Scraping Genius Off The Wheel

Suck It and See

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It’s November, which means most if not all of your favorite music writers have been hard at work putting together those Best Of 2012 lists that nobody actually reads. This very important time of year really separates the (wo)men from the (wo)boys, as kingmaker critics and doe-eyed aspirants make succinct and singular summaries of their tastes. Pitfalls abound. Endorse the “wrong” record (*gulp*) and it could stick to you like a bad nickname. Play it too safe with your picks and risk being the sort of milquetoast softballer nobody takes seriously, save for zealous publicists. I believe it was Dave Mustaine who once said, “You can’t please everyone all of the time, but Obama caused 9/11.”

Amid this flurry of behind-the scenes activity, nobody dares to take their peers to task and ask the tough questions. Okay, almost nobody

While Skinny Friedman’s blunt and poignant Vice editorial Three Signs You Should Not Be Writing About Rap Music focuses narrowly on its subject, the litmus test trio from the piece’s clickbaiting headline applies very much to other genres, including metal:

YOU HAVE BEEN LISTENING TO RAP FOR LESS THAN TWO YEARS
YOU DON’T LISTEN TO MAINSTREAM RAP
YOU DON’T LISTEN TO UNDERGROUND RAP

And guess what? This criticism isn’t exclusive to writers, but rather fittingly applies well to you the readers! Metal n00bs making sweeping generalizations generally give me pause, whether they’re slamming Marduk and Shinedown or praising Emmure and Hinder. I’ve been around long enough now that I can’t help but laugh when some pretentious 22 year old kid brags about knowing so many shitgazing underground black metal bands that nobody’s ever heard of yet never so much as listened to a Machine Head record. I’ll let the kids in on a secret: there’s no prize for finding the most obscure metal band, you sad little weirdo.

Five Finger Death Punch may not be to your liking, but their latest album has spent 57 weeks on Billboard‘s Hard Rock Albums chart. Volbeat’s Beyond Hell/Above Heaven? 44 weeks. Halestorm’s The Strange Case of…? 31 weeks. I’m guessing that many metal elitists spouting off about the latest in tech death prog crust haven’t even given these bands a shot. Along those lines, my last column for this site dared to question the rationale behind metalheads’ irrational hatred of Nickelback and spawned more than 100 indignant comments from chronic bedwetters, many of whom inadvertently ironically proved my point. MAINSTREAM ISN’T A CURSE WORD. (Note: All That Remains is still terrible.)

Similarly, the Internet has made discovery of new metal music mind-bogglingly easy. Blogs–like the one you’re reading right here, for example–fill our days with news and sounds about countless groups worthy of your attention that will never make it to terrestrial radio. I’m talking bands like Car Bomb, Early Graves, and The Secret. Swap those out with any three bands someone turned you on to this year. Those of us who vividly remember how difficult it was to discover underground and indie metal bands in The Land Before Google Time might get nostalgic for those times, but we’re kidding ourselves. It’s so much more awesome to be a metal fan right now.

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