I had no idea that the term "girlfriend metal" was used anywhere outside my immediate circle of snarky, elitist Brooklyn-based friends. (Does this mean KSG — "Kylesa Shirt Guy" — is due to become the next big target demographic?) That is, until one of my Twitter followers, @MescalineSun, sent me a link to an actual Girlfriend Metal Facebook page.
Here's how the administrators define their term: "Kylesa, later Isis, and the Sword are all excellent examples of girlfriend metal. Inoffensive, fairly melodic metal with enough pop structure that even your girlfriend who dislikes most metal will enjoy listening in the car. Frequently talked up in more mainstream music media such as NPR, the AV Club, and Pitchfork, girlfriend metal is an excellent placeholder for when your gash just isn't in the mood to put up with Impetuous Ritual. And yes, Watain after Casus Luciferi is girlfriend metal, as is Ghost."
Torche, Boris, Isis, Mastodon, Kylesa, the Sword, Saviours, Liturgy, Pelican, Doomriders, later Converge, and Municipal Waste get nailed, too.
The discussions happening on girlfriend metal's Facebook wall are both hilarious and heinous, as one might imagine.
I'm all kinds of torn about this. On one hand, it's pretty funny, and actually (for better or for worse) a reasonably apt description. It's important to note that this page isn't necessarily referring to female metal fans — just females who are not into metal but happen to be dating metal fans. It got me thinking, though, about the realities of girlfriend metal's existence. Like I said, the concept has been floating around for a while, at least in my slice of the world, and I've engaged in plenty of spirited discussions about it. It all stems from the classic "girls don't like metal" idea.
Yes, a lot of female metal fans tend to appreciate more melodic or accessible strains. Yes, I've sold more girl-sized shirts at Dark Castle shows than with Hooded Menace. Yes, a lot of my metal-dude buddies only bring their ladyfriends to more laid-back kinds of gigs. Sleep, yes. Ash Borer, no.
On the other hand, fuck that! For decades, metal dudes have been bemoaning the lack of females in the scene, and now that the estrogen levels are rising, he-man heshers are feeling all kinds of uncomfortable about it. Now that they actually have girlfriends, they've still got to assert their dominance and superior grasp upon metaldom by saying, "Oh yeah, Jenny digs metal, but, you know — just girlfriend metal." I'm calling shenanigans.
It's indisputable that there are fewer women involved in the extreme-metal scene than there are men; that's how it's always been, and we've all gotten used to attending many a sausage fest in pursuit of the riff. There are still a helluva lot of us out there, though, and contrary to what a worrying number of men like to believe, we know our shit. Come take a look at my record collection and tell me girls can't hang. Have you got a first pressing of Necros Christos's Trivune Ipvrity Rites LP? How about Graveland's In the Glare of Burning Churches on blood-red wax (a limited edition of 666), a signed copy of Saint Vitus's Born Too Late, or Drudkh's first three albums on picture disc? No? Then suck my dick.