On the fateful day of Friday March 22nd, a dramatic event that has shaken and reverberated across the entire metal community occurred: the line up at this years Summer Slaughter Festival was announced. Hordes upon hordes of furious metal heads took to their respective computers to proclaim that this is irrevocably the worst thing to happen since the first use of Comic Sans. It was as if thousands of voices cried out in terror, with guttural screams ranging from how the tour has “sold out” to shrieks of despair exclaiming that Summer Slaughter has gone soft on us. All this backlash from a simple tour announcement raises the questions: what gives? Why all the moaning and groaning at what seems (at least at first glance) like a solid line up? It’s prompted yours truly to do some critical thinking, like counting on my fingers, to try and figure this whole mess out.
First, let’s look at the bands on the line up. As seen to the left, four of the eight announced bands (Dillinger, Animals, Periphery, and The Ocean) are almost universally considered to be some of the premier progressive acts currently making music in the metal genre. It’s also worth noting that of these four, three of them are at the top of the bill, implying that they’ll be playing the longest sets during every show. The remaining four bands could loosely be described as death metal, with Norma Jean being the outlier. The point of all this band cataloging is to show that at least half of the tour will be playing progressive metal. This isn’t counting the bands that have yet to be announced, which, if my sources are correct, include Veil of Maya and Within the Ruins, two more fairly progressive metal acts.
Another important note: Animals as Leaders and Periphery have already both been on this bill, with Periphery touring as recently as last year (you can throw Veil of Maya in that bucket too if my hypothesis is correct).
Looking at the previous Summer Slaughter line ups, it’s really interesting to see how the tour has progressed over these past 5 years. It’s gone from featuring some of the biggest death metal bands in the genre, such as Necrophagist and Black Dahlia Murder, to more progressive outfits, like Between the Buried and Me and Dillinger Escape Plan. In reality, this is where the entire metal genre has been headed during the past 5 years. We are currently in the middle of the transition from death metal being the most popular subgenre to progressive metal. If you’re still in doubt, just look at how fast Protest the Hero completed their Indiegogo campaign, or the incredibly rapid rise in popularity both Animals as Leaders and Periphery have found after only two albums. The point is, there’s a big shift in the metal genre right now, and the current Summer Slaughter line up is entirely indicative of this.
Thus, with all this information in mind, can we really blame all the angry metal heads out there raging over the Summer Slaughter bill? If, hypothetically, the Progressive Nation Tour started to feature black metal after 5 years, it’d be pretty easy to be upset at such a scenario. Sure, there are definitely black metal bands who push the envelope and “progress” the genre, but do they really belong on a bill that advertises itself as a progressive metal tour? An answer to such a question is one of pure opinion, and it can be debated, but there’s no real right answer. It’s just like saying that Animals as Leaders aren’t “extreme” enough to be on a tour that showcases some of the most “extreme” bands in the metal genre. How is “extreme” defined? The trio that make up Animals as Leaders are without a doubt some of the most talented musicians out there, and can certainly shred it up when they want to, but does that make them “extreme”? The same goes for the rest of the aforementioned bands. It’s completely up to debate just how extreme these musicians are, with no clear right or wrong answer. Even so, it’s hard to deny the fact that each and every band on the current line up is unique and different in their own way, and should not be missed simply because they might be out of place on this festival.
So when you’re on the forums of Heavy Blog is Heavy, or you’re perusing the Summer Slaughter Facebook page, before you go judging the metal heads who are completely bashing the line up, understand where they are coming from. Sure, they’re going to be missing out on some of the finest acts that the metal genre has to offer when the festival rolls around this summer, but know that their indignation is at least somewhat reasonable, with just a slight hint of butthurt.