The Great War Of Metal

I decided I need to elaborate more on this disagreement between sub-genres of metal, because it was my most successful post to date, and because I received a small amount of hate mail telling me how wrong I was and that I don’t know anything about music even though I believe I proved to the contrary in my first few posts.

There is a war going on. We are all at fault. We all think our personally preferred sub-genre is the best one and that other subs are worse than Justin Bieber. I’m exaggerating only a little. Whenever I go through comments on Youtube videos, or Facebook posts, or metal forums and blogs, I notice there is nothing but a giant flame war. Why does this happen? Even if you find another form of metal to be bland, its still metal. Would you rather the artist make songs about going to the club and getting drunk with an electronic sound at 140 beats per minute? This is absurd. It makes all of us look bad. It makes the bands look bad. It makes the whole scene look bad. How do you expect to get more people into metal when all the rest of the fans do is push everyone else away? This post is going to make a lot of people very angry, because I am angry, and what I am going to say needs to be said.

What is metal? It is expressing darker emotions using specific styles of guitar playing (power chords, dissonance, fast syncopated rhythms or slow heavy ones), specific styles of drumming (double bass drum pedal, multiple cymbals, loose snare), and specific styles of vocals (screaming, grunting, pig squealing, growling, whatever you call it). Anything that uses all these techniques can be considered metal. This ranges all the way from Cannibal Corpse to Attila. Yes, Attila is metal, get over it. I may not like them, you may not, but it is.

Everything I have posted before will tell you how lame this is, how derivative it is, but some people like it. Over a million people actually. This isn’t “bad” music it is just basic music. Imagine having never heard metal before and hearing this for the first time. It would be very different than anything you have heard, even though to a long time metal head it sounds the same as everything else. I believe even though this is boring for me to listen to it, the artist actually enjoys making it. Metal bands aren’t in it for the money like some popular musicians; they want to live the rock star lifestyle playing the music they like. If this is it, that’s fine, to each his own. Read some of the comments, I don’t mean the top ones (which will almost always be in defense of the band) read deeper. Look at how caustic and offensive these people are. Aside from the assholes, also notice how completely brainless most of the defense comments are, they usually counter attack and feed the fire instead of coming up with legitimate reasons as to why they enjoy this while the other guy does not. You don’t defend music by saying bad things about the person, you explain why you like it. Nobody can deny your own opinion, but calling someone a faggot online on a public website makes people want to not be on that website anymore, causing potential fans to leave.

Now for the other side of the argument

again go deep into the comments, see how terrible the people who comment on this video are. Putting a band or its fans down on a Youtube video isn’t going to make a difference. Most of the arguments amount to “this sucks” or “you suck” or “I don’t understand how people hate this good music” or “I don’t understand how people like this bad music.” If you are going to say”this sucks” like I often do, you have to explain why. I again want to remind all of you that the point of this blog is not to convince you to like metal, it is to get you to critically THINK about the music you listen to no matter what it is. Imagine how much stronger of an argument it would be if you said “I really wish Cannibal Corpse would explore more themes in their music instead of using human mutilation as imagery for their feelings, I know that’s their gimmick but sometimes I feel like they don’t try and evolve as a group.” Someone would probably respond with “you suck your taste in music is bad” or “you’re a faggot”, but who looks like the idiot now? It’s respectful and explains exactly what I don’t like about Cannibal Corpse. You can’t say I’m wrong for feeling that way about them. In fact I would love to hear arguments for why people DO like Cannibal Corpse, there must be an appeal, and they have several million views on multiple videos. If you can tell me from a musical or thematic perspective what you like about them please comment below. I am very interested in reading.

There are more layers to this war than you may originally think. It goes beyond sub-genres. It is a war of ideals, specifically between atheism and theism. Now I can talk about the first video from this post.

Norma Jean are a devout “Christian” metal band. I put Christian in quotes because I believe that although they believe in Christ and god, they are not exactly traditional Christians. Many of NJ’s songs and albums are about trying to convince atheists that faith is not just for bible waving fools. Sometimes, like in this example, they challenge atheists and speak poorly about the way they treat believers, but usually they are simply trying to express themselves. NJ is one of my favorite bands. I am an atheist. How can this be? Again I will say that what I appreciate about many metal bands is their ability to express their feelings, to really be able to understand what is going through their head. I don’t have to agree with it, I just want to hear pure un-adultered emotion coming straight out of my speakers and into my brain. NJ is one of the best bands at this.

This song is a very good example of Norma Jean having a conversation with their atheist listeners. “you will have all of your answers soon enough my friend” “do you really think all the saints are just lying, just lying in their graves” (using the meaning of lying to be dishonest the first time the word is said and laying down the second time) “where are we supposed to go, want you to remember this, just because I understand doesn’t really mean I care” meaning he understands why the atheist thinks the way he does, and he wants the atheist to take what he says to heart, but he doesn’t really care about his fate because the atheists decided for himself.

Now for the other side of the argument.

The Faceless, like NJ, are very effective at expressing their feelings. However, they feel the exact opposite of Norma Jean idealistically. This song is about destroying religious institution because it is holding our society back. “In a godless universe with logic as the reigning scepter of power
Revel in the mysteries of our reality” meaning our existence, which is explainable by logic, is filled with so much complexity and mystery that it doesn’t make sense for there to be a god. “Nailed to the cross,
drained of it’s blood, piety dies, crucify this lie” using biblical imagery in a very satirical way is a strong statement. Surely any Christian would find this very offensive, which is what The Faceless are trying to do. They find Christianity to be such a lie that they are using imagery from its own lore to deface it.

I gave only one example of each, but there are entire record labels for Christian metal bands, facedown records, and rise records both adamantly that god still belongs in music regardless of the genre. There are also many, MANY bands that make the atheism argument, usually they aren’t hard to find, the name of the band is often religious satire if they mainly write songs about that (Lamb Of God the most well known, Impending Doom was in a previous post of mine, as well as Whitechapel).

What do I think about this whole situation? I think it is AWESOME that musicians can write music about such a touchy subject. I personally don’t care which side you take as long as you mean what you say and say it like you mean it.


this is just a picture of the Summer Slaughter lineup for 2013. Notice DEP, and also notice NJ. Aside from being my dream lineup, these two bands are very different idealistically (as I have discussed in previous posts with DEP) but they are both playing to the same audience. This my friends, this is what the metal scene should be like. We can’t keep calling each other “faggots” and attempting to undermine each other’s musical tastes. If the artists can get past their differences so can we. We all understand the anger, we all understand the hatred, but let us not direct it outward toward other people (except for in the mosh pit), direct it toward what triggers these emotions in yourself, or even better, what the artist is trying to share with you. Look at how great the audience at Lollapalooza and Coachella is every year, artists love playing there and it just gets bigger every year because the fans don’t waste their time on the internet yelling at each other. The metal scene is not like these scenes, but I believe it can grow to be just as big if we can set aside our differences.

Stay heavy, I’ll see you in the pits.

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