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From Hell's Heart

"From Hell's Heart..." is an editorial column written by the Metal-Rules.com team. Every other month or so we pick a metal-related topic and share our thoughts, feelings and ideas on it.

Check out past editorials



The Year 2000. The best year For Metal Since The Late 80's?? (January 2001)

"The Year 2000-Best Year for Metal Since the Late '80s?"
by Ice Maiden

When I first saw the title for this month's essay, my reaction was to compare metal in the year 2000 to that of the late '80s. Let me say THAT was a very depressing exercise. I started by pulling out a few of my all-time favorite albums-virtually all of them were from the mid to late 80's. Metallica-"Master of Puppets" (1986). Iron Maiden-"Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" (1988) and "Powerslave" (1984). Manowar-"Kings of Metal" (1988). In the mid to late '80's, right and left you could see innovations in the form of relatively new metal genres, or at least the culmination of new sounds in the existing genres. But a comparison of the times is not what this essay is supposed to be about. So I had better get back to the topic at hand.

The year 2000 was my PERSONAL best year in metal, but only because of personal circumstances. I got to see Iron Maiden twice in one year. I got to attend the Wacken Open Air Festival. Through metal message-boards, I met a relatively large number of true metalheads who live near me, and we now regularly hold "metal listening parties" where we get together, talk about and listen to metal, and share new albums. I got to get more involved in the metal scene by becoming a staff member at Metal-Rules.com.

I did love some of the albums that came out this year-"Demons & Wizards" was a masterpiece--and I have hope that innovation in metal is not dead in the form of Nile's "Black Seeds of Vengeance" and Estuary of Calamity's "The Sentencing." But, in terms of releases since the late '80s, there was no album that caused such a visceral reaction in me in 2000 as did, for example, Blind Guardian's "Nightfall in Middle Earth" (1998) or Dark Tranquillity's "Skydancer" (1993).

At a local community level, the year 2000 was not a great year for metal. Locally, we had dry spells for months at a time without shows. Several bands cancelled local legs of their tours as the costs of touring, and, evidently, the likelihood that local promoters would lose money on metal shows, made the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. barren of metal. Whereas in 1999 there was a decent metal show at least once a month, we were lucky in 2000 to get one every three months. (As I said before, however, it has been great that slowly we local metalheads are hooking up and trying to create our own scene.)

On a more national or international level, I'd say that the year 2000 was not the best year since the late '80s, but it was a decent year. Brucey reunited with Maiden in 1999, but Maiden put out a new and decent album this year. New metal bands send the site demos all the time, showing that there is a younger generation out there trying to keep the true metal underground alive. Still, the year 2000 also saw a true onslaught in the form of mainstream recognition of something other than metal as metal, as evidenced by the Grammy Award list of nominees for best metal performance for 2000 that included the Deftones, Marilyn Manson and Slipknot. The affect this onslaught of "false metal" will have on the metal scene remains to be seen.

 

Rick's View

Has 2000 been the best year in metal since the late 80s? Well I guess that is open to interpretation. 2000 was most definitely a great year in metal. I have heard from some people who think that the last year was very disappointing in terms of the metal that was released. I donít get it. There were some great releases including the "comebacks" of a couple of metal icons. Those being a newly revitalized Iron Maiden with Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith back on board and the return to the metal fold of former Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford with his CD Resurrection. Not to mention awesome CDs from Nevermore, Rhapsody, Angel Dust, Helloween, Nile, The Haunted, Skyklad and many more. I thought that last year had a great slate of CDs. It took me a while to pick my top 20 of 1999 but 2000 was ridiculous. The amount of time that I spent laboring over the list of CDs that I had was unreal. I had listened to a couple of hundred CDs at least over the course of the last year and picking a top 20 from them and ranking them was pretty difficult to say the least!

The other thing I liked about some of my top picks was that they were bands that had been around for years but came up with some of their best work in 2000. I had Nevermore at #1 and to me Dead Heart in a Dead World is the best disc they have put out and they have been around for close on 10 years. Helloween weighed in at #3 with The Dark Ride. Definitely one of the best CDs they have released since their classic Keepers CDs in the mid 80s. Rhapsody weighed in with its meatiest effort yet on Dawn Of Victory. The aforementioned Iron Maiden released Brave New World which was definitely their best since Seventh Son of a Seventh Son released way back in 1988 and Overkill released an old school slab of thrash in the guise of Bloodletting Again one of the best from them since the 80s.

What does all this tell you? And me? I donít know.. Was it the best year in metal since the late 80s? I guess no one will ever agree. I think it has been one of the best. The old guard like Iron Maiden, Halford and Overkill released great material and the up and comers like Persuader (R.I.P.) Proved that there are great metal bands being born (and being destroyed) everyday. Metal went through some lean years in the 90s and now is finally beginning to regain some of the ground that it lost. If 2001 is a better year for metal than 2000 then all I can say is "All Praise the Gods of Metal!"

 

EvilG

Since I've been obsessed with metal since the early 80's I think that I have some amount of perspective on then and now....although I was much younger back in the 80's and was still in training. By the late 80's, metal was great. Sure there was the glam image, but the bands seemed unstoppable at that time. It was a great time for metal and you could very easily see videos by your favorite band's. I don't remember there being this whole "death to false metal" attitude or the "true metal movement." The only thing I remember is people saying how much they hated the glam image when some bands went so overboard they looked more like transvestites. At this time, when you picked up a magazine that was METAL you didn't have to get all angry about there being false metal in it. The biggest thing the diehards had to contend with is Bon Jovi or Gun 'n Roses being in the same magazine as Slayer and Metallica (who were still metal at that ime). I'd take Bon Jovi any day over what now pollutes the so called MAINSTREAM "metal" zines.

To the question at hand. 2000 was an excellent year for metal, but it was not as good as it was back in the late 80's. I do believe that it was the best year for metal in a long time. If I were writing this editorial back in 1995 it would of been much more pessimistic. However, in the last few years things have been improving. One of the strengths of the metal scene today lies in it's diversity. There are seemingly countless styles and sub-genres that have sprung up. Yes it's all metal, and maybe to some this is seen as fragmentation of the scene, but I think it's great that there are bands ranging form traditional metal to power metal to death metal to black metal etc... This is one thing that the scene did not have as much of in the 80's. The year 2000 also saw the re-birth of 2 of metal's finest. That being Iron Maiden and Rob Halford. It's not just the old guard who are keeping the scene alive. There are so many new bands that have come out in the past few years that are waving the metal flag proudly. If you are big fan of power metal, then how could you be that disappointed with the metal scene in 2000? Of course with the good comes the bad. The bad is not really a part of the metal scene but is an irritant put upon us by the mainstream media and the sheep who follow. That irritant is mallcore....some call it "nu-metal" but we all know it's neither "new" nor "metal." It's (c)rap like that which has warped some younger fans making them think that's what metal is. A DJ scratching records is not metal, rapping is not a form of metal singing and mallcore has no place in the metal realm. I know that mallcore is not metal, but hearing people refer to it as such leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact is many are too lazy to look beyond the surface to realize that there is a thriving, growing, REAL metal scene out there.

The past 3-4 years has progressively gotten better and better for metal. I think that it's still on the upswing without getting so big that we get a repeat of what happened in the early 90's when "heavy metal" became a bad word to some. In fact, a big part of the reason why I even bothered to start Metal Rules in 1995 was because of my dissatisfaction with what had become of metal and I felt someone had to say METAL IS NOT DEAD. In 2000 no one in their right mind thinks that unless they only gauge the scene based on what the media plays. That's probably why some of the lazier metal fans from the later 80's are no longer with us. They look at the mainstream and see shit rap with guitar bands being called metal so they think metal is gone...if you know someone like that...enlighten them!! Look beyond the mainstream magazines and opinions and you will find that 2000 was indeed a glorious year for metal!!!!!!

 

Jesse'

Metallically speaking, was 2000 as good as the late 80Ļs? Hmmmm...

The late 80's were something special (as was the entirety of the 80's), but 2000 was was a damn fine start!!! And who led the way for the back to pure metal revolution? Any guesses? In my opinion, it was the "founding fathers" (Maiden and Halford) and lead they did.

The metal year, for me, was officially set in motion with the release of Brave New World. I had been waiting for the return of Bruce for many, many moons and the end product did not disappoint. It really brought everything into perspective for me and officially started off my metal year (although the beginning of the year had a few fine releases). Once Maiden shot out of the gate, every other band was free to occupy my mind (I had been holding my breath for quite awhile).

New bands like Blaze and Shadows Fall quickly caught my attention and dominated the summer months, but I knew something loomed in the darkness of August. A new Rob Halford album was waiting, biding time, preparing to shatter skulls. The day arrived and I'm still picking up the bone fragments. What an amazing album from the king of all that is heavy!!! Without a doubt, his best work since Screaming for Vengeance.

I have a funny feeling that 2000 will be looked at as a landmark year for metal. A year in which the founding fathers returned to prominence armed with classic heaviness!!!

 

Waspman

Was 2000 the best year for metal since the late 80's? Well, yes and no. No one can doubt that metal has been slowly making a major comeback since about 1998, but 2000 was definitely the biggest year in terms of high profile bands/releases and sales. Think of all of the major headlines that were made this year: Iron Maiden's brilliant comeback album Brave New World was released. Also, who can forget their near-instant sellout of Madison Square Garden? Speaking of the Iron Maiden tour, Metal God Rob Halford came back with his best album since Painkiller. All of the major festivals in Europe continued to grow (best to ignore the debacles that occurred in North America). Nevermore cemented their reputation as arguably the best metal band out of America. A number of supergroups like Supershine, Bloodbath and Lock Up released some excellent albums. Helloween released their best CD since the Keepers-era. Plus, a whole set of high-quality CD's and tours passed through the year, all vying for attention.

On the other hand, 2000 also saw the proliferation of a number alarming trends. The first would be the constant battering of our ears by clone-bands. Almost every genre of metal from power metal to black metal saw numerous sub-standard releases put out by record labels hoping to make a fast buck. Honestly, how many Helloween/Cradle of Filth/Emperor/Dimmu Borgir/Cannibal Corpse rip-offs do we need? Speaking of useless CD's, how about compilations and tribute albums? These have to be the worst offenders. I won't rant too much on this because we've already had an entire editorial based on the topic, but suffice it to say that enough is enough. Besides, how many Iron Maiden tributes does the world really need?

Another blow against metal in 2000 came in the form of rap-rock. It seems that the mainstream press is intent on passing this shit off as "metal", ultimately confusing people into thinking that Limp Dikshit and Kid Kock are heavy metal. THEY ARE FUCKING NOT METAL. Anyway, even though most "true" (referring to the music, not the people) metal fans know the difference, many potential fans do not. This means that the mainstream media has actually hurt heavy metal by passing these shit bands off as metallic alternatives.

Overall though, ya can't doubt that 2000 was a banner year for heavy metal. It may not have quite reached the heights that it did in the late 80's but then again, I for one wouldn't want it to (we all remember what happened in the early 90's). For a metal fan, 2000 was as good a year as we could've hoped for!

 

Michael De Los Muertos 

I won't go so far as to say 2000 was the best year for metal since the 80s, but I will happily go on record as saying I think it's the best year in a long time, and the future of metal finally looks bright.

I did not expect 2000 to be such a good year.  While it is true that since 1997 each year has been better for metal than the preceding one, at the end of 1999 I began to feel we were headed for another plateau.  Luckily, however, while it began slow, the year's significant metal releases picked up in the spring, summer and fall, and by year's end we were enjoying fine offerings by Nile, In Flames, Rhapsody, Morbid Angel, Iron Maiden, and others.

Let's not forget that the year 2000 began on a very sad note.  In January 2000 we were reeling from the news that Chuck Schuldiner might soon die from cancer, and even if he survived the medical bills he faced would be crushing.  However, the news that he survived the emergency surgery galvanized the entire metal community, and people began sending in donations to Chuck's family to help defray medical costs.  I think this event was the high point of metal history in 2000.  During January I could not go a metal show without being asked, "Have you sent money to Chuck yet?"  The very swift and overwhelming reaction of the metal community to Chuck's woes was unprecedented and startling.  We had a chance to prove, as metalheads, that we look out for each other and really care about our own.  We seized that chance and made good on it, and our efforts were crowned with success when it was announced toward the end of 2000 that Chuck now has a clean bill of health and is hard at work on the new Control Denied release.  Anyone who believes metalheads are apathetic losers, or that the metal scene has no cohesion, need only review these events.

Another major boost to our fortunes this past year was, of course, the new Iron Maiden release.  Metal's biggest story of 1999 -- the reunion with Bruce Dickinson -- promised big things for 2000, and the band delivered with "Brave New World," an excellent album which proved that Maiden still deserves their place of glory in metal history.  Pantera, despite becoming an ever more controversial band in the metal scene, also kept their fortunes alive with "Reinventing the Steel."  And of course no analysis of 2000 would be complete without mentioning Rob Halford's triumphant "Resurrection," which some say portend a Dickinson-esque reunion with Judas Priest in 2001. Combine these events with great tours, particularly in Europe (Rhapsody, Stratovarius, etc.), and an excellent festival season (with the exception of Dynamo), and 2000 was clearly a banner year for true metal.

2000 had its problems, though.  Mallcore continued to make inroads on popular culture and threaten the metal scene, with Limp Bizkit and their ilk crystallizing into virtual institutions.  Possibly the biggest danger to metal today, Slipknot gained even more momentum during the year, coming perilously close to having credibility even with some true metal fans.  And of course there's Metallica, who has virtually declared war on the entire metal world -- and a sizable chunk of the world at large -- by unleashing a barrage of lawsuits against perfume companies, web site owners, and yes, Napster.  The one good thing about Metallica was that their excesses were so egregious that they lost a lot of credibility even outside the metal scene, with even "new" Metallica fans angry at their crusade against Napster. 

So, it was a very eventful year.  However, I can't quite elevate it to the status of "best year since the 80s," for a few reasons.  First of all, I'm not convinced that the 80s WERE the zenith of metal culture -- if you look at the explosions of creativity, particularly in the European black metal scene and the American death metal scene, in the 1990-91-92 time period, you cannot deny these years brought metal a long way.  Second, and related to that observation, even if you assume the 80s were "better" than any other period, 2000's accomplishments aren't quite on par with the early 90s.  It's very clear to me that metal is out of the "slump" it was in after the black and death metal scenes collapsed circa 1993-94, and hopefully the sky is the limit.  In my opinion, the future of our scene is very bright.  I hope that, if this Hell's Heart topic appears again as, "2001: Best year for metal since the 80s?", the answer will clearly be YES!

 

Nathan

"The Year 2000. The best year For Metal Since The Late 80's??"

Not for me! Nothing will ever compare to the overwhelming feelings and excitement I had when I discovered death metal around 1990 and 1991. I only wish I could relive that time again. Of course it could have been 1997 when I discovered death metal, so a lot of my feeling have to do with my state of mind at a particular time. But regardless, just think of all the phenomenal albums that were released in the early Ď90s. Hell, just think of one album: Death Angelís Act III. That album alone crushes most of what was to follow from death and thrash bands alike. OK thatís too bold of a statement, but goddamn does that album rule!!! Anyhow, I could list the many bands I listen to who were at their peak, or had just released brilliant albums during that early Ď90s (and late Ď80s) time period, but the list would be too long. And besides, you should know what Iím talking about here.

As time elapsed, it has become more and more difficult to find metal bands that have originality. Because what hasnít been done already that already happened during the late Ď80s/early Ď90s? Surely all death metal bands owe themselves to the fathers of the genre from this time period. Even thrash, black, and power metal owe themselves to bands of the early Ď90s (and the Ď80s in general). Sometimes it seems everything that can be done has been done. But then bands like Opeth come along, breaking the boundaries of metal and showing the metal scene that yes, there is new territory to explore.

The simple fact is that the most groundbreaking, genre-defining, influential, and plain olí phenomenal albums have already been released in past years. Death, black, thrash, grind, power, and other genres of metal have had their peaks already. My current excitement in the metal realm stems from bands, both new and old, who are exploring more challenging and technical avenues, pushing themselves and their musical creativity past the boundaries of their respective genres. By the way, when the hell are we going to see a death-metal/jazz-fusion crossover??? Not one band I have heard in the last six years has even come close to matching the ultimate (and only true) death-jazz crossover album Focus, by Cynic. Iím not saying: ďcopy that albumĒ. But come on! Someone needs to (properly) capture the essence of jazz-fusion and mix it with some aggressive metal once again!!

 

Joe's Rant

The Sermon From the Cyber-Mount

Looking back, 2000 was a rather significant year... Not only was it the last year of the 20th century, but it was the final year of the 2nd millennium as well. (Despite last year's hype, 2001 is the first year of the 21st century and the new millennium... Trust me.) 2000 was also significant in terms of Heavy Metal because not only did it mark the 30th anniversary of the genreís birth (Black Sabbath - s/t was released in 1970), but the number of Metal albums released last year was amazing! Itís even more amazing when you take into account the fact that the average music consumer considers Heavy Metal to be a dead genre... Heavy Metal dead??? BLASPHEMY!!!

If someone had told me that Metal was dead about 3 or 4 years ago, I might have believed them. With the advent of Grunge/Alternative in the early Ď90's, Metal suddenly became the unwanted stepchild of the popular music scene. MTV, Much Music, and the vast majority of Metal magazines turned their attention to dirty, unkempt rockers (who could barely play their instruments) and squeaky-clean Pop artists (who couldnít play any instruments) in an effort to "keep with the times" (aka "make more money") and by doing so, numerous Metal fans were left out in the cold with nowhere to turn for information about new bands and releases.

Then the opportunity for resurrection arrived in the form of the internet. Finally bands could get their music heard by fans who had been unsympathetically cast aside and alienated by major record labels... Fans were no longer at the mercy of greedy corporations to toss them an occasional scrap of precious Metal... Thanks to the internet, WE (THE FANS) are now the ones in control of what we see and hear! And in my opinion, this is why Heavy Metal bands have been able to increase their sales in particular parts of the world, especially North America. (They still have some ways to go yet, however...)

So rather than proclaim 2000 as a great year because of any "landmark" releases (you can check out the Metal-Rules!! Top Ten for those), I prefer to view the year as great because the number of albums put out in the vast variety of metallic styles is a positive sign for the future of Metal. Donít get me wrong, Iím not promoting the idea of quantity over quality because I can honestly say that I liked ALL of the new releases I bought last year (Yes, even Clayman... I just think itís mediocre when compared to In Flamesí earlier works.). But with the ability for near-instant communication and pre-sampling music, todayís technology allows music fans a new opportunity to discover Heavy Metal in all its forms, undiluted by the corporations who only wish to sucker teenagers out of their parentís cash. The internet offers not only easy access, but hope as well to the Metal community worldwide. And to me, this proves that Metal, despite itís dramatic setback in the early Ď90's, will continue to find new fans and carry on far into the the third millennium and the future that lies beyond... (Provided there are no right-wing, "moral majority crackdowns", that is...).



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