DISCLAIMER: If you’re reading this, and are offended, you have every right to be. Just know you proved the point I intended to make below. This is an article based on my views and experiences while growing up in this scene. I’m not here to change your mind about what you believe in, I’m only here to make you think about it.
Through the five years that I’ve been active in the local metal scene, I’ve come to realize that this genre is being choked to death. It’s what I, along with countless other teenage music fans who can play syncopated breakdowns, sweep pick, ‘scream’, and squat to the beat of their tune, have done to contribute to the genocide of this genre. From the back and forth ‘high school’ drama, to social media, to an over-saturation of young talent continuously twisting the knife deeper into the core (see what I did there?), I can safely say that we, as a metal collective, have slaughtered the music we love to hate.
I used to be a fan of metal. A downright worshipper. It was a religion to me. There was a sense of community, a sense of loyalty between all the troubled kids with a bunch of problems and, even though nobody understood who we were when we wore our skinny jeans, died our hair super bright colours, or applied excessive amounts of eyeliner, the brotherhood was real. Being a fan, and having lyrics tattooed on my skin meant something to me growing up in this city.
The problem was, I wanted to be a touring metal musician.
I went through multiple bands trying to do so, and as with any young artist trying to find themselves, as I grew older, the music got more mature and the writing got more complex. I tried to explain to my friends how badly I wanted to be a success, how I wanted to be on the road, how I wanted to play in front of thousands of people, and that I wouldn’t let anything stop me. They laughed in my face, of course, but I wasn’t the only one.
This isn’t a unique circumstance: talk to any kid in your scene today and they’ll tell you the same thing. They have an EP out that they made off their laptop in their bedroom, a KickStarter campaign that you need to donate to for lousy perks, and even though they don’t have any money for a logo or studio time and no one knows them, they deserve everything that they see other bands getting.
I was one of those kids. Go check out my EP and you’ll see what I mean.
The community is still a dedicated group of people, young and old. It’s been statistically proven that we are the most loyal fanbase of any genre of contemporary music on the market today. So, what happened to the genre is this generation’s version of ‘the devil’s music’: Metalcore!
Metalcore. It inspired some of the greatest acts by industry standards today. And it also inspired millions of fans emulate that path. The aspiration is great and with today’s technology, via DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) that are affordable to the average aspiring artist, and preamp plugins that can make your band sound exactly like the band you aspire to be, it is now easier than ever to be in a band and chase the dream of being a world famous rockstar.
This leads into the main cause of the death of this genre: over-saturation.
If you type ‘metalcore’ into your YouTube search bar, you’ll get hundreds of pages full of acts that you’ve probably heard of. Millions of views for each video, a label to back it up, and everything professionally done through social media. Now, try typing in ‘unsigned metalcore’. You’ll get even more results and essentially, they all sound the same.
With millions of people scrambling to be famous, how can we, as a community, sort out the good from the bad? Oh, that’s right! We show our dedication through ‘numbers.’
Facebook Likes, YouTube subscribers, and followers on Twitter and Instagram are what rank these unsigned artists. But, then there is the ugliness that follows. As accustomed to what’s expected of our generation, we bash the shit out of these artists, each other, our community and brotherhood, all behind the mask known as the keyboard. There has never been more verbal bloodshed in the scene, and it’s all plastered permanently on the Internet for everyone to see.
Every fan of metal nowadays has their own band, and believes that they will be the next big thing. The fact of the matter is, this generation has a false sense of entitlement and absolutely nothing that they’ve worked for. This genre has created too many underground scenes, over-populated by countless of young fans doing this on their own, waiting to be the next viral band on YouTube, and refusing to branch out past social media for industry recognition. (Not to say that this doesn’t happen every now and then, but no one knows what the fad of the week will be.)
It doesn’t matter if you’re in a band or you’re a fan, if you’re a troll or a supporter, or if you’re someone completely impartial to this argument; metal is not what it used to be. It’s become a fad for most, something everyone does at some point in their life to rebel. You will grow up. You will grow out of it. It’ll still be in your mind and heart, but you’ll have moved on.
Building a professional band takes time, money, and the right people. There are so many people that want to be involved in this for the wrong reasons, and who aren’t passionate about chasing the dream because it’s not profitable, or they aren’t getting laid, or because of the fact that no one knows who they are yet.
There is a bright side to this: our community is massive and full of young, dedicated fans. If you’re in a band right now, and you wanna be the next big thing, surround yourself with the right people, have the right mindset, and chase your dreams to your hearts content. Just be aware that you’re not the only one who’s doing the same thing.
Written by Rian Cunningham