Metalcore enters its final form: coronavirus

Metalheads suffer greatly for the pain of having a genre that has suffered a coup. At some point, rock assimilated metal, and became modern metalcore: MTV song structure, hardcore style riffs, emo vocals, maybe an occasional metal riff, but basically just pop metal like pop punk was to crustcore and hardcore.

Through this example we see one of the difficulties of living in this world, which is that everything operates in cycles consisting of internal “epicycles” or smaller cyclic motions that seem to go against the dominant direction, but end up supporting it through a Hegelian dialectic.

With metal, the cycle ran from the prog-influenced vision of Black Sabbath through black metal, where it had reached its endpoint. The genre had fully expressed its style, and now the task remained to write truly great music within a style that could be easily emulated like a textbook would instruct.

Inside of that cycle, the epicycles were the influence of hardcore, progressive, and movie soundtracks — the three primal ingredients of metal — against the backdrop of heavy rock. Speed metal went more progressive, death metal went more hardcore, and black metal returned to proto-classical but ambient sounds, much like music designed for the background of a movie.

Other cycles panned out as well. Was it “message music” like the Left preferred, or thematic pattern comparison as the Right does? Would it be explicitly political, or flamboyantly artistic? Real-world or metaphorical? Guitar-dominated or vocals-dominated? Beauty in ugliness, or beauty of ugliness?

All of these fought it out and, by 1994 or so, the genre had its vocabulary and architectural lexicon written and able to be riffed upon, at which point it became an artistic genre writing art about itself, which is the dead-end of a cycle: trundling repetition between extremes, awaiting a new angle.

It turns out that the next stage for metal would be either to write more great songs using its existing language, or to increase the complexity, sort of like Ancient tried to do on their EP. Most of its great artists jetted straight into ambient, abandoning the field to imitators.

With imitators, of course, came an opening. The label guys saw that one a mile away: imitation means that the genre becomes an aesthetic, and you can graft that on to anything. They tried emo, then indie-shoegaze hybrids, and finally settled on late hardcore and then integrated the other three as epicycles.

At this point, metal has reached utter genericism. It has the death vocals and some of the riffing, the rock structure and attitude, the heavy metal bombast and extravagance, and the somewhat formless but uniform delivery of hardcore punk. It is now fully a product.

We can compare this evolution to that of a famous virus (archive) that you may have heard of, six years before it reached the peak of its genre:

U.S. warns health officials to be alert for deadly new virus
Reuters – Thu, 7 Mar, 2013

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday warned state and local health officials about potential infections from a deadly virus previously unseen in humans that has now sickened 14 people and killed 8.

Most of the infections have occurred in the Middle East, but a new analysis of three confirmed infections in Britain suggests the virus can pass from person to person rather than from animal to humans, the CDC said in its Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report on Thursday.

The virus is a coronavirus, part of the same family of viruses as the common cold and the deadly outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that first emerged in Asia in 2003. The new virus is not the same as SARS, but like the SARS virus, it is similar to those found in bats.

COVID-19 will most likely evolve as coronaviruses tend to do. It will start out, unique and full of fire. Then over time, the efficiency of being less lethal and of longer duration will force changes in its evolution. Eventually, it will become a common cold with a protein spike that makes it more infectious.

Expect COVID-19, like metal, to have a few glorious years of peak supremacy. Virulent, wild and free, it developed from primitive origins among the bat guano, metaphorically like Black Sabbath, to its final state of ultra-streamlined intensity, like Darkthrone, before getting absorbed by the larger genre of common coronaviruses.

Something external beats these viruses into these patterns. This is adaptation: their design reflects what is most efficient, resilient, and niche-situated in their environment. Eventually, the remnants of COVID-19 will have lost their scary reputation, but everyone will have them once a year, sort of like how Big Tech wants us all to pay them $5 a month per service for the rest of our lives.

Like metalcore, COVID-19 will become a muted version of its former self, but a more accessible one, and therefore will distribute further. Metalcore reflects not intention, but the lack of it, and shows us a fully evolved “metal product” which is as efficient, inexpensive, and profitable as a Big Mac or MacBook.

Speaking of metalcore, you may enjoy this entry from the bend over, here it comes again department:

Beijing tests for COVID-19 using anal swabs, where virus may survive longer: experts

Beijing reported a 9-year-old boy tested positive for COVID-19 last week, and his school conducted a variety of tests including serum antibody tests, nasal, throat, and even anal swabs for all its staff and students, prompting many to wonder if anal swabs could be more accurate in detecting the virus than other measures.

Li Tongzeng, a deputy director in charge of infectious disease at Beijing You’an Hospital, said that studies have shown that the coronavirus survives longer in the anus or excrement than those taken from upper body tracts, and for some silent carriers the virus may be present in their throats for 3 to 5 days, allowing some tests to provide false negative results.

We could test similarly for metalcore, of course.

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3 thoughts on “Metalcore enters its final form: coronavirus”

  1. HillBopkins says:

    Good article!

    Of course, i’m not sure about the phrase that post 94 metal wrote about itself.

    Darkthrone was overtly referential to celtic frost and bathory in their golden years, as I’m sure you know.

  2. Spaniard says:

    “We could test similarly for metalcore, of course.”
    The problem with this is that metalcore sissies would like it too much. Metalcore is gayer than eight guys blowing nine.

  3. tw says:

    excellent article, thanks for the chuckle. time to enjoy some dark burley.

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