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Opposites Repel: Pro-Metal

Apparently, this article is supposed to be funny, but I didn’t really get that memo until a bit later. At least it is some consolation that the article to your left isn’t funny either. On to what makes metal so unique as an art form…

Metal is a niche genre, with an extremely devoted and loyal community that is incredibly serious about music. However, although absolutely nothing is compelling you or anyone else to enjoy metal, you should also not be making proclamations about its validity from a position of complete ignorance. Metal has often been called “music for musicians,” and I believe that is true to some degree. Firstly, this appears in the pure, simple difficulty of playing any of the compositions, which are typically fast, virtuosic, and demanding, requiring significant dexterity and years of dedication and practice. This phenomenon also manifests itself in a more nuanced way: compositional complexity. Metal draws directly upon its varied influences of classical music and jazz for its intricate time signature changes, key changes, polyrhythm, atypical harmony and dissonance, unconventional theory usage, and symphonic/operatic movement based song structure. Part of the fun of enjoying metal is being fully involved in that story and in that nuance, and finding something different on every listen through an album. The issue here is that the average listener simply doesn’t want this, which is absolutely fine – most people would rather sacrifice musicianship and nuance for familiarity and ease. Metal is an acquired taste, and they are indeed off-putting. Today, metal is to music what Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring was in 1913 – a transcendent form of musical expression that is, at the current time, simply beyond what most people either care to listen to or care to understand.

Most importantly, metal music can capture a visceral response to emotion in incredible and unique ways. Being understood and understanding yourself is a cathartic feeling, and that is a feeling that metal music can bring you. I have personally found metal therapeutic in that getting lost within an album can get you through some rough patches. It is comforting to know that somebody else feels the way that you do, and, strangely, it is also comforting to know that, perhaps, somebody is worse off than you are. All of the characteristics and nuances and intricacies and complexities that make the genre entertaining are important, but they are far less significant than the feelings the music can evoke. That emotional response is the entire purpose of art, and that emotional response is what makes metal so beautiful. What good is art if it doesn’t make you feel something?

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