Updated: May 4
Author: Karam Bassam
“They don't even care if they...
Seal the planet's fate, crimes they perpetrate
Wasting precious land, it's time to take a stand
Our only hope to breathe again, to stop the madness closing in
What will we do when all is lost, environmental holocaust..”
While this might sound like an excerpt from a motivational speech about saving the environment, it is not. These are actually lyrics from a 1989 heavy metal song called “Greenhouse Effect” by the American band Testament. The song criticizes pollution-causing industries for clearing the rainforests in South America and destroying the natural habitats of many species.
Metal music has grown to tackle a much deeper and wider scope of issues in the world due to its unique nature. Heavy metal, or metal, is a genre of rock music driven by the aggressive sounds of distorted electric guitar, loud amplification, and often shouted lyrics. In the past, it has mainly been associated with rebellious and anti-establishment lyrical themes. Its content has always been a controversial topic since the rise of the genre in the early 1980s. For many people, metal stands out from other musical genres because of its ability to discuss any topic, from mythology to politics, history to wars, religion to existence, and even animal rights. Like any art form, it provides everyone with a voice. It is a way to rebel against the norms of society and convey emotions about specific subjects. The genre utilizes the lack of censorship norms within the metal community, which makes the expression of thought easy.
As a person who has been in the scene for a long time, I can certainly say that metal music is not everyone’s cup of tea. For many people like me, it is not treated simply as music someone puts on when they are bored or on the way to work, but rather as an artistic piece that a whole culture is based on. Metal fans are known worldwide to be some of the most dedicated and loyal music fans. I still remember when I started getting into metal music, there was something in it that attracted me like nothing else; I admired its power, heaviness, and musical complexity.
Because of my love of the culture, I started doing vocal covers for metal songs about ten years ago. I created my first band Anthems of Isolation in 2012, then my second band Dead Tears in 2019. I found my passion in expressing myself through writing lyrics and singing. While I have loved being a part of these bands, being in a metal band and being from the Middle East might bring unwanted attention in specific countries. Many bands have faced difficulties performing live or even releasing music, and some to the point of becoming arrested or receiving death threats. This is due to the misconception that metal is associated with Satanism. The misconception is based on its aggressive, unusual, and dystopian image, which is merely meant to be a reflection of the world's reality, aiming to build a critical stance on important issues.
As a band, the joy of doing something you love with a sense of purpose is a great feeling. We tried to employ this in Dead Tears’ first album “Wretched Earth”, which was released in 2020. The main concept behind the album is to show the dark side of human nature that can cause horrific acts and is ultimately leading us to our own end. For instance, the song “Undeniable Existence” explains that even though humans do not have a choice where they are born, they are still arrogantly mistreating each other based on race or religion. To demonstrate real-life examples in our work, we wrote about historical events to help convey our ideas. Similar to our other song, “Psychopathic Science” used the unfortunate events and cruelties that took place at Unit 731 during World War II to demonstrate our ethical stance on the issues conveyed in the song.
At the end of the day, opinions differ, and every person has their own way to express themselves. For us metal listeners, we have chosen this form of music to take our stand. Maybe after all, inspirational speeches are not only found in TED talks but they can also be found inside those scary-looking album covers you might accidentally come across in the music store or on Spotify!
This article was edited by Skyeler Antonino