You’re Wrong About Heavy Metal


Aftershock Festival is the Coachella of heavy metal. Every year since 2012, 35 metal and rock bands have come together for one weekend in Sacramento for what is now the biggest rock festival in California. This year the festival took over the historic city on October 21 and 22.

According to The Sacramento Bee, the two-day festival sold out this year with about 50,000 people in attendance each day to see the most popular names in metal such as Five Finger Death Punch, Nine Inch Nails and Ozzy Osbourne.

Aftershock is living proof that “metalheads” aren’t going anywhere. In fact according to Spotify Insights, metal music has the highest fan loyalty globally, and this is pretty obvious if you’ve ever been to a metal show. From speeches about how rock and roll will never die to the strong feeling of community amongst every listener, the sense of pride and intense love of the genre is mindblowing.

This year was my fifth time attending the festival, so I’ve personally experienced the community that surrounds metal.

Mostly nobody there cares where you’re from, what you believe, or how you identify. The one thing that unites every person is that you came to have fun and listen to good music.

A lot of the time when I reveal to others that I am a metalhead, I get a surprised look in return usually accompanied with an “oh” and a cringey face. I can understand this reaction because metalheads are obviously all just angry, goth Satanists, right? Wrong.

While it’s almost an unwritten rule that black t-shirts, leather jackets and black jeans are uniform at concerts, we aren’t all goth. That’s like saying pop fans are all hippies because they wear flower crowns and John Lennon’s signature sunglasses to Coachella.

And while there are, surprisingly enough, actual Satanists walking around the festival grounds wearing t-shirts displaying the words “Satan Loves You” proudly, most of us aren’t Satanists.

A festival-goer I saw this year wore a t-shirt that described metal perfectly to me: “Angry music for happy people.” Metalheads allow the rage and anger that everyone experiences to be channeled through music and let go much easier.

This year, I was able to see ten bands that I enjoy for the price of less than a typical Beyoncé ticket. I am always blown away by the tremendous talent present at Aftershock, but this year was particularly impressive.

What really fascinates me about a lot of heavy metal musicians is their attention to detail and flawless technique. Many people think that metal music is simply loud and chaotic, but when you really pay attention you will notice how much organization and expertise is required.

My personal favorite performances of the weekend were Nothing More, Gojira and Halestorm. Nothing More is so entertaining at live performances incorporating a Skrillex cover with a manually controlled giant machine making the electronic sounds. Gojira and Halestorm sounded as good as their recordings and their performances were technically flawless.

If you’re curious and want to check out all the music performed at Aftershock this year, search for the playlists called “Monster Aftershock Festival” by Dale Korody and “Aftershock 2017 x Heavy Grass (Press shuffle!)” by Heavy Grass on Spotify.