Critics Corner: Where has all the metal gone?

BY ERIC ANDERSEN | JUNE 18, 2009 7:21 AM

I want my fix of loud guitars, screeching vocals, and double-bass drum.

Being an Iowa City-based metalhead for the last three years has been a time of sadness and despair.

Back in my hometown of Des Moines, I could usually find at least two or three good metal shows a month, if not more. Here in Iowa City, you’re lucky if one solid metal show occurs per month, if that “often.”

I’m not saying we don’t have some good metal bands here. Iowa City has helped spawn the likes of Identity Crisis and the Horde, two bands that play solid, in-your-face heavy metal. We just don’t have nearly enough metal events.

Cedar Falls is one of the best examples of a college town with a metal scene. Such national acts as Exodus, 3 Inches of Blood and Warbringer have made stops there, sometimes numerous stops. The old venue the Reverb (R.I.P.) used to be one of the best metal venues in eastern Iowa before moving to Waterloo. The bar, renamed Spicoli’s, still tends to outdo the Iowa City venues in terms of metal.

In Des Moines, People’s Court is a fast-growing competitor for best metal venue in Iowa, drawing in such larger metal acts as Meshuggah and Hatebreed.

One would think any college town, especially a larger one such as Iowa City, would be a great place to book metal shows. When some downtown venues do get “metal bands,” they are usually of the stoner variety — and frankly, I’m tired of that scene. The bands are all just cheap imitations of Black Sabbath and Candlemass.

Maybe it’s because the Ped Mall scene largely consists of students who would rather dress up, dance, and get drunk, rather than head bang and get wasted (though the latter only takes two steps to reach an inebriated finale as opposed to the former’s three). Metal doesn’t need fancy clothes — there are no rules.

I think there is plenty of potential for metal in Iowa City; we just need more options to hear the music.

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