For 29 years till now the heavy music has been integral part of my life. I began to dig into the genre in a country where it had been banned, there had been zero information about this music, it had been absolutely impossible to find original copies or full discographies, and where the pirate tape trading and re-recording has been the only option to listen to something. I really remember how hard it was to get recorded something new (the double cassette players has been also a piece of gold), and on top I had to to pay to music studios in order to record something for me on my own old cassette. Still i had a dozen of tapes which I listened until wore out, I knew every song name, all “available” albums, tried to understand all the lyrics and dig for bands member’s names. I walked for hours the downtown searching for music studios, and shops for pirate tapes. Looked with eyes wide open to all black and white or poorly printed cover arts, and kept searching. My curiosity was huge and I was literally always searching for new stuff all the time. Bands, genres, albums, song, pics, videos, lyrics. One band has been leading me to another and another, and another style and so on… Merch was impossible to find or buy. We were drawing band logos on notebook, backpacks and so on. It was a great time searching for stuff and being grateful to all I could find.
It was the period after the 80s boom of metal. In the beginning of the 90s new genres were shaping based on what had been already paved. I’m speaking about the heavier stuff – death, black, grind… This was my beginning, my adoption into the school of metal after some years of childhood listening to 80s disco, some pop, Europe and Billy Idol.
My collection of cassettes was growing year on years. CDs – as much as I could be able to find and afford. The market matured and more stuff was available. Pirate of course. I wasn’t satisfied with the mainstream, but continuing to explore heaviest genres and UG.
I witnessed the rise and the fall of some genres and many bands, the new trends, the death and reincarnation of the vinyl and the beginning of the digital era and of the music on the go. The behaviours of the new generations changed, their perception of the world and their willingness to have everything now, just without getting much into it. The consuming overtook the appreciation. HoweverI still continue to listen to records and bands like hell, continue to buy and collect, and on top I try to express my thoughts here, on Blessed Altar Zine, presenting you some of the gems of the UG for the sake of the music.
Yes, 29 years later I’m still searching, trying to have as big picture as possible to our music. Yes, I can state that I’ve seen a lot, and experienced a lot. Especially living in a country with absolutely immatured music market. That starving allowed me to dig more, to judge better, to learn better and to be always hungry for more. This is why I wanted to share this article with you.
This year some important bands called a day. On top – the physical death of many rock, pop and metal iconic musicians. No need to name them – everybody has discovered for himself the miss of an artist. It is obvious that our older generation is just slowly left without our idols. The biggest bands seem tired and their days are also about to end. Is our favourite music getting on age for a death? Do we have to continue to listen to those bands and artists only?
I’m thrilled by the topic of the music itself. I’m worried about the emptiness which all those talented people leave behind though. I have raised with many bands and solo artists, who I just took for granted. Furthermore, their names and albums turned into cult, they were the base, on which another generation of bands and artists grew up. This second generation couldn’t raise a third one though, and there was a certain period in our beloved music when almost no good or memorable tunes or albums have been released. Yes, I’m just talking about the years after 1999 until, let’s say 2011. The lack of quality has been soaked into nu, core, digitalization and consumerism. As the fast food – it was generally junk.
Yes, now you can call me a nostalgic, in the sense that I miss the emotion of discovering of new album or band, which I had searched for, waited to see or dreamed about. What I explained earlier in my writings. Hold on, don’t turn off your device. Let’s continue.
Being into the music for so long and digging it I find some major matters now. As every art, music is eternal, and we are transient. The big bands which the older generations have been raised with will always stay titanic. Their music is eternal and paved the way to the next waves. These bands created quality, gave their souls in the name of the music. Their heritage will live on and could possibly be great discovery for the next generations too.
Another aspect – nowadays there are no clearly big new bands which create significant art as their predecessors. The great albums from the 70s and 80s (and even some of the 90s) will never be repeated in their significance. It is like all has been said, done and played. More often the “new” is found in a well polished mix of styles and genres.
The possibilities which digitalization and the technology give, allow to pop up as many bands as possible, and they to be accessible by everybody. Something which additionally kills the status building, the reputation. The audience listens on their devices, skipping through, without getting under the soul of the music. It is more about posing and capitalizing. And again aren’t there too many bands? It’s impossible to listen to them all.
Well, everybody should be able to answer for himself.
The glorious 2015-2018 years and why we must not be stranded
We’re standing as one
We’re carrying on
Rising from ruins
We’re bringing the lights
Out from the nights
Rising from ruins*
After a big period of being down in which there have been released up to 10 great albums per year, and having in mind all my consideration above, I must say that our music is rising from ruins! The last three years have been tremendous for the heavy metal. Absolutely amazing records and bands went out and showed enormous potential. And they keep coming, especially for the fans who are looking for. There are bands which just push forward the music ahead into new territories, explore them and introduce innovations.
The truth is that all the genres are into a renaissance and hundreds of bands which want to revive traditional heavy metal are out there carrying proudly the flag (#notironmaiden – thanks, Mark for this hashtag). New thrash monsters are blasting exceptional albums in 2018 (oh, yes – Big 4 have substitutions ffs); chopping death metal bands and awesome black (most outside Norway!?) are ripping off the air. Post-stuff is blossoming into many flows, the almighty doom is living a new life, and on top we have many old bands reuniting. I hope has a personal list of favourite new bands and albums. Yes, the AOTY lists are becoming harder to compile!
The Underground is boiling and the truth might be actually there. There is a merciless artillery marching to conquer back what’s been taken away! As it has been almost 40 years ago. The spark easily can be spotted in the eyes of those bands’ members when you go to an UG show. Spark which can’t be seen by the mass audience though. Simply because this audience very often refuse to go forward. The stranded guys. They can listen to, talk about and repeat everything about the well known monsters only and refuse to accept the New. Aren’t we a bit bored to see pics of the same bands in the social media all the time? Can we just for a minute forget about them and replace them with new shift?
By the way the more live shows are visited of older fans, maybe those nostalgic too, who want their beloved music to stay alive. To experience the emotion which only that music can create. Of course there are a lot of young people, but in general the average age there grows. What will happen with the heavy music when all the big bands say it is over? Will the next generations continue to enjoy to the music as we are enjoying it? What will be the influence of the newer bands?
I said it couple of times this year, that we should be all happy about albums like “Firepower” for example, because it is the autumn of 2018, and very soon there will be no Monsters of Rock in the classic meaning of the definition. And it is so solid album despite some fillers, that can easily fits into the definition of what true heavy metal is, showing how it must be done to the next wave, the New shift. The New shift which deserves our big praise.
You must love this music in order to find your direction. For us the fans, we’ll continue to enjoy the classic records, influenced us so much. However, let’s value high all the new and good stuff out there. Let’s support the bands from the burning boiling underground, even only by talking about them, discussing for a while their new records, or just going to their live shows. These bands are full of willingness to play and to prove this. Let’s support our favourite artists, to buy their music or merchandise. Let’s be happy that our beloved music is in absolute movement ahead.
Collecting music is an extraordinary experience. Discovering new bands and albums too. I’m in a difficult situation now that I can’t’ listen everything good, because it is too much! I even can’t go back for a while to have a spin to some great old stuff. That said I do encourage everybody to try and to dig deeper. Support the Underground, discuss more and post bands from the deeper mines.
There is so much great music, but only one life. Let’s enjoy it NOW, because everything comes to an end.
*ref to Judas Priest track
**Please support the underground! It’s vital to the future of our genre