I love heavy metal music, but I also love classical music. I grew up on Ozzy, Rob Zombie, Slayer, Greta Van Fleet. My love for music started when I was in kindergarten. My dad or uncles would pick me up from school and play bands on mix tapes eventually CDS. Imagine if you will a little girl with ridiculously long hair moshing it out on the spare bedroom screaming on top of her lungs. The child with girly clothes listening to Dragula” by Rob Zombie, from the Hillbilly Deluxe album jumping from one spot to another. Not a care in the world it created my mental home away from it all.
I loved the guitar rifts, the reckless abandon, the hair, I loved it all. Growing up rock and metal had heavy influences on my talents. I learned to enjoy reading from album pamphlets. I wrote lyrics from songs recorded from the radio. Learning great patience as an ADHD child and spent too much money on tapes to record for hours. I can talk hours about musician interviews and how Twisted Sister, Dee Schneider taught me about freedom of speech or that Marilyn Manson taught me it’s ok to disagree with media. Part of me feels music in my soul; when I hear it and feel it, I can build a soundtrack to my day. I still make soundtracks no longer calling into the radio just to hear the Foo Fighters or to hear my number one song Bullet with Butterfly wings by the Smashing Pumpkins. I now use Spotify because I’m a grown up, and it takes less patience to build my daily track.
Over the years certain soundtracks have saved my life. Linkin Parks Hybrid Theory saved me from dark depression. I remember they came out my high school years. I was secretly drinking at friends houses in the morning to escape from my reality. The drinking was to hide the pain of childhood sexual abuse, parental abuse and depression. I had untreated PTSD and ADHD. I’m not a headcase but had lots of unresolved trauma built up. The first time I listened to In the End by Linkin Park my spirit woke. I beat that song to death after every counselling session. When I was angry, I would play the entire album on top volume until the thoughts in my head couldn’t be heard. Hybrid Theory reawakened my great love for music. I soon pirated countless albums and purchased CDS with whatever money I had. I would often skip class and bus down to the mall to buy a new album from the discount bin to see what album would speak to me. One band that I enjoyed and currently enjoy is Pantera.
Pantera spoke to me in ways to grasp my anger. Harness it and release it through singing along. My ADHD has wild crazy days that I need the face paced sound of Cowboys from Hell. Good Christian families say this particular band has no sustenance on a persons values. I whole heartily disagree and would tell them to shove it with a cactus. Following the songs of Pantera it helped allow the high vibrational energy of ADHD to flow. Following the drum beats of most fast pasted metal taught me to fidget and taught me rhythms. During work outs I use bands like Pantera, Tool, CKY, and Red Sun Rising to channel extra energy and to feel more alert exerting the pent-up energy I often try to hide. Music and artist that have a craft to invoke emotional release should not be silenced but embraced. Listening to these bands have given more effective outlets than therapy. Imagine allowing more people to feel like they have a space to be themselves and be allowed to feel emotions we try to silence in society.
I even found community in metal music. There was a teacher who taught at my school for music appreciation. His name was Mr. Knowles, and he was a gift from the universe given to misunderstood kids like me. Sitting in his class seeing painted desk covered with album art and allowance of self creativity. He never once judged children or adolescent youth instead he would listen and try to approach with philosophy. In our class he asked students to make a soundtrack that explained situations in our life. It had to be in chronological order. The first song on my soundtrack was Sing Life Away by Rise Against; I chose this song because it explained my adventures of running away and people I had met on chance. I remember Mr. Knowles saying it was a wise choice, but I should meditate on why I’m drawn to sad songs. He suggested albums with happier tones but still allowed creative thought on lyrical content. In came the band The darkness I found great joy with upbeat tones and directive to change my voice in trying to sing along. I had discovered I love dancing to upbeat rock music. Such bands as Trooper, Tenacious D, Van Halen, and Offspring have become cult favourites to play during my happier moments with my ADHD and high-energy personality.
Metal music opened doors in my life. Without it, I cannot imagine being the person I am today. Being here and present today is largely contributed to metal. In the 1970s to early 90s Tipper Gore and the and FCC tried their best to rid metal from the airways. I’m so forever grateful for the artist who stood up for themselves and others saying no you cannot restrict our rights. Metal is not just long hair, it’s not just rebellion it’s about family, outlets, community, and a sense of self. Lives count on metal music to bring them back from the brink of desperation and allow for voices to rise. Metal music is home to many but is a home to me nonetheless.
Written by Ali Johnson