When I first started getting into the genre of Rock as well as Metal, Avenged Sevenfold was one of the first albums that drew me into the genre. Their self-titled album was basically the only thing I played for months, and it still remains one of my favorites to listen to.
Before listening to Rock and Metal, I was primarily a fan of country music. Guitar Hero drew me into classic rock, and Avenged Sevenfold was my first foray into the heavier spectrum of rock; something I call “fringe metal.”
Disturbed was one of the other bands I really enjoyed. System of a Down and Slipknot helped me become more attracted to the heavier sides of rock and metal. Five Finger Death Punch was the first metal band I became a huge fan of, and the first metal concert I ever went to. Even Linkin Park, who combined electronic sounds with guitar and helped make riffs and solos mainstream.
All of these bands drew me into the genre. I became fascinated with what people could do with guitars, making riffs and solos sound better than anything else I had heard in music. I became amazed how well all of the instruments could combine to make amazing songs with so much variation across different bands. And I was shocked at how screams and shrieks could actually be viable as vocals.
All of these bands I mentioned get criticized for not being “real metal.” Fans known as “metal elitists” criticize them for being too radio friendly and watering down the genre. It’s an unfair criticism of bands that have a load of talent, make good music and do a lot for the metal genre.
It’s easiest for someone to get into metal by listening to some bands that are easier on the ears. Avenged Sevenfold and Five Finger Death Punch both have an edge to them and they both combine a heavy metal sound with aggressive vocals while also mixing in clean vocals and some lighter songs that newcomers might find attractive.
System of a Down does something similar. They have some really heavy sounding and aggressive songs, while the vocals stay loud but clean. When someone gets acclimated to the heavier riffs and sound from bands like System of a Down, Five Finger Death Punch and Avenged Sevenfold then they can start to foray into what some people would call “real metal.”
And while Slipknot gets a lot of crap too, I really think they’re a true metal band. I don’t like most bands that came out of the nu-metal movement, Slipknot was one that I’ve always enjoyed. One thing that genre does right is managing to really pack a punch and have an edge in the vocals while maintain the sounds of the genre, and Slipknot is a perfect example of that.
Some people might argue that bands like Metallica and Iron Maiden, plus many more are not that heavy and can be good bands to help you get into the genre. But I know a lot of people that listened to them for the first time and thought it was too heavy.
These fringe metal bands are important to the genre for two main reasons; they attract newcomers into the genre who will explore bands on other parts of the metal spectrum, and they help make metal more mainstream and accessible to the masses, which can be very good.
When listening to Five Finger Death Punch for example, their catalog of songs features slower, less aggressive songs like “Wrong Side of Heaven,” but then have much heavier songs like “Burn MF” and “The Way of the Fist.” Listeners get exposed to both kinds of sounds that metal music can offer.
I started listening to rock and metal through Avenged Sevenfold, Slipknot, System of a Down and Five Finger Death Punch. Because I really liked those bands, I explored more metal bands. I always knew about Metallica and Slayer and Megadeth, but had never listened to them until after I started with the “fringe” bands. Now I listen to everything from Iron Maiden to Amon Amarth to Gojira and I enjoy all different genres of metal.
So before you criticize bands like FFDP, Slipknot, and Avenged Sevenfold, think about what they do for the genre of metal; attract newcomers, make metal more mainstream, and ultimately help increase the popularity of some of your favorite metal bands.