I’ve been in this situation more than once, and maybe you have too: I’m hanging out listening to music with people who don’t have much interest in metal and don’t know much about it (though everyone seems to have heard of Metallica), but they’re trying to be polite, so they ask if you’d like to pick something for everyone to listen to, in between whatever they’re playing.
I was in this situation last weekend, which is why I’m thinking about it. It wasn’t the first time, it won’t be the last. I don’t always come up with the same answers. It’s usually whatever pops into my head first. But either consciously or subconsciously, I’m usually thinking about catchy riffs, infectious rhythms, and melodies that people can latch onto fast. It’s usually tempting to steer clear of harsh vocals, but sometimes I just don’t give a fuck about that. Depends on the company I’m keeping and my own mood.
Last weekend I picked “The Cult of No Return” by Arkhamin Kirjasto. I seem to pick that song a lot in these situations. It tends to get its hooks in people fast, and I like the hell out of it (I’m not going to pick something I think the uninitiated might like unless I really want to hear it too). Plus, the vocals are unclean, which is what I usually want after I’ve been listening for a while to music from the vast the non-metal realms. And I enjoy watching people’s reactions when the vocals kick in right about the time they’re beginning to think to themselves, “damn, this isn’t bad”.
(Which is an understatement. Some musicians go their whole lives without ever cooking up a riff as mighty as the main one in that song.)
Plus, I sometimes feel traitorous to my own flag if I completely steer clear of harsh vocals. When you recommend music to other people, regardless of what it is, you have to own it, right? It says something about who you are, and about your judgment. And if you care about your own self-respect, you’re not going to pick some shit just because you think it will be an easy like by other listeners.
On the other hand, unless you’re just a total asshole by nature, you don’t want to pick something that you know with a high degree of certainty your non-metal companions are going to hate. It’s a tightrope walk.
I don’t keep notes on these situations (I’m not a 100% nerd, only about 90%), so I have no hard data to back this up, but my best guess is that the other two songs that have popped into my head most often in these mixed-company situations are “Silver Bride” by Amorphis and “Cloud Connected” by In Flames. Like “The Cult of No Return”, they’ve got big hooks, but unlike that first song they’ve got clean vocals (but not entirely clean), yet they’re still heavy. And I also like the hell out of them.
Last weekend, “The Cult of No Return” went over well enough that I was asked to pick something else, and in a spasm of total impulsiveness I picked “Erection In the House of God” by Fvneral Fvkk. It fits all of the criteria I mentioned above, and it has clean vocals, and I happened to have been listening to it recently, and I knew the name of the band and the song would get a laugh or two, which they did. And then the expressions on their faces changed when the song began playing, as I knew they would, because it’s a genius song.
And now that I’m thinking of these four songs, I’m going to stick them below so I can listen to them while I read your Comments.
Oh yes, I would be grateful if you would leave comments, and tell us this: If you’ve been in mixed-company situations like I’ve been describing, and you have the chance to throw some metal onto a playlist for non-metal people to listen to while you’re drinking, smoking, talking, whatever — what do you pick?