I remember reading the papers back then and learning to distrust journalists. I remember going to concerts and seeing the audience explode in cathartic bliss and then reading some sniffy dismissal of the show in The Boston Phoenix. But I also came to realize that the acts the critics cared about were comprehensible only to the critics.
Heavy Metal alone didn't make rock criticism irrelevant but it certainly helped. And for the fans of metal the only criteria that matters is whether the bands bring the noise, whether they get the job done. Metal culture not only exists outside mainstream acceptance, it exists in defiance of it.
Literally- and I mean this- the only difference between ancient and modern metal is electricity. The Korybantes et al played huge metal stringed instruments and used all sorts of things (including shields) as percussion. Anything to make a fucking racket.
They are no different than the rock critics of the early 80s, attacking every single important band while heaping praise on marginal acts that absolutely no one remembers today.
The establishment-- the mainstream-- is not interested in compromising and there's no point in pretending otherwise.
UPDATE: Any opportunity I get to link to this stormer by our friend Gordon, I take. I should add the admixture of Gnosticism and hard music got me thinking of our other friend Raj while writing this piece.