In 1992 the band Pantera released their album titled “Vulgar Display of Power” and changed metal music forever. Dimebag Darrell’s blistering solos, Phil Anselmo’s aggressive vocals, Vinny Paul’s punishing double-kick and Rex’s tight bass groove, along with well-written songs, thrust the band into the mainstream consumption. They unified fans of other heavy metal subgenres, inventing their own style called “power groove”. They reshaped the sonic landscape of modern heavy music, leaving behind a legacy that will continue long into the future, despite the band’s break up in 2003.
The titans of the heavy metal genre; Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and ACDC, are all ageing and it’s likely that in the next two decades, none of them will be performing live. These are the perfect conditions, creating a genre vacuum for a new band to exploit.
In the absence of a unifying band, it seems that the metal genre will continue to remain fractured, with people having individual preferences for their own bands within different subgenres. Occasionally, there are bands that come close to breaking through to the mainstream, such as Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage and Alter Bridge. Early 2016 saw the band Disturbed achieve widespread acceptance and accolades for a cover of the folk classic The Sound of Silence, however, it will remain to be seen if they can capitalise on this success.
Due to my own preference for heavy metal, I remain optimistic that the genre will achieve a renaissance in the near future. Widespread mainstream acceptance of heavy metal is exactly the shake up the music industry needs. Considering that most people in the music industry are barely earning a living, record labels and songwriters are risk adverse. The current state of pop music is stale, uninspiring and bland in its sameness. Any change would be for the benefit of the entire industry and it is only a matter of time until audiences become completely bored of pop homogeneity. If we apply the 20 year rule, or that trends tend to repeat every 20-30 years, we can expect to see heavy metal become mainstream in the very near future.