I have actually been listening to quite a bit of heavy metal lately, and Metallica, I think, is genuinely talented. ‘Master of Puppets’ I think has got something genuinely both poetic – violently poetic – and musical. Every now and then something like that stands out and you can see that people have got no other repertoire and have a very narrow range of expression, but they’ve hit on something where they are saying something which is not just about themselves. Pop music is so concentrated on the self and the performer that it’s very rare that that happens, I think. It never happens with Oasis or The Verve. It did happen much more of course with the Beatles, and in the old American songbook, Hoagy Carmichael and Cole Porter and all that. That was a popular music which was about communication of often quite gentle feelings. So I’m not as prejudiced as I seem. I would like to be more prejudiced because it would prevent me from listening to this stuff.
Scruton has been highly critical of popular music in the past. While I am no expert on his oeuvre , as far as I understand it he tends to disdain the more materialis aspects of modern culture, preferring (what he sees as) the higher forms of transcendance emobied in classical culture. Given this, his appreciation for metal is not perhaps as bizarre as it might at first seem. As critics like Robert Walser have shpown, metal is heavily indebted to classical music. Metal is chock-ful of ideas of transcendence and virtuosity that are based on a critique of contemporary culture.