What the heck is it with the press these days...metal is in the mainstream with Maiden picking up Brit awards, Slipknot, Metallica and DC topping the charts across the world at the end of '08, and now Classic Rock devoting almost an entire magazine to metal.
CR is now one of the best selling music mags in the UK; it has even a prog rock spin off edition. This month's edition features a natty cover listing dozens of metal bands logos, and has features a plenty.
It touches on the genres and some of the history, and claims (not unfairly) that the grunge movement of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden et al was metal in all but name.
While the magazine makes many fair editorial comments it does go overboard on it New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal claim. This phrase, coined by Metal Hammer, gives hope to a lot of bands that are hopelessly stuck in a timewarp. While some acts have the ability to tap into previous bands work and inject a new twist to the magical formula the danger is that too many simply don the spandex, ripped jeans and retread the riffs.
Metal is at once comical and deadly serious, and its best exponents recognise this; absorbing the past and giving it new life (the transition between 70s metal, NWOBHM, thrash, prog metal, and the 21st Century vibe is acknowledged) is a trademark of the music form dubbed metal. However, such is the supposed stigma attached to 'heavy metal' that some acts seem determined to distance themselves - even the great Lemmy, before he embraced it once decried the dungeons and dragons tales; and the Ulster man who wrote the defining Holy Diver riff (Vivian Campbell) has dissed metal.
But, when it comes down to it, metal (and all its sub genres, sub-sub genres and disputes over where a band 'fits') has been around, will stay around and will always appeal to those who like loud, heavy rock music played with attitude. Belfast has seen UFO, Tesla, Down, Static X amongst recent acts gracing stages; not to mention the host of local talent.
When the music press has forgotten today's metal fixation there will still be fans and bands who, to paraphrase Gerry Adams "have never gone away ya know". Or in the words of the excellent comedy metal troupe, Steel Panther...DEATH TO ALL BUT METAL.
Stupid and intelligent, obnoxious and thoughtful, progressive and dumb, brash and introverted -metal is a beautiful contradiction that some will never get, but for the rest of us...raise the horns, raise a glass and gimme a hell yeah!
[This rant now ceases...I'm away for a cool Carlsberg and refreshing Jager to ease frayed thoughts and listen to some 'eavy fuggin metal]