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The BIG Reason

Music, opinions, and portfolio of Mark Eagleton, musician and web developer in Northern CA.

Black Metal is the New Business Casual

Volkswagen recently release a new commercial for their new (and totally lame IMO) Jetta. It depicts a young professional driving a more mature client and his staff to the airport after a successful sales pitch or consultation. The client in the front seat decides to turn on the radio to check the latest scores, which subsequently fills the car with insanely loud death metal—A song called “Rise and Oppose” by Boston’s Diecast, for those of you on the inside.

To me, this commercial almost makes up for the Jetta's Toyota esq. makeover. Almost.

Almost because I really don't like the redesign. But more specifically, more almost than most because I can identify with the situation so closely.

I'm a grown up. I'm Married. I’m a dad. I have a successful career as a professional in the wine industry. I think I'm pretty good at being all these things, and I love being them with all the much of the world. And I also really, really like hardcore music. Death metal, black metal, industrial, hard core, sludgecore, New York hardcore… Name your tough music genera, and there is most-likely something in there that I'm all over.

I’m not a bad person. I’ve never smoked drugs. I don't break the law. I vote. I read the DMV manual every year. I try to eat an apple with the skin on it every day. I'm a good citizen, and I don't think that because Meshuggah's Destroy Erase Improve happens to be one of my all time favorite albums, I should have to pretend to it's not, and put on "something nice" when the in-laws come over.

I know the subject matter and cover art of heavy metal albums can often be horrifying and repulsive. I also understand—probably more than most—that there is a time and place when this kind of music should be played in public settings. All I'm saying is that the subject matter of horror movies is often just as horrifying and repulsive, yet horror movies are more socially acceptable. Further, only a fraction of tough music actually deals with disturbing, adult subjects. More often than not, the subject is politics, and rarely is it anything more "controversial" than you might hear Bob Dylan or Joan Baez singing about. In this case, hardcore has just as much right to be in the play list as folk.

I'm not the only person I know who is like this. My buddy Dave has similar musical taste. Probably the closest to my own of any person I have ever met. He's grown up. He’s married. He's a Dad. He has a successful career as a professional in the wine industry. I think he's very good at being all these things, and I know for a fact that he loves them with all the much of the world. I also know he is a huge Fudge Tunnel fan (sorry to embarrass you, Dave, but we're talking about the greater good).

Obviously, not everyone likes the tough music. And for the most part, those that do aren't always going to be as polite, good natured and safety conscious as Dave and I. But I think it's time we all lightened up a bit.

Granted, tough music is relatively new. Black Sabbath, often considered the forefathers of heavy metal, was formed in the late 1960's. The things they did were unheard of at the time, and yet by today's standards, even they could be considered cute. I do understand why people are apprehensive. I just think its ridiculous that pretending to like Michael Bolton is more socially acceptable than leaving an Eye Hate God CD on your desk, where your boss can see it.

Allow me to embarrass another friend.

Ivan is grown up. He's married. He has... a dog. He has a successful career as a professional in the wine industry. He thinks heavy metal is silly. We had a great discussion about it on the way home from work the other day. He has theories. I have theories. We disagree. But he isn't about to kick me out of the country or 1930's swing bands we play in together for liking a genera of music that he doesn't. He doesn't even think it makes me less of a musician.

Well, those of us who got into music as teenagers in the 1980's are grown up now. Just like mom and dad liked the Beatles when they were growing up—and still do as adults—we get similar goose bumps when we hear Minor Threat. It's the cycle of life. The only difference is that as the music gets heavier and harder, I foresee myself only loving it more. This is very different from my parents' experience. The Beatles are much more edgy than Hoagy Carmichael. It's easy to see how they could have driven my grand parents crazy. My only fear is that my children will revert to bland, mayo laden, adult contemporary music.

But to each his (or her) own. I won't force my Darkthrone on them if they keep their Josh Groban to an acceptable volume.