Metal Fans Use Their Heads For Banging, Thinking

Mar 21st, 2007 // 18 Comments

jennametak.jpgHot on the heels of an incredibly dubious-sounding study that found that smart kids like metal, today’s Guardian music blog examines the perception that head-bangers are stupid:

In my day job as features writer for Kerrang! magazine I’ve interviewed plenty of metal musicians, and plenty of them have been so stupid that two IQ points less would mean they’d need milking each morning. But plenty more have been just the opposite. What is more striking, though, is the assumption from outside that anyone associated with the genre is brick thick. It doesn’t matter that in recent years Atlanta band Mastodon have released an album based on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick or that Californian band Thrice have written music inspired by the Thomas Pynchon novel V. What matters is that people who like the Smiths are understood to be smart while people who listen to Slayer are reckoned to be otherwise. Case shut.

We beg to differ: If there’s one thing we’ve learned from writing hackily repetitive magazine profiles over the past few years, it’s that all musicians–regardless of genre–couldn’t tie their left shoe with their right hand. That beloved rapper-actor-icon? Taking it to the next level of stupid. Those button-pushing top-ten starlets? Dimmer than you could possibly imagine. Those ’80s revivalists? Let’s just say that if their bus turned over in the middle of the night, few members would have to worry about being killed by falling books. There are a few exceptions, of course, but the rule of thumb is: If it walks, talks, and carries a guitar, it’s probably just about as smart as an extension cord.

Why metal fans are brainier [Guardian]

  1. JudgeFudge

    a dumbest rock star poll would be an amazing addition to this site…

  2. konflictofinterest


  3. noamjamski

    Yeah, it is 2007. Everyone has to get over the traditional stereotypes of Metal.

    There is a reason it has stuck around for 40 years and counting, while other trends have come and gone.

    True fans of music that ignore all Metal, and judge it negatively upon what skims upwards to the mainstream are really doing themselves a dis-service. Much niche music that hits public consciousness sucks. Should we judge punk rock against the worth of Good Charlotte?

    As people on this site complained about how 2006 was a blah year in indie rock, the Metal scene thrived with great music, a great vitality and a great sense of community. Iron Maiden even had the best selling record of their career.

    Smart kids like Metal. Duh! ;-)

  4. skweetis

    I used to imagine my favorite metal bands as shaved-head cyborg nerds rather than the bemulleted, leather pants afficianados that they were. I still opt not to read the lyrics – “Once upon atrocity when midwitches stifled cries
    And carved abortive runes in reddened wombs” sounds cool when screamed, I swear!

  5. Bob Loblaw

    I’ll like metal as soon as Pitchfork tells me to like metal, and not a second sooner.

  6. byebyepride

    It’s the smug journalists who assume that anyone who has read a book (Moby Dick! V! how obscure!) must be some kind of genius that bug me.

  7. Josh Mock

    @Bob Loblaw:
    Pitchfork gave Mastodon an 8.7 and Converge 7.7, 8.0 and 8.1 on their last three records, respectively.

    There are a few exceptions, of course, but the rule of thumb is: If it walks, talks, and carries a guitar, it’s probably just about as smart as an extension cord.

    There are plenty of stupid musicians out there, but I wouldn’t say intelligent musicians are the exception to the rule. In my own experience, which may be limited compared to you Idolator writers, the intelligence of the musician population is actually not that different than the spectrum of intelligence of the world at large.

    If anything, it’s more focused near “average” than anything else, considering that neither the mentally handicapped nor the geniuses of the world are likely to join a band.

    Or maybe I just tend to pay more attention to “smarter” music…

  8. noamjamski

    @Bob Loblaw: They already have. It is a column called Show No Mercy, but in true Pitchfork fashion they find a way to snob it up.

  9. pandabear

    Hey, if the British press is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

  10. nicoel

    OMG, this totally redeems Raftery’s Fall Out Boy Spin cover.

  11. Bob Loblaw

    @OhToWant1Thing: @noamjamski: By claiming, in character, to be completely at the whim of a website that aims to be for smart, discerning readers, I meant to imply that supposedly smart, discerning…Never mind. The only thing worse than writing about music is writing about humor about music.

    I like Countdown to Extinction.

  12. KurticusMaximus

    How about this- maybe, just maybe, there are enough people who like metal nowadays that some are smart, some are stupid, and some are of average intelligence?

    I know, I know, a shocking proposal.

    I’d imagine that there are even some smart kids who listen to pop, and some dumbasses who listen to indie folk songs about Thomas Hardy novels.

    The only valid stereotype involving musical preferences is that anyone who likes the Insane Clown Posse, and particularly those who consider themselves “Juggaloes,” are complete and utter morons. I mean, really.

  13. noamjamski

    @Bob Loblaw: Obviously you were making a funny, but it is also funny that not only is Pitchfork now covering Metal, but they made it REALLY pretentious.

  14. AcidReign

    …..Well, ya neau, mah omp goes up to eleven, yeah?

  15. postposicore

    wow…i love this site, and i get to run my mouth…mece are you here? listen to the bronx theyre the best band out there…

  16. Vince Neilstein


  17. Charlie Kerfelds Jetsons Tee


    Amen. Pitchfork’s metal reviews are cringe-worthy. I especially found the positive Xasthur review to be a source of endless enjoyment.

    Ryan Schreiber LOVES Darkthrone. Shit is KVLT!

  18. Anonymous

    Pathetically stereotypical. I take it as an outrageous offense. I will admit, not all of us “metalheads” are brilliant thinkers, but to say we’re all unintelligent is just demeaning. I know I’m probably going a little overboard, but I really am sick of hearing about the drugged out, drunken side of metal. I happen to play thrash metal, and I’m getting straight A’s in school. I mildly listen to Slayer, but I also listen to Draconian, and many other wonderful bands of all metal genres. I intend to attend college for the Arts and Music. I’m a recreational philosophical writer who muses on not only the dark side of existance, but the light side, as well. I’m an artist, both digital and traditional. And I also play acoustic guitar, classical guitar, flaminco guitar, classical piano, keyboard, violin, cello, recorder, harmonica, drums, and practise operatic vocals in various languages, including Gaelic, besides gutteral death growls.
    And my hero is James Hetfield.
    Am I stupid for that? Am I “as smart as an extension cord” because I like to bang my head around to extreme music?
    Honestly, the opinions of some people really put me in a mood.
    Excuse the long post, but I’m really fired up now.
    But just because some of us set a bad example, doesn’t mean that’s the whole story. Think about that.

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