Metalheads see the world in binary; that which is Metal, and that which is Not Metal. Categorising is easy, since there is very little grey area or uncertainty.
Skulls, monsters, death, horror = Metal.
Barbie, teddy bears, Duplo = Not Metal.
Harley Davidsons, HGVs, industrial machinery= Metal.
Pushchair, 7-seater with booster seats, breast pump= Not Metal.
And so on- you get the idea. Almost everything in my world is Not Metal. And the very worst criticism that can be made of something is that it’s Not Metal. Conversely, the very highest praise that a metalhead can bestow on something or someone is that of Brutality. The more brutal you are, the more metal you are; it’s directly proportional.
But brutality is a problematic concept. It is inherently masculine, and also has connotations with a specifically masculine form of violence.
Another problem is that many metalheads who lay claim to brutality are some of the least brutal people I’ve ever come across. In spite of themselves, metalheads tend to be quite nice. At Download Festival a group of boys in the beer queue yelled ‘BRUTALITY!!!’ at me while making furious ‘devil-horns’ hand gestures in my face. They were all wearing waterproof ponchos and looked as if my six-year old son, who has a green belt in karate, could have floored them in one fell swoop.
What brutality really means is power; metal is power, and we all need some of that in our lives.
I know about brutality.
Brutality is being woken up every hour of the night, for ten years in a row.
Brutality is pushing four babies’ heads out of your vagina without pain relief, having said vagina sewn up again in four different and complex ways, and being brave enough to have sex afterwards. My lady parts have seen enough surgical steel to make even Cannibal Corpse’s lyricist queasy.
Brutality is when all four of your children need to take a shit at once. On an aeroplane. When the seatbelt signs are turned on. Happens every time.
Motherhood is brutal. In the best possible way. So I lay claim to Brutality on behalf of all mothers; we are all a little bit metal whether we know it or not.