Think metal is dead? That’s your fault

There’s a hard-hitting if somewhat sweary editorial in Metal Hammer about the conservatism of some metal fans. Those people who refuse to accept that generations of bands since they came of age are actually producing great music, even if it doesn’t sound exactly like their favourite band when they were 17.

On the Metal Hammer website we cover pretty much everything considered metal – from Babymetal to Burzum – but 90% of the time the younger bands are being slaughtered in the comments section for daring to have a haircut not approved by the High Priests Of Metaldom or for not recreating Rust In Peace. The bastards. Like, how dare a band in 2016 have the tenacity, no the ignorance, to sound like something other than Megadeth?

It’s pointed out in the comments that the loud people on the internet may well be an unrepresentative and self-selecting sample, but there’s no denying that these people exist, and there are plenty of them. And not just in metal either; the prog world is full of them. It’s why so many 70s bands can play to full houses trotting out the same dreary old greatest hits set that they’ve been playing for the past twenty years while vastly better bands play to a few dozen. Great bands get dismissed as “Not proper Prog” because they don’t sound exactly like Pendragon.

People like this are one reason why so many festivals, from the huge Download to the far smaller Cambridge Rock Festival frequently end up with such conservative lineups, with acts who are well past their prime topping the bill. Meanwhile far better bands who might excel if given the chance of a headline spot themselves go on at 3pm.  Why, for example, have Nightwish never headlined a major festival in Britain?

It’s got to the point where you can tell exactly which age group the biggest proportion of attendees of any given festival fall into by whoever is headlining.

Maybe it’s a mid-life crisis thing, when you’re young enough to think everything still revolves around your generation but not quite old and wise enough to have reaslised that actually it doesn’t. But once you get past the wrong side of 50 is starts to get a lot harder to pretend that the heroes from your youth are still as good live those a generation younger. Sure, at a big festival or an arena gig they can still make a big spectacle with large-scale production values denied to “lesser” bands. But in smaller venues there’s nowhere to hide, and there’s been more than one occasion when I’ve seen a younger and hungrier support band completely blow some old-stagers away.

Anyway, go and read that Metal Hammer piece. And take a look at yourself and think about whether you are part of the problem.

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