A Discussion on The Metal FAQ: Section 1.1

The Death Metal Underground FAQ is an ancient yet valuable and reliable document full of information to help the less initiated grasp some of the simpler aspects of metal.  It is also a wonderful attempt to actually explain the Hessian ideals, culture and music.  The music section is particularly small and contains a fairly large amount of information and therefore it is time to open it up and go into the details of the points mentioned and what needs to be changed, for it is only through constant analysis of past work can we build upon them and progress.

One must disassociate power chords from regular chords as the fifth only exists to add power and depth to the root note.  For those untrained in music theory, the root note is the deepest note in a chord and the main note from which all the other notes are chosen.  A fifth is the most consonant interval after the octave representing 3/2 (one and a half tones) of the pitch of the root note while the octave holds a ratio of 2/1 (lower ratios equate to more consonant sounds while higher ratios are more dissonant).  Due to its consonant and neutral nature the tonality and mood of a riff depend on the sequence of the chords instead of the textural aspect of a single chord.  This therefore forces the composer to compensate the lack of information given by a single fifth by creating longer sequences.  A power chord being composed of two notes allows greater mobility on the guitar neck giving access to more notes and therefore the creation of more dexterous melodies akin to classical music.  Whereas rock and indie music would take one major/minor chord and play two or three other similar chords derived from basic scales throughout a verse/chorus song whilst lightly varying the rhythm, metal instead expresses myriads of ideas through the power chord with infinite of melodies of different lengths rhythms.  This provides compositional freedom through a deceptively simple tool that liberated metal from rock and unto far greater heights.

Most commercial music is contained within individual phrases that do not pass information to the next phrase and are encapsulated within themselves.  Metal relies on interconnected ideas that may be vastly different in key, rhythm and tempo but make sense in the overall context of song.  A riff does not need to resolve itself- that can be done much later in the song by reintroducing the riff in a different musical environment to achieve a sense of finality or as a point of return so that other avenues may be explored either within a musical space or by another riff that supersedes its place, hereby showing an evolution by slightly manipulating the notes in the riffs (see override of the overture).  Another possibility is that of a riff that can relieve the built up tension of the song like a nuclear explosion destroying an enemy city, or can increase the tension like a slingshot being pulled back ready to launch a rock on unknowing bystanders.   The relationship between riffs in metal is incredibly complex and like the parts of a good story can be connected in a number of ways.

Lyrics need to reflect the reality of the world we live in either through grand mythological stories or by directly conveying harsh truths… in either case they cannot be sugar-coated nor censored to please those that are scared of the truth.  Aesthetically the sounds produced from each of the musicians should aim to be as powerful as possible with the help of distortion and not to deliberately sound “ugly” or “noisy” (as stated in the FAQ) but rather to accept that power and majesty do not conform to Hollywood standards of beauty and are not easily accessible to the majority of people.  Extremity should be sought out and used like any other tool but not as a means to itself, as is the case of modern bands.  Rather emphasizing absurdly fast tempos or unnecessarily technical guitar runs, the music should ultilize the number of compositional tools available in the expression of power, entropy and darkness.

All traditions- science, art, literature. philosophy- rely on the great works of the past to progress.  Metal is no exception, with its deep history and continuous evolution, and therefore it is important to study it like any other academic subject to be able to comprehend its essence and especially to weed out imitators and those that wish to twist it and manipulate metal to their liking for their personal gain.  A hessian can trace its origins, recognize the good from the bad and analyse a piece whilst avoiding the downfalls of superficial thought and overly technical jargon whilst missing the overall picture.  In these modern times the most important tool one has is the proverbial philosopher’s hammer to ignore the bad and to resist the temptation to be swept up by the tide of mainstream hype.

“…to pose questions with a hammer, and sometimes to hear as a reply that famous hollow sound that can only come from bloated entrails—what a delight for one who has ears even behind his ears, for me, an old psychologist and pied piper before whom just that which would remain silent must finally speak out.” Nietzsche

Rhythm is the aspect of music that pleases to the simpler parts of our brain and rightfully so. Any human is able to ape practically any rhythm by hitting a spoon against a table and is the most commonly used tool trick the masses into liking certain music.  Playing with expectations of the guitar strums is how all modern metal bands function. You can insert the same two note breakdown into a million songs and no one will ever call out plagiarism (e.g. metalcore and deathcore).   Rhythm is best utilized not as a prison that metal escaped from but just like extremity mentioned earlier, another tool amongst many that can be summoned at any time.  Cadence coupled with using the drums in a timekeeping role allowed metal to further push away from rock and blues based music however such is only one facet to the whole story.  Syncopation is a beast that must be tamed and should be used to give more power to a riff, a melody or a solo and never in the context of appeasing the basest parts of our brain.

Metal has many tools at its disposition that must be used appropriately and with taste.  A rich tapestry of techniques and sounds that were developed in a very short period and that have been misused time and time again, metal is it’s own creature, unique and noble yet also despised and often subverted.  One must avoid seeing metal as aggressive rock music or classical with electricity but should instead let it be judged on it’s own merits.  Metal is music that communicates to the heart via the medium of the mind and not music to dance with your friends, bounce around and play karate, to make your crappy tattoo/piercing parlor look cool. Metal is the drive in all of us to exceed ourselves and as Hercules and Prometheus- the strength in our hearts to deliver us from the chains capturing our minds.


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14 thoughts on “A Discussion on The Metal FAQ: Section 1.1”

  1. Bottle of Clorox says:

    Who wants a sip?

  2. Chainzz tha rap.god says:

    Jared kushner b retard

  3. Frederick Dinkledick says:

    The relationship between riffs in metal is incredibly complex and like the parts of a good story can be connected in a number of ways.

    This is an important point. It’s not as simple as tension/release; there are multiple dimensions to it.

    Question: Prozak never talks about “climaxes” in his music reviews. He usually refers to the focal point in a composition as a conclusion or revelation or something like that. Is this pedantry or an important subtlety?

    1. Nicholas Vahdias says:

      I think it is more of a subtlety to be honest and for a lot of bands an easy way to end a song. Most stories do tend to end within a state of balance and in the context of death metal composition it makes sense to use the main riff to show how even though the riff is the same it’s context is entirely different. Listen to out of the body by Pestilence which ends on the first riff but the climax is actually the second solo. to make things clear climax and conclusion are different

  4. Rainer Weikusat says:

    Very lyrical. And very vague (»connected in a number of ways&laquo? Who da thunk …).

    Herakles and Prometheus are an odd couple, one of them being the son of Zeus and classic establishment hero, the other a titan, from an older generation of gods the Olypmians forcibly displaced, who brought fire to mankind after stealing it from the usurper gods and was sentenced to eternal torture for this. The last paragraph of this is similarly odd: This kind of sophisticated armchair appreciation may sum up ‘metal’ to some, but it’s also a bands playing loud music on small stages, united in head-banging with their audience, at least the part of it which actually came for the music and not just because there’s something to be seen and smartphone-recorded one doesn’t get to experience every day.

    Mainstream culture, and this includes all forms of punk, is heavily focussed on making impressions on others. To achieve this, people always remain guarded and shy away from anything others might laugh about, which is basically anything except “sophisticatedly” sipping cocktails. Violence and primitive forms of sex in public are acceptable, enthusiasm and getting lost in something is not, albeit both are frequently stage-managed with a watchful eye being kept on the ‘effect’ on potential sex partners. Metal is different here as in “We don’t care if you think this looks silly, even to the point when this leads to grotesque misreadings. You don’t understand. Get lost.” Concerts are a temporary escape into a saner world were people aren’t constantly being judged on how effectively they market themselves and everyone who doesn’t has to fight off a neverending stream of boneheads looking for someone they could easily use as soapbox while tooting their horn (the guy who wrote about metalheads being “beyond accepted” had no friggin’ clue … maybe the domesticated variety, with pretty girl-friends close by and neat haircuts).

    This is horribly simplified would need someone better at this than me for putting it into words.

    PS: If the video is a typical example, Emperor is/ was a skillful simulation of a metal band …. “Dann hat er die Teile in seiner Hand, Fehlt, leider! nur das geistige Band.”

    1. Nicholas Vahdias says:

      Hercules saved Prometheus. It was his an important part of his 11th labour

      1. Rainer Weikusat says:

        Different sources disagree on this.

        But it’s nevertheless and odd pair: The superhero bore who overcomes even the most insurmountable obstacles by virtue of his half-divine superpowers and who ends up inadvertently being done to death by a foolish woman desiring to keep him as pet (and is then dutifully elevated to full deity for this extraordinary accomplishment) vs the descendent of a once-great dynasty who tricks the king of the usurper gods twice for the benefit of mankind and pays with an eternity of torture for this.

        Herakles’ only real accomplishment is being another bastard son of his father and he gets amply rewarded for this in both life and afterlife.

        1. Nicholas Vahdias says:

          Prometheus represents intelligence while Hercules represents Heart, sometimes intelligence isn’t everything and it requires willpower to succeed

          1. Rainer Weikusat says:

            As some chanparasite has again chosen to interpret this as “power conflict” (may God save the simple things simpletons can understand): Herakles (this name means something, BTW) is neither an example of intelligence[*] nor of heart. He’s still just “Hera’s present to Alcmene”. ‘Heart’ would mean taking risks. But if your godfatherly ancestry means there won’t be risks, they can’t be taken.

            [*] Actually, he is. Otherwise, it would have been ten labours and not twelve.

            1. Nicholas Vahdias says:

              heart in this case, is the ability to overcome challenges by sheer willpower not by taking risks as you claim

              1. Rainer Weikusat says:

                Herakles also isn’t overcoming any ‘challenges'[*]. He’s the son of Zeus. Hence, he always wins unless other powerful gods interfere. This is really an “old Greece” superhero comic (I also liked by the time I liked superhero comics). At least, I can’t think of any.

                Prometheus is a much more interesting character: Bringing fire to mankind after Zeus had explicitly prohibited this was an act of extreme courage/ bravery, especially considering that Zeus would certainly learn of it (or an act of extremely foolhardy recklessness, of course).

                [*] This is again untrue to a degree: Herakles does overcome his own pride when being ordered to serve Eurystheus as penance for killing his first wife and his children while being “under influence” (of a more powerful godess, Hera).

        2. Ignorance says:

          Do you EVER get it?

          1. Rainer Weikusat says:

            Do you ever get something?

            I mean, that was quite of a detailed explanation, wasn’t it?

    2. Rainer the Faggot says:

      WHy haven’t y’all reviewed this band?

      At War with Self


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