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.
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!"
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
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!!!!!!
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!!!
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
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!
"The Year 2000. The best year For Metal Since The Late
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!!
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,
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...).