Hello, metalheads! I’m here to talk you about an important subject.
I know you all love the big bands. And I’m not only talking about huge bands like Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden and the Big Four. I mean also the slightly lesser-known bands. The ones that non-metalheads probably don’t know. Because really, what’s not to love in Gamma Ray, Venom, Burzum, Rainbow, Anthrax and many others?
But you will often hear something that as a metalhead will make your blood boil: Metal is dead.
You’ve probably encountered that somewhere, even if not said in the same way. People claiming metal is a thing of the past.
Let’s face it: Heavy metal started in the 70s. Black Sabbath came out in 1969. And metal has certainly come a long way since then: Subgenres range from fast and aggressive thrash to catchy, nearly pop-like glam. Then there’s folk, speed, power, death, black, doom, crossover, gothic, industrial, neoclassical, nu, progressive, rap, symphonic… Even if I tried to list them all, I’d miss a hundred or more. And we all know you probably don’t like half the genres I named. Hell, you might even hate some of them.
But despite everything, and its huge reach around the world, we all know an omnious truth: Metal will never be what it was.
But that’s not where I’m going with that nearly-insulting sentence mentioned some paragraphs earlier.
Metal is not dead, but we are the killing it. As metalheads, we are killing our idol, our god. By clinging to unsurpassable classics, we are stopping metal from growing.
Yes, I know we will never see a singer like Ronnie, or a guitarrist like Dimebag, or a bassist like Cliff. I know Chuck’s death is still an open wound to some, even over ten years later. I know Mayhem’s chaotic legacy is a tragedy for many. And I do realize nobody will invent thrash like _____(1) did. I know Megadeth has sent shivers down our spines with riffs like the one in Tornado of Souls and anthemic lyrics like those of Rattlehead.
And I know you will never stop admiring the geniuses that brought metal where it is now. I know I won’t.
But you know what? Those bands wouldn’t be anywhere if it weren’t for one special kind of person: Metalheads.
Friends. Fans. Curious metalheads. Somebody was there in the 70s and 80s and even the freaking 90s, in a crowded bar that reeked of weed and cheap booze, watching Exodus and Helloween and Skid Row(2) when they were just “stupid kids with a dream”. They had supporters. They had people who thought “hey, I don’t know shit about this band, but they play a genre I find interesting and they’re playing near me”. And they paid their 2 or 5 or maybe even 10 freaking dollars to see them in a filthy basement, struggling not to get electrocuted with cheap amps and bad cables.
Metallica perhaps wouldn’t be anywhere if they hadn’t recorded a terrible-quality demo, back when an incredibly aggressive Mustaine still accompanied them. Sonata Arctica did not give up, even after 3 demos with terrible English released in a country where it’s not even the official language.
Well it’s very freaking obvious. Because somebody was there seeing them play, even when they weren’t paid for playing but only did it with the dream of getting big. We’ve all seen those pictures of young James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich making ridiculous poses with beers in their hands, and a certain redhead with a Venom shirt.
Have I painted a nice picture? Bad-quality pictures, noisy recordings, warm cheap beer.
Well, it still happens, of course. But some metalheads today just don’t get it, or don’t care.
There are still great bands, made of teenagers who look up to all the old dudes I’ve mentioned above, who dream of becoming big. And they can’t do it alone.
I know you probably think teen garage bands suck. And many of them do, because they have little motivation to improve. And there are also some great bands, waiting to be discovered by somebody other than their mothers, aunts and classmates.
And I’m not saying you have to support your 13-year-old neighbor and his screamo band either. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but thrash and power are still pretty strong today. Progressive metal is evolving as ever. And all the other genres too, depending on where you live. If you live in a medium to big town, chances are there’s at least one bar where kids will be playing covers of their favourite bands. And sure, you’ll see young boys playing Green Day and Paramore, and you’ll see terrible attempts at the solo of Take No Prisoners. But among all those, you’ll find some that are just good enough to give you hope. Sure, us metalheads looove to bitch about how much we loathe the world, and blah blah blah. But when you see somebody wearing the same band shirt as you, I’m sure you smile on the inside at the very least. Because we’re a subculture based on bands. Groups of people, you know? And what’s a mosh pit with a single person?
Even the shittiest, tiniest of towns has gotta have a nice band somewhere, or two, or fifteen. Sure, some countries seem locked on some genres. Here in South America, we seem dominated by thrash, death and black. But there is more. There’s always more.
I’m not here to preach or give you a moral message. You don’t need that shit. We don’t need that shit.
I’m just saying: There’s something we live for, and that’s metal in all its forms. We’ve all found some appeal in the genre, that’s why we call ourselves metalheads (or we don’t - labels are not for everybody). We all have a place in our darkened, charred, extremely kvlt hearts for Rob’s vocals and Tony’s heavy riffs, even if our favourite subgenres are not the original heavy metal. And we wouldn’t wanna see it die. I know you’ve probably given the evil eye to anybody who dared badmouth metal. You’ve resented somebody for not wanting to give a particular band a chance.
So don’t do it yourself. Support your local metal bands. They DO exist(3).
Let everybody hear it: Metal is still alive and screaming. Metal will never die.
(1) Leaving this blank to avoid controversy. Maybe it was Venom, maybe it was Metallica, maybe it was freaking Hannah Montana. You decide.
(2) I don’t actually know if these bands played in filthy bars. I wasn’t alive to see it. If you’re gonna be nit-picky about it, you’re missing the whole point of this article.
(3) If anybody is willing to create a blog to keep track of local bands by region, I’ll fully support and promote them.
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