Steel Druhm is nothing if not a purist. Since I began my slobbering love affair with the musical movement we call “heavy metal,” I’ve been protective and possessive of it like The One Ring to Rule Them All ™. I defended it against perceived attack and criticism as if it was a family member and I looked upon it as a treasure that belonged solely to the “true” fans. I was personally insulted when bands I liked did something that could be viewed as selling out and I secretly hated when an underground favorite reached the attention of the masses. I’ll never forget the moment my favorite college bar strobed the dance floor lights and played “Enter Sandman” as drunk coeds cavorted and dear God…sang along!

As I grew older, my love for metal remained, but I adopted a more laissez-faire attitude toward popular acceptance of the genre. If the music did well, I reasoned, it would be good for the scene and the long struggling artists themselves.  After all, who am I to begrudge artists their just rewards? Then came the car commercials using Led Zeppelin to convey the excitement of flying down the open road. I didn’t like it, but convinced myself it made sense since Zeppelin was such a widely loved band by the generations now buying cars. Besides, they were barely metal! Harder to justify was the use of “Iron Man” to pimp pickup trucks, but at least pickup trucks are manly.

Then, the fateful day came when it all went south. A commercial ran using Judas Priest‘s “The Hellion/Electric Eye” to hawk a MINIVAN! I was incredulous and disgusted. I also felt really old and lame. Within an hour I received calls and texts from long-time friends who were also shocked and appalled by the temerity of using the mighty Priest to preach the benefits of built-in DVD players, removable seats and extra cargo space. Did advertisers have no shame? No sense of decorum? No metal code?

Since then I’ve been subjected to the spectacle of a happy suburban family singing “Crazy Train” as they frolic in yet another minivan and a corporate assclown air drumming along with Rush‘s classic “Fly by Night.” Each of these commercials represents the most offensive defiling of the Holy Vault of Metal to appease marketing suits who probably never heard the sacred music they so readily exploit for pecuniary gain.

I suppose one of the many downsides to advancing age is seeing the things you once considered “cool” and “special” being used in crassly commercialized ways to sell shit to the feckless masses. I find myself cringing in dread each time a new car commercial pops up, knowing its only a matter of time until hallowed ditties like “Raining Blood” will be used to advertise space age windshield washers and “Blizzard Beasts” will become the soundtrack for extra traction snow tires (likely with Abbath himself posing on a frozen mountain).

Does this make me a bitter metal miser? Probably so. I wouldn’t be bitching if the mad men of marketing plumbed the depths of metalcore for their ads, because verily, metalcore is already as commercial as Pepsi and Justin Beiber. But when they violate the wonderous songs of my metal youth, the purist in me is resurrected and his wrath is awful to behold. Oh well, at least they haven’t prostituted “Stargazer” yet. That will be a black day indeed (and not in a good way).

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  • Garksa

    This article made it occur to me that djent would be fantastic for car advertisements.

  • Kyle

    I can no longer hear “Crazy Train” or “Back in Black” without seething in rage… But I’d totally buy some snow tires if Abbath endorsed them! :P

  • Movezig

    I want that car!

  • hendrik

    It’s mostly metal music for the background, but sometimes they even incorporate the song into the commercial; like marilyn manson’s music in the Citroen D5 clip. I’m still trying to wrap my head around a shock rock/metal song being used in a ‘normal’ car commercial, being played with a symphony or orchestra… And it’s not even on queue! I’m a fan of metal and classical music, but it just looks cheap on both sides.

  • It’s interesting that there seems to be an ongoing dichotomy in marketing/popular use of music in general: oldies and pop. And more and more that seems to be incarnating itself as [early] metal and dubstep, respectively.

    At least us crusty contrarians can appreciate the ongoing relegation of our 10+ minute progressive masterpieces. Can’t sell a car to Blackwater Park, nor Thick As a Brick.

    • Mikael growls:”Confessor of the tragedies in man” *minivan drives by*, queue voice-over: Is getting to soccer practice a tragedy for your family? Children crying like dying men in bewildered soliloquies?

      • Chris Cox

        Well played. Literally burst out laughing at the last sentence.

      • Haha, I lol’d. I’d buy that minivan.

  • eloli

    As a 40 year old guy who has worked in advertising for 18 years now, I can tell you that classic metal songs are not used in car commercials to make the cars hip or cool, far from it: they are simply used to appeal to the target buyers of these cars, which are mostly in their mid 30s through their mid 40s, grew up with these songs and now are pimping them to their kids on damily rides, just like I do. The image of a happy suburban family singing along to Crazy Train or a Judas Song is, right now, much more true to life than the image of said songs as the background of a wild kegger: sadly, the 80s metal generation, of which I’m a proud member, has settled down and started families, like I did. We’ve aged, like everybody does eventually, and sadly, classic heavy metal is no longer the expression of unbriddled youth revellion, it’s just quaint music for aging gen Xers who trying to stave off that midlife crisis another couple of years.

    • Ah, but aren’t they using the tunes a certain generation would consider “cool” and “hip” in order to sell their wares?

      • eloli

        I’d say “endearing” rather than “cool”. Once you hit 30, cool leaves the building forever, and once you hit 35 you just stop caring.

    • hendrik

      Yep, I totally agree with you. I’m not surprised to see Iron Maidon on many things, from Carmageddon to fluffy adds for kid-toys. And you’ll never see a heavy Opeth song on MacDonalds…

      An exception on metal in commercials is the Netherlands: The only time I see a metal song in series, shows, movies or even commercials is when it wasn’t made in the Netherlands (aka the USA). I think its a kind of dogma here, don’t ask me why…

  • As an old fart myself I can’t help to think that maybe it would mean that metal would become too hip for the cool kids, leaving it again for the now older fringes of society to enjoy in seclusion, as it should.

    Then I think nah it just means that it’s time for the old farts to become the ridiculed targets of the young’uns as it was in our former days as we smugly thought “I will never let myself grow old and stale like that.”

    But the really important question is where can I get a paint job for my sedan like the one in the last picture?