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A renaissance?
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Member since May 2011 · 2484 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Subject: Heavy Metal
When I was in the final year of primary school (Grade 7) my friend came to me with a Judas Priest tape (remember tapes?) and said "All the kids in Jr High listen to metal, so we should get used to this."  It wasn't true, but we played the tape anyway.

I don't recall my first impressions.  I don't think I liked it, but I do seem to recall forcing myself to listen to it a few times, and gradually I did learn to like it.  From there I got into a lot more Priest, Iron Maiden, AC/DC and W.A.S.P, plus a little KISS as well.  By the time I got to Jr. High I was a bit of a metal head.  I really didn't like dance music, though I confess at school dances I really didn't mind much of the 80s pop we listened to.  There was no way I'd admit it though, and outside of school I was all metal, all the time.  The mellowest I got was probably Def Leppard's Hysteria album.

By the time I was in Grade 11, Metal was wearing out.  Not necessarily for me, but because there were no new metal releases.  There was nowhere to go - Judas Priest wasn't releasing enougn albums, and Iron Maiden had forgotten how to rhyme.  My sister was big into dance music but I still couldn't get into it, until I heard The KLF.  The White Room album was brilliant, and I really got into the beat.  From there I went completely contrary and started listening to Enigma.  I had inherited a very nice stereo and some great speakers and I totally got into the bass.  From here it was a very easy step to Front 242, their hard-ass industrial techno really scratching an itch for me.

I was also into Japanese and German music for a while.  Bz and X-Japan, as well as Die Toten Hosen were about all I listend to for a few years after graduating.

Metal though took a serious departure from my listening queue.  For a very long time there simply was no metal.  I was stuck listening to pop rock bands, but I could never really get into that flavour-of-the-week crap.  I missed grunge entirely and kind of stuck with synthetic dance/techno stuff until about 2005.  SO we're talking of a ten year gap where I just didn't have any new metal.  The first taste of new metal that I got was probably Rammstein, which I adored.  Then came Machinae Supremacy, a Finnish band that did hard rockin' covers of video game themes.

Just before coming to Australia from Japan I discovered Nightwish, and recently I've been a serious Ensiferum fan.  Also In Flames did a few good tracks I enjoyed.

But, and this is my point, for a decade there was no metal in my life.  No one I knew listened to it, there was no metal scene, no new releases.  For all intents and purposes it was a dead genre.  It was a shock to me when I'd hear a car go by blaring a 5-year-old Judas Priest song.  I felt like I wasn't the last metal fan after all.

But now there's a lot of metal.  Everyone I know is into metal.  How did it disappear for so long?  Was it where I lived and the friends I had, or was it global?

Long live the new metal generation. =D
BLEARGH
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Member since Sep 2007 · 131 posts · Location: Canberra
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Can't say much about it vanishing, but I'm super glad it's back.
Why is it that northern europe manages to provide super awesome metal bands? Finnland, Sweden... man they're awesome!
I reckon it's not enough daylight ;)

I'm glad I'm not a pop head anymore. I have to listen to it at work, and it gets soooo boring. All the songs are the same, there's no depth to them. All the themes are the same. Boring boring boring.
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Member since Oct 2007 · 316 posts
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I was the biggest metal head in the day. My life's goal was to run away to Los Angeles with a bass guitar and devote my life to communicating the horror of world's end to the masses through music. My hair is still long.

I don't think there's a renaissance on simply because it never went away. Dio puts out albums regularly, hard rock still dominates late-night music television, black-clad preteens still think they have no future. But there's something 'young' about the music that doesn't reach me the way it used to. Garrison Keillor pointed out that heavy metal has no songs about parenthood, no songs about personal sacrifice. Black Sabbath's 'Walk Away' is about the closest thing to a straight-up lost love song there is.

I find myself drawn to ironic music of every genre, more than anything else. Beautiful South has a lovely, acoustic ballad about a murdered woman hidden in a brick wall. Jamiroquai's best songs are about interrupted relationships between people, or between a person and God. The whole of Genesis' 'Duke' album is essentially one long therapy session to help Phil Collins get over his latest divorce. I'm still a fan of heavy metal, but I fear that the music isn't really speaking to me and my interests any more.
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Member since May 2011 · 2484 posts · Location: Brisbane
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You make some very interesting points, Kendrick.

It's never been about the lyrics for me.  Or I should say it's never been about identifying with the lyrics.  Consider where I came from: Quiet Riot sang about partying all night while I was a lonely geek teen without friends.  Iron Maiden sang about mystical evils and Judas Priest sang mostly about sex.  Moving to German and Japanese music meant that the vocals were just another instrument - there might well have been no lyrics at all for all I understood. 

The lyrics of a song mean very little to me.  A friend once described my music tastes as leaning towards the anthemic, and I think that's true: I crave the beat, I crave the bass and energy.  I like Trance - no lyrics at all half the time, and the other half loops a sample off a CD, basically as trite as it gets.

I find it fascinating that we listen to music for different reasons.  It's not a surprise that we like different styles, but that we are seeking different things from the music is.

I listen to lyrics enough to know how inane most modern stuff is, but for me it's all about the music.
BLEARGH
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Member since Oct 2007 · 316 posts
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There were several (non-scientific) experiments during the 80s that showed people tend not to listen to lyrics. All the same, there are literally thousands of websites devoted to transcribing and memorizing song lyrics. It's very primal, the idea that the lyrics form the basis by which we remember songs, so it's not hard to explain the apparent contradiction.

On the other hand, lyrics are a window into the artist's intent. There are many ways to communicate an idea or a belief musically, and lyrics are just one tool in the box. Take YMCA, for example... On the surface, an over-the-top anthem about a charitable organization's facilities. But the lyrics are intended as instructional, so that everybody knows how and where to find anonymous gay sex partners. :/ Does the enjoyment of the song as a harmless dance tune negate the intent?

If we look at heavy metal in particular, there are lots of meaningful and well-intentioned ideas in the lyrics that aren't always understood or properly recognized. Iron Maiden's 'Running Silent, Running Deep' is supposed to be a cinematic reference, but how many metalheads have seen Das Boot or have any interest in WWI submarine warfare? Dio's 'Lock Up the Wolves' is supposed to be an anti-nuclear protest song, but how many metalheads care about proliferation? Anthrax's 'I'm the Man' is supposed to be a celebration of racial integration, but how many metalheads are racially colorblind?

I'm not going to tell anybody what music to enjoy, or how to enjoy it. But it's hard for me in particular to not view music as a medium, which it frequently is. Otherwise, it's just background noise, and I don't accept that music doesn't fill a larger role culturally.
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Member since Sep 2007 · 131 posts · Location: Canberra
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That's an interesting idea. I don't really listen to the lyrics either sometimes. But I love to sing. So often I just learn the words and the tune without really thinking about what the lyrics mean. Sometimes I can't understand them, so I make up my own words. Then othertimes one line will catch me, so I read the lyrics, I think about them, and the song will have meaning for me. But if it doesn't, then I don't mind.

I love it when lyrics have a story inparticular. But with the type of music I like, they're just kind of fantasy style things, which I don't get, but still enjoy.
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Member since May 2011 · 2484 posts · Location: Brisbane
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In reply to post #5
For sure, a lot of metal has a point.  Metal bands tend to be more socially aware than other musicians, I think.   No examples spring to mind, but you've already covered that angle.  I think Heffer said exactly what I was thinking.

Kendrick, where did you get the idea that I'm the Man is about racial integration?  I listened to that song a lot and never found it to say anything other than "We're metalheads but we can rap".  I just re-read the lyrics and I think you're crazy.  =)
BLEARGH
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Member since Oct 2007 · 316 posts
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That I'm crazy is not in dispute. :) 'I'm the Man' is one of those cases where the live performance of the song was where the intent became clear, during the tour with Public Enemy. Of course, you had to be there to see that all the black kids sat on one side of the theater, and the white kids on the other side. But you're right, I'm probably overreaching there by some margin.
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Member since Oct 2007 · 30 posts · Location: Canberra
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In reply to post #6
Quote by Heffer on 2007-10-28, 00:04:
which I don't get, but still enjoy.

It is pretty interesting how bands can do that, and on a side note, how even lyrics with no points/meaning can still be enjoyable. Take System of a Down for example, they're got a few very random songs, but despite making no sense, (though you need to enjoy the style) are still great songs. Furthermore and despite this, System is actually quite an aware band, with many of their songs packing politics and/or messages.

Intriging what you can make and get from music. Anyway, i've always loved the instrumentals of heavy music, and found that in many cases the vocals, and sometimes purely the lyrics are the feature that will put me off a song after a promising beginning. A very strange balance, as many of the songs i listen to and love contain quite an amount of lyrics that i still don't know.
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Member since May 2011 · 2484 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Quote by Josh:
...in many cases the vocals, and sometimes purely the lyrics are the feature that will put me off a song
This is very true.  Cradle of Filth has one disc in a 2CD set which is really nearly brilliant, but I Have a hard time really getting into it because the singer sounds like a week-old corpse with gravel in his larynx.  I've learned to tune it out and just groove to the music, but it makes it really hard to recommend the band to anyone else.  No one likes ths singing, ever.

Contrast with, say, Judas Priest.  Rob Halford sings, which is so unlike many (most?) metal vocalists who just scream.
BLEARGH
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Member since Sep 2007 · 131 posts · Location: Canberra
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I really love the songs that have both clean and screamy singing. Like Disarmonia Mundi. The lead singer does both types of singing and it really creates a fair bit more depth in the song I feel.
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User title: 21st century digital boy
Member since Sep 2007 · 17 posts · Location: Cambridge, UK
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You might want to give Scar Symmetry a spin then, assuming you can stand death vocals at all. The vocalist is amazing at switching between growling and clean singing just like that, and some of their songs (I recommend "Slaves to the Subliminal" and "Abstracted" in particular) have really nice drums too. Melodeath \m/


also the vocalist's expressions in the Illusionist video make me giggle. SO ANGRY

[edit] I quite like what I hear of Disarmonia Mundi on youtube, AND their label is not an RIAA supporter apparently. Yay! [/edit]
"Hell is a pretty rotten place. Not only is it damn hot, but its inhabitants also have a rather deranged sense of humour." (R. Karsmakers)
This post was edited on 2007-11-06, 14:12 by theoutrider.
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Member since Sep 2007 · 131 posts · Location: Canberra
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Already have some Scar Symmetry. THey're also awesome, I agree! :D
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Member since Oct 2007 · 30 posts · Location: Canberra
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Can't go wrong with Soilwork if you enjoy Disarmonia and melo-death. I've really been enjoying their new album. If you don't already know, the lead singer of Soilwork is also the main/one of the vocalists of Disarmonia :)

Pitch Black Progress [Scar Symmetry] has to be my best impulse buy, i reckon. I bought it off hearing just one of their songs, and loved them since :D
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