there's some quite contradictory forces going on here. metal culture, as i've seen it, is based on two divergent drives:
1. self-alienation, by distancing one's self aesthetically and ideologically from "mainstream" culture, eventually spiralling into a bizarro world where proponents of similar musics will isolate themselves from one another in debate over largely superficial and manufactured ideals.
2. desire for community, where the metal people congregate to celebrate their chosen music forms. but this drive, mixed with the first principle of self-alienation, causes those present to fracture into tiny, comfortable cells where communication only occurs with those who are intimately known, and actual interaction between the artist & audience or even amongst the audience itself is minimized.
this dichotomy has created some worthwhile music, since the artists often do not percieve any intended audience for their work, so they take a "fuck it, i'll do whatever i want" attitude. but most artists and fans succumb to the desire for friends and end up copying one of the hundreds of bands regarded as ideals of whatever the chosen offshoot sub-subgenre is on display this week.
with the added taint of hardcore in metal (all social context; no aesthetic value), most individuals have found the fool's gold of unearned popularity and disciplined uniformity (they call it "unity") to be irresistable. at this point, i still believe in the value of the established metal classics, and i still hold out hope that good metal is still being made somewhere out there, but the culture of metal itself in relation to the outside world is corrupt; just another lifestyle marketing niche to be exploited. even the most willfully obscure metal snob is part of a demographic thousands strong, and as such is equally faceless.