An Old Man Meets Modern Metal: by TIM PRESTON

What Drives The Weak will headline the November 2 Carter County Metal show in Grayson.

They don’t even call it “Heavy Metal” anymore.

As an old man who was around as this music began, that makes me a little bit angry but the truth is the rock music now known simply as “Metal” has evolved in ways we never could have imagined when those in my crowd were banging their heads.

The word simple, however, can’t actually be applied to the Metal music of the past couple of decades. In the days of “Heavy” Metal we surely had a few extra categories including “Death Metal” as well as a somewhat forgotten category called “Thrash” Metal. 

Now, there are so many Metal genres and subgenres it would be tough to fit them all on a single list.

This is suddenly important to me because I have somehow gotten myself eyeball deep into assisting with the nuts and bolts of the Carter County Metal show, November 2, 2019 in Grayson, Kentucky. 

With four bands taking their turns on the Grayson Gallery & Art Center stage, we will have “Chaotic Hardcore,” as well as “Melodic Death Metal” and “Melodic Deathcore” with a slab of “Math Rock” to kick things off.

Of course, that was only the way one of the lineup’s drummers described our bands. A vocalist in another band said we will actually have “Deathcore, Metalcore and Hardcore” represented, as he considered the band described as Math Rock to be “just Deathcore“.

I’m not sure when I disentangled from the world of Metal, although I suspect it was when “grunge” music largely replaced the entirety of  what is now called “Hair Metal” – which is a reference to the hairstyles of the often made-for-MTV-video bands like Poison (who none of us real metalheads considered to be “really metal” at the time).

A few bands of that era, notably Metallica, managed to find their way to high volumes in my home and car in the post-grunge days, but I have not sought out or even listened to much of anything recorded this century. As a result, I have been left behind by the music I once loved and it has moved on without me. To cite a Led Zep song, that’s nobody’s fault but mine.

This all hit me “like a two-ton heavy thing” (thank you Queensryche) as I snuck into a local home Friday evening to photograph members of the band Not One Is Upright.  

Not One Is Upright

The band, rehearsing in a tiny bedroom at the back of the house, left the door unlocked for me. I stood in the hallway and checked them out for a few minutes before letting them know I was there. The vocalist was using a closed system with headphones, so the guitars, bass and drums were all I could hear.

Within a few beats I was standing there saying “Whoooooa, this is really good stuff,” as they polished through a series of impossible timing changes on a madly aggressive song. Credit where due, those guys demonstrated a level of timing and overall “heavy” which I haven’t heard in a long time, and it hit me right where it counts.

And they did that with about two cubic feet of space each in that little room. Imagine what they will do with an entire stage at their disposal.

I also got to hear a little bit of the new album recently recorded by our headlining band, What Drives The Weak, and had the same reaction. 

It would seem, for me at least, the appeal of hard, fast and somewhat furious music has not entirely faded away with the color of my hair. 

Call it what you want, there will be a heavy batch of Metal performed as part of Carter County Metal in Grayson on November 2, 2019. If you want to familiarize yourself with the lineup, start with a search for our opening band, Trash Pageant, and then check out Left To The Wolves.

Our two main bands, Not One Is Upright and What Drives The Weak, were going to flip a coin to decide the “headline” band, but instead agreed to have WDTW take the final set because they have a new album and a longer set list.   

This show will be provided free of charge to the audience, and it would not have happened without a few other “old folks” who did not hesitate to approve the proposal to host the event at Grayson Gallery & Art Center. 

Recognizing this is something for a crowd of mostly younger people who we don’t normally consider in our plans, members of the art gallery board essentially asked “How do we pay for it?” and voted unanimously to approve the show.

Jim Wolford, owner of Broken Drum Records, helped with the finances by stepping up and pulling cash out of his own pocket to support the cause. 

With his shop in the lower level of the Antiques N’ Uniques building set to re-open in the weeks ahead, Wolford has a lot of work to do and his support deserves an extra salute. It doesn’t hurt that Jim is also a hardcore metalhead from way back and likes the idea of more rock and roll in Carter County!

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Jim Wolford of Broken Drum Records

Donations to the gallery will be accepted and appreciated, although I will personally be just as happy to see people buy T-shirts and other merchandise offered by the bands.


Many years ago, Community Journalist Tim Preston had “big hair” and wore spandex pants as well as spiked leather bracelets while playing a collection of “pointy guitars” in Heavy Metal bands between 1982 and 1990. He is now trying familiarize himself with modern metal music and plans to spend part of the afternoon listening to Norwegian Folk Metal by the band Myrkgrav.


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