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Improving Metal

Improving Metal
January 17, 2010, 03:03:08 PM
Look, I haven't listened to metal as long as many others here have, but I feel this is necessary.

I hear in certain threads "A synthesis of styles already established would be good". Let's really push in this direction. Let's combine styles, research into existing ones and pull out individual motions and generate something fresh.
Maybe even longer metal masterpieces, funtioning in the same way a classical piece does? Maybe a synthesis of metal and classical structures?

I may be totally unoriginal, but here is a thread dedicated to improving metal. (Maybe this thread has already been posted, but I couldn't find one like it after checking).

Re: Improving Metal
January 17, 2010, 03:16:32 PM
At least one thing is mandatory and that is the rediscovery of the concepts, themes and topics these new metal bands want to cover and explore. Otherwise the combination of musical styles will be an indefinite mess with no narrative, philosophical or spiritual value. It was never a problem for, say, Celtic Frost or Burzum to be eclectic, because they had clarity of mind on what they wished the music to describe (a poetic extension of Romantic yearning in "Into the Pandemonium"), or what its function should be (Burzum's first albums were meant to be magical charms or talismans). Dozens of promising death metal bands wrote good music centered on the ambiguity of darkness and the demise of the human body but when it became unclear whether they want to write about partying, social illness, horror movies or God, the musical integrity collapsed exactly at the same time. Shoegaze neo-black metal suffers from the same confusion, as urban angst, drugs, racial purity, jihad against capitalism and Hebrew mythology combine only to create a primal soup with nothing of value.

Re: Improving Metal
January 17, 2010, 03:31:23 PM
Then we need artists with a better perception of the music. I suppose that is what ANUS helps to breed. There will be those that know what metal is all about, take initiative, provide music, and a few with good enough ears will produce something very good.

Then, once a path has been established by innovators, we improve in that direction.

Re: Improving Metal
January 17, 2010, 03:53:36 PM
The degradation of any form of Art seems to peak at the same point at which the general subject matter becomes most mundane.  I don't know what the cause-effect relationship here is, but the two certainly go hand in hand.  Certainly, in my own music, I've been working up the thematic content/actual purpose of the creations from "describe Winter/Death/Gothic themes, reference Romanticism" to "communicate absolute necessity of the eternal", and I believe it can go further still.  My suspicions ever point towards the incumbent and increasing necessity to simply ignore the overground/mainstream, and remove any and all desires for any amount of fame (though notoriety may not go amiss).

Generally, in terms of "exploration of style", Extreme Metal (specifically, the Extremity of it) seems to be rather tapped.  I like the idea of "Metal Symphonies", and would say that many of the best Metal albums are, in effect, just that, though without the rigidity of form of many Classical Symphonies.  The focus must be on the effect and quality of the music, rather than on "how extreme it is".  We have all of the extremity we could need, already mapped out for us, thus I would say it is time to focus on (compositional) complexity, with a view to using music as a method of describing or explaining fundamental ideas and ideals.

Re: Improving Metal
January 30, 2010, 03:45:15 AM
What would make the composition of a song "good"?
What are some characteristics of quality composition?

Re: Improving Metal
January 30, 2010, 02:39:33 PM
I can easily distinguish between "bad" and "not bad" for you.

A "bad" song has had little to no thought put into it.  Take standard song structure, basic chord progression, and a mundane lyrical topic, and you have your average Pop/Rock song.  It communicates nothing, and, ultimately, is boring, even if it's "number one" for a week or two.

A "not bad" song is the opposite of this, in that thought has gone into its construction and composition.

I couldn't easily explain the difference between "not bad" and "good", though it probably has something to do with the innate skill of the Artist.

Re: Improving Metal
January 30, 2010, 03:13:39 PM
What would make the composition of a song "good"?
What are some characteristics of quality composition?

Composition, as in chemistry, is the key to creating something rare, useful and potent from the more common raw materials.

For the scorching sound of a distorted guitar, I only need to pick up my own equipment. For an insanely fast double bass kick drum I only need to program my computer to play some samples. For an extremely conventional blues pop melody, I can turn on any radio station.

Much of the so-called music people indulge in is something there is no reason to seek out, much less to pay for, because you could as well go see the local nobody band tonight in a nearby pub.

Quality composition is like an architecture or painting where concrete blocks or natural pigments are arranged so as to build another reality. You don't find it a pile of matter accumulated on top of each other, but a careful organization (however abstract) that really couldn't be any other way.

Re: Improving Metal
January 31, 2010, 03:26:20 PM
I hear in certain threads "A synthesis of styles already established would be good".

Style isn't what it's about.

Metal developed finally into what it always should have been, but really, black metal is just melodic death metal with a more ambient beat structure (because it's slowed down).

We need more complexity in composition, and more depth of both artistry and artistic content. <-- that's the elephant

Re: Improving Metal
February 01, 2010, 12:23:14 AM
I couldn't easily explain the difference between "not bad" and "good", though it probably has something to do with the innate skill of the Artist.
I believe I may be able to elaborate a bit on this...
First of all, there's no such thing as innate skill. Skill is gained through practice, that which is innate to the artist is talent.
That which is good is a subdivision of that which is not-bad with at least the following qualities:
1) It contributes some legitimately interesting ideas to the listener (musical or lyrical)
2) The artist does not compromise their style in the conveyance of said ideas to increase "accessibility"
3) The music makes the artist's desired emotional impact onto the listener (this is mostly dependent on the artist's talent and the listener's impressionability)
4) The music itself commands the full attention of the listener so that the full emotional impact can be conveyed

Those are all the universal aspects of good music that I can think of, although I'm sure there are more.
Can anyone else think of any?
Modifications are welcome

Re: Improving Metal
February 01, 2010, 12:48:05 AM
First of all, there's no such thing as innate skill. Skill is gained through practice, that which is innate to the artist is talent.

Innate skill = talent.

Dictionary definition of talent: "A marked innate ability, as for artistic accomplishment; Natural endowment or ability of a superior quality".

Dictionary definition of skill: "The ability, coming from one's knowledge, practice, aptitude, etc., to do something well".

Dictionary definition of aptitude: "Capability; ability; innate or acquired capacity for something; talent".

tl;dr: NO U

Other than that, I agree completely.

Somebody posted some kind of "10 degrees of Artistic/Musical quality" thing, a while back.  At number 10 (i.e. "best") was something along the lines of "conveys ultimate truth of the Universe".

Re: Improving Metal
February 01, 2010, 08:25:24 AM
Metal developed finally into what it always should have been, but really, black metal is just melodic death metal with a more ambient beat structure (because it's slowed down).

We need more complexity in composition, and more depth of both artistry and artistic content. <-- that's the elephant
Good point, perfectly made. External development (expansion) has reached its current limit(how many metal "styles" have you heard of, legit or not? and how many bands exist?), now it's time for some internal development(refinement of what already exists). Once that reaches its limit, expansion will resume, until it reaches its new limit, and so on... We've got thousands of metal bands and none of them are torch-bearers. Monarchs, arise!

Re: Improving Metal
February 01, 2010, 03:36:52 PM
Maybe its not just a matter of writing different combinations of notes, but refining the motivations underlying those compositions.

You'll notice in the past that just as much as stylistic and compositional evolution, there was an evolution of concept and values. Intentionally or not, changes in style seem to have followed changes in concept. As metal abandoned the rock n' roll swinging party attitude, it also lost the swinging party style and dropped the compositional tendency to create music where one could start listening in the middle and still follow along ("Well, this part is loud, and they're chanting the title of the song, so we must be in the chorus") which aided its use as a background to socializing.

Back in the NWOBHM/early speed metal days (which I wasn't there for, but... ) it seems like no one at the time could have thought that the libertarian-minded bands that hated war, government and religion could bring forth a genre that revels in destruction and suffering (death metal) and then music that actually appreciates old religions, and sees conflict in a constructive way and ignores political issues all together (black metal, even if not all bands).

So before anyone looks for new ways to cross-pollinate styles or compositional tendencies (even with classical), we should try to refine the concept of metal. Many seem to think that the evolution is complete, but everyone thinks that in they're own time.

What parts of the metal concept/attitude are good, and one should focus on while writing, and what parts are bad, and should be ignored?

Re: Improving Metal
February 02, 2010, 03:42:04 AM
What would make the composition of a song "good"?
What are some characteristics of quality composition?

Good Metal and good music in general are works of sound whose patterning of ideas, as represented in composition, mirror the beauty of life-forms in nature. Just as a tree is beautiful, because of its genetic construction, so is a song like Det En Gang Var, which mirrors the beauty of nature. Good compositions mirror the beauty and composition of life-forms in nature. One could also effectively argue that good compositions mirror the beauty of other forms of nature, like beautiful swirls of cosmic debris.

What would make metal better?
1) Promote and encourage the best bands; ignore, or in the worst cases, boycott the rest.
2) Encourage Metal musicians to become more fully immersed in nature.
3) Encourage Metal musicians to  study music theory, as well as the underlying philosophy that informs quality Metal (Transcendentalism, Occultism, Paganism).

Re: Improving Metal
February 06, 2010, 09:04:59 AM
I think if metal was not such a social event it would help it immensely.  There is still good metal out there, but its the jam sessions done on a shitty 4 track recorder and may never be heard outside of the participants who created it.  Metal is a big social event now, I'm sure it was before, but now its about 'putting yourself out there', how good you promote yourself, how many friends you have working for relapse. 

Re: Improving Metal
February 11, 2010, 03:42:20 AM
I think if metal was not such a social event it would help it immensely.  There is still good metal out there, but its the jam sessions done on a shitty 4 track recorder and may never be heard outside of the participants who created it.  Metal is a big social event now, I'm sure it was before, but now its about 'putting yourself out there', how good you promote yourself, how many friends you have working for relapse.  

The work I am most proud of has come from a well in tune jam session.

On topic, complexity or simplicity shouldn't matter as much as depth. Music these days, especially in the metal scene, is surface level understanding. It's only a matter of time till it becomes undesirable again. Outside of the internet, electronic dance music, and this apple store indie rock are getting huge and people generally seem to be put off by the metal aesthetic. Which is a positive thing, since those metal/deathcore bands overrun by Christians will move to infect other forms of music.