How Metalheads are Different from Metal Fans

While recently reading music-related articles and blogs,  I noticed people either identifying themselves as metalheads or disowning the term for various reasons. I wondered whether there is a true difference between calling oneself metalhead and thinking of oneself as a metal listener. Do the two belong in separate entities? Or, can they be used interchangeably?

Possible explanations for this labeling crisis are endless and impossible to fit into this blog post. But, in the tradition of piles of cyber slush offering personal attempts at answering questions, I’ll share my viewpoint.

Metalhead connotes those who obsess over all things metal and allow those factors to occupy their heads as a molten, mass of metal goodness. They are the ones who’ll challenge you to a NWOBHM quiz. They are the ones who’ll downplay societal conformity–but, does metalhead have other qualifiers? I’ll evaluate my own metal-obsessed head for some insight.

If you haven’t guessed already, I’m into heavy metal. Still, I’ve been reluctant to label myself  a metalhead…even though I listen to metal songs daily, lean towards heavy metal-like attire when I do find myself clothes shopping and am more inclined to read a book about cultism in music. However, I don’t consider myself a member of the metal scene. I don’t go to shows,  I don’t argue for hours in metal forums, and I rarely flash the horns. So, it would seem ideal to use the aforementioned to explain why I don’t call myself a metalhead, right? Not really. That reluctance of labeling myself metalhead has to do with my perception of what the term connotes and is less of factual requirements for being a metalhead.

Subculture, especially when found in the pockets of Web 2.0 as common Internet users control their own content, has a tricky way of making people believe what should and should not have labels; this leans on the nature of the subjective having the power to control. 

But, the usage of metalhead existed way before the wide usage of the Internet. So, how does one explain whether it was different from being a mere listener? Even then, it was highly related to a high level of interest, which evolves into certain status that metal fans reach as they claim themselves a metalhead

Once those who dig metal have satiated their need to belong into the subculture, it becomes more of an preoccupation to wear a certain status and that is often associated with, yep, you guessed it, being a metalhead. Being a metalhead, thus, would be more applicable for someone who has is deemed as being more “credible,” and that often leads to elitist attitudes. So, it’s near understandable why someone would distance themselves from being a metalhead.

Ultimately, though, most of this just falls on an unwritten understanding about calling oneself a metalhead, which is based on perception and preference. Hey, it’s better than being completely oblivious to the genre, and besides, metalhead has a nice ring to it, right?

Do you think it’s time the word, metalhead receives a replacement? Or, do you think metalhead is synonymous with being just a listener of metal?

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