By The Grim Lord
In my long tenure of working in the business, there is no shortage of surprises. The biggest one is the fact that the genre itself is being buried by the number of worthless media rags attempting to cover it – haphazardly, I might add. I’ve already spoken about MetalSucks, so there’s no need to beat that dead horse any further; but I have noticed an anomaly of sorts – one topic that all of these major journalistic rags (Metal Hammer, Metal Injection, Blabbermouth, exc) seem to profoundly profess into our skulls day after day. Surprisingly, this isn’t a popular band like Metallica, Judas Priest or Iron Maiden. It’s not exactly the flavor of my era like Korn and Godsmack either. Well, not completely. It is all centered around one individual who they may as well consider a rock god at this point, a man by the name of Corey Taylor. For those of you who have no earthly idea who this man is, and why he is so representative of the current scene for some reason; I’ll fill you in.
In was 1999. Nu-Metal was on the upswing, with many bands emerging from it like Coal Chamber, The Deftones and Mudvayne, but there were also a few acts looking to get in on the trend like Machine Head, Fear Factory, Sepultura and even Slayer in some regards. Even earache’s industrial powerhouse Pitch Shifter jumped on the train with www.pitchshifter.com, acomplete overhaul of their sound into the kind of thing that fit Playstation video games of the time. Bands like Static-X also emerged out of this, as well as Disturbed, Korn, HedPE, Dope and numerous others. But the very top of the tower was helmed by none other than Iowa’s Slipknot. Due to the fact that they had an edgy look, nine members and videos that at the time would “shock your parents” they gained a lot of appeal among the goth community of the time. They did have a terrific drummer by the name of Joey Jordison on the drums however, so he was a spectacle for the band which in my experience, was quite influential. During their latter period, acts like Lamb of God, Shadows Fall and Killswitch Engage were coming out of the woodwork to bring us the next age, metalcore. But that’s a topic for another time. In any case, Slipknot reigned supreme as did Jncos and other Hot Topic merchandise. It was a look, it was an image and it was the spirit of my teenage rebellion put into a watered down form of death, groove and thrash that worked. Fronting all of this was Corey Taylor of course, but back in those days; the man was a mystery. I didn’t know who was behind the mask, but I never forgot how great “Scissors” sounded. I never forgot how much I loved “The Heretic Anthem” and several of their other cuts before they became too mainstream. Then Corey took off his mask for Stonesour and “Bother” the one single that finally pushed Slipknot out of the realms of gothic niche and right into the eyes of the mainstream media. Rock radio would never play “Eyeless” but they’d play the shit out of “Duality” which marked the band’s more poppy (yet experimental) direction. We now knew who Corey Taylor was, but many of the band was largely unknown. They were like a Kiss of the era, which I think was a shared goal. Then some members left and their bassist killed himself. Another record released, and then another. Suddenly, all of the guys just started unmasking themselves and released side-projects and everything else you can think of. We now knew who Slipknot was and the teenage mystery was over.
Problem is, it’s been almost a decade since that happened. Nearly twenty years since the release of their self-titled debut. With the end of the mystery, came the beginning of Corey Taylor’s massive ego. The man that I once knew as the silent and crazed killer from “Scissors” is now a middle-aged nerd with an opinion on fucking everything. Especially politics. And lo and behold, the sources that are supposed to report heavy metal news in the vein of album releases, reviews, interviews, and numerous band updates, not to mention introductions to new and noteworthy bands are now posting almost every opinion that this man has. Add to that, the fact that he’s written three books, the last one political. That’s just an assumption on the other two though, I haven’t read them and they could be just as political. The man who gave us “Surfacing” and told us to “fuck it all, fuck this world, fuck everything that you stand for, don’t belong, don’t exist, don’t give a shit, don’t ever judge me!” is now revealing himself as a strong left-wing political blowhard who not only wants to be recognized for what he stands for, but also wants to belong, exist and be judged. Then he reveals that he was abused, molested and all sorts of other things. Alas, the curtain is removed, that great rebellious icon of my youth nothing more than a sniveling man who gets so upset that he cries into a giant Hello Kitty pillow. This was my fucking icon? I was also abused in my youth and Slipknot’s music helped. I still have a copy of their debut that was made before “Purity” was removed from it in later pressings. I could relate to what Corey was saying in those songs and they were therapeutic at the time, but I would have never expected all of this to come about fifteen years later.
I honestly don’t think that we can go a day without some quip from the man, whether it be based on his politics, his thoughts on music, food, video games or whatever – nearly ninety percent of rock and heavy metal’s most popular sources have become “Ask Corey Taylor.” I’d almost suspect that there are literal journalists sending him an email asking for another opinion article to post up. This isn’t just crazy, it’s insane. It’s absolutely ludicrous. There are men far more deserving of this kind of credit, and they’re no longer here to get it. People like Ronnie James Dio and Lemmy Kilmister – great men of heavy metal. Even a frontman like Ozzy Osbourne (who is now relevant in the media because of his rampant sex addictions) or Bruce Dickinson doesn’t get as much screentime as Corey Taylor and I’m not really sure why. We hear often from Korn’s Jonathan Davis and Marilyn Manson (hey, some of these are rock sites as well – and this is apparently their definition of what still remains in the world of rock music) without forgetting to mention Metallica; (who gave Corey Taylor a break during the period of their new album release and Grammy performance) but never as much as we hear about the Slipknot frontman. It seems like everytime that Corey Taylor takes a dump, we hear about the shape, consistency, texture and the splash that it made in the commode.
The problem is, this kind of constant over-promotion is not allowing for new acts to get their days in the Sun. Ever. That’s not an amateur mistake I just made, it’s enunciation. Even if it sounds juvenile to say “ever ever ever” that’s exactly how I feel inside about most of these struggling artists that will never get their day in the limelight, because the popular sites are too busy covering Corey’s daily morning walk to the mailbox. Yes, I know that we do have sources like No Clean Singing, Lambgoat and Invisible Oranges; not to mention Decibel who haven’t quite jumped the shark yet; but these are not as popular as the major rock sources that feel it necessary to cover Corey Taylor all the time. Sometimes, a guy just wants heavy metal news. But with every popular little tryhard in the metal arena (this month it’s Arch Enemy, which my twenty-year old self would never have believed) blocking that with their own opinion articles, new bands have to next to no chance of getting recognized. Now, occasionally; one of these sites will bring out an article on a new and interesting band – but we’ll never usually hear anything else from said band, just more about common acts and Corey Taylor’s lunch. I even have a theory that there are just so many bands emerging these days that mainstream rock and metal press literally threw up their hands in an “oh, fuck it!” gesture and decided that they couldn’t keep up. After all, it’s easier to post relevant acts, especially since most of them occur quite a bit in Google analytics. Like Corey Taylor, for example.
Google Analytics are something of an evil to the journalistic field, because they’ve destroyed it. Google has monopolized the ad-revenue industry, with something called AdSense (which is what we use here) which more or less controls what pops up in a search engine when users look for a certain term. Popular topics may be world events, memes or celebrities. This is where Corey Taylor comes into play – as more articles with him will generate more results in searches for their sites. He’s already a popular topic, they’re just capitalizing on that. If “Big Boobs or “Big Ass” was somehow applicable to the metal scene, they would find a way to use that too. Any sort of search term that people constantly type will immediately fall under Google’s analytic system. In short, it’s a basic AI. It stores the data that you type into it under a massive database where it catalogs the number of times a specific object is typed in. If your grandmother looked for “fluffy cats” seven times today, then it will track the number of times that not only your grandmother, but your neighbor’s aunt, your best friend’s wife and you boss’s seven-year old daughter typed in the term. Now you get why sites take advantage of this system – it’s easy. If I filled this whole fucking page with nothing but popular topics, I’d get thousands of views and loads of income in the process. But as it stands, we barely make enough to cover our yearly fee; which I personally pay out of pocket.
The fact is, these analytics are killing the scene, because new bands just aren’t getting the kind of respect that they deserve and all that we hear is the opinion of aging rockers and media blowhards that don’t deserve half the credit that some of the real bangers in this scene deserve. There are so many great bands, that I could never possibly hear them all. So many talented acts that are making a name for themselves already, but with no media voice. With no voice, no one gets to hear the act, and the act goes silent. We’ve actually lost acts because of the lack of real coverage in the media, and these acts are never coming back. They made their albums and sealed up the body, throwing it into the incinerator. These acts are toast, and the only way you’ll hear them is by hunting. You never even know what you’re missing anymore, because nothing is properly publicized. I could give a fuck less about what Gene Simmons thinks. I could give a fuck less about what David Draiman thinks, and I was once a pretty heavy fan of Disturbed; an act that made me question my relgion long before I’d discovered Iced Earth and Paradise Lost, which cemented it. I definitely liked these Nu-Metal guys and still jam to their music every now and again. It was my era. But it’s no longer truly relevant anymore, and it needs to take a backseat to newer acts with newer ideas. As much as these sites want to keep reminding me of my past, I have to think about all of the other acts out there, who would die for a shot at an article in these publications.
Wait. Now that I think of it, when Chester Bennington killed himself; it was the headline for almost a full month. Instead of allowing people to get over the loss of this beloved icon, (and yes, I dug Hybrid Theory and a few others) the sites just decided to keep posting more and more articles, which kept the death fresh in their minds and attracted numerous trolls in the process. Then we lost a bassist in what I thought to be a terrific blackened tech/death act, which I would not have known about had it not come to my attention that the man hung himself in the guitarist’s shed. Yes, I’d received a promo, but didn’t even realize it until I’d searched my inbox. What’s more, is said act wasn’t but a few miles away from my location. Just the next state over, actually. New acts are normally publicized for terrible things, like being a pedophile or having a member commit suicide instead of their fucking music! If I have any advice for the rocker these days looking to get some sort of publicity, kill yourself or start messing with other people’s children! I mean, this is something right out of Monty Python. It makes me think of the scene in which the men are tasked with shooting themselves, but are too idiotic to know how to use a gun. It’s ludicrous. This is the worst advice ever. To think, that you must become the lowest of the low to get even one bit of publicity in this horribly corrupted media. It makes me want to go out and read a great deal of Hunter S. Thompson. I just can’t believe that unless you’re a millionaire with enough advertisers to fill a shoebox, (and my guess is that Corey shrinks the little imps down to fit the box, which he pushes under the bed every night, to bring them back to normal size every morning) that the advertising branch of this industry won’t give you even so much as one cent for your thoughts, let alone two.
Just recently, Metal Injection posted an article about Arch Enemy’s current vocalist, who turned the band into a joke. Her article wasn’t about the band’s music though, she wanted to stress that people shouldn’t eat meat and be vegan. More or less. The article received tons of comments, but not in her favor, to which Metal Injection literally commented back, with a completely salty response in the vein of “It’s nice to know that so many people commented without even reading the article.” This resulted in an even larger backlash, where people did comment that they had read it, and that it said exactly what they expected it to say, arguing that it was clickbait used to push veganism onto listeners. I don’t personally give a damn if the woman eats socks, grass or dog food. None of that matters. I haven’t even heard the album yet, even though Arch Enemy with clean vocals seems like an awful mistake to my old ears. I will eventually swallow my pride and listen to the damn thing, but I will say that this is all just uncalled for. The entire peak of rock and metal journalism, the trusted sources for news based in this genre of music – are one big gag. The problem is, no one is getting the punchline and as I stated earlier, the real people that are feeling the brunt of this sick joke are the up and comers themselves, who seem to be sitting on the sidelines, still trying to make enough money for a decent tour. The bottom line is that there isn’t a new heavy metal scene today in the mainstream, because the media killed it. I don’t even blame Corey Taylor or Slipknot for that, nor Metallica, Disturbed, Korn or any other large band. I blame the media system itself, and it’s reliance on Google analytics for clickbait views. I also blame Team Rock for forcing people to pay money in order to read their articles. I blame the whole fucking ad-revenue system. If you want to know what killed rock music, it’s the nostalgia based in those anayltics which I feel is wholly responsible. In truth, we metalheads have been damned by our past – even if it isn’t wholly ours, but the generation after – my generation. If we keep looking to the past and promoting only the past, then I really can’t see a future for this genre.
At least not in the mainstream. Disco still continues underground, so I’ve heard…