Will Metal’s Comeback Last?
The numbers don’t lie: rock music is in decline, and is not the most popular form of music for the first time in quite a while. Splinditty took a look at the topic earlier this year, citing issues like changing demographics, rock’s issue with being too serious, and shifting priorities for radio play. Frankly, even if you’re a fan of the genre it all makes sense from an objective standpoint. But what makes the whole subject somewhat bizarre is that leading up to 2018 the metal sub-genre of rock n’ roll was enjoying something of a resurgence.
It’s this resurgence that prompted Billboard to run the headline, “It’s the ’90s all over again” back in May of 2016. That headline was accompanied by an image of a typically manic-looking Ozzy Osbourne on stage representing a renewal of OzzFest starring Black Sabbath (with Osbourne headlining) and Slipknot. The actual quote, that it felt like the ’90s all over again, came from 5B Arts & Media CEO Cory Brennan, who knows a thing or two about what he was talking about. Brennan has managed the likes of Slipknot, Stone Sour, Megadeth, and Danzig. Specifically, he was remarking on the massive positive response not just to OzzFest, but to its combination with KnotFest to form a massive, fan-friendly exhibition of classic ’90s-style metal.
2016 also saw a minor metal resurgence on more of a fan level, specifically with the high profile release of a few online games based on classic groups. Slotsource still lists the games in its collection of NetEnt titles, specifically paying homage to Guns N’ Roses and Motorhead. They were new games around 2016, designed not just as tributes but as exhibitions of some of both bands’ biggest hits. They may sound a little bit trivial, but they also helped to put the names Guns N’ Roses and Motorhead on the front pages of a lot of gaming platforms that cater to tens of thousands of players (if not more).
Guns N’ Roses, of course, had its own comeback well beyond an online slot game also. Around the same time the OzzFest/KnotFest show was announced, GNR reunited at Coachella with Axl Rose and Slash on the same stage for the first time in what felt like forever. This not only launched an international tour that did incredibly well and is only just wrapping up, but also brought about the announcement that Rose would be taking over as the frontman for AC/DC. Oh, and did we mention Metallica was making a comeback around the same time?
Really, the last few years have been a whirlwind for fans of hard rock and heavy metal. Now, however, as we confront more and more statistics about the entire genre of rock n’ roll falling behind, the question of whether or not this metal resurgence can last is becoming an interesting one. Metallica has been quieter of late, Black Sabbath has announced it’s done, and even the hugely successful GNR tour is wrapping up. The next year or two will show of all of the 2016-17 excitement was a bizarre, thrilling aberration, or the start of a longer trend that could keep rock music propped up.