Artists don’t owe you anything

I recently watched a YouTube vid in which an obnoxious metalhead rants and raves about how horrible Darkthrone’s latter day punk and nwobhm-infused records are. He seems genuinely angered by the band’s decision not to craft albums suited to his specific tastes.

The thing is, artists are under no obligation to please fans. If they’re not pleasing themselves and following their respective muses, they aren’t making art, they’re delivering a product.

In 2011, the “metal community” (a diverse cross-section of people who can’t ever agree on anything or be civil to one another) was eagerly anticipating the triumphant return of David Vincent, the vocalist, bassist and songwriter who appeared on the band’s first three classic albums. There were deluxe box sets, preorders, etc. Expectations were high.

Album leaked, and there were two or three songs that contained elements of dated-sounding electronic music. People went nuts. They’d been betrayed.

Now, granted, I thought those songs were pretty awful, but the rest of the album had some solid tracks, particularly Beauty meets beast. It wasn’t “blessed are the sick” or “covenant” by any means, but it was fairly solid death metal throughout. People are still pissed about it, but the release of a new album that’s replaced David Vincent with former vocalist Steve tucker (Also a very talented guy, love his stuff with them) has done something to offset the bitter taste left in fans’ mouths.

Being a music fan isn’t like ordering an annoyingly particular burger at McDonald’s. You can’t go “Uh, yeah, gimme a triple cheeseburger with two patties only and no cheese, with mustard, blastbeats, extra pickles, lots of solos, tomatoes on the side, and more fast songs. Wait, not that much mustard.”

You don’t get to make those decisions, and when artists acquiesce to your demands and feed your sense of entitlement by delivering the product you demand, they’ve not only been untrue to themselves, but they’ve made other fans upset because they didn’t get the album they wanted.

You aren’t going to please everyone, so the key, artists, is to please yourselves first and let the chips fall where they may.

Metallica is a favorite target of bitter metal elitists and more garden variety, easygoing metalheads alike. Since the release of the black album, they’ve existed as a monolithic object of constant ridicule by metal fans, who felt even more betrayed by “Load.”

I like Load. It’s sludgy, heavy rock that sounds like Danzig and corrosion of conformity in a big naked pile, rubbing their dicks against each other while Black Sabbath stands nearby, mildly amused. The songs are catchy.

Of course, I can see why people don’t like it. But that’s their opinion. St. Anger is trash to me. Lulu is trash, to me. But those are my opinions, and in no way do I fault metallica for my dislike of those albums. I applaud their willingness to ignore fan demand and do as they please. I have plenty of other albums to blast through my earbuds and out of my car stereo speakers if a band releases an album I don’t like. They aren’t under any obligation to make an album for me.

They toured for like, five straight years on the black album. They probably got burned out on fast, thrashy songs. James was hanging out with pepper Keenan from COC, and stuff just kinda came out that way, I imagine. I don’t believe it was some calculated move to “be more alternative.” Fucking nonsense.

Sepultura’s “Roots” is another metalhead point of contention. It appears to be universally reviled, if you’re going by online commentary and concert crowd between-band chit chat, and yet it’s also one of their most popular, commercially speaking. I happen to love it. I see the slow, sludgy, Sabbath-meets-Celtic frost-meets-Korn thing that they were trying to achieve there. And all the tribal elements fit perfectly. “The first world music metal album,” proclaimed a review from a magazine(I forgot which one) I read in 1996.

But people hated it, and felt betrayed by it. They want another “Arise.” Guess what? I can’t stand listening to “arise.” The production sucks all the air out of the drums and guitar. The music doesn’t breathe. And the songs don’t grab me. Its predecessor, “beneath the remains,” is a favorite album of mine because the songs are catchy and the production is a little more organic a quality further improved for “chaos AD” and “roots.”

All opinion. Not fact. “Arise” is neither good nor bad. There is no such thing. There are no absolutes when determining something’s inherent quality.

Nobody stands behind a painter and shouts instructions at them while they paint. Put a tree over there! More clouds! I don’t like that woman’s nose! That would be ridiculous. You wait for them to finish it, and then you take it in, the artistic vision they’re trying to convey, and you ponder it. Why do we treat music differently? It’s art. Same goes for writing; there’s so many “tips and tricks” and little bits of advice about how and what one should write…it’s all bullshit.

Creators, pay no mind to what the potential consumers of your art might think about it. Who cares? Fuck ’em! Go with your gut, not fan wishlists.

Edit: Remeber when Creed fans demanded their money back after Scott Staph(happy autocorrect accident, let’s just leave that, shall we?)did the entire show drunk? I can’t stand creed, but I would’ve enjoyed seeing that show, because that’s real, that’s rock n’ roll. A glimpse behind the smoky barrier that separates image from reality. And these people wanted their money back because they didn’t get the precise experience they wanted. They don’t realize how lucky they are to have attended that show. Probably because as creed fans they don’t think too deeply, I suppose. Idk.😉


  1. I’ve always liked Load too. I could never describe its sound as well as you just did though. Thanks. I needed that.

  2. Yeah, it’s a solid album, imo. It’s quite a departure, for them, but the songwriting is strong and it holds up very well, I think.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s