We get letters. Often they are opinionated. Sometimes they are coherent. Here are the best examples for your enjoyment. If you want to send a letter, use the contact page.

From: Cory Sutton <csutton@mem.haroldives.com>
Subject: What is metal?

Can you help me solve a dispute? What would you classify Tool and A Perfect Circle? I say that at the end of the day when all is said and done they are metal, do you agree? my friend says they are alternative, I know this is a somewhat childish question but it needs to be settled. Thanks for any help you can give.

Great question. The answer: these bands are mainstream alternative bands that borrow heavy metal stylings. Since heavy metal isn’t that much different from rock-n-roll in a generalized sense, it’s easy to merge the two into minor-key whining. It’s important that these bands not be seen as metal for an understanding of whatever artistic ambitions they have. It’s also useful for mocking them for being such corporate stooges preaching socially-conformist “non-conformist” behavior disguised as rebellious “entertainment.”
From: “Chris” <reiakai@optimonline.com>
Subject: you are fucking crazy

what the fuck is wrong with you, you fucking demented bastards! I mean, yeah, some morality subjects taught by any Christian churches are somewhat extreme, but this bullshit Satan crap you are publishing is the opposite of the spectrum and just as extreme as fundamental Christian doctrine. You, in essence, are being just as gay as these so called preachers. Why not just forget about all this shit and just live your life while getting wasted and having fun- that is what it’s all about.

Short answer to “why not just forget about all this shit and just live your life while getting wasted and having fun”: because putting my head in the sand and masturbating has never gotten me anywhere. We’re all in this together.
From: Keith K <keith84@snet.net>
Subject: Cannibal Corpse

Why don’t you feature Cannibal Corpse in your reviews? It seems like they don’t get much respect from serious death metal fans.

Thanks for writing in such a respectful manner (you should see the other letters we get on this topic).

There are several good reasons why we don’t feature Cannibal Corpse. First, Cannibal Corpse stole everything they know about making metal from more reputable bands (Suffocation, Malevolent Creation, Morpheus Descends, Immolation). Second, their intent has always to be “entertainment” more like the mainstream rock from which metal escaped. This reversed the intent of metal, which is not to refer to what is popular and form its opinions based on that, but to refer to reality and form its opinions based on THAT. Third, their lyrics are dishonorable toward women and we want no part of that. While we’re not in favor of censoring the truth, lyrics like “Stripped, Raped and Strangled” seem to be angry hatred toward women and thus, like mainstream politics or religion, are an emotional reaction and not logical response to the world.

Since you’ve written this letter, we have met the gentlemen behind Cannibal Corpse and find them to be intelligent, friendly people. However, the path they are going down is destructive to metal and so we cannot support it.

From: kelechi darl <dkelechi@caramail.com>


Hysterical disorganized ranting always makes me want to change religion.
From: Michael Flathers <MRflathe@Anselm.Edu>

you guys are a joke. Let me guess you are attention-craving losers who cant get girls, and are morons. I am guessing that I am right and you are exactly that. I am not even that religious, but you guys are fucking retarded. I just thought that you should know that.

That’s right. Anyone who has any desire for “change” must be unable to get laid or have friends. Since that’s your logic, you must be an attention-craving loser to write to us, correct?
From: Jarrett <Jarrett@mj3.net>
Subject: FU

You sick fucks deserve to die. You should shove a shotgun up your ass, and pull the trigger. Fuck you all.

Thanks for the advice. There’s nothing like some drunk guy writing in to tell us to fuck off to reaffirm our knowledge that we irritate the fuck out of you hamsters.
From: popy@bluewin.ch

You are STUPIDS for this HORRIBLE photos

You are OBLIVIOUS if you think we weren’t going to laugh at this.
From: John Darnielle <john_darnielle@themountaingoats.net>
Subject: You suck

I have no meaningful debate for a guy who doesn’t know the meaning of either term. Just the abuse you so richly deserve.

I’m not Christian, dude. Or Jewish. I was raised in an atheist household by a guy from Terre Haute, Indiana, one of the most outrageously anglo cities in the entire history of the world. You wouldn’t know a fact if it bit you and it would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic. Equally pathetic is your ongoing fumbling around in the dark trying to figure out who I am.

You are a complete moron, and your curly-ass hair was awfully funny last time I saw it. Your radio show used to kick ass, though.

John Darnielle

Letters full of self-referential outrage are the last refuge of “non-conformist” conformist hipsters trying to appear “different” by turning every aspect of their lives into an outward expression replacing inner positive convictions.

It is interesting however that our most persistent critics are those who run “competing” metal review sites. You tried to rip off the concept I’ve championed for years of “ambient metal” on your site, and you keep trying to cop my style. Is guilt the reason for your outrage?

Furthermore, you (John Darnielle) championed introducing hipsters and indie-rock concepts into metal because the raw amorality of metal’s worship of power threatened your own tenuous grasp on reality itself. You have been a parasite on metal since the beginning.

You stalked us for years. You abused at least one personal friendship to get our information, and then hiding behind anonymity, attempted to dox our editor on the open internet. Do you think that’s honorable behavior?

From: STARGOAT@webtv.net (lost.soul.of.life)
Subject: i finally understand

i have always been openminded….now i realize maybe i shouldnt be.I now understand confusion in its worst form.Should i stay in social conformity and live in denial…or cross over to what appears to be sane in a very insane world?i suddenly feel sick

Thank you for writing in. You’ve asked the most important question.

Death metal is a gateway to understanding that in this world, nothing is as it seems, and yet it presents itself as being what its face value is. This is a consequence of socialization and the morality that arises from it.

It’s sickening how entrapping “good intentions” have been. Everyone wants to be nice, ready for new ideas, able to judge someone on whether or not they’re a scumbag? These ideas have been perverted into morality, “open-mindedness,” and egalitarianism, all of which just make it easy for the degenerate elements of humanity to gain power.

You will need a powerful counterplan.

First: get stable. Get yourself a degree, a career you don’t hate, and a stable place to have a family. Get away from the destruction as much as you can. Insure your death metal collection and get at least one assault weapon. Build an altar to Kali in the basement.

Next: be an example. Do good in your community. Be a good friend. Be the person that others respect and want to know. That way, if you do have an opinion, they will know it’s worth hearing.

After: be wary of false solutions. Especially be wary of mass culture, which is based on “protest music” and similar ideas. Our ideal in metal is power, and worship of nature, and their ideal is morality, and worship of the human form. The two are incompatible.

Finally: fight back. Support your local metal scene! Support sanity wherever you find others acting insane. This is what “rise above” truly means, or should mean.

You ask the most valid question that a metalhead faces. Metal, by the nature of it approaching topics that our society is afraid to recognize, kind of pulls the curtain back from the gory inner workings of the human mind and the human world. It’s impossible to turn back. The only way is forward.

From: 09065082730@jp-t.ne.jp


Thank you. We love having visitors like you.
From: “Brendon Small” <brendon@brendonsmall.com>
Subject: hey pal

dear person who didn’t sign his or her name,

great review.

a couple things:

feel free to hate anything we do.

remind yourself occasionally: it’s only a cartoon.

also you’re not the only one who’s allowed to like things. other people can like stuff too.

there are many things that fall into many categories that may be sub- sected and chopped up and over analyzed by any online know it all ‘career hessian’ (love the ‘career’ part by the way- anyone that has to say it. . . )

and we don’t care what you say spinal tap was a great movie and it will never grow tired.

and what’s wrong with wanking on guitar? it took me a long time to learn how to do that. sheesh, is nothing safe from you career hessians?

oh you call it slander we call it love- I’m sure we could do this all day. . .

i don’t need to tell you where our support comes from in the metal community- i’ll let you do that research on your own (should you still be frothing and all) and you can hate all of them as much as you hate us. fine with me.

hipster? thank you grandpa. haven’t been called that yet.

you simply writing that article is spreading the word about our low budget crappy show with no advertising. we thank you for that.

i’m sure you’re a nice guy, now if you’ll pardon me I have a ridiculous ‘cartoon’ to make and underground metal to fear (to a degree).


Are there any hipsters we haven’t irritated?

Hipsters are doomed because they’re reality-deniers. Metal is reality-affirming. Hipsters thus hate metal. QED (if you’re a hipster) make fake metal and try to destroy the fanbase.

Brendon is one of the creators of Metalocalypse, a TV cartoon that makes fun of heavy metal. In Metalocalypse, it’s funny that metalheads are stupid and metal music is repetitive noise and spectacle for idiots.

Brendon is of course old enough to have been active in the 1990s underground, and yet wasn’t. We wonder why he chose to come by fifteen years later with his satirical intent. Sour grapes?

He wants us to know that “you’re not the only one who’s allowed to like things — other people can like stuff too.” He thinks he is profound for claiming that it’s a matter of choice to the individual. What he doesn’t tell you is that all of our choices have consequences, and if you invade a genre with stupid mainstream ideas, you destroy what it had that was unique.

Doesn’t he read history? What happened to punk, ska, reggae and techno? They got absorbed by the vast mainstream-tastes money music maker machine. The bigger thing with lower standards always assimilates the breakaway independents. They turn it into the same old thing, but with a different flavor. And that’s ultimately what Dethklok is: metal-flavored rock music.

How do we both have it “our way”? What if I like dumping toxic waste, molesting kids, etc. etc. At some point, there’s a line between truth and falsehood and it’s not the bullshit relativism that Mr. Small endorses.

Our comments are accurate — he’ll forever be an outsider to underground metal because he cannot accept its worldview, and therefore as an outsider looking in, has only negative comments to make about us to make himself feel better.

From: “Devamitra”
Subject: Reagan & metal

Was Ronald Reagan an influence on 80′s heavy/speed metal? I recently watched some 80′s movies and remembered something you wrote in the “history of metal” essay, but whereas you focused on the way the heavy metal youth was disillusioned and disbelieving of the government more and more, I got this thought: wasn’t the macho / fight against enemies attitude also inspiration?

Thank you for writing in with this perceptive question.

Ronald Reagan was not just a president. He was the symbol of a time in which the Cold War influenced every aspects of our everyday lives.

After WWII, conservative politics became “neo-liberal” or basically liberal. Instead of seeking to defeat the Communist powers by offering the same promises that their socialist systems did, Reagan took the US, UK and Europe in a somewhat right-wing direction, the first politician to do that since WWII. He actively opposed the hippie revolution of the late 1960s and all that the counter-culture stood for.

As a result, he presided over a time of great conflict. Nuclear war suddenly seemed more likely. The restrictions on personal liberties, heavy militarization and almost Nazi sense of duty, order and personal sacrifice scared the hell out of many of us. As a kid, Ronald Reagan scared the hell out of me.

Much like the most vicious tribes on earth, the Vikings, produced the most pleasant society to live in, however, Reagan’s militarism turned out for the best. He goaded the Soviets into self-destruction economically without having to attack them. His nuclear readiness forced both sides to take the bomb more seriously and not use it. Even his Nazi-style social policy was less restrictive than the Soviet version or what came after the Cold War.

I realize it’s hard for us to look back now at DRI or Suicidal Tendencies lyrics and understand the fascination with Reagan. He was just another president, right? He was and he wasn’t. He was the return of the right-wing, and all of our fears that we had of the Nazis. He was the guy who made the Cold War real. His social Darwinist trickle-down economics scared us half to death.

The 1980s were a time of rigid taboos on both the right and the left. Al Gore’s wife Tipper Gore spearheaded an organization, the PMRC, who wanted to ban heavy metal and rap music because of their satanic, often salacious, lyrics. Did you ever wonder why Slayer embraced Satan with relish? They were fighting back — not rebelling, fighting back — against the climate of fear of the 1980s. Slayer found a more elegant and artistically meaningful use of Satan, as a metaphor for the solution to the list of fears: drugs taking over our children, central American communists at our borders, domestic terrorists and hackers, and most of all, a possible Soviet nuclear advantage.

One interesting feature of metal in the 1990s was that it entirely refuted the liberal ideology that replaced Reagan. In the Clinton years, liberalism had become exactly what ten years earlier it was feared Reagan would. In the late 1980s, the dominant view was liberalism, and the citizens hoped that liberalism would save us from conservatism, which we feared would be the path to a a McCarthyist totalitarian state where views other than the dominant were feared. In the 1990s, we learned that liberalism also can lead to a McCarthyist totalitarian state and worse even a “post-totalitarian” one where control is invisible and social. As a means of avoiding that, metal turned toward the organic state (where shared culture, heritage, religion, philosophy, language and values rule in place of government and ideology).

Reagan’s influence is still with us. Some bands, like Napalm Death, have never stopped blurting out the dogma of late 1980s liberalism, even as their audience comes to regard them as a curiosity. Others, like Queensryche, remain popular for having put into metaphor the fears we all had of those days.