Metallica’s “Frantic” and Metal’s Power to Channel Our Inner Pain

When a person has abundant life energy, we aptly describe that state as “full of life.”  Kids, particularly young boys, can be very active.  That’s not to say that people who go about life at a more leisurely pace aren’t as full of life, but a typical way in which life energy manifests itself is in our activeness — how we move our body.

Rock and metal is high intensity music, and you’d have a hard time relating to it if similar levels of intensity doesn’t reside in you.  I can always gauge my own level of life energy by what music I gravitate toward that day.  When I’m tired, or rather, when I’m emotionally drained and down, up tempo rock anthem feels like annoying, grating chatter.  If I’m headbanging to some metal songs, that’s a good indication that I have good momentum going.

That very same energy and intensity built into rock and metal, also make it uniquely suited for expressing our inner anguish, rage and cacophony.  Take Metallica’s “Frantic” from their much maligned St. Anger album.  Long-time fans deride the band for deviating away from the key elements that made them who they are, but on its own this is a brilliant expression of the effect franticness takes on our life.  The raw, brutal sounds, the break-neck pacing, and angular changes that come out of nowhere, all work together to depict the anguish of living such a life.

I’m not saying you can’t accomplish the same level of expressiveness with other genres of music.  But each genre has its own strength.  I say this knowing it’s gross generalization, but classical music is better suited for expressing classiness (ha ha), while it’s easy for folk music to come across as earthy and old-fashioned.  So in the same vein it’s easy for rock and metal to come across as heroic or furious, and the sound of distorted electric guitar can be a sonic metaphor for muscular aggression.  If you have a laid-back personality you may not resonate with this type of music.  But some of us have more energy bottled up inside than we let on.  Remember, all emotions are neutral, it’s only bad when it stays stuck inside.  So I’m grateful for having discovered this safe and uplifting medium for channeling my fury for life.