Child Exploitation Is Not Metal

So, I’ve seen a lot of music news outlets carrying this story about Unlocking the Truth, the metal trio composed entirely of 13 year olds, signing to Sony Music, and I just have to say that I think this whole idea stinks to high heaven. To put it in blunt terms, I think what we have here is a textbook case of novelty. A good portion of the stories seem to focus on their age rather than the quality of their music, which I’ve heard is quite dubious. Of course, music of dubious quality is what is to be expected from a band made up of musicians so young. No one at that age is musically developed enough in terms of technique or songwriting to craft a decent album. This is what outrages me about this situation. It makes me think that Sony Music and/or their parents are exploiting them. With them being so green and impressionable, you know the label will lean on them and steer their musical development in the direction that the suits want rather than in the direction it would go if these kids were allowed to musically mature on their own. A group of kids this age should not be worrying about chasing paying gigs and signing contracts, they should be in the garage having fun jamming some spotty renditions of Megadeth tunes or their own slap dash compositions. Hell, there’s a chance that in a year’s time, they wouldn’t even be playing Heavy Metal anymore. I remember back when I was about 18, sitting in with a band of guys who were about 14 years old. They played Punk Rock, everything was about being as Punk as possible. Six months later, they were playing alternative rock, then Hardcore after that, Ska, etc. By the time these kids reached the age that they could actually play shows, they were playing Sludge Metal. Artists have to be allowed to develop naturally and find their own voices. Musical identity crises are a natural part of finding your way as a musician. The last thing anyone needs is some washed up never was turned label suit with a boot on their back telling them “no, no, no, you can’t do that.” That kind of thing can have devastating mental effects on someone, just look at the recent meltdown of that Kesha girl. Of course, that’s kind of a worst case scenario. The best case scenario (at least in the opinion of this cynical writer) is them turning into another Black Tide. I’m sure we all remember the hype surrounding them. They were picked up by Interscope records when they were roughly 16 years old and playing what was at best horrendously derivative Speed Metal which quickly changed to Metalcore then Hard Rock before fading back into obscurity as the hype surrounding the idea of little kids playing heavy metal died. An attempt at a quick cash grab, so to speak. The problem is, though, who do you market these guys to? The “tween” crowd that Disney usually markets to? For some reason, I just don’t see that working. Will the teenagers buy it? I remember how my friends and I were as 16 year old metal freaks, we would have labeled this as a flagrant novelty and passed on it. I realize that I’m being the one sourpuss in this situation, but I really think that all the label will succeed in doing is killing these kids’ passion for music. Bravo, Sony.

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