“The metal look works for Chinese males. This shit sprouts out of our head quite naturally and it looks pretty good. And that echoes with the great warriors of ancient times. Long hair means martial prowess.” – Kaiser Kuo, Tang Dynasty
A couple of years ago, I watched a documentary called Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, which completely changed my perception of Heavy Metal music. I mean, I was never a fan, but I wasn’t completely against listening to it either. I don’t love it, nor do I hate it. I would say, that there are more redeeming qualities in heavy metal music than there is in, say, pop music. You may not like it, but it’s never boring.
For the most part, heavy metal music actually has its roots in orchestral classical music like Wagner and Beethoven. While most of the vocals in the genre are stereotyped with gutterral screaming, a good portion of the vocals have more in common with opera than rock; think Freddie Mercury and Queen.
So imagine my surprise that the same filmmakers created a sequel called Global Metal. Applying the same anthropological mindset as the first film, they set out to find out what and how heavy metal music has been affected by globalization by talking to bands and fans of heavy metal music all over the world (particularly in Asia.) I highly recommend watching it when it comes out in June and also rent its predecessor on DVD.
Before, my exposure to rock music from China was fairly limited to whatever I saw on YouTube through Danwei.Tv and movies. I wasn’t impressed to tell you the truth. It all seemed kitchy and wannabe and really felt something was missing in its delivery. Every so often I would come across a gem, like Cherry Boom, but they were very few and far between. The band credited with bringing heavy metal music to China was Tang Dynasty. It was founder Kaiser Kuo, who was born in New York, went to China in the late 80’s to start the band which sold 2 million legit copies of its debut album ‘A Dream Return to Tang Dynasty‘.
In preparation for the interview with the filmmakers, I go ahead and attempt to do my homework in terms of metal bands from Asia (China and Japan in particular) and I come across this supposed thrash metal band called Overload from China … and slowly find myself turning into a fan.
Known as Chao Zai, Overload is fronted by one-time pop singer Gary Qi, who according to Wikipedia formed the band with elitist musicians in China. Listening to his voice, plus looking at his picture on the album cover (rowr!), I can’t help but be drawn in. I’m almost shock to discover just how pretty one song can be, side by side, with something that is just fueled with aggression. I implore you out there to check out the music on iTunes. Search: Chao Zai.