Sunday, November 28, 2010

Black Men in Heavy Metal


Thank you all for being extremely patient in waiting for new posts. And also, thanks to those of you who emailed me about the blog with various concerns, comments, praises, and critiques. I appreciate the support. Trust me, it only fuels the heavy metal fire.
Now, I'm sure some of you are wondering who the dudes in that epic picture above are. (although you might already know)
Their name is Black Death (Not to be confused with the Russian band as well as the band from California). Formed in the 70s (77') from Ohio of all places. They are hailed as the 'first all black metal band'.
My experience as a black female metal head, I realized, is most likely completely different than my male counterparts.I have been blogging this whole time sharing my views on metal without taking into account the men who really paved the way.
I realize to many, black guys being into metal is not exactly anything new. (black women on the other hand...)
Metal heads may not be able to name too many all black metal bands but I'm sure you can name bands that have at least one black member. (Now think to yourself how many you can name off the top of your head and post them in the comment section).
I mean, I'm sure it took guts! Just like how being the first to do anything always is. But in such a conformists community (yeah, I said conformist), its not only courageous but possibly dangerous. From not only the metal community but the black one.
And now, this led me to think of even more alienating brands of metal and bands that have black members in them.
I think of Blasphemy (had two black members) and the back lash they experienced with their family and friends. Like I said in an older post-the black community can be very religious and downright superstitious at times. Were they accepted or bashed? I guess its interesting to me because I know that people like that made it just a little bit easier for me to be able to listen to the music I do, go to concerts in rooms filled with faces that look nothing like my own, and write this blog while saying with conviction that at least there are SOME others who are just like myself who play the music and look the part. And it only makes it easier to say I'm a metal head when I can show other groups of people who would think other wise that I'm not strange or the first/last of my kind.
I realize that for the white folks who read this blog, its probably strange to relate this feeling to you. I suppose its kinda like going to your first metal concert and seeing hundreds of people who have similar interests like you do ready to enjoy their time together. That feeling of reckless elation.
I get quite a jolt of pride whenever I go to shows and see another black metal heads (even if they are a bit stand offish) or even performers on stage. I guess its reaffirmation that your not weird or crazy and that you do belong somewhere.
(At least in America) its slowly starting to get into everybody's heads that not all black people have to listen to 'black music' or even can enjoy metal, opera, ska, punk, classical, hell country.
I do believe that it had to take a man to do this though. (I know ladies, it sucks but its true). Since metal is so masculine as a whole, black guys had to be the first to gain respect in the community in order to be taken seriously.
I really hope in the future even more all black bands emerge so that we can have a huge community for our young to look up to and be inspired by-just like I was. I hear about more and more everyday. Just think when we get to the level where we have black men and women together in symphonic metal bands. Should be interesting with our vocal range, eh?
But it takes baby steps.
So if any black men are reading this, no matter what age, tell me your experiences as a black male metal head?
And if your not a black dude-leave a comment anyway. Tell me your opinions and bands with black male members.

37 comments:

ValeriesWorld said...

Thanks for the information! Very interesting

DareDevil said...

The Suicidal Tendencies used to have a black band member and I remember how I regarded this as 'unusual'. In a way it was also cool though. I am afraid that I don't really know how to explain it, but it felt good to see that Metal is not just a 'white thing'.

Another band that has to be mentioned in this context is, of course, Living Colour. However, I have to admit that I am not THAT familiar with their music. I know a few of their songs, but I could never really get into them. They had the screaming guitars, but something in their Heavy Metal was missing, or at least too different from the Heavy Metal *I* prefer.

Still, I hope that Black musicians will give the term "Black Metal" a whole new meaning soon! ;)

Nuclear Mamba said...

The only band with a black male member I can think of at the top of my head is Killswitch Engage, and I used to know more. I don't particularly like that band though (I don't do metalcore). I'll post some more if I think of anything else.

Also, did you know that apparently, there was a black guy in Megadeth during its early days? Supposedly, there was this guy named Dijon who lied about being black and told Mustaine/others that he was puerto rican. When they found out he was black, they kicked him out.

A quote from one of the members stated that it wasn't because he was black, but because they don't want anyone in the band who is afraid to be himself, which is understandable, but at the same time, I'd wonder what circumstances with the band would make Dijon uncomfortable about admitting his race in the first place.

I don't know how true this is, given Mustaine's pathological lying nature, but it sure is interesting to read about.

On a more personal note, I know more black female metal listeners than black male metal listeners (although they're still few in number). In fact, I don't think I've EVER met a black guy who was into it. It would be a nice treat to come across one, though. Maybe I should start going to shows.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for introducing me to Black Death! Only other metalhead black dude I can think of is Katon from Hirax.

Marvin Gregory said...

Beening black also but I am a male I can relate to the stuff you said in this blog about beening black and metal but like said beening a black female is a whole different story but I know alot of metal bands who have adleast one black member The Fall of Troy's newish bass player,Atilla's new bas player,Oceano's vocals,Straight line stitch vocals,For today's vocals,The tony tap dancing extravaganza's guitar player and alot more i can't think from the top of my head.

Dirugämesh Grey said...

Being the token Black guy at metal concerts is fun, as I get to yell at another Black person for breaking my status as the only one there haha. I don't feel awkward at all even though it's mostly a white male community. If anything it makes it even more comforting since I'm not judged, but embraced since I'm kind of a "survivor", being in "the hood" much of my life and surrounded by shitty rap music growing up(not that all of it's bad, don't get me wrong!).

Kelly said...

The only ones I can think of off the top of my head are Sevendust and Suffocation.

Suffocation is one of my all-time favorite death metal bands (only Death comes close); their drummer and one of their guitarists are black.

And I keep thinking and thinking and I can't come up with another one except Crackdust (from Botswana).

Jahnn said...

As a black guy that just got into death metal January '09, I definitely feel this article. Another thing is I've been trying to ceate the next all black metal band. But it's so hard to find any other negroes that are remotely interested. I play lead guitar now and I've been singing r&b forever. I'm trying something new musically by putting an r&b styled vocal arrangement over-top melodic metal. I think an all-black band doing what I call 'R&B Metal' would be something crazy and could change the lives of many. I've already done a couple songs, but I'm still working on what this type of music is going to sound like. If anyone's interested in hearing it, I'll be sure to post here as soon as the EP is done. I'm figuring before March.

The Black Girl into Heavy Metal said...

@ValesWorld-Your Welcome! Thanks for hanging in there.
@DareDevil-Welcome back:) I agree with you. I think 'hey thats unusual and cool too' and I think that was the intersting thing to me about blacks in metal.
I liked Living colour but again, I understand what you mean about the metal you prefer. *See the Straight line stitch post.
@Nuclear Mamba-I too have met more black female metal heads than males. I wonder why that is? Hmm...future post idea...
And I don't blaim Mustaine if that is true.
@Marvin, Dirugamesh, and Jahnn-Welcome to the blog! You and a flood of others who have emailed me have given this post validation. We (male and female) black metal heads do exist! Thank you so much for sharing your opinion and experiences. (sp?)
Keep coming back and remember this is your home now!
@Kelly-Yeah, I know its hard coming up with bands. But thats just because it really is few and far between. If you think of anymore, post em'.

Kelly said...

"If anyone's interested in hearing it, I'll be sure to post here as soon as the EP is done."

I'm always interested in hearing new metal fusion genres.

"If you think of anymore, post em'."

I did a simple Google search (site:http://www.metal-archives.com/ african) and went through some of the results, and found:

Mystifier
Blasphemy (the Canadian one)
Stone Vengeance
Seventh Seal (of USA)
Vale of Amonition

It ended up that a good number of these were actually Christian bands. So, breaking two stereotypes at once.

The Black Girl into Heavy Metal said...

@Kelly-Hey, thank you so much! I've heard of Vale of Amonition (I was actually going to do the next flavor of the week on them). Also the Afropunk band database has a few bands that I also want to check out.

Adrian said...

I know someone already said Killswitch Engage but I have to plug them again. Mainlu because the lead singer, who is the only black member, is from the town I go to school in, Waterbury, CT. That and the fact they are very good and put on a good live show.

I also want to mention a band I haven't seen mentioned yet, Skindred. For those who haven't heard of them they're a Welsh band that mixes metal with reggae. They actually refer to themselves as ragga metal.

The Black Girl into Heavy Metal said...

@Adrain- I will put KSI on the list of bands with blacks in them. I actually saw them in concert and they were really good.
Skindred-I remember seeing them and the new headbangers ball on MTV2. Haven't heard from them since. They still making music?

helluvadrug said...

TheBlackGirlIntoHeavyMetal said:

@Nuclear Mamba-"I too have met more black female metal heads than males. I wonder why that is?"


It definately has to do with the shortage of black males in general. The shortage of males, and "good" ones at that, has become a hot topic lately, and is even said to be the cause in higher rates of interracial relationships among black women. The reasons for the shortage are varied; you can find info on it just about everywhere.

Adrian said...

Yeah Skindred are still making music, they're just not that well known. They just released an EP album, Shark Bites and Dog Fights, a little over a year ago.

Kraas said...

Black Death is an *awesome* find, thank you for posting this. I love old school bands with a lot energy, its a damn shame these guys didn't make more, only one full album...

Kraas said...

*with a lot of energy

Stupid grammar...

George said...

I don't know why, but death metal seems to have a higher level of black people than other genres,such as the guys from Suffocation, Oceano's vocalist and Alex Hellid (who is at least mixed race, if not fully black.

Conversely and rather ironically, black metal seems to have barely any, the only one I can think of is the guitarist from Blasphemy. Not sure why this is, apart from the fact that black metal originated in Norway, which doesn't seem to have a high population of blacks.

Anonymous said...

I think Metal derives from rock, which derives from blues, which I believe is a black people's music. Knowing this, I think metal shouldn't be labeled as a "white music".

Overcome Social Anxiety said...

Wow. I came across this blog and really loved it.

Just wanna say that I'm a white guy who is pretty "old school". I grew up in the '80s when I listened to VH, AC/DC, Def Lep, Metallica, G 'n R, etc. Actually, I still do.

Not sure if I speak for all white guys who follow metal, but I always loved it when I saw a black person at a concert. However, I hardly see any black ppl at heavy metal concerts and the last one I saw was a black chick back in 2007 when I was at a Van Halen concert in Detroit.

Anyway, I don't think that us "white boys" are trying to keep anyone out. I think (and hope) we welcome black people and I hope to see black metal bands in the future.

MetalFRO said...

Kelly beat me to it, I was going to mention Stone Vengeance - they have also been around since the mid-late 1970's and are a solid example of early American metal from a band comprised of all black members.

Soylent Ape said...

Aside from those already mentioned, I can think of Body Count, God Forbid, Wicked Wisdom, Last Year's Tragedy, A Band Called Pain, Tony Macalpine (in his pre-fusion period) and Sound Barrier (another all-black metal band from the 80s), While not exactly metal, but either influenced by or influential upon metal, there's Kings X, Fishbone, 24-7 Spyz, Pure Hell and Bad Brains, among others. Cheers to DareDevil for mentioning Suicidal Tendencies, because Rocky George is one of the most underrated guitarists in the history of Metal!

Black Death are completely awesome. Sikki Spacek loved metal like few others and the web is rife with anecdotes of how he would always be wearing his studded leather and carrying his guitar: in the post office, at the supermarket, at work, etc... Their only official recording was re-released last year and is worth getting your hands on if you like 80s metal that compares to Judas Priest by way of Grim Reaper.

djwill said...

This is quite the blog....

I've been smashing the "stereotype" for years.

Keep up the spirit...your not alone...

djwill

"That Metal Show" Season 7
DJ for KNAC.COM

www.metaldjwill.com

Max said...

Hey, im 16, black, and male and i listen to metal. Definitely my favorite genre, and everyone in my household and all my friends outside my household know I listen to it. Its not a big deal for the majority, but for some people they think its bad just cuz its not rap lol, but for the most part the reaction I get from my black friends is "wheres your gucci mayne? hahaha." Its not really a big deal to them.
Also a good band with black vocals is Oceano. Some consider them core for their break down, but im not soo into naming genres with all these semi new terms.
And although these bands dont have black members i like - Lamb of God, Behemoth, The Acacia Strain, Iced Earth, Dimmu Borgir, Korn, Opeth, Otep, Rammstein, The Samans, etc.
Good luck and much love

Anonymous said...

The bass player of metallica is Black.
One member of Sepultura is black.

There was an thrash metal/rap band from the early 90's. They were black.

Cryptic Moon said...

Im am a black metal drummer+vocalist....

Saturn said...

Checkout Mystifier an early second wave (founded in 89 i believe) black metal band from brazil at one point the whole line up was black. I highly recommend you check out any of their LP's.

Demonreich said...

Suffocation Oceano Sevendust Bad brains henry rollins band Infectious Grooves God Forbid

dedfays said...

i found this to be most interesting. id like to put out there Body Count an all black metal band fronted by Ice-t and HED P.E. which has a black lead vocalist

mccreadyandchess said...

Hey, its me -currently looking for the video that can't be found. I don't know whether racial backgrounds ever made much difference in metal because when public enemy and anthrax teamed up and toured together it worked on a lot of levels. I've never heard of anyone refusing to like a band because of the racial backgrounds of its members. Mordred had DJ Pause in their line up, which was a really radical thing to do at the time (check out their video esse quam videri) but no one questioned it, everyone thought they were cool. Also, Gothic Slam had a black singer, he was fantastic. Their only single 'Who died and made you god' shows him trying to address his image in some of the shots. As long as the music is great, it doesn't matter where you come from. To answer an earlier person: the guitarist in Suicidal Tendencies was called Rocky George. Great guy.

Anonymous said...

Slash from g n r was half white and half black.

Anonymous said...

Uh...William DuVall from Comes With The Fall and Alice in Chains I know they're not metal (well AiC has some elements)but still.
Phil Lynott from Thin Lizzy (more Hard Rock, but a huge influence for Metallica and James Hetfield). I'm sure there's a lot more ahah

Anonymous said...

stone vengeance,harvey,sound barrier,znowhite,dyoxen,cerebrus,defcon,white devil!,just from the top of my head.

Anonymous said...

wait there's more:hirax,m 80,zoetrope,vendetta{us},new suicidal tendencies,

Anonymous said...

and who could forget the mighty black death!

Alexander Shabazz said...

I dont know if I would be considered a metal head but I do attend shows and love metal but although I see more black men performing I usually see more black women in the audience, while not many, still more than men. A lot of my white friends WANT to see more blacks!

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