Cosmo Lee of Invisible Oranges has written up a thought-provoking editorial (inspired by Metal As Fuck) that takes a look at the differences between metal culture in the U.S. and in Europe. We’ve touched on this topic before here, but never really delved into it.

Take a look at Sammy O’Hagar’s recent review of Skyfire, Satan Rosenbloom’s interview with Kellhaul drummer Will Scharf (in which Scharf laments, “I don’t know if it’s a cultural difference or there’s less Clear Channel over there so people actually have to seek out shit for themselves, but it seems like Europe embraces weird bands like us more than the States.”) or my writeup of unsigned band Dynahead (from Brazil, but the point stands); there is a tangible difference between metal culture in U.S. and the rest of the world. When Axl and I went to Download Festival in 2006 is was readily apparent; any local metalhead we talked to was likely to be a big fan of both Korn and Opeth and think nothing of it.

Here’s a sample from Cosmo Lee’s breakdown of the differences:

Epicness/tolerance for cheese

Bands like Sonata Arctica and Hammerfall don’t come from the States. Being a secondhand culture, US metal is too self-conscious to engage in the unabashed frilly shirt-ery that pegs bands as “European, probably on Nuclear Blast.” American bands like Pharaoh and Symphony X that have a European sound are usually more serious. This doesn’t just apply to happy power metal. Even a “death metal” band like Arch Enemy has blatant “billowing hair/wind machine on 11” moments that are patently European. Americans are too busy grinding on one note and cursing their lack of health care.

Classical vs. blues influence

This ties into epicness and tolerance for cheese. Europeans have hung onto metal’s classical influences much more strongly than Americans have. This makes sense, since they invented classical music. But it’s not a foregone conclusion. Metal came from UK rockers (Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin) borrowing/stealing American blues music. For whatever reason, bluesiness largely disappeared from European metal, only to be resurrected by Americans via Southern sludge metal.

I’d add to Cosmo’s piece  that Europeans seem to be a whole lot less concerned about genre-labeling and scenes. It comes down to whether or not someone enjoy the band, and it ends there — no concern with being labeled “trendy,” “scene,” or looking a certain way.

Read the rest of Cosmo’s article, then come back and tell us what you think.


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