Opinion: Deicide's Glen Benton's rant on 'Wannabe Weezer' lookalikes + dulling of metal's edge

Deicide's Glen Benton has thoughts on people not looking metal enough. Is it food for thought? Not really that much, but let's examine metal image consciousness anyway.
VII Mexico Metal Fest
VII Mexico Metal Fest / Medios y Media/GettyImages

I've got a bit of a rant about metal, rock, and image. It starts with Glen Benton, the frontman of Deicide, who recently shared his thoughts on the state of the modern metal scene, expressing concern that the traditional metal image is becoming obsolete, dismissing a lot of modern metal performers as "a bunch of wannabe-Weezer-looking dudes."

In an interview with KNAC.COM, Benton lamented the proliferation of metal subgenres, arguing that it diminishes the genre's overall credibility.

Of course, critics might wonder why a band named after murdering "God" would even want bands to strive to appear "Godlike" onstage. Keep in mind: A rejection of self-importance and mainstream rock and pop's over-concern with image and myth-making is partly why punk, alternative (and even some varieties of metal) music happened.

Benton observed that the visual aspect of metal has softened considerably. As he stated (via Blabbermouth): "Metal was metal back then. Metal right now — you have so many subcategories of metal now, it's ridiculous. I understand individualism and that, and we can really use a lot more frontmen like that, like Ozzy [Osbourne] and Ronnie and all them people, Lemmy and that. We don't have that anymore."

Deicide's Glen Benton and his borderline tryhard Weezer diss

Benton continued on his rant, presumably with a furrowed brow and look of consternation: "All we have is a bunch of wannabe-Weezer-looking dudes trying to play metal. Everybody's sporting black-frame glasses and wearing trucker caps. Nobody gives a s**t about imagery anymore, looking the part of metal and that."

Then, as if increasingly flustered and defensive of his own impeccable metal style: "I walk around 24 hours a day looking [like I do]. I can't shake it, man. I'm never gonna fall into that. I've always been that way, too, about the guys on stage, man. You're not gonna come out there wearing a f**king plaid shirt and white tennis shoes. It's not happening."

It almost sounds a little bit too bad-ass. To be fair, Weezer performing with Kelly Clarkson (of American Idol fame) does seem like a candidate for the least metal thing ever. I can see wanting to distance oneself from such imagery. However, the question is: How much should one need to "dress to impress" to qualify as "authentically metal"? How many accessories need to fly off the shelves before the next generation of metalheads can look all cool again? Or, if the problem is what not to wear, then where can one get the definitive list? Inquiring metal saviors want to know!

Non-mainstream music as elite club fashion

Spinal Tap
No one out-metal's Spinal Tap anyway, right? / Aaron Rapoport/GettyImages

Speaking personally, I have long joked that I am not really goth because I can't afford to buy a bunch of goth fashion accessories at Hot Topic. Meanwhile, you have musicians like Steve Vai with his almost comically over-impressive, 3-necked guitar called the "Hydra," used to promote one of his more recent albums.

I mean no deep offense to Steve Vai or Mr. Benton, but is that what it's come down to now for rock music in order to gain or retain an audience? Does it really come down to being all image-conscious and the musical equivalent of high-wire theatrics? How many bar heads does the next Ozzy Osbourne need to bite off before he gets a shred of cred?

Granted, I think that stuff has its place, and classic musicians like Pete Townsend and Jimi Hendrix were themselves gimmicky, but I definitely don't see anything wrong with Joe Everyman (or Jane Everywoman) just plugging in an ordinary guitar and playing without plotting everything out to impress an increasingly-tough-to-impress audience?

Respect to Decide?

Deicide, known for its pioneering work in the death metal genre, has been a significant force in metal since its formation in 1987. Glen Benton, in particular, is renowned for his intense vocal style and controversial persona, making him a notable figure in the metal community (such as it is). It's also a band that never shied away from controversy, whether people liked it or not.

Benton's comments reflect a longing for a return to the genre's "traditional" roots, both musically and visually. They also sound like "Get off my lawn, ya damn kids!" I will give him this much: Deicide is one of the most memorable names in all of metal. No one can take that away.