Photo by Scott Kinkade

Perhaps the corollary of “Why do kids listen to crap?” is “Why are young bands crappy?” After all, kids prefer young bands. Youth relates to youth. But young bands aren’t crappy because they’re young. We know this from a vast segment of the population called “the earlier stuff was better.” Classic metal debuts are legion: Metallica, Slayer, Napalm Death, Morbid Angel, Entombed, and Deicide, to name a few. Many of these “changed the game” of metal.

I’m always on the lookout for bands that will “change the game.” But increasingly I think that no individual band can do so now. There are just too many bands now for one to dominate the rest.

To analogize to sports, game-changing bands are like first round draft picks. These players are expected to change their teams fundamentally. Lower round draft picks are only expected to fill roles by position. With so many established subgenres, virtually all new bands now are lower round draft picks. They fill specific niches: retro thrash, depressive black metal, old-school Swedish death metal. Young bands all too often ghettoize themselves into subgenres. Thus, they water down original sounds, a sure path to crappiness.

Ryan Leaf
The earlier stuff was better

Let’s make this inquiry positive. Who is the next great metal band? This seems like it should be obvious. When Metallica debuted with Kill ’em All, it must have been clear that they were headed for big things. This is the million dollar quest for every big metal label: to find the next Metallica.

Revocation are not the next Metallica, but they could be the next great metal band. They have songs, not just a sound. Their songs are identifiable within seconds. They have memorable riffs and rhythms. Their chops have soul. David Davidson’s solos are amazing tightrope walks of speed, hooks, and bluesy swagger. The last metal guitarist to do that was Dimebag Darrell. Listen to “Dismantle the Dictator” and “The Brain Scramblers,” from Existence Is Futile (out September 29 on Relapse), on the band’s MySpace. The next Megadeth, perhaps?

Who is the next great metal band?