Gen Z metalheads create a more inclusive subculture

By giving an outlet for teens to express their inner angst, the heavy metal bands of the past have experienced a slight boost in popularity amongst the modern generation.


Photo by Clinton Radcliffe

mped up…Rehearsing a song, (from left) senior James Baker, senior Andrew Febus and junior Sean Coughlin jam out on their guitars. The group meets every other day as a rock band class to play a variety of rock music. During the school day, performances sometimes take place in the cafeteria over lunch.

Due to increased exposure to the genre from the internet and other media, a younger crop of teens have gotten into metal and other heavy music genres. The new generation of metalheads is noted for being more active online and inclusive. 

 Junior Sean Coughlin got into metal first hearing metalcore band Pierce The Veil on the radio. “I heard Pierce The Veil on the radio and I really liked their sound so I looked them up,” Coughlin said.

From there Coughlin began listening to more metal bands like Korn, System of a Down and Slipknot.

“I just kept gradually getting into more heavy stuff because one artist would lead me to three more,” Coughlin said.

Senior Pockets Seachrist was introduced to metal initially through the Adult Swim show “Metalocalypse,” a show about the death metal band Dethklok.

“It was maybe my first introduction to metal [when I was a kid],” Seachrist said. “I would say things like ‘I like Metalocalypse music, which I know is stupid but I still really like the show.”

Unlike the modern crop of teens who mostly discovered metal through the internet and television shows, Lansdale resident Kevin Marcinek says he got into the genre from direct word of mouth.

“My older brother had a subscription to the magazine ‘Guitar World’ and I used to read each copy when he was done with it,” Marcinek said.

Marcinek began playing in bands during middle school as a drummer and eventually went on to perform live in numerous bands in high school and college.

Seachrist believes the best part about metal is that anybody can start a band and play.

“I think what’s cool about it, especially watching it performed live, is that it doesn’t take a whole lot of talent to play metal,” Seachrist said.

Coughlin believes that the main thing that makes people gravitate to metal is its ability to “move you” emotionally.

“It makes you feel stuff that in my opinion other genres can’t,” Coughlin said.

Historically metal is a genre with strong in-group and outsider values. According to Marcinek he used to engage in elitism but has learned to grow past it.

“I definitely went through a phase where I looked down on certain bands because they weren’t considered ‘cool’ and I prided myself on listening to more obscure bands,” Marcinek said. “Nowadays, I realized that I was wasting my time being judgmental and missing out on a lot of good music.”

The younger generation of metalheads has become more inclusive. “I think it’s stupid to hold people to a certain standard,” Seachrist said.

According to Seachrist, certain metal bands like Slipknot have very diverse crowds, showing a helping level of inclusion within the scene.

“I like the people in the audience. I see so many different types of people there, it’s a fun crowd,” Seachrist said. 

Along with the music, young metalheads have embraced metal fashion, a darker aesthetic defined by boots, jackets, jeans, piercings and band t-shirts. Coughlin has come to adopt the style.

“I just think it looks cool, there’s no reason other than that,” Coughlin said.

Amped up…Playing his guitar in rock band class, junior Sean Coughlin expresses his passion for heavier music with junior Malcolm Raley on the drums. Coughlin has played in numerous bands and uploads rock, punk and metal covers onto his social media.