Why It Sucks #8

You can’t please everyone.

Issues think otherwise.  They are stuck in a place where they can’t decide if they want to be a metalcore band, a boy band, or a pop/punk band. Surely this means fans of all of these genres will be appeased and we will be the most popular band ever.

Unfortunately this is exactly the case, this band is blowing up right now because of this album. It is approachable to fans of non-heavy music for many reasons.

the song is structured as per the current song writing meta- play the chorus first so people immediately know that this part will be repeated many more times, then play a verse, repeat, play a verse, repeat, change keys for the chorus, repeat, repeat. I’m so mad at myself for listening to this entire song.

Issues also realizes that everybody loves catchy vocal melodies. You can’t sell a record with any substance beyond the singing because the fans won’t understand it, so why bother. If you can’t sing, well there is a solution for that to. There is nothing wrong with auto-tune in the right context, but mixing it with real instruments is not one of them. The melody is absolutely repetitive and catchy, and every teenage scene girl in America will be screaming it at the top of their lungs at their concerts that will sell way too many tickets. The lyrics are clever in that really bad pun sort of way, “Shes like a Honda, these days I drive Mercedes,” “I’m the king of this game but I think she just beat me.” I don’t think anyone with a fully developed brain is impressed by your lame metaphors guys.

At 1:44 the angry part starts. Well, he’s yelling so one would assume he is angry, but the lyrics have exactly the same tone. “She’s a fiend for attention, and I’m a guilty dealer” is the same metaphor style of lyric as the clean singing parts, so…why are you yelling man? Oh right, because this is a HXC (hardcore) band and there needs to be some yelling to ensure the HXC fans are appeased. He’s not any angrier than he is during the rest of the tune, but there has to be some harsh vox because there has to be some harsh vox.

The bridge is usually my favorite part of pop style songs, because it’s the only part where you can’t really predict what is going to happen (since it only happens once). This starts at 2:28. Oh yeah, a key change and a different chord progression, maybe this will develop into…nope, BREAKDOWNZ! Since we are a HXC band and use harsh vox, we need to have some BREAKDOWNZ so people have a part where they can punch each other at live shows. The last thing we want is to disappoint anybody with some dumb pop music, since we are a HXC band, so therefore unnecessary and forced breakdown! DUNNUNUNUNUNUN DNUNUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN  DUNUNUN DUN. IM SOOO MAD AT MYSELF!

Ultimately the problem with this is that it tries to please fans of both pop music and metalcore.  That’s the problem with most all pop/punk music, its ‘heavy’ music aimed to sell as many records as possible, not to express themselves or contribute to the creative world. The thing is, the fans of ‘heavy’ music think it sucks (it does suck) while it gives other ignorant fans the guise that they are hardcore and enjoy heavy music. There are guitar chugs, there are harsh vocals, but that’s not what makes heavy music. ITS OK TO NOT LIKE IT. ITS NOT FOR EVERYONE. But using it as a marketing strategy, THAT is why it sucks.

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Metal Monday #26

http://refractions.bandcamp.com/track/redeemer

Local Indiana band from Muncie return with a new vocalist and a degree in audio engineering. If I hadn’t seen them open for Erra, I wouldn’t believe they were local at all. The production quality is through the roof, especially on the drums and vocals. It sounds like a very high-budget release when it was one guy in his basement/single apartment. It just goes to show that expensive equipment isn’t everything, and that a lot of metal record labels need to fire their dinosaur mixers/engineers and find some new blood who know all the new tech and tricks to make it sound this crisp.

The lyrics leave something to be desired. It’s not that the song isn’t easy to relate to, it definitely is, but the vocabulary and wording is a little lackluster. IE “give me one good reason why I should not burn down your house.” The phrases and diction make up for it, giving a sense of catchiness at times and enforcing the feelings behind the words. The vocalist has amazing range during his cleans and surprisingly thick harsh vocals.  The layering in the later parts of the song is especially cool, but that is more recording tricks than vocal talent.

At 1:07 there is a repeated guitar pattern that then adds a harmonic layer the second time. This is the catchiness I was talking about, that part definitely stands out and was the first thing I remembered, even after listening to it one time. There are two guitar solos, (2:00, 3:03) both face melting worthy, and a breakdown for good measure (4:15). Something for everyone! Check out the rest of their Nautilus EP, its not too long and it’s all just as good, the closing track being as epic as an EP can strive to be.

@3:34

I actually really like this album. It’s absolutely still death core and has all the flaws that death core has (predictability, not many different notes, sonically similar songs etc.) but it is also more than just good breakdowns. It has that small amount of substance that makes the difference between bad death core and good death core, impactful lyrics, group cohesiveness (largely due to their experience), and some legitimate good melody (see Dark Days). Like I said though, it is still death core, so don’t take it too seriously.

Metal Monday #25

I have never been so confused and so impressed at the same time. After reading some other opinions on this album, it seems that is exactly the consensus. Some people had the interpretation that it is try-hard nonsensical BS, others think it is an experimental masterpiece.

I really like this, but I totally understand the opposing arguments, and the reason people have for being so impressed by an album that, in reality, doesn’t make that much sense. There isn’t very much music like this. If you are a fan of chaotic yet emotive music, this is what you have been looking for since you first heard ‘Miss Machine.’ The riffs are really fast, the phrases travel across several octaves and the key seems to change on the fly. There just hasn’t been this fluid of an album in this style because the style itself is not fluid. I agree though, a lot of parts really don’t make that much sense, but that doesn’t make me not enjoy it very thoroughly.

This album is a concept album about two brothers, one good and one evil, one of them has this ribbon thing (?) who uses it for evil and control or something, and the good brother has to find the mighty weapon Unlorja, a sword that can destroy the ribbon thing and vanquish his evil counterpart. The concept is ok on paper, but the story is told in such a confusing way, with the perspective coming from different characters or sometimes in 3rd person objective.

Yeah its weird.

Between The Buried And Me’s Parallax does a similar perspective trick, but the change between them is pretty obvious because of the style they are playing in and even the vocal style. It’s an even more difficult story to understand because of the subject matter being much more abstract, but the story telling is what really makes them so great. So when I say the story in ‘Unlorja’ is confusing, it’s the way the story is told that is confusing. They had a good idea, but didn’t have a very coherent way of communicating it.

For instance, the song starts in clean vocals, he is talking about forgetting his past nightmares and replacing them with good thoughts of the future. Then they begin talking about taking the blade Unlorja to go and fight the evil brother. Who is talking to him though? Previous and later songs are from the point of view of the good brother and bad brother, but this song is some god talking to him, I don’t know, how can we know? This story doesn’t take place on earth, or even in our dimension maybe, yet they name specific events in the timeline as if we are supposed to remember them.

Aside from the story being a little over-the-top and not flushed out, this album really blew my mind. The transition from part to part always flow, if not lyrically. The phrasing of the lyrics with the phrasing of the instruments helps the otherwise confusing lyrics, the changes between the softer and the heavier or more chaotic sections helps us discern at least how the subject feels. Every phrase has distinct intent, none of it is heavy just to be heavy, there is no clichés. Journal wrote music in the way they felt it needed to be written, not for anyone else, not by some formula. For that alone I think this band deserves a lot of respect. Perhaps after they have released more albums they will be more on the same page lyrically and musically, or their story will make more sense as the expand on the concepts universe, I can’t wait to find out.

Other bands are more straightforward with their lyrics.

@2:38

This is pretty bad. I don’t know why they bother making recordings when this is clearly a band whose strength is being the referee for moshing matches. It has its place though, if I was really drunk and angry, this is exactly the kind of band I would want to be performing, because it doesn’t take any mental effort to understand at all. Maybe it’s a good unwind after getting your brain twisted into a mess by Journal.

Pretty bad though.

Sampling or Stealing?

Stealing is such a strong word. Sometimes it may seem that an artist completely ripped off some other artist’s idea, but in a creative industry, it isn’t stealing.

That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s morally right either.

The worst example, or best depending on how you look at it, in today’s music is Will.I.Am. If you follow music news and blogs or are into EDM, you’ve probably heard about his newest album ‘stealing’ from other artists, in particular this track. You can hear the similarity even if you are not into EDM, because he ‘sampled’ the backtrack. What this means is he used the same audio file as the original song and mixed it, edited it, and put the vocal track over it. The thing is, usually when you sample something its to implement an existing piece of work in a new or unique way. This is bare-bones copy and paste, and the song that he sampled was also new and trying to be sold at the time, so it was really not a cool move to use it without permission. Yes, he did ask for permission to do a “collaboration” with Mat Zo before creating this track, but he never got legal permission and proceeded anyway. This is opposed to coming up with his own original ideas and music which apparently is impossible for him to do. Why should he care, people listen to it, people don’t care where it came from, and the publicity Mat Zo gained from this ordeal probably outweighs the legal issue. Will.I.Am isn’t all bad (yes he is), here is my favorite sampling job by him:

from

Now onto someone else.

I won’t say Kanye West is a talented MUSICIAN, but he is absolutely an amazing producer and poet. This is much better sampling; he only takes a small portion of the song and loops it, then adds his own beat, and of course uses his best aggressive talking voice to tell his own story. There are a lot of Kanye haters out there, me being among them (not because of his music), and the fact that he uses sampling is fuel to fire their argument against him. I don’t think this is any less creative than most hip-hop, I think the sample adds a layer to the music beyond the beat that gives it character.

I bet you always though Kanye sampled Daft Punk. Well Daft Punk used to sample music almost exclusively, they still do, but there is a lot more original work on their latest album, you know, the one that won ‘album of the year’ at the Grammy’s? Although both of the songs that sampled ‘Cola Bottle Baby’ had huge success, I doubt anybody has heard of Edwin Birdsong unless you are into classic funk.

Both Kanye and Daft punk did some good sampling, but ultimately the previous sentence is my problem with sampling. It’s not that they stole it, it’s that they don’t tell the listeners where their idea came from. Record companies would prevent any artist from disclosing “This song is based on this song” because ignorant people think sampling makes you a thief automatically. Just read some Youtube comments on any of these videos and you might see what I mean.

Go back to the top video. This is the oldest and most “sampled” song of all time. The opening melody is the part that gets used over and over again, spanning centuries. The original dates back to the 13th century (swords, catapults, castles and stuff)


uses the same words, not the theme though.

Uses the opening melody (first heard @6:50)

In the form of a piano solo, theme heard @ 1:00

Maybe you have heard of this movie…

Recognize it now?

I could go on, but you get the point. Even classical musicians used each other’s ideas, they didn’t have the luxury of cut and paste, they had to write it out and re-arrange it for the size orchestra they are writing for. Dies Irae is one of the oldest documented melodies known to man, written by monks who hadn’t even invented meter yet (time signature). It has transcended time, reincarnating itself in many forms. It’s a perfect dark and foreboding theme that was sung at funerals, the theme represents death when you hear it in classical works. It is amazing how one of the oldest melodies has endured time.

In conclusion, here is some of the worst sampling I have ever heard.

Because, WHY?!

Metal Monday #24

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QklZeyP0Kk

This is very catchy. Even by the last verse on my first listen I was already singing along.

The call/answer style of vocals during the chorus gives the song more replay value than a typical “catchy” song. What that means is once you learn all the words to the first part you still have to learn the word to the underlying vocal part, which adds completion to the lines of lyric and counter-melody.

At first the never-ending arpeggios in the lead guitar part seemed really cool/ difficult, but he doesn’t really expand on the key, just goes up and down with the chord progressions. It sounds really cool though, so it doesn’t matter what I think.

I laughed at the half-assed breakdown at 1:03. I guess the part before it had to lead into something. I don’t know why they included it when they area a group that really has a good sense of melody, the melodic parts are what got my attention. I guess I just demand their best intentions…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkIzj8176vY

@1:45

The beginning of this song is also awesome and chaotic, in contrast to this simple, two note breakdown.
Maybe they got under his skin after all?

Metal Monday #23

The album art of this album is a Cthulu. I definitely didn’t hold my breath. The thing about this is, within the very first second of this song you know whether or not you are going to like it.

This track is one of the slower ones actually. the tremolo riffs that move up and down in succession blew my mind the first time. Tremolo makes it sound like you are playing faster than you actually are, but the note changes are frequent and very difficult. at :52 is the first verse, and the verse has alternating the key by measure. I think my favorite clever little trick they do is the extended measure at the end of the chorus. The end of the chorus is typically where we find some sense of resolution, extending the measure a few beats grows the anticipation even further, and the ending of the phrase makes sense with the diction of the lyrics. They use this again at the end to trick you even further, instead of playing the last note/word they repeat the whole section one more time.

Vocal and lyrical styles are definitely a matter of preference, the vocal style is not one I prefer, but the lyric style is clever to me.  The diction is the clever part, the splitting of the syllables across the phrases, and the way he saves his more meaningful lines of lyrics for when the song is about to transition parts, putting musical and lyrical emphasis together.

I’ll hit on that point again in todays Breakdown Beatdown

not the one at 1:25, although that one is tight too.

3:00

I HAVE COME TO DESTROY ALL SENSE OF LIFE

This band is like 1/1000th the speed of Kataplexis, slow full body head banging is their style. How slow is too slow though?

I would like to point out that the amount of airtime on this breakdown might set a record, with literally 4 seconds of rest between 3:21 and 3:25. That probably amounts to 4 or so measures of nothing, awkwardly moshing to stationary air.

That and the vocals are going through some intense filtering for extra br00tality.It definitely sounds cool, cannot deny that, but it takes the human factor away which makes it more difficult to relate with (Not for me, because I like dumb deathcore like this for some reason) and could scare small children and old people.

Metal Monday #22

You can give me crap about taking this much time off, but nothing good ever comes out in the end of January and December anyways so, semi-legitimate excuse? Nope, this happened.

starting @4:19

After a slow start, I was expecting this to be another minimalist guy-with-guitar type of artists. There is nothing really wrong with that except that it is not metal. This song has two themes, one that you hear for the first time at 5:47. This one is melancholy and has sad feelings and stuff.

6:28 shows the second theme. It is much more simple, it is just two notes a chromatic step apart (the higher one starting sharp them bending down) in a quarter note triplet pattern. The contrast between these two themes is what grabbed my attention. The first is played very lightly and sustained while the second theme is played more aggressively. It returns to the first theme again after then the song slowly ends itself.

The songs structure is reversible, not sure if this is even relevant but I thought from a songwriting perspective it was cool. I’ll call the developmental chord progressions in the first and last 1:30 of the song part A and the themes 1 and 2 respectively.
A 1 2 1 A

From pop music we are accustomed to the repeat of the chorus or part C (which would be theme 2 in this situation) at the end, not the beginning, so it interesting to hear how changing this alters the flow of the song. That second theme was pretty heavy, but I just feel like… I need more.

@1:34

Not sure what Texas has to do with anything, or why they only spent one night there, but they must have had a pretty bad time.

Obnoxious-deliberate breakdowns aside, this band is better than most of its kind, at least in the top 50%. I guess that’s not saying much though…