The term overrated is indeed a favorite among metalheads. As a group, we love to quibble over which band is better than another as a kind of social primer. That said, there is a reason metalheads often find themselves citing bands as overrated. The mainstream media often gives undeserved attention to sub par bands while great musicians largely get ignored.
After explaining to your coworkers for the 100th time that “no, you don’t listen to screamo” it’s tempting to vent to your friends about the bands all those people continuously ask you about. After gathering your votes on Twitter, these are the top 5 most overrated classic metal bands.
5. KISS, AC/DC, Guns and Roses, Van Halen or Any Other Hard Rock Band the Media thinks is Metal
One of the most frustrating things about being a metalhead is continuously having to explain to people what metal even is, or what it’s supposed to sound like. Media outlets and popular music journalists have never given metal the attention it deserves and have often exalted hard rock bands as arbiters of the metal sound.
Thankfully, this is beginning to change, but it wasn’t that long ago that VH1 was airing metal documentaries in which the heaviest band mentioned was Twisted Sister or Skid Row. While there is nothing wrong with Twisted Sister their sound definitely doesn’t have the qualities of a classic metal band such as Kreator, Slayer or even Sabbath. They simply lack the aggression and misanthropic air that defines metal.
As I said, this is beginning to change, and media outlets are starting to understand what makes metal metal, but this attitude is ultimately what led to the demise of great things like Headbangers Ball. Because extreme metal is a shocking sound for many, it’s tempting for many music journalists to attempt to make the music palatable for a larger audience.
Journalists are finally beginning to understand, however, the massive global appeal of extreme metal. When met with this attitude in the future, all metalheads have to do is simply explain that KISS is not a metal band.
Perhaps no band in history has sold out harder than Metallica. Yet, despite only releasing 4 good albums, this band has gone down in history as one of the best classic metal bands of all time according to music journalists and the public alike. This is annoying as all hell.
Most metalheads can’t even remember the last time they listened to Master of Puppets or Ride the Lightening (2 of the acceptable Metallica releases) yet people can’t stop bringing them up whenever metal is mentioned.
The fact is, Metallica is a great example of an overrated metal band simply because of fact that there were several other, more exciting thrash bands in the Bay Area that were overlooked because Metallica stole the limelight. Bands such as Forbidden, Nuclear Assault, Death Angel or Vio-Lence barely get mentions much of the time, despite arguably being heavier, but Metallica, oh they’re right up there with Sabbath. Yeah, okay.
I’m going to catch hell for this one, but yes, Death is definitely a perfect example of an overrated classic metal band. What irks me most about this band is how they’re treated like the end all be all of death metal. Diehard metalheads, however, have endless debates about the origins of death metal.
During Death’s inception, as Mantis even, there was a move toward heavier sounds (growled vocals, blast beats etc.) among many artists in the thrash scene.
Bands such as Sepultura, Kreator and Sacarfago were releasing albums that were arguably heavier than the milieu of upbeat, speed focused thrash that had come before. While their music could still be considered thrash, death metal definitely has its roots in these sounds. Could we call this proto-death metal? Did I just invent a thing?
*I think I hear the sound of death metal being born
That said, most metalheads are in agreement that the albums Seven Churches by Possessed and Scream Bloody Gore by Death sparked the death metal genre. I’m not here to dispute that. Maybe I lean more toward Seven Churches, but I digress.
I’m not here to dismiss the greatness of classics such as Scream Bloody Gore or Leprosy. The reason I cite Death as an overrated classic metal band has to do with
A. The rabid nature of their fans.
B. The mediocrity within the entirety of their work.
Death fans are really another breed. Yes, I will concede that Death was a prime impetus in the creation of the death metal genre but does that mean that we stop there and not tip our hats to all the other incredible acts, who are arguably more interesting and heavier than Death. Any fan obsessed with a single band, or worse, a single album, cough *Individual Thought Patterns* cough, is just annoying.
As I mentioned earlier, Death was a part of a movement of thrash, as a whole, experimenting with heavier sounds. Bands such as Kreator and Sepultura were also central in spawning the death metal sound. Chuck Schuldiner did work harder than most in his time, I’ll give him that, but this move toward death metal was organic within the scene.
Furthermore, Death’s sound began to weaken and move toward more progressive sounds later in his career. While other bands were getting more brutal and uncompromising in their aggression, Death was releasing albums such as Symbolic which, despite having a few really good tracks on it, is clearly an album designed to appeal to the masses.
I know I’m going to get shit for this, but according to polls, I’m not alone in my belief that Death is an overrated metal band and I’m a bit tired of constantly hearing about how Chuck is god. There’s a million other bands I listen to more and find more interesting than Death.
In case I didn’t infuriate enough people by disgracing the name of Chuck Schuldiner, I’ll add Venom to the list of classic metal bands that are grossly overrated in the scene. Literally every book, article and documentary on black metal cites Venom as the inventors of the genre.
I hold umbrage with this notion because I argue it’s inaccurate. Despite releasing an album entitled Black Metal, Venom no more represents the message of modern black metal than Steppenwolf did heavy metal.
*Cronos distances himself from modern black metal
They certainly had a dangerous image in their time. I remember being a youngin’ and being shocked by their occult facade and violent stage presence. The problem is that this band began and ended at image.
Early Venom has very little in common was what black metal became, and Cronos will admit that. In fact, the entire band continually seeks to distance themselves from modern black metal.
Bathory is the clear first choice for inventing the true black metal sound. Quorthon never wrote anything that sounded like “Teacher’s Pet” and also shared a love the Nordic culture and landscape that would eventually becoming a defining component of the black metal genre.
*the birth of the modern black metal sound
Yet despite Cronos‘ consistent dismissal of black metal or the mediocre, rock and roll air of many Venom tracks, Venom continuously gets praise and recognition for inventing black metal. This needs to stop.
To the people of whom Pantera’s placement on this list upsets, just know that I am laughing at you…..hard. There are endless reasons Pantera is the number one most overrated metal band of all time.
First of all, who gave a bunch of bros the authority to define classic metal bands anyway? Pummeling through the thin walls of trailer parks everywhere, Pantera are unequivocally the kings bro-ness and douche baggery from their meathead inspired aggression down to Phil Anselmo’s white supremacist leanings.
Frankly, I’m not here to argue about Anselmo’s racism, though. My real beef with this band is the fact that, despite music journalists categorizing them as thrash, Pantera invented the douchiest genre of metal— nu metal.
Basically anytime metal sees a semblance of mainstream success it turns into something unrecognizable to diehard metalheads. This idea is central to the creation of nu metal. Nu metal was a stripped down and castrated form of metal that could be easily consumed by the masses and Pantera’s comical, adolescent hostility was the perfect cocktail to incubate the creation of bands such as Korn.
I really wouldn’t care that much if Pantera weren’t regarded as a legendary classic metal band in rank with bands like Maiden by so many media outlets and people. Despite admittedly having a few decent albums, Pantera is essentially the Mountain Dew of metal, yet, along with Metallica, they are probably the most recognizable name in the genre. This is why they’re the most overrated metal band of all time.
Can you think of any classic metal bands you think are overrated? Mention them in the comments. Also, should I write a list of overrated modern bands? Let me know. Underrated metal bands coming soon.