Village Voice Estimates Nine Month Life Span For New Acts, Apparent Death Of Hipster Metal

Posted by on January 4, 2010

Now here’s an interesting decade-in-review list. The Village Voice has compiled a list of New Genre Hype in the 2000’s, and rightfully so as one-hit-wonders and genre fads no longer define entire decades or entire years. We now live in an age of hyper-turnover, where the Internet’s constant stream of information makes it almost impossible for any act to hold a major chunk of attention for very long. You can’t predict the “next big thing” anymore, there’s no time for it.

The Voice’s Christopher Weingarten declares a band’s official life span as nine months from MySpace inception:

Faster than you can tweet “Serena Maneesh,” entire genres of music are “discovered” by attention-starved writers; bloggers engage in hilarious slap-fights about who was there first; magazines feel pressured into writing clueless, hackazoid, late-pass trend pieces; bands get elevated to a critical mass of attention they can’t possibly handle; and the phenomenon is promptly abandoned once we find a newer, shinier toy to play with.

Now while I’d personally agree with that estimate, it should be noted that the number isn’t backed by any study. Also, Weingarten apparently thinks hipster metal died in 2007:

What It Was: Dave Grohl’s unexceptional Probot vanity project brought attention to avant-metal label Southern Lord, making it cool for the ironic-ringer-T-shirt set to share warm PeeBeRs with the denim-jacket-back-patch set. Soon, bands like the Sword, Priestess, and Saviours brought all the energy and aggression of metal without zitty geekazoid tropes like “chops.”

Creative Peak: Mastodon, Leviathan [2004]

Typically Effusive Praise at the Time: “If Sunn 0))) is the ZZ Top of experimental metal, with matching beards and Gibson Les Paul guitars, Boris might be the Kraftwerk, or the Ramones, or even the Jimi Hendrix Experience, depending on the album.” —The New York Times Magazine, 2006

What Happened?: For most people, standing through two hours of Sunn O)))’s fog machine and drone turned out to be “not really my thing.” Indie rockers started their own terrible metal bands (David Pajo’s Dead Child, Rob Crow’s Goblin Cock), and the burnouts nerds laughed at in high school resumed shaking their heads at us all.

I completely disagree on that point: hipster trend-ascribing site Pitchfork still hands high marks (and by the way, was giving 9.1’s out to ISIS and the like way before Probot) to acts from the Hydra Head/Southern Lord/Tee Pee camps, and last year’s Scion Rock Fest was a wildly successive, sold-out mecca for that scene.

What do you think? Is hipster metal really dead? Did metal see any “next big thing” in the 2000’s that actually managed to stick around (metalcore?)? Will anything define metal for all of the 2010s?

Categorised in: Waxing Philosophic

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  • I kinda think the rise of folk/viking/pagan metal (in Europe) has been a marker or metal in the 2010s. It’s been around for over 20 years, sure, but it’s been getting bigger and bigger, with more attention lavished upon them. Just look at the lineups of major festivals across Europe – you can’t move for all the folk and folk-inspired metal.

    I think it’s all part of a massive movement in Europe to rediscover and be proud of their own history. You can see it too in the increasing popularity of medieval / dark ages re-enactments and medieval markets.

    Being a lover of folk metal, I don’t think this is a bad thing. However, just as some of the decent bands are getting recognised outside of Europe, the “bandwagon” bands are starting to take over, and the more “rocky” projects like Subway to Sally are inching their way into the mainstream. It seems everyone has a folk project these days. I think we’ll see this trend increasing worldwide in 2010 and becoming more noticible in the mainstream.

  • Oh god, I hate viking and pagan metal, Steff. Sorry. But you’re right, it definitely has a market. Amon Amarth certainly blew up a few years ago…but are they still relevant?

  • stu1

    The folk/viking/pagan thing is already dead in the US and doesn’t have much longer in Europe. It won’t completely die out, but it’s definitely not getting bigger or the next big thing.