Heavy Metal Is Dead!
It's a bit of sweeping statement to open with but before you spit your beer out and crucify me on upside down cross let's take it apart.
I'm no fan of K.I.S.S. especially not mouth piece Gene Simmons. However when Simmon's made statement
"Rock 'n' Roll is Dead"
Everyone guffawed and dismissed him as a millionaire, out of touch, no longer relevant has been.
I would agree with him in so much as that his idea of Rock 'n' Roll , which is the licence to behave like a misogynist pig, groupies, the mansions, limos, swimming pools and wheel barrows of money is definitely over. Simmons missed the money most...like he needs anymore .
Once upon a time the term Heavy Metal was a very narrow description. You had U.K. idea of heavy metal was denim and leather, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Saxon. In the U.S. it was much popier prospect. Spandex teased up hair metal like Motley Crue Quiet Riot and so on.
Where it became to my ears and eyes a bit more interesting was with emerging thrash metal scene. This may also have something to do with me being 16 at time.
This was accepted way things were. I was 16. Everything that came before was old man music. The other accepted aspiration by parents was you grow out of it. I had conversation recently with a friend of mine . He told me an older rocker who was now in to blues told him exactly that. It's just a phase. The phrase my friend used about him was
The point is we evolved as fans and as we grew up. You can't be exposed to Motorhead at that age and then leave it behind and start playing mainstream pop. Equally you can't be angry at the world forever. Rob Zombie was quoted as saying he never met the guy who said he was really in to slayer one summer but he has met the guy with slayer Tattooed on his chest.
Once your in, your in for life.
How does this have anything to do with opening statement? Well you can't see wood for the trees. It wasn't heavy metal anymore. It was now Thrash Metal. It had it's own magazine separate from mainstream media. It was an omen of future.
It was when grunge happened I noticed a splintering or the start of it. It made it easy for media and once Nirvana became successful the marketing department of record companies to label these very different sounding bands with one tag Grunge. This was made even easier as this music was being created almost exclusively in one geographical area. The Seattle sound.
For me personally when Nu Metal happened I thought I had out grown it because that was not for me. Equally Nickleback was what passed for acceptable face of heavy guitar music...no thanks. Fred Durst and Chad Kroger were ridiculous to me.
I evolved musically by looking backwards to very early days of heavy music. I gorged myself on Humble Pie, Grand Funk Railroad, Golden Earring and especially the Groundhogs. I wandered down other paths experimenting with deep funk, soul, blues, afrobeat, electronic music. I absorbed it all. I didn't think I was going to find my way back. I educated myself musically and tried to become a very amateur music historian.
Then I heard System of a Down.....when your in your in for Life.
I started to get excited about heavy music again. I started to go to big festivals again. However I noticed something really boring. The mainstream bands were now to a band using a formula which was Heavy verse/Big stadium Rock Chorus. When I said we evolved as fans. Somewhere along the road some of us got lost....How else can we explain Five Finger Death Punch or Avenge Sevenfold?
The path Metallica had forged was now being used as a career blueprint. Avenge Sevenfold, Five Finger Death Punch and nameless faceless others were now passing of old tried and tested motifs as new music and so cynical in their careerism that I found it distasteful. AX7 even had a stylist on tour with them! Nothing screams heavy metal rebellion like some one telling you how to dress!!!! This is before we even looked at outrageous ticket prices of big gigs
I looked around for cheaper thrills and found the underground was exploding with talent. I wasn't the only one turning to this music. I craved the looseness of bands just jamming, of just playing for hell of it. Not worrying about how to market it to reach the widest demographic . The old rules of 3 singles and fixed song structure were no longer in play. If a band wants to do 20 minute space jam go for it. To me this was just heavy music boiled down to its natural core with all the excess of the 80's stripped away. Bands in jeans and t-shirts just playing music they loved.
However we live in a world where every thing needed to be Labeled and put in a box. Nu Metal, Funk Metal, New wave of American Heavy Metal. Death Metal, Black Metal, Trad Metal, Folk Metal, Progressive Metal, Power Metal and for me the vomit inducing Symphonic Metal....so opera singer in a bodice (Large breasted optional) with slightly heavy guitars, tons of keyboards and an orchestra. Hmm....in the era of me too,it seems to be putting the role of females in rock back 30 years
One thing I liked about the Stoner/Doom scene was gender didn't seem to be an issue. I've never heard one person say Liz Buckingham (Electric Wizard) is a great female guitarist or Alia O'Brien is a great female singer. No they are treated as equals. to coin a horrible phrase but apt in this situation We are all in this Together .
Heavy metal as a concept ceases to have any currency in 21st Century, with so many sub genres its just a catch all for people who don't understand it or easy buzz word for marketing, to use as an umbrella term to cover it all.( I'm sure if you spoke to a fan of hip hop and asked if mumble rap or grime are the same they would say similar thing to me)
So even though we are all coming from same place we have all moved off in to different directions. There is definitely crossover and fans in general have wide tastes.I can happily play Lamb of God then Reef. However it would be a very, very opened minded fan indeed who both loved Behemoth and Black stone Cherry or Cannibal Corpse and Foo Fighters . They may exist but I've never met one of them.
There is lots of pure or traditional heavy metal bands still playing. The newer bands sticking to the trad route to me are embarrassing. Sabaton anyone?
The old giants Maiden, Priest, Saxon are still out on the road but how much longer is another conversation for another day.
I will still throw the horns, I still see myself as part of that family and am proud to be but to me but I have to say R.I.P. Heavy Metal. It's natural selection. It has spawned much stronger musical children (and grandchildren) that can adapt and grow beyond it's parent, What attracted me to this music at 16 and keeps me here over 30 years later is it pushed boundaries, It prided itself on rebel outsider status. Formula and repetition don't sit well within that definition.
Revolution is Spawned by Evolution