Column: The Best Era to Be A Metalhead

Best Era To Be A Metalhead Mark M

I am honored to join the Nine Circles team and the superb work they’re doing covering metal. I visit their site every week in my never-ending quest for heavy, ugly, gorgeous music.  I’m hoping to add some periodic banter about the state of metal in 2017, and the journey of being a lifelong metal fan.

Back in the day, there wasn’t much daylight between hard rock and metal…

Metalhead Pic 1 Mark M

As a geeky theater kid surrounded by alternative new wave rockers and punks, I wasn’t a very good metal fan. I wasn’t particularly skilled in the pursuit of uncovering new music and I didn’t have cool metal friends to show me the gritty underground. In fact, I was happy feeding on a steady diet of Motörhead, NWOBHM, glam and The Big Four.

Metalhead Pic 2 Mark M

I’m a much better metal fan today. Fact is, I listen to more metal now than I did when I was a teen in the 80’s. Heavy music has diversified tremendously since I bought my first KISS and AC/DC albums when I was in middle school in the late 70’s before punk and alternative altered the landscape. I must say, the information age, has made being a metal fan infinitely easier.

Metal and technology are inexorably linked in my listening world…

Metalhead Pic 3 Mark M

Listening in the digital age with the sheer volume of metal available; the advent of streaming, the proliferation of sub-genres, and the web connecting us to every conceivable obscure artist and sub-genre has widened the lens of what I would simply call heavy music. In the ongoing  “what is metal?” debates, I’ll always argue for an inclusive big tent view of metal.

I’m just a music fan who happens to listen to a lot of heavy music. And I have no doubt there are all manner of metal fans like me who buck the “metalhead” demographic; people that listen to heavy music but may not be part of any scene.

Today, is the best time to be a metalhead in its forty plus year history. There is just so much metal available that it truly boggles the mind. But, where to begin? Do you investigate sub-genres or study the classics?

When I was a teen, we took trips to record stores and bought fewer albums. But we listened to them over and over. Today you can stream new music daily as albums are released. But I wonder how many of us take the time to really get to know music like we did when our choices were limited to a handful of bands?

What is metal today? How do we categorize and define metal and who gets to make those rules? Who is the modern metalhead? How will technology help or hinder artists and their fans? Those are some of my questions and I’m hoping to explore them here.

– Mark

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