Would the Big 4 be make it in today's over metal scene?

  • Yes

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • No

    Votes: 4 100.0%

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Aeons Abyss

New Metal Member
Mar 5, 2019
The following is a blog piece to generate debate on the current state of the underground metal scene in the age of streaming music ....

"Ask yourself this: Would the big 4 make it today if they were only just releasing right now in 2019. Who knows?

The underground metal scene is very different today, compared to the days when the Big Four became the big four; that is the mid-eighties, and early nineties.

Back then, when the scene was new, club gigs, tape trading, pen-pals and hand written fanzines were all a part of how a band got discovered.

For thrash, death metal and grindcore fans, attending shows, listening to underground metal radio stations, visiting metal record stores, reading metal magazines and occasionally catching metal music videos were the prime source of discovering new bands.

During this time, the internet did not exist as we know it, and metal fans had to work pretty hard to discover music and get their hands on the latest releases. And when a new tape or CD was added to a collection, it’d be worn out with listens, copied and traded, and sliced into mix tapes to share with your metal buddies.

Nowadays, it’s a very different story. Pretty much all metal music in the history of metal music is available online, anytime, anywhere… and its practically free.

Streaming services mean that choices for metal can be somewhat overwhelming! And with advances in recording opportunities, there are literally hundreds of new bands releasing material every week!

This means the challenge for any new band is getting their music heard, and building a dedicated listening audience. To achieve this, they must survive within a landscape dominated by the streaming giants and their dreaded algorithms.

Playlist curators, are the new music industry gods. Power, money and the ability to make a career in an instant all vests with these mysterious conductors of the music industry. And of course there is the influence of the big labels with the money, and the established artists who happily pay for the privilege to command top billing in the streaming jungle.

For an underground bands to get a look in, they must take control of their own promotion and push their music to the point where they are literally placing it in the hands of potential followers.

The struggle to get exposure has generated a whole bottom feeding industry, where the leeches of the world suck the blood and life from bands desperate for one their shot at the big time. Likes for likes, pay for followers, pay for streams, unregulated polls, unnamed curator submissions … this part of the industry can be nasty, and many new bands misstep at this initial stage and go under, to disappear forever.

But this struggle also creates an opportunity for a new underground scene, akin to the tape trading days of the past. True fans of metal now have an opportunity to seek out underground bands, and discover music that is not mainstream. They have a chance to connect individually with bands and be part of their success (or failure). Platforms such as Bandcamp, and even Instagram, offer small windows of discovery through targeted searching. Even Youtube channels such as BangerTV, who provide shout outs to independent releases, open new doors of discovery.

There are quite a few metal fans out there actively looking for the best new underground artist. Metalheads who want to discover new quality music that is buried under the immense sea of the streaming world. These explorers are the pioneers of the metal frontier and they can look beyond what the curators, labels and algorithms tell the masses to listen to.

And when they do find a cool new band, they follow them. They add them to their playlist. They stream their music and they connect with them on social media. They buy their CD and merchandise and they spread the word to other metalheads. And sometimes, these bands do discover the next Behemoth, At The Gates, or Death Angel … or maybe even Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer of Metallica!

So back to the initial question: Would the big 4 make it today it if they were only just starting in 2019. Maybe, or maybe not. It would all depend on whether they could overcome the sinister requirements of the algorithm, and this would be dependent on a healthy underground scene."
Kind of hard to say. They basically laid the groundwork that revolutionized modern metal, so if they were to exist in the modern era they would have to somehow have the same effect for it to be an accurate comparison. Way too many bands took direct influence from these guys to just delete their past and insert them into today.

As for becoming mainstream nowadays (with respect to metal), it would definitely be harder. Metal was mainstream in the 80s; hip-hop has since taken the throne. Album sales are down tremendously, so bands make less money now. Back in the 80s, metal was ubiquitous, and the big 4 had tons of exposure that they just wouldnt get these days.

The only band I can think of in metal that has rose out of obscurity in modern times is Ghost. And they were basically designed to be a marketable gimmick with the full intention of becoming mainstream. Back in the day, the guys from the big 4 were just your average underground band kind of dudes, and it is extremely rare for bands like this to ever rise to the level of playing stadiums.

Overall, id say they would probably do well in the underground scene and perhaps headline mid-sized venues, but I doubt they would book stadiums. Because of the name recognition and nostalgia, bands like the big 4, Sabbath, Priest, Maiden are in a league of their own. This probably wouldnt happen for the big 4 if they were to just start their careers today. So yes, they would be able to make it, but they wouldnt be able to get into the mainstream.
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Slayer and Metallica without a doubt. These bands are still wildly popular with teenagers. I don't think Anthrax would make it, seeing as almost nobody but old timers listen to them. Megadeth would probably fall in the middle: less popular than Slayer and Metallica, but more popular than Anthrax. Their brilliant musicianship make them timeless, but the vocals definitely are deal breakers for some people.