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, in Part Two of this article, shows how heavy metal in the period 1986-91, 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, with the former receiving their first lead feature in January 1989, entitled ‘Heavy Metal Justice’. 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. It is therefore somewhat ironic that this aesthetic approbation reaches a symbolic plateau with Robert Palmer’s **** review of Metallica’s “black album”, an album that in retrospect can be seen to announce a ‘crossover’ strategy that allowed the band to find a wider audience beyond the thrash underground.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: thrash metal underground, Metallica, aesthetic approbation, avant-garde, Tim Holmes, Heavy Metal Justice, radical music palette, political-lyrics, Robert Palmer, “black album”, pop metal
Divisions: School of Creative Industries
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2020 14:14
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2020 13:34
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