Steel Druhm Comments: On Using Beloved Metal Classics in Car Commercials

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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