My daughter is starting to smile at me, and it’s breaking my heart. I mean, I can claim to have seen the brutality of birth and lived to tell the tale, but seriously. Each upturned corner of the lips is accompanied by a “goo” that turns my hard metal barriers into angel food cake. If this keeps up, I’ll have to rebrand this thing “Less-Than-Metal Dad.”
I didn’t teach her how to do that, trust me. I haven’t willingly sacrificed what little metal cred I’ve got; it’s all happened naturally. Like the moment you realize you’re doing the high, squeaky baby voice is a moment you can’t go back from. My vocal register is getting so high I’m thinking of trying out for Rhapsody of Fire.
So I did what any sensible person would do when their morals and values are challenged: I made a playlist. Desperate times, and all. This is a failsafe to ensure I don’t forget my roots. “Back off, baby,” these songs say. “You may have his affections now, but WE were here first.”
Coincidentally, these songs all have the word “heart” in them. With luck, they’ll remind me of when I had metal flowing through my veins instead of all this goddamned oxytocin.
Crank Up These Heart Songs (But Not Too Loud)
“Heartwork” – Carcass
Even the band name makes me feel like a real tough guy. “This band is named after a rotting dead corpse, what’s yours, something lame like your feelings?” Carcass knows how to get to the meat of a song, and “Heartwork” is as meaty as they come. Layered with sweet riffs, dynamic drums, and raspy growling, even the melodies have the crunchiness to drown out most bedtime lullabies.
“Warheart” – Children of Bodom
From its antagonizing opening sample, Children of Bodom’s “Warheart” sets me and my daughter on a “path of rebound (???).” Okay, so lyrics aside, the combination of cymbal chokes and rumbling bass followed by furious riffing and frantic blasting makes me want to make my battle imminent. Now, I probably won’t ever go so far as to consider my child my enemy, but “Warheart” does remind me of the opposing forces at work whenever I’m struggling to change my daughter’s diaper.
Dawn of the Black Hearts – Mayhem
Okay, not a song, but this recording of a ’90s Mayhem show is the antithesis of adorable daughters. Sometimes the only way to deal with a screaming infant is to listen to something that sounds even worse. The production on this black metal bootleg is so delightfully raw it sets my teeth grinding. Compared to the shrieking china four-count before “Freezing Moon,” somehow my kid’s cries don’t seem all that bad.
“Eagleheart” – Stratovarius
When life gets me down, I can always rely on a power metal pick-me-up. Neoclassical shredding never fails to put me in a feel-good mood, which sounds perfect for a fussy baby that just won’t go to sleep. This song’s soaring chorus and beautifully simple keyboard/guitar lead can lead me out of the dark and into a bright, shining tomorrow. And considering I’m typing this at 3:30 AM, that tomorrow is only a couple hours away! Great…
“Hollow Heart” – Kalmah
Leave it to Kalmah to empty out all the mushiness from my pumper. Nothing about this song, including its swamp-slushing intro, makes me think of babies. Perfect! I’d never take my baby to a swamp; that sounds terrible. Keyboard-driven melodies mix with tight riffing and phlegmy vocals into a concoction that’s just sick. What I wouldn’t give to see Kalmah play “Hollow Heart” in the States. Actually, I might be a few sleepless nights away from a solution. Go on, baby, just try me!
“Blind at Heart” – Dark Tranquillity
Dark Tranquillity knows what’s up. Apparently I’ve got to blind myself to my daughter’s charms. Sound advice from my favorite melodic death metal band; they probably wrote this super-tight, ass kicker of a song just for my fatherly plight. You know, four years after they wrote it.
“Metal Heart” – Accept
Probably the most aptly named song name for this blog, Accept’s “Metal Heart” has the kind of old-school appeal that reminds me of my younger years. I think every metal fan went through an elitist phase, but I didn’t expect this song to make me feel so nostalgic for it. While plenty full of ’80s-era rockin’, this song at the very least reminds me of a time before baby that helped shape me into the metal man I am today.
Well the baby’s not going anywhere; she’s here to stay, all smiles and farts and that sort of thing. She mostly smiles while getting her diaper changed, so there’s a good chance she generates joy by making daddy deal with a double doody. But all the same, I never want it to stop.
I guess as long as I’ve got these songs to listen to, I can make it through just about anything. Who knew that actually listening to metal would remind me what I love most about it? If you’re ever questioning your own metalness in the midst of all your dadliness, I highly recommend it.
If you know of any other “heart songs” to add to my playlist of yearning, do let me know. The nights will only get longer.