Making space for the next metal generation

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Making space for the next metal generation


I was thinking about basing this week’s column on the new Parkway Drive record, the #1 ARIA-charting Reverence. It’s the Byron Bay, metalcore band’s sixth full-length album since forming in 2003. Given their status and current level of exposure, you’ve probably heard about it, and you almost definitely don’t want to me to launch into a passionate championing of the band yet again. It’s those figures, however, that got my mind turning to this week’s topics – the passage of time, and musical ageing/evolution. I’ve been going to Parkway Drive shows since I was 16, back when they were packed out by fellow minors, and the band themselves were youthful upstarts getting under the skin of True Metal Warriors with the popularity of their watered-down-via-hardcore metal. I’m now 30, Parkway gets slung with the term ‘Dad Metal’, and it’s kind of rare to find anyone below the age of 23 arguing amongst their social media.

Recently I was asked if I had any suggestions for ‘young bands’ at an all-ages show for one of Australia’s biggest metal acts – even in the city of Melbourne, I was stumped. It made me realise that I haven’t seen many fresh faced 18 year olds at gigs for a while. Even the turnouts at hugely successful all ages festivals are falling very strongly on the side of legal drinking age. It’s not that the kids have gone anywhere, or that 18+ turnouts have become unhealthy – it’s just that we’ve all grown up, and a generational gap is forming. I suspect that the whole SoundCloud rap thing has grown into a position that somewhat reflects where nu-metal was at 20 years ago. Metallica were still making number 1 records, but they were becoming literal dads, and the kids certainly didn’t think they were cool anymore. Instead we had new saviours like Limp Bizkit come along to reinvent the wheel for a new generation.

A large number of these modern performers I’m referencing have grown from the metal/hardcore scene, which is aesthetically quite evident. A solid amount of the music being produced is fucking heavy too, despite their obvious lack of care for genre restrictions. Dudes are screaming over beats they made in their bedrooms, sampling riffs from ‘90s metal bands, and broadcasting it directly to audiences they’ve personally curated via a life spent on Spotify. It’s nu-metal, but this time it’s coming more from the side of the hip hop fence, with social media in place of major labels. Here’s some young artists to reference my point – Scarlxrd, Ghostemane, $uicideBoy$ – these acts are heavy, and they’re pulling in huge numbers online. Most of us still haven’t even noticed. I could go on, but for now I’ll leave you with the suggestion. I may be wrong, but I feel the unstoppable tides have already turned. For the record, I think Reverence is sick, and I’ll still be listening to Parkway Drive when I’m 50.