Aug 262017


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.


Arkhamin Kirjasto

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?





  29 Responses to “METAL FOR MIXED COMPANY”

  1. A lot of stoner and doom is tolerated my my girlfriend who is not a metal fan. Also Baroness.

  2. My go-to is PAIN. Instrumental melodeath tends to get good response, so does viking/folk metal with minimal or no harsh vocals. Also take precautions so that shuffle doesn’t actually put on Rotten Sound.

  3. I have found that Katatonia’s – Forsaker, Devin Townsend Project – Kingdom, Witch Ripper – Queen of the Green, Scissorfight – Acid for Blood, Lantlos – Jade Fields are all songs that have done well in mixed company.

  4. I know it doesn’t really answer the question but I can’t wait for more Fvneral Fvkk. I bought the split after you guys posted about it the first time, particularly love the quote: “Formed in early 2015, its sole purpose is to bring sacral, angelic atmosphere back to Epic Doom Metal… and then rape it all over.”

    This is the doom I love <333

  5. My girlfriend, who isn’t into metal at all, seems to enjoy Post-Metal. She likes bands like Pelican and Russian Circles that are insturmental, but also can listen to ISIS and Cult of Luna. Other than that stoner doom is probably the most accessible for people not into metal, in my opinion.

  6. Noticed my typo as I was submitting it, whoops. Also wanted to say thanks for sharing the Fvneral Fvkk, that was awesome. I had heard the name but didn’t check it out, really good stuff.

  7. The thing I hate most when this situation happens is when someone who is musically inclined says “they just scream because they cant sing”

  8. I’d do well with more of these suggestions. I have the girlfriendhatesuncleansinging disorder. My middle grounds include solstafir, elder, alcest (obviously), and a myriad of instrumental bands ala year of no light.

  9. Non-metal tends to suck the energy out of me. To refill the adrenaline, I find 80’s heavy and black/thrash to provide this rush whilst not bumming out those pesky non-metallers. Manowar or Slayer might do the trick, but I try to find something “likable” for the mass, whilst not compromising on my own tast. (I’m too fucking gentle.)
    Melodic stuff tends to catch on, and singalong-friendly material if you’re drinking with a merry bunch. There’s lots of both in for instance various folk/viking landscapes. Take Borknagar as a random example.
    Humor is also quite universal. Try Alestorm – Fucked with an Anchor, for instance (or Nancy the Tavern Wench, if you insist on singing).

    My shifting (lack of) memory gives different results on every occasion.

  10. Eh, fuck ’em. They don’t want to listen to metal? I walk them through the alternatives:

    “O.K., then, we’ll listen to some contemporary classical guitar. Frequent time signature changes. Weird musical references to beloved (and not beloved) other weird composers, etc.”

    “No? O.K., then, it’s time for some hard bop. We’ll start with the most difficult John Coltrane albums and work our way through to Ornette Coleman. Especially the albums where he plays bass clarinet like it’s an animal he wants to kill.”

    “No? O.K., then we’re going to listen to Tori Amos all night. Except I’m going to remove all the happy(ish) dancy songs out of the playlist. We’re going to listen to the aural equivalent of wanting to slit your wrists. Enjoy.”

    I…don’t have a lot of friends.

  11. I find that a quick blast of The Axis of Perdition, coupled with a series of locked doors and an unblinking stare, can do WONDERS for your social life.

    • Ha! I was listening to Deleted Scenes from the Transition Hospital for the first time in a long while the other day, I’d forgotten how abrasive that band can be.

  12. My first go to is Katatonia , Perfect Circle and if I go heavier than their taste I usually go with Ihsahn or Doom metal. I’ve been known to drop Autechre and Boards of Canada when I can’t break the “Non-Metal” barrier as well.

  13. My identity is not wrapped up in the music I listen to, and so losing self-respect has never been an issue, hence I typically don’t display my metal credentials when picking music for non-metal folk. Because they are non-metal folk, and unlike religious fanatics, I bear no interest in conversion. Which is why I think one would consider this choice; metal for non-metal people is just presumptuous that you should attempt to entice them. Why?

    I understand the metal path is lonesome to some. But when something encroaches upon what I like, no matter the intention, more often than not I like it less. And, I feel many people think the same.

    • Being the only metalhead in my group of friends, metal has become something extremely personal to me, and I’m really not interested in trying to convert anyone, either. I agree with what you’re saying, but in my case, it’s almost like I’m opening up a part of myself that I don’t want to. I know that’s weird, especially considering I’m just a fan and didn’t create any of the music I love. There have been albums over the years that have become major parts of my life, and I can’t imagine sharing something like that with someone who would regard the music as “just ok” at best and pure noise at worst.

  14. Ulver looks friendly to both metal and non-metal lovers, some Opeth songs too.

    • Seconding. I had ATGCLVLSSCAP on over the weekend when I had some friends over and it went over extremely well.

      I also find a lot of the doomier stuff (Katatonia, Khemmis, Pallbearer, Crypt Sermon), a lot of folk metal (Arkona, Heidevolk, Tyr, Skyclad) or the newer more ambient/experimental strains of black metal (Below the Sun, Agalloch, Spectral Lore, Mare Cognitum) all tend to go over pretty well in large part, in addition to not being guttural growling over relentless pounding dischord, simply because nobody who’s not into metal is likely to have come across any of this and it’s such a shift in style from what someone into electronic or pop is likely to be familiar with.

  15. I usually just go for the classics. Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Dio, Deep Purple, etc. I find that a lot of people who aren’t into metal (even sometimes those who claim to be big fans of “classic rock”!) usually aren’t even very familiar with those classics. Most metalheads know albums like Master of Reality, Powerslave, and Screaming For Vengeance forwards and backwards, but in my experience many non-metal fans have never heard an Iron Maiden song besides *maybe* The Trooper. Gotta start with the basics, haha.

  16. My latest favourite for this kind of situations is Dark Tranquillity’s “Forward momentum”. It’s catchy as fuck, has both clean and growled vocals and a tempo most non-metal folks can appreciate.

  17. I play lots of NWOBHM when in social situations, or stoner/doom. But I usually play lots of Melodic Black Metal/Black Thrash while driving my friends places.

  18. Also I thought I was the only one who knew about Fvneral Fvck. Happy to see others.

  19. I tend to go to Black Crown Initiate, because:

    1, when a non-metal fan asks for metal they are going to be dissapointed if there’s no growl vocal
    2, it’s super catchy and just amazeballs.

  20. I usually don’t attempt to put on metal around non metal people. I tend to like a lot of things anyway, so I’m
    Rarely feeing left out. Also, as someone mentioned, I don’t usually care to convert people as metal is my little personal fantasy. I only want to fully engage with people who have come to it on their own terms.

    That said, when someone specifically requests that I put on some metal I make sure to put something on that will have them wishing they had a diaper. Like Anaal Nathrakh.

  21. I know i’m late on the scene here, but what a great fucking post. How on earth did no one think of eliciting comments about such a situation before?! Who hasnt had to deal with metal for nonmetal people? It might be “unconventional” (as if there is an established protocol for this) but I go for a build up towards the actual metal. Like starting someone on pot before the acid, you know. I like to play some hard rock first, say, Alice in Chains (old or new, both good), then move to Fen. Fen has clean and harsh vocals, slow and heavy sections, beautiful melodies and harsh blasting.
    I like the Amorphis suggestion. And wow–Funeral Fuck–i never heard them before but they rock. Actually–listening to them as I write this–they remind me of Alice in Chains!

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