Thrashing a dead warhorse


Metal remains somewhat of a dividing line in the pop world. Aficianados on the one hand, frequently in denial that it is anything other than pop music, frequently pour scorn on followers of  ‘straight’ music’, X-Factor etc. believing them sheep.

Tool, ever ahead of the hard rock crowd penned this sarcastic paean to metallers of this ilk:

Certain of detractors adopt an equally deluded posture, pronouncing it little more than a formless, inarticulate noise. Metal has its distinguishing features, of course: unreconstructed machismo, vocal histrionics, masturbatory excess in the guitar department a frequent obsession with morbid, juvenile subject matter but when all is said and done Metal is just very loud pop. And like the rest of the pop world Metal scenes follow trends and aren’t immune to the retro bug. A resurgence in the popularity of Thrash and the recent ‘Big Four’ tour has proven that there’s lucre in the old warhorse. Both Megadeth and Slayer joined the thousands of bands rolling down the ‘classic album tour’ route and performed, respectively Rust In Peace and Seasons in The Abyss live in their entireties. Like Metallica, whose 2008 album, Death Magnetic marked a stylistic shift back in the direction of past fan favourites Ride The Lightning and The Black Album, both Megadeth’s Endgame and Slayer’s World Painted Blood returned, at least in part to a facimile of their ‘classic’ sound. None of this is surprising – they are all men of a certain age, much of their fanbase is only a few years younger, nostalgia beckons. Pop has eaten itself several times over andthe meal is repeating.

Now Anthrax have done it with Worship Music.

Always the cheekiest and most musically left-field of the thrash brigade (they covered Public Enemy, Joe Jackson and The Smiths amongst others; not to be novel but because they were fans). I liked thrash metal back in the day. It was an innovative scene, as much as the hip hop and New Wave scenes that Anthrax (and guitarist Scott Ian in particular) relished. But thrash got left behind as metal inevitably moved on. Black Metal, Doom and Grindcore took extremity to new levels; Nu-Metal took the stuttering rap/funk experiments of Faith No More and Rage Against The Machine into more commercial territory; Fear Factory went techno; Marilyn Manson showed that rock could be witty and shift serious units; The Darkness brought Glam back… I haven’t even mentioned Grunge. And Metal’s still a vital scene now. Is there anything more cutting edge than Djent? Metallica, for their sins have made a brave move collaborating with Lou Reed. Have you heard the new Mastodon?

All of which makes me wonder at this last hurrah. And last hurrah it must be. Thrash, lets face it is no music for old men. Slayer aren’t going to be booking arena tours in their 70s a la Strolling Bones. So let them have their fun, and buy the records and gig tickets by all means but don’t kid me that Death Magnetic is as shit hot as this:

or that Slayer will ever top this

And for me Anthrax is all about this guy:

Better to let the music rust in peace and move on.

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