Pick Your Rock and Metal

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Metal in the mainstream...

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]


Anonymous said...

I understand the frustration .... but after seeing the Rock and Metal scene over the past 20 odd years with its peaks and troughs of popularity, I can say from a personal point of view I like it when "we stay off the radar"

I don't want my music to be accepted by the main stream media ,because when they get their grubby mitts on it ,they turn it into a mindless comedic act that cant be taken serious by anyone

Take the Movies for example ,Bill & Ted's ,Wayne's World ,Airheads Detroit Rock City ,Little Nicky ,Tenacious D ,and the Pick of Destiny etc,and you see how the movie makers see metal fans ,we are nothing more than mindless morons ,banging our heads against brick walls
TV is no better ,The animated show "Metalocalypse" ,The Scuzz channels "Mullet Man" character ,all thick as pig shit

on the number of occasions that Metal has be approached and accepted on TV ,like Slipknot live on TFI Friday on channel 4 all we ended up with is 5 and 6 year olds with Slipknot hoodies on ,or who could forget seeing Blackie Lawless and W.A.S.P.on Top of the bloody Pops !!! do we really want that again ?

no ,Im sorry ,I'll stick with Tape Trading (now known as the internet ),and going to gigs to get my fix of rock & metal,I dont need a popular main stream magazine ,TV channel or main stream radio station telling me whats great

could we be better catered for ?,yes ,no doubt,but not by main stream media ,we should be doing that ourselves

\m/ Redskull \m/

Jonny said...

Fair comments Redskull! The recent resurgence of metal...also known as the mainstream noticing it again...comes at a price. Tbe ridicule and the stereotyping are never far behind. But, and here's the crucial bit, metal and hard rock are business enterprises for bands. The DIY spirit sustains the music form in fallow periods, but promoters won't book metal acts unless they see good door receipts. And while the interweb may allow even the smallest acts to have a myspaz page and sell a (very) tracks via iTunes, it is rarey enough for the artists to give up the day job.

What frustrates me the most is that the DIY scene has gone a little bit ga ga. NI is producing good, and even excellent bands by the bucketload. At the same time the UK mags are giving away covermount CDs populated by dross. Just because you can go into a studio and get a minor label to back you doesn't mean you are very good. I buy all the rock and metal mags and the quality of tracks is abysmal and most of the acts are destined to obscurity. Whether this is natural selection or not we can never really see now bands forged on the road and honed in the studio.

Sorry if these polemics seem to be disjointed, but I am torn between seeing the need for metal to receive critical and wanting to tell the sneering NME and media classes to FUCK AWAY OFF :)