Heavy metal and the Grammys Awards. They go together like peanut butter and tuna fish. No matter how hard they try, and honestly – they’ve never tried that hard, they can’t get it right. Whether they’re ignoring the genre’s most important artists at their artistic peak, or giving them token awards past their prime, it’s at best too little, too late. And unfortunately, for the most part this year’s nominees for ‘Best Metal Performance’ are more of the same.
The Grammys didn’t even formally recognize the genre until 1989, with the creation of the ‘Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental’ award. After over-the-hill classic rockers Jethro Tull famously won over Metallica, it was renamed the ‘Best Metal Performance’ award and Metallica finally won. And then won again in 1991. And again in 1992. Look, we all love Metallica, and yeah, they were on a roll in the early ‘90s, but the Grammys didn’t think any other metal acts deserved the award those years? It made metal fans wonder if they even bothered to listen to all the artists nominated.“It’s embarrassing the decisions and nominations given for rock and metal. They seem to be totally random and lacking any real logic,” said DJ and That Metal Show host Eddie Trunk in an interview last year. He added, “They gave Motörhead a Grammy for a live version of a Metallica cover? Judas Priest gets a Grammy for a live version of a 30-year old song? These are crowning moments in these artists amazing career?? It is just a total joke.” Let’s take a look at this year’s nominees and see what’s right and wrong about them.
Mastodon “High Road” (Once More ‘Round The Sun)
One of the defining metal band’s of the new century, this song appears on the innovative Atlanta outfit’s widely lauded sixth album and is their third Grammy nomination over all. A Mastodon win would be a chance for the Grammys to show they’re not completely clueless about modern-day metal. That said, the band are hardly newcomers, having formed in 2000, and it would have been a braver move if they had won for “Colony of Birchmen” in 2007.
Slipknot “The Negative One” (.5: The Gray Chapter)
There’s no doubt the masked Iowa-based metal collective are one of the genre’s most important modern acts. This song appears on the band’s 5th album, which has been seen by many as a return to the harder sound of their earlier albums. While the band is well deserving of acclaim, this is the eighth Grammy nomination for the now 20-year old band, so a win this year would not carry the same weight as it did in 2006 when they won for their song “Before I Forget,” a rare case of a metal band being recognized by the Grammys at their actual peak.
Anthrax “Neon Knights” (Ronnie James Dio: This Is Your Life)
One of thrash metal’s “Big 4,” this NYC institution is well deserving of a Grammy award and this is in fact their fifth nomination. They had legitimate claims to win for their 1990 album Persistence of Time and their groundbreaking single “Bring The Noise” in 1995 and should have been nominated for their 2011 comeback album Worship Music. But to nominate them for a Black Sabbath cover song from last year’s Ronnie James Dio tribute album, no matter how good that performance is, doesn’t truly do justice to their legacy or their continued relevance to the metal genre.
Motörhead “Heartbreaker” (Aftershock)
Motörhead are one the greatest metal bands, nay, rock n’ roll bands, of all time. They literally changed music, are total badasses and have put out more great albums than most. We should all be grateful for their contributions to music, and they deserve every accolade and award that has been bestowed on the, including their 5 Grammy nominations and their 2005 Grammy award for their cover of Metallica’s “Whiplash.” And Aftershock, their 21st album which actually came out in 2013, is a fine record. But is this song from it, one of the five best metal performances of the year? The nomination just seems like the Grammys trying to make up for past omissions by nominating a lesser work by an important band. If they really wanted to impress us they should have given Motörhead the ’Album Of The Year’ Grammy for 1980’s Ace of Spades.
Tenacious D “The Last In Line” (Ronnie James Dio: This Is Your Life)
OK, here we f***ing go. Jack Black and Kyle Gass are hilarious and kind of brilliant and are genuine fans of hard rock and heavy metal, but in no whatsoever are they a heavy metal band. Jesus Christ, they’re not even a f***ing rock band. They’re a comedy act. Nothing against them personally, but this nomination just shouldn’t be. It would be like Led Zeppelin being nominated for the ‘Best Comedy Performance’ Grammy award in 1974 for “D’yer Mak’er,” because you know, it’s kind of funny, but oh yeah, that would never happen because LED ZEPPELIN NEVER WON A GRAMMY IN THEIR LIFETIME! In other words, Tenacious D are going to win to the 2015 Grammy for ‘Best Metal Performance.’