Dedicated to all the Heavy Metal lovers

Samarjit Kambam *

Bang@Khumbong Bazar : A Free rock concert at Khumbong Bazar :: 11 May 2014
Bang@Khumbong Bazar : A Free rock concert at Khumbong Bazar in May 2014 :: Pix - Atom Samarendra

Looks and outlook are two different entities. And which one will last or have the last laugh? The answer, definitely is, "outlook". Looks of an individual changes with time or due to unfortunate incidents such as accident or illnesses.

This is where the dividing line crops up between looks and outlook. Now we have umpteen boy bands and girl bands, the beauty of their songs last as long as the beauty or handsomeness of their looks last. But there are songs that remain evergreen even if the singer gets grizzly. It's because their songs are unique.

And the uniqueness is retained because their works are based on mature outlook and not on looks alone. The difference in quality is such that the ones based on looks are generic and the ones based on outlook are sublime.

Some say they hate classics. I don't think they are lovers of music – a class of people who don't know what music is, how much music matters and transcends one to the highest level of ecstasy. To me, "The Old Man Down the Road" is still walking, never giving up and I still remain a "Rumbustious Boy" even though I am not "Born on the Bayou".

I wonder if there is any rational minded person in this world who won't get overwhelmed with sentiment after listening to Joan Baez's classic track "Diamonds and Rust", a song which reflects her intense, secret but unacknowledged love, affection and regards for David Bowie, the legendary lyricist and singer, a song being sung by Judas Priest and many other singers over and over again.

Well, from classic, let's fast forward to a genre of rock known as "Heavy Metal" which is my favourite. During those yonder days at college I listened, ate, slept and drank Heavy Metal. Guns 'N' Roses' "Sweet Child of Mine" was our national anthem with Slash's beginning guitar riffs still pleasantly lingering in my head and I used to listen to this track till we were soaked with "November Rain", still we pacified one another saying, "Don't Cry" and got ourselves "Estranged". However, we used our illusions, saved the world from "Civil War" and yearned for "Paradise City".

We used to listen to Iron Maiden's "Fear of the Dark" for hours on end till "Two Minutes to Midnight" and their "Piece of Mind" really gave us peace of mind. We were "Afraid to Shoot Strangers" so we have to "Run to the Hills" as "The Trooper" chased us and had to use the "Number of the Beast" to bring a "Brave New World". "Alexander the Great" must have really stirred in his grave on the development.

The "Wind of Change" of the Scorpions still sweeps me off my feet every time I listen to it and "Still Loving You" always brings tears to my eyes not out of sorrow but the intense beauty of the song and the lyrics that just add to the pages in my book of love-history.

Klaus Mein has become bald headed but his songs don't age at all and yeah, I'd "Fight Fire with Fire" for the "Unforgiven" ones and listen to Metallica's James Hetfield till "I Fade to Black….". I'd hop on the "Crazy Train" and wave at my mom saying "Mama I'm Coming Home" to be in time for the sabbatical songs of Ozzy Osbourne and then Ozzy would advise me that "Too Much Love Will Kill You" with Poison letting us very much aware that "Every Rose has its Thorns" as we enter the gate towards romance.

Jimmy Page of the Led Zeppelin fame had already built a "Stairway to Heaven" with rings of smoke through the trees as your imagination lets you to start climbing the stairway. The song starts with some melodious plucking notes of the six-strings and as the song gradually reaches its climax, you feel as if you are in Heaven. Likewise, there are many Heavy Metal songs that lifts you up to Cloud Nine.

I pity the younger generations for they have no taste of Heavy Metal. At this juncture, I would like to bring forth the brief speech from Twisted Sisters' vocalist Dee Snider at one of their recent concerts during their world tour 2015 hollering to the screaming audience "What the singers of today do is bitch, bitch and bitch. All they sing is 'my life sucks, my love sucks, my world sucks, my mother sucks my girlfriend sucks'. If they are so f**king depressed, why don't they go to a psychiatrist and stop polluting the motherf**king airways" before he begin their heartrending track "The Price", a song based on the price you have to pay for love and the audience loved his speech which was followed by the song more than anything.

This year's US and UK Billboard Charts were topped by songs viz "One Dance" of Drake, Wizkid & Kyla, Justin Timberlake's "Can't Stop the Feeling", "This Girl" from Kungs vs Cookin' On 3 Burners, "Don't Let Me Down" by Chainsmokers & Days, Rihanna's "Too Good" Ft. Drake, et al with no heavy metal song among the first top slot. But that doesn't hamper the spirit of lovers of Heavy Metal 'cos there are thousands of Heavy Metal songs that will keep on lingering – alive and kicking, keeping time barrier at bay.

Once you are hooked to Heavy Metal, there's no going back, no bidding adieu. I doubt that we, the lovers of Heavy metal will never get fed up with Heavy Metal songs till our last breath. It's not just my assumption, but a fact. Ask every Heavy Metal lovers and the reply will be the same, just as I have expressed. In fact, there is no alumnus of Heavy Metal.

I have listened to all the top ten tracks of US and UK Billboard Charts 2016 but none of the songs succeed in giving me that jolt at the heart, that rush of dopamine, oxytocin or whatever in my brain. I stopped listening to them for the second time. Most of the songs sound like poem recitation to me (not exactly rap songs though) with techno beats compensating for the loss or loopholes. What the heck !

You might have listened to 1D, 2D, 3D…. whatsoever. But do you really get the nerves to listen to their tracks repeatedly, say four times at the most. By the third time, you'll definitely get bored and start to yawn. No doubt, some of their tracks are beautiful, but not evergreen. To them, looks matter and the listeners are mostly girls. What would the fate of One Direction be if Harry Styles look like a simian freak like me? If that were the case 1D wouldn't last a week and would've faded into oblivion or the world would have not known 1D at all.

I am not someone who has the right to give judgement to others to listen to 'this' or 'that' genre of music. Its upto the likings of the listener. But my intuition tells me that the ones who have enjoyed and known the taste of Heavy Metal will never part from this genre of rock music….. no matter what.

* Samarjit Kambam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on July 23, 2016.

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