The Heavy Metal Genre War


For those of us who are actively a part of the online metal community - be it through social media, metal websites such as Lambgoat or Metalsucks, or even YouTube - the genre war is something you can't escape. It fills comment sections, floods message boards, and for some people, is the one true god. The Heavy Metal Genre War is both a blessing and a fucking curse.

If you are not aware of what exactly I'm referencing here, it's the dissection of bands sound and applying labels to it. Sounds pretty basic, right? It's easy to listen to a bands like The Used or AC/DC and say what genre their music would fall under. But metal is different in this aspect. Years ago, there was just good ol' fashioned raw fucking metal. We were either a fan of a bands sound or we weren't; plain and simple. Then something happened - it seemed like out of no where, words like "metalcore" "deathcore" "hardcore" and even "xspongexcorex" (if you don't know about this, I highly recommend you click this and listen before continuing) started to get flung around. For a while, none of it mattered to me. Then as time went on, it kinda just did. Suddenly, you can put on a certain band and you could pretty easily identify what their sound was. "Oh, August Burns Red? Totally metalcore." "I love Oceano - they're deathcore legends." And believe it or not, it was a good thing.

It was a good thing because we were suddenly able to find bands that sound closer to the sound we like rather than buying an album and running the risk of hating it. I honestly cannot even guess how much money I've spent on albums while thumbing through cds and my local FYE that turned out to just be disappointing. And it's because we thought they would sound a particular way - and when they didn't, we'd be bummed. But if you told me "hey, these guys are deathcore" I was able to decide if that was what I actually wanted or not. (Mind you, these were the days before everything was on YouTube or any other streaming site! So we didn't know what a whole album sounded like before buying it!)

Since those days, metal has evolved just as it always has. And if you ask me, it's always been for the better. Bands are getting heavier, filthier, and even more extreme. Remember when bands like Slipknot or Biohazard seemed like they were the heaviest bands around? With all due respect, they don't even touch the surface of what bands like Abominable Putridity or Vulvodynia sound like today. And just like how metal broke into sub-genres, now those sub-genres have sub-genres. You have "tech-death," "progressive black death" and so on. Living in these times are exciting because bands are doing some crazy stuff lately and blending genres - they're taking elements from one sect of metal and tossing it into the structure of another genre. And in a lot of cases, it kicks ass - but where do we draw the line with sub-genres? Does it even fucking matter?!

To some people, apparently it does. Like I said before, Reddit's comment sections, heavy metal message boards and Facebook page that even slightly relates to metal has people arguing about genres. Some people have such a need to specify a band to such a small degree - and it drives other users nuts. The typical response to these genre-kids (isn't that name clever?) you'll find is "metal is fucking metal" and "can't we all just enjoy the music?!" But some people just care so much about the genre war that they can't just enjoy the music - it absolutely has to be categorized.

So here's how I see it: the Great Heavy Metal Genre War isn't going anywhere. On every YouTube video and every news article, you're going to have those kids who say Acrania are deathcore and not slam, or Black Tongue are beatdown and not deathcore, or whatever. This has been going on for a while now and you're always going to have those kinds of comments. And I don't care, if you want to have an opinion about it and you need to be so specific about a sound, go ahead and be all about it. That's your business. Just don't be an asshole about it. Because that's when you suddenly come off as what is now commonly referred to as a "metal elitest." And nobody likes an elitest asshole. But to everybody else getting upset that these kids even exist: let it go. Like I said, it's not going anywhere and you can fight it tooth and nail, but this is just how the current online metal community is like. So just throw on something heavy and have a good fucking time.


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