Heavy metal and alcohol

reign in beer

I went to the country
And while I was gone I lost control of my body functions
On a roller-headed lady’s front lawn
I’m so ashamed but I’m a wino man
I can’t help myself

Frank Zappa – Wonderful Wino

Brown paper bags and parking lots. Shanty shit-and-puke-and-urine infested holes in the wall with moth-eaten underwear on clotheslines, nearly-dead fans and dog meat for hors d’oeuvres. Watching nights bleed into early morning and then bright day, still looking for that one last fix, so knock down sleeping establishments for something illicit and ridiculously priced. Brawls and twisted ankles and broken thumbs. Unconscionable riding and a bout of roadrash for your trouble. Blank spots in your memory? No problem. Set out for home after heated arguments over fuck knows what only to realize you’ve walked five kilometers in the other direction. Remind yourself to always wear boots to ward off packs of feral strays out in force at this hour, then course-correct.

Heavy metal, and all underground, extreme music in general, attracts an addictive, obsessive-compulsive personality like little else. From being record collection completists to drowning in existential navel-gazing over what their beloved form of music means, heavy metal fans – FANS – make an emotional and physical investment in the music that goes beyond age and trends. Marry that with a fondness for alcohol, and you have a potential recipe for good things…and some not so good things. Alcohol is great at numbing the peripheries of sensation, and acts as conduit to the mind’s vistas, populating it with pictures of grandeur and decay. A lot of metal, like Darkthrone for instance, doesn’t need to be heard through a high-end, state of the art setup to be appreciated, instead relying chiefly on the human imagination to flesh out its contours. Alcohol in its initially ebullient, inhibition-killing capacity plays an accommodating role in creating this passage, establishing mood and heightened sensitivity. For the frequently dramatic nature of heavy metal, this proves to be the ideal mental lubricant, easing entry into the anachronistic universe it often inhabits.

As for the not so good, well, this is no twelve-step charter or ground for oily moral grandstanding. It bears saying however that heavy metal’s inherent speed, aggression, and loudness makes it conducive to binge drinking if one is so predisposed. For the rest, I let Chris Holmes, staged or not, take the floor:

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