I have no doubt that many of you are familiar with the Metal Horns, the typical hand sign associated with heavy metal appreciation. I have no problem with the horns on principle. They serve to show how fucking into the music you are. When the metal gets so fucking intense that you just can’t take it anymore, the extended index and pinky fingers are excellent heatsinks for all the metal intensity built up in your frail, human form. God knows that I threw the horns more times than you could believe when I was a teenager. I love the horns. The horns are awesome.
Here are a couple of examples of the horns being used appropriately.
Nevertheless, the horns are subject to rampant abuse. Watch the MTV music awards sometime and notice how many kids in the front throw the horns for all sorts of random bullshit, none of which falls under the “metal” header. You’ll see pop stars and country music stars and assholes on American Idol throwing the horns. What the fuck? Don’t you fucking dipshits get it? The horns are not for you and your bullshit music; the horns are an expression of metal. Yet sometimes the horns aren’t sufficient. And the horns are expected, practiced. The horns, for as great as they are, leave something to be desired these days.
For this reason, I am a supporter of the Metal Claw. When the horns just can’t do it, then you must make the claw. Where the horns send metal from only two fingers, the claw sends metal from all five. That’s 150% MORE METAL.
Typically associated with Satan, though not actually so, the horns can be divisive. The claw on the other hand promotes unity across all metal genres. Here is an example of my favorite Christian as Fuck death metal band of the moment making HEAVY use of the claw. I mean, seriously, check out his Jesus t-shirt.
In contrast, we have Nergal of Behemoth, a profound believer in Darkness, making the Claw while recording.
See the difference here? In the first photo he is on stage, performing, throwing the horns to a photographer. In the second he is focusing on the task at hand in the studio, feeling the slaughter erupt in his veins. Thus the Claw is made.
You might say, “But Joe, this claw you speak of is a new phenomenon. Was not the almighty Dio throwing the horns in the early 80s?” This is a good point, but I have evidence to the contrary. Here is 1995’s “Slaughter of the Soul” by At The Gates.
Too new for you? How about some proto-Claw throwing by Bruce Dickinson? Check it at about 1:30 into the video.
And so, it is with this incredibly persuasive argument in mind that I am pleased to unveil The Official The Black Laser Seal of Approval. Check it out:
How sweet is that shit? My Photoshop skills are legendary.
In conclusion, let us agree that while the horns have their rightful place in the Metal culture, the Claw is a true and brutal expression of what metal is and should be to the true aficionado. If I ever see the Claw thrown on American Idol—I don’t watch the show, so I guess I never will, however—then we’ll have to reevaluate its stance in my heart. But really, I think it’s as likely as hearing blast beats and harmonized growls in pop music, so I feel secure in the Metal Claw’s status as niche expression of intense metal power.