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Heavy Metal Truants: Powerful Stuff

When you’re cycling for days on end, the physical exertion gets most of the limelight. That’s wrong. You go deep. You get time to think. Here’s something that came to me yesterday, somewhere between Luton and Leicester on the 168-mile ride northward to Castle Donington and Download Festival. We’d just learned the heartbreaking news that an old friend of the magazine, and a huge heavy metal fan among many, many other distinctions was no longer with us. It wasn’t long ago that I had the immense privilege of meeting Sir Christopher Lee. I was bricking it: here was this world-famous, universally beloved knighted actor sat before me, and only one question seemed appropriate: why metal? Why would this legend of stage and screen, this war veteran decide to throw himself into the pursuit of music and make a heavy metal record at the age of 88? What was the appeal? He replied, simply, his eyes growing wide: ‘the power.’

He was absolutely right. There is a power in heavy metal, and it isn’t just the music. It’s a magnetic force that seems to bind people of all ages, creeds, and cultures together and it’s on that very basis that the Heavy Metal Truants come about. For the last few days musicians, industry types, and fans of the music have cycled the long, hard, endlessly hilly road under the common banner of doing something for organisations who make a huge difference to the lives of kids who need it most. It’s been fun, but it isn’t easy - the English Countryside is a potent mental antidote to the distraction of the pain that creeps up your spine after a few hours of bumpy roads and the searing, acidic heat that builds in your legs and never seems to go away. It may sound trite, but the knowledge that you’re doing something positive, that what you’re doing might help heroic organisations like Teenage Cancer Trust, Nordoff Robbins, and Childline to a little more good for young people is a great motivator. It’s powerful. And it’s very fucking heavy metal.

We’ll be posting more in the coming days and weeks, of course: there’s a Heavy Metal Truants raffle and auction in the works, and we could use all the support we can get. We arrived at Download around 1pm and now the beers are flowing. Thank you for all who supported.

(Follow our progress on @hmtruants and if you wish to donate, do so on our general donation page on: https://www.justgiving.com/Heavy-Metal-Truants/)

Alexander Milas is an erstwhile archaeologist, broadcaster, music journalist and award-winning decade-long ex-editor-in-chief of Metal Hammer magazine. In 2017 he founded Twin V (opens in new tab), a creative solutions and production company.  In 2019 he launched the World Metal Congress (opens in new tab), a celebration of heavy metal’s global impact and an exploration of the issues affecting its community. His other projects include Space Rocks (opens in new tab), a festival space exploration in partnership with the European Space Agency and the Heavy Metal Truants, a charity cycle ride which has raised over a million pounds for four children's charities which he co-founded with Iron Maiden manager Rod Smallwood. He is Eddietor of the official Iron Maiden Fan Club, head of the Heavy Metal Cycling Club (opens in new tab), and works closely with Earth Percent, a climate action group. He has a cat named Angus.