Metal is a constant – It is part of who I am

We love it when people send us stories, such as this by Paul who told us:

I came across this website several days ago, and wanted to share a brief story of how metal has been my companion!

It was late 1994, I had just turned 11 years old. I was listening to my personal cassette player with my headphones on, when my dad walked up to me and handed me a cassette, followed by the words “don’t let your mother know you’ve got this”. It was Machine Head’s debut album Burn My Eyes.
That moment was a game changer for me…

Life as a child was difficult. It was normal. Or so I thought at the time. I grew up in a hostile home. To the outside all seemed normal, but behind closed doors from as far back as I can remember (on record age 4 or 5) through to 16 or so, I was abused. Violence, physical attacks, verbal and emotional abuse daily. My mum struggled with severe depression and was filled with rage. That’s the background to set the scene…

As a young boy I listened to what my mum listened to as it was played at home – Status Quo, Queen, ELO and the like. My dad listened to a lot of Alice Cooper, Sex Pistols and Iron Maiden. I soon discovered other bands from the sample cassettes that came with Kerrang! and Metal Hammer magazines that my dad would buy himself. I particularly liked early Cathedral. But it was that day in 1994 when I put that cassette into my player that my dad gave me, and the opening song, Davidian started… wow! And the rest of the album was crushing too, all the way through to Block, with its aggressive and blunt chorus that had me hooked! I’d not heard anything like it… that heavy… that intoxicating (that’s the best way to describe it).

I would spend hours hidden away in my bedroom with headphones on headbanging on my bed to Machine Head as a means of escape. It was a place I could go to and release my emotions that I was not allowed to express at home without being physically assaulted or emotionally abused. I found solace in Machine Head. When their second album The More Things Change was released in 1997 it was another world of safe aggression to escape to, particularly after my disclosure of abuse to my school, and no action taken – I could put my headphones on and rage internally and safely.

At that time at secondary school I was bullied, but I had a few friends who were metal heads too, and that gave me a connection and joy talking about and sharing music with people who understood that immense excitement that this genre gave us.

Throughout my adult life, over the last 16 years living away from my childhood home, I have struggled with depression and anxiety, and several prolonged periods of feeling suicidal, and yet heavy metal has helped me connect with those inner feelings of sadness, helplessness, anger, loss, injustice, and so much more. It has helped me to process my thoughts, feelings and often times rage that consumes me. Whether it be Machine Head, Sepultura, Decapitated, Burning Skies, Gadget, and more, whatever the sub genre of metal I like, there is a connection that brings joy, that gets me grinning, makes me feel good, and helps me deal with negative emotions and thoughts in a healthy way.
Sure, at one time medication helped, therapy on and off is useful at times, but metal is a constant. It is part of who I am.

Several years ago, I believed the lies that many told me that metal was bad for me, and I stopped listening to it… funny how I have felt more alive and more ‘me’ since returning to it!

I’m reminded of a lyric from a Sepultura song that says; “Why criticise what you don’t understand?” That to me speaks volumes – both musically and in people’s lives in general too.