Thursday, March 24, 2011

Leaving the band for family reasons

Recently, metal powerhouse and riff juggernaut Iced Earth announced that long-time frontman Matt Barlow left the band … again … for family reasons. What?

Who knew Barlow wanted to skip through this forest?

Now, I don’t want to take away from family, I mean we all have one and for many, family is the most important part of our lives, but come on. That just does not and cannot fly in metal. I am not just saying this because I happen to be a serious Iced Earth fan, painfully awaiting dreading a leaked track of their next album so that I can be disappointed by the new vocalist. I happen to say this because it shows us the true flowery-filled meadows of golden sunshine that live inside one of metal’s underground icons. The heart’s hills should not be alive with the sound of music and chirping song-birds, dancing with your lover and throwing your children in the air, pirouetting to sounds of spring. Metal is not a jocund and mirthful celebration of life and new life.

This is what I just saw in my head reading that statement.

 We all know that bands and artists and musicians come and go. That is just the reality of the industry. However, as metal fans, we expect that our heroes (and I use that term loosely) have a little more testicular fortitude to be able to handle raising a family and evolving a band.

Let me pause to tell you one artist who was able to have a family and successful metal career. Ronnie James Dio. Let’s think about some others. Iron Maiden comes to mind. Despite the fact that they have sucked for two decades, Metallica has been able to juggle family and band. Yet, there is one other, closely associated with Iced Earth that is among the greatest Power Metal acts of all time: Blind Guardian.

I understand that everyone is different and that they have different goals. I am perfectly fine and content with that. I am, however, not fine with metal artists throwing up the white flag of surrender because they have a family now. Your life partner should understand you are no longer some average, run-of-the-mill jerk off, no matter how long you have been together. By etching your name into metal history, so long as the band shall live, you are a voice for the throngs of metalheads everywhere. Retreating from metal, you have given up on metalheads and metal is not about surrendering or faltering, it’s about standing up and facing issues headlong into the fury.

There have been others who have taken the coward’s way out of metal. One name in particular stands out to me: original Mercyful Fate and King Diamond guitarist Michael Denner. Denner left in 1987, after the release and before the start of the tour for “Abigail.” So too did Timi Hansen, bass player alongside Denner in both bands.

If you are a metal artist and thinking about quitting because of your weak un-metal family that is incapable of co-existing with you in metal, do us all a favor and tell us the truth: you just cannot handle metal. You are too afraid of losing one and both, so ultimately you lose. We do not need excuses or apologies or even sob stories, we simply need you to go away and stop growing pansies in our venues. In the words of a legend: simply “Be invisible … go away” and please, do not try to reunite to redeem yourself. There is no metal redemption for this type of fail.

Would you rather spend time with this?

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