Heavy metal or no metal at all whimps and posers leave the hall-Manowar: "Metal Warriors"
Almost as long as there has been heavy metal, there has been the perception, rightfully or wrongfully, that there is a true and false metal. Much of this has been largely the fault of the misunderstanding media. You see, the mainstream media does not understand metal, shocking, I know. As a result of this, we have lots of bands that the media labels "metal" which really have little to nothing to do with the genre. This has been the case since the very beginning when groups like The Eagles and Boston being labelled "heavy metal". In the 1980's, the entire glam scene was lumped under the "metal" category despite the differences between the music of metal artists like Twisted Sister, Quiet Riot, Dokken, W.A.S.P., and Motley Crue versus the hard tock artists like Aerosmith, Whitesnake, Poison, Ratt, and others. This continued to the 1990's when grunge groups like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and even the Red Hot Chili Peppers were initially sold under the "metal" genre. In the late 1990's, nu-metal became popular, a genre which in itself is a misnomer because of the relatively minor metal influence. Korn, Limp Bizkit, Deftones, and other nu-metal bands had little to nothing to do with metal. Even today, bands play a fuson of genres that has lead some bands to be considered metal and others to be considered more hardcore. Avenged Sevenfold, Atreyu, Parkway Drive, Oceano, and Suicide Silence have fallen on the core side whereas Trivium, Bleeding Through, Killswitch Engage, Job for a Cowboy, Whitechapel, and Through the Eyes of the Dead have been deemed to have more metal influences than core influences. Part of the reason that the media does this may be due to lack of knowledge of the genre, and in particular in the early 1990's, it is a calculated effort to push other types of music. It is because of this that many metalheads have risen their fists in protest with the slogan "Death to False Metal".
At the center of this categorization controversy is the website Encyclopedia Metallum. The function of this website is to act as a database of known metal bands that have released physical copies of their music. However, it is the stringent guidelines for what is considered metal that has made the site infamous. Bands like Led Zeppelin, Slipknot, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Blue Oyster Cult, Alice Cooper, Soulfly, and many others are considered too borderline by the website to be included as metal bands. However the site also lets in groups like Faith No More, Soundgarden, Sunn O))), Helmet, Def Leppard, and other groups that have been complained about.
My own personal definition of false metal has been posted on this site. I believe false metal bands are those bands that attempt to define themselves as metal, despite having little to nothing in common with the genre, and their only metal influences being the very tip of the iceberg: mainstream bands like Metallica and Black Sabbath. I do not personally have a problem with bands that infuse other genres with metal. I do not have a problem with hardcore bands that add a little metal influence. I do not have a problem with bands playing the music they want to play. I just do not always consider those bands metal. Metal bands, to me, must play mostly metal music. If the music is not metal, the band is not metal.
Slipknot is a good example of what I am talking about. I don't consider the majority of the music Slipknot has played to be metal. Some songs certainly are, and many other songs have metal elements. But, many of those songs are not made up exclusively of metal elements, or even primarily. It's not pure metal influences. It does not have to be pure to be metal, but it should be primarily metal. That is not to say Slipknot is a bad band, I do not personally like them, but I have no issue with people who do.
Another issue that has frequently been brought up in false metal conversations are bands that play metal but for the wrong reasons. I have read many reviews of groups like The Sword, Dethklok, Early Man, Trivium, and others. These bands are accused of being trendhoppers, being exclusively products of record labels' manipulation of the media, or playing metal specifically for the potential market. Early Man in particular was derided for being trendhoppers, and there is some potential justification for that. The band was the creation of two members from Ohio who had backgrounds in largely indie music and then decided to grow their hair and play metal. Many metalheads are skeptical of band members who do not claim an undying, lifelong fascination with metal. Are they right or wrong? Who's to decide?
I consider myself to be a huge metal fan. My personal preferred genres are thrash, death, and traditional metal genres. As such, I would fit the definition of a true metal fan. I listen almost exclusively to metal. There was a blog I read recently which stated that music is a luxury and as such, one should only listen to music they enjoy. As metal is right now the only genre I truly enjoy, that's all I listen to. It does not make me close-minded. I know what I like. If exposed to something truly interesting in another genre, I would be willing to investigate further, but I have not found that. However, I do not claim people who do listen to other genres to be poseurs, or anything like that. People's musical preferences are none of my business.
With all that being said, I think it is the often close-minded, stubborn metalheads that take those way too seriously that raise the banner agaisnt false metal. I like to make fun of non-metal bands on here a lot. But since this is my blog and my opinion, I get to do so. I don't like the bands, but that doesn't mean I have a problem with the fans. I may not understand why they listen to The Devil Wears Prada or Iwrestledabearonce, but they may not understand why I listen to Katalepsy or Vomit Remnants. It's just music. The idea that we need to have a Crusade Against False Metal is silly.
The website Lamentations of the Flame Princess has an excellent essay on false metal for more information.