Metal from 12 year olds

Unlocking the Truth is an an awesome heavy metal band made up of 12-year-old schoolkids who've been playing together since they were five. They totally, utterly rock.

Videos - Unlocking the Truth (Thanks, Lachlan!)


    1. Yes, if only they put their 12 year old words, thoughts, angst, to their music. They have the outlet…I would have loved to at that age.

  1. I saw these guys playing on 7th Ave in Manhattan. They are indeed impressive. I hope they stay together and continue to grow as a band.

  2. These kids crank it out pretty good, alright…

    Interesting to note they’re black folks, who seem conspicuous by their absence in metal. Living Color’s Cult of Personality was pretty much a metal track, but IIRC the rest of the album it came off wasn’t… and there was Body Count. Can’t think of any others, although I guess there must be a bunch of groups who never made it big.

    Anyone have a clue what’s behind this demographic split?

      1. Zing, but it’s a cheap shot given I’d be among the last to discourage anyone from pursuing an interest merely because they’re atypical for it.

        1. As Anglo-American Gen-X metalhead trash, seeing a bunch of black middle school kids shred metal like the best of ’em brings to mind the phrase, “I have the weirdest boner right now.” 

          METAPHORICALLY, goddamn it.

      2. “Anyone have any idea what’s behind so few women in tech?”

        “People who point it out?”

        And boom goes the dynamite.

        Honestly, it’s a good question, and because of that question I have to post this Fishbone video:

          1. Fuck, yeah. I am a constant proselytiser for Death, they were awesome, and unjustly overlooked.

          2. I know. They blew my mind when I first heard them, then blew it again when I read their backstory.

    1. All black metal bands are pretty rare, but some individuals come to mind. Tobin Abasi, the guitarist for ‘Animals as Leaders’ is pretty regular in guitar mags for his guitar chops. Lajon Witherspoon, vocalist for Sevendust. Derek Green, vocalist for Sepultura.  Living Colour played a wide variety of music, some of it metal. My favorite of their metal style tracks was “Time’s Up”:

    2.  I am no expert on Metal (though I thought these guys were great) but it seems to me that the people in my high school 25 years ago who did listen to Metal tended to be the poorer, disenfranchised white teen boys who were more likely to also be racist and blame people of color for their woes.  (As opposed to blaming the wealthy white bankers and politicians who were more likely at fault.)  I wouldn’t imagine that made metal very welcoming for African American kids at my high school.  And the few truly racist “skin-head” white-separatist types all listened to Metal.  Like Country and Classical, I think listening to Metal was also stigmatized by my African American friends as “acting white.”  Punk, new wave, and alternative music seemed to be more neutral though. 

      1. Yeah, that makes quite a bit of sense.

        As an aside, it’s pretty scary how segregated all the cliques are in American high schools; all the movies I’ve seen on the subject refer to this horrible reality I’m barely acquainted with.

        It all kind of clicked into place when I came across this a few years ago; here we see the groundwork for fascism being laid.

        1.  Judging from the way my dad is disconnected from reality and how he views the world, I am convinced that this kind stuff runs on a loop inside his head. It almost certainly got there from seeing these in school as a child. (He’s the right age.)

      2. I doubt that’s as much a view of metal as it is of the kinds of people in your school. Doesn’t really matter if they listen to that or country, they’d still be Racists.

        Thankfully there’s no low supply of disenfranchised youth around the world and kick ass bands like Iron Maiden are more then willing to play for their fans no matter where they’re from.

    3. There was a doom metal band called Black Death that was all black guys back in the 80’s never achieved commercial success, and there’s still the occasional band member like Howard Jones from Killswitch Engage.  More than anything, at least in the US, it’s just a cultural thing.  Urban areas tend to be dominated by blacks and Hispanics, and the culture in those areas generally promote rap music.  There’s also the issue of exposure these days.  Where I live there are only two radio stations that you can get anything even approaching metal, and the hardest thing you’ll get is Metallica.  For a long time myself I just assumed Metallica was about 90% of the whole genre, and it wasn’t really until those early file sharing programs that I discovered exactly how much more there was.

    4. Nothing wrong with that question. More of a culturally thing, just like there aren’t (relatively) that many white artists in hip-hop. Not exactly metal, but you should check out Bad Brains. I wouldn’t necessarily call them the best hard core band, but I wouldn’t argue with you if you did…

  3. I also want to point out, for the record, that this generation pwns mine in all ways. I go now to commit ritual disembowelment… if I can find a rusty spoon.

  4. Wow.  If they’re doing that at 12, what will they be in a few years?  Hopefully they’ll still be doing it.  

    Kinda reminds me of Pelican:

  5. Maybe they can get 14-year-old Tina to join the band:

    1. Yeah, I saw that… mental.

      Your suggestion would be a pretty damn cool reality… imagine being out on the town, at some joint where these three black kids and this one young chick get up on the stage, being all WTF for a sec, and then having your face melted.

      That would be cool as fuck.

  6. Whenever I see a child prodigy playing classical or jazz music I picture a pushy parent forcing them to practice 2 hours a day.   But if I see a child prodigy freestyling or shredding or beatboxing, I assume they’re purely self-motivated.  Which is probably bullshit, right?  There are probably kids who totally independently spend hours conquering Paganini, and others who have to be nagged to go to crunk lessons. . . anyone with direct experience as a teacher or parent able to confirm or deny my prejudices?

    1. It’s always the parents. Why would 5 year olds form a metal band unless their parents were metal heads? The implications flow on from there.

      1. Not necessarily.  My 8 year old sleeps and breathes basketball, a sport which I have never given the slightest crap about.  All day every day, out on the driveway shooting hoops.  The hoop came from a neighbour whose kids moved out – it didn’t even occur to me that my kids might want one.

        Lots of it comes from the kids.

        That said, musical families often produce musical kids.

      2. For that matter, why would they learn to speak unless their pressured them? Sinister.

    1. Since when do girls PREVENT kids from playing music?  It’s probably the number one reason to start a band.

  7. there’s a ton of young bands where i live that play metal or punk at that level or better. i run a youtube channel for local music there’s probably a few of them on there.

  8. In LA in the 1980s, Willie Basse led his band Black Sheep – all white guys except for him – and they were really terrific melodic metal, with guest (white) guitarists and now-famous world-class shredders Paul Gilbert and Kurt James.

    In the same time and place, Sound Barrier was an all-black metal band, and I thought they were really good, but the suburban white audience in LA may not have been ready for them? 

    Greg Howe and Tony MacAlpine are jaw-droppingly great shred-fusion-classical players. They may not be as well-known because the stuff they play seems solely for musicians of any color, almost exclusively. MacAlpine can shred amazingly, can read like a studio player, went on tour with Steve Vai, and can play Chopin Etudes on piano. 

    I love Vernon Reid’s playing. He had/has a metal sensibility but with one foot in the “outside” playing of James Blood Ulmer, Hendrix at this outside-iest and any other virtuoso who accents the off beat, crams 5, 7, or 9 notes into a 4/4 measure, embraces dissonant intervals, etc.

    I know he went to Harvard with Obama, but Tom Morello should be noted here. I just did…

    Hendrix may have been the first metal player, but it depends on how you define all that, and I was bored with the “is it or isn’t it ‘really’ metal” crap 15 years ago. 

    The African-American blood in American “metal” has always been there, but I do see a significant and very complex equation that has a lot to do with “racism” that has militated against players with African features getting their due…and I’m a Swedish American white dude saying this.

    1. Hendrix may have been the first metal player

      I know, huh? So African-Americans can take credit for blues, jazz, rock, hip-hop, and metal.

      Some of that electric blues gets pretty close to metal here and there; love that stuff.

      I remember seeing Clapton in a doco, recalling how he marvelled at Hendrix and the way he ‘attacked’ his axe, and how it was something completely new.

      Definitely ur-metal. He was indeed a voodoo chile.


      1. And don’t  forget the guitar bad-assery of Bo Diddley who came before Hendrix, who had two different black women play back-up guitar for him:

        And before him Chuck Berry, and before him all the men and women who planted the seeds of guitar rock and roll in the blues…

        1. Like Sister Rosetta Tharpe who played a mean guitar while being a performer who just puts it out there:

          Things get weird when things like guitars get assigned a gender/race for the user and anyone who is not a white guy become anomalies.

    2. The African-American blood in American “metal” has always been there, but I do see a significant and very complex equation that has a lot to do with “racism” that has militated against players with African features getting their due…

      I’m glad Kimmo brought up the fact of race here (and I do not think it’s a problem to do so, let alone a causal one — pretending to be colorblind is worse than acknowledging that racial/cultural differences still exist, and that it IS noticeable when a person of one color enters a realm that’s almost completely dominated by another). 

      I don’t think black Americans should get full “credit” for creating metal, but yes, like so many other American music forms, their influences are there, and yet they’re largely unseen, especially by white Americans.

      I also think, though, that as others above have said, metal in the U.S. has become a certain kind of white music. It’s largely a domain for lower-class and middle-class white teenaged boys (and maybe men who still want to cut loose and be boys sometimes). Like many white Americans, such boys may not consciously think of themselves and their music and its cultural trappings as “white,” but the whiteness is there, and I bet many others who aren’t white see it pretty clearly. 

      Which is not to say that I think there’s anything wrong with black metal heads, I wish there were more, and that those who are there would get more credit (that they’re largely unacknowledged is itself a fact that speaks to the whiteness of metal). These kids rock, and so did Vernon Reid. And of course, the Ur Metal Man, Hendrix. (I remember a white friend once who kept insisting that Hendrix was white. . . “Of COURSE he was white, just listen to that guitar. Jeez!”)

    1.  I loved that he was playing great and at the same time looked almost bored. Like “I’ve been doing this for greater than 50% of my life. This is easy. I’m doing my math homework right now…” So impressive.

  9. Oh yeah, also – mad props to these kids for the name of their band, which unambiguously implies there are folks who’d like to keep you from the truth.


  10. That’s pretty good for a band of 12 year olds. It is sort of
    disappointing that there’s a large gap in metal when it comes to black
    kids. Here in KCMO, there’s a punk trio of black brothers (13, 15, 17)
    known as Radkey that are currently on a world tour. I saw their first
    appearance in a kc rock club a while back, and even though they have
    missteps, they are really commanding well-deserved attention wherever
    they play.  I think they played a club in London last night.

  11. I’m pretty sure that if I knew 12-year-olds like this when I was that age, my Bar Mitzvah would have been a very different affair.

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