Heavy metal justice? Calibrating the economic and aesthetic accreditation of the heavy metal genre in the pages of Rolling Stone, 1980-1991: part two 1986-91

Brown, A.R (2021) 'Heavy metal justice? Calibrating the economic and aesthetic accreditation of the heavy metal genre in the pages of Rolling Stone, 1980-1991: part two 1986-91.' Metal Music Studies, 7 (2). ISSN 2052-3998 (Forthcoming)

Abstract

Given the genre name heavy metal can be traced to a negative adjective that emerges out of 70s rock criticism and which reflects a widespread dissensus among rock writers about its value and impact on North American rock music, how are we to explain the gradual or cumulative shift away from this majority aesthetic disapprobation, in the 1980-85 period, towards a widespread economic accreditation, particularly in the pages of leading rock magazine, Rolling Stone. Is it simply a belated recognition of the longevity of the genre and its resurgent popularity with majority audiences? If so, how are we to explain the subsequent shift, clearly evident in Stone coverage in the 1986-91 period, from economic to aesthetic approbation of selective bands, particularly those identified with a thrash metal underground, which is nevertheless seen to emerge from within the genre or to be an aesthetic development of some of its key musical features, while rejecting others. Drawing on a comprehensive sample, composed of album reviews, lead or feature articles and interviews, drawn from the RS archive, my research reports a definite shift in the critical reception of heavy metal, first to economic accreditation in the 1980-85 period, based not only on the genre’s persistence and sustained economic success but also its ability to appeal beyond its core audience and therefore challenge the dominant rock and pop aesthetic. Secondly, in the period 1986-91, heavy metal acquires a notable level of critical or aesthetic legitimation which is conferred on particular bands and album releases, particularly those emerging from the thrash underground, such as Metallica and Megadeth. However, this aesthetic approbation is drawn within the wider genre, distinguishing between the newly emergent avant-garde and the more popular styles of the wider genre.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: economic accreditation, rock criticism, heavy metal, aesthetic approbation, critical consensus, thrash metal underground, Metallica
Divisions: School of Creative Industries
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2020 14:14
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2020 14:14
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