Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Where has all the metal gone?

            While it is true that we are in a different time and place for music than in times past, it still seems like major exposure for “popular” groups is as commonplace in the modern climate as it was in the past. And every genre seems to have its torchbearers.

Pop has been the ridiculous genius of Lady Gaga. Country is dominated by numerous two-name strummers. Indie has the bombast of Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene to hold the genre up high.

            But where has all the metal gone?

            Nineteen years ago, the best-selling album of the proclaimed “SoundScan” era (the era of music where record stores actually began keeping constant track of sales) was released. Metallica’s self-titled record withheld a sense of pop hooks mixed in with pure rock.

            It can be argued among true fans whether the record deserves to be metal, but it was an effort that everyone still heard. Regardless of the type of person, people actually heard metal.

            The record was the culmination of an era where amazing bands like Slayer and Sepultura culled their efforts to blow out eardrums while placing horrifying and gruesome imagery in attacking social points.

            Metallica did this themselves with classics like “Disposable Heroes” and “One,” attacking the war panic of Reagan’s America. Even Dave Mustaine saw fit to comment on the ridiculous idea that he was seen as an idiot solely for his love of metal on Megadeth’s “Peace Sells.”

            When approaching this subject, I asked for the assistance of people closer to the scene, since, other than my experiences as a kid, I am a fish out of water on the subject. The response was mixed, but the comments I kept hearing all pointed to one direction: progressive metal.

            I feel I should describe progressive metal as what happens when loud music carries on for a long time.

            Tool would likely be pronounced as a progressive metal band since the guitar work is not focused on the thrash, like traditional “heavy metal,” but instead on the weird time signatures that could be performed with it. This explains why flunkies at the local pool hall and academic scholars could enjoy the work equally.

            Nonetheless, I have a tough time seeing how challenging the listener makes for a ubiquitous point. Groups like Coheed and Cambria, Dillinger Escape Plan and Mastodon are technically impressive and amazing at what they do over the course of a record, but none of these bands are nearly as effective.

            For all the praise Mastodon receives, they haven’t adopted the throne simply because vocalist Brent Hinds holds none of the slight hints of tenderness contained in Tool’s records. And even Metallica knew the power of a ballad with punch. What do you think “Nothing Else Matters” is?

            I feel I have short-changed the effect the modern era has had on “popular” music of all kinds. Rock radio has spat up Shinedown and 3 Doors Down as their torchbearers to less and less relevance. Truthfully, it is not just the music that affects the perception.

            However, I still wonder if the music holds a social merit for more than just the devoted throngs. Surely, the power that replaces cool with angry can come back. Something has to save metal from the boredom of the mainstream.

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