COUNTDOWN TO EXTINCTION: GOD FORBID’S DOC COYLE ON COPING WITH AGING IN A YOUTH-DRIVEN HEAVY MUSIC SCENE
In the last few years, something seemed to happen and I barely noticed. Suddenly, I’m no longer the young kid at the show. I’m one of the guys hiding out by the bar. I’m not crowd surfing, not covered in sweat with my shirt off, and I’m certainly not moshing. I’m also not randomly yelling “Slayer!”, but that seems to span all demographics. I became… (gulp)… an adult. I don’t know what the range is in the ages of the followers of MetalSucks, but I’ll assume that it’s a mix of younger and older metal fans. I am 29 years old, but I still feel relatively young and energetic considering my opening salvo. I’m the youngest member of my band, and younger than a good majority of my friends in bands and the industry.
With that said, I think there comes a time for all metal heads, and probably all adults for that matter, when you look at what is popular amongst the true youth culture (16-24), and you feel as if not only do you not relate to it, but it feels alien, as if it’s creation was not meant for your consumption (which it wasn’t) – and it also seems inferior to music that you grew up with. I’m only 29, and I’m already having “back in my day” moments. It kind of scared me, and I began to wonder if I was being obtuse and a little too set in my ways, or if my analysis was accurate.
In some ways, I know I’m not crazy because I feel like I grew up in a fantastic era musically. Although a tenuous time for metal, the early 90’s was the most fertile era for rock music since the mid 70’s. It’s hard to argue we didn’t experience an explosion of classic bands that are just as relevant and sought after to this day including Radiohead, Soundgarden, Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, Weezer, Tool, STP, Rage Against the Machine, Faith No More, Alice In Chains, etc. Because rock is related and a gateway into metal, I consider this period relevant. Also, I feel that metal’s “demise” in the 90’s was a bit exaggerated. Metallica, Megadeth, White Zombie and GNR were all over MTV and radio, Pantera was a multi-platinum arena act, and metal flourished in the underground where we saw the ascendance of death metal and bands like Meshuggah, At the Gates, and Death were seemingly reinventing the wheel. I would have to say that I stand by my assessment that my generation had it pretty damn good. Although I’m sure those who came of age in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s would say the same.
In a way, I think I feel older than I am because I was always the youngest guy in my social group, and I also always had a deep respect and curiosity for heavy music’s history and roots. I would always go back and discover who influenced my favorite bands. I hope today’s generation takes the same approach, but it doesn’t always feel like it.
I don’t want anyone to think that I have a problem with modern metal. My position is actually the contrary, and I’m often frustrated by friends of mine who don’t stay current and than complain that there aren’t any good new bands out there. I think that there has been a steady dose of vibrant, exciting young bands as long as you are willing to take the initiative to search and seek out these bands. I try to stay current, and I still feel behind the ball in regards to checking out new bands compared to some of my industry/blogger friends. The main objective for me as I age is not to become jaded and dismissive. In my opinion, that’s where artistic stagnation comes from. I give so much credit to bands like Exodus, Testament, and even Judas Priest (when they put out Painkiller) for staying current and acknowledging the evolution and notable improvements in heavy metal from it’s extremity to it’s technicality and it’s production.
There are some things I don’t like about a lot of newer metal that young kids seem to be into. There seems to be far too much emphasis on shredding and technicality for it’s own sake. There’s not enough soul, I suppose. I also think many bands forsake good songwriting and dynamics for all out heaviness and intensity. But in a way, this has always been true of youthful music. Some of the fashion trends make me scratch my head. The whole ”I’m into death metal/deathcore but I dress like I’m going to see a Big Daddy Kane/Kool Moe Dee double bill in 1988” thing seems a tad misguided, but different strokes, ya know. I guess I can’t complain too much, but I still feel like I’m graduating into an older age group.
So how old is everyone, and how do you all feel about new music and youth oriented trends? Does anyone feel like me?
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