EU Versus US Metal: ideas, factors, and themes

The third metal chat on Twitter focused on European versus US metal, and any themes, notions, or ideas related to this topic.


While one might think that EU metal vs US metal might be an easy thing to talk about, it isn't. This metal chat strayed from festival culture and high concepts; to merchandising and product; to the numbers of girls at shows; to what constitutes a metal lifestyle. Clearly, the debate is so muddied with so many different factors that it is difficult to state anything specific on either hand.


And yet the perception of those involved with the chat as to the historical nature of the differences between the two "localities" of metal was very sharp.


One participant argued that EU metal is more about the high concepts related to musicality, whereas the US is more about pushing products and merchandise. According to this participant, the scene in the US is far more conservative than that in Europe, where the history of music festivals of an operatic and classical nature gives people a context for big music festivals of other kinds. In contrast, the US didn't get into the notion of music festivals, really, until the 1960s.


Within this vein, the classical versus blues/jazz divide (EU/US) was very striking for a lot of metalheads involved in the chat.


Despite the EU's history of festivals, the restrained nature of metalheads at shows was something noted by participants in the chat, especially when compared to those in the US. It could perhaps have something do with the fact that in the US - as one person noted - there is a great deal of unity among subgenres of metal, whereas in the EU it's far more traditionally oriented, and separate regarding its subgenres.


While some argued that the internet may remove the importance of local scenes, in terms of growing a distinctive sound, others were adamant that this would be to the metal scene's detriment. The debate on the latter end pointed out that festivals tend to strengthen the community, and demonstrate its diversity, highlighting the huge loss we would all experience if those differences were lost.


The debate during this metal chat skirted a lot of other topics: whether or not it's fair to compare US events to EU events, given that a lot of European festivals - such as Wacken Open Air - are so large as to be in a class all of their own.


Other topics also included marketing methods (whether it's better to compare bands to bands or subgenres); notions that European fans tend to stay fans as they get older, unlike fans in the US; the numbers of girls at metal shows - large proportions in Australia and Europe as compared to hardly any in the US; and the issue of what constitutes a metal lifestyle.


In fact, the debate about what does constitute a metal lifestyle was so strong, and so disparate, that it almost warrants a discussion on its own. However, some points were whether you need to be in 'metal mode' twenty-four hours a day; whether the merch defines a lifestyle or is it just the music; whether it's living moment to moment and not living by a template designed by society; and so on.


Stay tuned for a more detailed discussion about metal lifestyles in coming weeks.