What Makes NYC Metal?

Categories: Metal

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New York City is intrinsically metal. But, before we get into why: what makes anything "metal"? What does calling something "metal" mean?

Among those uninitiated into the metal "scene" (a word used mostly by journalists and not so much by the occupants of said "scene"), metal conjures images of extremely loud music played and listened to, usually, by very hairy males. Other associations may include drunkenness, drugs, the color black, and Satan. While there's some truth in all of these points of reference, they're really not what metal is about. In fact, they're about as representative of the adjective "metal" as they are of New York, which isn't populated by drunk Satanists, either. Not entirely, anyway.

See also: The Best Metal Shows in NYC This Month (A/K/A Extended Saint Vitus Listings)

Metal gets pegged as a sort of outsider culture, a place where the nerds, geeks, deviants, felons, and other such social misfits or fringe members of humanity can unite, claim a dark corner of the world to belong to, and intimidate the rest of society away. The alienated perpetuate their alienation by doing things like wearing inscrutable band logo tees and shoving each other at concerts. Again, this isn't totally what metal is about. (Likewise, while riding the subway can feel like playing a contact sport with weirdos, there's obviously more to New York than this.)

So, at its most basic level, what does metal mean? In essence, metal means going against the grain. It means pushing against opposition for the sake of being true to yourself. The heroes of metal are people like Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, whose unique style as a guitarist was defined in many ways by the fact that he was missing parts of his fingers. (Talk about beating the odds.) Or Rob Halford of Judas Priest, one of the first openly gay rock stars (at least in heavy music). Or Megadeth's Dave Mustaine--yes, even Dave "Open Mouth, Insert Foot" Mustaine--who lost the use of his left arm, was told he'd never play guitar again, and is now shredding better than before. All of these guys and countless others embody what metal is about: overcoming challenging circumstances--which can be, as metalheads say, brutal. But you know this.

Now, let's talk New York, the city with the highest cost of living in the country and the largest population vying to survive it. It's natural selection at its cruelest: show merely a hint of weakness, and New York will break you.

See also: How to Determine if Something Is Metal as Fuck


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