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Rock 'n' Roll May Be Dying, But Dad Metal Is Doing Great

Haters beware—the heaviest bands in your dad's 6-CD changer are thriving more than anyone else, somehow.

by Jelisa Castrodale
16 January 2020, 5:01am

Photo: Getty Images

This article originally appeared on VICE US.

When Tool's fourth album, 10,000 Days, was released on May 2, 2006, Steve Jobs was a year away from announcing the release of the first iPhone; your parents were still trying to figure out how to use their fancy, just-released Blu-Ray player; and Britney Spears was still six months from filing for divorce from Kevin Federline.

It's safe to say that literally every-fucking-thing was different 13 years, 3 months, and 11 days later, when Tool released their fifth album, Fear Inoculum. The long-awaited record debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 chart, becoming the band's third #1 album in the United States. As Billboard reported at the time, Fear Inoculum sold better than any rock album in over a year, which wasn't surprising considering the decade-plus that Tool fans had been waiting for new music (and the years and years and years of memes about it).

But BuzzAngle Music's just-released report about last year's music consumption illustrates exactly how well Fear Inoculum did—and it also seems to show that there's still a market for certain enduring dad metal bands. Tool was the No. 6 Artist overall when it came to album sales last year, finishing behind Taylor Swift, Queen, BTS, Billie Eilish, and The Beatles.

Metallica was No. 19, sandwiched between Elvis Presley and Elton John. (OK BOOMER DOT GIF.)

Fear Inoculum ranked No. 8 in single Album Sales, and it was also No. 10 on the list of Top Rock Albums by Total Consumption, a metric that's calculated using the complicated looking formula of "album sales + song sales/10 + on-demand streams/1500." Billie Eilish had the top two spots on this particular chart, which makes us think that we have a dramatically different definition of what rock is.

BuzzAngle also ranked the Top Artists by Album Sales for the latter half of the decade, from 2015 through 2019. Adele was at the top of that list –– undoubtedly due to her inescapable 2015 release 25 –– followed by Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran… and Metallica.

In November 2016, Metallica released its 10th studio album, Hardwired...to Self Destruct, which has since been certified platinum. Despite that record's success, Metallica, The Beatles, and Elvis were the only three artists in the top 10 of that that 2015-2019 list who didn't also have one or more albums listed among the top 25 best-selling albums from that same time period. (So hello, back catalog!)

Tool and Metallica were both among the top artists when it comes to sales, but not when it came to streaming full albums or individual songs, which suggests that their target demographic is the same group of people who still purchase music, whether it's a digital download or a physical copy of the record on vinyl or (holy shit!) even on CD.

Regardless, those sales numbers would seem to be encouraging to both bands, especially since they're both touring this year. Tool has 15 dates scheduled in January and February, and Metallica has 18 dates ahead of them, starting with its second annual The All Within My Hands Helping Hands Concert & Auction in late March.

But please, don't let that stop you from posting more dank Tool memes.