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If you don't like metal, you are not my friend
April 21, 2008 12:14 PM   Subscribe

New England's best metal site has now gone national.

Thrash out!
posted by auralcoral (75 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
(thread title is a Manowar song...we can still be friends.)
posted by auralcoral at 12:20 PM on April 21, 2008


Not bad... hopefully people will add lots of tours. For now, it seems that Tartarean Desire has a lot more shows listed, at least for my area.

For my money, the best metal tour this year is going to be this one (note updated dates at the bottom). Angelcorpse, Ares Kingdom, Gospel of the Horns, Cemetary Urn, Sanguis Imperem, and Holocaust Wolves Of The Apocalypse! arrrgh, I'm not sure I'll even survive this one... total (order from) chaos & violence!
posted by vorfeed at 12:50 PM on April 21, 2008


THE CLASSIC STRUGGLE , THE WORLD WE KNEW , SALT THE WOUND , PERPETUAL WINTER , INNER VIOLENCE

Ugh. Must all metal bands these days have such overwrought, pretentious names?
posted by Pastabagel at 1:39 PM on April 21, 2008


Must all metal bands these days have such overwrought, pretentious names?

It's a pissing match to help emphasize the subliminal repressed homoeroticism. So, yes. Besides, Motorhead is already taken.
posted by valentinepig at 1:54 PM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ugh. Must all metal bands these days have such overwrought, pretentious names?

Four out of five of those bands are "metalcore", i.e. NOT METAL. Please, don't judge metal by this worthless crap... these bands don't have much in common with metal at all, despite what some may say.
posted by vorfeed at 1:56 PM on April 21, 2008


Speaking of which, the Motorhead, Heaven and Hell, Judas Priest, Testament mega-tour was confirmed today, HORNS UP.
posted by The Straightener at 1:58 PM on April 21, 2008


Hey cool, my old college radio station getting some props on Metafilter.
posted by schoolgirl report at 2:34 PM on April 21, 2008


thank you for the correction vorfeed, i was about to say the same thing.
posted by auralcoral at 2:43 PM on April 21, 2008


Four out of five of those bands are "metalcore", i.e. NOT METAL. Please, don't judge metal by this worthless crap... these bands don't have much in common with metal at all, despite what some may say.

DEATH TO FALSE METAL!
posted by nasreddin at 3:17 PM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yes not to mention that "Angelcorpse", "Ares Kingdom", "Gospel of the Horns", "Holocaust Wolves Of The Apocalypse!" are much less overwrought and pretentious.

Better they stuck with simple names like Kings of Leon, My Bloody Valentine or Death Cab for Cutie
posted by bitdamaged at 3:28 PM on April 21, 2008


Ugh. Must all metal bands these days have such overwrought, pretentious names?

This reminds me of the multiplayer video game effect. It seems like the more pretentious the name the worse the player, but if you see someone named fluffykitty or pinkbunny, run for the hills before you get fragged. Is there a corallary in Metal of low key names and ability to shred?
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:46 PM on April 21, 2008


I prefer light metal: Lemmy G. of Aluminum Head, etc. As for New England Metal it's best to visit Ye Olde Metal Shoppe in Salem for wax-scented pentagrams and CDs by bands like Calvinist Death Minister or Hawthorne's Ghost.
posted by ornate insect at 3:57 PM on April 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


I have a spare ticket to Ministry in Baltimore 4/26, still.
posted by waraw at 4:24 PM on April 21, 2008


Four out of five of those bands are "metalcore", i.e. NOT METAL. Please, don't judge metal by this worthless crap... these bands don't have much in common with metal at all, despite what some may say.

It's not a thread about metal until somebody tells somebody else the music they like isn't actually metal.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:43 PM on April 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


Nothing but crap coming my way, but I'm glad to have this resource. Thanks!
posted by ignignokt at 4:57 PM on April 21, 2008


ornate insect: I would most certainly give Calvinist Death Minister a listen. Also, probably Ornate Insect.

Bookhouse: Yup. It's metal unless you don't like it.
posted by ignignokt at 5:00 PM on April 21, 2008


Any attempt to define 'metal', or even its sub-sets, is ill-advised as chances are you'll be the only one who agrees with it. The best option is to take your band and come up with an entirely new label that applies only to you, then call yourself 'pioneers' in that field.

The flair of metal names is one of it's greatest aspects, for both songs and bands - and as others have pointed out, pop is starting to catch on to this.

If you take away the overwrought elements of metal, it wouldn't be too much fun...oops I mean it wouldn't be too heart-renderingly epicly hardcore.
posted by cosmonik at 5:13 PM on April 21, 2008


The best option is to take your band and come up with an entirely new label that applies only to you, then call yourself 'pioneers' in that field.

So if we're called Hellvetica, we would be Font-Metal, for instance?
posted by ornate insect at 5:26 PM on April 21, 2008


So if we're called Hellvetica, we would be Font-Metal, for instance?

Sure! Bands make up their own subgenre of metal all the time. Like Ithyphallic Metal, your fans would take it seriously, and no one else would.
posted by ignignokt at 5:34 PM on April 21, 2008


So if we're called Hellvetica, we would be Font-Metal, for instance?

Indeed! Although you could up your cred by going 'HELLvetikka' (j/k)

That's why I'm carving out my own space in Chthonic Industrial...
posted by cosmonik at 5:47 PM on April 21, 2008


(thread title is a Manowar song...we can still be friends.)

Phew...for a minute there I was adding "If you don't like metal, you are not my friend" to Bookhouse's "It's not a thread about metal until somebody tells somebody else the music they like isn't actually metal", which doesn't leave a lot of room for love.
posted by cosmonik at 5:50 PM on April 21, 2008



Four out of five of those bands are "metalcore", i.e. NOT METAL. Please, don't judge metal by this worthless crap... these bands don't have much in common with metal at all, despite what some may say.
posted by vorfeed at 4:56 PM on April 21


That justifies my never having heard of them. But can anyone question the mettle of The Faceless? They've burned through no fewer than three drummers over the course of one album, surely that is proof of their bona fides. Though I suppose incontrovertible proof of their osmium-rich metal would have been burning those three drummers instead of burning through them.

No silly face paint here, kids, no zombie Norwegians with battle axes. Their metal is so hard they had to unplug the guitars in the middle of the song I linked because it was so metal it risked gravitational collapse. So no, they don't have any goblins or jack-o-lanterns on their album cover, like Pornoth or Buttshuggah or whatever you listened to in day-care.

They're from L.A. Los fucking Angeles. You know who else is from Los Angeles? Ice Cube. And Cube isn't afraid of a bunch of Norwegians, or Finns. He's not afraid of some Danish. Cube is fucking strapped, you follow me? He's strapped with a gat. You know what a gat is, my spooky Swedish fish? It's Los Angelese for "you lose."

Wait, what were we talking about?
posted by Pastabagel at 5:51 PM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Faceless are just a Black Dahlia Murder ripoff who were just a Carcass ripoff.
posted by auralcoral at 8:23 PM on April 21, 2008


They're from L.A. Los fucking Angeles. You know who else is from Los Angeles? Ice Cube. And Cube isn't afraid of a bunch of Norwegians, or Finns. He's not afraid of some Danish. Cube is fucking strapped, you follow me? He's strapped with a gat. You know what a gat is, my spooky Swedish fish? It's Los Angelese for "you lose."

AmeriKKKa's Most is now afraid of the kids he has to drive to daycare, who do things like throw spaghetti on his face while he fumes impotently to their delight. That said, as of last year, he was still strong live.

Slayer is from LA. SLAAAAAAAAYERRRRRRRRR!
posted by ignignokt at 9:04 PM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Say what you like about metal, at least it isn't soft jazz.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:05 PM on April 21, 2008


...at least it isn't smooth jazz.

Listening to "The Faceless" right now and getting quite a lot of amusement out of it, it's so over-the-top. These guys are pretty good, particularly the drummer (I have some trouble believing he can really do that kick-drum stuff, even with two pedals). I do get rather tired of the cookie monster voice, I mean come on, we heard that and heard that - ever heard of Mike Patton?

Since we have people here who know about the genre, let me ask you a question - do people take it entirely seriously? I know the goth people generally take their dreary music and nifty outfits very seriously, but then goth music isn't very funny, whereas metal is. Do a lot of people do it just for a goof, or are people dead serious?

I read Lord of Chaos of course, and those ridiculous Norwegian kids took themselves very seriously indeed. It would have been funny if they weren't destroying beautiful old thousand year churches while making their painfully serious music.

I always wanted to give these guys a lot of acid and throw them into the middle of a Butthole Surfers or Crash Worship concert and see how they handled real devil music.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:18 PM on April 21, 2008


It's not a thread about metal until somebody tells somebody else the music they like isn't actually metal.

Metalcore shares neither ideology nor basic song structure with metal. It's pretty much hardcore punk with some superficial metal touches, like dropped tuning and growly vocals.

Sorry, but for something to be metal, it actually needs to be metal -- as in, one should be able to trace a direct line starting from style X, through its primary influences and then through their primary influences and so on, all the way back to the foundational heavy metal bands of the 1960s (ex: Judas Priest and Black Sabbath). The line of influence for metalcore goes through 1990s bands like Earth Crisis and Biohazard to 1980s crossover bands like SOD, DRI, and Suicidal Tendencies, and from there straight into hardcore punk bands, not metal bands; thus, metalcore is not metal, because the primary influences of its primary influences are not metal.

Q.E.D.

Since we have people here who know about the genre, let me ask you a question - do people take it entirely seriously?

Some people/bands do, and some people/bands don't. It depends a lot on the type of metal. Heavy, thrash, and speed metal, for example, tend to be more "party/fun" or tongue-in-cheek than black and death metal, which tend to be more serious and ideological, with the former generally being much more so than the latter. Even within the black metal scene, some individuals and bands are personally serious about (to pick a common example) Satanism, but others are less so, and are simply using Satanic imagery as a tribute to their influences.

That said, the most important thing is that the music, attitude, and ideology be real, rather than trend-following or forced -- in this regard, metal is quite serious, as it damn well should be.
posted by vorfeed at 10:53 PM on April 21, 2008


Wait - you're saying Biohazard, SOD and late-period Suicidal Tendencies aren't metal? Granted they all have influences from non-metal genres, but to say they're not metal...I disagree - I don't think you have to be able to trace some sort of lineage back to the influential vintage of Priest of Sabbath. Then again, that's the ephemeral nature of metal we've been espousing this whole thread.

do people take it entirely seriously?

The tongue-in-cheek nature vorfeed mentions above is one of the things that makes metal so easy to like...it's what makes bands like Strapping Young Lad and Cradle of Filth amusing as well as intense (not to mention Dethklok, which despite its parodying nature produces some great work, almost like it backfired...) however I also greatly enjoy those who do it with a straight face. So in short, as said above, "yes and no". But beware of those who take it entirely seriously all the time, or even worse, those who take it entirely seriously when even the artist doesn't.
posted by cosmonik at 11:38 PM on April 21, 2008


I don't think GWAR is intended to be taken seriously, but that's an outlier I suppose.

Also, Type O Negative's song black no. 1 might be an example of goth metal poking fun at themselves.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:58 AM on April 22, 2008


Sorry, but for something to be metal, it actually needs to be metal -- as in, one should be able to trace a direct line starting from style X, through its primary influences and then through their primary influences and so on, all the way back to the foundational heavy metal bands of the 1960s (ex: Judas Priest and Black Sabbath).

Personally, I judge it by whether ot not their names be writ in the Book of Heavy Metal.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:33 AM on April 22, 2008


It also occurred to me that if bands can't start out as punk/something else and then 'go metal' without a clear lineage back to the 60's, you'd be saying Ministry isn't metal as their pre-Lands of Rape and Honey days were anything but.

And that would be erroneous, to understate the matter.
posted by cosmonik at 3:10 AM on April 22, 2008


Listening to "The Faceless" right now and getting quite a lot of amusement out of it, it's so over-the-top. These guys are pretty good, particularly the drummer (I have some trouble believing he can really do that kick-drum stuff, even with two pedals). I do get rather tired of the cookie monster voice, I mean come on, we heard that and heard that - ever heard of Mike Patton?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:18 AM on April 22


I do happen to like the Faceless, but admittedly I like almost nothing else. I had actually abandoned metal completely until I heard some tracks from Opeth's "Damnation" in an independent record store a few years ago. It piqued my interest that a metal band felt it needed to go wholly outside the genre to stretch their legs. Since relating the story on another thread, I was admonished and informed that Opeth is not metal but rather goth, and apparently the distinction boils down to the percentage of the album cover occupied by drapes vs body parts.

And part of the reason I like these two bands is because they are very good at the actual music part of it. They seem to take it seriously, and pay at least some attention to structure and composition. But I acknowledge that my interest in those things may be a bit old-fashioned and out of touch. Perhaps this is a post-metal era, where the things that used to define metal are assiduously avoided in favor of failed irony.

And lupus_yonderboy is right, the growling vocals thing has to stop. We don't need the vocals anyway, just ditch the singer completely.

I heard a band this morning called Polkadot Cadaver. Okay, I get it, they're poking fun at the death imagery in metal. But I see two problems: (1) the joke isn't really that funny or ironic. (2) If the primary objective of the band is a vehicle for a joke, how much do they really care about the music? And no one really pulls off the joke as well as Gwar did. So basically the genre has degenerate to the level of professional wrestling applied to music. See, the band doesn't take any of their fetal corpse imagery seriously, but if you do, then you're a rube.

But underlying all this is the possibility that the genre is completely exhausted. No one can think of a new direction in which to take it, so they turn the music back on itself.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:31 AM on April 22, 2008


Sorry, but for something to be metal, it actually needs to be metal -- as in, one should be able to trace a direct line starting from style X, through its primary influences and then through their primary influences and so on, all the way back to the foundational heavy metal bands of the 1960s (ex: Judas Priest and Black Sabbath).

That's bullshit. Using this criteria, Slayer would not be metal. A lot of grindcore would not be metal. If you think Rotten Sound isn't metal, that's fine, but that is not the consensus among most metal fans.

I do get rather tired of the cookie monster voice, I mean come on, we heard that and heard that - ever heard of Mike Patton?

It's fine that you're tired of them, but it's disingenuous to criticize them because you don't like it. I hate most operatic singing, but I don't criticize it by saying, "Come on, we've heard that." It's a way of singing, and there's no need to discard simply because it's been used once.

And frankly, the growled vocals are usually perfect. What would Bolt Thrower's "...For Victory" or Amorphis's early work be without them? And with a lot of busier, faster bands, that's the only thing that'll cut through without muddying things up. Having Bruce Dickinson wail over blast beats and really dense riffing just wouldn't work.
posted by ignignokt at 8:53 AM on April 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


it is far from exhausted and there is still room for innovation:

Om
Agalloch
Wolves In The Throne Room
Boris
Sunn O)))
Orthrelm

just to name a few
posted by auralcoral at 8:57 AM on April 22, 2008 [3 favorites]


Wait - you're saying Biohazard, SOD and late-period Suicidal Tendencies aren't metal? Granted they all have influences from non-metal genres, but to say they're not metal...I disagree - I don't think you have to be able to trace some sort of lineage back to the influential vintage of Priest of Sabbath. Then again, that's the ephemeral nature of metal we've been espousing this whole thread.

It also occurred to me that if bands can't start out as punk/something else and then 'go metal' without a clear lineage back to the 60's, you'd be saying Ministry isn't metal as their pre-Lands of Rape and Honey days were anything but.

There is a difference between bands and styles of music, and between having "influences from non-metal genres" and being principally influenced by non-metal genres. Yes, it's possible for a particular band to start playing metal from some other style, or to fuse another sound with metal, but it is NOT possible for an entire genre whose major influences are non-metal to be metal. The difference between thrash metal (metal, with punk influences) and metalcore (punk, with metal influences) is very significant in sound, attitude, and song structure, and this comes directly from the difference in primary influences. Follow metalcore's major influences back more than five or six bands, and you hit bands like Minor Threat and Black Flag, not metal; this shows very strongly in the current sound of the genre, which is based in hardcore punk rather than any form of metal.

If, in ten years or so, this genre's chief influences switch from punk to metal, then it will be metal. Until and unless this occurs, it's not metal.

Metal's not all that "ephemeral" -- it and its subgenres are quite distinct in terms of song structure, and said structure has evolved through diverging lineages of influence that run through hundreds of metal bands, stretching all the way back to the beginning. If not, and metal is whatever anybody says it is, then how do you even define "going metal", and why did you bother making the "late-period" distinction for Suicidal Tendencies? They weren't metal at first, and then they were... where's the difference? It's the same difference between metalcore and metal. There's more to metal than just the heavy guitar sound, and punk is not metal.

Perhaps this is a post-metal era, where the things that used to define metal are assiduously avoided in favor of failed irony. [...] But underlying all this is the possibility that the genre is completely exhausted. No one can think of a new direction in which to take it, so they turn the music back on itself.

Perhaps you're just listening to the wrong metal. There are tons and tons of current metal bands who are "good at the actual music part of it" and "pay at least some attention to structure and composition". I linked to some of them here, the last time the whole tee-hee-metal thing came up. You may not like modern metal bands or what they're doing (especially if you're seriously upset by something as superficial as growling vocals), but there's a huge renaissance going on in metal right now. The genre is pretty damn far from being exhausted -- there's more variety and energy in metal right now than there has been at any point in the last ten years.

What metal bands did you like before you quit listening to metal? Let me know here, and I'll try to come up with some recommendations for modern bands you might like.
posted by vorfeed at 8:59 AM on April 22, 2008


...it's disingenuous to criticize them because you don't like it.

I meant "it's disingenuous to criticize them as invalid because you don't like it."
posted by ignignokt at 9:09 AM on April 22, 2008


It's fine that you're tired of them, but it's disingenuous to criticize them because you don't like it. I hate most operatic singing, but I don't criticize it by saying, "Come on, we've heard that." It's a way of singing, and there's no need to discard simply because it's been used once.

I don't particularly like opera, but I'd never say that because there simply isn't a single "operatic" voice. I'm no expert but I'd guess that there are about a dozen, three for each voice in SATB.

The point is, as near as I can hear, all the cookie monster voices are "the same voice". In some sense, there is a need to discard it because it's been used not once, but a zillion times.


As a data point, I just heard some random, not-particularly-distinguished Kate Bush song. Nothing really to write home about, but she is a talented vocalist, and in that song or any other she does, she has more vocal variety than I can detect across the entire cookie monster range.

Now, this isn't about Kate Bush. I could say the same of Mike Patton; Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers gets similar variety with a lesser set of pipes using his marvelous command of digital signal processing.


There's another issue altogether, and that's that the "cookie monster" voice doesn't have much opportunity for variation and expression. The reason that two different vocalists sound different isn't really what they do with the notes, it's the embellishments, the "ends of notes" or "bits between notes", their vibratos on long notes or little mannerisms.

Robert Plant only has one voice, but that's an extremely expressive one.

There's none of that potential for expression in the cookie monster voice, or at least none I can hear. Long notes seem to have no vibrato and no motion in the pitch, phrases end abruptly.

I'm welcome to learn though.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:44 AM on April 22, 2008


That's bullshit. Using this criteria, Slayer would not be metal. A lot of grindcore would not be metal. If you think Rotten Sound isn't metal, that's fine, but that is not the consensus among most metal fans.

Um, what? Slayer's primary influences on Show No Mercy were Venom and Judas Priest. The rest of their stuff follows from there, with influence from early thrash metal bands like Metallica and Exodus. There's some hardcore influence on, for example, Reign in Blood, but they're clearly playing metal with hardcore influences, not hardcore with metal influences.

Also, a lot of grindcore isn't metal -- it's grindcore, which comes from hardcore and crust punk. Rotten Sound is death-grind, i.e. many of their primary influences are death metal bands, so I would argue that they count as metal. Bands that are playing pure grindcore (i.e. stuff that sounds like early Discharge-influenced Napalm Death) are not playing metal.

It's not an accident that we're discussing grindcore and metalcore, not "grind metal" or "metal metal" (heh). This stuff comes from hardcore punk!
posted by vorfeed at 9:52 AM on April 22, 2008


btw, this is starting to irk me.

disingenuous: lacking in frankness, candor, or sincerity; falsely or hypocritically ingenuous; insincere

It's usually a polite way of calling someone a liar. It does not mean inconsistent; please stop using it that way.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:59 AM on April 22, 2008


Out of curiousity, I've been listening to a couple of bands recently, and I am unsure what specific sub-genres they might fall into. Not being a big "metal" fan and aware of the idiosyncrasies, could someone enlighten me as to what the common classifications of these bands are?
Opeth
Bal-Sagoth
Finntroll
Manowar
posted by bastionofsanity at 10:09 AM on April 22, 2008


(er, "this" means "using disingenuous to mean inconsistent", not the rest of this post, which is interesting!)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:10 AM on April 22, 2008


There's none of that potential for expression in the cookie monster voice, or at least none I can hear. Long notes seem to have no vibrato and no motion in the pitch, phrases end abruptly.

This really depends on what vocals we're talking about. Chris Barnes style super-deep-and-brutal "cookie monster" vocals are meant to be expressionless, but most death metal bands with growled vocals have a lot more expression in the vocal performance, to the point where it's not at all "the same voice". Karl Willetts from Bolt Thrower, Chuck Schuldiner from Death, David Vincent from Morbid Angel, and Martin Van Drunen from Asphyx and Pestilence are some examples of excellence in this style.
posted by vorfeed at 10:11 AM on April 22, 2008


bastionofsanity, the single best resource for "what kind of metal is X band" questions is Metal Archives. Check out the reviews and "other bands these members were in" links for each band you like, and you should come out with a good idea of where they stand and what other bands they sound like.

At any rate, the common thread that runs through the things you like seems to be "epic". You might like Moonsorrow, Manilla Road, Amorphis, Amon Amarth, or Primordial.
posted by vorfeed at 10:28 AM on April 22, 2008


The point is, as near as I can hear, all the cookie monster voices are "the same voice".

It is my experience that when someone complains that a style of music all sounds the same, it indicates the person probably isn't very well versed in the musical style. People say it about hip-hop, they say it about dance music, they say it about death metal. People are saying it right now in the smooth jazz thread. And I imagine that if you played a Kate Bush song to a kid who was raised on hip-hop, it might sound like indistinct yowling. You have to be familiar with the genre to see the variations.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:35 AM on April 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


It is my experience that when someone complains that a style of music all sounds the same, it indicates the person probably isn't very well versed in the musical style.

If there are variations, please point them out. What parts of the cookie monster voice exactly are varying?

I'm not so familiar with hip-hop, and I don't really like it, but I can instantly think of at least half a dozen different vocal styles. The urgency of a Chuck D vs the oleaginous self-satisfied, er, well, let's not get into this but I can hear huge differences, and I don't even know the material. Same with opera - I don't think I own a single opera CD but I hear huge differences in the voices.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:45 AM on April 22, 2008


So I'm listening to these various vocalists now (slightly spoiled because I keep giggling).

I'm listening to Bolt Thrower right now, and then Morbid Angel but I'm not getting the "expressive" thing yet - can you point to some specifics?

I mean, one vocalist has a slightly more open voice than the other, but they could be brothers singing, or at least croaking, the same song.

Don't get me wrong, I do like the music. I just intrinsically like rock music. There's a (really entertaining but also really seriously proto-metal) Hawkwind song called "British Tribal Music" and that sums it up. I can totally imagine being in this crowd - or if I were a musician in these bands I'd have a lot of fun with the material before they threw me out.

I like the sound of a rock band - my claim is that a rock band in full rage is the most commanding and effective musical performance team ever created, four people can outplay a full symphony orchestra every time (due to technology, not a comment on the material).

But I agree with Pastabagel - the cookie monster thing's a dull decision. There's tons of metal that doesn't do it, there are tons of things that are close to metal that don't do it. Look again at Gibby Haynes, Mike Patton, Ozzie, I mean, even Zeppelin was metal in the day.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:59 AM on April 22, 2008


You can read about different styles at the Wikipedia page for Death Growls (yar!)

One sound I've just discovered is the "pig squeal." While by vorfeed's rules these may not be metal bands, see it employed here at the 45-second mark or here at about 50 seconds.

For what it's worth, I agree with you quite a bit about that vocal style, but I also know I don't know too much about it.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:02 AM on April 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Now here's some great rock vocals - fast forward to 10:15...

Man, I saw this tour. It rocked my world.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:07 AM on April 22, 2008


(or even better, just start from the beginning of this one... the "synth" is all the vocals.)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:09 AM on April 22, 2008


yonderboy, you might not be able to tell the difference between different gamelan players or different Bosnian highland singers, either. George Fisher, Tomi Koivusaari Barney Greenway, Max Cavalera, and Chuck Shuldiner are all distinctly different-sounding death metal vocalists to me. You might not be able to distinguish them now, and maybe you never will be able to. I don't think that's a reason to say that these ways of doing things are worthless.

There's another issue altogether, and that's that the "cookie monster" voice doesn't have much opportunity for variation and expression. The reason that two different vocalists sound different isn't really what they do with the notes, it's the embellishments, the "ends of notes" or "bits between notes", their vibratos on long notes or little mannerisms.

Why does the vocalist need to have vibrato and have a wide range of sounds in order to work well for the song? I could say something like, "Why are the drums the same in every single Ramones song? There's so much more they could be doing with drumming variety! I demand more fills and double bass runs and more ride!" but that would be ridiculous.

Death metal songs are usually busy enough as they are, and the role of the vocals are to provide a texture and rhythm but not to be the center of attention as they are in most rock songs. I don't think that there's space for an expansive vocalist in most cases. I think that Mike Patton yowling over Cryptopsy riffs would just be confusing.

vorfeed: I like Show No Mercy, but Hell Await and Reign in Blood are where Slayer defined their sound. Punk sounds like Verbal Abuse, Minor Threat, and the Dead Kennedys are huge influences on their tempo, tonality, and aggression. Those three things are a huge part of Slayer. It sounds like tightened up punk dropped into metal song structures in many ways. It is not incredibly clear what the greater influence is.

If headbangers didn't nearly unanimously like Slayer, I don't think they'd be categorized as archetypical metal. Frankly, I think that system of categorization is fine. The old Supreme Court definition of obscenity works for metal: I know it when I see it.

I think this is the best approach because a band cannot be broken down into a pie chart of its influences. The game of determining "primary" influence is pretty difficult in many cases. For example, Rotten Sound or current Napalm Death. Are they more death or are they more grind? You will get a lot of different answers from different people. Besides being a difficult game to win, it's also pointless.


Wow, I haven't had a discussion like this since the days of alt.rock-n-roll.metal.death on Usenet. Heh, which may not be a good thing.
posted by ignignokt at 12:00 PM on April 22, 2008


So I'm listening to these various vocalists now (slightly spoiled because I keep giggling).

I'm listening to Bolt Thrower right now, and then Morbid Angel but I'm not getting the "expressive" thing yet - can you point to some specifics?

I mean, one vocalist has a slightly more open voice than the other, but they could be brothers singing, or at least croaking, the same song.


If you really think The Killchain and Maze of Torment sound like "brothers singing the same song", I'm not sure if I can help you. You don't have an ear for this stuff, yet, and you're probably not willing to keep enough of an open mind ("hee hee! I'm giggling! Look how funny I think this music is! tee hee etc!") to develop one.

That said, part of your problem might be that you've selected live performances. The vocals just aren't the main attraction when it comes to extreme metal performed live. Your song selection isn't ideal, either. I can't listen on this computer, so hopefully the sound is decent on these... try ...For Victory and Angel of Disease. The former is exemplary throughout, and especially at the end. Note how Willetts maximizes emotion through his deliberate phrasing on lines like "honor, valor, pride" and "for victory" -- the latter is spoken several times, never with quite the same emotional delivery. For the Morbid Angel song, pay particular attention to the difference in the vocal delivery between the fast and slow parts... note how the vocals reinforce the tempo and melody of both parts, while maintaining a common theme. I especially like the "praise the beast!" section, the sense of variation within repetition there is excellent.

Also, check out Asphyx -- van Drunen has a hell of a lot of variation in his vocals, and his style is much more "unhinged" than the other two.
posted by vorfeed at 12:02 PM on April 22, 2008


[Slayer] sounds like tightened up punk dropped into metal song structures in many ways. It is not incredibly clear what the greater influence is.

Yeah, well, this is exactly what I mean when I say that Slayer is clearly metal and not punk -- it sounds like punk dropped into metal song structures, not like metal dropped into punk song structures. Again, this is exactly the same difference between thrash metal and metalcore.

At any rate, the influence game is not exact, but it's a hell of a lot better than "I'll know it when I see it"... may as well just forget about classifying music entirely, if we're going to pretend as if these genres have no objective meaning. There are always going to be fringe cases, and people will always argue about them, but that doesn't change much in terms of the genres themselves. Metal is one thing and punk is entirely another, based on structure.
posted by vorfeed at 12:12 PM on April 22, 2008


If you really think The Killchain and Maze of Torment sound like "brothers singing the same song", I'm not sure if I can help you. You don't have an ear for this stuff, yet, and you're probably not willing to keep enough of an open mind ("hee hee! I'm giggling! Look how funny I think this music is! tee hee etc!") to develop one.

I'm not buying this argument, I love and go to concerts of all sorts of evil, small-s satanic music that 99.9% of the world would put into exactly the same box as this, if I giggle it's because it's honestly pretty funny. I've been listening to a bunch of this and having a lot of fun (though I'm listening to Ali Akhbar Khan now just because...)

I'm yer natural market for this stuff except I'm probably much older than your average person there. However, at the last Boredoms show I had to seriously suppress an impulse to run towards the "front" and start bashing into the complacent hipsters standing motionless before the three drummers.

I mean, listening to the kickdrum on that The Faceless track totally cracked me up in a good way. I'm still not totally convinced it's not partly the product of the studio but it's possible it really is all this guy's feet - it's not that I'm not impressed but it's just all too much, just like those scenes in Hong Kong action films where the good guy hits someone twenty times in a few seconds.

That guy is a monster drummer, regardless. I'd never piss him off. Total props to him even if I do find the actual styles pretty silly.

I even like the songwriting, sorta except again it's too serious and thus a little too predictable, at least from what I've heard in this venture.

I think this scene needs better tunes, some truly wild frontmen (all these front guys impressed me as totally lame with this "hello audience! please make some NOISE!" stuff -- haven't they ever seen Iggy?) and above all, better drugs.

Check this shit out: Lightning Bolt on John Peel. The bass player simultaneously plays leads in the upper register and the drummer simultaneously hits all objects within his reach over and over. Now, that's what kids today are listening to.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:58 PM on April 22, 2008


Seeing Lightning Bolt live is something I hope to one day experience. It's an extremely special affair.
posted by auralcoral at 1:12 PM on April 22, 2008


So I listened to those two clips in fairly great detail. I could certainly now tell these two vocalists apart. What I don't see is the expression here.

None of these guys seem to change the shape of their heads and vocal cavities except the minimum amount necessary to make the vowels happen - it's like their heads are all made out of stone.

I can see that you'd believe that the differences were pretty great within the genre but they're all still the same rasping growl with few changes in pitch, harmonic structure, emotion or intensity.

It's like looking at a bunch of black canvases. Now, I like the Ad Reinhard stuff a lot - but that was one artist exploring the whole idea of black on black, there's a lot you can do, but if there were a whole field of such painters, I'd get really bored.

If you could hear the variation in voices that have passed through my ears while I've been discussing this, you'd understand; right now it's some random Genesis (I wasn't so fond of them at the time but they stand up pretty well), before some Indian classical music, Lightning Bolt, some Devo bootleg before that...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:14 PM on April 22, 2008


Lighting Bolt are astonishing live. People just stand around and laugh, it's all too much. They play on the ground, not up on stage, with a large mirror over them. You just cannot believe that two guys can make all that sound.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:16 PM on April 22, 2008


Ancient ones! Rule once more!

vorfeed: I don't think we have the same definition of structure. By song structure, I mean something like intro-verse-chorus-verse-breakdown/solo-verse-chorus-solo - that kind of thing. If you were going to pick one thing to define a genre, that would not be it.

The genres really don't have any objective meaning. They are determined by shared understanding, not by any rules of taxonomy. As I said before, it's not even possible to come up with objective rules of taxonomy. By the flimsy guidelines you presented (more metal than other influences), I can make a case for Slayer not being metal, and for metalcore bands like Shadows Fall and God Forbid being metal.
posted by ignignokt at 1:23 PM on April 22, 2008


So I listened to those two clips in fairly great detail. I could certainly now tell these two vocalists apart. What I don't see is the expression here. [...] I can see that you'd believe that the differences were pretty great within the genre but they're all still the same rasping growl with few changes in pitch, harmonic structure, emotion or intensity.

Again, you've got no ear for it. The "changes in pitch, harmonic structure, emotion or intensity" are purposely subtle, because working "within the genre" is part of the point. To me, this is like a critique of haiku that claims that it would be way better if they stopped counting syllables: maybe so, but that ain't haiku. Sometimes, rigid artistic forms create surprising depth. Also, this is just the growly stuff... there are other vocal styles in death metal, as well.

Anyway, you've pretty clearly got some major pre-conceptions about death metal, despite not having much experience with it, and you're pretty clearly not really interested in it except as something to feel superior to. So congrats: you don't like death metal, ergo, my favorite band sucks.

That said, I don't give a fuck what you think "this scene" needs, because:
a). it's not your scene
and
b). you don't know shit about it.
Every goddamn thing in the world does not need to cater to your personal tastes, which means that not every frontman needs to be Iggy, and not every scene needs to have better drugs(?), or whatever. You don't like death metal; that does not mean that death metal is inherently broken and needs to be fixed, especially not by a bunch of stale "insights" that stem from a micron-thin understanding of the genre. Wow, you mean growly vocals are like, so lame and boring? Why, what a fresh new critique! Get President Lemmy on the telegraph immediately!

If you could hear the variation in voices that have passed through my ears while I've been discussing this, you'd understand

Oh, sure. Because I like metal I have no clue what real vocal variation is, right? Give me a break. You don't know the variety of stuff I listen to, and it has zero bearing on this discussion, so if you want to play Measure Your Music Snob Cocks, take your ruler and whip it out with someone who cares.

At any rate, comparing vocal variation within a single subgenre of a single genre to "Genesis, Indian classical music, Lightning Bolt, and Devo" is like comparing apples to oranges, pears, bananas, and papayas... as is using one single aspect of a complex musical form to judge the entire thing.
posted by vorfeed at 2:19 PM on April 22, 2008


vorfeed said a lot of what I would say here, but I wanted to go a bit more into the why the growling/"cookie monster" vocal style is used at all. Bookhouse is quite right, that if one is familiar with a style and fond of it, one perceives a great deal more variation within it, and that's the place I'm coming from with metal and that particular vocal style. I'm not sure how well I can communicate this, but to take a shot at it-

What I would say is that a lot of metal bands are trying to create certain atmospheres in which a normal vocal style simply would not work. To use one example, take a rather obscure black metal band I recently discovered and have been listening to a lot lately, Lunar Aurora- a big part of what they're trying to create with their music is an atmosphere of wild, scary supernatural weirdness. And that being the case, to me they make a good example of growling/shrieking vocals used rightly and appropriately- for what they're trying to do, I don't think anything else would work. A normal or "clean" (as it's called in the metal scene) vocal style really wouldn't work for their music- to hear a normal human voice would be kind of a jolt back into the mundane which would probably kill the atmosphere. There are other ways of escaping that besides growling vocals, but I think the growling vocals are probably the best option here- using vocoders, for example, would sound too "sci-fi" and bloodless. A vocal style is needed that breaks out of the mundane while still fitting the fast, aggressive nature of the music, and the growling style works for that.

So then you can say "why not make it instrumental?" but why not make any music instrumental, as far as that goes? In this case, I think the vocals do add something to the music, as much as for any other rock music, and it wouldn't achieve its full potential without them. And YMMV, and maybe this is the effect of having heard so much metal and being so attuned to the subtleties, but to me Lunar Aurora's vocals don't sound flat or unexpressive at all- I perceive a fair amount of range there, emotional and technical. It's a more subtle range, and there are more limits this way, perhaps, than with clean vocals, but by no means is it inherently monotonous, IMO, any more than hip-hop vocals are.

(If you're curious, I'd especially recommend the song "Findling" on the Myspace page, as I think it showcases what I mean quite well.)

I used Lunar Aurora as an example because I think they're a good illustration of my point, but there's a bunch of other bands I could have named. Lunar Aurora's whole supernatural weirdness thing isn't the only way it's appropriate, either- other bands are trying to create an atmosphere of extreme aggression, like much thrash or death metal, or crushing despair, like much doom metal, and it often works well for both of those.
And of course, a lot of bands also use both normal/"clean" vocals and growling vocals. Opeth is most famous for that, but there's a bunch of other bands that do this- Agalloch, Orphaned Land, and Sad Legend being some of the best examples of it IMO. To me, this is an expansion of the vocal range beyond what it is in most music that just uses the one style, and is very effective when done well. All the bands named get a great deal of emotional contrast and variety out of mixing the styles, I feel.

Basically, I think that when it comes to most good metal bands that use growling vocals, there's a good reason for it. I do think there are a number of bands that use them when clean vocals would work just as well, usually to the detriment of the music (most melodic death metal falls into this category, for me), as well as many bands that just simply fail at what they're trying to do- but for certain things, they really are the best and most appropriate choice, I feel.
posted by a louis wain cat at 2:24 PM on April 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's odd that the almost exact same discussion is happening at the same time on the smooth jazz thread.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:36 PM on April 22, 2008


Heh, I wondered how long it would take.

lupus_yonderboy, you're coming off like an ass. Worse, an uninformed one (you know that Mike Patton stole the growly vocals from death metal and grindcore bands, right? The very thing you're railing against. I know that and I don't even like him. And that Gibby did/does that stuff with effects, right? You've played with him or something haven't you? Lightning Bolt are pretty great, but sound more like kids with crank habits playing Mahavishnu Orchestra than metal.).

on preview: I thought that too, Bookhouse.
posted by sleepy pete at 2:38 PM on April 22, 2008


The genres really don't have any objective meaning. They are determined by shared understanding, not by any rules of taxonomy.

And what's that shared understanding based on, if not the structure, history, and influences of the music in question? These classifications do not arise in a vacuum.

By the flimsy guidelines you presented (more metal than other influences), I can make a case for Slayer not being metal, and for metalcore bands like Shadows Fall and God Forbid being metal.

First of all, that's not the guideline I presented. Whether a genre is metal or not has nothing to do with having "more metal than other influences", it has to do with its lineage, i.e. where its major influences came from over the long term. If a good argument can be made that a genre's primary lineage can be traced directly back to heavy metal, it's metal. If not, it's not. And as I said before, "there is a difference between bands and styles of music" -- I'm not really talking about individual bands when I say this, only genres. The fact that fringe cases can be endlessly argued over doesn't do much for your argument, because that's equally true under the "know it when I see it" system.

At any rate, we'll probably have to agree to disagree on this.
posted by vorfeed at 2:46 PM on April 22, 2008


At any rate, we'll probably have to agree to disagree on this.

Agreed! Thanks for a well-articulated point of view, vorfeed - I think all of the above only supports my point about the ephemerality of metal definitions and sub-genres, and to argue over lineage/influence is a painful proposition indeed (as you've said above).

And it's sad to see the same shit hashed out again re. all metal sounding the same, an argument I'm sure most metallers have had when they're not amongst peers. Even coming from a supposed ex-metal fan in lupis_yonderboy, who you'd think would know the subtleties of the genre better.

Regardless, a lot here for my ears to chew over. Some people here need to read fourcheesemac's post on the sidebar.
posted by cosmonik at 8:00 PM on April 22, 2008


just to name a few
posted by auralcoral at 11:57 AM on April 22


I'd heard of all of the bands you mentioned and found them meh, but Om and Agalloch are new to me, and I like what I hear so far. I don't know if I'd call them metal (not that the categorization matters anywhere but in this thread). They are very similar to early Black Sabbath, pre-Meddle Pink Floyd combined with that acoustic Opeth album I mentioned. More acid rock than metal, but awesome nonetheless.

lupus_yonderboy" One of The Faceless's many drummers, performing live. I was wrong. Apparently they've burned through six dummers on this most recent tour, which places them in Spinal Tap territory.

Vorfeed: my complaint about growling vocals is that they are overdone, and passe. The first few people who did it were breaking new ground, but the rest are following in their footsteps the way so many in the 80's followed Bruce Dickinson's wailing high notes.

But more to the point, I've heard enough music of pretty much every kind to decide for myself that unless a band has really something new and interesting to say, they should probably just record instrumentals. I know where to find good poetry, but again, I may be out of the mainstream on this issue.

What metal bands did you like before you quit listening to metal? Let me know here, and I'll try to come up with some recommendations for modern bands you might like.
posted by vorfeed at 11:59 AM on April 22


I quit when Megadeth released Risk, Metallica released their black album, and all the new bands started adopting some satanic imagery of one sort or another. In my opinion, at the time, Rust in Peace is one of the greatest metal albums ever, and have said as much on MeFi before. And hey, vorfeed! You were the one who chastised me for liking Opeth! ;) To be fair, I have consulted your site a lot since then.

After the mid-late 90's, I was more interested in jazz, classical, and early electronica to give metal any more than an occasional listen. If it wasn't genuinely new, not merely faster or louder or more genuinely gory or brutal or whatever, it didn't hold my interest. But I tried. By that time, Napster was at the height of its popularity, so I gave lots of bands the old college try, everything from Burzum, Bathory, Emperor, Gorgoroth, etc. The notion of a 23 minute metal song was interesting at first, but not when the it was just the first 6 minutes repeated four times. There are only so many hours in the day, so I chose instead to listen to Xenakis, Tangerine Dream and Miles Davis, because those were genuinely new to my ears.

But I love threads like this because without them I'd never hear about bands like Om And Agalloch.

So I defer to you vorfeed, in this thread as I have in others. What bands have you heard most recently that struck you as genuinely new and unexpected?
posted by Pastabagel at 8:19 PM on April 22, 2008


Pastabagel, you might like Electro Quarterstaff. They're instrumental and rifftastic. (Although not very death metal-like.)
posted by ignignokt at 8:40 PM on April 22, 2008


So then you can say "why not make it instrumental?" but why not make any music instrumental, as far as that goes?

Okay that Lunar Aurora stuff is very creepy, and I do see your point, but is he actually saying words? When I said instrumental, I guess I should have amended that to include screams and growls as vocalizations (i.e. voice as instrument). What I do notice from those songs on that Lunar Aurora page is that in the mix, the entire band sounds far away. I don't know if this is intentional or not (probably the result of no money for a well engineered demo), but it conveys a sense of the band (i.e. the musicians playing the instruments) as being an incidental background to whatever the hell it is the singer is doing that we are hearing. But in the end, what am I hearing? Is it interesting production? The sound of some fantasy brutality? DOes this speak to some subset of the population in a way that other music doesn't, and if so, what is communicated?
posted by Pastabagel at 8:40 PM on April 22, 2008


Vocals, even when lyric-heavy, can always be approached without touching their semantic content. I don't think it has to be about being poetry, or having something new to say, it can also be just about the fact that human voice and language can be just as abstractly musical as any instrument. Metal is not my scene, but within the music that I do consider my scene (for what it's worth: indiepop, about as far away from metal as you can get), one of my favorite things is when the singer plays with alliteration, consonance, and assonance rather than sticking to the predominant scheme of having a bunch of words that rhyme.

Most of what I listen to does that as well, of course, rhyming is so ingrained in our cultural idea of what should happen in pop music of certain types, but someone with a pretty voice singing something with lots of alliteration and consonance is just pure ear candy to me (which, perversely, tends to happen in more literary-minded music, where perhaps there's a greater intention that I listen to the semantic content). What they're actually saying in there matters way less to me, and I generally won't listen deliberately for semantic content until I've listened to the song a couple times already. Which is not to say you can be as successful in the same way in this form without semantic content, because the semantic content builds the phrases and structures the text in certain ways that are recognizable to my ear as being english language that just paying attention to the sound of words tends not to.

How this sort of thing plays out changes within different genre constraints, which is why I'm talking explicitly about how this plays out in the music I know best rather than speaking directly to the genre discussion at hand, but it does play out in some form wherever you have language in song, regardless of what you think of

I also find that having vocals (in certain kinds of pop music, again) often serves as a sort of center for the music that the rest of the band hooks off of and plays around, which again, serves to structure the music in certain ways.

So yeah, I don't think you can take the vocals out of music and have to stay the same music, at all. Lyrics already aren't poetry; vocal performance of lyrics even less. This way of approaching music as largely semantics free isn't for everyone, and I have friends who find it completely bizarre, but it works really well for me and I'd find it a sad, sad day if most music became instrumental. Most of my favorite music wouldn't work at all anymore, even if I'm not listening to the actual words they're saying.
posted by Arturus at 11:45 PM on April 22, 2008


And while I'm here, something I started wondering while reading this thread: are there any (prominent or otherwise) female vocalists working with dirty vocals? It seems to be an incredibly male-dominated form, which is also true of metal more broadly, but I can think of a bunch of clean female vocalists in metal whereas I don't know any examples of woman singing in a dirty mode. I'm both interested in the general gender dynamics across the genre, but also really curious about how dirty vocals adapt to the different sorts of vocal setups that female vocalists have, if anyone's doing it at all.
posted by Arturus at 11:52 PM on April 22, 2008


Lyrics already aren't poetry; vocal performance of lyrics even less.

Man, I don't know how many times I've tried to explain that.

Angela Gossow of the popular (as metal bands go) band Arch Enemy uses death vocals. The only other band I can think of that had female death vocals was a band called Mythic from the mid-nineties. I'm sure there are others, though.
posted by ignignokt at 12:57 AM on April 23, 2008


Pastabagel: But I love threads like this because without them I'd never hear about bands like Om And Agalloch.

If you like Opeth and Agalloch (and Agalloch is one of my very favorite bands of all, by the way) I'd recommend Orphaned Land, who I linked to in my last post- I'd compare them to those two, but with traditional Middle Eastern folk music in place of the more Western styles of folk the other two bands work into their music. If that sounds at all appealing to you, you might like them- IMO, they are one of the best metal bands out there.

So for my probably overly-long answer to your questions:

Okay that Lunar Aurora stuff is very creepy, and I do see your point, but is he actually saying words?

He is saying actual words, yes, but they're in German, and not speaking the language I can't really say what they are or how they contribute to the music, and I get the impression they'd be hard to decipher even if one was a native speaker. I think the sound is more important than the lyrics in this case, though.

What I do notice from those songs on that Lunar Aurora page is that in the mix, the entire band sounds far away. I don't know if this is intentional or not (probably the result of no money for a well engineered demo), but it conveys a sense of the band (i.e. the musicians playing the instruments) as being an incidental background to whatever the hell it is the singer is doing that we are hearing.

I don't really hear the band as that buried in the background myself, or think they have especially bad production as far as black metal goes, but that may be the result of having heard some REALLY bad production in my time and having become inured to it. Black metal does tend to have that, and depending on the band that can be the result of either not having money for fancier production as you say, or being done intentionally so as to somehow contribute to the atmosphere.
(The best-known example of the latter is probably the Nattens Madrigal album by Ulver, which, though I don't think it was actually true, was claimed to have been recorded in the woods, and which has production that makes Lunar Aurora's sound like multi-million dollar mainstream Top 40 work.)
I do agree that Lunar Aurora has their vocalist pretty high in the mix, and I think it's probably a conscious choice- taking the view of the voice as an instrument, I think it's the result of them deciding it's a fairly important one for what they're doing. I don't think the rest of the band is being regarded as an "incidental background".
(Also the sound on the Myspace page is a bit more low-quality than what's on the actual albums, and comparing what's there to the songs on the page, I think what's on the page is actually putting the vocalist even higher in the mix for some reason. So that's another part of your impression, I think.)

But in the end, what am I hearing? Is it interesting production? The sound of some fantasy brutality? DOes this speak to some subset of the population in a way that other music doesn't, and if so, what is communicated?

As for what you're hearing and what's being communicated, I feel one half of it is as I say, a certain atmosphere. I think what they're going for is more an impressionistic kind of thing than anything, and the general impression is of something mysterious, supernatural, scary and nocturnal. I don't think it's aiming for something like "fantasy brutality" specifically, but I think it is meant to create a general atmosphere that might suggest that as well as any number of other things in the mind of the listener. I'm not sure anything really specific is intended. Within that general atmosphere, there are different kinds of emotion and imagery suggested within individual songs- "Findling" to me has a somewhat mournful, searching sound, but it's again part of the general scary, mysterious atmosphere- if I were to use it as the soundtrack to a story, something like the last part of "The Monkey's Paw" might be a good candidate for it. Another song on the same album and also on the Myspace page, "Der Pakt", has to me a rather different mood, and suggests something Faustian going on. I could go on, but I think this is more the point, general impressions to stir the listener's imagination rather than an attempt at conveying anything really specific.

The other half of it, shared in at least some sense by the vast majority of metal- and this is really just as important an element- is that it's trying to simply rock. Which in my mind it also succeeds at, in a black metal sort of way.

So this particular band, and other black metal bands that try to do the same kind of thing, offers kind of a double adrenaline rush in a way, from both the creepy atmosphere and the general excitement fast, heavy music produces if one appreciates that kind of thing. The combination of the two makes something greater than the original parts, and the vocals, to get back to that, are one more layer of the music contributing to both of these things.

That's basically what I get from it- obviously, I would be in the probably very small subset of the population this music speaks to (and I do like lots of other stuff besides metal, so it's not necessarily that it speaks to me where other music doesn't- it does do things other music doesn't, as other music does things metal doesn't) but I can't speak for other metalheads, and this of course is all about this what I think this specific band does and how I think they succeed at it- there's a very broad range within metal in general, and even within something as specific as black metal. Like, Agalloch is sort of black metal, or black metal-influenced anyway, but obviously sounds very different from Lunar Aurora, and is trying to do something quite unlike what LA is.
posted by a louis wain cat at 1:55 AM on April 23, 2008


Vocals, even when lyric-heavy, can always be approached without touching their semantic content. I don't think it has to be about being poetry, or having something new to say, it can also be just about the fact that human voice and language can be just as abstractly musical as any instrument.
Quite. How many people at a typical opera actually understand Italian, French, or German well enough to understand the words as they are sung? I suspect the majority are reacting to the voice-as-instrument, not vocals-as-poetry.

(New fangled metal. Bah. If Iron Maiden are good enough for me, they should be good enough for you, too!)
posted by rodgerd at 2:53 AM on April 23, 2008


As far as female vocalists who do "dirty" vocals go, there's quite a few, actually- not an especially large number, but it's not hugely unusual. As ignignokt mentioned, Arch Enemy is probably the most famous and popular band to use a female growler, but there's a bunch of others, in a pretty diverse range of sub-genres: the black metal band Opera IX on their first three albums, the Kyrgyztani (the main part of the band is from there, anyway- metal is an amazingly worldwide sort of thing) black metal band Darkestrah, the all-female Greek black metal band Astarte, the doom/sludge metal band Thorr's Hammer, the all-female death metal band Matriarch, the all-female Japanese black/crust metal band Gallhammer, the Russian folk metal band Arkona, the Japanese progressive death metal band Gonin-Ish (she also plays the guitar there)... those are the ones I know of, but there's others. A lot of these are pretty obscure, obviously.

I'm both interested in the general gender dynamics across the genre, but also really curious about how dirty vocals adapt to the different sorts of vocal setups that female vocalists have, if anyone's doing it at all.

I don't know about the technical details of it, but I find that they don't tend to sound that different from male black/death vocals. It's usually fairly obvious it's a female vocalist, but for a few who use a particularly distorted style even that much isn't necessarily immediately obvious. The only band I've heard that seemed to really use them in a way suggestive of any sort of obvious "femininity" was early Opera IX, where the female vocalist did both clean and growled vocals, Opeth/Agalloch-style, and her vocal style(s) combined with the music often seemed to be trying to create kind of a "witchy" sound, at which I think they were fairly successful. By and large, though, it doesn't tend to be treated as something that makes the music especially different from how it would be with a male growler, or really as that big a deal in general.
Female vocalists in metal who do clean vocals tend to be another story- it's not universally the case, but I find a lot of bands seem to go for an especially high-pitched, extra-"feminine" vocal style there, probably because it's seen as providing a dramatic contrast with the music, and so many bands have done the female clean vocalist/male growler setup that it's a cliche. One could probably write a thesis about the gender dynamics and assumptions found in all of this...
posted by a louis wain cat at 3:49 AM on April 23, 2008


'Kittie' would have to be the best-known band using female growling vocals, right? I assumed they were so close to mainstream most people would know that (before the wonderful Arch Enemy, which would have to be a second in terms of exposure)?

Despite these examples - yes, it's safe to say it's an utterly male-dominated scene of music. Not to say females don't genuinely enjoy and participate and contribute a great deal, but it's much like the IT industry in that way (perhaps more so - you mention women involved in the metal scene and many people regularly react in surprise). Alas.
posted by cosmonik at 8:51 AM on April 23, 2008


And hey, vorfeed! You were the one who chastised me for liking Opeth! ;) To be fair, I have consulted your site a lot since then.

What can I say... they're not very metal. But I mainly meant it as a joke -- what I was referring to in that thread is the cognitive dissonance of disliking Satanic/pagan/horror lyrics while listening to a gothic-themed band. :)

So I defer to you vorfeed, in this thread as I have in others. What bands have you heard most recently that struck you as genuinely new and unexpected?

I'm not sure how much I'll be able to help you with this -- I'm not necessarily looking for "new and unexpected" in metal. 8 out of 10 times, the bands trying hard to be fresh and new end up sounding not really metal, and if I want to listen to something that's not really metal, I'd rather listen to something that's really not metal. :) When I listen to metal, I'm looking for good metal, not something genrebending. That said, there are plenty of bands doing new things, while still staying metal.

Ares Kingdom is from Kansas City; they are one of the bands in that great tour I mentioned earlier in the thread. They play extremely intelligent and tough to categorize stuff, something like death/thrash with black AND heavy metal touches. Guess it's just metal, but whatever it is, it's great. Chuck Keller and Mike Miller from Order From Chaos are in this -- if you missed that band the first time around, you should check them out. They really were doing something new and unexpected, and they've been a huge influence on death metal ever since.
Assaulter call themselves "dark speed metal", and they're pretty much exactly that. They're sort of a blend of traditional heavy metal and the epic/thrashing Aussie style perfected by Destroyer 666. Great songwriting here.
Axis of Advance is a Canadian black/death band that really stands alone: the only other band that sounds like this is the band the members used to be in, Sacramentary Abolishment. Chaotic yet coherent, fiercely fast and also doomy... neat stuff.
Countess (from Holland) has been one of my favorite black metal bands for years. The newer stuff is quite different, with a lot of Manowar and Manilla Road influence... sort of a fusion of first-wave black metal and traditional epic heavy metal, with Countess' distinctive improv soloing style over the top of it. Nothing else sounds like this band. Countess does a lot of historical-themed stuff amongst the Satanic/pagan songs, too.
Cultes Des Goules is a new band that's sort of unusual; really bass-heavy (they had THREE basses, at least until the other 2 members quit) industrial-tinged metal.
Helcaraxe is a New Jersey band that does Norse-themed death metal, yet they don't sound stereotypically "pagan" or "viking", and they don't sound like typical death metal, either. This band has amazing bass work. Their songwriting is also noteworthy; they have a couple of one-minute songs with actual song structure! I think you might really like them.
Misantropical Painforest and Legacies Unchain are two projects from the same Finnish fellow -- very, very weird and chaotic stuff, with a tendency toward long songs full of ritual repetition and subtle variation. I think the MPF album is quite stellar.
Misery's Omen is a progressive black/death/doom/etc band from Australia. Their first full-length is finally out now. One of the few bands that can perfectly balance dark and depressive atmosphere with solid song-craft.
Australia's Rev. Kriss Hades plays black metal. His stuff is hypnotic and bizarre, yet still aggressive. The sense of ritual and sickness on "The Wind of Orion" is overwhelming. That album came out 5 years ago, and is still one of the most distinctive things I've ever reviewed. Also, the guy does some neat occult artwork.
Slough Feg are from San Francisco, and play folky heavy metal; maybe not the most groundbreaking/new sounding idea, but they have a very distinctive style and excellent writing. "Traveller" is one of the best heavy metal concept albums ever written. Their newest album is almost more hard rocking than metal, though.
You might like Sword Toward Self, too. They're from Australia, and answer the "what genre are we?" question by doing all of them at once, and surprisingly well. Most of the members are in Ironwood, which is pagan metal with more of a folk/prog approach.
Warmarch is a new Canadian band that really impressed me -- the vocals on this are totally unpredictable, unique, and excellent. A great example of vox that act as another instrument.

I've reviewed most of these bands at my metal review site (I think you mentioned it earlier, thanks for checking it out!) If any of these strike your fancy, there might be a full review over there. Also, if you let me know which of these (if any) you like, I can probably suggest others in a similar vein.
posted by vorfeed at 10:24 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dude, we need a site like this for the Pacifc Northwest.
Gah!

Oh, and bastionofsanity, Finntroll is troll metal, a subgenre of viking metal. More generally though, you could call it folk metal. Finntroll in particular mix genres of metal (death, black) and adds in some traditional Finnish music elements, like polka! They actually sing in Swedish though because, according to them, "Swedish just sounds damn trollish."
I love Finntroll....
posted by KoobieKitten at 3:37 PM on April 26, 2008


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