Chatting With the Doc: The New Wave of American Heavy Metal

When Decibel magazine first launched in 2004, heavy metal was in thrall of a new generation of bands. After the long sleep of 1997-2003, extreme metal sounds finally began to re-emerge from the deepest caverns of the underground and into the mainstream consciousness. With the New Wave of American Heavy Metal, blastbeats, screaming vocals and guitar-driven songwriting returned as driving forces behind extreme music.

Of course, these things had never “gone away.” But in an age before social media – and the streaming that now makes everything constantly available – only a select few fans knew where to go for emerging thrash, death and black metal sounds, along with the bands reshaping the hardcore scene. For the rest of us, we still had to rely on MTV/MTV2, Fuse, MuchMusic, terrestrial radio, magazines and the flyers we saw on the street. And by 2004, bands like Killswitch Engage, Shadows Fall, Unearth and Between the Buried and Me were marching through these avenues, breathing much-needed life into a scene exhausted by stale nü-metal and post-grunge. One of these avenues was Decibel itself, with many of the key bands gracing the cover of the magazine throughout its early history.

And one of these bands was New Jersey’s Godforbid, featured on the cover of Decibel #013. While this riff-heavy band-for-all-seasons broke up in 2013, guitarist Doc Coyle has stayed active with new music projects, as well as the Ex-Man podcast. In September of 2014, he wrote a piece looking back on the New Wave of American Heavy Metal from a musician’s perspective. This was one inspiration behind an article I penned for Metal Injection called “Reflecting on the New Wave of American Heavy Metal.” I tried my best to explain, from a fan’s perspective, why this music was so important – and not just because it was a “gateway” for future death/black/doom metal fanatics (though it certainly was), but also because the music was great on its own terms.

Doc happened to like the article quite a bit, and we stayed in touch since then. A couple weeks ago, he decided to have me on his podcast to talk about it. But our discussion wasn’t limited to simply remembering metal from about 2003 to 2008. We also chat about the future of metal and of nostalgia in general, along with the shifts in the music industry and how people form their taste in music. So if that sounds interesting to you, check it out! (The interview starts at around the 6:30 mark.)

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