It’s too early to announce a heavy-metal renaissance just yet. But the incessant sound of head-banging in the distance can’t be ignored.
Two weeks ago, the new Megadeth record, “Cryptic Writings,” debuted at an impressive No. 10 on the Billboard charts, selling more than 75,000 copies. Last week, Motley Crue’s new “Generation Swine” did even better, opening at No. 4 with more than 80,000 platters sold.
Both albums took a nosedive this week (‘Deth slipped to 26, the Crue to 30). But their lofty openings indicate an impressive loyalty from longtime fans and a probable infusion of new listeners. (Each of the band’s last albums tanked.)
In a sense, it’s inevitable that metal would clang again. There’s a hole in the culture for guitar bands since alterna-rock collapsed. Should metal fill the guitar void, it would prove sweet revenge, since the alterna-movement grew in part by eating into metal’s hard turf.
“A lot of the big alternative bands derived a great influence from metal,” explains Bob Chiappardi, whose company, Concrete Marketing, promotes hard rock. “Bands like Stone Temple Pilots and Pearl Jam learned a lot from Black Sabbath and Led Zep.”
While the rise of Nirvana flattened ‘80s metal, some of those bands are now mounting returns.
“Ratt is coming back and Quiet Riot just got back together,” says Gerri Miller, executive editor of Metal Edge Magazine. “They find the market more hospitable now.”
That’s good news for Tom Lipsky, whose CMC label puts out new albums by ‘70s and ‘80s metal acts (from Judas Priest to Dokken).
“We’re definitely seeing a turnaround,” Lipsky says. “The market is turning to mainstream rock, which opens the door for metal.”
Especially since metal doesn’t necessarily need gobs of radio play.
“The metal audience is very active. They don’t wait for the music to come to them,” Chiappardi says.
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