In the mid to late 90s, I went to a lot of metal and hardcore shows. Agnostic Front, D.R.I., Pro-Pain, No Innocent Victim, Earth Crisis, S.O.D., Life of Agony, Clutch, Downset, Napalm Death, and Madball (just to name a few) hit the stage in Lawrence, KS more than a few times, and it was great.
Since I was in a local band, I knew many of the regulars who would pop up at these shows. I became friends with a couple guys I would see at the clubs and we would talk music - in particular about the bands we were about to see live.
I began noticing an irritating trend in our infrequent conversations. Whenever we would talk about a band, these two would always make sure to get the following line in:
"I love their first record, but everything after that sucks."
Every time. Every band.
Now, I'm not just talking about bands that radically changed their sound like 90s-era Metallica or post-Max Sepultura. No, these guys ragged on everybody. When Hatebreed released their first major full-length back in 1997, those buddies of mine complained that it wasn't as good as their first independently released ep.
REALLY? Hatebreed? Since when did Hatebreed EVER radically change their sound, let alone between their first ep and their first lp???
After a while, their inevitable statements started to bug me to the point that I wouldn't even want to talk with these guys about the band we were about to see. Most of the time, I already had the band's new release, and usually, I freaking loved it.
Little did I know at the time that such an attitude is fairly widespread amongst so-called fans.
"You know, I love the band's first practice demo they recorded on a cheap boom box in their basement, but everything after that sucks. I mean, they didn't even have vocals recorded over their half-written songs yet - now THAT'S metal!!!
Please, everyone, look at what a purist I am!"
Nowadays, I will get into online discussions about metal, and I'll find the same ideas expressed there as well (in spades). Many will express love and admiration for a band's early records and hate the rest.
For example, Testament's first two albums (The Legacy and The New Order) are thrash classics. To me, so is Practice What You Preach, The Gathering, and even Testament's unfortunately panned heavy weight album Demonic.
But I guess admitting that I like Testament's later material just as much as I like their early stuff makes me, what?...not old-school enough? Not purist enough?
Hell, I simply call it being a FAN of the band.
I may not enjoy everything Testament has put out, but I love their music and will always be a first day buyer of any future releases. I am a fan, see?
For those who hate the later releases of bands they supposedly love, who are they trying to impress when boldly slamming anything past the first or second album? I really would like to know how such ideas give them feelings of self-satisfaction.
I guarantee there is someone out there saying "Municipal Waste's first two releases were good, but the rest sucks."
I guess only a purist's ears can hear the change in quality when there clearly is none.