Warning: this post contains graphic descriptions of heavy metal and violent images that may not be appropriate for young children and vegetarians.
To say that I dislike the music of Metallica would not be wholly accurate. I can respect their talent and abilities, but when I hear them, I can feel myself begin to change at the cellular level. Vague, unfocused rage starts to bubble up from some nameless source in the darkest depths of my being. By the end of one of their loud, angry, seemingly endless seven-minute songs, I’m left with the overpowering urge to chop off someone’s head.
For the first four decades of my life, this apparent allergic reaction to Metallica had little impact on my day-to-day existence. But now I’ve married a fan, and he passed this affinity down to his son, so the two of them often want to play it in the car. And I don’t mean just around town. I mean on long road trips.
They both find it amusing when I become Metallica-induced-angry Maria, but at the same time, they’ve used a number of strategies to try to cure me of my affliction, to get me to come over to the dark side. They’ve tried reasoning with me, reverse psychology, and—their favorite—immersion therapy, all to no avail.
Trying to be a good sport, I recently agreed to watch Through the Never with them. It’s basically a couple hours’ of footage of a Metallica concert intercut with zombie apocalypse scenes. My psyche tried to protect itself by drifting off to sleep halfway through, but that was a dire mistake. I discovered that being roused from a peaceful nap by the sound of a Metallica song magnifies the enraging effects of the music. I had to immediately down a couple Excedrin and make them watch an episode of Too Cute just to counteract the effects and keep myself from driving to the nearest farm and biting the head clean off a live chicken.
I mean, I like some heavier music, so I’ve tried to figure out what exactly it is about Metallica that inspires such a strong reaction. But who am I, Pandora Radio? I have no algorithm written to help me understand my own tastes and preferences. Very rarely can I explain what makes me like or dislike a piece of music.
The only things I can pinpoint with any degree of certainty are: 1) I can’t understand about half the words James Hetfield sings, and I’m a word person. 2) Every time I hear Hetfield’s strange enunciation, the “Kitties on the Web” song plays in my head, which pretty much ruins the intense, dramatic tone that Metallica has intended for its listeners.
I have no solution for my affliction, but I have been thinking lately that this apparent weakness of mine could actually be a strength and a superpower in disguise. The next time I need to call the health insurance company and ask why they aren’t covering something, or argue against the HOA when they want to cut down a bunch of trees for no reason, or negotiate with some repairman who’s trying to screw me over, I just need to pause, put on the headphones, and take five minutes to listen to some Metallica. After that, I will be fully enraged and prepared to do battle, to vehemently assert my rights, to refuse to back down till I emerge triumphant.
Should that fail, I have a Plan B. There’s another artist whose songs are even more powerfully infuriating to me, so much so that I have to treat them like high grade uranium and only bring them out when I’m sure I’m ready to push that fatal button and send the entire world into nuclear winter. Fair warning: if you ever want to really see me lose my shit, just play some Michael Bublé.