The LGBTQ+ heavy metal podcast explains why “Jawbreaker” by Judas Priest is so full of euphemisms, discusses how a Nile song about ancient Egyptian mysticism is a metaphor for some queer experiences of religion, and puts albums from Thornhill, Bloodbath and BlackBraid into the HCGB jukebox.
The latest Hell Bent for Metal begins with a look at one of the 837 times (approximately) that Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford really tested how much phallic metaphor he could get away with, in the return of the feature Like the Oar Strikes the Water. This time around, the guys are examining the second track from Priest’s seminal 1984 album Defenders of the Faith, ‘Jawbreaker’. It takes no time at all for the laughs to begin with both Tom and Matt immediately recognising that both the song’s title, and most of its lyrics, sound an awful lot like oral sex.
With lyrics like a main chorus line of ‘ready to explode – Jawbreaker!’ conjuring up an image of what is affectionately known as face-fucking, talk of ‘muscles all contorted’ and ‘ticking like a time bomb, the fuse is running short’, in addition to starting the song with a snake reference in the line ‘deadly from the viper peering from its coil’, there’s respect and admiration show to Halford from the hosts in just how far he pushed his luck without everyone cottoning on to the fact that he might’ve been singing about a different type of snake entirely, some 14 years before he publicly came out as gay.
This leads into a wider discussion of trying to understand how so many (pretty much solely) heterosexuals at the time missed all of the gay references across not just this song, but so much of Judas Priest’s back catalogue. Whilst to Tom and Matt it would have seemed so easy to pick up on all the queer content within their songs, others were genuinely surprised (and some a lot worse) when Halford told the world he was gay, and this could’ve given some of those people some things to think about when revisiting some of the band’s lyrics. On that motif, Tom also tells an interesting anecdote on how on its ‘Filthy Fifteen’ most objectionable songs, the 1985 Parents Music Resource Center included Priest’s (relatively more subtle) ‘Eat Me Alive’ from the same album, rather than a good old-fashioned ‘Jawbreaker’.
After all that talk of blowjobs, the guys take a look at a far more serious issue, in a theme from how they queer-ly interpret the song ‘Evil to Cast Out Evil’ from technical death metal masters Nile‘s 2015 masterpiece, What Should Not Be Unearthed. Tom and Matt immediately realise that they’ve essentially come to the same conclusion on how this song has spoken to their queer sides, and it’s one that has been spoken about before on the show in various contexts – how religious evangelists can do damage to so many communities, including notably the LGBTQ+. (Note: Karl Sanders is a very clever man, writing about Egyptian mythology in a way that would be relatable to a lot of different cultures today)
The guys both talk on how the song speaks to them on experiences that they’ve both had, such as trying to ‘pray the gay away’ when they were younger, people trying to tell them that their very existence is blasphemous and dangerous, and for Matt specifically, getting to a place of giving up religion and looking for, and finding, solace, guidance and acceptance elsewhere.
There’s a much more detailed discussion around the dangers of organised religion, how conversion therapy has been proven time and time again to not work, how we should be protecting our queer youth but ultimately how sometimes that requires people to have first-hand experience with LGBTQ+ folk and realise they’re the same, before that acceptance and respect can come to the surface.
It’s certainly time for a drink to cheer ourselves up, and the new treats offered up by the Hate Crew Gay Bar jukebox this week come in the form of Heroine by Australian alt-metallers Thornhill, the debut album from indigenous solo black metal project Blackbraid, and the sixth LP from Swedish death metal supergroup Bloodbath, Survival of the Sickest.