Not all screams are created equal

By Kerstin Hall

Since the age of twelve, I have been listening to metal. It started out in the hard rock genre, specifically with State Far Better’s “Million Miles”.  That’s a SA band. For some reason their Wikipedia page appears to be in German.

Then there was a considerable amount of Escape the Fate, Avenged Sevenfold, Metallica, In This Moment, Otep, Chiodos, Seether, From Autumn to Ashes, Bring Me the Horizon, Lacuna Coil and some dalliances with Slipknot and Kittie.

Since the age of twelve, I have never been “metal enough”.

At my matric dance, I distinctly remember my date and his friend laughing at me and suggesting that, really, I just listened to Evanescence. I had listened to Evanescence  – which girl didn’t in the 2000’s? It came as no surprise that this served to utterly invalidate my credibility in their eyes. Coz, like, metal has to be hardcore.

Do you know how many prefixes and suffixes and variants it is possible to use to describe this genre? Let me make a little list for demonstration purposes.

Death metal, deathcore, metalcore, grindcore, black metal, dark metal, thrash metal, glam metal, groove metal, nu metal, doom metal, gothic metal, power metal, heavy metal, post-metal,  sludge metal, industrial metal, grunge, mathcore, progressive metal, power metal, alternative metal, rap metal, drone metal.

pete wentz animated GIF

(side note: The word ‘metal’ is beginning to look really strange to me.)

These twenty-four are the tip of the iceberg. And everyone is trying to forge new fusion genres, so a band might be a deathcore alternative melodic dark metal quartet with influences of sludge. But are they really METAL?

In my opinion, this is all fairly absurd. It’s a pissing context, provoked by fear, because everyone wants to be part of the in-crowd. So exclusive, so cool. Purge the heathens! Hail and kill!

I have been as much a part of this ridiculousness as everyone else. Blame it on teenage insecurities, but I tried to get into bands that actually hurt my ears. Just so I could hold my head up high amongst other metal listeners. And God forbid if I mentioned the existence of musical interests beyond the confines of the genre(s). AFI or Counting Crows?  Exorcise her!

I came to write this article because of a short story magazine’s call for submissions. I’m not going to give you a direct link, because they happen to be on WordPress too. I know there is some kind of pingback functionality that lets you know when your site is hyperlinked. And I don’t need a raging metal blogger on my trail.

But if you want to search “Despumation Press” in Google, I’m sure you’ll track them down. Hint: It’s the first search result.

So yeah, I thought they had a pretty cool idea. Base a story on a metal song. Instantly, I wanted to write something inspired by “Suicide Season” by Bring Me The Horizon, because that song has always resonated with me.

But it transpires this is not ‘real’ metal.

Okay fine. Um, how about “Ghostflowers” by Otep?


From Autumn to Ashes?


Avenged Sevenfold?

Not a chance.

The blog site says, let me quote, “we… have no desire to actually define metal”. Which is true enough, because they let a handy website called the Encyclopedia Metallum do this for them.

And according to this wonderful resource, it turns out that I don’t actually listen to metal at all. Which is something of a revelation to me. I mean, I know I was never the one biting the heads off live bats or dreaming of pillaging small farming communities, but I am somewhat mystified as to what exactly I have been listening to for all these years.

Judging by the exceptionally scientific classification system, I’m more of a nu metal/death metal/ deathcore/post hardcore/screamo/gothic metal kind of gal. Don’t let the repeated presence of the word “metal” fool you; labels can be oh so misleading. This is definitely not metal.

If only I had a bit more of a taste for thrash. Then maybe I could be the real deal. But as things stand, I do not constitute.

This does not count:

This does not count:

This does not count:

The exclusionary, hipster, only-the-aging-satanic-Norwegian-beareded-men-with-facial-tattoos-count culture is stupid. (And, though I’m resisting the urge to go into this, obviously premised on feelings of threatened masculinity. I’m still wondering how the fuck Kittie did not make their lists. Possibly because they are an all woman band. Just a theory.)

So, no, I’m not hardcore enough. That is abundantly evident. And it looks like I never will be. But I’m over trying to convince a group of deeply insecure people that my lack of interest in Donkelheet from Luxembourg is not sufficient reason to expel me from their little clique.

I’m going to listen to my music and like it. And, to piss off the cult, I will continue to refer to it as ‘metal’.


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