It’s not the first time that a metal band has reached #1 in the UK Albums Chart, but it feels like a rarer and rare occasion, so Raz talks about why we should all celebrate Avenged Sevenfold doing so with Hail To The King.
Avenged Sevenfold have reached #1 in the UK Album Charts with Hail To The King and that’s a great thing for Heavy Metal because, like it or not, it is a subculture. Sure, it’s a subculture that sells out Wembley Stadium and fills Donington Park every year, but metal is a niche genre nonetheless.
It requires effort to keep up with and only the very dedicated (me and you) ever know what’s going on in the metal world on a daily basis. That’s why Avenged Sevenfold appearing in such a high-profile position in non-metal media is important. It reminds “them” that “we” are still here.
For an example of just how lowly regarded and under-represented heavy music is in mainstream media, let’s take one of the last remaining and finest bastions of the arts and NME finishing school, The Guardian.
In 2011, Mastodon released The Hunter and they garnered a very reasonable amount of coverage in the paper, and rightly so. However, the album was nowhere to be found in their Albums of the Year feature, voted for by their writers. Sure, Machine Head’s Unto The Locust crept in at #43 due to it being Dom Lawson’s favourite album of the year, but it just smacks of an odd sort of tokenism.
Yes, it’s unlikely to see the likes of Trap Them and Bastions anywhere near the Guardian, let alone heralded as great albums by great bands – that’s why you come to Thrash Hits – but such a grand show of brushing a whole genre under the broadsheet carpet is a magnificent show of bravado.
In 2012, despite Converge releasing what could be the finest album of their career with All We Love We Leave Behind, there wasn’t a single heavy album in the Guardian’s Top 20. Admittedly, the hardcore pioneers didn’t release Jane Doe – the kind of heavy album held up by indie kids with the same reverence as White Pony and Reign In Blood – but, as I mentioned, it takes time and energy to keep up with this shit. Time and energy that just isn’t worth it for some, apparently.
Let’s get back to Avenged Sevenfold, though. They’re a band that divides the metal world down the middle. Many, myself included, would not have the Californians as a first choice recommendation for a gateway band into heavy music, preferring to cite something from further underground – something worthier, perhaps, than a major label metal band – but Avenged Sevenfold are what we, the metal world has got as our figurehead at the moment.
So whether you’re vaguely embarrassed by the association or incredibly proud that Avenged Sevenfold are flying the heavy metal flag this week, we should all embrace it. At the very least, it’ll ensure that we can’t be ignored. Not this week, anyway.