Few things portray a grimmer outlook for the future of heavy metal music than what’s conveyed through pictures like this:16 Comments
When riding the subway in a major American city one is likely to encounter a homeless person panhandling for money. There is usually a canned speech of sorts that may or may not sound something like this:
“Hi my name is Daniel. I am homeless. I lost my job, I am cold, and I am hungry with no food to eat. Please donate whatever you can so I can eat. God bless.”
When I see musicians and journalists advertising Kickstarter, Patreon, and other fundrasing campaigns I hear the same speech in my head. This speech sounds something along the lines of:
“Hi my name is Daniel. I am a musician. I have no job, I am cold, and I am unmedicated with no Starbucks Frappacino to drink. Please donate money so I can record a blatantly mediocre album that I will also charge you for. I will hate you if you do not give me this money.”
The blast beat has had a very unlikely journey through its relatively young lifespan in music. Rooted in a jazz technique of an alternating bass drum/hi-hat and snare 16th note pattern (though played at much slower tempo in jazz music), it found a unique identity in the early 1980s when underground hardcore punk bands like Siege and Asocial began using it at aggressive speeds to enhance their violent bursts of rebellion. This made it a close friend of metal when the middle of the decade saw a fledgling death metal movement getting its hands dirty with hardcore punk speed and sound in an effort to push its own extremity. Over the next 15 years, several drummers would rise to prominence with their clever use of the blast beat to either push these combinations to extreme speeds or to utilize them enduringly for an effect similar to trance music. Suddenly, every metal band that wanted to play fast or play simplistically HAD to play blast beats, and we eventually reached a point where blast beats were the most dominant part of every death and black metal song’s drum composition.
For the future of death and black metal to establish themselves distinctively, they must abandon what has become routine and keep only what is necessary to preserve their underlying spirit. And with this understanding comes an unfortunate truth- the beloved blast beat must be laid to rest, so that new life in metal can grow.