The Difficulties of Folk Metal: Part II

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Article by Johan P.

This text is a continuation of the previously published article, The Difficulties of Folk Metal. As stated in Part I, the threefold aim of this multi-part article is, in rough terms, to: 1. Give a short introduction to the subject, 2. Point out some of the difficulties connected with integrating folk music into metal and finally, 3. Provide alternative methods of integration. Part II will be dedicated to the second part of this quest.

Naturally, there are limits regarding the scope of my endeavor – the most obvious demarcation being that the article primarily focuses on Swedish folk music. In my view, the critique of folk metal is an ongoing project, and this article should not be seen as an exhaustive treatment of the subject at hand.

So, if someone else out there finds the subject interesting, you are more than welcome to make contributions. It could be in the form of additional material (metal or folk related) and complementary ideas to enhance the project. For example, the depth and applicability of the arguments presented below would surely benefit if the scope could be expanded to include other forms of traditional music.

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#MetalGate: Embrace, Not Censor, The Violence Of Video Games

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Way back in 2002, Take Two Entertainment released an extremely violent and controversial game called State of Emergency. It was similar to their Grand Theft Auto franchise because the character could roam freely and rampage, indulging in murder and mayhem.

State of Emergency increased the violence in Grand Theft Auto to the point where you could run through the mall killing everyone with a flamethrower or cut off heads with a Samurai sword and then beat other people up using the decapitated head as a club. Extra points are given for destroying windows. The entire game is basically a violent, destructive and nihilistic riot.

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Tom Araya’s Second Amendment Pragmatism

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Article by Corey M.

Recently Tom Araya, frontman of seminal and legendary extreme metal band Slayer, offered some words of encouragement to Swiss concert attendees regarding their ownership of personal firearms. He makes a case for owning guns, saying that there are invaders and enemies all over the world and in your own countries and towns, who may turn weapons against you anywhere, at any time. Because of this constant threat, owning and carrying weapons of your own is advisable, says Araya, making a pertinent point. Though he made a point to use no names, Arya mentioned events “in other countries” that resulted from people thinking they were magically immune to random violence (a transparent allusion to the Orlando, Florida shootings last month, in which nearly a hundred patrons of a nightclub were gunned down over the course of a few hours and half of those ended up dead, all because of one man with a gun).

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The Difficulties of Folk Metal

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Article by Johan P.

I’ve never been overly impressed by the folk metal phenomenon, which emerged in the middle of the 1990s and began to gain popularity some years later. I do not mean to imply that there isn’t any good folk music out there. On the contrary, there’s a lot of rewarding traditional music to discover. Many musicians – metallers included – have realized that their respective countries’ folk music reservoir is a gold mine for potential ideas to integrate into more modern forms of music. It was on these premises that folk metal was born. However, if the source material is to be successfully re-animated and be brought into metal or any other genre, it requires some serious work from the composer and performer. Most folk metal bands fail at this point for a variety of reasons, with the end-result often sounding like bad heavy metal adorned with folk-melodies that have been stripped of all subtlety to fit into a rock-based harmonic and structural environment.

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The Mythic and the Mystic

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Article by Lance Viggiano.

Burzum and Beherit each represent two summits of black metal’s many perspectives – in particular its looking back to look ahead ethos. The work of Laiho is exploratory and spiritual while the work of Varg is seeking and religious. Each composer followed a similar trajectory of mapping this landscape through metal first, then ambient. Each phase reveals strengths and weakness in each of their aims which results in a somewhat complementary synthesis between two highly individual bodies of work.

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