The World Metal Alliance was originally founded in 1992 in order to unite, inform and organize metal listeners in the defense of their freedom. It was a year in which the entire metal subculture was under a sudden and unwarranted series of attacks from extremists on both ends of the political spectrum. From the left, many lobbied in congress for label laws and censorship, as liberal educators proposed the removal and social rehabilitation of anyone who dared to wear a metal t-shirt to their politically correct public schools. And from the right, pseudo-fundamentalists preached record burnings and even the elimination of heavy metal as we know it. Several lawsuits were even launched against certain metal artists, blaming their music for teenage suicides. It was a time when metal was misportrayed by the media, misunderstood by the masses, negatively stereotyped by the entertainment industry, blacklisted by most music award communities, and rarely played on the radio.
Under attack both politically and personally, most metal listeners remained unaware of the severity of the threat. Until then, nothing had been done to combat the onslaught of unprovoked hostility toward us and our music. Realizing the constitutional way to effectively defend our freedom was found in the Bill of Rights; and that metal was an artform where new bands went national with little or no airplay and spread entirely by word of mouth; the solution became obvious. Within the first amendment, the counter attack had been described in detail. Using these freedoms to alert and inform the entire metal subculture through speech and the printed word, the World Metal Alliance was first brought into formation by distributing several hundred printed flyers, which described the severity of the situation, to metal fans attending a metal concert in the spring of 1992.
The response was, to say the least, enormous. A massive undefined network of metal fans from across the nation had already existed, it was a coast to coast metal grapevine just waiting to be put into action. Word of mouth had become the only way to obtain information on metal due to its blacklisting by the broadcast media and it turned out to be a strength which had been developed under much adversity. The rally cry spread across the nation as members responded, joined and spread the message by recruiting more members in ever growing numbers. Petitions were circulated, signed and returned in massive quantities. Letters of encouragement poured in and requests for more free recruitment flyers and petitions were at times overwhelming. The cost of maintaining the Alliance had far exceeded all expectations. T-shirts and posters were sold to help pay for the printing and mailing of free flyers, petitions and membership cards. But it was never enough to cover the ever-rising costs.
1996, four years after the Alliance was founded, new memberships began to steadily decrease. As quickly as it had grown, the membership of the Alliance had seemed to reach its peak and level off. Many within our organization attributed this to the corresponding rise in popularity of grunge and alternative music. Others disagreed and blamed the methods used to recruit and manage the distribution of information. Either way, it was evident that metal had also peaked. Guitar magazines featured articles asking if shred was dead. The debate raged in music publications and between metal musicians. Many felt that most metal bands had placed too much emphasis on technical speed and guitar solos and had forgotten the importance of the song as a whole. Others blamed the masses for wanting to hear simpler, riff driven songs with the repeated 'hook' of most pop music. Many metal bands faded during the years that followed. Some bands revised their song writing to fit the new mold and stay alive; and only a few stayed the course. Ultimately, the result of those years proved to be a time when the metal market was cleansed of the many weaker sound-a-like bands and only the originators and masters of the craft remained.
Over the years much had been accomplished. We had petitioned the power structure and in most cases we had prevailed. Metal is now broadcast and even featured by many of the stations who once refused to play it. The advertising world has found metal to be an effective soundtrack for selling fast cars, extreme sports, and practically every other product imaginable. The entertainment industry, that once spurned metal, has utilized metal's intensity for action movie soundtracks, war films and even weapon documentaries. Even the music award communities were forced to add metal as a category on their yearly award shows due to the overwhelming demand of its listeners. On the political side, the Alliance continued to rally metal listeners in the defense of our freedom, but for financial reasons could only continue to operate on a limited level.
But recently, the popularity of metal is once again on the rise, as well as the appearance of new bands influenced by it. And just as the decline of interest in the Alliance corresponded to the decline of interest in metal, the rising demand for the return of the Alliance has corresponded to this renewed demand for metal. Members from across the globe have written and requested that the information and services, formerly provided by the Alliance through the mail, be made available on the web. One member wrote, "If ever there was an organization made for the web, or a medium made for an organization, it is the internet and the Alliance." And now, after much planning and development the Alliance has finally regrouped and landed its forces upon the world wide web. It is the perfect solution to the high cost we previously faced by trying to maintain the organization through conventional printing and mailing and much more effective since membership, petitions, polls, and news are all now practically instantaneous. By automating member feedback and involvement, the Alliance can now be directed almost entirely by its members. Now the work that was begun in 1992 can continue, and the center of all that is metal can finally be accessed through one website.
The following maps indicate the status of our membership throughout the world only four years after the formation of The Alliance. The occupied member areas, which are indicated in black, show just how far the Alliance spread entirely by word-of-mouth from 1992 to 1996.