Mind Over Metal - Scott Von HeldtThroughout time music has been an ever evolving art form that has embraced and expressed the culture and life views of many tribes and nations and the worldviews and beliefs that make them unique. From the very beginning of creation music and sound have played an important role in molding and shaping the voice and expression of basic human communication. Sound is one of the first senses that helped us develop our conception of our environment and the world around us as we distinguish the different vibrational impulses that we perceive from the very moment we are born. This is why each of us is drawn to a particular sound and style of music and what brings satisfaction to our ear may be pure racket to another.

So with this in mind, let’s think for a moment what draws many of us to be moved and uplifted by the ferocious and sonic onslaught of heavy metal. For many it’s the release of a frantic energy that we build up inside of us, for others it’s the raw power and passion behind the music. Metal has often taken a great deal of criticism for it’s dark and largely misunderstood lyrical content but in fact, metal has long been one of the deepest and most spiritually uplifting forms of art and has touched the hearts and minds of millions worldwide by creating a positive outlet for real, deep, dark emotions.

Often times metal has been credited for it’s parallel roots with classical music, as no other style since has displayed as much form, phrasing and dynamics the way that metal has. Classic metal masterpieces such as Metallica’s Master of Puppets were even written with authentic classical arrangement formats in mind (in the case of Master of Puppets, sonata allegro form) so it’s no great mystery why heavy metal music has made such a huge impact and continues to be a dominant force in the music industry.

But yet there is a great mysterious element to metal music. There has always been a deep mystical element present in it’s sound and presentation and some of the greatest philosophical questions and concepts have been poetically expressed through this art. It is this mystical element beneath the music that is the real connection between the music and us, the listener and this, the driving force that draws us to an experience with each listen.

Whether it’s the spiritual and mathematical concepts presented in progressive metal, the incantations and mythic chants of black and gothic metal, to the ever pervading questions and commentary of life and death that are expressed in death metal, there is no denying that metal has long been an art form hell-bent on delivering the purest expressions of the soul. Music is a living, vibrating energy and it’s expression can take on many names and forms that may or may not compliment the essence of the sound they express, but it is the expression of these feelings through sound that stirs the soul and creates this mystical experience in which you and the music are united.

The aim of this column is to explore the deeper connection we have with music and how it affects us in mind, body, and spirit and furthermore explore the sonic depths of metal music and the philosophies and concepts that make our favorite genre something we all feed off of.