Until this February, my two hairstyles were Buzz Cut and Overgrown Toddler. Every few months, I would barber my arch application the beeline ambience my clippers provided, and afresh absorb about three weeks as a bad Phil Anselmo amateur afore my creamy Irish curls would rebloom and accomplish me attending like a Greek w'd absent his job. I’d eventually breach out the clippers again, and the amphitheater of activity would activate anew.
I anion it was a solid abundant system, but it all came to arrest arrest aftermost ages aback my fiancé, annoyed of dating either Nosferatu or Serpico, said, “What if you got a haircut? A absolute haircut. Like at a barbersp.”
My aboriginal acknowledgment was centermost contempt. As a metalhead, beard agency something. Over the accomplished brace of decades, I’ve credible brainless trends appear and go, and the ultimate urance that a metal subculture has amorpus its coast into done cliché is aback haircuts become its calling card. With nu-metal, it was white-boy dreads and spikes. With metalcore, it was emo swoops and bubble highlights. And beard metal… well, it’s alleged "hair metal." Eventually, the beard outweighed the music.
The ultimate archetype of a change in beard signaling the accident of accurate metal cred is Metallica’s adamantine bedrock aeon in the Nineties. If tse bodies had cut their beard while recording Master of Puppets, it would’ve been one thing, but the actuality that their close-cropped cuts coincided with their newfound unthreatening radio-friendly biker bedrock complete fabricated their new attending feel a lot added desperate than it suld’ve. Was that what I was about to do? Was my fiancé allurement me to absolution Reload?
As far as I was concerned, if I got a haircut, it meant I gave a bits about w I looked. If I gave a bits about w I looked, it meant I was some actomed ing dude. And if I was some actomed dude, it meant I wasn’t in draft with the accurate acceptation of metal.
For me, that acceptation is a beastly one. Metal is age-old for me, the sonic estimation of altruism bare of all the accidental babble and accessories with which we beleaguer our lives. Beasts don’t decay time administration their stripes, they aloof do their best to and not die. That’s area metal beard comes from, continued and agrarian in the actualization of Tarzan or Conan or one of tse added bades w was aloft by bloodthirsty animals.
To be fair, I don’t accept a metalhead’s acceptable hair. As a airy Irishman, my beard grows out, not down, acceptation I’ve never had beard I could windmill in accord to Cannibal Corpse riffs. But for metalheads, a crew isn’t about alteration one’s look, it’s about alteration one’s ways. My accomplished activity has been spent audition that I’d be so handsome if I looked a little added conservative. A crew would accept to the apple that in at atomic some means I was the affair I hated the most: a actuality w was aloof like anybody else.
So why did I aculate cerebration about accomplishing it? Surely allotment of it was to amuse my fiancé, w I adulation to afterlife for aggregate she is. But allotment of it was curiosity. Chris with a haircut! A Chris I hadn’t credible in ten years! Would he still be able to slay, or would he appear me to acquisition all of his afterlife metal vinyl replaced by a agenda from his dad reading, ‘ONE OF US’?
I wore myself bottomward until, finally, the time came: I’d aloof alternate from a metal festival, and was a little red out afterwards bristles beeline canicule of raging. With my aesthetics weakened, I put on my covering and went out to get a haircut.
First things first, I had to acquisition a barbersp. What I dreamed of was the abode I’d gone to as a kid, D. & V. Barbersp in Hoboken, NJ. The abode was run by two old Italian bodies called Dominic and Vincent w spent best of their time babble at either anniversary added or a soccer bold arena on a tube television sitting on a armchair by the aback door. I capital a abode like that—no frills, no clothing vests, no one w advised themselves a stylist. A covering chair, an old man, some blooming goo in a jar. If it amount added than twenty bucks, I was actuality taken for a fool.
If I got a haircut, it meant I gave a bits about w I looked. If I gave a bits about w I looked, it meant I was some actomed ing dude. And if I was some actomed dude, it meant I wasn’t in draft with the accurate acceptation of metal.
Finally, I spotted my target: Romulo Barbersp in Washington Heights, Manhattan. Aback Romulo himself ushered me into a red covering chair, he anon got out the draft dryer and began announcement my neck. He afresh sprayed a allotment of tissue with some alcolic actuality and motioned for me to clean my forehead. “You sweat,” he said.
He was right, I was afraid my off. I was active with anxiety. This was ridiculous. Why was I added afraid actuality than I’ve anytime been at any of the boom parlors I consistently visit, area addition affairs to anxiously aching me for dreds of my dollars? Saying it was because I’d power-walked aback and alternating alfresco of the boutique for thirty account to accomplish abiding the abode was accepted would've aloof aloft an absolutely altered set of questions.
It was because I was a drifter here. I had no control, no ability of what was to come. At atomic with tattoos, I could sit there alive I was accomplishing article air-conditioned that would accept bad results. I accepted tattoos. W knew w I’d appear out on the added ancillary of this experience?
Romulo captivated up my beard and asked me some questions. I replied uely. It bound became credible that he batten little English, and my Spanish leaves abundant to be desired.
Finally, he said, “Normal man’s haircut?”
“Normal man’s haircut,” I replied with a thumbs-up.
Then it began. Romulo formed me over—clippers, scissors, orted minty ointments rubbed through my hair, alike a beeline razor to aboveboard the edges. By the end, I had a close-cropped adaptation of every dude’s hair—srt on the sides, a little best up top, bankrupt up in the back. He brushed my neck, wheeled my armchair around, and said, “Twenty.” I angled him bristles bucks and befuddled his hand.
The crew didn’t attending absolutely w I’d pictured it, and for a few canicule I stared at myself in the mirror with ambiguous dissatisfaction. But I additionally acquainted article else, attractive at my hair. Not happy, exactly. Afterwards a few days, it dawned on me: I was relieved.
Here I was with a haircut, the aforementioned tattooed, hard-boozing, Satan-obsessed aberrant I’d consistently been. I’d burst with my own tradition, and had appear out the added ancillary attractive different—but activity the same, and alive more. By annoying that I was absorption too abundant on my appearance, I’d ashen time absorption on my appearance. All of my self-imposed standards and claimed habits had become angelic in my mind, and if there’s one affair that metal suld do regularly, it’s breach bottomward angelic concepts, aloof because it can.
So, metalheads, I appee you: tonight, abuse adjoin your own religion. Put on a clothing and tie. Check out an EDM party. Go to a metal appearance and break sober. Or, if you’re activity adventurous, get a haircut.
You’re right, maybe you won’t be the aforementioned afterwards you cut it all off. Maybe you’ll be better.
Chris Krovatin is on Twitter and is about due for a trim.
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