What is it?
It strikes without warning.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, your favorite bands don’t do it for you anymore. It all sounds stale, bland, and boring. (I’m not referring to things like lead poisoning in this article, it’s just a fun coincidence)
Who does it happen to?
It happens to every metal fan at some point (including, nay especially, metal artists). Particularly if you’re a fan of the darker, more brutal forms of metal. You don’t get that rush of adrenaline, the hair doesn’t stand up on the back of your neck.
Getting burnt out on metal, needing a change, metal fatigue, “hitting the metal wall” , etc. People have different names for it, but pretty much every metalhead I’ve talked to experiences it.
What to do about it.
There are a lot of different way to deal with it as well. A common way is to listen to something other than metal.
That stopped working for me like 5 years ago. I’ve just hit a point in my life where anything but metal sounds like utter garbage. So when the hard stuff starts to sound stale, I turn to new sub-genres.
What I do about it
I can only speak from personal experience here. When I hit the metal wall, I generally turn to either Funeral Doom or Atmospheric Black Metal. Occasionally I’ll hit up some prog, but that usually sounds like garbage to me even on a good day.
Funeral Doom is the king of the dooms.
The logical progression of Death-Doom, Funeral Doom can be a refreshing change of pace (sic). When you’re burned out on 320 bpm full on sonic assaults – but don’t want to sacrifice the guttural vocals, low tuning, and general heaviness of death metal… Funeral Doom is the way to go.
As far as emotional qualities of the music – FD trades the brutal anger of death metal for the hopelessness and despair of a funeral march or dirge. As such, there’s a lot of room for classical influence.
One of my favorites is a solo project called Frowning from Germany. He does a fantastic cover of Frédéric Chopin‘s infamous funeral march.
I really love the genre because there’s a high-brow and cerebral quality to it – without succumbing to the limp-wristed, artsy fartsy trap that a lot of smart musicians and fans fall into (cough prog and jazz influence cough).
In other words I can listen to it, enjoy and discuss the classical influences, and not sound like a snobby fucking hipster or a djent-fag.
Atmospheric Black Metal
A little more ambient and a tad less brutal than Funeral Doom, Ambient/Atmospheric Black Metal is another go-to for me when I’m taxed on the brutal stuff.
If you’re interested in something like this, Saor is right up your alley. Another one-man metal project (sometimes they’re the way to go, honestly), this guy is fucking brilliant.
Also, American hipsters have ruined atmospheric black metal with that abomination we call blackgaze. A lot of people like it, but in this writer’s opinion it is utter garbage.
Other Atmospheric/Ambient Metal (Prog)
Prog is hit or miss with me (mostly miss), but one branch of the prog-metal tree that I absolutely love is ambient/atmospheric metal.
For the most part, prog (to me) sounds like a bunch of musicians jerking themselves off in a recording studio.
I understand wanting to flex the creative muscle, and the desire to play technically challenging stuff. In fact, I think the majority of prog probably happens when musicians get burnt out with their respective genres. I totally respect that, but there’s a negative side. Prog spawns prog-snobs, and nobody likes a prog snob.
What metal musicians do about it.
One word – side projects (ok, that was two. this isn’t a fucking math blog)
When an artist feels the need to explore a bit more than their current projects allow (i.e. they’re a bit burned out on their current style), a side project gives them the freedom to get all that out of their system and return to their main gig refreshed and renewed.
Bill Steer from Carcass has a classic rock side project called the Gentlemans Pistols. Michael Amott (also formerly of Carcass) has a classic rock side project as well, Spiritual Beggars. Christian Älvestam has his self titled side project (as well as participating in roughly 9 gajillion side projects and lending vocals to bands all the fuck over the place) that’s pretty ambient and chill, and definitely not metal. Phil Anselmo is another one with a plethora of side projects (i.e. Down, Superjoint Ritual, Scour, Razor White, Viking Crown, Necrophagia, etc). The guys in Anthrax had S.O.D., Jamey Jasta from Hatebreed has Kingdom of Sorrow and Icepick – you get the idea. Even Ivan Moody from Five Finger Death Punch is getting in on the side-project thing.
What the metal media does about it.
They write about Suicide Silence, Corey Taylor (Slipknot, Stone Sour), or Robb Flynn (Machine Head). Or bitch about metal elitism with click-bait articles designed to generate revenue.
(On a serious note, Metal Sucks has improved their writing quite a bit since the flop of Suicide Silence. I will continue to rip on them for the same reason I continue to rip on Metallica)
What do you, the reader, do about it?
Fucked if I know.
You’re the only one that can figure that out.
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