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Welcome to “Question of the Week,” a (sometimes) weekly debate amongst the MetalSucks staff regarding a recent hot button issue.
This week, Anso DF suggested the Question of the Week; unfortunately, he did so before Slipknot announced that they’re headlining the Sonisphere Festival this year, so it doesn’t seem quite as relevant anymore. Still, it was a fun question to answer, so:
TO WHAT EXTENT WOULD A SLIPKNOT BREAK-UP BE BAD FOR METAL?
The MS staff’s answers after the jump.
I’m guessing that a lot of my MS Mansion cohorts will argue that Slipknot are a gateway band that get a lot of kids into real metal so therefore a Slipknot break-up would be bad for metal and blah blah blah… which is true. But if Slipknot weren’t around there’d be some other band to take their place in that role, so I’m going to reach the same conclusion (a Slipknot break-up would be bad for metal) via a different argument.
In 2010 there are very few superstar metal acts. Used to be that a metal act could reach arena-level popularity in one or two albums, but these days the vaunted arena headline tour is achievable by very few that aren’t legacy acts. It took Slipknot ten years to get there, but they’re a huge force to be reckoned with these days. “So what’s the big deal? Slipknot can headline arenas. So what.” The big deal is that having a huge band like Slipknot around is an important economic boost for the metal scene. We need big bands like Slipknot, just a small handful, to bring money in so the folks behind the scenes — record labels, managers, agents, etc — can make money that they can then put into developing smaller acts which will inevitably lose them money. Having huge bands around is a vital part of the metal economy, and that one of those bands today is Slipknot — who, thankfully, are way less deplorable than, say, Disturbed — is a bonus.
Taking an economic viewpoint on the matter might seem cold, but it’s reality: money-wise, having Slipknot around is great for the entirety of the metal world.
There are gateways bands that I find acceptable because I think there’s actually kinda something to them, and there are gateways bands that I think are just total garbage. And while I have no scientific evidence that a Slipknot fan is more likely to start listening to what I’d consider “good” metal than, say, a Limp Bizkit fan, I can point out that Joey Jordison wrote the liner notes for a Deicide compilation and was supposed to tour with Satyricon, while Fred Durst made The Longshots. Just putting that out there.
Immensely bad. Slipknot is a sort of Fisher-Price My First Metal Band that introduces metal to kids aged 7-13 who are just starting to understand music as something more than ad jingles and the odd Beatles jam. Just tremble to consider the loud rock bands who battle for the all-important pre-teen dollar — each of which grows stronger and richer in Slipknot’s absence and who therefore wield the power to derail/delay immersion into metal for young would-be fans: My Chemical Romance (sigh), Linkin Park (dear god), Nickelback (barf!), and possibly the hunky haircut bands with the sentence names (varies). For the love of Geoff, the next best option is Rihanna with Nuno. Now sure, Slipknot was already squandering the opportunity to at least diminish the damage to metal’s market share wrought by Metallica’s fucked up post-Justice stuff. (At one point, Slipknot had the juice to ram extreme metal into the mainstream. That would’ve help the financial health and all-around juju of the Gojiras and Behemoths and, yes, Opeths and Meshuggahs out there. Instead, Slipknot opted to feature softball tracks like “Duality” and “Before I Forget.”) So imagine that even Slipknot’s wimpy victim-rock ceases and with it closes a window to metal fandom for thousands of energetic, spendy kids. Metal people like you will be hearing more and more often that “I didn’t get into metal until the tardy age of 22” and shit like that. One cane hope, but there’s no guarantee that another metal band will have the muscle and support to reach Slipknot levels of visibility; fuck, it’s amazing that Slipknot did!
Slipknot has had exactly zero impact on me, the bands I listen to, my listening habits or my awareness of metal, so you may as well ask “To what extent would a Slipknot break-up be bad for the environment?” That question would at least have a sensible answer, since I bet the band would significantly increase its carbon footprint by taking nine separate tour buses on the same routes where one would previously suffice. Anyhoo, I don’t think it would be good or bad. Slipknot has introduced a whole lot of kids to more extreme music, and for that I’m grateful. But they’re also terrible, and the mask gimmick was DOA, and the kiddies will find something else to buy, and the natural world order will be restored. And there was evening, and there was morning, forever and ever amen.
I personally think it would have quite a significant impact on metal. Slipknot aren’t metal so much themselves, but they are a fantastic gateway band. Tons of kids progress from nu metal like Korn and Slipknot to melodeath and then to the really good death metal, etc (at least when I last checked). So if they broke up, I don’t think that metal itself would experience a drop in popularity — but I do believe that fewer kids and teens would get into metal, and thus the influx of new metalheads would decrease over time.
Okay, kiddies, now it’s your turn! Weigh in with your answer to the question of the week below.
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