As a member of MANY online Metal forums, I’ve come across a number of threads discussing the need as a musician to stay true to your roots. While the majority of these threads are overrun with Elitists and “Old School” cats simply venting at what they view as the worst auditory atrocities committed against all things Metal, a few pose a viable and logical consensus that bands are only playing into the latest trends as a means to actually, “make it”. On the flip side of this argument you’ll find seemingly more open minded people that accept this fresh sound as a moving forward of the genre that simply builds on the foundations laid down before them. This faction of our community is not without its extremists however and they believe that staying in the past with dad bands is a cardinal sin punishable by death via social media. With either side growing further and further apart each day, which side will find themselves on the winning side of history, and who will claim undisputed internet victory?
For the sake of keeping things as clean as possible in this rumble, I’m going to use two very well known bands to make my case that both have releases this year while leaving out bands that are no longer together and new bands that anyone over 21 will tilt their head at. (i.e. Pantera VS Black Veil Brides).
First up, we have the Thrash giants Slayer. Here, you have a band that has been around for 30+ years that has somehow survived the gauntlet of challenges including but not limited to: Glam Rock and other trends, several line-up changes, and most recently the passing of a founding member. Everyone on the trendy side will argue that Slayer is a dads band with an out played and stale sound. Slayer fans on the other hand will argue, “FUCKIN’ SLAYER!!!!“, while kicking the living piss out of you. To avoid all of this, here are the facts: Slayer helped mold and influence the genre into what we all know it as today and without them things would be different. In more recent history however, the band has lost something that once made them special. The 2000’s were very unkind to Slayer and their music seemed to become almost radio friendly or, dare I say, TRENDY. Am I saying they went from Thrash royalty to radio novelty? Not in the slightest but their sound most certainly changed. Enter 2015 and the title track from their highly anticipated release, “Repentless“. The majority of the community lost their minds over this track saying, “Thrash at last, Thrash at last, Satan all mighty they’re Thrash at last”. The band returned to their dad band roots and the fans ate it up.
There is another huge American made metal band that has made some musical waves lately by completely changing their sound. In fact, Lamb Of God committed what is by Elitist standards, an all out act of treason by going “Radio Friendly” with clean singing on the third track “Overlord“, off their 2015 album, “‘Strum Und Drang“. Singer Randy Blythe has been questioned as to the motive behind this controversial move with the otherwise growl dominated band and he has made it very clear it’s a direction the band wants to explore more of. Does this mean in the next few years we can expect to have a commercially acceptable adaptation of the once great Lamb Of God? Well, even the most hardcore of fans showing their support for the band and that movement probably wont bring that about but that’s not the point here. The band didnt want to produce the exact same album for the 3rd or 4th time. In the face of going stale, the band pushed the boundaries and introduced a growing trend among musicians today that completely modernized their sound.
Don’t worry kids, this isn’t soccer (Futbol for the international readers) and I refuse to let this end in a draw. There is one common denominator between the moves that both bands made and they should absolutely be admired for it. Slayer wanted to get back to their roots and the fans loved them for it. Lamb Of God wanted to experiment and push boundaries and the fans loved them for it. Can you start to see the lesson I’m getting at here? Play what you love and love what you play. Forget the Elitists that tell you to stay in the stone age, and forget the commercialism telling you to play the trend. Hell, while you’re at it forget this metal fan giving you his own opinion. If you play what is in your heart the fans will respect you for it because they can smell a fake a mile away. If you do this, you have god given talent and practice aloud skill coupled with a pinch of luck, I promise you that you will in fact “make it”. In the battle of staying true or being trendy, metal wins.
Feel we got it wrong? Want to yell at us about our band choices? Just bored? Let us hear it in the comment section below.
KEEP IT METAL,
\m/That Metal Fan\m/