Besides being a metal blogger I’m also an acrobat. Today I will walk the tightrope of analyzing an acute trend in mainstream heavy music whilst trying not to fall into the pitfall of haterdom. Yeah, yeah I know the above image calls into question the purity of my intentions. It’s kinda funny, though. So, The judges have their game faces on, the crowd holds their breath, and I begin my death-defying routine. When we look at modern day emo-tinged metalcore and djent, as metalheads who have grown up on the traditions of 80’s thrash, black metal, old school and technical death, even stretching our horizons to understand the brutal death metal of the 2000s (Malignancy still rules!), it is difficult to accept the commercialization of the treasured aesthetics which define our art form.
Though most of us (I perhaps naively believe) are introspective enough to understand that metal is as vast and varied as the world that has produced, fluid and dynamic as any art form, still watching the Black Veil Brides train-wreck on stage only to receive a Kerrang award is what NWOBHM fans must’ve felt like hearing Poison for the first time. This is the very same antagonistic fire that gave birth to thrash metal, a response to the commercialization and femininization that was hair metal. We all know THOSE BANDS, those defined as much (if not more) by their image than their music.
Enter Asking Alexandria, borrowing breakdowns and twin guitar leads from the likes of Darkest Hour, they play a decadent, commercial form of metalcore….ok ok I hear ya… something-core. The bands EP Life Gone Wild appropriately features a couple of Skid Row covers. The band undoubtedly intended for this to reflect their contemporary embrace of 80s depravity.
Here’s the kicker. What they have unintentionally done is exposed the hilarious irony that djent and mainstream emo-core are today’s hair metal. Just as hair metal before them was a commercialization of many of the sounds and images of NWOBHM, so their music is a watered down version of modern metal. And 20 years from now, when people throw on djent and emo-core records the same way we consume hair metal today, they will need the same huge grain of salt to enjoy them. Dave Mustaine once said, “if you have to dress like a girl, you probably have unresolved issues and is your music really that good anyway?” The famous quip almost seems more appropriate for today’s mainstream metal mutations.
I’ve tumbled off tightrope only to be humiliatingly caught by the safety net below. The safety net being the comparison of the trend to the hair metal for which I have a soft spot. The crowd lets out a disappointed groan. My Bulgarian trainer is pissed. If it wasn’t for his comfy valuer track suit, he’d really be in a tiff.