.Editorial - Costume Saturation Overload
Metal Reviews

Release year: 2020
Reviewed by Ben

Have we reached the point of costume saturation when it comes to metal? I believe so. While perusing the Tube Of You's, the vast majority of bands have gone a bit extra when it comes to their outfits. Music video after music video and live shows had people in plastic armor, furry shoulder pads, and wielding "weaponry" of some sorts. Prepare yourselves for an incoming old man quote... Ready? Ok. I remember when costumed bands were the exception rather than the rule! How did we get to this point of costumed madness? What's the difference between stage attire in general and preparing a costume? Why can't everyone pull it off?

First off, I'm not so purposefully ignorant so as to pretend that the vast majority of the bands, including bands that I listen to and admire, have a separation between stage outfits and their street clothes. Sometimes the two mesh up together ala hardcore bands or Blind Guardian in the early stages of their career, but for the most part there is a clear delineation between the two. Even Bruce Dickinson threw on checkered spandex and ran around in a vest. It's ok. I get it. You don't wanna look like the guy that just got home from a blue collar job because reasons. I applaud bands that put effort into constructing a drum riser as well as those that have cool backdrops. However, what I'm referring to as costumed goes beyond a stage show. Heavily garbed band members in costume was once a way to be different, but now when everyone starts to do the same thing because "it's what you do to be noticed," then something that was once unique is now a gimmick and standards get lowered both musically and visually. In a genre where ugly motherfuckers can make pounding glorious metal that makes you revert to a primal state, having this emphasis on costumed imagery is counter-intuitive. Also, everyone in the band wearing a collared button up black long sleeve shirt is not a look either. Ok, it is a look. It looks like you all met while working at Starbucks and decided to form a non threatening metal band. Great look. My man - panties are sliding off as we speak. Oh baby.

Since dressing up in costumes is pretty damn theatrical, therein lies the problem with most costumed bands. Only a sparse handful of groups know how to BE "theatrical." This is kinda synonymous with WWE style wrestling. Most newcomers think they can be The Rock or Shawn Michaels just by getting all jacked up the gym and then getting in front of a mic and running their mouths. Nope. Doesn't work that way. When you push the theatrics, you also need to have the charisma to back it up. Kiss is probably the oldest example of matching outfitted over the top costumed rockers blowing shit up on stage in the name of spectacle. More in line with traditional metal you got King Diamond and Mercyful Fate. Then in black metal there's the Dimmu Borgir's and Immortal's, and Turisas' and finally the most recent band to do the costume idea successfully is Ghost. To be honest, because they're the most recent band to pop the metal bubble and go get actual success, they probably have influenced alot of bad bands recently. But that's how it goes. However, take a look at these bands. They are rare exceptions to the rule. Is there anyone in your band or the bands you like that do dress up that has that unmis"Lemmy" aura? You don't have to answer publicly, it's alright, man. Is someone in your band as good as delegating duties to each member like Tobias Forge? Also, look at these bands and their live performances. They all have extras going on in the show instead of them prancing around in dress up. King Diamond has his Grandma Abigail shtick and the iron gates of the estate adorn his stage. Unfortunately, it seems that "dressing up in a costume" is seen as a shortcut to get noticed, a way to instantly grab attention. Because of this, it seems that bands decide to go the bare minimum when it comes to effort and expect accolades simply from putting on some plastic armor. They don't realize that while Carnivore might have gone Mad Max style at Lamour's in NY, they also did things like throw raw meat out into the crowd.

I also think that the huge popularity of the Marvel cinematic universe has impacted the world of metal in terms of costuming and presentation. You cannot watch a video by Gloryhammer and not immediately draw comparisons to those movies. Cosplaying has exploded in popular culture. Video games dwarf the world of heavy metal when it comes to popularity and money spent by consumers. There are gigantic video game conventions and in those conventions are thousands of cosplayers. It's not hard of a stretch to go from something like that, and combining it with a band all Japan lovers know and admire, Galneryus. This type of stuff didn't really go on twenty years ago. When The Matrix: Reloaded came out in the theaters, ONE GUY (not me) dressed up as Trinity to go to the midnight showing. The entire theater was stunned into silence. Cosplaying has come along way.

Again, I wish to reiterate that I am not against any and all bands with a theatrical slant and costumed stage shows. I haven't yet had diarrhea of the mouth and started talking about all the bands I dislike. To this day, one of the most intense shows I ever saw was the first time I saw Darkest Hour sometime in 2007, 2008, somewhere in that time frame. They had a simple set up of a platform that allowed band members to climb up above the monitors and some fog. The guys in the band were going off so hard that this was all that was needed to make me remember their show a dozen years later. Ghost can pull the theatrics off and did so decently live as well. Again, they have a frontman who is good with a crowd (charisma) as well as being someone who knows exactly how to steer their ship. I really hope to see Mercyful Fate live at some point, but well, COVID. Then there's the Portal guys who shred ass and stomp it into paste. Here's that old man quote again... Ready? Here we go. I remember when there were so few costumed bands, that if they were one, they were generally listenable. Well, yea, that's because at the time, most bands deciding to go that route were being led by a person doing it because they were some crazy theater grad or whatever, and had some wild ass vision. Now, it is becoming an obvious, lazy gimmick and the bar has been lowered.

Killing Songs :
Ben quoted
Other albums by .Editorial that we have reviewed:
.Editorial - Drums Of Doom reviewed by Ben and quoted
.Editorial - Exit the Warrior - RIP Neil Peart reviewed by Goat and quoted
.Editorial - From music reviewer to "successful" SciFi Author reviewed by Chris and quoted
.Editorial - Earth - Last Sanctuary: A SciFi novel by a metalhead reviewed by Chris and quoted
.Editorial - Picking Winners? reviewed by Goat and quoted
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