Metal as its own genre has changed a lot in very recent years. Unlike the more popular music discussed in the previous post it didn’t form based on the want for people to move their bodies. Rock n Roll in general was created to please those who didn’t prefer to go out dancing and instead preferred to rock out.
At first, rock was pretty much about the same thing other music in its time period was. Sex. The artists dressed absurdly and sang about getting women. The music wasn’t exactly “danceable” though. You could still move your body, but you wouldn’t grab a strange girl and start dancing with them to this. Soon though, rock would stand even farther apart from the rest of the music culture.
Now they are singing about the government, mainly how they do not like it. This was hand in hand with the Vietnam War, which led to many protests and the rock n roll lifestyle becoming more prominent in America (sex, drugs, and big music festivals). I’m going to skip through the decades pretty fast to get to my main points so I apologize for not including your favorite classic rock tunes.
Another band comes around, in addition to singing about not liking the government, they also wrote songs about exploring different emotions other than having a good time. Songs began to be about anger, sorrow, loathing, negative feelings that people normally don’t like to feel intentionally. This caught on quickly and this is where metal begins to really spread its wings.
There isn’t quite what you would call screaming going on here, but vocalists are beginning to play around with the way lyrics are said, the verses aren’t exactly sung.
Now the music is about anger, and the vocals are yelled in a completely non-musical way. This type of music was very hated by old people, it sounds satanic and wants to make you feel angry. People started to realize that this music was to be enjoyed by the more troubled youth with bottled up negative feelings, and this music was a method for them to vent these feelings.
the modern form of metal began to take shape. Heavily vamped guitars, guttural vocals, double bass drum pedals. At some point in time people started to want to listen to this. The target audience was small, but for them it was like nicotine. They had never heard anything like it before. They needed the pure emotion that metal offered. Instead of singing about love, dancing, sex, or telling stories, the music was about deep, dark emotions that people often felt they were alone in feeling. Metal channels these feelings and those that appreciated it could relate with the artists at that level.
Then some metal bands decided it was time to go backwards, and start including clean singable voices as well as more melodic guitar lines.
Thus began the great metal war that has been going on for the last decade. It wasn’t anybody’s fault, it was different people wanting different things from their metal. This newer “melodic metal” was more approachable from an outsider’s viewpoint, but it was looked down upon by the “true metal” fans. See, there is a problem here. On one side you have anger, hate, on the other you have sadness and songs that are about love again. I have been a fan of metal for a long time and I have no idea how this got started. It only gets worse.
Bands started to branch out even further from the core metal values, including vocal effects and what we call “breakdowns”. (2:30) These are the metal equivalent to a drop in electronic. It’s a rhythmic section where the guitar and bass drum play in unison for an especially “heavy” effect that is supposed to really encourage head banging. Here is a better example of a breakdown since Attack Attack is one of the worst bands I have ever heard.
(3:00) the true metal fans don’t like breakdowns for the same reason pop music is popular, it makes people want to move. True metal fans believe this is not what metal is supposed to be about. Although the lyrics are angry and hateful this is looked on negatively by fans of other bands that don’t have them. Thus the sub-genre’s of metal were born. For all you non-metal heads out there (most of you) I’ll name a few key ones: Melodic Metal(see Killswitch Engage above), Death Metal(Slayer, Death), Metalcore(see Lamb of God above), Deathcore (see Whitechapel above), Black Metal(Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth), Doom Metal(Deathspell Omega), Technical Death Metal (The Faceless, Spawn of Possession), Symphonic Metal (Wintersun, Fleshgod Apocalypse), Progressive metal (Between the Buried and Me, Dream Theater) and any combonation of any adjective or prefix/suffix of any of these listed. Wow that’s a lot of diversity considering it’s all just mindless screaming I bet you are thinking. Truth is I agree with you, I think its stupid that fans of particular sub-genres completely HATE fans of the others. Just read a few youtube comments on any of the songs posted and you will see. Anyone who doesn’t like their kind of sub-genre is wrong and stupid and doesn’t know what good music is. My sub-genre is way better. I guess it goes along with the feelings that the music erupts from people, but why can’t all us metal heads just come together and hate pop music like we are supposed to?
So where do I think metal is heading, with a new sub-genre being invented every day? Lets take a minute to talk about one of these in particular, Progressive Metal. What exactly does it mean, progressive? Even as a fan of this genre above all the others, it is hard to say. Most progressive metal bands try to sound different from anything you have heard before (at least the good ones do). They often have many of the same elements as most metal, “screaming”, double bass drum pedal, dissonant chords played repeatedly in syncopated rhythms, so what makes it different?
Aside from the weird time signature and extensive use of arpeggios, there is something more going on here that makes it stand apart from the other sub-genres. What is this song about? Well first you should know what this entire album about. This is about the future of earth, in this case not specifically earth but a planet with a civilization similar to humanity, and in this future pollution destroys the atmosphere of this planet. It gets so bad that the people of the planet must leaves and search for a new planet suitable for life. The album has a very unfortunate end to the story, but this song is about remembering how beautiful the planet used to be. Nature grows beautiful lush scenery and wildlife interacts with itself and if it weren’t for the civilization in the story that would still be the case. So the people look forward to maybe being able to experience this pure nature flourish once again on a new planet.
That’s how I feel too. It’s a bit more complex than “tonights gonna be a good good night” if you ask me. Although it isn’t truly about earth, the themes entailed apply to our civilization and tell a story with a tragic ending to get their point across. When is the last time you had to think about what a song was about? When was the last time a song made you think at all? This is what makes it progressive metal, it is pushing the metal industry forward in not only song structure, but In song themes and meaning.
Back to my point. Metal has come a long way in a short time. While pop music has been converging for a century, metal has done nothing by diverge for a little over a decade. I expect to see many copy cat bands that try to encompass a sub-genre, but also bands that push the boundaries and try to explore new ideas. Ill close with this masterpiece composed by Between the Buried and Me. Some metal bands write songs, they write symphonies. I won’t tell you what it is about, instead I urge you to think and interpret it for yourself. The lyrics are in the description.
My next post is for me to vent my opinions mostly, it will be about why The Dillinger Escape Plan is my favorite band and how to approach listening to them.