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Can there be another dominant trend in metal anymore?

Written by: omne metallum
Published: October 11, 2020

Now that the summer festival season that wasn't has rescinded into the rear view mirror, and with no winter tour packages that would otherwise punctuate the shorter days and nights that traditionally see the year out unlikely to occur, I've been in a nostalgic mood. Looking back on the prior decade that has passed, I wonder what trends and sounds have come to define the last ten years of the music?

Each decade always comes to be defined and remembered by a few standout genres that rise and come to the fore in particular decades. If you say 1980's then glam rock is likely to follow in quick order, with the 2000's seeing the tail end of nu metal, and the rise of metalcore and the brief flirtation with djent. These genres came to typify much in metal and pulled bands into their orbit, either forcing them to switch up their sound or adapt elements of their aesthetic (how many '70's rock bands revamped themselves as glam acts in the 80's?? and Celtic Frost).

Cold Lake era Celtic Frost

So when it comes to evaluating this past decade, I struggle to think of a convincing answer, coming up with some genres that glowed bright but never caught fire and seared their name into the collective consciousness in a manner that was history-defining. Several genres have bubbled under the surface and threatened to boil over, several genres have threatened to take the world by storm but only to bang their drums loud whilst marching nowhere. Whether it is because my tastes in music have become so underground that any breakout hit in the mainstream is but a dull thud to me, or that there was no international breakout but several national or regional sounds that I'm not privy too, I'm not entirely sure.

Could it be that as the first decade where the democratization of music was a fully-fledged reality rather than a nascent ascending idea, whereby tastemakers were less influential and no longer monopolized opinions, this meant that no genre was able to able to take hold of metal fans at large? With easy access to music that you can control and have several programs catering to your tastes, those members of the audience can decide to drop out and participate in areas where they are now catered for more than ever before, with the rise of niche festivals and concerts alongside these platforms that enable fans to pick what they want to spend their attention on rather than having to pick sides in prior binary worlds. Does this render genre hegemony something that is unlikely to occur again?

This need not be a bad thing in and of itself, detaching music from the prior 'one size fits all' approach, as said approach herded many a music fan into one of a few select lanes, particularly those who lacked access to records that were not pushed upon them or the information necessary to find bands who were a better fit for their tastes. Moving forward, could this spawn a greater diversity within music, with musicians being able to access a wider range of inspirations than they would otherwise be able to find? Where many a person decries that "Rock Is Dead", perhaps the inverse is true; it is soon to look more alive and well than ever before.

The flip side to this is that it does render the ability of a movement/genre to merge into a wrecking ball and use the collective momentum and power to crash through boundary limits more impotent. Since the decline of nu metal in the early 2000's, no trend in metal has emerged on a scale similar to those before; within the metal community some have risen to a position of notoriety but never all-conquering. In tandem with the decline of guitar-based music and rock no longer being the biggest genre in music as a whole, is this inability to get the wider audience to coalesce into a wider movement actually detrimental to metal?

Who said Nu Metal never gave us a laugh?

Do you think that metal needs a continuous ebb and flow of trends in order to remain healthy? Do you think the ability to cater for yourself and to tune out from other genres will be of benefit to the wider metal scene??

Written on 11.10.2020 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.


Comments: 7   Visited by: 90 users
11.10.2020 - 23:52
I guess there's going to be a couple of challenges to any one sound really exploding. First, a lot of major trends came from specific scenes (LA for glam, SF for thrash, Seattle for Grunge, New England for metalcore), whilst music is far more global now with the internet. Second, it would require finding a fairly unique sound, as these genres typically grew from relatively nothing to having a lot of similar bands coming through at the same time, whilst also being accessible enough for large audiences (blackgaze and djent may have been held back from truly exploding in part by the vocals), and I'm wondering what direction there is to go in in more melodic metal that's not already been done (although people may have felt the same prior to the emergence of previous major trends). Third, the main point you made, that having access to so much music means that audiences are spread wider and their listening habits are less controlled by certain media channels, so it's harder to funnel a lot of people towards a particular sound.

There's probably other issues as well, but yeah, it seems to be more of a case where individual bands (e.g. Ghost, Zeal and Ardor) rather than subgenres as a whole explode. Even something that had a sizeable group of bands emerging at once (djent and related tech-metalcore sounding bands) reached a lower high point than the huge names in the more accessible metalcore sound of the 2000s. And I guess it's not a bad thing, in so much that there's reasonable followings for most subgenres, so as long as you're not desperate to do all that well financially, you can play what you want and find some audience. But it does mean that the main headliners at major festivals still tend to be the same acts from the 70s-90s being rotated, rather than new bands being able to come through to replace them.
12.10.2020 - 10:24
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
No it can be, because each genre had trademark
Glammers, had hair as poodle dog.
Blackers had korps paint and letter jackets, boots, same as deaders whit out paint, same had thrahers, just each had fab band t shirts.
Rockers was same clouts as Ramones.
Punks has hair you know.,
Goths has long coats, died hair in black, gothic dresses.
Powers had white Hawaii shorts and so on.
Folkers had a tartan.

Today you can listen metal, each genre and had short hair, work in a bank,
We have no such thing as dress code, what was that time trademark. No MTV, big TV what tells you how music should be, no radio star, no video start (even big porn starts dont come these days)
Internet, global and everybody are accepted as they are (and its good), so. No there wont be another thing coming.
I stand whit Ukraine and Israel. They have right to defend own citizens.

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''
I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
13.10.2020 - 08:55
Nice article. I think the reason that we have no specific genre making it big during the last decade is simply because many bands just don't stick to only one. Today you can listen to a band playing "melodic blackened doom with a hint of post-metal and gothic rock" (even though no band comes to mind right now) and I think that's the beauty of music. You can play whatever you music like and still find your audience. I think that if you make music only trying to make the big buck then you're doing it for the wrong reason. Hopefully the next decade will keep giving us fans a wide variety of mixed genres resulting in great albums from talented musicians playing the music they love to make and we love to listen to.
13.10.2020 - 15:23
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Todays cliche can be sludge n stoner in some way. Sludge is cool snd get popular, maybe not so many cash as 80s bands. But genre rise in underground.

Next thing is female fronted extreme or sympho bands.
Pop rock as Kobra, archers, Battle Beast or Beast in Black are iconic now.
I stand whit Ukraine and Israel. They have right to defend own citizens.

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''
I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
13.10.2020 - 16:20
Meat and Potatos

Note that in the early metal decades, there didn't exist as many genres as nowadays. Black Sabbath, now considered doom was regarded as heavy, together with Led Zepellin and such. Nowadays there are a lot of genres and of course, little subgenre closed communities.

What happens is that the communities have high regard for the bands of the genre but none of them get as much praise by the metal community as a whole. What is happening is that each subgenre is evolving in a certain direction, but the concept of metal as only one musical genre is long gone. That's why I don't believe there is going to be an overall trend any time soon.

The only possibility of starting a big trend would be if metal decided to experiment with a mainstream genre, in veins of Poppy and Babymetal. This would attract non-metalheads to the metal community, and would start a big trend. But if that doesn't happen then I don't think it's going to happen with any other direction.

"Do you think that metal needs a continuous ebb and flow of trends in order to remain healthy?" Well... Define healthy :p. If being healthy is being famous then yes. If it means to keep existing... Obviously no. No genre needs to be known to keep existing. As well as no music genre ever 'dies'. You just need to lurk properly.
"Aah! The cat turned into a cat!"
- Reimu Hakurei
14.10.2020 - 16:40
omne metallum
Written by Karlabos on 13.10.2020 at 16:20

"Do you think that metal needs a continuous ebb and flow of trends in order to remain healthy?" Well... Define healthy :p. If being healthy is being famous then yes. If it means to keep existing... Obviously no. No genre needs to be known to keep existing. As well as no music genre ever 'dies'. You just need to lurk properly.

Healthy to me would be a vibrant scene with an ever refreshing pool of new bands that can achieve a good standing (don't have to be mega stars like before but a decent size). I agree a genre can't die (even though Gene Simmons seems eager to give the last rites) but it would be a shame to metal recede to the corners of the underground as a whole (though some sub genres never leave that niche).
Just because I'm not listening doesn't mean I don't care
17.10.2020 - 17:56
Auntie Sahar
Drone Empress
Trends still emerge in metal to this day. Three things to note with the differences in how they do in the 2010s and 20s compared to how they did in the 70s, 80s, and 90s though.

> Just because a trend in metal emerges doesn't mean it's going to become "dominant" anymore. As a matter of fact, it's actually less likely to now because, with the way most people engage with music nowadays, there's been an amplification of ideas and their ease of availability to the listener. So that makes it harder for new trends to always stand out and catch popular attention.

> New trends in metal are spawned today more from the unification of old ideas than through the creation of genuinely "new" ones. Maybe there's some paradox in this as all art inevitably takes some type of influence from the past and perhaps the "new" really is created more through combination of the old anyway, but what I mean is like.... in the 70s and 80s new metal subgenres were created mainly by bands going out on a limb to differentiate their songwriting techniques. Today those techniques are already well established and bands create new trends merely by recombining them in unusual or unanticipated ways.

> Lastly, as musclassia noted, today's trends aren't really bound by location anymore, and might develop more internationally in several locations with a few scenes separated by hundreds or thousands of miles exploring similar sounds and compositional techniques simultaneously. I've noticed this more in black metal than anywhere else probably, in the past decade especially significant strides in psychedelic and atmospheric black metal, of similar but different strata, all came out of the US, UK, France, Germany, Poland, Iceland, and elsewhere in pretty sequential fashion.
I am the Magician and the Exorcist. I am the axle of the wheel, and the cube in the circle. “Come unto me” is a foolish word: for it is I that go.


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