To the Elders of Metal,
With the utmost respect, I address you all: members of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Accept, Anthrax, Slayer, and anyone else I may have forgotten, this is a message to you all from myself, Don de Leaumont, owner and creator of The Great Southern Brainfart hard rock/metal blog. As I sit here listening to the latest masterpiece by Swedish metal band Enforcer, I am writing you all today to let you all know one thing and one thing only. The very brand of classic heavy metal and/or thrash metal that you established a foundation for is very much alive, well, thriving, and hungry. It is a beast that needs to be continuously fed and is still feasting in the underbelly of the underground much like you all did back in your more humble days.
I can imagine that as you are reading this you are sitting on your huge tour busses, in your huge houses in LA or in Europe (or your modest home in Texas), in your lavish backstage green rooms, or in your swank hotel rooms. While you are reading this, you have management and business agents and associates and assistants collecting money for you and roadies helping to you set your endorsed and next to free equipment. Am I knocking this? Not at all. Each and every one of you worked very hard and tirelessly to get to where you are today but in all honesty, it seems that many of you have somehow neglected to acknowledge that the very music that you started so many years ago is still very much alive and well.
A few years ago, I interviewed Wolf Hoffman of Accept and he told me that he was a little worried that there would be no bands to carry the flag for them once they were gone. Iron Maiden, over the last few tours have taken out already established classic acts such as Anthrax and Megadeth and even gone as far as to give the opening slot to the children of bassist Steve Harris (Lauren Harris and George Harris respectively) while Judas Priest had none other than “joke metal” band Steel Panther open their last US tour. Anthrax has gone on to being an opening act for the modern metal (and terrible) band, Lamb of God but to top it all off, Slayer guitarist Kerry King gave his, in so many words, “metal is dead” quote when he stated that there were no more guitar heroes or guitarists to inspire others to play like they had or like they did themselves.
As a 42 year old fan of heavy metal running a metal blog, I have had my ear to the tracks since starting this blog in 2009. While a band like Iron Maiden gives their opening slots to the children of their bassist and while Judas Priest gives their opening slot to a joke band, I can’t even begin to count on 10 hands the number of great, young, hungry metal bands that are out there “defending the faith.” These bands are keeping the very music that the elders created before them alive all while schlepping their gear from town to town, living in vans, and playing in dingy clubs to 20 people with every ounce of heart and soul that they have. These bands would probably donate their nuts (and in some cases tits) to have those opportunities. So why are they not getting them? I can tell you with all honesty that the case here is that the elders are no longer listening. They have removed their ears from the tracks and honestly have no interest it hearing or knowing what is truly going on in the deep, seedy belly of the very underground from which they once dwelled.
There are some exceptions to the rule here. A couple of years ago, King Diamond went in search of “new blood” to support him on his first extensive North American tour in many years. He could’ve played it safe and taken out a better known, established name in the metal world but who did he pick? He picked an obscure occult/psychedelic rock band called Jess and the Ancient Ones. King had his ear to the ground and actively sought out a band that he wanted to “give back” to. This proved very effective because now, Jess and the Ancient Ones’ fan base as extended into the US whereas if they would’ve never done that tour may never have reached those people. Another example? Megadeth. On their Countdown to Extinction Anniversary tour, they chose to take out California based metal band KYNG. Much like with JATAO on the King Diamond tour, this tour exposed Kyng to a larger audience and opened some doors for them that very well could have remained closed. See? It can be done.
One of the readers of my blog is a young woman by the name of Taylor. In my opinion, Taylor is the future and is one of the people who I feel can keep the spirit of traditional metal/traditional thrash alive. Even as much as I work on this blog, Taylor goes to maybe 3x as many shows as I do with her dad Jim. Taylor is always sending me lists of bands to check out and it just continues to confirm the very point to this letter. Metal is alive and well and more than capable of carrying the flag. You just need to open your ears, remember what it was like to be where you were when it all began, and see the magic that these bands are making right under your noses. The fire still burns with the same intensity that it burned with when Maiden released Number of the Beast. It still screams with a vengeance like it did in 82 with Judas Priest. What you all may see as the end of the horizon is so far from that. You just need to put your ears back to the tracks and to hear what it is that’s coming down the line.
Dear elders, I know you are all very busy people so I have even taken the opportunity here to give you some examples of some truly great metal bands that you may not even know exist with the hopes that you will hear them and know that the fire still burns. It’s every bit as powerful, every bit as hungry, and every bit as relentless as it was in the days that you, the elders, forged this very music. Thank you so much for your time and please, donate just a moment to see what you are missing!
With great reverence,
Don de Leaumont
The Great Southern Brainfart
July 13, 2016