Damn bestial ottonormalitat

"The search for the beast" in heavy metal ends with nice guys, girls – and parents!

Everything was better before! A guitar solo was still a guitar solo, with AC/DC frock you were considered a rocker even on a racing bike, the village priest made three crosses and offered his condolences to parents. As the Australian hard-rock legend allegedly "Antichrist, death to Christ" deciphered son man namlich carried the disaster through the community.

Fucking beastly ottonormality

Today, thirty years later and after the waves of crossover and death metal, the scene of heavy metal is more heterogeneous. Elke Nolteernsting ventures via book "a fair assessment" of the music scene, whose followers are far more burgerish than is generally amed.

Exemplary for contradictions within the scene, but also for its compatibility with the middle class, could be on the one hand Manowar, who in 1988 exaggerated the metal-matcho-cliche and sang:

Woman, be my slave, that’s your right to live (…), your Koper is mine (…), kneel before me, get it for me.

On the other hand, ex-Motley Crue singer John Corabi uber Groupies says:

I have met women and seen them do things where I just thought they have no respect for themselves at all. (…) I’ve seen them do some pretty sick stuff just to meet the band. And I would kill my daughter if she did something like that.

The latter could also be said by a conservative Catholic, who also demonizes heavy metal. And also Manowar’s lyrics became to fit the same, but without the sexual aspect: children, kitchen, church. And what did John Corabi have to say about the porn rockers Rockbitch??

Damn bestial ottonormality

Image: Rockbitch

The supposed "Search for the beast"

For her work on Heavy Metal – The Search for the Beast, Elke Nolteernsting visited many international music festivals and concerts where mainly metal bands played. She interviewed musicians there for research purposes, the spectrum ranged from old scene stalwarts like Saxon or Motorhead to Sepultura, Rockbitch and Ice-T alias Body Count. That complexity is problematic, but more problematic was the initial suspicion of the sociologist. Buffeted by media myths about the evil heavy metallers, she met fans and musicians, who "despite some habitual behaviors, pay to the most courteous and patient audience I have ever met at music events (classical concerts included)." She should have looked for choirboys, then her picture would have turned out less enthusiastic.

However, her initial suspicions and the normality that was later almost compulsively attested to the scene dragged into the light of day what the woman born in 1957 formulates as follows:

Metallers find themselves in a kind of in-between position. They live their everyday life as adults, their thoughts, their dreams, their inner life, their rebellion they live out in and with music.

Tom Angelripper, musician of the Ruhrpottband Sodom, talks about the fans, they came "from a completely normal parental home, as I also was at that time. There are also quite sensible people with it. They put on a frock at the weekend (…) and a day later they are back at work again." Heavy metal, contrary to its anti-burger gesture, was a spa culture and not rebellious, but conforming to society and stabilizing the system. Nolteernsting’s rhetorical cleansing ritual thought further – a metal festival is nothing more than carnival, showbiz or Oktoberfest – still shocks the most.

Religion and opium for the people

Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden told the author that concerts are a "must" for young people

unspoken ritual, and the band, mainly the sanger, takes the role of the chief priest. If the energy is there, you can play with it and let it go around, and that works fantastically. And you can transport people to a small world where they can be with the others for an hour and a half.

Is Heavy Metal a life aid similar to a religious community?? After all, it’s not only the Bohsen Onkelz who keep emphasizing that they receive fan mail telling them that belief in the band and its lyrics helped them to get away from alcohol or drugs or not to kill themselves. An experience also described by other musicians in the book.

However, this point of view has not yet been widely disseminated to the general public. Supporters of censorship (cf. Rocking inquisitors) should consider them once though. For Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo reminds us of the sundenbock function of heavy metal:

When parents see that their children have done something wrong, they always want to blame it on others so that they can say, ‘I am a good mother or father and I have done everything right with my daughter or son’. They can get addicted to drugs or whatnot, but it’s not the music that makes them do it, music is entertainment. You must be a very weak person to let music influence you like that.

Nowadays metal has come into the years and it remains to be seen what the scene representatives know to do with those statements of (not only) Lombardo. "Bands like Savatage", writes the author, "have been part of the metal scene for decades and therefore have a family connection." Chris Caffery of Savatage told the mid-teens: "We’ve been in business so long that even the children of fans are now our fans, and we’re a part of their lives." On the one hand, this is similar to a rabbit breeders’ association, but on the other hand, it raises an incredibly exciting question, which the sociologist unfortunately does not explore: Do these parents blame techno music for their children going astray??

Elke Nolteernsting: Heavy Metal – The Search for the Beast, Archiv der Jugendkulturen / Verlag Thomas Tilsner, Berlin 2002, 130 pages, 15 Euro

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