Forward into the past

crossover

Revolver published its list of metal bands who define the future of metal, and naturally people are a bit taken aback. The dominant trend on the list: metal bands that look like 90s bands who play with more distortion.

They come in several types: Marilyn Manson style hard rock goth, lite-jazz merged with Dream Theater riffing made technical in the math-metal style, black metal hybridized with shoe-gazing soul-searching solipsistic indie rock, tepid stoner rock, and the descendants of nu-metal who have mixed elements of the above in to hide their rip-off of hip-hop melded with bouncy radio rock.

In short, the list reveals a dearth of ideas, and instead of forging forward, these bands are heading backward toward past “successful” genres and mixing them together with a few metal riffs to make the claim to be the future of metal. Like the great metalcore revolution, and Napalm Death’s attempt to go indie with Words from the Exit Wound, this will succeed with the audience the industry has cultivated and fail with the wider audience for metal.

Metal thrives when it tackles the forbidden. In any civilization, that excluded taboo is the nihilistic approach of literal reality: the inevitability of death, the vast unknowability of our role in the cosmos, the necessity of war and violence, and the innate hatred that exists in humanity as some individuals break away from the herd and try to rise above. Metal is naturalistic and feral, aggressive and amoral, violent and morbid. It is everything we fear in life.

On the other hand, this new list presents nothing we fear in life. Tattooed hipsters in sweaters and goofy cartoons of uniforms do not induce fear. They induce tolerance and a shrug. They tell us nothing we do not hear from the many media outlets and rock bands of past. Unlike Black Sabbath, who dived bombed the flower power circlejerk with their own dark vision of the evil within us all, and the necessity of conflict, these bands offer us what Good Housekeeping might if dedicated to the quasi-“edgy” urban culture of guys with media jobs looking for a purpose so they can be unique at the local pub.

If you want to find the future of metal, go to its roots. Metal does not change because humans do not change. We fear death and the possibility of it coming for us, so with the aid of social conventions we exclude terror from our language so that we can exclude it from our minds. This is what metal rebels against, and its philosophy originates in rejection of this denial in order to discover what lies beyond the realms of sociability and polite conversation. The future awaits there at that horizon, not safely within the boundaries of existing culture.

31 thoughts on “Forward into the past”

  1. Not That Old says:

    Metal is done. But look like it isn’t dead yet.

    The post-2000 metal is trying to create a Frankenstein’s monster. It’s trying to pick body parts of dead people who once did something. But guess what… The Frankenstein’s Metalcore Monster only does 1% of what the dead people once did. A distorted guitar leg doesn’t make you a Metal monster, a speed percussion arm doesn’t make you a D-Beat monster, a rebel ass doesn’t make you a Hardcore monster.

    We should look to the original bodies, what did they do while living? What did they say to us? What did they want us to be?

    Metal will reincanate. As all great souls do. Ildjarn did a great funeral. Don’t you think?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Jo0Z7aaALs

    1. Richard Head says:

      What you’re really missing there is a power metal penis. That’s the problem with your monster.

      More seriously, regardless of who proclaims what is dead, I think it’s important for bands to keep playing death metal. I just listened to a new Blowjob From a Coreboy song because a buddy of mine told me that they play straight death metal now, even though they used to play metalcore. Okay. It’s still metalcore. Anyone who has heard any death metal is going to know that. But it’s also what people think of as death metal today. That’s bad. The mainstream is succesfully integrating “death metal” by simply sticking the name on whatever it wants. I’ve watched this happen to punk, screamo, grind, all music that I gave a shit about at one time or another, and now all guns are trained on death metal. I don’t like it. We need bands to keep playing death metal if for no other reason than to make sure the words still mean something.

      Same could probably be said of black metal but that genre wore out its welcome a long time ago and anyone who takes black metal seriously is not going to be fooled by the Profound Lore-style black metalcore shit. However, a new generation of musicians and thinkers and artists are being exposed to this rancid concoction of nu-metal and Underoath-post-screamo shit and being told that it is death metal, and if they’re smart then they’re going to reject death metal altogether based on that initial association. It’s an insidious tactic (though typical for mainstream consumer vultures) and it requires a blunt-force counterattack.

      1. We need bands to keep playing death metal if for no other reason than to make sure the words still mean something.

        Excellent point. Do not cede the territory.

      2. discodjango says:

        Here in Germany young metalheads think that shitty bands like Entrails or Bloodbath play ‘old school death metal’. The big metal magazines keep brainwashing their readers so that they will buy into it. It’s a shame.

        1. Nomen Nescio says:

          People still read big metal magazines?

          1. discodjango says:

            They do. A few months ago some former Rock Hard guys even launched a new print magazine named Deaf Forever which turned out to be a huge success.

            1. Trookvlt says:

              Germans…ugh

              1. discodjango says:

                Haha!

              2. Richard Head says:

                Rock/metal mags in the US are still selling as well. Probably just because most people aren’t smart enough to find music blogs.

  2. tiny midget says:

    metal demands values before immediate action; and in doing so it compels us to think on what does one do to make life sensible and worth living ?
    by recognizing that life is finite and perhaps of nihilistic value, metal forces us to declare values worthy of filling a life by removing pre existent meaning.
    metal is a return to confronting the “abyss”.
    that’s why we need to headbang a lot and praise satin.

  3. Twelve Foot Ninja says:

    And this is the reason why people like osama bin laden want to crash airplanes into American buildings:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ST85Sui43Q

  4. Wait says:

    Napalm Death were attempting to go indie/post-hardcore with the album before that one. Since the Diatribes album they have been trying to go for a mixed audience of Machine Head, Helmet, Snapcase, and Sonic Youth fans.

    You want eternal truths? Read the lyrics to Atrocity’s Todessehnsucht.

    First comment speaks the truth.

  5. MarchandoParaMorte says:

    Demilich is boring jazz wank none of you would (admit to) like if it was released by Necrophagist.

    1. Richard Head says:

      If Necrophagist released Nespithe back in the mid-’90s and then broke up, then they would just be Demilich with a different name. You are winning the worst troll comment of the article so far.

    2. Robert says:

      Well, that’s a lie.

    3. Demilich is boring jazz wank none of you would (admit to) like if it was released by Necrophagist.

      If Necrophagist released something like Nespithe, I think most of us would listen to it.

      Your first error is that you assume we dislike Necrophagist for being Necrophagist. Instead, we dislike their music, and thus dislike Necrophagist. It’s the other way around.

      Your second error is in the assumption that Demilich turned out as it did by randomness, and the same for Necrophagist. They ended up in different camps for the same reason: intent. Demilich intended to make a weird and wonderful kind of art, and Necrophagist wanted to make technical music for low self-esteem people who need a reason to like themselves.

      It’s telling that Necrophagist vanished after only a few years of activity. Why, we might ask? Probably: the music was boring, and the money was made.

  6. 666Shot says:

    Metal is far from dead. The fires of the underground have always produced the most creative and able bands. Sadly, they will almost always be overlooked because of their underground nature; lack of promotion, tiny record labels (who try their best) and a lack of touring opportunities due to having to work full time. It seems that this age, more than any before it rates appearance over sound in “music”. Hence why Slipknot sell more records and merchandise than a huge proportion of bands who Slipknot would be unfit to even string their guitars. I don’t begrudge their success, I’d like to believe they are a portal for some to discover what inspired them, just as I discovered Death Metal through Slayer and Metallica.

    1. Hence why Slipknot sell more records and merchandise than a huge proportion of bands who Slipknot would be unfit to even string their guitars.

      I have to beg to differ here. Slipknot sells because of The Bell Curve, which states that in any population intelligence will follow a certain pattern where most will group toward the middle, dividing them into two groups: above-median and below-median. Below-median will only like music that is really vivid, simplistic, dramatic and panders to their flailing emotions. Above-median will have already (90%) detoured into jazz, classical and prog and eschewed the rest.

      1. Richard Head says:

        In simpler terms; underground will stay underground because most people are too stupid to understand the music (art). Underground is not underground because of poor promotion, budget, whatever. People generally just don’t care about searching for meaningful expression. That is the real situation, and it’s right under everyone’s noses. They just never look down.

        1. People generally just don’t care about searching for meaningful expression.

          Also a very good point. Most people seek social expression, not depth of art.

      2. Phil says:

        You may have a point but not after the last four words. Just because you are above average intelligence does not mean you can’t also enjoy life’s simple pleasures.

        Unless you’re a miserable puritan.

        1. Just because you are above average intelligence does not mean you can’t also enjoy life’s simple pleasures.

          I think you mistake the impulse. It is not to enjoy, but to avoid. To the smarter people out there, all this stuff starts to resemble spam after awhile. Like radio commercials, advertising jingles, and catchy lines from politicians, it is something to be escaped for peace of mind.

          1. spaceplacenta says:

            I’m inherently pathological (compulsive and obsessive). As such, I need quality stimulation to fill my time with. It can come in the form of simplicity or complexity — but it MUST be worthwhile. If not, then it is an injustice. We have little time to live. Why waste life with mediocrity?

            1. C-Men 4 All says:

              Metal is far from dead. We fear death and the possibility of it coming for us, ntelligence will follow a certain patternbecause of their underground nature he music was boring, and the money was madenu-metal and Underoath-post-screamo shit and being told that it is death metal,… also fuck my butt !!

  7. deadite says:

    Those were seriously ALL metal bands on that site? REALLY? Half of them looked like indie rejects. I looked up a few of them and their names don’t even show up in metal-archives. Lawl.

    The only band I saw on there that looked like it was worth a shit was Nails (that’s cause the members didn’t look like hipsters, just general metal folk). Anyone got an opinion on them?

    1. Richard Head says:

      Sounds kind of raw and cool at first, makes you want to chug beers, then gets old very quickly. A spectacle, not much below the surface though.

      1. deadite says:

        Ah, bummer.

        Well, at least they aren’t hipsters.

        1. Richard Head says:

          Should have prefaced my last comment with this disclaimer; I’m not a fan of the blackened-hardcore style of Nails and similar acts, but if that sort of fusion floats your boat then give them a listen. The tension in the music is just too static and loses its edge for that. I’m more of a death metal guy anyway so my attention wanders without some musical twists and turns to break up the monotony.

          But yeah, I think they aren’t hipsters, they play like their heart is into it but they don’t really apply any narrative to their compositions. Just sounds like a few angry dudes who play about as well as any given hardcore punk band.

  8. Not That Old says:

    Did somebody said lack of self-steem?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4URaV1i14A

    I just can’t understand how could someone think this is profound in any aspect, or even believe that listening to this kind of shit you would be any superior. It only promotes weakness. It’s destructive. And the sad thing is that most of the audience of this kind of self-pity music is white people. We aren’t in crisis enough, we need to make us weaker while believing we’re superior and intelligent only because you listen to different and profound music.

    1. Innocent bystander says:

      The mutual fund advertisement that ran before this video was more compelling than anything in the contents! Was the one gentleman wearing a Cradle of Filth shirt?

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