You hear a lot about artists in varying genres truly taking their sound or their area of music to a whole other level. Be it through lyrical meaning, album structure or perhaps just their exceptional execution, artists like Kendrick Lamar (for hip hop) or Ed Sheeran (for pop) are getting more and more critical acclaim and more power to them! But then I look at my beloved world of metal and there exists no unanimously acclaimed artist.

“Why is such a goliath genre of music relatively newsless?”

There are popular ones, but I haven’t heard a modern metal band being described as “furthering the development of the genre as a whole” (or anything to that effect). Why? Why is such a goliath genre of music relatively newsless? I could be wrong, if you disagree and know of a band that is progressive to metal as a whole (and not just prog-rock or prog-metal or prog-djent-funk-death-thrash-whatever) then let me know!

So here’s my theoretical explanation: the metal genre is sub-divided and sub-labelled to a psychotic degree. There is an insane number of sub-genres in metal, which isn’t a property shared by almost any other genre to my knowing. You have goth-metal and death metal then you have your rap metal, your pop metal and nu-metal, then you have black, thrash, djent, grind, post… Just why?! Then along with these ridiculous divisions upon divisions you have this depraved patriotism of “my kind of metal is soooo much better than your kind of metal” or “this band changed from this kind of metal to another kind of metal, now I HATE THEM”. Oh just fuck off, will you?

Now, with this completely nonsensical idea comes a phenomena in which a band comes along who’s doing something new, something unusual and gets sectioned off into its own newly named genre which will be relatively unknown. The likelihood that this new band will get anything more than a cult following is kind of crippled now which, to me, is a crying shame.

“For the genre of metal to actually shift and develop it needs to stop herniating new genres all the time”

However there are benefits to this structure that I’ve enjoyed: if I find a band I like whom I hadn’t heard before then I can find out their genre and find lots of bands with a similar style, fab! But we have streaming services for that so it’s not essential.

For the genre of metal to actually shift and develop it needs to stop herniating new genres all the time, then perhaps 20 years from now we’ll have widely renowned cultural classics from modern era metal that will be to generations then, what Metallica and Iron Maiden are to many of us now. Just a thought.

Jake Tenn

Image courtesy of Man Alive! via Flickr (CC Search)

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1 Comment

  1. May 5, 2017 at 00:58 — Reply

    Overcategorization is certainly a big issue, but I’d also argue that Metal, as it is generally understood and received currently, has a big problem with geography – specifically that it is, for one reason or another, largely focused on the US and Europe, particularly Scandinavia.

    This is pretty ridiculous, considering I’m aware of an have attended 100s if not 1000s of extreme music concerts across Asia, which were mostly populated by domestic bands. I just moved back to the States from 10 years booking and playing in Japan, and I’ve got to say that the scene here strikes me as wildly myopic and, to an extent, lazy.

    Metal is perhaps the most universal form of artistic expression I can think of, and I say that with authority: I also run Kaala, and we make Big Data in Metal Where You Don’t Expect It our business. This shit is literally everywhere, yet for some reason (marketing) a huge percent of the fanbase focuses on such a small percent of the wider ecosystem.

    That’s a bummer, so we’re gonna change it.

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