It’s not every day we see a heavy metal musician, like Jon Schaffer of Iced Earth, involve himself in a political insurrection. As such, Schaffer’s looking at roughly four years in prison for carrying bear mace and invading federal property during the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.

Jon Schaffer of Iced Earth angrily pointing at somebody. He was involved at the Capitol riots on January 6, 2021.
Jon Schaffer of Iced Earth

Shortly after the riot, Schaffer was identified on social media via a photo (shown above). To my knowledge, he was the first rioter identified due to his relative celebrity status (it wouldn’t surprise me if none of the other rioters actually knew who he was).

Schaffer fled to his home state of Indiana before turning himself in 2 weeks later. It’s unknown if he was at his home the entire time or was drifting from one place to another to avoid detection and capture.

Right-Wing Violence

While Schaffer was on the run, the leftist blogosphere was abuzz with how rabidly violent conservatism had become, thanks to Lord Emperor Donald Trump.

By the way, in case this needs clarification, the last part of that sentence was in jest.

But is there any room for jest? 6 people were killed that day. If liberals have their way, 1/6 might be deemed this generation’s 9/11.

As a conservative, I hope it doesn’t go that far and neither should you. Liberals do partake in violence, to be frank. Look at what went down in Minneapolis last year. And Portland.

But I digress. Two wrongs don’t make a right. It’s still a fact that liberals engage in violence in far greater regularity than right-wingers. That’s just a fact.

Left-Wing Violence

The reason is simple (and understandable): Liberals believe in progress, not keeping things the way they’ve been. How can a society make progress if it doesn’t symbolically tear down the old system?

How can its citizenry bring attention to social issues without making some noise, so to speak?

A belief in societal change evokes passion. Passion will inevitably, for better or worse, bring about objectionable protesting methods.

It’s fair to say that the 1/6 riot will stay in our collective conscience, not due to media obsession, but that conservatives aren’t known for being the rambunctious types.

Liberals are expected to create noise. Conservatives are not.

In Schaffer’s case, it was even more unusual for a heavy metal guy to engage in an act like this. What do I mean by this?

Extremism in Music Subcultures

Sure, it’s par for the course for punk rockers. Your typical Sex Pistols fanboy will don some camo, a pair of Doc Martens, and yell about anarchy in the U.K. or USA or wherever you live.

It’s par for the course for rappers to rant against police officers and white supremacy (hyperbolic or otherwise).

But metalheads? What are metalheads like Jon Schaffer expected to do in the political scene?

Nothing. Nada. Just crank up your amp and strum that twanger!

Heavy Metal: An Apolitical Subculture

Some of you remember the 1980s. If you weren’t alive (like I wasn’t. ’91 baby right here), the 1980s was the greatest musical decade America ever enjoyed. It was the era where MTV was at its peak. The era of Motley Crue and Ratt. Metallica and Megadeth. It was the era of heavy metal, man.

Motley Crue in the 1980s. Getty Images.

And the best part of the 80s? The music wasn’t even political. People just wanted to go out, get laid, do some drugs, and have fun.

The 80’s party time was after the 70’s post-Vietnam malaise and before the teenage angst of the grungy 1990s. The 80’s was smack-dab in between, providing good times for good time’s sake.

Heavy metal was like the nonpolitical cousin of punk and rap. It was Nothin’ but a Good Time, as Bret Michaels put it.

In Retrospect…

A retrospective analysis, unfortunately, indicates that maybe, just maybe, heavy metal was surreptitiously political the entire time. In my mind, however, it was most likely retroactive politicization done by 21st-century leftists.

Rob Halford’s BDSM

Rob Halford of Judas Priest has gained recognition for his powerful, operatic voice. He revolutionized, not only the “grunting” and “screeching” metal vocal styles, but also the leather-and-studs attire. Metalheads the world over copied the “Metal God’s” wardrobe not knowing (or caring for) its sexual roots.

Rob Halford of Judas Priest posing with his leather and studs attire. He's standing in front of a crimson red background and is wearing aviator sunglasses.
Rob Halford of Judas Priest

Halford apparently chose leather and studs as part of his BDSM fascinations. He was not vocal about his sexual orientation but would come out a couple of decades after Priest’s heyday.

Naturally, the LGBT community swooped in and claimed Halford as one of their own. “The Metal God is one of us! How fabulous!”

Lyrical themes

Religion

Throughout their career, Judas Priest created fictional messiahs (e.g. “Exciter” and “Painkiller“) to channel their creative energy. Black Sabbath also exuded Satanic imagery purely for creating a fantasy, despite Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi being devout Christians.

While these two heavy metal titans adopted religious themes in a somewhat non-critical way, other bands weren’t so subtle.

The darker metal bands during the 1980s, a la Slayer and their death metal offspring, frequently critiqued religious texts. Modern-day “black metal” bands from Europe (e.g. Behemoth from Poland) often attack religion and real-life religious laws.

The album cover for Slayer's Reign in Blood. THe imagery is very satanic with an ocean of blood and severed heads. Satan is seen sitting on his throne, carried by his servants.
Reign in Blood by Slayer. Geffen Records.

Criticizing religion eventually went into the metal consciousness, staying apolitical all the while. It wasn’t until the early 2000s, when scholarly atheists like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, inadvertently became manufacturers of leftist talking points.

Suddenly, these anti-religious heavy metal bands became a hit with socially progressive liberals.

War

War has also been a topic of interest for metal bands, due to their inherently destructive nature aligning with their gritty images.

Megadeth’s Holy Wars … The Punishment Due was a treatise against religious wars like The Troubles in Ireland.

Metallica’s Disposable Heroes is another example of many. Even though Dave Mustaine of Megadeth and James Hetfield of Metallica have been critical of leftist politics, liberals still identify with their anti-war anthems.

Dave Mustaine and James Hetfield when they were bandmates in Metallica. They're both drinking beer and making silly faces. The photo was taken in 1982-83.
Dave Mustaine (left) and James Hetfield (right) as bandmates

Were Mustaine and Hetfield ever liberals? Or were they simply creating art divorced from politics?

Art that was retroactively labeled political?

Criticizing war and religion, the two most common themes in heavy metal, is a surefire way of getting leftists over to your side … even if it wasn’t your original intention.

Writing and performing songs with conservative leanings is unheard of, in a manner of speaking.

But Jon Schaffer of Iced Earth was one of the metal musicians who broke the mold.

Iced Earth’s Right-Wing Politics

As a devout American conservative and history enthusiast, Schaffer wrote The Glorious Burden, a concept album with songs about American history. He also wrote 1776 on their Something Wicked This Way Comes release, celebrating the year of the USA’s founding.

Jon Schaffer of Iced Earth performing on stage. He's holding a Gibson Les Paul guitar and wearing black attire.
Jon Schaffer. Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Apart from Iced Earth, Schaffer founded Sons of Liberty and recorded songs where he quoted both Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, two figures that inspire him.

Unfortunately, for him, it seems Schaffer’s politics sometimes teeter on tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracism. In 2011, he actually went on controversial conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ talk show and discussed his political upbringing.

Hours before the Capitol riot, Schaffer told a reporter:

“My name’s Jon Schaffer. A group of thugs and criminals hijacked this country a long time ago. And now they’re making their big move, and it’s not gonna happen…People need to wake up and snap out of the Matrix … we see you, and you’re going down, mark my words”

At the time of this writing, Schaffer is still working out a plea agreement with prosecutors. He is not only facing jail time but outright ostracism from the heavy metal community.

Liberal metal singer Dee Snider has already voiced contempt. And the majority of Iced Earth has resigned due to Schaffer’s role in the riot.

It’s unknown if Iced Earth will continue after Schaffer’s prison sentence is completed.

Schaffer Deserves the Consequences

Am I excusing Schaffer for his role in the riot? Absolutely not. He committed a crime and needs to do the time.

Having said that, I can still respect integrity when I see it. And that integrity exists in creating music that the more vocal members of the community oppose.

In a time where conservative voices are suppressed by the entertainment industry, Schaffer may be representative of what can and should happen:

Conservatives should have free rein to express their ideas. To express their love for God and country.

Jon Schaffer of Iced Earth before the Capitol riots on January 6, 2021. He is speaking to a reporter and wearing patriot-themed attire.
Jon Schaffer

Iced Earth is by no means a great metal band. Their album art and lyrical themes are too derivative of Iron Maiden (they’re an American Iron Maiden, if you will). Iced Earth’s vocalists (Matt Barlow and Stu Block) were great metal screamers, but their melodies left a lot to be desired.

On American Idol, they would’ve been tossed after the first round.

Overall, their catalog isn’t incredibly memorable but there’s still fun stuff to listen to every now and then.

So far, my personal favorite is “Wolf” on the Horror Show record. Barlow (who temporarily quit the music business to become a police officer) has this spooky bellow that was mind-blowingly incredible. And Schaffer’s solo was the icing on the cake. A near-masterpiece if I dare say so.

Conservative Art

Conservatives are on the receiving end of social media censorship and cancel culture, and us right-wing artists need to band together (no pun intended). Us conservatives, champions of personal liberty and the free market, of personal responsibility and the free man, need to keep applying our talents, whatever they may be.

Are you a singer? Write and record a song about having a father figure in your life, providing you with guidance.

Are you a filmmaker? Write and film a movie about your ancestor rising from squalor and making it in America, the land of opportunity.

Are you a writer, like I am? Write some blogs, books, and poems about Judeo-Christian tales and persevering despite the inevitable difficulties of life.

Learn and Move on

Jon Schaffer may, strictly speaking, be a criminal. Sure, he made a mistake and will pay his price. Let him do his time and move on. That doesn’t mean he can’t be inspiring. However anyone views this, Jon Schaffer inspired me because of the music and messages he created.

Us right-wingers don’t have to be drab farmers and oil drillers. We can be artists as much as our liberal brethren. Let’s make this world a more colorful place with our ideas. With our passion.

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