Headbangers’ Brawl is a weekly column where Metal Insider’s contributors take a moment to debate and analyze two opposing sides of a topical issue occurring in the world of metal and/or the music industry.
It’s that time of year again. This week, the nominees for the 55th Annual Grammy Awards’ “Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance” were announced. Now the Academy is notorious for their ignorance in metal, as proven with each year’s nominations. And while it’s still not perfect, this year’s nominees (including Anthrax, Lamb Of God, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Marilyn Manson and Halestorm) are arguably more deserving than nominees from past years.
However, the key term is still “not perfect.” That’s why Bram, Kodi, Zach and Matt not only place their bets on who’ll take home the gold record player in February, but also choose one band they each feel should have been nominated for the “Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance” award. Then after you see our picks, watch the Rollins Band’s performance on the 1994 Grammys to recall a time when the award show wasn’t (totally) lame.
Zach: I’d personally would love to see Anthrax win the award for “I’m Alive,” even though the song appears on an album that came out in 2011 (talk about being late to the party, eh?). While Lamb Of God would come in as a close second for me, Worship Music was one of the best metal albums of 2011 and unarguably Anthrax’s best new material in years. HOWEVER, I’ve learned that there’s one sure bet with this category: if a Dave Grohl project isn’t nominated, then an older group will win the award. Just asked Judas Priest, Metallica, Slayer and even Iron Maiden about their Grammy wins. Thus, even though it’s the only nominated song that’s not an original recording, I’m betting that Iron Maiden is going to win it again with their live version of “Blood Brothers.”
Arguments can definitely be made for why bands like Meshuggah, Baroness and Testament should have been nominated (and I personally would’ve liked to see Devin Townsend get a nomination). However, the one band I think truly got snubbed by the Academy this year was Gojira. Le’ Enfant Sauvage is quite possibly the most exciting and refreshing sounding metal album to come out this year, and deserves to be recognized by even non-metal fans.
Matt: I think Lamb Of God is a strong contender and, in my opinion, has the most legitimate claim out of all the nominees. It would certainly be nice for people to remember that Lamb Of God actually put out an album this year instead of just Randy Blythe’s legal woes. That’s not to discredit Anthrax and Megadeth, who are both more than deserving of recognition, but both of their releases were last year. And, as much as I love Maiden, “Blood Brothers,” and En Vivo!, their nomination is a live rendition of a 12 year old song. Way to go Academy. To be fair, Halestorm has gotten quite a following this year. And Marilyn Manson is….well, Marilyn Manson. Given the nature of the Grammys though, it could be anyone.
There are many metal acts that deserved to be nominated from this year (and last year, if we’re playing by the same rules as the Academy). In terms of deserving metal acts whose existance the Academy might actually be aware of, my pick would have to be Deftones. Koi No Yokan is a brilliant follow up to Diamond Eyes, and has many stand out tracks worthy of a nomination. Who knows? Maybe 2010’s “Rocket Skates” will get a nod next year.
Kodi: In a year where Al Walser can score an EDM nomination, it seems that metal isn’t the only thing the Academy is ignorant of. So if it’s safe to assume that the Academy essentially runs on autopilot and goes with name recognition in categories like these, who gets the nod this year? Hopefully it’s not Marilyn Manson, as it’s been a little while since he’s done anything worth considering for an award, and even the Academy shouldn’t be blind to that. Anthrax’s high-profile comeback makes them the pick I’d love to have happen, but since safety seems like the name of the game with the Grammys, it’d be no surprise to see Iron Maiden get the victory. That’s something any metalhead can live with, even though I’m not sure how much I like the idea of a live track (and not even one of Maiden’s best) winning out over other bands’ original material.
Out of the bands that may have deserved a nod this year, Gojira, Deftones and even Baroness would have made a lot of sense. But as Matt riffed on a bit, Deftones always has next year. And by the reasoning of that weirdly delayed nomination schedule, what about Mastodon or Machine Head? They’re both commercially successful, they released big records that crossed over well for the mainstream last year, and they’re not exactly outside of Academy eyes; in fact, Machine Head and Mastodon have both been nominated for Best Metal Performance in the past. I’d go with Machine Head here, which would give the Academy a chance to make up for giving Slayer yet another Grammy over “Aesthetics of Hate” in 2008.
Bram: Yeah, that Al Walser story is ridiculous. I’m almost surprised that this hasn’t happened with metal yet, but it says that at least as misguided as the Grammy voters might be, at least the hard rock and metal people (mostly) take care of their own. I’m going to go with my hope as a prediction, and that’s that Lamb of God take home the Grammy. Firstly, it’s great to see them recognized. Secondly, they put out a great album this year, and lastly, Randy Blythe’s story and legal issues are bigger than metal, and a Grammy win might help bring his plight to a bigger stage. That being said, with Megadeth having gone so long without winning a Grammy, I wouldn’t be crushed if MegaDave won, even though it might be hard to separate the man from his music these days. But let’s be honest, Maiden will probably win, even if it is an old track from a live album. The band’s been around for long enough that just about any non-metal fan will nominate them on name alone.
As far as an act that should’ve made it in, I’m actually going to recommend a band whose album isn’t even in my top ten of the year. Meshuggah released a great album that had a phenomenal first week of sales. The band are veterans, they’re beloved by both musicians and fans, and their style and technical chops have been influential to tons of bands, including Gojira. And speaking of Gojira, while I think the Gojira album is amazing, it’s not like that band is going anywhere anytime soon, so maybe their next album will make it in.