My wife and I watched a TV show last night on a metal concert called Sonisphere in Knebworth England. I have to say while the show was decent we noticed a trend in the advertising during commercial breaks – erectile dysfunction, beds to reduce back pain, pills to make you feel young again and home insurance. Wow. Heavy Metal shows will soon have Depends advertising on them or maybe Metallica’s next tour will be sponsored by Preparation H or Metamucil.
Yes, the metal bands from the 80’s and 90’s are all approaching their 50’s and 60’s in age, but there are still a few in their late 30’s. Some have fared better than others. San Francisco was the epicenter to thrash metal in the 80’s and early 90’s before grunge pushed them underground. We had Metalica, Testament, Death Angel, Exodus, Laaz Rockit and that’s just off the top of my head. Apologies to my buds who I left out. Bands from out of town found San Francisco a must stop place to play. The Record Vault was where every metal band had to put in an appearance.
When out of town bands lost a member they usually turned to the San Francisco bands to find a replacement. Now we’re relegated to VH1 Classic. Classic rock was what you referred to bands who stopped recording albums and performed only reunion tours. The Rolling Stones first reunion tour was in 1975. That today is Classic Rock, not Slayer or Metallica.
I have noticed a few changes over the years in metal’s appearance and part of that has to do with the grunge movement. As the metal heads get older and their hair starts to thin, if you cut your long hair then you must grow facial hair. If you still have thinning long hair then you grow a goatee. If you shave your head then you need a ridiculous amount of facial hair [Scott Ian, Kerry King] Lemmy of Mötorhead is the only exception because he’s had the mutton chops and mustache since he was born. He eats nothing but red meat and potatoes and downs a fifth of Jack Daniels a day and his liver is still in perfect health and he doesn’t look a day older than he did in the 80’s.
If you have gray hair you either dye it [Joey Belladonna] or wear a beanie. Not the propeller head beanies, but a black one preferably with a skull and crossbones on it. Sadly there are few metal bands left in the San Francisco Bay Area. We have Metallica that’s usually off touring somewhere just like Death Angel who at least puts in a showing at the Haight Street Fair [special note, Will and Ted of Death Angel were in a band called Warfare D.C. I used to manage and the pre-Death Angel reunion group when they were the Organization I recorded their demo so I have to give them special props].
Heavy metal isn’t dead, but it isn’t growing the way it was pre-21st century. It’s mostly the same bands from the old days reforming. If you want to find new metal bands you have to look to Europe or more specifically Finland for new blood. That’s how things started with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in the 80’s so maybe by 2020 we’ll see something new pop up in the states and specifically San Francisco. We have lost a few from back in the day, but in most cases it’s not been from drugs, but cancer or some other failure of a body part. Yep, we’re getting older, but the advertisers don’t have to remind us every day.