Stars filled the darkened sky, and the night was quiet. A man and woman lay face to face on a hill, sealed in warm embrace. Their foreheads pressing together, they breathed deeply in harmony. A resounding comfort could be felt surrounding the two of them, and they gripped each other tighter. This was a moment of relaxation, and it couldn’t be broken by anyone, or anything. Cold wind beat against the back of the woman, giving her a chill. She giggled, and the man leaned up with a grin to remove his long overcoat. As he draped it over her shoulders, they both looked up to admire the view. It was painted in celebration of their freedom this evening, and a brightly dotted skyline was a gift fit for anyone. The man reflected on this year of pain, which brought him to the top of this lonely hill in the countryside.
Visions of sorrowful family members appeared, all mourning the death of his recently deceased father. His grief however, was ignored. His love of darker music, evident to his devout family had pushed him out of their circle of importance. They shunned him, and looked down upon him as if he was not one of their own. His persona was just clothing that he couldn’t take off, and they treated him as an outsider for it. Their condescending gazes cut through him like a razor, and in-turn shoved him into a closet, where razors themselves were his only friends. Severe depression coalesced with acute inadequacy, and only a sacrifice of flesh and blood kept the world from overtaking him. Forsaken by his kin, he wept alone in dim corners, while riffs tore viciously at his ears through an old pair of headphones. Cracking snares made his ears ring, and he listened to the comforting shrieking of a ghoul at the head of the band. Only these lyrics could understand suffering as he did. Only these few people could make an acceptable noise to play him through this slump. Only he could grasp the power behind the words, and bring a meaning of his own to them. Only through this sound could somebody love him.
The woman closed her eyes and flashed back to the surroundings that drove her to this hill. She recalled the office; the grey walls of flimsy plastic enclosing around her like a prison of the mind. False faces mingled with the magniloquence of narcissistic colleagues; it was an exercise where they all drowned each other in an effort to remain afloat in the ocean of white-collar purgatory. She sighed while spinning around in her chair. Boredom and insignificance clutched onto her like a sickness. She hated all of this. This day meant nothing to her, and the work she “accomplished” today would be the same chore she scorned tomorrow. She wanted to be in a crowd of that which is loud, breathing in sweat and alcohol as she screamed her lungs out at her favorite group on stage. The silence stabbed her in the temples, inducing a strong headache. Home was no consolation, at all. Either out of desperation or loneliness, she chose to remain with the man who simply noticed her first. He expected much though, and upon entering the door she knew that only housework and cooking awaited her, followed by copious amounts of faith-based guilt. If she was expected to remain his woman, she would eventually have no choice but to live under a creed she didn’t share, with pseudo-morals that he didn’t even follow. Her life was a deplorable sideshow; a regrettable story that only went in a circle. Death and taxes sounded much more friendly, so long as she didn’t have to witness part two. This was not how she imagined life would go at this point, and with love now ingrained as a tyrant who sought to strip her of her identity, she longed for a day where she could simultaneously be herself, and be with others who understood this virtue. She desired a life where she could be as loud as she wanted to, and say the words she denied herself daily. She snapped out of her daze, and out of her illusion of normality. She was not of the grey world. She was different. Tonight would change everything. She would change everything. She would show her true color (or lack thereof), and it was black.
The crowd in the club was rowdy and rambunctious; this show would be a night to remember, and the masses of people swarmed with excitement. A sea of black shirts comprised this concert, as is the law at all metal performances. The house lights became faint, and with it grew the sound of the people, now buzzing with glee. The squeal of a pick hitting the string sounded, and the room erupted into chaos. Bodies soared on a sea of outstretched arms, while bottles and clothing articles flew aimlessly through the air. It was a scene of perfect insanity, and just another day in the lives of Metalheads. As if by a spark of fate, strobe lights flashed endlessly, while two sets of eyes met across the room. A handsome guy with long dark hair caught pulsating glimpses of the eyes of a beautiful girl buried beneath strawberry curls from the far corner of the pit. The two wandered mindlessly toward one another, loss in a lapse of wonder. The pounding clash of cymbals and snares echoed against the apocalyptic riff, and the two lost souls came together in a minute of clarity.
On a hill miles and hours away, these two lonely children of the riff came together to enjoy the twilight after their unforgettable meeting at the show. This wasn’t just venting the rage, despair, and isolation they felt at the hands of others; this hill would be where they consummated their metamorphosis. The man pulled out a pack of smokes. Ejecting one cigarette from the box, he gripped it with his lips and reached into his other pocket to grab his matches. With a quick swipe across the striking surface, the match ignited and he lifted it to his mouth. Before the fire touched the end of the cigarette, however, the woman plucked the lit match from his fingers and ran off down the hill. When she reached the bottom, she turned around and waved to him. She swiftly crossed a parking lot and accidentally kicked over a can of gasoline haphazardly placed on the curb. With a flick of her wrist, the burning stick sailed effortlessly into the waiting puddle at the foot of a church. The woman bolted back across the lot and onto the grassy hill where the man sat waiting. As she took her seat next to him, she leaned her head on his shoulder, smiling from ear to ear. The man smirked, and kissed her on the head. Almost in unison, they began to recite the words of the father of black metal, as the chapel stood ablaze for all to see.
“Then the clouds of death shall gather
then the night shall always burn
then the ancient prediction comes true
and the bells of fate chaime
While I may be the writer that you all know me as, and I may dabble from time to time in the realm of philosophy, I’m undoubtedly sure that most of you know me as a die-hard Heavy Metal fan. I’m sure this comes to no surprise for most, as the vast majority of my posts are lovingly titled in homage to a metal tune of some sort. I quote lyrics daily to strangers on social media, and in my gaming community alike. I’m constantly whistling or singing along to a new song that has become stuck in my mind. (I probably cycle anywhere between 10 and 20 songs on any given day)
Needless to say, I love Heavy Metal.
Despite how much adoration I have for the genre that carried me through my adolescence, and continues to do so today, all is not well in paradise. Metal has sustained a wound that refuses to close, and though many people would view it as a form of diversity, they’re only ignoring a continuous problem that Metal faces every year. The growing catalog of ridiculously unnecessary sub-genres has become a problem that not only forces people into senseless debates over the interpretation, and appropriate titling of bands; it dilutes the entire genre of Heavy Metal.
Assuming that what I’ve proposed to do here is indeed, “dissect various sub-genres of metal and effectively reassign them to an appropriate new blanket-genre”, I should undoubtedly go over a few of the classes of metal that need to stay, since there are so many good ones that cover the broad spectrum of the shredder’s rainbow.
- Heavy Metal– It’s fair to say it’s not going anywhere. The widely accepted definition is the first, and it shall remain. This is what we shall base the origin of Metal with: “With roots in blues-rock and psychedelic-rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness.”
- Thrash Metal– Its spot is safe. In order to slim down thrash, we would have to completely toss out speed-metal, and forget about Slayer, Metallica, Anthrax, and Pantera. It’s not happening.
- Death Metal– Easily the most broad definition in all of this genre’s history. Death could use slimming, but it’s so broad, I almost view it as an impossibility. One could also make the assertion that the benefits of Death’s creation significantly outweigh the negatives.
- Black Metal– This sub-genre gave rise to some of the most powerful, and well-known names in the business. To get rid of Black would be a disgrace to the progressive styles of our European friends. It stays.
- Power Metal– One could argue that Power has been slowly deteriorating over the years, but I’d like to believe that it has only become broader in definition. Power Metal has always been uplifting, and goes through various stages of harmonic glory that one can’t simply discard.
- Doom– This genre, I will discuss later. Yes, it will be dissected. Not for the purpose you think, though. Doom stays, because it is the closest we have to the origin of metal. It’s also going to receive top-honors in the end, as we trim a bit of fat off of its name and dispose of the extras that are riding along behind it.
- Nü Metal– While I understand it is indeed a hodgepodge of both good and bad ideas, Nü has brought forth some of the greatest groups of the late 90’s, and early 2,000’s. It would be a tragedy to throw out some of the finer elements of Korn, Slipknot, Disturbed, Godsmack, Otep, early Linkin Park, and even Coal Chamber. For the sake of history, Nü-Metal will retain its spot.
- Industrial– I couldn’t rightfully get away with losing Marilyn Manson, Rammstein, Kidneythieves, Combichrist, or Nine Inch Nails simply out of convenience. No, they will keep their spot because industrial as a whole has grown stronger in the world of metal, and I like it right where it’s at. Necessary only to the beat and to the constant remixing and blank-filling that it allows in metal.
These are the groups that are staying. Now that you’re all happy that I’ve kept your favorites, it’s time to break out my wood-chipper to shred some useless garbage, as well as the clay to sculpt a few new genres that should stand in the place of numerous others. I’m fully aware that makes me sound like a bit of a hypocrite, but I’m willing to take that risk if you’ll let me attempt to convince you.
Metalcore– Since this sub-genre alone is arguably responsible for over 60% of the atrocities that have been committed in the name of Heavy Metal, I’m going to start here. While Sepultura and Pantera have been credited for giving birth to this monster, you may rest easy knowing that may not be entirely true. While Sepultura has implemented various rhythmic changes in their albums, as well as quite possibly bringing the infamous “breakdown” to life, they are assuredly a thrash metal group, and will remain as such. It also would be a tragedy to pry Pantera from their home of thrash, so I will not offend them.
What follows is a list of the multitudinous absurdities that have been combined in triple-hyphenated fashion in order to justify the creation of a Metalcore group:
<Please note that while I respect Melodeath, Math, Viking, Medieval, Industrial, Progressive, and Deathcore, they will also be used as a reference for the point of bringing light to the issue>
Funk, Groove, Stoner, Neo-Classical, Math, Death, Nintendo, Post-metal, Folk, Djent, Symphonic, crossover, Teutonic, classic, sludge, Prog, Power-prog, Glam, crab, Pirate, Wizard, Viking, extreme, hardcore, punk, Latin, Industrial, Death ‘n’ roll, grind, goregrind, Celtic, Pagan, Christian, avant-garde, experimental, break, drone, gothic, anarcho, crustpunk, unblack, Dark, Cello, Rap, trance, dub, psychedelic, NSBM (National-Socialist-Black-Metal), WP (White Pride), Screamo, crunk, Electronicore, Mall, Satanic, and yes… Anal Distortion.
Every single one of these have been used at one time or another to describe a band, sub-sub-sub-genre, or an album. My head spins just thinking about how much psychological-conditioning it takes for one not to bash their face into a wall at the sight of a band who uses three hyphens to describe what type of music they play. Virtually all of the list above can be tossed out, with the exception of the fundamental names I have already listed as necessities of the original genre itself.
Why? Why would I go and throw out a gigantic wall of sub-subs that might very well hold relevance and beauty to Heavy Metal if put to the test? Because, they already exist and are well-known elements of bands, and songs that we all remember so fondly. I can name thirty bands off the top of my head who use Neo-Classical riffs, and folk instruments on a nearly daily basis. You know what they have in common? None of them would sell their dignity in order to cling to the idea that they’re “Neo-classical-Celtic-Stoner-Prog-Metal”. That bullshit has to go, which is why I’ve just done it for you. It’s gone. Good riddance.
Now, don’t fear for the future of Core. Core is also going to retain its spot, regardless of the plethora of filth that seems to never get wiped off its boots. Metalcore is widely-regarded as one of the best things to come out of Metal, and I can’t say I’m inclined to disagree. It wouldn’t be the same without Trivium, Unearth, Killswitch Engage, All That Remains, Atreyu, Soilwork, or Diecast. Yes, Core has a bright future so long as it holds on tight to the basics that make that genre so good. What drags it down is when they allow a disgusting mix of undisciplined sounds to diffuse the power of what we all know already works. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for progressive sound. It’s one of the best things about metal, is allowing bands to experiment and create new tunes with odd time-signatures, untapped instruments, and mixing that brings a new perspective to the genre. What I don’t like, is when five dipshits under the age 0f 21 all grab a fender and play half-ass slow riffs, call it a “breakdown”, use a drum-machine in place of an actual drummer, trade-off who gets to play keyboard, and then auto-tune the vocalist so people don’t know they sound like garbage. You may be laughing right now, but if you have seen as much destruction to the beauty of metal as I have, you would know it happens alarmingly often. It would seem record labels have lowered their standards, and are now paying these children to make a quick buck, just so they can toss them out next year and churn the mixture to produce another terrible band with the same sound, and new members. Let this be your only warning, Metalcore fans. If you don’t stand by what Core originally was, it’s cursed to become something you won’t recognize.
I know at this point, some of you might feel I’m just another purity-obsessed Metal-head who can’t stand new bands joining because it takes attention away from older ones. I’m here to dispel that notion, right now. If that was the case, I would also have to throw out almost every band after 1990, which I don’t intend to do by a long shot. New metal is great, and I love hearing it. What I don’t like, are pretentious children who think they know better than those who came before them, and want to implement the most bizarre styles to a genre that is just fine so long as you’re decent at musical composition, and you can fret/drum/sing/growl/scream with the best of them. I’m even willing to allow the repetition and lack of vocabulary if it sounds like you put some time into it. Ozzy Osbourne, a man who was practically illiterate after leaving school– helped form Black Sabbath and his own solo group while crafting some of the most-praised lyrics of all time. It takes a creative genius to be good in metal, and I grant anyone that can master it my undying loyalty.
Lastly, I want to dissect a range of sub-genres that I have come to love, but I feel that they should be adopted into a broader genre that I have created for them. The sub-genres of Doom, Stoner, Psychedelic, Classic, and Neo-Classical all are redundant and and overlap each other in multiple spots. While Doom stands on its own two legs, many people don’t understand what entails being a Doom group, and will therefore lump many bands that don’t belong there simply out of convenience. I’ve never heard a song from The Sword, or Baroness that should be classified as Doom. Katatonia, who is one of the main groups that come to mind when Doom is mentioned, is capable of so many varied genres that to limit them simply to Doom is almost restraining. There are also, of course, bands such as Black Pyramid and Dawnbringer, who are known for incorporating the finest elements of the classic Metal sound, as well as strong waves of Medieval riffing, alongside a generous helping of Neo-Classical harmonics. They also, are somehow inhabitants of Doom, and yet they don’t fit the description. I also wish to rid the world of the idea of “stoner”, metal. I find it to be an insulting term that clearly implies that the music is designed to pander to those who are lovers of weed (alongside copious amounts of droning, reverberating guitar chords as well as psychedelic echoes, of course). It adds no substance to the band itself; instead it promotes the band as being limited to a certain demographic, and I would think that would annoy the group more than anything else. Because of all these reasons, it has has led me to believe that we need one blanket genre to support bands that don’t quite fit in with any of ’em.
This genre is dedicated entirely to the idea of retaining the classic sound of Heavy Metal, as well as promoting the folk instruments, Neo-classical sound, and the rich tri-tone of classic metal groups. At first, I couldn’t decide what to call it. I wanted it to revolve around the idea of the band that best represents the origin of Metal: Black Sabbath.
Seeing as how “Black Metal” is taken though, I’ve had to resort to a much more technical idea. The name of this genre is indicative of everything you would hear from the fundamentals of classic metal albums; single solos that stretch over a minute, simple distortion, and the loud studio sound that you would expect from such a powerhouse group. When people hear of Sabbath now, they recognize them for the classics they put out. It is seemingly everyone’s first encounter with metal, and for this reason I have concluded that there can only be one title for this genre:
This genre perfectly describes all of the elements of why it is necessary to keep them separate from their brothers and sisters. They seek to establish a classic mindset to new sounds. It’s the best of both worlds, in one broad package. You don’t even have to tread on the feet of other bands to do it. Candlemass is perfectly content being the grandfather of Doom. The Sword however, fits quite nicely as the head of this brave new world of metal; a realm that recognizes and reveres the sound put out by bands such as Sabbath, Maiden, Pentagram, Motorhead, and Judas Priest. They don’t want to mimic it; they want to enhance it.
I hope some of you will take away a fresh understanding of the genres of metal. I know some people will want to remain neutral and keep to the idea of, “It’s musical taste! Who are you to say what should and should not be?”, and that’s absolutely fair. However, I only want to help grow the idea of metal, and in order for newer, better bands to grow out of sub-genres to spawn their own ideas of the genre, sometimes you have to shave off some of the trash that is trailing around behind them. These quadruple sub-genres only limit the image that bands can have for themselves, and it gives idiots a very narrow view of what Heavy Metal is from the perspective of an outsider. This genre is so much more than most people can imagine, and if people can unite under as few banners as possible, Metal can once again overcome the non-stop drivel of horrible, anti-intellectual music that pollutes the minds of people everywhere.
It’s your one way ticket to midnight
Call it Heavy Metal
Higher than high, feelin’ just right
Call it Heavy Metal
Desperation on a red line
Call it Heavy Metal noise