[21 September 2010]
Bullying is an epidemic that unfortunately still plagues schools all over the world. No matter how many punishments exist for it or how many lessons are planned around it, the problem still pervades the lives of children and adolescents everywhere. Celebrities of all kinds, ranging from pop musicians and rappers to actors and TV personalities, have tried to raise awareness about the issue in a multitude of different campaigns and causes. Now, true to form, the metal community has stepped up and delivered its message on the topic.
Swedish melodic death metal band Scarpoint is not widely known, having only released one full-length album, The Silence We Deserve (2007), thus far in its career. However, the group’s extensive touring résumé has connected it with some of the biggest names in its country’s sprawling metal scene, as well as other prominent figures from the surrounding region. Thus, when the band decided to record an anti-bullying song and release it as a way to raise money and awareness, it had just the right contacts to achieve the recognition it hoped for.
“Open Your Eyes” is a one-off song by Sweden United, the official name for the group assembled by Scarpoint. The members of Scarpoint are responsible for the instrumentation on the song. In addition to Scarpoint vocalist Henrik Englund, an all-star cast of Scandinavian vocalists lend their talents to the song: Jens Kidman (Meshuggah), Jimmie Strimmell (Dead by April, ex-Nightrage), Anette Olzon (Nightwish), Björn “Speed” Strid (Soilwork), Zak Tell (Clawfinger), Martin Westerstrand (Lillasyster), Tom Englund (Evergrey), and Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy, Pain). The song was written by Scarpoint and ex-Dead by April guitarist Pontus Hjelm, produced by Clawfinger keyboardist Jocke Skog, and mixed by production wizard Jens Bogren.
The idea for Sweden United came to Scarpoint drummer Erik Thyselius after he read a story in 2008 about a three-year-old boy that was physically abused in school. The school he was in failed to protect him from the other children, and as a result, the boy now suffers from serious psychological issues. At such a young age, no child should have to suffer such trauma, and Thyselius was moved enough to start doing something to prevent that from happening to any other children.
This project just goes to show even more that metal is one of the most socially conscious genres in the entire spectrum of music. There are a multitude of metal bands that tackle issues like the environment, social injustice, war, political tyranny, and other common social issues. Taking on a subject like bullying is well within the scope of most of the artists involved in Sweden United. In fact, it is already covered territory for one—Evergrey dealt with bullying on its 2006 album, Monday Morning Apocalypse. Thus, for these musicians to take on this topic, it comes both from recognition of the broader problem and personal experience with its effects. It further proves that for every metal band with lyrics about causing death and destruction, there is also one with lyrics about ways to fix the world and make things better.
Furthermore, although it is meant for every young person that has suffered from bullying, this song is a worldwide anthem for young metalheads that struggle with being outside the “popular” crowd every day. With very few exceptions, metal fans are a minority group throughout the world, and as such, they can often be subject to ridicule and bullying from other students that adhere to mainstream culture. “Open Your Eyes” is an outcry against such standards, calling for young metal fans to walk with their heads up and their eyes forward. This song is for the boys covered in piercings and tattoos that get pushed into lockers by football players and weight lifters for being different. It’s for the girls that wear black eyeliner and black nail polish, while suffering derision from the cheerleaders and preppy girls for being “emo” or “goth”. It’s for every kid that has dared to wear an Iron Maiden, Slayer, Metallica, or Motörhead shirt to school and show support for their favorite band instead of some brand name of clothing. “Open Your Eyes” is for every young person that has chosen to be different, and it celebrates that decision for individuality in a great way.
The best part about “Open Your Eyes” is that all proceeds from sales of the single go directly to an anti-bullying campaign for Swedish schools. This is an incredibly generous gesture on the part of all those involved with the creation of “Open Your Eyes”, who freely gave their time and money to the project without any expectation of compensation. Furthermore, such generosity may inspire other metal bands from around the world to begin similar projects in their own countries. With that kind of a worldwide effort, there is no way that this campaign could fail to have an impact on bullying in schools.
“Open Your Eyes” will be released on October 11th via Supernova Records. Here’s to the hope that the song sells in huge numbers and spreads a wave of anti-bullying sentiment throughout the globe.