One Question

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)
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 fan’s 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 future.

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 we’re 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 you’re talking about you will always have the mainstream vs. underground debate. I guess that’s how I will answer this question. The underground metal of today has seeped into the mainstream just like it did in the 80’s. The music industry will always promote and capitalize off of what’s 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 isn’t so different than the hair bands of the 80’s adding high pitched girl screams to a heavy chugging metal riff, and calling that metal. So, is today’s metal really any different than it was in the 80’s? Not really. But then again that depends on what you’re comparing, and what you consider metal. I myself was heavily influenced by some of the great bands of that time period. Then again, I’m 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 from.

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, www.tonymcbrayer.com)
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 2/3rds margin.
YES: 3
NO: 8
Mix: 2

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