"I see all those old dudes out there just banging their heads to our records. And I have to think — 'That stuff you're banging your head to? That is some gay, gay metal, man.'"
-- Sean Reinert, drummer for the influential progressive thrash-metal band Cynic, on coming out of the closet along with the band's singer, Paul Masvidal, in yesterday's L.A. Times
If you've never heard Cynic's stuff before, head to iTunes and give it a listen. Going back to their roots in Miami two-and-a-half-decades ago, their sound was almost impossible to describe: there was the traditional grunting, roaring, lightning-fast pummel of death metal, but then everything would stop and veer off into incredibly intricate breaks of jazz-fusion psychedelia. I used to do a metal/rock show back in college at WVUM and we brought them on quite a bit because they were quickly becoming successful even though nobody really knew what the hell to make of them.
They've since gone on to mature more toward the accessible progressive edge of the spectrum, but to this day they're still worshipped by a variety of audiences, mostly because of their jaw-dropping musicianship. I didn't know about Paul or Sean's sexual orientation nor would it ever have mattered one way or the other, but there's admittedly something really great about seeing not one but two guys in the same band -- a band idolized as iconic in a genre of music that prides itself on being so hyper-masculine -- come out and go on record with something they haven't really tried to hide in their personal lives in years.
It would be nice to think that homophobia in the world of hard rock and metal is a thing of the past, but that just can't be the case. Hopefully the guys in Cynic being open and matter-of-fact about who they are will break down walls for other gay artists within the genre and for fans as well. While Jello Biafra was right when he said about metal, "No gym teacher in the world could get more people to dress alike," the music and lifestyle were always supposed to be about bucking convention and providing a safe haven for those who might not feel like they fit in. In other words, it's actually the perfect place to be gay.