Author's note: I wrote this as a general rant for anybody to read, even if they're not nearly as familiar with heavy metal as we are.
Some people like to bitch and moan when artists make politically driven music, or make statements in interviews that are fairly unpopular with fans, but I'd like you to honestly evaluate the impact of politics in music.
First, let me declare that if you hate politics in music, then you can go ahead and throw away all your Pink Floyd, Beatles, Metallica, Rush, Nine Inch Nails, Megadeth, Alice in Chains, Rage Against the Machine, System of a Down, Radiohead, Sex Pistols, Black Flag, Pearl Jam, A Perfect Cirlce, Ministry, U2, Pennywise, Hank III, and Dave Matthews Band albums for starters. I could ramble on and quadrouple the size of that list in minutes, but I think you get the point. I don't know much about pop country and pop/rap, but I know there's plenty of politically-driven music in those genres as well.
It's true when detractors of government-critisizing artists say that musicians are rarely educated in the science of government and politics, but there's something about the human experience that you don't need a liberal arts degree to recognize. When people have their sacred freedoms taken away in the form of censorship or some other manner, artists find more clever ways to voice their dissent that even the loudest pundit on cable news.
In many instances music has changed the course of history. The Vietnam war is a prime example of a conflict that saw ever-increasing public dissent unified by the sound of an influx of peaceful and unifying music. The free world got their introduction to the crimes against native tribal people of the Amazon committed by the Brasilian government in the early 1990's when thrash metallers Sepultura unleashed their viscous 1991 classic, "Arise". The video for the title track was banned from MTV for its graphic depiction of violence, which actually caused more interest in the forbidden video than it would have without the act of censorship. The influx of western attention forced greater accountability from the Brasilian government in dealing with the native tribes.
Political messages and inspirations are certainly more acceptable within certain genres. In country music, Texas' Dixie Chicks were practically excommunicated for voicing their dissent for President George W. Bush, whereas in heavy metal, the band Ministry just released an album called "Rio Grande Blood"- which critisizes Washington for everything from planning the events of September 11, 2001 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9/11_Conspiracy -read about it, it's not such a radical theory) to sending US soldiers to war for private business gains- and it was met with widespread praise and high marks from critics.
Political messages in music can be as timeless or as dated as the artist intends. The pop/punk band Green Day wrote songs specifically for the 2004 November Presidential election. As of 2006, these songs are already obsolete and serve as my primary example of the short-sightedness of the artist. In contrast, Pink Floyd's 1979 classic, "The Wall" is a timeless rejection of government's attempt to control the thought and behavior of its citizens. The title track is an extremely pointed message that has relevancy to any generation. For the sake of brevity, I'll encourage further examples to be discussed as comments below.
Maybe your favorite band's lead singer is a crazy drug addict. Maybe you'd learn something if you consider what he's saying. Just remember that some of the greatest and most memorable songs in history were done in the spirit of protest. What do you think?