When this Internet resource, METAL WITH MEANING, first went live around January 01, 2007, I wrote:
The reputation of heavy metal music, and heavy metal musicians and fans, is, and has been, mediocre. Heavy metal does not enjoy a good reputation in the media and in society, at large.
The heavy metal form is known generally as mindless, at best, violent, at worst, and a whole bunch of generally bad stuff, in between. And the emergence of pro-Nazi, so-called "National Socialist" heavy metal has certainly not helped our cause, either.
Just as bad, many people no longer even have a consciousness of heavy metal, since it's been supplanted in large measure by other forms of popular music. Thus, the very existence of this essential form of music, art, and culture has been threatened in recent years. A group of high school kids today cruising around on the weekend are likely to have something other than heavy metal blasting from their car stereo. And needless to say, it's unlikely the kids will have long hair.
Yet, following that lament, I also wrote:
I believe that raising the overall lyrical and thematic quality of metal, and making it more meaningful and relevant to our world today will dramatically assist in restoring and even surpassing the former glory of metal, and ensuring its permanent, rightful, and legitimate place in world music and culture across this planet.
I believe there to be far more intelligence, awareness, concern for our fellow humans, and meaning, generally, in heavy metal, and in the heart, soul, and intellect of heavy metal players and supporters, than we presently realize. These attributes are there in metal, or could be, if we want them to be.
Brothers and Sisters, heavy metal is due for a major expansion and I believe Metal with Meaning is it!
We have barely begun to explore the new frontiers of metal!
As I update this Introduction on March 10, 2020, the status of metal has, indeed, improved considerably, and possibly its popularity, as well. Consider, for example, the new metal movement called NEW WAVE OF TRADITIONAL HEAVY METAL, consisting of a veritable ocean of new bands, many of them utterly superb like Ancient Empire, ShadowKiller, Power Theory, InnerWish, IronFlame, BlackFinger, and Haunt, as well as a sea of individual cuts released by a small army of players, one of my favorites being Oceanic Sadness by Ryan Padilla.
We also see the creation of the new WORLD METAL CONGRESS, whose objective is the unification of all metal fans around the globe.
The complexion, then, of metal has changed and improved, considerably.
Metal with Meaning is heavy metal music that stimulates heart or mind.
It is heavy metal of significance, whether personal, social, economic, or spiritual. It is metal that transcends the standard lyrical and thematic faire of girls, sex, booze, cars, or partying, as well as formulaic or contrived treatment of any subject, including such favorites as Satan, heaven, hell, or medievalism.
Metal with Meaning is metal that stimulates genuine thought or reflection on any subject. Metal that helps us better understand ourselves or the world around us. Metal that assists in our exploration, understanding, or consciousness of who and what we are in this world, or what "this world" might actually mean. As well as what might be beyond this world, if anything.
Make no mistake as to the power that heavy metal with meaning can have to improve our world: this emerging form of metal can serve as a platform to address profound real-world problems, like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Darfur crisis, or global warming. Addressing a problem could mean assessing or analyzing it, or proposing a solution. Lyrical content will no doubt be the principle element or vehicle in establishing Metal with Meaning as an important musico-social tool.
Metal with Meaning is not confined to treatment of social, political, economic, philosophical, or spiritual topics or issues: it can also have a pragmatic orientation, assisting us concretely in the living of life, in any way conventional or otherwise.
Even academic and technical disciplines can provide fodder for meaningful metal. For example, a metal musician who is also a physicist might compose a metal piece exploring particle physics or string theory--this would be metal with meaning, too! Indeed, the range of human endeavor that Metal with Meaning can encompass is infinite: this range is bound only by the unbound imagination.
Such is the role of Metal with Meaning in stimulating thought.
But it can also take a form that moves the human heart, since, arguably, the highest form of meaning is that which assists, inspires, or cheers, informed by love or another positive value. As I see it, in the best of cases metal with meaning will do this and be this, regardless of specific topic. It will be metal that generally builds, or at least looks toward, our potentialities as a species, and not our darker side. Metal informed by a moral or ethical sensibility, positive values or vision, or a helping impulse. Indeed, metal that helps shepherd the human race along toward greater love, sensitivity, and cooperation.
Metal with Meaning does not have to be intellectual or cerebral. A set of simple lyrics, providing they stimulate heart or mind, are sufficient.
All things considered, then, what I am saying, in other words, is:
I believe that heavy metal can be a force for good in the world !
Do you agree? Does this sound like the kind of heavy metal or hard rock you are creating? Or aspire to create? If so, we invite you to join The Metal with Meaning Project, and our MwM community here at MetalWithMeaning.com!
If you are a fan or other supporter of Metal with Meaning we also invite you!
Widening the scope of heavy metal in this way, or understanding it as capable of this mission, does not diminish our musical form in any way. In fact, I believe it can only strengthen it, and increase its appeal and relevance in the world. Heavy metal is a superb form of music, that easily lends itself to many variations, interpretations, and improvements, in both its musical form and structure, and its lyrics and thematics. This music is nothing if not fluid and flexible in every way. There is nothing incongruous in marrying metal with such values and principles as love, empathy, compassion, tolerance, patience, respect, and truth.
The heyday era of the 1960s was probably the last time we saw music exist as a large-scale lever for social change. And among forms of music, the genre that led that charge was folk music; whether Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, or Peter, Paul, & Mary, this was the music that time and again carried one or more of what it, and a sizeable segment of American society at the time, considered necessary and valuable social messages. I want to be clear that Metal with Meaning does not have to carry those exact same messages--in fact, the particular message(s) that Metal with Meaning should carry are very subjective and up to each individual musician and band--but wouldn't all of us in the Metal with Meaning movement enjoy a deep and hearty belly laugh, if it turned out that HEAVY METAL, that most scorned and frowned-upon form of music, turned out to be the 21st century carrier of the messages of hope for people and society, inheriting the mantle, in this sense, from '60s folk music!
Who We Are
The Metal with Meaning Project (MwM) is a group of heavy metal and hard rock musicians and bands, as well as disc jockeys, industry people, and fans, who wish to use their art and musical craft, or extend their support for those doing that craft, to redefine heavy metal, how it is perceived by society, and what its role in society is.
We wish to accomplish these goals by making metal a force for good in the world, either by stimulating thought, helping people, or both!
Indeed, this endeavor, the creation of good through metal, can and should be done in a way that each individual is comfortable with; in a way consistent with the particular kind and degree of political, social, spiritual, or other awareness of the particular musician, composer, or fan. In other words, as suggested above, there is no rigid standard for what the content of Metal with Meaning should be. For some, it might be advocacy of certain political or economic changes, while for others it might involve expression of a certain philosophical or spiritual outlook.
Thus, affiliation with a particular political, social, or other point-of-view is not required to join The Metal with Meaning Project. For example, you don't have to be "left-wing"; neither do you have to be "conservative," etc. Our only real requirement is that you care! And that caring reflect itself in some significant way in your music and especially your lyrics (as well as your print materials, artwork, and any other creations you produce or support).
Whatever political, social, economic, or other philosophy or belief you espouse: capitalist, democratic socialist, liberal, conservative, theist, deist, atheist, or agnostic, it must be because you genuinely care about helping people and improving society, and you believe your philosophy or belief to be the best one to accomplish this. Providing that you've come to your own well-thought-out personal conclusion that your particular philosophy or belief is the best vehicle to end human suffering and advance the cause of humankind, it is acceptable as Metal with Meaning, and you are welcome in The Metal with Meaning Project!
What if you have not yet begun the kind of intellectual or spiritual journey implicit in our description of Metal with Meaning and its creators and practitioners?
Suppose you are a regular heavy metal musician, garden variety (lol), not a Metal with Meaning musician, at all. But you would like to shift the thematic focus of all your work in the direction of Metal with Meaning. Or maybe you're not sure you want to effect a wholesale change in this direction, but you would simply like to begin working with more positive themes in your music. In any of these cases The Metal with Meaning Project believes it can assist you in your Metal with Meaning development! We have guidelines that may assist you in this transition.
What Metal with Meaning is Not
In searching the 'Net I found an individual, initials T.K., remarking on MetalWithMeaning.com and the concept of Metal with Meaning. He stated, among other things, that the focus and definition of Metal with Meaning should be:
"...the music, the whole music, and nothing but the music. When music is good, it doesn't need politics, religion, or shock speak to spice it up. Only two questions to ask- "Is the primary intention of this track for musical enjoyment?" And "Does this music track contain anything that could potentially demean, threaten, or offend a specific group of people, organization, institution, political view, or religious background, nationality, or place of residence?"
This individual seems motivated by positive intentions in making his remarks. However, he is apparently asserting that Metal with Meaning is, or can be, defined as music that provides musical enjoyment, and does not cause insult or injury.
This is not the MwM definition of Metal with Meaning, however: Metal with Meaning is not heavy metal that merely refrains from insult or injury. No--the Metal with Meaning Project defines Metal with Meaning as heavy metal that, in the best of cases pro-actively helps and reaches out to people; metal that assists, inspires, or cheers. This pro-active character is usually inspired and informed by philosophical, moral, or spiritual conviction or principal.
Even when Metal with Meaning does not reach this particular height of significance, it reaches a height of another kind: it inspires thought or reflection amongst those who listen to it. Thus, neither is MwM merely metal that provides musical enjoyment, if it does so without meeting this other criterion.
Were we to adhere to the definition proffered by this individual, we could probably define many bands as Metal with Meaning that simply are not. Take one of my favorite bands, for example: Ratt. You could probably listen to every Ratt album without finding anything patently offensive. But is Ratt Metal with Meaning? No way! There is nothing in Ratt I'm aware of that pro-actively reaches out to people to assist, inspire, or cheer them!
So we really need to clarify our definitions here and get them straight, if we're to clearly understand what we're building and fighting for!
Brothers and sisters, if you are serious about producing Metal with Meaning: after reading through our home page, here, please review our discussion of Metal with Meaning theory and practice.
An Inclusive Movement
The desire to do good in the world through metal is informed by a set of beliefs, by a particular kind of social, political, intellectual, or spiritual sensibility or awareness. As in society, itself, positive values, and action based on those values, can spring from a number of different roots, whether philosophical, spiritual, or otherwise. Some thought is drawn exclusively from one kind of root; other thought, from another, while a third from yet another. Some thought is a melding of two or more other roots or strains.
Indeed, our movement is stronger when it is all-inclusive. Neither the movement nor the human family benefits from segregation and restriction. We're always strongest as a species and human community when we work together, musicians and fans of every philosophical or spiritual stripe, from every quarter of society, local and global, working together to clean up, or at least better balance the compromised image of heavy metal. And indeed, ultimately to see if we can use metal as a spearhead, a catalyst, a driving force for positive change, whether personal, social, economic, or spiritual! Of course, the exact nature of this change is up for grabs, open for discussion, and will probably be different in its particulars, from person to person; even between persons within the same Metal with Meaning sub-group.
Providing our mutual discussion is informed by love and respect, I believe we in the metal community--and outside it--can reach productive and satisfactory ends for the human race, with heavy metal as a driving social force!
Then, when our strong and positive movement links up, or intersects with, other movements for strong and positive improvement to ourselves and society--that's when the magic really starts to happen for this planet and our global society within and across it!
Membership in THE METAL WITH MEANING PROJECT is free. I do respectfully request a donation, please read below, but you may join MwM whether you donate or not. Membership entitles you to display our Member Button at your web site, and provides you authorized access to our Chat Room. Most importantly, however, as a Member you will be supporting this organization and what I hope will be the new Metal with Meaning movement!
After joining, jump to our Buttons & Banners page to grab your button code!
Everyone joining The Metal with Meaning Project now, during our charter period, will forever be listed and known as a Charter Member! I believe that, in the future, when the image of heavy metal has turned around, and this form of music is known not only as musically amazing and interesting, but morally relevant too, your status as a Charter Member of The Metal with Meaning Project, a unique and one-of-a-kind organization, will mean a lot!
WELCOME TO THE METAL WITH MEANING PROJECT !
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Note, November 2016: all of the links below have died! And inexplicably, even the World Metal Alliance, logo below, no longer has a dedicated site, although it does have a MySpace page.
I'm Vincent Frank De Benedetto, Founder of THE METAL WITH MEANING PROJECT. I'm a philosopher, writer, Agape Master, journalist, health educator, aspiring metal singer, and more. Contact me at powerkord @ mailforce.net.
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BROTHERHOOD OF MAN
THE METAL WITH MEANING PROJECT is associated with the BROTHERHOOD OF MAN (BOMA) project, and its transformative principals and perspective. BOMA argues that virtually all human problems have a common cause, this being the normal operation of the economic system of capitalism, including its culture of egoism. In other words, the project argues, almost all individual and societal problems are caused by the twin factors of capitalism and ego. Accordingly, the project argues that the only real (i.e. permanent and comprehensive) solution to these questions is the dissolution of the global profit system of capitalism, and its replacement with a classless, moneyless, needs-based, Love-oriented society, the long dreamt-of Brotherhood of Man.
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THE WORLD METAL ALLIANCE
- FEATURED MEANINGFUL METAL RELEASE -
Blackfinger, 2017, When Colors Fade Away - poetic black metal masterpiece!
First metal record I've ever heard that teases with the notion that a solid baritone metal singer can be just about as killer and exciting as a high-octave belter! And if you're, say, 55 years old or older and still a metalhead, you'll find this slow, dark, Sabbathy, beautiful, uber-heavy for-mature-ears record (much like XI by Metal Church), especially gratifying.
Heavy metal poetry!
Warning--this record is addictive! Were I still a dope-smoker, which I'm decidedly not, this is probably the one record I'd want to experience under the mild influence of some extremely good-quality reefer. Barring that, a shot or two of an extremely fine-quality liqueur (lik or') of some kind. This record also proves that there are spoken-word style music forms available to musicians besides H/H--rock and roll, and metal forms, in fact (and I don't mean Rage Against..., which is H/H).
~ Creating Metal that Stimulates Heart or Mind ~
- METAL WITH MEANING -