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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.
Should Metal Remain Underground? (May 2000)
There are two sides to this. You can look at it from the artists standpoint who would of course like to see a greater audience for their music. Why else do you think they bother to write music and release albums if it wasn't to be heard? These people have to eat and survive just like you or me and if there is no money to be made playing metal then no bands will be playing it. That said, there is the other side... If metal became more accepted into the mainstream that would mean more fans who follow the trends would jump on board. These are not people, but sheep. They are the same sheep that listen to Limp Shitkit and all those other rap-core bands. If real metal was "in" would you want a clown like that listening to your music, going to your shows and eventually starting bands of their own just to capitalize off of a trend?? I know I wouldn't.
I think a happy medium has to be met. If metal can remain somewhat underground yet have slightly more commercial success then it now has then things would be better for bands getting their product to us fans and getting on tours that actually go to more than just Europe.
The reason for keeping metal an underground music form is simple. You know that the bands playing it are not money whores who only picked up their instruments to see if they could be the flavor of the month. Most bands in the underground are not here today, gone tomorrow. These true to metal bands never get props from the mainstream because they are not on the top 40, they are not on MTV (empty TV).
In my time on this planet the biggest time for metal that I witnessed was in the 80's. For a while it was cool. Metal mags were everywhere, the videos of the bands were easy enough to catch on TV and metal, although big, was still not mainstream. A problem with metal in the later 80's is that there was a glut of glam "metal" bands that over saturated the market with 10,000 Bon Blow me wanna be's. These glam bands put the whole metal scene in a false and bad light. In one way that was a good thing because it drove away the trendies who all wanted to be the next Poison and those bands left playing metal WERE METAL.
So yes, lets keep it in the underground but I'd like to see metal be a bit more popular because it would be nice to be able to walk into a CD Store and be able to find the stuff you like, to be able to tune into a weekly video show that actually catered to real metal and to give the bands a stable income so they can concentrate on their next CD not their next meal!
Should Metal Remain in the underground? Metal is an underground music almost by its nature. The music itself is not as easily accessible as say Britney Spears or N' Sync because of the fact that metal on the whole requires a greater level of thought and musicianship than just being able to create a beat on a computer or keyboard. Not to say that all metal is overly intellectual but it has the ability to be so and at the same time to be aggressive.
Metal would benefit by moving from the underground to the mainstream in a number of ways. Firstly the musicians would actually make some money because of the increased album sales that come from having a greatly expanded audience. This would allow them to spend more time on their music as they would not have to work jobs just to support themselves financially. This would also result in more bands actually getting the chance to get their music out to more people because of the increased amount of money available for touring. A final benefit would be increased money for videos and other promotion. Even if your favorite band did not tour in your area you could always turn on the local music station and check out their videos. The downside to metal coming out of the underground is that no longer would bands be making metal because they love the music. There would be a glut of bands who are just following what is popular and playing metal in the hope that they get signed to record contracts and then get rich. As was the case in the late 80s and early 90s, the record companies would sign any band that they could regardless of talent. These bands would be expected to play the kind of music that the label wanted just to sell CDs. This would hurt the legitimate metal bands as the pressure would be put on them to sell CDs rather than to make quality music. Eventually there would be a backlash and most of the below average bands would be gone and with them many of the innovative bands that do not necessarily conform to the record labels idea of success.
It would be great to see Metal gain more success. But that success should only come because of the hard work and dedication of those bands. If the bands could make a decent living from their music and still be independent in what they want to achieve, then metal is best left in the underground.
Should Metal remain underground? I think it would be better to ask "WILL Metal remain underground?" As weíre all aware, NO form of music remains "underground" for very long once record industry executives hear it and think that thereís money to be made. But of course, once a particular genre is targeted and brought to the forefront of the popular music scene, the pioneering artists are pushed aside to make way for prettier, watered down versions that are easily marketed and sold to the gullible music buying public.
For the past decade, "Metal" has been practically considered a dirty word in the music industry. Record companies want nothing to do with Heavy Metal bands anymore. Kind of strange, donít you think? After all, Metal bands made mountains of cash for these companies back in the Ď80's, but as soon as the Ď90's rolled around, it was "out with the old and in with the new". Why the sudden change in attitude? Simple. People were getting tired of Metal and sales of it were down.
Now, there are a couple of reasons for this particular situation... #1. Record companies donít give a damn about anything other than profits. HUGE profits. They donít care if thereís a small niche market desperately wanting to be catered to and that a nice little profit can be made from it... No, they would rather flood the marketplace with dozens of acts which are basically all clones of each other, turn a large and fast buck, and once the public has gorged itself on the product, move on to the next "big thing". And #2. For the most part, the general public are gullible fools who allow the media to dictate to them whatís "cool." Why else would people from middle-class suburbia want to look and act like "gangstas"? Itís definitely not because they relate to the situations and lifestyle described in rap lyrics.
Itís only a matter of time before record companies begin looking for the next big money making trend. And since there are a limited number of musical genres, you can be sure that Metal will be taken into consideration once again. Of course, it will be less aggressive, watered-down songs with "bubble gum" lyrics performed by "pretty" musicians. At least the first time around it was all relatively new and there was little both music and image-wise to steal from, so quite a few "real" Metal bands ended up getting a lot of recognition. Next time around, theyíll be rehashing the already rehashed (I shudder at the thought!), thereby preventing most (and possibly all) "real" Metal bands from ever gaining any mass popularity.
So to answer the question "Will Metal remain underground?", I think the answer is "yes", simply because true music fans know that the stuff that dominates in the world of Pop isnít real music to begin with. Occasionally a "real" song will sneak itís way onto the charts, but those moments are few and far between. As for whether or not Metal "should" remain underground... I canít answer that because as far as I can tell, TRUE Metal has nowhere else to go.
If it were my choice, Metal would definitely remain "underground" provided that it would also still get the respect that it deserves. Unfortunately, to my mind this is really just an academic question, as I don't think real metal will ever really be mainstream, middle-of-the-road fare. It's too distinctive, too uncompromising, and just too masculine, loud, and extreme (at least to the sensibilities of the average housewives and grannies) to ever be an AOR staple. Indeed, whenever metal becomes homogenized to the extent that it is acceptable and embraced by the mainstream, then it really isn't true metal anymore anyway. (Think of some of the pop metal bands of the '80's, or some of the pseudo metal or alterna-metal bands of the '90's.) That so-called metal was/is acceptable and accessible to the mainstream, but at best it was milk-toast metal or just experimental heavy sounds. So, unless the communal aural sensibilities of the masses progressively move to a heavier more dynamic median (which is not likely to happen in the near future), real heavy metal will always be left of center-and underground. That's fine by me, as it would eventually lose it's appeal over time the way some other genres do when there's prolonged media overkill and hype. However, as stated above, it would be gratifying if the mainstream respected heavy metal as an art form in the same way some other off-center genres (i.e. opera, abstract art, etc.) get respected even though they are not the common diet of the masses either. Then again, the lack of respect paid to metal (the topic of March's editorial) is also a very important ingredient in its all-important aggression, explosive power, and personality. So, as the saying goes, 'Better be careful what you wish for . . . "
The question of whether or not metal should remain underground revolves around one aspect: success. Say what? What I mean is, would metal be more likely to be successful if it stayed in the underground, away from the prying lights of the mainstream audience and media? Or would a shift into the mainstream fast lane be the tonic that pushes metal into new realms of greatness? If you ask me, the answer lies within what I call the "glam syndrome".
The "glam syndrome" goes something like this: Glam "metal" (pop rock schlock) was/is a much maligned sub-genre of metal that became highly diluted (too many crappy bands) and lame, but did have some quite credible beginnings (like it or not, Van Halen was one of the originators of early glam metal, same goes for the first two, and only good, Def Leppard albums). Or, for the more heavy-eared readers out there, think of the mid-80's thrash scene - the same thing happened there. Why did this happen? Basically, the downward trend began when the glam metal style became accepted by the mainstream. Once that happened, everybody and their mother tried to jump on the "hot new trend" and tons of crappy bands popped up, thus crowding and crapifying (TM. Waspman) the genre. And of course, we all know what happened after that - glam metal became the accepted definition of metal and it became a laughing stock.
What that rather long-winded professorial intro is saying is this: metal should stay underground. If metal "goes mainstream", then the same fucking phenomenon will happen. Does anyone really want that? Plus, there's nothing wrong with the level that metal is at right now - it is arguably the healthiest that it has ever been before. Tons of new bands, tons of diversity, and tons of talent. There are already too many shitty bands allowed to exist, and being in the mainstream would only cause an increase of chaff bands to dilute metal. All I can say to that is - Fuck that! There is no need for metal to go mainstream, besides, does anybody really want to hear some abortion like Britney "Tits" Spears singing duet vocals on Bruce Dickinson's next solo album?
Should Metal Remain Underground? Not necessarily. Sure it is nice to be a part of this underground network, spreading the message of great metal bands and music. Because metal is underground it makes us metalheads very unique in this world full of clueless, radio-loving idiots. But think for a moment what would happen if metal became so accepted, that it was no longer underground.
First of all, bands and musicians that deserve to be recognized would finally get their chance. We would see some truly talented individuals make it into guitar, bass, and drum magazines instead of the lame bullshit that currently gets covered. Just think how cool it would be to flip on the radio and hear Iced Earth, Napalm Death, or Slayer. Imagine metal videos being played on television channels. Imagine seeing people besides your friends wearing metal shirts in public places. And there would actually be someone out there to talk to that listens to such great stuff as Pungent Stench, Loudblast, Agressor, Lethargy, and countless other bands I freakiní drool over. It is too bad that metal bands bust their asses for years, doing what they love, and get nowhere, while other talentless ass-molesters just do what the producer and record company tells them to do, to make that million-dollar hit single. It is hard for metal bands to support themselves without getting regular jobs, and it is sad to see so many great artists leave music to concentrate on working because they just are not popular enough to survive solely on record sales.
Of course, the only way for this to happen is for more and more people to be turned on to metal. Bands should never change to appeal to the masses (i.e. Metallica, Megadeth). The people in society need to change.
Should Metal Remain Underground?
1. Iron Maiden Number of The Beast
Keep metal out of the underground and let it reign throughout the world.
Yes, metal should remain underground, to keep assholes from trying to imitate it and make a mockery of it a la the new wave crap Slipknot, Korn, MachineHead, Tool, Coal Chamber, Power man 5000, etc etc. You know what crap I'm talking about. Why share with these fuckers? They don't have a clue, all of them take the Satanic salute and make fun of it at all there concerts trying to act evil. I shitted out more evilness than they could in a lifetime. All real serious metal heads know the difference between crap and real metal. If they don't, they should be listening to something else and of course they should be shot, hung, drawn, quartered and put in between a bun to serve at Satandonalds.