How Metal Nerds Choose What Bands To Like: A Scientific Model


Have you ever noticed that the bands who metal nerds fawn over today were universally-despised rage magnets just a few short years ago? For example, trashing Pantera in 2011 is asking to get chased with torches and pitchforks — the polar opposite of 1993, when you would be hard-pressed to find a band that metal nerds hated more. Or how everybody jizzes over Suffocation now, but in the mid-90s you couldn’t read two pages of Metal Maniacs without someone pissing and moaning about “Suffoclones.” Are metal nerds crazy, or is there some rhyme and reason to their seemingly-contradictory behavior?? I believe that there is indeed a way to understand metal nerds, but it’s not what you might think!

My research suggests that they actually operate by a primitive form of logic and are actually very predictable. After the break: my SCIENTIFIC MODEL OF METAL NERD PSYCHOLOGY, the FOUR KINDS OF METAL BANDS, and an exclusive METAL NERD CHEAT SHEET that reveals a foolproof formula for whether you should like a band or not!


Fig 1.1: General framework for metal nerd psychology

This model illustrates how metal nerds’ opinion of bands changes over the trajectory of their career. Please note that this figure is highly simplified and while it is generally accurate, the specifics may differ somewhat for any given artist. In particular, the relationship between nerd approval and commercial success may not be precisely inverse. For example, while Mastodon and Lamb of God are very successful, they also enjoy a high degree of popularity among nerds. Use this as a loose framework rather than a precise formula, and please double-check all calculations!

Fig 1.2: What metal nerds thought in 2001

Linkin Park, at the height of their popularity, represented the embodiment of “shitty radio rock.” While Hatebreed were far from universally loved, they were coming off of their major label debut and enjoyed a measure of credibility from their years in the 90s DIY scene. Obscure, older bands like Cynic and Demilich were the pinnacle of “good taste in old school death metal.”

Fig 1.3: What metal nerds think in 2011

A lot changed in ten years, most notably that bands like the previously-despised Linkin Park are slowly but surely becoming OK to like. This is probably because the current crop of metal nerds liked them when they were in middle school. Instead, metal nerds focus their hatred on bands that today’s middle-schoolers like such as Suiside Silence and Bring Me The Horizon. Also note that Pantera, once thought of as “football metal for rednecks and jocks,” are almost universally respected now that they have been defunct for a decade. On the other hand, artists such as Devourment and Hatebreed have become less accepted by metal nerds because of their increased commercial success.


Fig 2.1: A random sample of bands sorted by age and popularity

Our research suggests that in order to gain the approval of metal nerds, a band must be either obscure or old. It is not yet clear whether metal nerds value one more highly than the other. Cult bands like Demilich or Cynic do not seem to be significantly more respected than artists like Judas Priest or Motorhead who are not very good, but are very old. It appears that age, more than anything else, is what determines if metal nerds are allowed to like a band.

Fig 2.2: How to know if you should like a band

Once you understand the simple, childlike thinking of the metal nerd, it’s easy to gain his approval. Simply follow this cheat sheet and you will rarely go wrong!

-Sergeant D.


Sergeant D, 2011. “Cult bands you would have hated/ignored in 1995.” MetalSucks. New York.

Sergeant D, 2011. “Why do metal nerds like these deathcore bands??” MetalSucks. New York.

Sergeant D. does science n’ every day at Stuff You Will Hate.

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