Listening to Schubert on a Saturday morning:
Underground metal died somewhere between 1992 and 1996, depending on who you talk to. Bottom line: by 1996 neither the quality nor the abundance of distinctive releases was what it had been.
From 1996 to about 2002, the metal community waffled and tried to re-live the past. Then with the rise of Opeth and later indie-metal like Boris, in about 2004 the metal community threw in the towel and decided to let itself by assimilated by indie-rock.
From 2004-2009 the rise of metalcore, indiecore, nu-metal and black hardcore continued unabated, until people realized that (a) this music had more in common with self-pitying egodrama radio rock than soul-renewing heavy metal and (b) that the new audience of “metalheads” were hipster idiots as a result.
Starting in 2009, we had a revival of the underground. Are we supposed to be cheering? Yes — guardedly. Every time anything retro emerges, all the frauds come out of the woodwork along with the honest artists, and the frauds tend to win out by sheer volume.
A few asides:
(1) Long live the notion of meaning to life. We don’t need it to be inherent, we just need it to be there to discover.
(2) Long live art. Art sings the sad and the good together into a balance, but makes that balance exciting, like a space through which we can dart and dive and discover ourselves again.
(3) The ego has its place, but the ego can fool us like a Satan-God hybrid that lures us away from life itself.
(4) Nothing is as it seems.
(5) Metal is a renovation of our spirit; it is the war-spirit mixed with the sentiment for all the beautiful things that makes us give a damn about doing right. We do not fear God, and we do not fear society. We fear meaningless and pointless exercises in personal satiation without ever really finding something worth expending our lives upon.
Whatever lies after death, and whatever rules this universe, or does not, we must consider that our lives need both meaning and significance, meaning that we need a reason to suppose our actions have consequences that we care about. Without that balance, we have no reason to exist.
As metal returns from the land of meaninglessness (twee indiecore hipster schmaltz), we see the retro-fakers being shoved aside and a rise of people who are continuing the spirit of the past: