Earlier this week, a very interesting conversation started on Google+ about what will surely be an ongoing discussion here: What is metal? Regular listeners of this podcast know we cover a broad range of sub-genres, including bands that barely skim what would be considered heavy (Alcest and Dead Letter Circus come to mind first), yet these bands, and many other not-so-heavy bands, are generally accepted by the metal community. Does that makes them “metal”? This is exactly the topic we start tackling, and encourage you to get involved in through the comments here or any of our other social forums.
In addition to this epic topic, we review some undoubtedly metal albums and EPs and have some fun with another iTunes Shuffle review.
Reviews: Havok – Point of No Return; Shadows Fall – Fire From the Sky; TesseracT – Perspective; To Speak of Wolves -Find Your Worth, Come Home
iTunes Shuffle – Metallica – S&M
Did this episode not update in iTunes, or am I messing something up?
Nope. I messed it up…I did the write-up and forgot to add the actual show. My bad.
It should be available above now, and in iTunes soon.
Good discussion on “what is metal”. The TesseracT EP is an example of a further point I want to make on the discussion: the distinction between a metal band and metal music. What happens when a metal band makes a non-metal album? Opeth, Alcest, and Anathema are metal bands that (one could argue) make some non-metal music. TesseracT has made a non-metal album. It sounds like Baroness is releasing a non-metal album. Should all of us metal fans ignore those albums? Should Decibel not review that specific album? I say no to those two questions because I assert that it is still metal because we as metal fans accept their music as metal even if it doesn’t sound like Slayer.
But what happens when a non-metal band makes metal music? Smashing Pumpkins, Queen, and King Crimson all have some very heavy songs but are not considered metal bands. Dave Grohl keeps making heavy music with Foo Fighters but he can’t quite gain the acceptance by the metal community that he seems to crave.
Defining metal as music that invokes visceral emotions doesn’t quite work because there are numerous examples of raw, base emotions outside of metal. Theater music, whether it is modern Broadway show tunes or 19th century opera, is filled with those types of emotions. Much of Rogers Waters music is drenched with emotion and distorted guitars. Is Pink Floyd’s The Wall metal?
I agree with you guys on Load and Reload, with all those songs you mentioned being really good and I love Hero of the Day. But I think S&M is sort of superfluous. It’s not a bad album, but in hindsight it seems unnecessary and I don’t find myself going back and listening to it much. I like symphonic music in general (so that’s not the reason I’m not a big fan of S&M), but I find the original versions of these songs to be much more representative of what the music is about and that the orchestra adds nothing to the music.
Regarding re-trash and the 80s, I don’t really have any desire to listen to these current bands making this style of music right now (were you thinking of Christian Mistress as one of the examples?). I feel as if there is tons of music from that era that I haven’t heard which (according to some people) has stood the test of time. So I’d rather go back and listen to music that was from that time such as old Overkill, Testament, or Metal Church rather than some new band’s attempt to recreate this old sound.
I 100% agree that the less heavy albums by heavy bands should not be ignored. They are generally going to be important pieces in the catalog, whether it be for showing off talent or the evolution of said artist, or, depending on success, change within the genre. It is these albums that help expand the music and minds of the metal community as a whole. As far as labeling them….well, that’s where it’s tricky. “Heritage” is ablantly non-metal album by a metal band. Iwouldstill call Opeth a metal band, but I cannot call that album a metal album in good conscious.
That albeing said…when non-metal acts like TRAM, Trioscapes, and Storm Corrosion come about, should they be covered by the metal community? I mean, they inevitably will be because of the members involved, but in reality, they are new bands making music that is decidedly not heavy. You also won’t find these records in the metal section. In my last trip to Vintage Vinyl, for example, Storm Corrosion was sitting in the Progressive section, not the Metal section. And, I for one, don’t think will find myself ever listening to a jazz fusion record like Trioscapes.
The whole point of those “side projects”is for these guys to create music that they can’t in their metal band. However, the only promotion they get is within metal community because that is where the members are from and the kinds of labels that they are on. Any of those aforementioned bands, for example, could probably see moderate success if given the proper chance outside of the metal community.
As for non-metal bands making heavier music…all of the examples you made get pretty decent coverage on some of the metal blogs on a regular basis (especially Queen). And I think there is a pretty strong love for Dave Grohl all around. But, as heavy as some songs may be, they never do hit metal, IMO. And they don’t need to. These bands all have exposure to EVERYBODY because of their popularity, so whoever wants to embrace them can, even if the entire ‘community’ doesn’t. Also, I think there is are distinctions between being heavy and being metal. Hardcore is heavy (or, hard, I guess) but not metal. Songs from harder or alternative or [adjective] rock bands can be heavy, but not metal. But this is a whole other part of the discussion…
Jumping to the “re-thrash”…I totally understand why people are sick of it or have no use for it. However, I think it does do some good. First, let’s face the fact that every sub-genre of metal is over saturated, and most likely has a bunch of bands that have no business being signed. Getting over that, re-thrash brings exposure to old-school thrash that some people may not have. I know the style has been around since the early-mid 80’s but I and the other hosts were born in those years, so we got introduced to them through their mid-life crisis, so-to-speak. And while many of the big bands are still around and heading back toward their roots, the metal fans who are teenagers now we’re born even after that. The teens following heavy music today wil be exposed to these bands and some of the smaller classics through the new bands, if they are following the scene. Bands like Havok, Municipal Waste, Toxic Holocaust, Bonded By Blood (named after the Exodus classic) and the many, many others will get these noobs into the music and lead them to the classics that we already know. So, because some of us already have this education, these new bands redoing that style of music annoys some of that educated group. Therefore, if you don’t need it, ignore it…no reason to get your boxers in a bunch over it. Just remember that these kids need to be taught their metal history, and this can help do it.