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Re: Taking Risks

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Risk game

Re: Taking Risks

I wasn’t talking about underground or lesser known bands. Of course there are tons of incredible young bands pushing and driving metal forward — they’re some of my favorite bands right now — and we write about those bands on MetalSucks regularly. My point was this: why is it that when bands get to a certain level of success they don’t feel the need to continue pushing? Is it the comfort offered by the status quo? Fear of rejection / career failure? The inevitable dwindling interest in new music as one ages? Or something as simple and logistical as they just don’t have the time to devote to continuing to hone their progress, whatwith constant touring and the pressure to release a new album as soon as possible?

I also did not mean to insinuate that the bands I name-checked were no longer making good music, and I hope those bands didn’t take it that way. The bands I listed were specifically chosen because they are the biggest, best bands of a generation. Bands that pioneered their own sound from the get-go. Bands that continue to churn out solid album after solid album. I mentioned at the top of the article that I am a big fan of nearly all the bands I listed (OK, you got me, not a fan of Emmure or Asking Alexandria), although in hindsight I think I could’ve made that more clear.

The problem: in most cases, once these bands got to a certain point they stopped pushing themselves forward creatively. Why? To be clear, there is nothing WRONG with that; it’s fine. I liked Resolution, I liked The Locust, I liked Disarm the Descent, and in all likelihood I will enjoy whatever Lamb of God, Machine Head and Killswitch Engage release next regardless of whether it’s different for them or not because I’m a fan of all three bands. But isn’t it EVEN MORE awesome when a band takes a big leap forward and challenges not only themselves to do something different and off the beaten path, but challenges their fans to go on the journey with them?

That kind of leap is what separates good or even great bands from the legends that define a generation. The White Album. The Wall. Physical Graffiti. Kid A. I’d even throw The Black Album into that category, despite what I said about Metallica already; it was a big risk, and it paid off for them. You can travel the safe road for an entire career and do quite well with it, there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s what most artists do. Or, once you’ve put in the work to elevate yourself to the status of a well-respected career band, you can take it to the next level and become a legend. It’s the difference between a career .280 hitter who’s good for 15 HR / 80 RBI each year and a Hall of Famer, except musicians are only limited by their artistic desire and motivation, not raw athletic talent. It’s their choice. Yes, it’s risky, and it might not pan out. But that’s how it works: no risk, no reward.

I realize my desire for bands to continue evolving is entirely selfish, motivated only by what I want to hear from a band’s new music. If a band is truly happy retreading the same musical ground they’ve already covered — with minor variations — well, then they should continue doing that. But I can’t be the only person who believes the best bands of our day have a bit more verve and spark in them than that. And, judging by the feedback I got (both publicly and privately), I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

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