I’m not a particularly big fan of album reviews. As a rule, I consider them a shortcut to thinking – if you need another person to tell you what a piece of art means, what is the purpose of art? It’s supposed to be personal. Having said that, every rule has exceptions.
SLOW‘s newest album ‘VI – Dantalion‘, to me, is one such exception. While the band’s music can certainly be enjoyed on a very surface/almost superficial level (it is incredibly well crafted, and an absolute pleasure any fan of truly heavy music will probably enjoy) – I think a better understanding of the themes and undertones of the album lend themselves to a greater appreciation of the art as a whole.
Furthermore, looking at these in conjunction with the artistic/thematic evolution of the band over the span of it’s existence lend a sense of wholeism – to really appreciate where the band are, you have to look at where they’ve been.
“I & II are, for me, the first “period” of the band (being instrumental and more drone-ish), III & IV are the second period, and starting from V, we have something else. I can’t stress enough the time spent to control my studio (hence production). It’s, I believe, a normal evolution.”
– Déhà, 2018
On reviewing the band’s discography, you might notice a 2 part thematic pattern – specifically, for the first album in a period/cycle they focus on elemental forces as a vehicle for the narrative. On the second, the band shifts to an esoteric/spiritual/mythological theme.
With the first phase of the band, it went from the elemental force of a whirlpool (I – Silence Lives Out/Over Whirlpool) to the more heady unexplored realms of humanity (II – Deeper in the Space, Higher in the Ocean).
In the next phase of the band, there was a focus on the elemental qualities of earth (III – Gaïa) which transitioned to a less abstract Greco-Roman conduit (IV – Mythologiæ)
The current period of SLOW find the band returning to the elemental power of water (V – Oceans) before utilizing a descent into hell as allegory (VI – Dantalion)
Having established the pattern, it’s worth noting that this isn’t a linear progression – I would liken it more to a Fibonacci.
Like a whirlpool it expands outwards, but at no point does SLOW cross over and make the same album twice. Even when they re-released “IV – Mythologiæ” due to data loss, they completely remastered it and added a new song – honestly, the album feels a lot more complete.
I feel this is worth mentioning here, because ‘VI – Dantalion’ would not be the same album if Lore hadn’t revisited (and worked within) the mythological part of the SLOW thematic cycle.
Dantalion: Powerful Great Duke of Hell, 71st of 72 spirits of Solomon
“Music is both very personal and universal – I find it important to find the right balance in that. We both want to express our thoughts and emotions, we want to tell our story, but in a way that the listener is able to understand everything and project these feelings onto himself. Making an awesome album has become almost easy nowadays, but making an album that truly touches people with its story and lingers in the mind is a far greater challenge.”
– Lore, 2018
Before moving into the review of the album itself I think it’s important to ask the question, “Why did they choose Dantalion?”
At first glance, it seems rather obvious. The tracklist itself shows a journey of the soul after death.
Elégie (elegy/lament for the dead)
Given that the soul is descending into the pits of hell, it seems rather natural. But that’s a very specific demon, out of a possible 72. Not the most well known for sure, but he does posses specific qualities that are unique:
Per Wikipedia: “The Seventy-first Spirit is Dantalion. He is a Duke Great and Mighty, appearing in the Form of a Man with many Countenances, all Men’s and Women’s Faces; and he hath a Book in his right hand. His Office is to teach all Arts and Sciences unto any; and to declare the Secret Counsel of any one; for he knoweth the Thoughts of all Men and Women, and can change them at his Will. He can cause Love, and show the Similitude of any person, and show the same by a Vision, let them be in what part of the World they Will.”
Dantalion, specifically, is a demon whose realm is arts and sciences, thought, and emotion. He knows the thoughts and emotions of humans, and can change them at will. Given the fact that Lore has significant creative control over concepts on this album, and taken in conjunction with the aforementioned quote (taken from my 2018 interview with the band) I can’t help but marvel at the fact that she found a demon who embodies the creative goals of the band – to tell our story, but in a way that the listener is able to understand everything and project these feelings onto himself.
In that sense the choice seems a lot more natural than, say, Belial or Ashtaroth – I believe this context can assist the listener in consuming the album more with depth and clarity.
So, like I mentioned earlier, the titles of the tracks give the listener a pretty good idea where the narrative of the album is going. Beginning post-mortem, the first track transports the listener to a descent (descente) to Hell. Notably, the track is a departure from the norm for SLOW, clocking in at 4 minutes and 43 seconds. Fans of the band’s prior albums will notice they’ve tuned a bit lower for ‘VI – Dantalion’, an aesthetic choice which lends itself well to creating an aural hellscape.
At first, I thought the second track glow (Lueur) might be a reference to a “glimmer of hope” as the soul descends. But after listening to the opening notes, the exact opposite seems to be the case. This is pure sonic despair, SLOW is transporting us to hell and we’re seeing the fiery glow. The dark/light sound dichotomy is certainly still there (something I think the band does very well), with the melodic/light parts highlighting and complimenting the low end/darkness. In particular, the orchestral synth lends grandiosity and a certain gravitas.
Next up, the band’s (very appropriate) first single – ‘Géhenne’ (Hell). Another shorter track (just over 7 minutes), Lore’s bass is front and center here. Also worth mentioning: Déhà’s vocals for the entire album are a bit more raw. I’m not sure if that’s a result of mixing, or if he intentionally decided to channel bands like Wormphlegm – but at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter. It’s fucking awesome.
After arrival in hell, naturally the protagonist recognizes the inherent futility (Futilité) of hope. This is where real despair sets in – and sonically it’s a real turning point in the album. This track is more in the vein of artists like Shape of Despair – without sacrificing that crushing, brutal heaviness that permeates ‘VI – Dantalion.’
Recognition of futility and abandonment of hope lead to a total surrender to the void (Lacune). This track in particular deviates from ‘traditional’ funeral doom territory, and in my opinion displays a lot of the musical growth of the band when compared to the rest of their discography. The track is a lot more dynamic, and why shouldn’t it be? Utter surrender to the void, abandonment of hope – the inherent nothingness of it all. The sparse piano notes opening the piece, Lore’s background vocals, etc all add up to make this one of my favorite tracks on the album.
Incendiaire (incendiary) is slightly more familiar territory for the band. A bit faster maybe (with some pretty well placed 16th notes throughout), but it’s one I’d recommend to fans of ‘V – Oceans” or ‘IV – Mythologiæ’ right off the bat if they didn’t have time to listen to the entire album in one sitting.
Which brings us to Elégie (elegy) – obviously a lament for the dead. You’ll find no spoilers for this track here, suffice to say it’s both an appropriate title and ending to this monolith of an album.
Hands down, this is the heaviest SLOW album to date. Like I mentioned before, they tuned lower. The vocals are grittier. The concepts and lyrics are par for course, which is really quite something – the bar has been set high from the get-go. The use of melody and ambiance contrasts the near suffocating brutality of the low end – creating a fantastic dichotomy.
As with all SLOW albums, this is a piece I would listen to in it’s entirety, the album is just a work of art. Speaking of art – even the fucking vinyl is artisinal.
Recently, I got the chance to do something I’d never done in all my time writing about music: interview a band. It’d been something I could have done (in theory) for a fair chunk of time – but there was always some reason I could never bring myself to hit up their PR; usually I was either too busy or too nervous or too both of those things.
I finally got around to it, and frankly I’m pretty damn glad I did. I got to interview Eggs of Gomorrh, the absolutely savage and ravaging war metal band about everything from the cultural implications of war metal to their latest album (which I included as a sort of double-feature to go alongside the interview). All that being said, let’s get on with the show.
Eggs of Gomorrh Outpregnate Krucyator Productions
18 March 2019
Genre: Black/Death Metal, War Metal Location: Geneva, Switzerland FFO: Archgoat, Sadomator, Blasphemy, Teitanblood, Proclamation, etc.
In addition to all of the regular difficulties that seem to exist for everyone in the world of underground music, playing bestial black metal seems to come with its own additional challenge: how do you make it interesting? Although there are some obvious exceptions to the rule within the genre (Blasphemy, Damaar, Revenge, Conqueror, etc) It seems to me as if bestial black metal is very quick to fall down the rabbit hole of mediocre, “2 br00tal 4 u” music that exists somewhere in the negative zone between amusing self-satire and uninteresting jargon.
I eventually reached a point when I was so tired of listening to all the Blasphemy wannabes of the world who named their albums shit like “Raping an Angel for his Satanic Majesty” that I became a sort of disgruntled old man (in regards to the genre); curling up into the depressing little metaphorical cave I’d carved myself from those aforementioned bands. Thankfully though, my cynicism about the genre was soon to be melted almost as meltily as that nazi’s face at the end of Raiders of the Lost Arc.
I was minding my own business and digging through some charts on RateYourMusic when I came across Eggs of Gomorrh’s prior release, Rot Prophet. Although it had the war metal tag, it was rated highly enough that I decided I may as well give it a spin. And goddamn was I glad that I did. I was instantly blown away by the fact that a modern band could be producing such fresh and genuinely interesting war metal, and I became a pretty devoted follower of their material from that point on.
That brings us to the actual topic of this review, the Swiss war metal bands latest EP, Outpregnate. From the top of the very first track, this new EP instantly struck me as being a yet another fresh take on the bestial black metal genre from the band. Although it maintained all the aspects that make some of the best war metal albums ever just so great (rawness, brutality, and a relentlessly pummeling sound) it seemed to also bring in a sound that can only be described as cavernous, and gloomy. In a way, this feels like the war metal equivalent to bands like Incantation.
Still though, through the thick and gloomy fog that seems to linger around the release, you can still undeniably make out the bands quality that I think endeared them to a lot of us in the first place- their musical attitude of “you know what, fuck this. We can take bestial black metal to a whole new extreme without just playing recycled Blasphemy riffs over and over again.” And frankly, if that attitude were to spread all around the various subgenres of metal, I can’t say that wouldn’t do a hell of a lot of good.
7/10 But wait! There’s more! Keep reading if you’d like to see my Metalstuff.net exclusive interview with the band.
Country of Origin: England Years Active: 1985-1996, 2007-Present Label: Earache Records Official Site:https://carcass.bandcamp.com/ Year of Release: 1988
Let’s kick this list off with the godfathers of goregrind themselves, Carcass. Carcass are, in many ways, one of the most important bands for grindcore, both through their rejection of traditional grindcore politics for a brutal, ravaging, horrific take on the genre as well as their own contribution of normalizing vegan advocacy in the already rebellious, anti-authoritarian, punk rock political ethos of grindcore. The band would go on to change their style numerous times, break up and then get back together, and spark numerous imitators during their long, long career. Still though, this fast, violent, and gut-splattered debut still holds up as their best.
Outside of that one Tom Waits song, the country of Singapore is painfully underrepresented in the world of music. Thankfully, though, we have Wormrot to bring an end to that. The band seem to have just torn through their discography, maintaining the same style of traditionalist grindcore and the same grisly form of aggression throughout, signing to Earache Records after only 9 years and 2 full-length albums. Musically the band aren’t exactly the most innovative by any real means, but that doesn’t make their discography any less energetic, heavy, or well executed.
8: Agoraphobic Nosebleed- Altered States of America
“Altered States,” from my experience, tends to be written off as some kind of novelty record, the full length equivalent of “You Suffer,” due to it’s 99 tracks that take up 21 minutes altogether. In my opinion, though, if you stop looking at it like 99 ridiculously short songs and one, 21-minute composition, the Springfield MA band’s cybergrind masterpiece is actually quite the album. As brutal, fast, and pummeling as grindcore should be, Agoraphobic Nosebleed add another layer of insanity: by using a drum machine instead of a live drummer, they are LITERALLY able to have their music move at inhuman speeds. The band perfectly pair their dark sense of humor and knack for finding bizarre samples to use (I think about the phrase “thar she blows out my fucking dickhole” honestly more than I should) with their delightfully over the top and overblown cybergrind sound.
On the topic of weird things, this next album basically epitomizes them: a combination of free/avante garde jazz and grindcore should be, in theory, gimmicky bandcamp bullshit at best. However, like virtually anything John Zorn touches is, it is some fantastic, experimental, and genuinely surreal music. This album is almost like the audio equivalent to Nobuhiko Obayashi’s “House,” which for me makes the bad acid trip that is this album all the better. Perfectly melding the chaos of free jazz and grindcore into a dynamic, merciless, and constantly jarring 24 minutes of music, this is a perfect album for all crate-digging connoisseurs of the musically surreal.
6: Nails- Unsilent Death
Country of Origin: USA Years Active: 2009-Present Label: Nuclear Blast Official Site:http://abandonalllife.com/ Year of Release: 2010
Nails are without a doubt one of my favorite modern metal bands overall. Despite only having been active for about 9 years, I feel as if the band has cemented their place in extreme musical lore already. While all of their albums are absolutely fantastic, my personal favorite is their explosive 2010 debut album “Unsilent Death.” Featuring 10 tracks and only clocking in at about 14 minutes, Nails made their mark on the grindviolence scene from the second this ravaging instant classic hit shelves. One of my greatest writing crutches is refer to an album as the “musical version” of some other piece of media or an experience, a habit I am trying to break. However, I will allow myself this one: this is the album version of being killed by some cheap mask-wearing, drill-wielding killer in a straight-to-vhs 80s horror movie that was made by the Church of Satan and features actual death.
What grindcore list would be complete without the grandfathers of grind themselves? It’s really difficult to talk about the history of grindcore (or metal as a whole, to be frank) without mentioning the OGs themselves: sonically relentless, and fiercely political, Napalm Death took the pure sociopolitical rage of the hardcore scene and helped it take the next logical step, with a little help from the brutality of death metal. The band has never ceased their experimentation with other subgenres, but at the root of their sound will always be the phenomenal blueprint they lay out of the subgenre.
Artsy kings of the underground, Discordance Axis created a technical, chaotic, and refined spin on grindcore that no other band has ever truly been able to replicate. Almost comparable to what The Dillinger Escape Plan did with metalcore, Discordance Axis’ unique style and sound within their genre has earned them status as legends, even among people who aren’t typically fans of it. Notoriously elusive and camera-shy, the quintet’s mysterious and electric nature only adds to their draw and appeal, although to call it a clutch would be to lie: their music goes above and beyond on its own.
Speaking of bands who have earned themselves the status of legend, in our number three spot is Contrastic, a deathgrind band like none other. Hailing from the Czech republic, Contrastic have always gained a fair amount of attention within the underground community, turning heads with their Disney coloring page themed album cover and getting fans to stay for their bizarre brand of deathgrind, complete with hyperactive energy, heaviness and brutality, a tongue in cheek attitude, and the occasional break for a upbeat synth segment. Even though they could easily be written off as a gimmick band, Contrastic create some truly fascinating experimental deathgrind on this release.
A criminally underrated album, this release is one of the few that I would truly feel at ease referring to as “artgrind” or “post-grind” or something along those lines. The sophomore release from Dan Lilkers (Anthrax, Nuclear Assault, Stormtroopers of Death) oddball grind project, this album goes leaps and bounds beyond the group’s debut album released two years before it, this is really a project that’s artistic vision and musical prowess speak for itself- and I suggest you all let it.
At the very top of our list we have grindcore giants Pig Destroyer, with their debut full-length album and, I would argue, magnum opus. This 22-track exercise in brutality matches it’s ferocious, violent, depraved vocals and instrumentation with equally depraved lyrics. The album centers on a short story of a young girl being stalked by a depraved lunatic told through brief but nauseating vignettes and introduced and concluded by strange tracks that paint grotesque scenes through some kind of text-to-speech. This album does exactly what a grindcore concept album should: it applies the grind mentality of heavy, ravaging, and extraordinarily brief to how it conveys it’s narrative, and because of this, the lyrics and music work together perfectly to form one horrifying piece of music.
The People of the Appalachians (A mountain range stretching from Southern New York to Alabama) have been subject to some pretty nasty stereotypes for hundreds of years. The terms “redneck”, “hillbilly”, and “hick” were all coined to cast the people living in the area in a negative light.
A good example of the acceptable prejudices levied against the people of the area would be the 1972 film “Deliverance” (set and filmed in Appalachian Georgia), which portrays Appalachians as backwards, uneducated, inbred, and dangerous.
While these things aren’t true, the movie does display the poverty of the region rather accurately. Many families in the area live on less than $5,000 per year before taxes (which sets their food budgets slightly lower than $1 per day). Another term from the area is “dirt poor” – a lot of people don’t realize the term literally means you’re not rich enough to own a floor. One of my neighbors growing up was raising children in an old trailer with no floor, no running water, and no electricity. The county of my birth, Delaware, is the poorest in the state of New York, and has an economy that (last I checked) was 10 years behind the rest of the country.
This sort of absolute poverty can certainly make for an interesting culture. One of the most distinctive variants of American folk music comes from the area. Combine a strong folk/music and culture with nature, isolation, and mountains – and you’ve got the perfect formula for black metal.
While the region is too large (and difficult to travel) for there to be a scene with a distinctive sound – the Appalachians are home to one of the best kept secrets in USBM. Possibly, due to bands like Panopticon gaining popularity, not quite as well kept as it used to be – but still rather obscure even to the seasoned metalhead.
2018’s “The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness (I and II)” is a delight. Panopticon reminds me of an Eastern-American version of Saor, the incorperation of American folk music into the black metal style is seamless and tastefully done. Panopticon has managed to take Black Metal’s fixation on nature and give it a very Appalachian slant.
After an hour of fantastic blues-oriented atmospheric black metal, you’re treated with another hour of melancholy infused American folk music.
Another Appalachian Black Metal project that focuses on fusing American folk music with Atmospheric Black Metal, Kentucky’s Twilight Fauna is a bit more raw. There’s a distinct focus on the stories/history of the region I find refreshing.
Twilight Fauna is not easy listening. It’s thought provoking, challenging, and possesses the power to transport the listener to a different place and time.
There’s a wonderful use of atmosphere and a good positive feeling to it – but it’s still unquestionably Black Metal. They juxtapose elements of darkness and light – it’s black metal, but it’s something else as well.
When you’re talking about Appalachian Folk Music, there’s a very heavy influence from the Native Americans who lived side by side with the original settlers of the area.
West Virginia’s Nechochwen include traditional Native American melodies and themes into an otherwise intense black metal assault. There’s an element of prog in there (real prog), and the unexpected transitions from melody to dissonance are expertly executed.
Besides the occasional dulcimer or banjo on albums – AW doesn’t really incorporate a lot of folk music into their style. Instead, it’s a synth heavy symphonic Black Metal onslaught with cultural/folk themes in the lyrics. A bit cheesy at times, it almost draws from power metal in terms of the “epic quality” of the symphonic end of things.
Appalachian Winter – Deep Within the Mountain Forest
An atmospheric/ambient black metal project from Kentucky – the best way I can describe these guys is this: Imagine if Bell Witch took shrooms, and then decided to play Black Metal instead of Funeral Doom. It’s very stripped down, pretty raw, and very good.
Merkaba – Eyes Lose Focus
So, there’s a preview of the black metal musicians who are embracing their Appalachian heritage and dispelling some of the stereotypes about people from the area.
And kicking out some pretty killer American Black Metal. Fuck yeah.
Every once in a while, you stumble across a musical act that transcends artistic boundaries. To call people like this musicians alone wouldn’t be fair or accurate – they’re artists in the real sense of the word.
I listen to a fuck-ton (actual measurement) of metal – a bare minimum of 8 hours a day while I’m at work (and then, to mix things up, I listen to metal when I go home) – and I’ll tell you, I can count the number of metal bands who fall into the “artist” category on one hand.
In fact, unless a band approaches me I prefer to focus on the artist and how/why they do what they do. The reader can decide for themselves whether or not to check it out, and enter into the experience without any pre-existing bias.
And for a band like Slow, I feel like anything less would be doing my readers a disservice. This isn’t a “singles” band, this is a “listen to the whole album in one sitting and then contemplate your life” band.
What is the significance of “Silence Lives Out/Over Whirlpool” (SLOW)
(Déhà) : When I started this project twelve years ago, it was a counter-project for Yhdarl (my other very dark, suicidal-theme band). I wanted something which was metaphorical for what I wanted : a complete drone soundscape (Whirlpool), that is not violent (Silence). Out/Over is the meaning of “it goes everywhere”, if you will. I must admit I was very young at the time, but it still makes sense to me nowadays.
What made you choose Funeral Doom as the artistic medium for your work in Slow?
(Déhà) : I chose funeral doom because I wanted a way to express feelings that are a bit ‘trippy’, without necessarily being depressive (like album I and II). Starting from III, I was getting a little more influences from death/doom, but I stuck with funeral doom because I simply love this kind of music. There’s nothing more than this.
Lore did a phenomenal job capturing the essence of the music lyrically with Oceans (enough so that I had difficulty believing more than one person was privy to the project). Even the cadence of the words is perfect. What made you approach her specifically to write lyrics to Oceans?
(Lore) : Thank you.
(Déhà) : Lore did the most perfect job for Oceans. In the beginning, she was just ‘for help’, but after the amount of emotions she put into this album, as well as time and focus, there was no way I could not propose her to join the band. It became so evident to me. Obvious even.
She got it all right at first listen. That’s quite a sign, isn’t it?
Listening to your work in Slow from Gaia forward there’s definitely a progression in sound, with everything from guitar tone to the application and use of synth. Would you consider that to be due to growth as a musician, access to more and different equipment, a combination of these things, or something else?
(Déhà) : I believe yes, but mainly simply by going further in the music. I & II are, for me, the first “period” of the band (being instrumental and more drone-ish), III & IV are the second period, and starting from V, we have something else. I can’t stress enough the time spent to control my studio (hence production). It’s, I believe, a normal evolution.
All of your albums with Slow seem to take grand (and universal) archetypes and weave a story into and through them.
-With Gaia, the synth kind of carried the narritive in place of vocals. -With Mythologiæ there’s a progression using mythological (greek, if i’m not mistaken) archetypes to give subconscious form to the journey of an individual. -With Oceans, the journey/struggle of the individual is at the forefront and the ocean seems to be the metaphor.
My question is: Do you purposefully approach an album from the position of taking a larger theme and weaving a narrative throughout?
(Lore): I can’t speak for the previous albums as I wasn’t involved with the making of them, but with Oceans it was definitely the goal. Music is both very personal and universal – I find it important to find the right balance in that. We both want to express our thoughts and emotions, we want to tell our story, but in a way that the listener is able to understand everything and project these feelings onto himself. Making an awesome album has become almost easy nowadays, but making an album that truly touches people with its story and lingers in the mind is a far greater challenge.
One constant I’ve noticed on every Slow album is this – there seems to be a thread of hope in all the doom. It manifests itself differently on different albums – on Gaia it was purely the synth, on Mythologiæ it kind of traded back and forth between the guitars and the synth, and on Oceans (interestingly enough) the guitars themselves seemed to carry it.
A lot of Funeral/Death Doom bands seem to focus purely on despair/darkness (which is fucking awesome), and the ones who do try to add that contrast end up sounding cheesy and almost campy. If your albums were a slow moving storm, there’s always a ray of sunlight in the eye. I have to ask, do you add these aesthetic qualities to your music purposefully?
(Déhà) : I believe yes. I like to believe that Slow is mostly narrative, whereas other bands are a simple, crushing smash of despair in the face. Everyone can interpret it in his or her own way. I find Gaïa being insanely positive, for example.
(Lore) : I don’t know… I think it comes naturally rather than we spend a lot of time thinking about and perfecting aesthetics. It is what makes Slow Slow in the first place. Everything is very sincere, it is not merely an image we are trying to create of ourselves. We feel very deeply, both positive and negative feelings, and try to express this in our music. There’s always a spark of light somewhere in the darkness, if you choose to look for it hard enough.
It seems like, with the advent of the internet, a lot of artists simply write songs until they have enough to fill an album, and then release it. I’m certainly not the first person to notice it, but the “full album” is a disappearing art-form.
With Slow, it seems like your focus is more on writing the album as a whole (musically and conceptually) – where each of the individual pieces is part of a greater narrative and the albums are meant to be listened to in their entirety. Am I imagining this, or is that the case?
(Déhà) : This is the case indeed. Every album for Slow, as stated, is narrative and brings forth a story. Gaïa… Well I believe it speaks for itself, as well as Mythologiae and the (definitely greek) content, while Oceans….
(Lore) : I agree with Deha. We aim to create ‘a whole package’ rather than ‘just an album’ because it gives everyone so much more satisfaction. The songs on Oceans are indeed meant to be listened to as one full song – that way you will truly hear how the story unfolds.
Is there anything else you’d like readers/listeners to know or to keep in mind in regards to Slow?
(Déhà) : We are working on album VI right now, which is going to be a little different, but will contain the same crushing doom music. I would dare say that it is be a bit more ‘experimental’.
(Lore) : That we are very thankful for all the reactions and support we receive from them. Furthermore, what Deha said. We are constructing a small monument as we speak, so keep your eyes and ears wide open.
So, VI is being recorded as you read this, and Lore is taking over bass duties and arrangements. Fuck yes.
Disclaimer: I’m not pretending to be an expert in primate behavior (no matter how many times I watched the Harambe video), but it doesn’t take a fucking scientist to make these connections.
“We admit that we are like apes, but we seldom realize that we are apes.”
Whether they’re fans of heavy metal or not, people writing about the music and it’s adherents like to mention that the music taps into something primal.
I think that’s an accurate description, but I don’t think it goes far enough. My question is this – what are these primal things that metal taps into?
Primal like how our ancestors developed a love for fire (based on it’s importance in our survival) – and this translates into our love of a good light show/pyrotechnic display at a live show?
Or maybe primal like our admiration of musicianship, which boils down to admiration of mastery over tools?
These are certainly interesting subjects, and by pretty much any definition of the word they’re primal in nature.
In a sense, we (sort of) selectively bred these sorts of qualities into the human race – a love of fire and an appreciation for the mastery of tools are things that have allowed our species to advance to the pinnacle of the food chain. But they’re things that we don’t necessarily share with other primates.
What I want to talk about are things that we inherited before that (not that it’s a contest, but the things that are arguably more primal). Which poses the question, “Can the goings-on at a metal show, including the love of metal itself, be explained by comparing human behaviors with those of our primate cousins?”
Personally, I think that using primate behavior as a critical lens puts a lot of behaviors and staples of metal culture in a very interesting light. I’m going to break this down into two main sections – primate behavior among metalheads on an individual level, and on a group level.
(While reading this, you might notice that a lot of these things are not exclusive to metal. You’d be right, however this particular combination of things is pretty unique in my experience.)
Section 1 – Primate Behaviors Among Metalheads on an Individual Level
1a) Displays of Dominance and Aggression
One of the defining characteristics (arguably THE defining characteristic) of any alpha creature in nature is dominance. It can be expressed in different ways, but is inherently recognizable.
The Alpha Male
(it can be argued the desire to get on stage and beat your chest has primal origins)
In any group that’s been populated by male primates (almost to the point of exclusively) since it’s formation, you’re going to encounter a lot of very male-oriented behaviors and norms. Chimpanzees are a good example.
Being a large group of predominantly male primates (as I’ve mentioned in other articles) – heavy metal has developed what’s referred to as a Masculinist Culture. In a nutshell, what that means is that metalheads (by and large) tend to not only practice but celebrate codes of behavior that are (predominantly) attributed to males.
For example – in any given social situation, a group of animals will establish a pecking order. The animal at the top of that pecking order is the alpha. If it’s a group of males, the most dominant in the group will be what we like to refer to as the “alpha male”.
Among primates, there is a very distinctive set of behaviors that typify dominance ( and therefore are associated with the label alpha male). Humans, as primates, fall into this group. As such, an alpha male human (like any other primate) will display many of the characteristics associated with dominant primates – especially in the presence of other males.
Size Matters – Alpha Posturing and Stress
Being visual creatures – the first indication of alpha status among primates is size. Alpha males are big. Big males generally dominate. Among gorillas, for example, it’s rather easy to pick out the alpha male of the group due to their being significantly larger than the rest of the group.
Now, among our closest relatives in the primate world (chimpanzees), the alpha male is NOT always the largest. However, they compensate for this in a number of ways. One, that is common among all primates, is something referred to as the “alpha stance”.
It’s so common among humans that you might not give it much thought, but every time you see someone standing with their feet planted and spread, with their arms raised so the upper portion of their body resembles the letter “V” (sometimes called the victory pose or v-pose) – what you’re seeing is a simian dominance posture.
One of the main purposes of the alpha stance is that it makes you look visibly larger – but it also raises testosterone levels by 20% while lowering cortisol levels by up to 25% in all primates, male and female.
Cortisol is the stress hormone, and testosterone is the male sex hormone (high levels of testosterone are associated with a higher levels of confidence). So, primates instinctively know that in certain situations there’s a hormonal “oh shit” button that calms you down and makes you more confident.
You’ll see this sort of posturing anywhere you go, but I would argue it’s more exaggerated and pronounced at a metal show (largely due to the gender demographics). I’d argue the stress relief (on both a chemical and a mental level) combined with the effects of the music has an almost addictive quality to it.
If you’ve read my other blogs, you’ll know I make a distinction between metal fans and metal heads. I guess this is as good of an explanation of the difference between the two as any; real metalheads are absolutely addicted to the catharsis provided by the metal experience.
It’s certainly not a unique phenomenon in and of itself, I’m sure lifelong Grateful Dead fans can attribute to that. But the experiences are a tad different – and I think metal has a much more universal appeal.
And I’m not just pulling that out of my ass, metal is literally the beast that refuses to die. And somehow, magically, there are more metalheads now than there were last year.
Gratuitous discussion of how metal is superior to all other genres? Check.
Volume and Pitch
A dominant primate is, quite often, a loud primate (This can be exaggerated in certain primates, where loudness is often a form of evolutionary compensation). And I think you’d be hard pressed to find a style of music that is consistently louder than metal. The bands are loud, the fans are loud.
And not just loud, but loud with low tones. A deep voice is automatically perceived as more authoritative among humans, and there’s a good evolutionary explanation for that. Low voices are associated with large males who produce a lot of testosterone. It’s been argued that the lowed timbre voices of male primates (including humans) equate to a display of dominance. And it makes sense, big dudes usually have deep voices – and a deep voice can be intimidating.
If you want an example of how innate our association of deep voices and sounds with large, intimidating males is – think of the first time you saw the boxer Mike Tyson.
So, it’s not really that much of a surprise that Heavy Metal is loosely defined as a musical style that emphasizes instrumentation with deep, low frequency sounds (i.e. bass guitar, drums, rhythm guitar) played very loud.
Appearance as an Aggressive Display
It would be rather remiss of me not to mention stereotypical metalhead appearance as an act of aggressive display.
It’s also worth noting that to someone within metal culture, this style of dress and posturing is not threatening at all, quite the opposite – it’s appealing.
But to someone outside of the metal sphere, generally the consensus is that metalheads look intimidating. And I don’t think that’s by accident, but I don’t think it’s entirely a conscious act. Like, I don’t think a group of guys got together and said, “hey, let’s look as threatening as possible.”
All aggressive displays look threatening (that’s what makes them aggressive). It’s interesting to note that, contrary to common sense, the point of looking threatening in nature is to avoid conflict.
In other words, I think the “metalhead uniform” a manifestation of visually threatening/intimidating displays that can be directly traced to primate behavior. Camouflage, denim and leather, spikes and studs, boots and blue collar t-shirts all have one thing in common – they’re all worn by predominantly male social groups, that all look (in some way or another) masculine, and can appear threatening.
Chances are, all that clothing was introduced to metal culture by the crossover in membership – and if enough heads thought it looked cool they picked it up as a new norm.
Note: Not all displays within metal are aggressive. Perfect example, watch any metalhead youtube channel and you’ll notice they have their entire music collection situated behind them. This isn’t an accident, this is an intentional display of subcultural capital in the form of a music collection meant to impart a sense of expertise to the viewers.
Controlling Space and Attention
When a gorilla moves to an elevated area and beats his chest, he’s not just doing it to make himself feel good. He wants everyone in the vicinity to watch him. This isn’t a random occurrence – one of the resources that an alpha primate controls is the attention of his peers. In a pack setting, this is a big deal. It’s a form of social control.
Humans aren’t that different – why do you think public speakers will stand on a stage or an elevated platform? Or artists prefer to perform on a stage? We’re hard wired to pay more attention to other primates who control the high ground for a reason.
And it’s not just the high ground that’s important – another resource prized by primates is space. My favorite manifestation of this concept is the lead singer who, once the band is on stage, uses the all of the space available to him for the entire show. The more space he uses and controls, the bigger the display of dominance. Likewise, the easier it is to maintain the attention of a large crowd.
Even the act of throwing objects into the crowd (water bottles, picks, band shirts, etc) is a display of expanding territory – and fans who pick these items up are openly submitting to the display of dominance..
1b) Music Soothes the Savage Beast
“Interestingly, bonobo percussionists prefer a tempo of 280 beats per minute, the syllabic rate at which most humans speak.”
― Dr Susan Block
Long story short, they were testing to see what kind of music (if any) a specific species of monkey preferred over any other. The results showed that the Cottontop Tamarins only responded positively to two things…
Anyways, I feel like it was worth mentioning that on both an individual and a group level certain types of music have a calming effect that can be traced back to the same types of calls that later evolved into speech.
Strange that metal music could have roughly the same psychological effect as a lullaby, but humans are pretty strange creatures.
Section 2 – Primate Behaviors Among Metalheads on a Group Level
I’d like to start by saying a lot of this stuff will be a tad more obvious to the casual reader than the items in the previous section. Some, however, might surprise you.
2a) Dominance and Aggression
I know, I know, this was covered in the last section. But dominance, while it may be expressed individually, is inherently a group phenomenon. One of the most obvious displays of dominance can be seen in the crowd at pretty much any metal show.
Nowadays most mosh pits are a sad parody of what they used to be. But the idea of a display of aggressive dominance is still there, no matter how pathetic it gets.
“Wow, that hardcore dancing is super-fucking cool.”
-No one, ever
2b) Group-Think and Belonging
Almost all primates are pack animals, and being a pack animal is a package deal. Part of that package is group-think, or the ability to function with other members of the same species as a cohesive unit.
The intrinsic motivation behind group behavior is a need for a sense of belongingness (apparently that’s an actual word). Human beings, by nature, have an internal need to feel like a part of something bigger then themselves. It might manifest itself in different ways (family unit, church group, football team, metalhead), but at the end of the day it all boils down to this inner drive to belong to a group.
This is the same motivation behind all pack behavior. Gorillas have it, chimps have it, dogs have it, cows have it. You get the idea.
One of the ways group think manifests itself (in humans) is the establishment of social norms (I’ll expand on this in the next section). When confronted with an unfamiliar situation, humans look to and follow unspoken social ques of their peers to continue to feel like they fit in.
An obvious example of this would be “the metalhead uniform” – besides being a passive display of aggression to those outside the group, it functions as a badge of solidarity within the group.
And it works – being surrounded by other metalheads, all in black band shirts (at a concert or otherwise) feels good. You’re surrounded by other members of the group, and you’re all visibly displaying membership. It’s no longer a matter of, “I’m doing this and you’re doing this” – it’s become a matter of, “we’re doing this.”
This is why, when a person is attending their first metal concert and asks you what they should wear – you should never tell them, “Whatever you want, metal has no rules.”
That friend isn’t asking you what they’re required to wear. Obviously, they can wear whatever the fuck they want. They’re asking if there are any social norms they can/should follow to feel like part of the group (and not stand out). You know, so they can experience that sense of belonging and – in turn – have a better overall experience.
Since the 1950’s the concept of culture in the animal kingdom has been a topic of research, and it’s been found that culture is not limited to humans. Quite the opposite – patterns of learned behavior transmitted between individuals within social groups is actually common in the animal kingdom, especially among primates.
“Being abroad makes you conscious of the whole imitative side of human behavior. The ape in man.”
So, what sorts of cultural behaviors do metalheads transmit?
One of the most universally recognized behaviors associated with metalheads is headbanging.
From an evolutionary perspective, it makes zero sense. Zero. There is literally nothing beneficial that can happen to you if you headbang.
Quite the opposite, neck and back pain and injury are common (there’s even a colloquial term for the neck pain that follows a day of headbanging – a “bangover”). Over the long term – spinal degeneration is almost a certainty. I know plenty of old dogs who have neck and back problems due to this – some that required surgery. And in extreme cases, brain damage can occur. But for some reason, the practice continues.
Not that I’m complaining – I’m just pointing out that this particular behavior seems to defy nature AND common sense.
Conformity through Non-Conformity
Oooh, the 500 pound gorilla in the room. This one goes out to all the people who say that metal has no rules (it does). When you’ve got a large group of people who practice and encourage non-conformity, guess what happens.
You, by definition, have conformed to non-conformity.
People who say metal has no rules seem to be missing the point – one of the rules of metal is that you don’t have to pay attention to all the rules. That’s why you can do whatever you want and still feel like part of the group. So even if you only follow that one stipulation – you’re still following the rules.
Just because metal celebrates a lack of conformity with mainstream ideals/etc doesn’t mean there are no rules. That’s fucking retarded – all social animals have rules.
Metalheads are humans, humans are social animals, therefore metalheads have rules. That’s what makes them social – when you’re in a group it restricts the number of acceptable individual behaviors.
Metalhead Uniform as Social Norm
personal rant: I can’t tell you exactly who will say metal has no rules, but I can tell you what they look like.
Specifically, they’re a Caucasian male between the ages of 16 and 50, wearing a black band t-shirt (of a band they listen to, obviously). They’re wearing khaki shorts/ camouflage pants/jeans and probably boots.
There’s a really good chance they’ve got multiple tattoos and/or piercings, and I’d be willing to wager they have either long hair or a beard (if not both). There’s also about a 25% chance they’re wearing (or own) a patch covered vest.
Bonus points if they’re rocking a mjolnir necklace, razor blade pendant, chains, dog tags, satanic jewelry, or some less than subtle combination of these things.
You know how I know this? Because the people who scream “metal has no rules” the loudest are the people who follow the social conventions of the culture the most strictly.
I don’t think they do it to be purposefully misleading, they honestly believe what they’re saying. The cognitive dissonance is real (bowing to social pressure and following group norms is something that’s been observed in chimpanzees, and humans are certainly not above it). Simply put, humans are wired to make and follow rules of behavior. What rules you choose to follow, however, is certainly up to you.
Exclusive Handshakes and Gestures
Believe it or not, individual groups of chimpanzees have their own versions of secret handshakes. Not all of them have it, but the ones that do have a very interesting shared characteristic – it differs between different groups (therefore a learned behavior) and seems to hold significance in the group.
What kind of significance, you ask?
Good fucking question. These secret handshakes actually signify and affirm membership in the corresponding group.
And while it’s not exactly a handshake, a learned hand gesture that signifies membership/participation in a group is nothing new to metalheads.
Throwing the horns is a logical progression of the original behavior – directly observable in primates in the wild.
Crazy, right? There’s a little conjecture there, but I really don’t think it’s a big leap.
“Hating on” the Younger Generation
I read somewhere that chimpanzees withdraw and stop making social connections with the younger generation after a certain point. This includes not learning new “social norms”, etc.
Yeah, male apes turn into grumpy old men. Kind of like how older metalheads (myself included) complain about modern metal and metalheads.
It’s perfectly natural social behavior when you put it into context. In fact, I’d be more worried if old metalheads didn’t complain.
We’re all just fucking apes. I’m an ape, you’re an ape, your mom’s a fucking ape. So technically all human behavior is primate behavior – and that includes the entire metal scene.
I thought it’d be cool to look at some of our behaviors that have been around since before shit like fire, microwaves, and pizza delivery existed.
There’s no way on earth I covered everything, but I like to think I offered up a good chunk of thinking material for you guys.
I haven’t posted anything in a while, so I figured an article with a little more substance to it was in order.
Sacred Cows make the best hamburger
First and foremost, I’m not saying I condone the terrible things people are saying about Chester Bennington recently. And I shouldn’t have to defend those things – the only people answerable to those things are the people who say them.
I’m not excusing what’s been said, but I would like to offer an explanation as to why I think people reacted the distasteful way they did (and continue to do).
The following is my opinion (albeit an opinion backed by 20 plus years as a metalhead), so you can take it or leave it. But I think by asking certain questions we can provide some context (and clarity) to the situation as a whole.
What Was Linkin Park’s relationship with the metal community?
I’m not particularly fond of double speak, especially when it’s as opportunistic as this. When it comes to metal, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. You’re either a metal band or you’re not. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in any of these sentiments.
As far as Nu-Metal goes, whether you consider it “real” metal or not is purely subjective – but the vast majority of metalheads (at least begrudgingly) admit that it has a place in the metal family tree alongside grunge, hair metal, metalcore, and all the other “mainstream” genres.
I’m not going to go into that here, but if you’re really interested in learning about this dichotomy please read my previous article entitled The Two Faces of Metal (ironically, written partially in response to Bennington’s claim that his band kept metal alive).
Long story short, there is also a pretty large number of metal fans who do not consider any of the mainstream genres metal in any way, shape, or form. Which is fine, and technically accurate. People are entitled to their opinions.
When discussing Linkin Park though, it’s kind of important to note that they’ve been a whipping post for the metal community for almost 2 decades. Dislike bordering on hatred would be a mild understatement. Metal news sites were in on it. Fuck, even his friends/fellow tour-mates were in on it.
David Draiman of Disturbed even mentioned it in a remembrance post (below). Guess what – Chester was in on it too, because that’s what metalheads fucking do. They jokingly talk shit.
He continued, rather eloquently, with this, “When you make it personal, like a personal attack against who we are as people, like dude shut up. That means that I can actually have feelings about it and most of the time my feelings are I want to kill you.”
Really? You’re telling me the Millennial Whoop at the beginning of the chorus was completely the band’s doing, and had zero influence from the pop-machine? And that, as a person who is potentially going to buy the music, I can’t decide for myself whether the band fell under the influence of the music industry?
Let’s look at what people were talking about when they said the things Chester was responding to…
Here’s a short video explaining the Millennial Whoop
For reference, the first chorus starts at 29 seconds into the video.
The musical interval itself certainly isn’t a product of the music industry, it’s been around for a long fucking time. In fact, I think Fur Elise has the same interval.
But the pattern in popular music to use the interval to give a sense of identity and familiarity to new music is certainly something that the music industry has taken note of and exploited.
And there is no fucking way in hell that Linkin Park just happened to throw that in there randomly. Especially when the song featured guest vocals from millennial artist Kiira – there’s no such thing as coincidence.
There was, and I think Bennington took it all to heart. Just my opinion, but if I were in his position it’d be hard not to.
What Was the Media’s Role in all This?
The metal media is a two-fold operation in this article – I’m talking about the recording industry (including booking agents, producers, etc) and hard rock/metal oriented news outlets.
As far as the recording industry end of things – What the fuck were they thinking booking Linkin Park to play Hellfest?
I mean, I know Billy Idol has played it. But let’s take a look at the audience demographic here. You’ve got a huge French Festival that features bands from every goddamn genre of metal imaginable with ONE thing in common (well two if you count a love of metal) – disdain for the pop machine.
Most of the people there probably don’t like Linkin Park (see above), and the people who do but dislike the band’s new material have recently been slammed in the media by Bennington.
And that’s how you get things thrown at you, boo’s, and middle fingers through the entire song.
(actually, it’s at 18 seconds in this version – I included it because I think during tragedy people tend to lose context. in this case the context of just how much the new album was disliked)
Couldn’t have said it better myself. These people took time off from work, and spent good money to listen to metal music at a metal festival – and the guy decides to double down on their dumpster-fire PR strategy and play a pop song.
To put it in perspective – if I went to a burger joint, paid for a burger, was expecting a burger, and then I (along with everyone else in the place) was served a bowl of soup – I’d be fucking pissed. I’d probably throw things at the server. Because consumers have a right to get what they paid for.
And as much as metal is a community and a culture – it’s in large part consumer based. Service providers don’t have the luxury of telling you what you want to buy, it’s the other way around. That’s just how things work.
I’m not thrilled that it happened – but what the fuck did these guys expect? Just because American music festivals are going to shit with “diversification” doesn’t mean they are in Europe.
Throw them on the Warped Tour, and all of a sudden you’ve got thousands of butthurt indie rock fans who can’t handle a transgressive joke. Many of these same people, the day before, would have laughed at any joke at Linkin Park’s expense.
If metal was a club, club dues would constitute not being offended by anything. When I talk about the difference between metalheads and metal fans (or rock fans, or indie fans), this is what I’m talking about.
As far as the metal media is concerned – google “Linkin Park Suicide” and see for yourself – these guys have been prostituting Chester Bennington’s corpse for cash since before the body went cold. I know there’s a demand for it and all, I have nothing against that. I do have a problem with a single site posting 9 articles in 3 days about the subject.
I guess bad taste is subjective, and a lot of fans would rather see people in various positions in the music industry make money off of the singer’s death – but I personally consider it to be in much worse taste than the occasional off-color joke.
Fuck me though, right?
Does getting offended on the internet, blogging/posting/tweeting about suicide awareness, pretending to like a person or a band, etc. accomplish anything (other than making the person who did it feel good about themselves)?
Having worked in the mental health field for a time myself, I can conclusively say that mentally ill people need more from you than tweeting out the suicide hotline every time a famous person kills themselves.
Last I checked, actually helping someone get through a mental health issue requires a little more effort.
Talking someone down when they’re having suicidal ideations, telling them to run a sink-full of ice water and to plunge their hands and arms into it to alleviate the desire to cut themselves – that’s real help.
Being a keyboard warrior who gets offended on the behalf of others and posts mental health awareness links isn’t.
Fuck me though, right?
Who does his death really effect, and what did fans really lose?
(note – I actually stole this next part from the comments section of a metal news website, it pretty much sums up my opinions)
Let’s not be hypocrites: the death of this person may be a tremendous tragedy for those close to him . And it will certainly have negative consequences for those who were in a professional or other kind of ‘formal’ relationship with them.
But it does not affect the lives of the vast majority of people reading or writing on this blog. So instead of adopting a sanctimonious “holier than thou” attitude and urge each other to pretend, we might as well leave the mourning to those who are actually sad and have good reason to.
You still have Linkin Park’s entire discography. All those songs that helped people get through dark times and blah blah blah are still fucking there. Hybrid Theory, Meteora, etc – they’re not going anywhere.
Anyone who said the new Linkin Park was helping them get through difficult shit in life should have no problem picking up literally any song with a millennial whoop and getting the exact same effect out of it. And it’s not like the band was even remotely hinting that they were going back to the old sound – exactly the opposite. As outlined above, Chester himself was very vocal about the band’s new direction.
So really, the only thing fans have lost is the chance to see Chester Live. Real talk.
It it OK to be mad about this?
Of fucking course it is. Just don’t forget who took whatever it is Linkin Park means to you away.
Seriously though, for all the try-hards who fall back on the “I like metal because the artists are so original” defense, here’s a bit of a history lesson.
First, we need to establish a few things.
Black Sabbath was the first metal band. This is a given (people who say Coven was the first metal band are like people who say Possessed is the first death metal band – they’re wrong and just trying to make themselves look credible because they can do a fucking google search. We get it, they had a song called Black Sabbath and a bassist named Greg “Oz” Osbourne – and released an album before Sabbath’s self-titled debut).
The first heavy metal song was also called “Black Sabbath”. I have no idea what order they were written in, this was the first track on the album. It was also one of the first songs they performed live. They released a cover of “Evil Woman” as their first single, but that’s certainly not the first heavy metal song. For the purpose of defining the first metal song, my money is on Black Sabbath.
Black Sabbath didn’t “write” the main riff for the first metal song. I’ll expand on this in a minute.
I’m going to use bullshit American Millennial logic. You know, the kind of faux wax-philosophical logic in articles like this one, which asserts that you’re cheating on your girlfriend by checking your fucking facebook in the morning. To be fair, my argument is a bit more sound.
Having established the first metal band and the first metal song, we can safely say these two things in conjunction were the fucking genesis of heavy metal.
Like, in the beginning there was Black Sabbath – and I saw that it was good.
Sooooo, what was the creative process behind writing the infamous first song off the self titled debut? Legend has it Geezer Butler (their bassist) was playing a theme from “Mars, Bringer of War” from (The Planets by Gustav Holst) – specifically, the part with the tri-tone. No big surprise there, they were pretty musically diverse in their interests and influences. Iommi hears it, and then comes in the next day with the riff for “Black Sabbath”. They’re not identical, but they’re pretty fucking close.
Like, almost exact. Check it out.
(for the impatient, skip to 4:30 into the song to hear the theme I’m referencing)
(the song starts at about 27 seconds in, listen for it…)
Not quite as exact as Nile
But you get the idea.
So, if you’re going by the “college paper” rules of plagiarism, every fucking word on the planet is an act of plagiarism (including, but not limited to, Black Sabbath – and by association all of metal). Every fucking musical note in history is blatantly copying the first ape to bang two rocks together.
Plagiarism, Influence, and an Homage are NOT the same thing!
There is no such thing as an original thought. Every goddamn thing that has ever gone through your brain or come out of your mouth (the two are not always connected) has been done before. Everything.
That’s why we have a thing called influence – a concept to explain the natural progression of human expression based on the sum total of all the information they’ve processed in their miserable existence.
You do have to kind of draw a line in the sand here – there’s a clear distinction between a strong influence and completely robbing someone’s art and calling it your own.
In the example of Sabbath and Holst, we’re looking at influence. The guys in Sabbath took the idea of a tri-tone, and worked their own into a song that (eventually) helped define the band’s signature sound. And by correlation, helped to define metal as a whole. That can easily be confused as plagiarism, but it’s different.
In the example of Nile and Holst, Nile was paying an homage to Holst. It’s a public tribute – they adapted it to their own work, but instead of writing another into to a song about a god of war, they opted to use their own version of his into (paying tribute in the title of the song). This is a form of flattery.
If you want plagiarism, look to Papa Roach or some shitty tier 2-3 band that stopped being relevant the second they entered the music scene.
Example 1) The entire career of Papa Roach
Last Resort? Try Genghis Khan
Dead Cell? Try Sanctuary
Between Angels and Insects? Try Prowler.
How about that time the band ripped off Keane?
I seriously hate this fucking band. I think they have more accusations of plagiarism than they have singles.
Example 2) Annihilator’s “Snap” riff sounds suspiciously like Rammstein’s “Ich Tu Dir Weh”
And by “suspiciously like”, I mean note for fucking note.
How do you tell the difference?
How can a person say one band isn’t ripping another off, but another band is?
Influence is using a similar pattern to the person who influenced you. Homage is admitting you’re playing the same thing as another artist in a sort of tribute to them. Plagiarism is just stealing another artist’s work and calling it your own.
Papa Roach didn’t play something similar to Maiden – they played exactly the same riff as Maiden. At least 3 times. In 3 different fucking songs, 2 of them from the same album. And once you’ve hit 2 songs from the same Iron Maiden album, you’re already crossing from homage territory into copyright infringement. Especially when you give no mention or credit to maiden until you’re caught red handed in an interview, and try to pass it off as an homage.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand:
You could make a broad argument that Black Sabbath launched their career (and all of metal) through plagiarism – and you wouldn’t be entirely wrong.
Well, no, you’d be entirely wrong.
But seriously, metal is full of people borrowing other people’s riffs/lyrics. Just ask Iron maiden.
Actually, if anything, it was worse than I thought (Whitechapel only did 50% as well as their previous album, Suicide Silence soared around 30%). Apparently diminishing returns is a thing in real life. Who knew?
The critical acclaim for this album is completely non-existent.
Unless you count Metalsucks, who seem genuinely surprised the album sales didn’t set some sort of fucking record.
I don’t feel particularly bad for the band – they’re reaping what they sewed. Insulting the majority of your fanbase while you’re in the middle of selling out will get you exactly 30% of the sales you’re looking for.
I do, however, feel bad for the mindless drones who read metalsucks like it’s the fucking bible and worship at the altar of Suicide Silence. Like this kid.
Also, I’ve heard a lot of people saying bad things about the band for talking shit about other deathcore bands. I would like to offer an alternative viewpoint here – the single greatest thing about Suicide Silence’s PR campaign for the new album is the fact that they were talking massive amounts of shit about deathcore bands.
Now, I shit on deathcore bands all day long. So, in my opinion, knowing that even deathcore bands can’t resist shitting on deathcore tickles my irony bone to no end. And that, dear reader, is a silver lining worth noting.
Bear with me here, it gets better. The deathcore scene (as well as the tail end of the metalcore scene) is almost single-handedly responsible for the negativity towards “metal elitists”. It’s been inflated by the metal media, and Metal Sucks is a perfect example of this. I’ve written a few articles dealing with this in the past, and the contradictions inherent in the “elitist dichotomy”. This viewpoint is expanding on the premises outlined in those articles.
You’ve got a metal news website (metal sucks) who is notorious for propping up the elitist controversy, participating in a bland (and played out) PR campaign for a band from a scene that germinated the whole elitist dichotomy. The metal news website (who never misses a chance to bash elitists) is openly promoting a deathcore band who is doing exactly what they (the site and the scene) pretend to hate.
In other words, they’re virtue signaling a hatred for elitists while openly supporting elitist behavior.
Is there a term in the English language that describes this phenomenon? Oh, wait a minute…
Also, Suicide Silence obviously wasn’t being original or groundbreaking. The thing about being an original, groundbreaking artists – it’s like being rich. If you’re rich, you don’t have to tell other people you’re rich. If you’re a creative, groundbreaking artists, you don’t have to explain it to people.
In fact, in both cases – the fact that you need to tell people implies exactly the opposite.
Hiring a one trick pony producer who lost all cultural relevance to metal 20 years ago (and then writing in a style of music that played out and died 20 years ago) isn’t brave, or groundbreaking – it’s exactly the fucking opposite.