While I think that modern metal music is pretty much total garbage I think a lot of solid punk bands are still performing and recording such as NOFX, Bad Religion, Subhumans, UK Subs, Rancid and Dead Kennedys. You've just got to look in the underground. A lot of these bands are straying away from the mainstream as it becomes more destructive to musical reputations.
I think the majority of rock/metal that adorns music television and magazine covers is a genre i dont recognise anymore, it seems quite image related with exotic hairdo's and androginous outfits with complex acccesories,this seems to be trying to emulate elements of early punk music but seems manufactored. then their is the obligatory tattoos and piercings. To me a lot of modern bands look and sound quite similar and i think that the spirit of heavy or alternative music should be to embrace individuality as for my feelings of heavy music it never used to be about how you looked, in fact it was the opposite where anything went and the music was the most important thing.
Ok rant over, i think there are hundreds of rock/punk/heavy metal bands to be found outside of the commercial market.... Lo-Pan,Horns of The Rhino,Graveyard,Witchcraft,Black Tusk,Baroness,Priestess,Clutch,Torche,Big Business,MegaChurch,Orange Goblin,Electric Wizard. Also try websites that showcase unsigned bands to find cool stuff from the fringes.
I agree that there are a lot of crappy metal bands out there. Most bands fill their songs with generic breakdowns and generic monotone vocals and pass it off as METAL. Or at least that's what they're calling in nowadays. All of these terrible "core" bands anger my soul. People who actually care about the integrity of music have to pick and look through the disgusting amount of clone-core bands out there just to find something worth listening to.
Disagree with one of your points; Regional scenes breed movements. Whether you liked it or not, hair metal blew up the world and gave openings to many, many 'real' metal acts after gestating on the sunset strip for years.
Around here, August Burns Red and Texas in July used to play bowling alleys and laser tag arenas. Look what they've turned into.
Regional scenes are part of the identity of an area, and give the band a strong base they can fall back on when things go less than perfect with an experiment. Decades after their 15 minutes, Kix is touring the east coast just like they used to back in the early '80's. I get to see them at my neighborhood bar/concert venue three times a year. They probably couldn't draw more than a hundred in Miami, but around here, 800 on a Tuesday night in July without a single college kid in sight.
There are a number of reasons. First and foremost, there haven't been any significant developments in genre since Black Metal - remember, this pretty much stopped evolving around '95-97 or so. The few bands who have properly "taken it further" (Absu, Secrets of The Moon, Averse Sefira, Rotting Christ) would pretty much crash and burn if they (had) strayed from the style any more.
That's not to say there haven't been good bands in recent years. Metal is too successful now, and we see that with it's ridicule (Dethklok, Ghost, Cradle of HIV, Slipknot) or pathetic attempts at assimilation (Liturgy, Wolves In The Throne Room, Mastodon) by verse-chorus-verse-chorus mainstream groups that want to make metal-flavored ear candy.
I still firmly believe there IS hope for good Metal. If you live and breathe this music, you can help! Abolish regional scenes - being 'underground' doesn't instantly make a band great - hold them all to high standards, big or small. This is OUR music, but each and every one of us CAN fuck it up without regular reality checks from our brothers. Venues are overbooked - not everyone needs to be in a touring band. Help promote and book good music at a local venue. Start a distro if you know people who run labels. Got a screen printer? Good! Get permission and help make/sell band merch. Pack a small bag and volunteer to help a friend's band on the road. Most of all, stop googling every band you hear of. Start going to record stores and ASK if a band is worth hearing! You'll hear different opinions, and most likely meet some good people after a while. Maybe if there are no local stores, check a small distro online. Most do mixed CD lots or throw in bonuses, even a recommendations list if contacted. Do your part.