I know that with the ways in which we receive news and information since I was a young metalhead has changed significantly but it seems that we care less about our bands or more specifically band members than when I was first listening to heavy metal. When Ozzy left Black Sabbath not only was it a big deal but it actually affected our lives. Sure it didn’t make a difference to our families nor was it life or death but it was our life and had an effect. Additionally when a band broke up or Randy Rhodes or Cliff Burton died we took note and debated for hours if the band could go on and be the same, I don’t know if that is the same today. Sure we all knew when Dimebag was shot and killed on that stage in Ohio and yes it had an effect on metalheads but I think that was more from the way Dimebag was killed than if anyone cared the way we once did.
I am not saying that those of us who grew up in heavy metal are more compassionate than those that love it now, no, I wouldn’t presume to know how another person feels, but I think the problem is first, there are way too many bands today and second information is instant so there is no real shock to the information being processed. If you have a Twitter account or a Facebook page you will find out almost at the time of a person’s death of their demise and since there are thousands of metal and entertainment websites out there the story gets played over and over again. Case in point; Jeff Hanneman died and the whole metal world took note and was shocked and couldn’t believe what was happening to one of their favorite bands. Yes the talk turned to if Slayer could even go on but that debate started after Dave Lombardo was left off of their current tour so I don’t think one has to do with the other. Sure it changed the debate a little bit but the debate was already raging by the time Jeff died.
In contrast the band Behold! The Monolith, a fantastic stoner/doom/sludge band out of LA lost their Singer/Bass player Kevin McDade late last month. Besides those of us who really follow the band, and I do because they are fantastic, I am not sure how many people were really aware of this sad passing. Not only was Kevin an intricate part of the overall writing process of the band and what they do but there are only three people in the band! How does a band like this move on and why do we care less about Kevin McDade than we do Jeff Hanneman? I know that that question is unfair, I have zero capacity to judge how people feel about anything, but it goes back to what I was saying earlier and that is I am not sure deaths in the metal world affect us like they did when I was younger.
But because there are so many bands out there and there are so many websites that report on metal that we get inundated with information and when we see a headline like BANDMEMBER OF BAND DIES we think to ourselves “That sucks…when does the new (add band name here) album come out”. Back in the day when a band member died there was a bit of a morning period for fans, sure we were still concerned with when we would here new music from the band, if ever, but the death was significant to us as fans. Again, and I keep hitting on this point, I think it is because of our access to every band that is out there that we are probably sometimes indifferent to just about any news that we hear about bands, and that kind of sucks. Having a band member die tragically early, to me, is slightly more important than the guitar player from a band leaving, especially when the guitar player has a habit of doing just that but this is important as well. I just think that with band members having, as my son would say, eleventyjillion side projects, band members leaving or moving on has became more of the norm than the exception. Maybe that is the problem, maybe we are just so accustomed to members of our favorite bands doing their own things separately that they have made us immune to any type of change in the band. And maybe we are being too hard on Slayer for dismissing Dave Lombardo. Maybe we expect Slayer to always be the original four from the beginning of their existence but that is probably unfair as well because just like a band we as individuals evolve and changes are necessary. Maybe it is because music is an escape and we don’t want to have the same issues, drama, and sadness that we have in our real lives.
I am not sure if anything I have just wrote makes sense but I think it is sad that heavy metal is so inundated with bands (most of them mediocre to bad) that we as a metal community miss out on or are indifferent to the information that matters.
RIP Kevin McDade and Jeff Hanneman and everyone else that the metal community has lost…whenever it was!
Until Later, Peace!