Gentrified: Has Heavy Metal Ventured From It’s Working Class Roots?

Music within our metal world is divided like blue states and red states.

Heavy metal’s roots were originally planted in industrial post-World War II England. You hear the tales from the members of Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and Motorhead in various biographies and documentaries about the oppressive smoke stacks and smothered existence of factory life in towns like Birmingham, UK. Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi famously lost the tips of his fingers in an industrial work accident. This stark environment fed the music’s creation, and therefore connected with the downtrodden young working class of the Western world. It was this music that spoke to the disaffected everyman. It said that your bubbling frustration with the establishment was valid. It’s the world that was f-cked up: the wars, the government, the school system, the church. You’ve been lied to your whole life and you are f-cking pissed off. The truth is in heavy metal.

If you haven’t seen it, you should do yourself a favor and watch the mini- movie, Heavy Metal Parking Lot, which is essentially a collection of interviews of fans tailgating at a Judas Priest concert in 1986. The general depiction shows a rather unsophisticated and inebriated collection of misfit characters, representative of a certain slice of working class America of the time. In many ways, we look at this film today like we might look at this documentary on Juggalos, released only a few years ago; it’s analogous to picking up a rock to see the filthy insect riddled reality hidden underneath. Many of us modern fans are disconnected from this reality of the common metal fan; they are the “others”, the mouth-breathers, the breeders outpacing the intellects in Mike Judge’s Idiocracy.

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