Warning: Some readers may be triggered by this article and experience trauma. If that is you, please do not read this. If you’re not sure if you will be triggered, please ask someone who has experience dealing with trauma-inducing writings to read it and advise you appropriately.
The genre of music often referred to as “metal” has long been studied as an area rife with academic contention, from those defending its historicity in the canon of “difficult music to play” to past analyses about the intersectionality of male genitals and power chords. What has been overlooked, however, is the micro and, quite frankly, macro-aggressive architecture of this form of entertainment. In order to comprehend the oppressive nature inherent in this music, I will begin with a quotidian frame of reference and then weave through some intersections and drive it back to metal music.
As has been stated before, micro-aggressions are sinewed into our daily conversations at such a level that we aren’t even aware of them. For example, the other day, I heard someone say, “My phone’s dying. I’ll call you back.” I was just like, wow. I can’t believe you just triggered me there. And right after that, a colleague haphazardly said this to me: “My car’s battery just died. Can you give me a ride?” Well, actually, my aunt Toula just died too, and not only is using “died” triggering trauma in me by bringing up my aunt’s death and equating it to your Toyota’s rechargeable power source, it’s a micro-aggression as well. It’s offensive for people to equate a serious word that is connected so closely with human and animal suffering to something as mundane as a Toyota. My aunt’s life is worth more than your Prius battery. She can’t be recharged. She’s dead. And this is not just about protecting me from the belittling violence of using death-related words for non-living objects, it’s about shielding all of who will experience a dissolution of our vital processes or are already life-challenged.
This is where the metal bands should take note and quit using these necrotic terms. I’m speaking to you, Dying Fetus. Your name causes my trigger level to surge past 9,000. And probably the biggest metal offender of all is the band Death. That’s actually their name. Death. And they play death metal. Or played death metal. Their lead singer died of brain cancer, so now even his own band’s name is aggressing his memory. And it’s not a very original name if you ask me, but that whole genre is going to have to change or never play an American college campus again. I think “guttural metal” is not only more accurate, but it avoids any offensiveness. It could even be shortened to “gutter metal” which is probably more accurate, although gutters may find it offensive.
Speaking of which, I think it’s important that we just call them “metal bands” instead of “heavy” metal bands. “Heavy” has long been used as a word to deride those with abundant collections of triglycerides. While clearly some of this genre’s band members are bountiful around the mid-section, George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher of Cannibal Corpse comes to mind, as well as that racist bastard Billy Milano from M.O.D., to insinuate that all metal musicians are “fat” is so obviously insulting and I’m sure more than one have had their feelings hurt by it. Using the term “heavy” metal (I cringe just typing it) also insults all alternatively sized people. Not only is the word offensive, it suggests that just because you are a person of generous proportion, you like to listen to ear-splitting sonic turbulence from the likes of Scepticflesh, Goatwhore and Witch’s Tit. Actually, that last name I made up, although it sounds like it should be a metal band. My mom used to say, “Pardon me, but it’s colder than a witch’s tit in here. Turn off the AC.” To be totally honest, she still says it.
I need to go back a bit to the Billy Milano thing because I called him a bastard, which was a clear transgression on my part. I’m sure I triggered some of you reading this who are actual bastards and not racist at all. Just because your dad impregnated your mom outside of wedlock doesn’t mean you should have to share an adjective with that XXXL douchebag. And apologies to all the women reading this who may have or not have used a douche. I just caused you trauma and I didn’t mean to. We all know douches are not healthy and shouldn’t be used because the vagina naturally cleans itself and if there’s some substance still in there, soap and water work just fine.
Nevertheless, “heavy metals” is also flagrantly used among scientists to describe elements such as mercury, cadmium, thallium, and lead. Did you know arsenic is also a heavy metal? I never knew that. I thought it was just some powder like eye of newt that medieval assassins used to off the king. Well, that’s the thing about these metals, they’re killers, especially of babies. Here, scientists micro-aggressed us all, and I mean big time. When they say “heavy” metals, what they mean are metals which weigh a lot and are toxic to humans. Now that’s triple entendre aggression because the use of “heavy” implies that metabolically relaxed people are toxic and likely to kill or chronically harm kids like lead paint or gasoline fumes. While it is possible an awesome-sized person could sit on a child and smother it with intent or accidentally, it’s not like every one of them is squashing little kids with their gluteus maximus. (Technically I should use the Latin plural forms here for the main butt muscle, declining both the noun and its adjective, i.e. “glutei maximi.” My apologies to the grammar purists and word fetishists among you.)
But before we hit the DEFCON 5 trigger warning, there’s a simple solution to all of this. Scientists just need to change the name for “heavy” metals and all offense is gone. And since scientists are rational people, way more rational than metal musicians, this shouldn’t be a big deal. I was thinking the other day that they could use “big metals” instead but that won’t work either. Saying “big” is like punching a maximally-proportioned person in the face. Not very nice. Dense metals? Although that would clearly offend Sven, my metal friend, who is dense. Seriously dense. He thinks the moon-landing was faked and that Barry Bonds shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame. But back to helping the scientists because I’ve figured out the perfect name: “Socratian metals.” It’s named after Socrates, who died from drinking poison. And poison is what the heavy metals are. Now the hair-splitters are going to scream that Socrates died from hemlock, a plant, not arsenic, but come on people, are you really going to drag us down in the mud with your language wars over this? Choose your battles, folks. Socratian metals works fine. Socrates wouldn’t have even been offended by it because he was way above all that. And it will stop all the confusion when people ask “Do you like heavy metal?” and others wonder if they’re talking about people screaming until they bleed or chromium and lead. Plus, scientists will love the new term because they love Greek philosophers. Are you hearing me on this, Neil deGrasse Tyson?