Monday, January 19, 2009
Above: Dude, I just bought, like, TEN of these.
So just after Thanksgiving last year, I was preparing for the long ride back to S.F. after a brief stint in my hometown of Eureka. My son Calvyn and I would be carpooling back with my 13(14?)-year-old cousin, who had been vacationing with my mom and stepdad up in E-Town, and whose parents would be driving down from Stockton to pick her up upon our arrival in the city. My mom had told me that she (my cousin) was now "into metal", so naturally, wanting to be the "cool older cousin", I offered up the iPod jack in the car. "What kind of wonderful music passes for "metal" in the world of a junior high schooler?" I wondered, morbid curiosity getting the better of me.
Well, for the next 4 hours or so, I was treated to a healthy dose of what the kids call "metalcore" (aka mall metal, aka mallcore, aka screamo). For those of you fortunate enough to be unfamiliar with "metalcore", here's the basic idea: Much as it did in the early-to-mid 80's, the music industry recognized the growing popularity of underground metal with the youth of the world. To cash in on the trend, they started signing bubblegum pop versions of metal bands, with major appeal to teenagers (especially girls), and over the top imagery to "shock" parents. As records began to sell, bands appealing to a lower and lower common denominator were brought to the forefront, and as THEY succeeded financially, a horrible new genre was born. Picture The Jonas Brothers with double bass and distortion and you start getting the picture.
"Metalcore" is definitely more about an image than about any sort of musical ideology. Bands are dressed up in tight jeans, slathered with mascara and given silly Myspace haircuts, marketed as a fashion to be bought and sold at Hot Topic. Which is fine. They're getting paid to be musicians, right? Good for them.
Anyhow, I got to thinking on that long, long drive home. What is "metalcore" if not a sad rehash of the "hair metal" movement of the 1980's? Feather-light pop music, sold as "metal", played by makeup-wearing pretty boys with bad hair and worse tattoos. The cycle has completed, and here we are 20 years later, facing the same onslaught of Z-grade metal commodification. The music's a little different, but the packaging is pretty much the same.
Above: Androgynous pop-metallers Poison. Below: Androgynous pop-metallers Escape The Fate.
Above: Street-smart Orange County, CA "metalcore" band Bleeding Through, featuring female fashion template and primadonna Marta Peterson on keyboards. Below: Ocean County, NJ hair metal band Skid Row, featuring female fashion template and primadonna Sebastian Bach on vocals.
Below: A typical American "metalcore" fan.
Above: The heavily made-up "bad boys" of hair metal band L.A. Guns. Below: The heavily made-up "bad boys" of "metalcore" band Avenged Sevenfold.
"Hey, did you notice I'm wearing BLACK NAIL POLISH!? Look! Hey! HEY LOOK!!! BLACK NAIL POLISH! Awesome, right? Right!?"
In conclusion, a cryptic warning to purveyors of false metal everywhere:
BRUJERIA JUDGES YOU!!!
Posted by Shelby Cobras at 3:08 PM