In June, the one and only Judas Priest released a brand new two-disc concept album called Nostradamus. Based on the title alone, I am thinking that it’s probably either one of the best things ever, or the absolute worst. After hearing the single, however, I think it may well be both. (Hello orchestral introduction!) This gets to an issue I’ve been thinking about for a while: heavy metal as camp.
I’ve realized lately that part of what I love about metal is that, despite its inherent silliness, it takes itself so seriously. In this, it is both noble and totally absurd. Musically, especially within the Extreme Metal genres, the bands tend to be highly skilled, but the look of metal has always been problematic,
Judas Priest is a great examples of this. They are technical masters and musically solid–Painkiller is one of the best metal albums ever–but as for taste, well…
Alex made a great point about Judas Priest versus groups like Mötley Crüe, or even KISS. These latter groups, less musically skilled, seemed too aware of their over-the-top image to really be camp. To be camp–if we follow Sontag–something has to be so out that it loses the ability to judge just how out it actually is; and it has to be dead serious.
This in so many ways is the essence of what metal is about–extra-musically–and I can think of no greater example than Judas Priest. I mean come on, does it get any worse than this?
But could it get any better?!