Metalcore is dying.
Oh, don’t ask — I can’t prove it. But watching what goes on sale, how little the labels are investing in promotion (or even cover art!) for releases from the big metalcore bands, and how little fans seem to be responding… it’s dead already.
Even more, the trend in bedroom window black metal and death metal has died. This comprises the third through fifteenth waves of black metal and death metal, which are distinguished by not being about anything. Instead, they’re about people wanting to be like their favorite bands, as if watching Immortal play outside through a bedroom window, then firing up Pro Tools and saying, “I can make my own version of that!”
For the last year, the big record labels have been shoveling the new stuff out the door at absurd discounts. They wrote the contracts, so they’re obligated to keep churning. But they’ve cut investment because they know it’s a loss. They’re also purging all the older death metal stuff for a simple reason: they intend to re-master and re-release it.
For great profit!
Heavy metal was born in 1969, and it took it until 1994 to really mature. Death metal and black metal are two sides of the same coin, one chromatic and one melodic, but the point is the same:
- Long, through-composed, discursive song structures
- Epic, warlike, vir-heavy Romantic themes
- Unpopular truthfulness and musical intensity
- Unwillingness to be co-opted by rock music, rap or The Industry
Black metal and death metal are the ultimate form of metal. Metal probably no longer needs to worry about form. What it does need to do is worry about content.
We could use more bands that wrote lengthy riff-fests with bizarrely sensible song structures, like early Incantation. Or narrative compositions like Burzum’s “My Journey to the Stars.” Or even the gently developing motives of The Red in the Sky is Ours.
We don’t need people bringing us a hype-y “new, improved” style that amounts to mixing rap, rock and copious doses of bad hardcore into our metal. The result is carnival music that doesn’t have the balls to pick a direction.
We want the good stuff back. And what makes it good is that in style and substance, it’s timeless. With each day, the new trends of metalcore and bedroom-window metal die a little more. More old school death metal and founding black metal bands are reforming and dropping the gimmicks to continue the music they made in the 1990s. More labels are re-releasing classic death metal and black metal albums.
That means, as a wise man once said, “Let the good times roll!”