So Did Metallica Save Metal?

I’ve intentionally avoided all the hub-bub over the new Metallica album “Death Magnetic” because frankly, it’s been covered to death elsewhere. I’ve even only heard one song so far – “That Was Just Your Life” and found it more guitar driven than usual, and with less overall crunch.  Still, it was much better than anything on “St. Anger”.

That being said, I’ve pondered an off comment made by Lars in one of the 10,000 interviews floating around for the album’s release – one conducted by Stevie Chick of the UK’s The Guardian (& linked via HERE).  To paraphrase Mr. Ulrich a bit, he maintains that the world expects Metallica to ‘save metal’, to “carry the whole genre on their backs”.

Do you agree?  I usually don’t with some of Ulrich’s rants, but this time – I kinda see his point.   Granted, Lamb of God or Slayer or any of a ton of other bands would probably assert that the genre doesn’t need saving, and I would agree with that assertion as well.  SOME bands are doing quite well on their own, despite the fact that metal isn’t as popular as it was in say, the 80’s.

But what I think Lars is eluding to is there is definitely an underlying sense of anticipation with this release (as there is with Guns N’ Roses “Chinese Democracy”) that goes above & beyond what you normally see with new releases.  It’s the kind of hype that used to surround big releases in the days of vinyl, long before downloading and Itunes and the digital age leveled the playing field between fans and musicians.

I don’t know that anyone expects Metallica to ‘save metal’, but I do think there IS an expectation of them leading the charge to where metal goes more mainstream again.  Where songs can be played over-the-air without resorting to them becoming a watered down shadow of their potential (cough cough Disturbed cough) and yes, commercially viable.

It was announced this week that with “Death Magnetic”, it is the first time EVER that a band has released FIVE albums that have bowed at number 1 on the Billboard 200 – that beats the Beatles, U2 & Dave Matthews.  So saved or not, metal lovers still buy the CD’s and spend the cash to support their favs.

Metallica may not have saved us, but they sure did motivate us.  Will that momentum continue, will other bands enjoy similar success now that the floodgates are open?  I guess only time will tell.  But to me, a very clear message has been sent.  

To the labels - the industry is not dead nor is the genre known as Heavy Metal.  Promote quality & you’ll be rewarded.  To the bands, if you want fan support – earn it.  It can be done.  And as fans, we’re eager to see you succeed.  Together, we can all show the world that our music has the best community & most diehard devotees – period.

And as a side note, yeah I will probably make my first Metallica purchase in a very long time.  I can only sit on the sidelines so long, before jumping back into the fray.  Just hate being too trendy.  ;>

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One Response to “So Did Metallica Save Metal?”

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