Metal as a Way of Life
by Chris Duxbury

             There’s something about music that you can’t describe; a feeling that just drives you. If there’s one interest in my life that I have the strongest passion for, heavy metal music is at the top of my proverbial list. There are so many facets of metal music that fulfill me in a plethora of ways. If it’s not me simply rocking out to the music that gets my head banging, it’s me being an arm chair critic, bonding with my brothers in metal, or playing with like-minded musicians.
            It’s probably most obvious that the music I listen to, like any other type of music other people prefer, catches your ear. There’s just something about that constant muscular, “chunky”-sounding guitar riffing that makes you want to bang your head. The music just gets you into this invincible, badass feeling mood -- a sort of savagely refined trance.   Yet on the same token, it makes you realize how metal is such a fine art. Unlike other forums of popular or “edgy” music, metal takes a large degree of skill to play, especially from the guitarists. Hearing master crafted, soaring guitar solos that weave, bob, and shoot, layered over  thick-sounding hooks is just like going to another world; I personally would not rather be anywhere else.
        Naturally, after hearing something you like, you usually want to emulate it. Ever since picking up the snare drum as a boy in elementary school, I always wanted to play rock music like the “big boys”. I think the whole idea of being a rock star has been every man’s childhood dream at some point or another, and to this day it is what inspires me to keep playing. Call it naďve, but metal is like never growing up; it plays on that boyhood machismo that makes us the pigheaded men you know and love. There’s something so primal and natural about playing music that just opens this creative aqueduct in you. Speaking from experience, having played in several bands and having been privy to some incredible musicians, there’s just something unique, like completing a circle, when playing the type of music you love.
            Heavy metal, in a lot of ways, is about being social and having unity. Since “we” (those of us who appreciate metal) view ourselves akin to the marines (that is: few, proud, and mighty), heavy metal becomes much more than music. The music we enjoy and listen to turns into a sort of like-minded brotherhood where everyone who’s in-the-know feels a slight edge over the other “peons” who listen to inferior forums of music. Okay, I know that sounds really chauvinistic and elitist, but in all seriousness, we see metal as more than just music: it’s a way of life – a brotherhood forged in iron and steel. Heck, metal is more often than not a spectator’s sport. We metalheads are hard to please, and we’re constantly voicing our opinions on a new album or virtuoso guitarist.
            This writing probably does little justice to my passion for a form of music that is often misunderstood and not fully appreciated, but words could never describe the feeling I get when listening to metal opuses like Metallica’s Master of Puppets or playing with a group of dedicated metalheads. Metal is both refined and yet is the most primal type of music. It wields a raw aggression that drives its follower to head bang through and through. All you’ve got to do is see someone flash you the trademark horns and nod at your Iron Maiden shirt to know that you’re among good company and involved with a completely different kind of beast.