It is the beast that has been screaming in a crowded room, somehow going unheard. It is the dark and ill creature that is misunderstood by many but adored by more. It is the thing that takes our distorted perception of its presence…and uses it to play. Metal is stronger than ever.
A few years ago I had the opportunity to do some work at, the now defunct, ‘Heavy TO’; a heavy metal music festival headlined by the likes of Five Finger Death Punch, Slipknot and Marilyn Manson. Like most of the mainstream world, I still can’t easily digest the genre but that festival sticks out in my mind as a powerful and inspiring artistic memory. I witnessed a passion for music and an allegiance to a scene that I’ve never encountered before.
Thousands of people endured 2 days of constant rain that turned Downsview Park into a mud bowl. The fans never waivered, armored with ponchos and rubber boots, proudly showcasing their distinct attire through the clear plastic: black shirts donning the name of their favorite metal band, patches and pins covering faded denim vests, colourful tattoos of horror movie icons, pants with dozens of buckles, and hair often gelled into spikes a foot high. This stuff looked like it took a lot of work to prepare.
I paint this picture for you because if you haven’t had a glimpse of the faithful fandom of ‘metalheads’, the following news may come as a surprise. Spotify Insights recently released the results of an analysis that attempted to identify the most loyal fans of various genres of music by monitoring how often listeners returned to play tracks from ‘core’ artists (musicians considered most central to each genre). On a global scale, Metal skewers the competition, surprisingly beating second-place Pop by approximately 25%.
Metal music is rarely seen in the top 40s or in mainstream media, but the 2007 Canadian documentary ‘Global Metal’ shows us what a stronghold the genre has on all corners of the globe.
So whether it’s ignorance or fear that keeps the mainstream away from this scene, the results prove that the industry is missing out on a lucrative side of the business.