Topic: Are today's metal releases as good as the past?
Published: Thursday, July 27, 2006"Are today's metal releases as good as they were 20 years ago or are we glorifying our past?"
(assuming that 'glorify' means not to exalt, but to consider the music more excellent than is actually the case).
Martin Popoff - Author (www.martinpopoff.com)
[Other Maximum Metal Columns]
Yes, they are as good. We most definitely glorify the past. Look at the playing, the
production, the consideration put to lyrics, even the graphics. Hell, everybody pines for
the old days of 12" art, but they are forgetting the extent of the booklets and
lyrics and credits and all the rest that goes with a CD. Records these day are much more
accomplished than in the old days. First off, one always idealizes the most, music from
when they were 15 to 19 years old. Second - and I've been reading a lot of old Trouser
Press, Crawdady, Creem, Circus etc. lately - the thing was, there were like 1/100th the
amount of releases in any given year back then, so everything got a lot of focus and
consideration and vaulted those records to god-like status. I always argue about the ol'
blind taste test thing...Put any also-ran, garden variety power metal alum up against
Screaming For Vengeance or Rainbow Long Live Rock 'n' Roll, and try forget about the 25
years that's passed...I guarantee you, the new one kills the old one. But of course that's
unfair. You have to give credit for certain things being first or at least innovative and
fresh. Being the 200th copyist gets you no glory. But your question, if we stay real
disciplined to its crux.... Yes! Albums are way better now than before. It's just like
sports records - they are made to be broken. Things just get better. Another bit of proof
is, play some 21 year old metalhead a bunch of old stuff and they often just laugh at how
lame and cheesy it seems. See?
Trey Gadler - Azrael's Bane (www.azraelsbane.com)
I think there are plenty of current releases that rival the music of metal's heyday. There
just aren't as many, and they aren't as accessible. The genre has gone underground to such
an extent that a lot of really great music flies under the radar. It's tough to find, but
it's out there. Metal is still alive and kicking.
Brian Keene - Best-selling horror author (www.briankeene.com)
"I've yet to hear what could be considered this generation's seminal metal release.
Where are the watershed events like Number of the Beast or Master of Puppets or Operation:
Mindcrime--those discs that, the first time you heard them, you knew you were sharing a
moment in history?"
Patrick - Old School Metal Records (www.osmrecords.net)
That is a very interesting question especially for an old school label like us. I would
say yes. We have bands that still cater to the old school today as well as a lot of newer
bands from Europe that take a more modern angle with a much more melodic approach. As far
as the sound goes, even though I did like the old raw sound from back in the day, the
quality of recordings now is refreshing as well.
John K. - Biomechanical (www.biomechanical.co.uk)
I don't think we glorify our past at all. There was a sense of history being made with
releases such as Master of Puppets, Hell Awaits, Screaming for Vengeance and so on. All
different styles but all unique. Of course productions are better today and musicianship
is as good as ever. But the fact remains that music is over re-cycled and (strictly
speaking from a fans point of view) I can really feel that happening with a lot of
new bands. The latest bands to blow me away were Messuggah and SYL. Innovation and power
to the max! Hopefully we will see more acts like these breaking through in the near
Ross Gerson - The Tenth Circle (www.thetenthcircle.com)
Excellent question...20 years ago we had "Reign In Blood", "Master Of
Puppets", "Arise", "Morbid Tales" (to name a few) and I dont even
have to mention the bands that released them...thats how GREAT those releases are. And
there are a few more I didn't even mention. Today there are some GREAT metal songs like
"11th Hour" (Lamb Of God), but there aren't any truly completely great records
where every song kicks ass. The top 10 metal releases of the past 2 years might average
3-4 killer songs on them...and thats damn good in today's standards. But 20 years ago when
I bought "Reign In Blood" I played it and the first time through it kicked my
ass all over the place. I listened to that record 2-3 times, every song, everyday 'till
"South Of Heaven" was released. "Master Of Puppets" was...well...metal
perfection, and was listened to just as much. Name one release in the past 5 years that
would have the same effect? So, I say NO, todays metal releases are not as good as 20
years ago...but they are in the right direction and as long as the record labels don't
fuck this current metal scene up...we will see dominating releases very soon.
Lenny Burnett - Zero Down (www.zerodownrocks.com)
I think we are always glorifying the past. That's a constant factor, no matter the genre
or the time and it only becomes more obvious when a retro style becomes big. I think it's
almost impossible for today's metal releases to match up to the releases 20 years ago.
Twenty years ago, there was still a lot of new ground to explore. Today, it's hard to
bring something fresh to the table because so much has already been done . I hear a lot of
great players, great attitudes and great riffs today, but I don't hear very many great
albums. Biggest problem for me today in metal is the vocals. I'm not sure, but I think the
same guy is singing for 80 percent of the bands out there! 20 years ago there were a lot
of unique vocalists that knew how to write a catchy vocal line (no matter how pissed off
they wanted to sound). That even goes for the heaviest of bands (Slayer, Venom, Celtic
Frost, Motorhead etc...). I wouldn't consider some of those guys real singers,
but great vocalists with character. Don't get me wrong...there are some really killer new
bands out there, and some older bands are still putting out awesome stuff, but considering
how many releases there are today, the number of quality records, seems to be fewer and
farther apart than it was twenty years ago.
Dave Henzerling - Big Cock (www.bigcockrocks.com)
We are familiar with the metal of yesteryear,
and like an old friend, the bond has grown deeper over time. Today's young artist's,
however, are rediscovering that music and re-imagining it in different ways, and a new
view can can be a welcome change. Take the band Avenged Sevenfold, for example. At first
glance, it is a fresh, different sound totally unlike today's emo and hardcore. But
beneath the surface you hear the classic influences, Iron Maiden, Guns 'n Roses, even the
haunting melodies of Sergio Leone from the spaghetti Westerns of the 60s. My CD collection
contains a mix of both old and new - the old to remind me where I came from and the new to
show me where I'm going.
Gordon Tittsworth - Images of Eden (www.imagesofeden.com)
Although there are some outstanding releases today, 80's metal as a whole (definitely not
to be confused with 80's glam) had overall better song structure, melody, lead guitar, and
vocal ability (most of the time) where most "Modern Metal" consists of guitars
tuned down as low as possible, with growling on top of it and very little melody, making
it difficult to differentiate between bands. Most bands today just come and go and don't
have the longevity that bands had 20 years ago. The one thing I like in particular is that
there has been a trend in the last few years in that many 80s bands are reforming, putting
out new CDs and touring. That should tell us something about glorifying our past. It seems
we are...which is fine by me."
Steven E. Wedel - Horror Author (www.stevenewedel.com)
I'm as guilty as a teenager of the 1980s when it comes to glorifying metal's heyday, but
even knowing that I have to say that today's metal usually is not nearly as good as that
of 20 years ago. Where is the new Rob Halford among today's vocalists, for instance? What
we get instead are guys growling and screaming in some kind of "satanic" voice
that sounds more like Sesame Street's Cookie Monster. Twenty years ago, bands were clever
when it came to lyrics. Too often today they rely on profanity like a crutch. A song like
The Murderdolls' "I Love to Say Fuck" is great in its humorous gratuity, but a
lot of times it seems bands don't really have anything to say, so they just scream
profanity. I guess, really, my biggest complaint with most metal today is the vocalists.
We either get the Cookie Monster voice or what I call the "Bonotone," where
everyone sings in a monotonous pitch like U2's Bono. There are a lot of songs I hear come
on the radio and I have hope for them based on the music, then the vocals start and I
switch to the oldies station.
Ryan Conner - Cryogen (www.cryogenband.com)
Twenty years ago would make it 1986, and two things immediately come to my mind...spandex
and pink guitars. Hair Metal! Poison, Whitesnake, Motley Crue, etc. That was of course the
mainstream metal scene of the time. If were talking about more underground metal,
then Metallica or even Slayer could be mentioned for this time period. Yes kids, Metallica
used to be considered underground at one point. That was before they started playing with
symphonies. No matter what time period youre talking about you will always have the
mainstream vs. underground debate. I guess thats how I will answer this question.
The underground metal of today has seeped into the mainstream just like it did in the
80s. The music industry will always promote and capitalize off of whats
popular. Today we see bands being influenced by the scream/growl style of death metal
while adding it to pop music, then labeling it metal. This isnt so different than
the hair bands of the 80s adding high pitched girl screams to a heavy chugging metal
riff, and calling that metal. So, is todays metal really any different than it was
in the 80s? Not really. But then again that depends on what youre comparing,
and what you consider metal. I myself was heavily influenced by some of the great bands of
that time period. Then again, Im also influenced by many of the great bands around
today. Good metal will always be good metal to me, no matter what time period it comes
Kevin 131 - Project: Failing Flesh (www.projectfailingflesh.com)
That is such a loaded question... of course the records from 20 years ago are better than
the ones now!!! ... because we are listening to the records that stood the test of time.
One exception, the Project: Failing Flesh record makes everything form this era
worthwhile. lol Ah, that was too easy, had to get in a plug. Seriously, there are great
records now, and great records then. One thing me and Tim were talking about today when
this question came in was that 20 years ago there were not nearly as many metal records.
In a week you may have 1 or 2 new releases. Combat Records, Roadrunner (when they got
going), New Renaissace, Metal Blade of course. In one month you maybe had 4 or 5 or 6 new
releases, very easy to buy all of them and keep up with all the bands, even if you didn't
happen to like a band, you usually still had *heard* them and knew who they were, if they
were lucky enough to be on a record label at all Now, however, there are SO many bands
it's nearly impossible to know who all of them are, much less hear more than a track or
two. Also, as recording and CD replication becomes for the masses, EVERYONE has a
recording now. So lots of bad/mediocre stuff hits our ears- but also, the envelopes get
pushed in ways they never did before-- and the good stuff sounds way better than it ever
did. 20 years from now, we'll be listening to all the good stuff from this era, and all
the crappy records will have been lost- and someone will ask the same question. Our two
cents! Thanks for reading.
Tony McBrayer - Low Earth Orbit (www.lowearthorbit.net,
Well, I think that from a engineer's standpoint.......the quality of the recording process
has made leaps and bounds. As far as the content....well I think that a lot of the younger
bands (18-25) are really reaching to find that shall we say "love lost" from
back in the day. I think there are only a small handful of new bands out there today that
are making a real mark. But, some of the ones I'm speaking of are still maybe 1 or 2 disks
away from finding their respective place. There is a lot of really killer stuff coming out
of Europe right now that is so awesome....like EDGUY, HellFueled, The 69 Eyes (whom have
been around awhile just not in the U.S.), Viking Skull, DragonForce .... just to name a
few. So, I think the future is looking very bright. I also think that we are in the mist
of a sort of renovation of the hard rock and metal scenes worldwide. Everyone is jocking
for there place when the dam finally breaks. It's like which city will be the next L.A. or
Seattle. Which strangley enough when Grunge hit Seattle was full of L.A. wannabes as it
were. So, who knows. And as far as glorifying our past.....look Keith stole it from Muddy
, Jimi stole it from Keith and Jimmy stole it from Robert.....it goes on down the line. I
think it's about the quality of the musicians these days.....as opposed to all the J-lo's
or Christina's or "Fifty" with their latest digital processer or whatever. It is
a real step up. Period! I just know that every song we write (Low Earth Orbit) &
record means something "NO FILLER" find a way to get the extra money for the
studio time or for the mastering/mixing. You know?! Make it count like there is no
tomorrow and don?t give up on it...never ever give up on it. It may take 8 or 9
years......so what if you believe in what you doing!!!! Stay Strong!
Looks like by the results of our replies, the older stuff is favored by almost a
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