“This is silly.”

That was what was running through my head as I was reading an article by former Handshake, Inc. label boss David Hall over at CLRVYNT. He pontificated in rapturous fashion about how metal, once pure and innocent, is going through its death throes due, in no small part, to San Francisco’s favorite punching bags not named Colin Kaepernick, Deafheaven, their release of the infamous Sunbather album, and ultimately Ray-Ban™ slamming the coffin shut by endorsing them. Yep, silly. Many people have commented either for or against Hall’s insane rambling and myopic word salad, and many rebuttals have been typed in response (including from CLRVYNT themselves). Hell, I wanted to stay out of that particularly pointless battle royale to focus on far less trivial matters, but it did bring back some memories, and thus made me want to toss my own two pennies into this squared circle of insanity.

But first, a story. Once upon a time, twenty-odd years ago, I grew up in a sleepy town in New Hampshire that was famous for three things: Alan Shepard, Hood Ice Cream, and Pam Smart. As I’ve stated in previous comments, I didn’t click well with kids my age at the time. And like other kids my age, I clicked with the message of metal music in alarming fashion. Hearing bands like AnacrusisBolt ThrowerAt The GatesAmorphis, etc. brought me a sense of comfort and belonging. The music said, “Dude, no matter the shit that’s thrown your way, this music will be there.” As such, I guarded the music I loved, protecting it from being listened to by those who I deemed unworthy. So when a band I loved reached a bigger audience, either by maturation of sound or by changing their style significantly, I took umbrage. “HOW DARE THEY SELL OUT AND GAIN FANS?” I would scoff as jocks, trendsetters, and other people who gave me grief growing up for various reasons were suddenly enjoying my music, my safe haven, and my outlet. That very thing that was keeping me together was now being pandered to the very people I was protecting it against. How. Dare. They? Then something amazing happened, an epiphany that struck through the heavens, and hit my jaded, bitter soul, and caused me to stand back, and opened up my world view on life and metal music.

Plainly put, I chilled out and grew the fuck up.

Metal musicians, contrary to popular belief, aren’t rich. Okay, MetallicaIron Maiden, et al are, but work with me here for a second. Back in the 90s, death, doom, and black metal bands were touring their asses off, and making little to no return in doing so. Some of these musicians (GASP!) may even have kids to feed, or a house to pay for. Maybe they got sick and tired of driving for hours upon hours in a beat-up van, playing to maybe 20 people if they’re lucky, and then coming home to more debt, more bills, a fuck-ton of merch, and maybe even a bad habit or two. Metal music, for the most part, is not a profit-rich genre of music, so I get why bands either change members like most people change profile pics on Facebook, switch to more profitable genres of music, or just throw in the towel altogether. In an ideal world, your favorite band would be making mint by playing their hearts out, and killing it on stage, knowing that their music is being heard and they’re getting paid. But in reality, music is readily downloaded illegally by people whose tastes in music change as quick as they can snicker “Covfefe.”

So when I finished reading Hall’s exercise in jogging in dubious circles, I was both dismayed and confused. Dismayed because, in this day and age, there are still people who cling to that ridiculous mindset that only the Elite need apply here, and all the wimps, poseurs, and other riff-raff need to leave the hall. Confused because, of all the bands to go after for selling out to the masses by hooking up with a major company, why did Deafheaven of all bands bother you? Seriously. Were you not around when headbands with logos by AerosmithIron MaidenMetallica, and the like were being peddled at various amusement parks in the 80s? I was, and it happened. Also, did we forget that Dimmu Borgir were shilling on the back page of Decibel Magazine, hawking footwear? Not just any massive boots like, say, Wesco or Carolina, but fucking Converse? When the fuck has Shagrath and company ever gone on stage, in full panda facepaint, sporting spiked gauntlets and more leather than a Friday night at the Boston Ramrod, and kicked it in Chuck Taylors? Exactly. Scion A/V handling production costs for various bands? Right. Also, KISS and everything under the sun. But yeah, Deafheaven brought corporate money into metal. Okay.

Finally, one other bone to pick about metal being too image-conscious. Umm… hi? All music is image-conscious. All. Of. It. Do you want to see Madonna performing “Like a Prayer” in a cat t-shirt and Cheeto-stained sweatpants? Or how about Marduk sporting man-buns and rompers while blasting away on stage? No? Guess what? There’s a reason for that, and yet for all your talk of how metal “needs a great big dick in its mouth to calm it down and stroke its melodramatic ego,” you somehow penned an article almost as embarrassing as that one time a dude tried to convince everyone at MetalSucks that women made better vocalists in metal than men, and gloriously tripped and landed on his face when his frontwoman of choice he used to prove a point… was a guy.1 And the biggest thing of all? If what Deafheaven is doing bothers you, use all that vitriolic energy that was spent puking up one of the most inane diatribes this side of Alex Jones to promote other bands. It really is that simple.

Look, I don’t know David Hall. I know a few people who write for CLRVYNT, and they seem like good people, as are many writers and bloggers throughout the Internet. And yes, I also have a problem with the amount of co-opting in music period, let alone in metal. But if Hall could just focus on why this is a problem and maybe expand upon it a little he might have made an interesting point. Instead he opted for insulting the music we all love just for shock value, while attacking its new fans for discovering it, and using just one band that comes from a long line of metal groups joining the Corporate Bandwagon as his questionable example. As it stands, it’s a poorly-worded rant that had potential, but sputtered spectacularly, and this is not what metal music needs. Metal is not the fucking worst, but the toxicity spewed by certain elitists in the genre sure as fuck is.

Steel Addendum:

While I concur with all Brother Grymm writes above, I’d also like to add Mr. Hall has an imperfect understanding of his metal history. Firstly, if you go with the proposition that Black Sabbath released the first widely acknowledged metal album, as Mr. Hall appears to do, then doom was the original metal genre from which all others flowed, not something that evolved later.

More importantly, all his ranting and invective about how Deafheaven forever killed metal is so wildly delusional it smacks of a scorned lover’s rage. At no time was metal as commercial as it was in the 1980s. Metal ran around the clock on MTV, gained major exposure on mainstream radio and even entered popular consciousness through the evening news as metal luminaries like Dee Snider testified intelligently before Congress against the perceived censorship of the PMRC. If a little commercialization was enough to end metal, KISS would have killed it in the crib during the 70s (before or exactly at the point they released a hit disco song which reached far more ears than Deafheaven ever will).

Small points maybe, but since I’m a life-long metal fan, I must be a small, petty man.

Show 1 footnote

  1. And this argument needs to be put to bed for good. It shouldn’t matter one bit if someone is male or female if they’re fucking bringing their all in a performance. Quality, not genitalia.

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  • Marc Rikmenspoel

    Metal must truly be the worst. If it was any good, you’d hear it on the radio, right? Instead, you need to seek it out on sites with comical names like Bandcamp. This one time….

  • Ironwood_Druid

    Wow, that Hall article is a rambling incoherent mess. The entire argument that Metal deserves to be attacked for commercializing is a weak one at heart. We live in a Capitalist society, that may not be the greatest thing, but hey, its reality. Bands need to make money. And in 2017, Metal is nowhere near the top of the profit charts in the music business. Look at us here on this site, we have to directly support many of the bands we love through Bandcamp or other means because half of them barely have a label. Some might be lucky to sell 200 copies of an album. Of all the genres to pick on for being overtly commercial, in a time when most Pop music is manufactured by algorithms, big data, and two guys at a computer engineering hits for 17 “Artists” in one fell swoop, speaking as he does makes Hall look severely out of touch with the state of music in general. And economics.

    • Grymm

      Right? And I don’t know about you, but if I heard a band that I love and I think they’re awesome and talented, I’d want as many people to check them out and, most importantly, buy their music and merchandise, see them live if/when possible, and do everything in my power to ensure they keep creating music that I/we love.

      How is this a difficult concept to grasp?

      • Ironwood_Druid

        Exactly. How one can hold success or marketing against a band in this era is beyond me. We live in a society of noise. Constant and unrepentant marketing and advertising. If you want to get noticed you have to try, and that is not something that should be used as a cudgel to criticize groups who are striving for an audience or a chance. I mean geez, if someone told me Wilderun got some great label that was going to spread them far and wide, I’d throw my hands up and cheer, not grumble angrily.

        • Westpaceagle

          Agree on all of that. I hate Deafheaven because their music and vibe is all wrong. I am not mad at them for getting paid at all. More power to those dudes and it’s nothing personal. I would just highly prefer that bands that I think are good get more $ and hype, because I am self centered and need affirmation. And I reserve the right to scoff at hipsters and cast their forays into metal as questionable.

    • I’ll admit to be gravely troubled in 1992 when my college bar played “Enter Sandman” and all the girls ran to the dance floor to jump around to it. However, I still followed the band loyally until they made me St. Angry.

      • Ironwood_Druid

        Fair enough haha

      • Lone Biker of the Apocalypse

        Exactly, and I admit to often believing in this paradoxically perplexing statement:

        “I want all my favorite underground bands to be wildly rich and successful, but I don’t want very many people to like or listen to them.”

        • Grymm

          Amen. I’ve been guilty of it as well.

        • Bas

          Best comment!!!

        • Westpaceagle

          Even better- I want to be the first one who discovers obscure unheralded metal bands that then become wildly popular but still kvlt!

          • Before experience indignation when all the “posers” discovers your hidden gem.
            Guilty as charged.

        • Well, through stuff like Patreon, that *could* happen. We’re heading to a point where the goal to living off your art is to make money from a set of dedicated fans, rather than aiming for small contributions from the masses.

      • Frost15

        I must be one of the few Metallica fans who love their early glorious days AND St.Anger haha!

    • Ironwood_Druid

      Also, as an addendum, I have trouble thinking of any other genre that has the thematic and tonal diversity of Metal in today’s contemporary music scene. There’s just so much always going on, across such a wide range of sub-genres. And sure, while some of it can get repetitive on an insular level in regards to trends etc., its always far more diverse than what is happening in the mainstream alternative, pop or rock scenes. At least to me.

      • Dudeguy Jones

        I always feel that this is something that seems to be very easily forgotten, yet entirely overlooked on a near constant basis.

      • Dave Shellenberger

        I’ve always been annoyed by the people who claim all metal sounds the same. They clearly have not listened to enough metal.

    • Meriyas

      Rambling incoherent mess is an understatement, the article is one contradiction after another that sounds like it was written by someone who dropped out of primary school because sentences were too foreign a construct. There are so many one word sentences in that article and none of them have the impact that he wants them to have, like the all caps part towards the end. It comes across like an “impact piece” at open mic night at the local hipster cafe/bar that would finish with a mic drop and 2 people clapping awkwardly for a couple of seconds. Then from impact sentences to tantrumesque statements like: “ultimately led to ‘blackgaze’, which, in my opinion, was the death knell of metal, and it’s where we are now, and it really sucks and is shitty and it’s the fucking worst” where you can just picture him hugging is pillow and crying out in little bursts through the tears.

      What we should do is just support the artists we love by purchasing the art that they create and trying to spread the word to others. I know I would love it if more metal was played than rap and pop music, it’s never likely to happen, but it’s a genre that shows constant creativity and a man can dream that the masses may one day open up to said creativity and appreciate metal for the diverse and exciting genre that it is.

  • Diego Molero

    “If what Deafheaven is doing bothers you, use all that vitriolic energy that was spent puking up one of the most inane diatribes this side of Alex Jones to promote other bands. It really is that simple.”

    I think is even more simple. If you don’t like what Deafheaven (or any other band/artist), then don’t fucking listen to it.

    • Good band btw!

      • Diego Molero

        I honestly haven’t heard Deafheaven, not even one song, not because of the “reputation” they have, I simply keep on forgetting. But I will, soon.

        • JeremyZero

          They’re really quite good actually.

        • Gustav Petrovic

          Boring dreck.

        • Pointless monotonous happy-black. Rather “meh” at best. The fuss is about as much a non-issue as the Hall article itself.

          To be honest, I hate it. But I don’t pay attention or give a rats ass. Thus, I’m probably not an elitist hater. But just wait till I become really old and grumpy.

          • Diego Molero

            I don’t think I’ll hate it, but I also don’t think that I will like it. But people have a lot ox mixed opinions, so I’m curious. Perhaps later today I give it a listen and hear for myself.

          • Do that, and make up your own mind.
            We all have different likings. Gotta respect that.
            Variety in tast is also a spice of life.

  • hallowed

    Yeah, heavy metal or no metal at all, whimps and posers leave
    the hall.

  • John

    Dude. Outstanding. What a great read first thing on the weekend.

  • TheCurlyMetalhead

    Agree 100%! Elitism is the worst thing about this beautiful thing called Metal which all of us here live for and the 80’s were the definition of as many people call it “selling out”. Don’t like it? Then don’t fucking listen to it. And Deafheaven is a good band imo. Metal is evolving every day and I dont see an issue with combining genres as long as it is good. Have a nice day everyone :D

  • Dr. Wvrm

    Expected :jorn:, got no :jorn:, Ø/10

    • Life is pain.

      • Morgoth

        I’m Mr. Steel Druhm! Look at me!

        • Who summoned Morgoth?

        • Dr. Wvrm

          Hi Mr. Steel Druhm! Can you help me take two strokes off David’s douche game?

          • Morgoth

            Yessiree! Caaan do!

  • GardensTale

    This guy needs to get laid.

    Grymm, I mean, as a reward for writing this.

    • Headbanging for the masses!

    • sir_c

      There’s a reason metalists take the left-hand path :-)

  • Drew Music

    I definitely understand the frustration of seeing something that was once more or less yours get scarfed down by the masses with little more consideration than the interest of a passing fad, but my issue there has always been with the fans themselves, never the band. Well, In Flames can pretty much unfuck themselves any day now, but other than that my malice is usually reserved for those who glob onto stuff when it’s trendy and disregard it when it’s no longer hip. Whether it’s for you or not, all of the music in all the genres is the result of sweat, blood and tears; art was never meant to be a commodity to be cast aside or unanalyzed, I could never fault any band for finding a way to make ends meet with their music, it just sucks when you see people who, for lack of a better phrase, just don’t get it.
    Ultimately, people just suck, but metal is good.

    • Hell is other people.

      • Hell is other people’s taste in music. Unless they like what I like.

      • Drew Music

        Amen.

    • Genezer

      this!

      I don’t stop going to bands because they become bigger, I stop going because I don’t want to deal with all the fucktards who need to Facebook their precense at these gigs and discuss their marriage or work totally ignoring these great bands that are creating art right in front of them. So I just support the bands by buying their albums and merch.

      • Drew Music

        I personally miss the days before cell phones were the everyday commodity they are now. I don’t predate the cell by any stretch, but I remember when you wouldn’t dream of seeing a crowd of people with their faces buried in their Nokia bricks. And at a concert? The very thought.
        People just suck, simple as that.

        • Gustav Petrovic

          Smoke filled arenas with thousands of lighters held aloft was awesome. Glad I was around back in those days…

  • Martin Knap

    There is something to be said about the idea that art can not be a mere consumer product / object of consumption, but of course there is no substantial difference between how Deafheaven and any old metal band markets it’s music and how their audience listens to them – so making a fuss about them is besides the point.

  • Westpaceagle

    I really really dislike deafheaven, but somehow i have been able to go on living my life and devoting energy and money to a bunch of metal that I really do like. This seems to work just fine.

    • That’s the thing. Is the man not able to decide where to put his attention himself? I mean, was jazz ruined because Norah Jones became popular? Who cares what watered down pap is played in a Ray-Ban commercial somewhere when all this other stuff is readily available to anyone bothering to look.

  • According to most of the documentals I’ve seen before, black metal’s still a norwegian cultural good for international export. Take that, elitist man!

  • And so Dethklok is the seventh largest economy in the entire fuckin’ world!

    • Westpaceagle

      That’s just science. You can’t argue with science.

  • rumour_control

    “I ain’t got time to bleed.”

  • Dagoth_RAC

    Many people have a tendency to think that the ways things were when they were young are the way things had *always* been up to that point. And any changes that have occurred in their lifetime are an ominous violation of the natural order.

    Thus politicians who are incapable of seeing that the world changed just as much (if not more) between 1895 and 1955 as between 1955 and 2015, yet somehow see the modern world as a perversion of a rose-colored, unchanging, idyllic America that existed from 1776 to 1955.

    The same holds true for metal. Metal has been so unpopular and underground for so long now that there are multiple generations who see any kind of bubbling up into the mainstream as a violation of what makes metal what it is. But metal has been popular in the past (far more popular, actually) and it neither killed the underground or the genre. Some of us were actually there to see it in person! Third-rate Sunset strip hair metal bands were getting multi-million dollar major label deals at same time that Celtic Frost, Mercyful Fate, Death, Fates Warning, Candlemass, etc, etc., were getting started. And those bands have gone on to have far more influence and legacy than any of the popular, mainstream metal bands of the time.

    Metal will survive just fine and thrive, both the metal you like and the metal you don’t like (and there is plenty of both for all of us) despite what freakin’ Deafheaven of all bands do.

    • According to David Hall, it almost sounds as if the “holy” bible predicts the coming of Deafheaven and how it marks the end time of the metal genre.
      I never listened to Deafheaven, and I’m quite positive absolutely nothing has changed.

  • I read Hall’s article. I mean incoherent rant. And I found nothing to really grasp onto. He’s all over the place and any points he tries to make are so non-specific as to leave most of the interpretation up to the reader. What on earth is he even trying to say? I don’t know and I don’t care. Something something Deafhaven was commercialized and black gaze became a thing and somehow this makes metal the worst…??? Yeah, ok sunshine, whatever you say.

    • Holy mother of Baal, I seriously have to wipe my tears now. I hate abbreviations, especially the overused “LOL”, but I believe LOL is very apt in this case. That last sentence still fucking kills me :D

  • Lars Barres

    Did not read Hall’s article. Did not read much of this article. Sounds like Hall’s writing is just clickragebait to get people talking about it and clicking all the links – and it worked! CLRVYNT is happy (whatever CLRVYNT is). Or maybe Hall was just wasted when he wrote it. Or he’s a numbskull. I do not know.

    All I do know is I came here because I didn’t read the heading and thought that crying baby face was an album cover. So I figured it was a review for some awful new prog metal album that would be funny to read. I am disappoint.

    • I kind of agree. The Hall article is pretty much a total non-issue. It is merely one mans silly opinions, not shared by me or my peers. He opens so offensively that I don’t care to read it, and seemingly makes no valid points what so ever.
      Why care? CLRVYNT (whatever CLRVYNT is) should not have printed it, and it should have been drowned in silence.
      But as it is, at least Grymm and Steel gave it a credible rational rant.

  • Mollusc

    Great point about needing to earn money to live. Playing metal at any level means dedication, expensive gear and maybe not having many young women in the audience (if that’s your thing!). I think we’re lucky that many of our favourite albums exist at all.

  • Janclaudevandamage

    Metal in all its guises is pretty simple with its us against the world mentality. Sadly too many people who take themselves far to seriously lose sight of this or never knew it in the first place, pontificate irrelevant nonsense and believe themselves to be some sort of spokesperson and trendsetter everyone must listen to and hang on to their every word as if they were the messiah (more like python’s naughty little boy). The elitist has been with us a long time but with the internet they have spread their wings (and vitriol) far and wide and as a result are taken far to seriously. Music is music, it won’t change the world but it does provide a pretty fucking good soundtrack to it…

  • Lone Biker of the Apocalypse

    The very first sentence of Hall’s article is as follows:

    “Is there any other genre of music that is so self-absorbed, so desperate
    for validation, so pathetically obsessed with itself, so childish and
    image-conscious, so accepting of conformity and mediocrity as metal?”

    Yes – yes there is. You could say that about rap, country, jazz, classical, hip-hop, techno, and on and on. Any die-hards in ANY genre, try hard to be validated, to be obsessed, to be image conscious, and accept many mediocre artists.

    It just doesn’t seem like it because you and I are not a hardcore part of any of those subcultures.

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    There are some minor fair points in Hall’s manic ravings, but his idiotic Marxist conclusion (money corrupts everything! Capitalism is evil! Revolution!) destroys any kernels of sense present entirely. Money being involved will doubtlessly lead to some pandering garbage, but that’s the nature of any business. But it certainly does good too; Iron Maiden was better when their gatekeepers were concerned with money and wouldn’t let them make overlong records for cost reasons, and the fertile market for re-releases has introduced newer and/or younger ‘heads to amazing stuff like Morbid Saint, Massacra, Gorelust, Nocturnus, and the like.

    Hall offers no solution like the typical Marxist he seems to be. Remove capitalism from metal! Okay, then what? How will copyrights work, because they’re private property, the cornerstone of capitalism? Who will pay Erik Rutan to spend long days and nights recording death metal bands at Mana? Or Swano at Unisound? Should the State just fully fund any and all art deemed “worthy” by super-special geniuses like Mr. Hall? What if a bureaucrat doesn’t like death-thrash? We just wait until the Office of Metallic Music appoints one who does before we get new Slaughterer? Like Marx, Hall wants all the benefits of a capitalist legal order without any of the stuff he doesn’t like; he’s a utopian bore who couldn’t be bothered to think through his ramblings before advocating removing a major part of what made all he likes possible in the first place.

    • The Orb

      There’s a lot to defend in Marx from these straw-man critiques, but my favorite metal blog probably isn’t the place. I will say, though, to lump this blathering moron David Hall with one of the most important political thinkers of all time is a lot bit too much.

      • Matthew

        Also if anyone is actually interested in some Marxist critiques of culture and art under conditions of Capitalism then punching ‘Theodor Adorno Culture Industry’ into your nearest search engine would be a good start

      • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

        It’s fine that you like Marx and/or disagree with me, but I fail to see where any straw-manning happened there.

      • herrschobel

        Mr. Diabolus has a profund aversion against Mr. Marx that is somewhat troubling but in the end his own weird little problem.

    • Iain Gleasure

      The philosophy critiques can’t be stopped! Still at least your’re an Admiral now, you can pull rank or people who disagree.

      Plus you weren’t fired. Good News

    • Gustav Petrovic

      The band Triumph partly owes their early success to a loan from the “Toronto Musician’s Credit Union”. I wouldn’t completely knock public support for the arts.

    • herrschobel

      sorry,,, but you can´t imagine another way than old Marx Vs Capitalism in how Bands/ Musicians can make revenue ?? You really need to update your take on Socialism / Anarchism and modern Marxism. i really recommend ‘Realm of Lesser Evil ‘ by Jean Claude Michea who very elaborately explains how certain principles that are rooted in Marxist Tradition, combined with good old Decency could work very well for all the Arts and Society in General. You know ‘ we the people for the people’ ???

      • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

        I more said that that was all there was to Hall’s largely bad critique, and then said Hall’s critique was wrong because even in its own bubble it doesn’t hold up. Thanks for the rec nonetheless, will see if I can find a copy around!

        • herrschobel

          That must be because Hall is a fool

    • Riddler Green

      You should investigate a good little project called “The Venus Project”, Extremely well thought out concept of a future without money. And check out the book by Jacque Fresco “The best that money can’t buy”, very good read.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Despite the constant elitism, rebuttals, and how Metal is not the fucking worst covfefe

  • Mistophant

    “How about Marduk sporting man-buns and rompers while blasting away on stage?”
    To be completely honest I would pay money to see that.

    • Sadly, so would I.

      • Grymm

        Me too.

    • Tofu muncher

      Anyone got the youtube link?

  • rumour_control

    Well-played, Grymm.

  • Bas

    I want to see more Steel Grymm !

    Ps
    Bands/people that are different and stick their heads out, get more known than average, are alway the target of scorn and discrimination. Sadly..

  • Eli Valcik

    Lol, suck a fat cock David Hall. But besides that what pisses me off is when someone gets all mad at me for liking underground.

  • Stefunal

    I really do not understand where the hell the problem is supposed to lie with “commercialism” in metal, or “sell-outs” for that matter. Usually it seems that these more successful bands become the gateway into a beautiful metal addiction for many of us (don’t deny it, you’ve been a shithead without a hint of musical taste as well at some point).

    I’d like to thank Grymm sincerely for writing this.
    The thing I’d like to point out however is how these temporarily fads really help out the community at large (IMO of course, I’m not a specialist at all). Since I’ve just turned adult a year ago or so I haven’t discovered metal before 2013-ish, and would you believe it, the fads were that brought me here (and most of us, I suspect). Especially with the post-nineties-generation, many of us would not get into the Darkthrones, Mayhems and Morbid Angels if it weren’t for the Sabatons, the Linkin Parks and the Killswitch Engages we started out with (and the Dimmu Borgirs and probably Deafheavens that made us appreciate the concept of extreme metal in the first place).

    Also, unlike Grymm, I’ve always wanted more people in my world (school, primarily) to like, enjoy and share my passion to metal as well. For the longest time I didn’t have anyone to discuss music with, and having the occasional late Metallica or Nightwish track at hand really helped me to spark interest and further conversations about the genre, sometimes going so far as making one check out the proper stuff and getting them drawn in. That’s why I’ll be forever grateful to commercial, whiny, cringy and totally hip sellout-pussy-mallcore.

    • Gateway metal.

      • Eli Valcik

        Yep, unfortunately most of my metal friends are still in this phase, they may nevery get out *sigh*. The happiest I’ve ever been was when I met a guy and we talked about the new khemmis album. That’s is how rare I meet “stage 2 metal fans” tm.

        • Stefunal

          I know that feeling too well. Never really met anyone who really knew stuff about metal until I moved to Germany, but I feel like I’m in metal paradise over here.

          Guess that people being trapped in gateway metal is the one downside to its existence, really.

          • Eli Valcik

            Yeah tell me about it. I’m planning a trip to Norway, so I’ll be in a metal paradise soon enough. Can’t wait.

        • Nukenado

          Honestly, that just means that they’re probably not into metal. And honestly I think that’s okay…

          If my friends can only take Nightwish, then let them listen to Nightwish. It’s something more metal-y that we both can enjoy.

          My approach to gateway bands are to stop thinking of them as bands to get people to listen to metal… And just non-metal bands. Hey, if they still can’t take the metal bands, I should just be grateful that there’s some semi-metal we can talk about.

      • Dagoth_RAC

        My teenage cousin worked at the Musicland store in the mall in 1983 when I was 8 years old. He could get an employee discount on cassette tapes and asked me if I wanted anything. I wanted the tape of the last song I had seen on MTV before he inquired: “Metal Health” by Quiet Riot.

        It warped my fragile little mind and here we are, 34 years later.

    • Eli Valcik

      This is a weird topic for me because I’m 18 but I grew up on Dark throne, Immortal, Mayhem ect. So my not so distant youth was spent wishing my three metal fans would grow out of metal core.

  • Westpaceagle

    This article and comments board shows again why AMG is the best metal community out there.

  • Thatguy

    Thanks, Grymm. Didn’t read Hall’s article and I don’t see why I should bother, but your essay is excellent and true. Or should it be trve?

  • Dr_Fisting

    A few stray thoughts about all this:

    1. Part of the reason bands endorse random stuff is because record sales don’t keep them afloat anymore. Touring has also become somewhat prohibitively expensive, especially internationally. Regardless of what the dude at Clrvynt may think, I doubt that anyone in Deafheaven is rolling around in piles of money Indecent Proposal-style. If I’m a guy in an underground band, and Ray-Ban is the thing that’s gonna allow me to keep making my art instead of getting a real job, then you’re damn right I’m gonna do it. This is not called commercialism, that’s called survival. This is not so different from those EPs that Scion sponsored a few years back, or even having a Patreon account.

    2. Appearing in an ad for sunglasses doesn’t affect a band’s musical output whatsoever. If you want to talk sellout moves, we can discuss things like “Turbo,” “Cold Lake,” the sketchiness surrounding Ozzy’s first 3 albums, the Earache/Columbia merger in the ’90s, etc etc. All of which were things that actually DID compromise those bands’ output to some extent.

    3. So much of this really comes down to metal culture, and keeping it separate from “normal people.” I don’t care about Deafheaven at all, but they do create a situation where I’m now watching a Carcass show next to a bunch of dudes with pastel polo shirts and asshole haircuts — people who would normally want nothing to do with me, and vice versa. (see also: all the Nascar dads who started going to Metallica shows after 1996).

    Excellent work as always, Grymm, and definitely some food for thought.

    • Tofu muncher
      • Nukenado

        I actually want that shirt. Hope it also comes with a pastel-colored version of the Atoma album cover.

      • jabba

        I also want this shirt. Where do I get it?

      • This is awesome.

      • sathriel

        The fuck is that? GLORIOUS!

    • Reading all the reflected thoughts in this here comment section almost makes a man proud of all the thorough contemplative viewpoints among souls who are as equal minded as separate individual opinions permits.

    • razerwolf

      I agree with points 1 and 2 completely there. If a band is making whatever money and endorsing whatever products but their records are still good then cool. Do whatever works for you as long as you keep kicking ass sonically.

      Point 3 though; thing is, how do you know those guys with pastel polo shirts and asshole haircuts _are_ the kind of guys who’d want nothing to do with you?

      Metal’s one of those weird subgenres which celebrates its outsiderness and non-conformity… but then has a specific uniform anyway, which I buy into with my long hair and beard and band shirts and jeans anyway because I guess I like to be easily identifiable as a “rocker” of some kind. But then again I’m also lucky that I have a well paying IT job which isn’t client-facing and I can get away with long hair and tattoos.

      I entirely could have made that image sacrifice to improve my chances at employability when I was looking for jobs in London, and ironically that might have given me more disposable income which I would have been spending on albums, gigs and merch. I very easily could have ended up being some normal looking joe in a shirt and a trendy haircut when I went to see Anaal Nathrakh playing in a pub around the corner from my office in Camden.

      As it was, I’d chosen to cultivate my image to fit in more in my cultural life than my work life and I was just some other hairy dude bouncing around a tiny mosh pit. But I could just as easily have been getting the side-eye from folk even though I’d been listening to Nathrakh since Codex Necro.

      I guess my point is that metal fans, as a community, need to remember not to be judgemental and just enjoy the bands we enjoy.

      • Dr_Fisting

        As a short-haired, minimally-tattooed person who’s been told he ‘cleans up nicely’, I’ve been on both ends of the “not metal enough” thing. And yes, a lot of it is judgmental bullshit, and we should all be able to just enjoy music together for what it is. My point was more about lifestyle than image — imagine trying to watch a Hatebreed show next to all the jocks who beat you up in high school, for example.

        • razerwolf

          Yeah I mean I guess that could be a bit jarring. I suppose sometimes shit people can be into good music though. Granted, all my class’s jocks were into Hip Hop and I’d have been fucking surprised seeing any of them when I went to see SoaD or Rammstein.

          • Dr_Fisting

            Interesting. Most of my class’ jocks were listening to precisely SoaD and Rammstein (well, “Du Hast” at least).

      • sathriel

        This is typical tribal bullshit. People define themselves by what they like and any outsiders are treated with disdain or hostility.

        The thing is many normie looking people are into metal and many metal fans listen to different genres. But people like to categorize everything neatly to make more sense of a chaos that this messed up world is.

        Metal fans are as guilty of it as any other group. Of course this is just another generalisation because many metal fans are using their brains.

  • Nahuel Benvenuto

    good article, you want to know who is really an “elitist” idiot? the admins at metal archives

    • herrschobel

      so very true

  • Caio

    I’m curious. To you, Steel Druhm, which was the first true Heavy Metal album released? To me, it’s Black Sabbath debut, even if they sound more like Doom than classic Metal. I also tend not to count Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple as metal bands. To me, the former is more of a Hard Rock band with heavy blues influence and the later a traditional Hard Rock band.

    • I’d never argue against the first Sabbath album, but for my money it was the first Blue Cheer album which came a year earlier.

      • Caio

        I’ve just listened to it. Indeed, it has various elements that would later evolve into the metal that we all love. Though, I would not classify this as “Heavy Metal”. It sounds almost like it, but I think it is not, almost like Batesian mimicry (zoology concept where harmless animals presents characteristics similar to harmful species, like warning coloration, to avoid predators). Sure, metal doesn’t want to avoid people, but I stand for my comparison. So, for academic purpose, Vincebus Eruptum (1968) by Blue Cheer would be considered the first Heavy Metal album, but the album that for me (and I think for most of us) has all characteristics inherent to metal as we perceive as such today is Black Sabbath (1970). If one argue that Black Sabbath debut still is heavy Blues-influenced, Paranoid was released in the same year, a few months later. Also, Blue Cheer released two more albums between their debut and Black Sabbath debut, but I would classify them in the same category of Vincebus Eruptum. I agree with you, in some ways.

  • Nukenado

    Fuck, I read the article!
    I feel my brain cells popping.

    I don’t have much against that article that you haven’t said, Grymm. Thanks for this article. It really speaks to me.

    Also, thank God(s?) for AMG. I’ve been lurking around here for a while now, but only surfaced to rant on Angry White Elephant.
    This site is one of the best places I know on the Internet, period. The articles are engaging, the commenters are the friendliest and most well-mannered people I’ve seen, and even though my musical taste is almost exclusively restricted to the “Not Metal” tag, I can’t stop reading these reviews and I do find a metal act I can get behind.
    You guys fucking slay/rock/shred/etc. Keep on keeping the spirit of metal (and in my opinion, music) alive!

  • Mr. T

    I love deafheaven. Deafheaven are what got me interested in black metal. And i tend to like ‘hipster’ metal over the cvlt stuff, mostly because hipster metal bands tend to have more interesting musical ideas and don’t waste so much time and energy being EVIL. (I also think deafheaven don’t sound that much different than emperor, albeit with less keyboards, more guitar effects, and more lyrics about suburban angst). If you think that makes me a wimp or not a true metal head, you can eat a bowl of dicks.

    deafheaven may get a lot of press, but they are easily ignored in today’s internet culture. One of the weirdest things about metal to me is how friggin diverse it is. I read AMG, No Clean Singing, CVLT Nation, and Invisible Oranges, and there is very little overlap in coverage. All metal blogs, all focused on slightly different subgenres. Do you hate hipster metal? Rad, because there are a billion one-man black metal bands making trebly, hissy cassettes full of songs about satan. If black metal bores you, there are a billion death metal bands, or a billion power metal bands, or a billion thrash revivalist bands.

    Also, even the bands that get a ton of critical notice aren’t necessarily “big.” I saw pallbearer last month and they played a 200 person venue for 15 bucks. Inter Arma are playing the bay area in august at a tiny venue for 10 dollars. Even bands that critics drool over are pretty underground.

    In fact, it was way easier for me to get back into metal in 2014 than it was to get into metal originally in 1987, because in 1987 so much of the metal landscape was garbage like poison and winger. Then in the 90s it became nu metal bands, which I also couldn’t stand. Now metal is less a part of popular culture, and it makes it easier to make it your own.

    • Dead1

      I was watching the Lamb of God As The Palaces Burn doco. So this “super mainstream, super popular” band was playing some small crappy clubs in Czech Republic and Colombia.
      Big in metal often means terribly insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
      And the genre is so fragmented these days that even becoming as big as Lamb of God is nearly impossible, let alone as big as Iron Maiden or as massive as Metallica.

  • Dead1

    The original article is badly written but it raises some interesting points.

    Problem with Deafhaven’s corporate success is that it takes something that is meant to be anti-mainstream and anti-corporate (ie black metal or underground/extreme metal) and makes it into another corporate product. It’s the same as selling Che Guevara t-shirts and merchandise.

    Metal is more than music. Since the 1980s it’s been a subculture with certain values. People that listen to extreme metal are attracted to it for the music but also the values.
    Thus Deafhaven’s success is the worst possible outcome. It not only turns extreme metal subculture into another product but it destroys key values of that subculture.
    And bare in mind that KISS and Judas Priest and Ozzy Osbourne aren’t part of the extreme metal subculture. They were always mainstream orientated.
    Euronymous, Varg Vikernes, Mick Harris, Chuck Schuldiner, Mille Petrozza, Tom Angelripper, Dan Liker etc never wanted to be “popular.” The original intent was complete extremity with a big “fuck you” to anything perceived as commercial or mainstream (some mellowed out over time but I’m referring to original intent). Indeed Norwegian BM was an anti-consumerist backlash to “mainstream” death metal! This is the hardcore/punk ideolgocial influence that someone like Judas Priest or Ozzy or Motley Crue never fully embraced or had at all.
    Now sure it’s 2017 and most of us are old mainstream fuckers or young millenials born in an era of musical plenty and no real underground. But the original values of extreme metal are still there and there’s still many adherents to this ideology.

    • Dead1

      Forgot to mention – I realise that metal “ideology” is inherently hypocritical. Metal and even the extreme stuff was an innovator in merchandising and brand recognition (logos, mascots, cover art style).
      But the thing about ideologies (and religions) is that the human mind is very adept at simply ignoring contradictions if they want to.
      Thus Deafhaven break the rules by being mainstream by being endorsed by Rayban and LA Times, but Emperor doesn’t when they play in front of tens of thousands of fans at Hellfest or Wacken.

  • AnnieK13

    I really dislike elitism in music, in gaming and pretty much in everything. Good music is what “resonates” with you, whether its emotionally, lyrically or whatever and how well it sells and to whom it sells is irrelevant as are in all honesty others opinions.

    Interesting article and I pretty much agree.

  • Dave Shellenberger

    Nice article Grymm.

  • lennymccall

    What the hell ever. I dig Deafheaven and I’m as trve as they come…Get over yourself David Hall.

  • miradautasvras

    People got too much time on their hands! I don’t care if a band commercialized and made money. If they changed music for money, well you got bills to pay, good for you.And thanks for the old albums! As a guy whose first exposure to rock/metal music was Load ,I would say it’s great that a band commercializes-it becomes a ‘ gateway drug ‘ for a lot of people who eventually climb up (or down???) the metal ladder. And I still love Load-if Outlaw torn is sell-out just because its from a band now mega rich with cut hair- well, sir, you just missed a muthafukkin riff to the pose!

  • John Mosley

    It’s been 20 years since I’ve listened to the radio regularly, and I couldn’t care at all about what bands various articles and reviews tell me people are listening to. I seldom see people wearing more ‘mainstream’ band tees at the type of metal shows I attend. I suppose MY subjective, solipsistic appreciation for the metal that gets MY beautiful, individual, unique snowflake jollies off is my prime aesthetic consideration.

    That said, fuck the new Mastodon album.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    God damn it, I hate being late to a Grymm comments party!
    Well said sir. I hate high and mighty elitists that think other people should starve for their art. Not a big fan of Deafheaven or anything but good luck to them for getting a sponsorship…

  • herrschobel

    if you are truly cvlt you don´t care about nonsense like that article in the first place ;-) …but i understand why this upsets you… now rock on … a lot of commercially more successful Metalbands become simply boring to my ears…thats more of a problem.then again with so many bands bubbling to the surface it doesn´t really matter …