Choose extreme music. Choose grind. Choose beats per minute in excess of two hundred. Choose blastbeats, choose sweep picking, pinch harmonics, and atonal, guttural vocals. Choose unintelligible lyrics about corpses and sheer nonsense. Choose album art that legally cannot be exhibited to anyone under the age of eighteen. Choose getting getting sandwiched between sweaty fat dudes with rat tails at shows. Choose cliched introductory paragraphs.
Aside from providing endless auditory delights to myself, the genre of extreme metal otherwise hasn't done too many favors to me. I don't want to make this sound like I'm some tortured soul with his odd passions entirely misunderstood by society, but when I find myself using phrases like "the vocalist sounds like he is gargling sunflower seed-infused human feces" (which, Travis Ryan from Cattle Decapitation admittedly does a flawless manner) in a positive demeanor I sometimes feel like I have objectively gone off the deep end.
For me, image and aesthetic have always taken a back seat to the craftsmanship and effort that goes into the actual music. In fact, I'll be the first to profess that "dressing the part" of heavy metal (or just about any cultural stereotype, for that matter) is often pretty silly. It's like "Great, I get it, you like heavy music - I can tell because you look like you look like you haven't showered in a month and that stained kutte of yours has every square centimeter covered in meticulously-sewn band patches that you paid way too much for". Thus, my refusal to take up the image of some gnarlied-out hesher doesn't even get me any cool Danger Points for "being into metal" AND OH GOD I AM SO ALONE. All of this resentment for "image" probably stems from my childhood experiences with kids who suddenly became punk rock or heavy metal overnight... or, in many cases, over summer vacation. The same boner who made fun of me for listening to Operation Ivy ended up playing for a high school ska band not soon after (though, the joke was on HIM, because only the weird Christian girls liked THAT shit).
It ain't like broads are lining up to talk about bands with names like Brain Drill at parties, neither. Lord help you, you had best be funny as shit if you want to talk about music and the topic deviates from the likes of Vampire Weekend or Kanye West's crazy ass.
BUT WAIT, my unbridled appreciation of everything that shreds, shrieks, and blasts has done EVEN MORE damage to what should have been my otherwise successful and fruitful life. Not only do I have to LISTEN to this ugly music, but for a couple years of my youth I felt it was in my best interest to actually produce said filth and exhibit it to the world. Thankfully, my lofty dreams were at least quarantined to the lower-half of Michigan, but much damage (in musical, physical, and emotional flavors) was successfully accomplished. Being in a band was, both monetarily and time-wise, an expensive endeavor. Attempting to hold down a part-time job, take on sixteen college credit hours, and maintain consistent band practice/show schedule was a bit of a three-way tug-of-war. Countless physics lectures got ignored because I was too busy making wacky flyer designs for next week's show and four figures worth of American currency was burned on things like gas money and studio time.
And who could forget about the time my stupid grindcore band lead to me nearly cost me a job offer? After a particularly promising set of interviews, one of my interviewers stumbled across my band's MySpace page only to be greeted with blood (both real AND faux) and pterodactyl screeching. If my memory serves correctly, I believe this also was around the time we had our promotional band photo of us towel-clad in a sauna (you could even see part of of my drummer's mansack hangin' all loosey-goosey if you looked close enough). Thankfully, my *ahem* unparalleled technical knowledge in the engineering field combined with my glowing personality proved to be enough for a reconsideration and the actual hiring manager never got word of the heinous musical/visual atrocities being committed by their otherwise bright and shining candidate. It wasn't until a few months after my employment started that I heard this tale, thus causing me to get rather red in the face and begin scrubbing my birth-given name from anything public on the internet.
Being into over-the-top metal hasn't exactly ruined my life, but it hasn't made it any easier, either. Much like a textbook abusive relationship or ruinous opiate habit, I keep coming back to bask in the savage din of metal's most extreme and over-the-top subgenres. For every bad time, there have been countless moments of joy and jubilation which I wouldn't trade in for anything in the world.
"People think it's all about misery and desperation and death and all that shit which is not to be ignored, but what they forget is the pleasure of it. Otherwise we wouldn't do it. After all, we're not fucking stupid. At least, we're not that fucking stupid."
-Mark "Rent-boy" Renton