Steve Wilson criticizes the glut of “progressive” metal bands

Steve Wilson of Porcupine Tree recently conducted an interview with Metal Wani. In the linked second part, he suggested an aesthetic reason for the backlash against the swarm of “progressive” metal acts – according to him, there are too many progressive metal bands that are overusing the “metal guitar sound”, to the point that such loses its impact. In the mean time, Wilson is trying to explore dark and melancholic themes outside of metal, most notably in his collaboration with Mikael Akerfeldt in Storm Corrosion. This is obviously a different perspective than our usual narrative here at DMU – if you ask us, your pseudo-progressive band failed not because metal guitar is a cliched sound (which doesn’t eliminate the possibility), but more likely because your songwriting either took the form of modern pop in disguise or incoherent nonsense.

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15 thoughts on “Steve Wilson criticizes the glut of “progressive” metal bands”

  1. vOddy says:

    I think that the importance of guitar sound is over rated.
    Lots of great metal used set ups like standard telecasters without any crazy effects.
    Of course, on for example Left Hand Path by Entombed, the guitar sounds very distinct, but is that really what you’re going to praise about the album?

    If other music uses the same guitar sound, it won’t automatically be good. But if other music has good composition, riffs, and so on, then it will be good – with or without the guitar sound.

    1. fghdfger says:

      Guitar tones and productions are essential, like how vital your heart is when it is the brain doing all the interesting stuff. Would you like midi metal nearly as much? That’s no way to listen to metal, but it proves metal’s strength, as how a declawed and dejawed lion wouldn’t be troubled slaughtering you. The people saying “Metal retains its quality regardless of whatever used instruments/productions/tones” should instead be saying “Metal retains a quality regardless of…etc”. If you praise music for saying something, appreciate also it taking itself seriously enough to properly say that something.

      1. vOddy says:

        I don’t think that the guitar can easily be replaced with other instruments. I just think that guitars like those of Burzum sound good, which aren’t that extravagant. Once the guitar is at a certain decent level, improving it further yields diminishing returns.

        As for production and general sound quality, I never mentioned that. I was specifically talking about the sound that is coming out of the guitar amplifier, not the sound that is coming out of the speakers from the final album mix.

        1. fghdfger says:

          My response was general, some miss the point they’re trying to prove by downplaying those, as trivialities.

          “Lots of great metal used set ups like standard telecasters without any crazy effects.”

          Most of the classics were deep into themselves, far gone. Autopsy – Mental Funeral, Deicide – Legion, Demilich – Nespith, Incantation – Mortal Throne of Nazarene, Suffocation – Pierced from Within, Entombed – Left Hand Path, Vader – De Profundis, Morbid Angel – Blessed are the Sick, …etc, all had extreme(extremely specific) sounds.

          1. Meek Metalhead says:

            Death metal is far more dependent on guitar tone and production than black metal, which often than not uses the most basic of eqiupment. I cant really say I know of any quality death metal band that used some basic telecaster, let alone lack any effects. Maybe on some demos?

            1. fghdfger says:

              Yes, though it goes for black metal too. Darkthrone – Transilvanian Hunger, Immortal – Battles in the North, Sacramentum – Far Away from the Sun, Mutiilation – Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul, Havohej – Dethrone the Son of God, Varathron – His Majesty at the Swamp, Rotting Christ – Non Serviam, Absurd – Facta Loquuntur, Burzum – Filosofem, …etc, all sounding like they should sound.

            2. Yes, but…. black metal required a necro sound, while death metal could work with a variety of sounds from bad to good. Food for thought.

    2. Reginald says:

      Can we please name one classic Metal album that used Telecasters?! (Pallbearer doesn’t count.)

  2. Demonseed says:

    Metal needs guitar !! Metal without guitar is like a man without his balls…..

    But where I think he maybe would agree with me is that metal people are sometimes closed minded about adding other instruments such as keybonda or congas. I think cause too many cheesey bands like Dimmu Borgir’s ruined it. and also because the popularity of EDM etc caused a backlash against keyboards in metal. Because anything hinting away from metal or combining it with something new must be destroyed ( or ignored to death) , whether its any good or not isn’t relevant . The exception to this is if its trendy in metal already . If its trendy already in metal then its safe for the wind-tester metalheads and then they will throw their hat in and say “how mind-blowing it is”.

    1. …and then there’s Summoning and Beherit, making us all love keyboards despite ourselves…

    2. Meek Metalhead says:

      Morbid Angel has used keyboards since time immemorial. I would even dare to say that death metal while being the least likely to incorporate keyboards, has the best examples of it done exceptionally well.

  3. vic snaggletooth says:

    Best example of how to use keyboard for some death metal warfare is the great album “The key” ( 1990) by legendary Nocturnus. Nothing can surpass this unique death metal album where keyboard reigns high.

  4. canadaspaceman says:

    Using the word “overrated” has been overdone.
    From now on, please use the term “boring shit”.
    Thank you.
    – from the basement offices of the WWF 1998 Attitude-era fans,
    (where we don’t play any prog metal, unless it is Fates Warning pre-1987, Queensr├┐che pre-1991, or Watchtower).
    I’ve got two words for ya….

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