A REFLECTION ON CRABCORE AND ITS PLACE IN METAL; “METALCORE FANS MY AGE ARE JADED” – ANDREW WETZEL
Near the end of 2020, the Metalcore world was handed a taste of 2010 — Attack Attack! arose from a 6 year crabcore grave. With them came a new single, “All My Life”, the band’s first since 2013 and the first since 2012 to be released under the name Attack Attack!. The result was a catchy and nostalgic yet somehow still contemporary sounding track that elicited mixed reactions from the internet.
This came as no surprise to Attack Attack! founder Andrew Wetzel. He has been used to the criticism since the band’s inception in 2008, as he told us recently in an in-depth interview. In this same interview, he described metalcore fans his age as being “jaded and lost”. Both of these points are formative in nature for the wave of scene metalcore that took metal press headlines by storm in the late 2000’s and into the 2010’s. Attack Attack! were the leaders. And they appeared quite fearless at that. The nearly constant criticism from metal fans, metal press and passer-bys online seems like a distant memory now in an era where Attack Attack! are viewed as pioneers of the new wave of metalcore.
If you’re still reading, I have a bold proposition for you. One could consider Attack Attack! to be the Killswitch Engage of crabcore. By blending Euro trance style electronic beats with a barrage of breakdowns and pop choruses, a bold new way to be heavy, melodic and accessible was born. Columbus, Ohio and Connersville, Indiana (home of producer Joey Sturgis) could be viewed as the Midwest version of the New England metalcore scene. Both movements popularized a subgenre that briefly was viewed as the modern definition of metal.
Attack Attack! had friends too. They inspired an entire generation, though that’s difficult to see through all of the hatred towards crabcore. They were copied, in a flattering way of course. Fellow peers such as Asking Alexandria, The Devil Wears Prada, and I See Stars were all derived heavily from Attack Attack!’s approach to heavy, fun music. I don’t think it’s any coincidence either that all four of the aforementioned bands are now viewed as legendary veterans for the metalcore scene. Asking Alexandria alone spawned more clones than possibly any modern band. That’s a conversation for another day. There is one person to credit for all of this, however.
Joey Sturgis could be thanked for every bit of electronica in metalcore. Every bold, loud lyric-quote black shirt sold by Hot Topic from 2008 through 2014. Every dual-tracked vocal overlay. Okay, I’m being facetious here. But he is without a doubt the next Adam D. Every metalcore band wanted to work with him and almost every metalcore band did. He was a sought after producer because of what he did for bands like Attack Attack! and Asking Alexandria. And right when all of those bands began to sound the same, he made the right decision in bowing out. His hiatus and recent return was well-played and well-deserved.
Where am I going with all of this? Despite all of the negativity, the scene Attack Attack! cultivated was massive and is currently beloved. Whether that’s through nostalgia blinders or not, there’s no denying a new way for heavy music to be juxtaposed with even more genres than before was made possible by Attack Attack! It’s similar to the nu metal boom in the late 90’s. Hated while it was happening, beloved when it was gone. Now I’m sure you’re not STILL with me…
But if you are, let’s discuss why innovation in metalcore is important. If we want heavy music to survive, there can’t just be ONE way of pulling it off. Attack Attack! were so derided by metal fans because they weren’t marketed towards metal fans. No one was calling Attack Attack! a replacement band for Behemoth. Or Asking Alexandria the next Testament. Comparing crabcore to metal is apples and oranges. Industrial isn’t the same as traditional heavy metal even though both have heavy guitars in the instrumentation. You don’t call Taylor Swift’s band a rock band just because they have a guitarist. Execution is EVERYTHING when it comes to describing a subgenre. That’s why metal and metalcore are two different genres at this point. Iron Maiden is not Converge. And Converge is not Killswitch Engage. Metal press knew what it was doing when trying to throw Attack Attack! to extreme metal purists who believe blast beats and gutturals are the only way.
Now for the real point of this article. Attack Attack! have returned at the perfect time. Why? Because they have a rabid, loyal fanbase who missed them. These fans understand their approach now that time has passed. What was once believed to be an insane mad scientist way to make heavy music is now regarded as forward-thinking and innovative. Andrew Wetzel believes in making fun music that reflects the exact opposite of the treatment the band he founded has received over time. I believe anyone who has ever thrown on “Smokahontas” or “Stick Stickly” just wants to have a good time, not process time signatures. Now is the time for fun music. Eskimo Callboy’s amount of Hypa hype from last year is proof positive. Crabcore stands a chance co-existing with metal now.
EDITOR’S NOTE: CaliberTV would like to thank Matthew Powers for his years of dedication as the first journalist to join our staff in 2013. The team would like to wish him well on his future endeavors.
We will miss you!