.
While the strength we gain from music can bring us comfort, it can also be a source of blame by someone else. This can make us question our own ideologies and this can lead to extreme behaviour in the mentally ill. A social misfit who finds a common personality in Marilyn Manson, has the blame pointed at that musician who they see as a misfitted confidante. When that same kid, along with an equally disillusioned friend take guns to school and the Columbine massacre happens, it’s not the music that drove them to this violence. It’s the sense of isolation and when the only sense of comfort wasn’t helping them anymore because of chastising parents or bullying peers, their already fragile minds snapped.
I find comfort in metal music for many of the same reasons. I may not always fit into regular conversations. Many topics become redundant and I hear that same frustration in the music I choose. I also see the lyrical content, while at times violent and abrasive, is a means for the artist to find catharsis in their own frustrations and that is the element to which I relate. Attaching my own frustrations positively instead of acting out upon the negative thoughts that may creep in my mind along the way.
Can I see the offensive nature of a band like Lindemann? Of course, but I’m not about to run around impregnating women wantonly and encouraging their abortion with blood soaked arms. It’s a cheeky way to talk about a serious topic. Sometimes you have to find the humour in the darkest of places to give them light or you’ll fall into a dark pit that only takes you to death.