Disclaimer: Sapota is writing this in mostly angry state of mind mostly because there was something, which irritated him about the whole state of affair in festivals and metal in general. So this is more of an opinion and less of a factual post. Probably what is being said here is more of a window to how sapota perceives changes in metal today and is not willing to change his outlook as a grumpy old man.
Metal, as it is, is more than a music genre, it is a whole culture and as cliche as it sound it is one of the most distinctive feature of metal as music genre when compared to other music forms. That is not to say that there are not enough passionate fans in other genre, but metal goes a step beyond just passion and metalheads live the genre and that makes their opinion stronger and more polarised. The popularity of metal has been pretty much in the same league as it was at any point, it peaks and it goes through its downs.There is always some commercialisation involved which surges its popularity by some new big band or new genre and it then comes back to a state of stability atleast in terms of retaining metal fans. There has been many trends in Metal including hair metal, arena metal, nu metal, whole *-core scene and now a lot of corporate created bands made in boardrooms by people in suits. What is most irksome is that some of these commercially created bands get more spotlight and consequently more popularity than bands slaving themselves up for decades staying true to their music and fans. One of the primary example of this phenomenon is baby metal, I have seen baby metal live, it is one of the well packaged gimmick in metal at this time and it is widely popular in metal festivals around the globe. Musically speaking the band plays nothing new, the lyrics are absolute garbage and entire setup is dishonest by tricking audience into believing that this is where the metal is heading or this is what is being inherited from the legacy of metal. Musicians themselves are not bad, infact they are all very fine at what they do,it is difficult to say if there is a lot of creative process which these musicians are part of it especially the girls who are the lead presence on the stage. They are performing as headlining act after many of other more veteran bands which have worked their arses to reach to this point in their musical careers. It is extremely infuriating to see pioneers of their respective genres third or fourth in line ups of major festival or gig line up compared to these bands which still have their milk teeth in their mouth.
On one occasion, Napalm death performed before Children of bodom! To put it in perspective Napalm death has been in existence before the inception of subgenre which CoB is playing and not to mention they have been among the 4-5 bands which are responsible for creation of death metal. We can get into semantics of how grindcore is not deathmetal, but we all know if there is one genre closest to death metal, it is grindcore which stands right next to it like an old tree with its roots deeply entangled with each other. There were rabid fangirls screaming about how cute Alexi is and it was less about music and more about the whole aesthetic of the band. I don't think CoB are bad band per se, in fact some of their music is excellent, but compared to other major Death Metal gaints, they are still teenagers.
Similar to this I saw Amon Amarth headlining after Carcass. It was one of the most unbelievable thing for me. Similar to Napalm death they are fathers of grindcore and step father of Death metal. Amon Amarth themselves are fantastic band, they have a great theme and some pretty amazing show. They also suffer from same phenomenon as CoB but instead of cuteboi fans, they have more viking fanboys. The manly mans who have large beard and have cow horns for drinking beer in middle of a live song. They have put out some great records and now they are now who's who of the whole Scandinavian death metal scene. But again, it has less to do with their music and more to do with the whole trendy imagery thing going on for them. Carcass on the other hand are pretty serious musician, Necrotism is one of the greatest record that has ever come out in metal history, there are very few which come even remotely close to what that record has achieved. Sadly it is not as popular a record as it should be, the mastercraft of death metal/grindcore, a genre reshaping master piece. Something the likes of which Amon amarth has not produced yet. I am not going to talk about heartwork here because that would just be unfair and the point I was making about the musical craftsmanship of Carcass as band has already been proven by Necrotism.
The third band which really riled me up when they were announced as headliners over thrash metal legends Kreator is Ghost. I have seen Ghost twice, they are not a bad band. They have all the bells and whistles in place for them to become a good band and I can respect their whole persona and music but they are mostly riding the waves of hype created by media and to some degree commercial aspect of band's appeal. To look at it, the band is less than a decade old, it is mostly about the get up and atmosphere, which has been done to the death by likes of King Diamond. I am not a big fan of King Diamond, but I can respect it for its originality and standing the test of time. Then their second important aspect is all this talk about horror as concept for lyrics! gimme a break! Rob Zombie has done it and done it pretty well, there are more bands doing horror as theme than entire catalogue of Ghost and doing it much better. Musically speaking even on their best day, Ghost are strictly a mediocre band, chanting heil satan in chorus doesn't speak to me greatly about the quality of composition. Now comparing it to the likes of Kreator? The band that has existed for three decades, a band which has help shape thrash metal and one of the major influence in Death Metal themes. The band that has lived so long that it has seen atleast three major trends of metal emerge and die a horrible death. Their performance are so electric and full of life compared to Ghost where nuns throwing condoms at the crowd is the best they can come up with? I mean I understand the Irony and humour in it, but come on, these guys are not a more deserving headliners compared to Kreator.
Anyway, this also defeats the whole point of my own argument that Metal was never a popularity contest, it has always survived in basements and garages and crappy tape records and in third wold countries and small rockzines. It will survive, but places where metalheads gather and see the performance, the bands which are older and have more contribution to the music should get more preference over bands which are just trendy and popular. I mean I see the hypocrisy of metalheads always moaning about Metallica being a sell out and disliking them for their massive popularity but then on the same hand hyping bands like Baby metal and Ghost to prominence over bands which have endured the wrath of time and stayed true to the craft. Probably any of this doesn't matter in grand scheme of things, these trendy bands will be forgotten but the true masters will continue to live on and remembered and honoured.