What happened to Heavy Metal?

While listening to my Genius Metal mix recently, I noticed that I most of the songs were at least 10, 20 or more years old.

I may not be up with the scene. Bands may be turning out new metal hits all the time and I’m not aware of it. But, neither are many others. New Metal seems to have sunk to a sub culture status.

When I was younger, I use to wonder why the genres of music that my parents listened to when they were kids had become relics of the past to be played museum-like Oldies stations. Their Rock’n’Roll didn’t sound like my Rock’n’Roll.

But, it occurred to me last week that the same evolutionary forces I described to explain business success, stagnation and even bands that put out one hit wonders may also operate on the scales of musical genres.

Early bands experimented with the sound of metal, people liked it, more bands followed to fill that growing demand. At the same time bands experimented with many other sounds too, people didn’t like those and those bands either served a small following, went away or changed. Their sounds didn’t expand into genres.

Eventually, metal bands created a body of music that made up the Heavy Metal genre and at some point that genre was generating income to make a lot of folks comfortable and reduce the desire and incentives to continue to experiment to push new material into genre.

Much like how Oldies were largely a relic in my childhood, Heavy Metal is pretty much a relic today. Heavy Metal is like a mature business, a past success that becomes the life blood of a bureaucrat.

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8 thoughts on “What happened to Heavy Metal?

  1. I went through a time where I could not find new music to listen too after being a big Metallica, Pantera, Nirvana fan. But then I found Mastodon (try Blood Mountain and Crack the Skye), Opeth (try Ghost Reveries and Watershed), Dillinger Escape Plan and Beyond the Board and Me.
    They created a new found enjoyment for different genres of Metal, progressive, progressive death metal and Mathcore, along with progressive rock.

    Let me know what you think!

      • Yeah, I think so too (I don’t listen to the radio anymore though). But I think there is a lot fewer bands that gain huge support like Nirvana or Metallica in the early 90’s, not just metal but across all genres.

  2. i think its a bit odd that we classify music into ‘genres’ at all. ive always thought that that an individuals aesthetic sense is as unique as anything about them. i wonder if any twins studies have been done.

    • They had to sort albums at the record stores in some fashion to make it easier for customers to find what they were looking for and perhaps find more stuff they might be interested in.

      Or, perhaps it was radio stations specializing in certain types of music that spawned the genre.

  3. I agree with dave. I discussed this with a friend, we frequently like one or two bands from a certain genre but not many others. I can easily listen to Mumford & Sons, then go to Opeth (progressive death metal) on my ipod and love it.

  4. I agree with on finding recent metal songs or bands. One place I found leads was Samm Dunn’s Metal Evolution. There is a movie and a series. In the movie he presents his mighty metal genre chart.
    I’m having a hard time finding his chart online and I’m too cheap to buy the movie.

    I’ve turned to German bands (Megaherz & Rammstein) for my metal fixes. I don’t really care that I can’t understand it as long as it’s not the uber low, gutteral singing like Meshuggah.

    Listening to internet stations and small clubs offer excellent opportunities to find new bands. Mushroomhead is a favorite that doesn’t get airplay but does small club tours. I do use soundhound to figure out the song/band.

    Wikipedia tends to offer up other projects from band members as well.

    And lastly, our station in the Cities is 93x (KXXR) pretty much sucks. A station from my hometown, 98.9 the Rock, is far superior. A few friends up here agree and have the 98.9 app streaming.

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