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January 14, 2011

Is this band metal? Is that band metal?

Brutal Tunes, Metal Mixtape, Metalheads 101

Following on from this week’s Metalheads 101 homework and discussion, I thought I’d better throw my opinions into the mix.

I deliberately chose the ten bands on the list because they tend to be bands who sit on the “cusp” of being metal or not. Some would consider them metal, some would say HELL NO. I wanted to show how what’s metal and what’s not isn’t black and white. There’s no line in the sand. While I DO believe metal has some distinct musical characteristics that enable it to be defined as a seperate genre, it crosses over with so many different styles and sounds that there’s a lot of room for multiple interpretations.

slipknot

Slipknot - are they metal?

In the comments of the What IS Metal article, Rob raised a very good point. Metal Archives – know it. Love it. A pretty good rule of thumb is to look up a band in metal archives – if it’s there, they’re a metal band. If not, they’re not. You won’t find any nu-metal or metalcore on that site, which goes some way to suggesting what most metalheads think of these genres. Also, the forum is quite good, filled with extremely intelligent metalheads who spend WAY too much time debating the finer points of genre classifications. Sometimes, I’m on there, but no one listens to me, because I’m a girl.

For me, personally, nu metal isn’t metal. It’s metal-influenced, of that there’s no denying. But the combination of other elements and the overall simplicity and lack of instrumentation tells me they’ve got more in common with rock/pop/hard rock. In regards to metalcore, it is one of the few genres I know so little about I’m not going to hazard a guess. My vague thoughts on it are that it was probably metal in the beginning, but has moved away from it now towards a much more commercial “alt” sound.

Anyway, here are my answers. Keep in mind that I’m debating whether these bands are METAL or not, not whether they’re good or not.

Slipknot

Slipknot is a difficult one for me. There’s a double-bass kit, which suggests at least an attempt to be metal. I think the vocals have more in common with Alt Rock/Grunge, and, having not heard very much from these guys, I listened to a couple of vids on Youtube and all I’m hearing is alt rock with some metalish elements. There is DEFINITELY a metal influence here – the visuals, the drums, the solos, but when it comes together it just doesn’t seem metal enough to me. Slipknot are not listed on Metal Archives.

I was trawling around the internet for other people’s answers to this and found this on Answers.com:

“Slipknot are what I tend to refer to as a “Second Wave of False Metal” band (with Glam Rock being the first). The whole nu-‘metal’/aggro scene was derived more from the early 90s Grunge/Alt Rock scenes, rather than from any Metal scene. That being said, if you truly like the band, then it shouldn’t matter to you what they are.”

Which totally made me smile. I think I’m going to use the Second Wave of False Metal from now on.

Steff’s Conclusion: Slipknot – Not Metal

Disturbed

First album, The Sickness is not metal. I own this, and quite enjoyed it in my youth, although not so much now. Later stuff,  like 10 000 Fists and the new one, I can’t remember the name, I actually say yes. There’s some serious metal riffage, and they’ve improved the drumming, and their vocalist can fucking sing. There are solos and they’ve dropped the whole attempt at rapping thing. Disturbed are not in Metal Archives.

Steff’s Conclusion: One of the few Second Wave of False Metal bands which might actually be a little bit metal

Sun O)))

I can’t listen to this stuff, but I would LOVE to see Sun O))) live. I think the atmosphere would be something incredible. Doom metal and it’s various offshoots is a topic I’m going to cover (or get some guest writers to cover) sometime this year, because I think it’s rather interesting how in many ways it defies standard definitions of metal, while still managing to be metal. Personally, I like my metal with a bit more speed, but all the elements of metal are most definitely present, although this is out on the edges of the genre, for sure. Sun O))) are in metal archives as “Drone/Doom Metal”.

Steff’s Conclusion: Metal.

Lordi

No – hard rock. Lordi have a lot visually and lyrically in common with metal, but they are fully and utterly hard rock. They even say so themselves. But if hard rock doesn’t want them, we’re happy to have them, because they’re lots of fun and have done so much to bring a lot of new fans to metal. Lordi are not in Metal Archives.

Steff’s Conclusion: Not metal

Leaves Eyes

Leaves Eyes basically consists of the musical components of Atrocity (a melo-death band) and Liv Kristine, ex-opera singer turned metal beauty. She has one of the most delicate, melodic voices I’ve ever heard, and, as such, the music in Leaves Eyes is always quite toned down and extremely melodic. Also, while they do some great metal songs like “Farewell Proud Men” and “New Found Land” the majority of the songs on the two albums I own are very, very mellow. So there’s an argument perhaps for them being more in the vain of Evanescence than, say, Epica. But metal they are, and Metal Archives agrees (calling them Gothic/Symphonic Metal).

Steff’s Conclusion: Metal

Avenged Sevenfold

I don’t like them. At all. I think they ruin perfectly good riffs with the horrid vocals. But that’s my opinion. Some people like those vocals. I don’t. Are they metal? They’re not in Metal Archives. They remind me a lot of Metallica’s “St. Anger” album – a lot of mish-mashed elements poorly brought together to the point where you just don’t want to listen anymore. To me the vocals are way way WAY too far on the side of pop/alt rock/core to be metal, despite the metalness of many of their riffs. Avenged Sevenfold are not in metal archives.

Steff’s Conclusion: metal by the skin of their little adolescent teeth.

Rammstein

I’ve gone back and forth on this one so many times. So many of Rammstein’s songs contain no metal elements, and yet, so many of them are straight-up industrial metal. I’ve decided in the end, if Die Apocalpschen Rieter can be considered metal, then we’ve kind of got to welcome Rammstein. They’re not in Metal Archives.

Steff’s Conclusion: Metal

System of a Down

Not metal. I actually like a lot of their stuff – vocalist has a mad crazy voice and they’re quite manic. I stick this in the ubiquitious “hard rock” category, but it’s not really fair. If I see their CDs in the metal section at Real Groovy, it doesn’t make me angry like seeing Linkin Park. System of a Down are not in Metal Archives.

Steff’s Conclusion: Not Metal, part of the Second Wave of False Metal.

Blood Stain Child

I watched a couple more vids, and I’m still scratching my head about Blood Stain Child. Their first album Silence of Northern Hell, is pure melodic death metal. Whatever they are, they’re definitely no longer melodic death metal anymore. I would tend to place it in that sort of “goth pop” category, but perhaps to the Japanese, this is what metal IS? Too much techno overpowering what little metalesque elements there are in the music.

Steff’s Conclusion: Once they were metal, but not anymore.

Metallica

As one of the “Big Four” of thrash, you cannot deny Metallica’s pedigree. What IS debatable, however, is if they are still writing and playing metal, and I don’t think they are. The Black Album for me was their last trye metal release. Load and Reload were country rock, St Anger was shite, and Death Magnetic was … a rehash of some of the decent riffs off St. Anger made into actual songs. I haven’t heard much of it, so feel free to correct me, but to me it’s more hard / country rock. Lars’ admission that he “has taken double bass as far as it can go” and his bare-bones drumming of recent years have done little to reacquaint Metallica with their metal roots.

Steff’s Conclusion: metal until the black album. Then, their music became a kind of country rock / hard rock hybrid.

So, what have we learnt about metal this week? It can be bloody hard to define, and what is and isn’t metal is totally in the eye (or ear) of the beholder.

27 Comments on “Is this band metal? Is that band metal?

Nando
January 9, 2015 at 1:42 pm

Leaves eyes = heavy metal/symphonic metal. Atrocity technical death metal on actuality. Leaves eyes band formed members atrocity. Definitive leaves eyes heavy metal band.

Rammstein industrial metal comercial

Avenged sevenfold punk/goth posers sucks

Slipknot nu metall

SOAD nu metal

Lordi rare hard rock

metallica sukcs comercial trash metal

iregretnothing
November 20, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Having seen various “metal vs. not metal” comparisons, I’ve noticed a certain difference in how each feel – metal has that genuine, salt-of-the-earth character to it that’s sometimes combined with an epic fantasy feel, while nu-metal and various modern punk hybrids evokes a distinct “immaturity” and a general blunt in-your-face quality.
Metal sounds like it’s maed by adults with a dark imagination, the other appears to come from a bunch of “angry subculture youths” – death metal is demons, deathcore is angry cavemen.
This isn’t to slight the latter group, as that may very well be its main appeal – just something I’ve noticed. In that sense, St. Anger probably should be counted in the latter while Death Magnetic is old-school thrash with some of St. Anger / SOAD influence thrown in.

Dunno, am I on to something there or just confirmation bias?

Aris
July 10, 2013 at 2:55 pm

First of all, metal archives is good and thorough but kinda biased against some bands. Why not trust wikipedia when in doubt? I personally don’t like nu-metal as a term, I like using the umbrella term alternative metal for bands that play metal fused with other genres. So, imo it goes like this:

Slipknot – metal (alternative)
Disturbed – metal
Sun O))) – NOT metal, not even music
Lordi – not metal
Leaves Eyes – not metal
A7X – borderline metal
Rammstein – metal
SOAD – metal (alternative)
Blood Stain Child – not metal
Metallica – definition of metal forever and always

newenglandsun
July 10, 2013 at 3:32 pm

1. Alternative metal is basically a combination of alternative rock and heavy metal. Another term could be pop metal. As such, it’s kind of like a science fantasy in that it’s both alternative rock and metal at once but not really either.
2. Disturbed started off as alternative metal. Still is alternative metal. Maybe modern day hard rock.
3. Sunn o))) is technically drone metal.
4. Lordi is more metal than Disturbed. But they are kind of on an edge.
5. Leaves’ Eyes is definitely metal.
6. Finally, you agree with the author. Yeah, Avenged Sevenfold has like one album that might be able to be considered power metal.
7. Rammstein is industrial metal which is another fusion genre hence, a genre on its own.
8. See my response for number 1.
9. Don’t know enough.
10. How can Metallica be the definition of metal when they didn’t even START the fucking genre?!?
From your responses, I grant you the title of “metal poser”. Go back to metal school and study up. When you can name the first metal band without me giving it to you and the name of their most influential guitarist, then you can claim the title “metal newbie”. Yeah, they have a lot of members and I can’t remember them all, (I’m more like a “metal fan”) so I’m going to make the question really easy.

James
August 20, 2013 at 5:57 am

And BTW, answering to @newenglandsun:

Avenged Sevenfold has the following albums, as of today:

Sounding of the Seventh Trumpet: Metalcore
Waking the Fallen: Metalcore
City of Evil: Heavy/Power/Speed/AOR
Avenged Sevenfold: Heavy/Power/AOR
Nightmare: Heavy/AOR
Hail to the King: Heavy Metal

James
August 20, 2013 at 5:54 am

After reading your opinion on Metallica, Slipknot, Rammstein and Avenged Sevenfold I concluded that you know nothing about metal. Metallica, even with Load and Reload, created an Hybrid of Blues, Country and Heavy Metal music. If you deny that you’re just delusional. Death Magnetic was not a rehash of St Anger but an album inspired by the first 4, and the first since AJFA to feature Thrash Metal riffing. Once more, you’re being biased (even if this is an opinion).

Slipknot is a strange combo of noise and actual music, but they are metal (and I continue to hate them). Being metal has nothing to do with the music being good or bad. Rammstein are Industrial Metal, and most of their riffs are heavier than your average metal band.

Avenged Sevenfold are also metal, they play a mix of Heavy Metal with Speed, Power and some AOR moments. It’s definitely metal, simply state that you don’t enjoy it.

Nevertheless, this lists are stupid and don’t promote music at all.

PS: I laughed loudly with the comment that says that Sunn o))) is not even music at all. Just because your brain cannot process more information than the common 4 chords songs it doesn’t mean that it’s not actual music. Go listen to lady gaga.

Rodrux
May 28, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Have you heard to Metallica’s Death Magnetic?
I think they have done a wonderful and definitively metal work there…
Specially on “All Nightmare Long” and “The Day That Never Comes”

newenglandsun
April 4, 2013 at 3:55 pm

Agreed with everything except Rammstein. I think they incorporate too much industrial qualities into their stuff. Avenged Sevenfold, only on City of Evil. Don’t try to use metal-archives to prove anything in regard to personal opinion. I don’t like A7X’s new album but I am a pretty well-founded A7X fan.

Mecca
March 18, 2013 at 1:05 am

I was inspired by this post to do a version of my own, with different bands and different conclusions from those arrived to by Steff. Let me know your thoughts!

http://metalmusicblog.com/2013/03/17/are-insert-band-name-here-metal/

Scelera
September 10, 2012 at 8:27 am

Personally I think the use of the word “metal” is being used incorrectly in general. “metal” isn’t a genre, it’s an attitude or philosophy or way of being, however you want to look at it. I think most people would agree that something that is “metal” evokes a certain reaction from you that is usually full of energy and passion.

To simply call any band “metal” describes the feeling it creates to it’s listeners. For genre purposes, that’s why we have all of those fancy titles like “heavy metal”, “nu-metal”, “metalcore”, “death metal”. Have to do it that way now because there are just to many different sounds that create the “metal” feeling in people.

It’s the same thing that happened with Rock n Roll. Now it’s “hard rock”, “pop rock”, “country rock” and so on. It’s just music evolution.

Ryder5431
January 6, 2013 at 1:45 pm

I totally agree scelera

steff
January 9, 2013 at 11:08 pm

@Scelera – that was incredibly articulate and beautiful description. I have to say I definitely agree with you in pretty much all counts. Metal is my LIFE – it is SO much more than just the music, but that wasn’t the The challenge of writing these articles is to try and formulate some kind of answer to the questions I get asked. People ask me “what IS metal, anyway?” and I have to find a way to explain it, and I do say all the time that metal means different things to different people, but coming up with an objective way of describing the SOUND OF THE MUSIC is hard. Really hard. This is what I came up with in the end. It’s not perfect, but it gets people – including me – thinking, and it’s a start.

Scelera
January 10, 2013 at 8:20 am

@steff – You are totally right. I get the same thing from people all the time “what is Metal?” I would like to just punch them in the face and say that’s what. But being the more sensitive type I’m always willing to give a visual and auditory demonstration instead. ;-) That’s about the time I get “How can you listen to that shit?” Did I mention the need for a punch in the face…

I think what you’re doing is great, and I love the article. More things like this are definitely needed. I’m getting a little sick of people assuming that just because Nickelback was played after “Master of Puppets” that makes Nickelback metal. (I think I just threw up in my mouth a little… Just a squirt)

So bravo to you and this website. Here’s to keeping it metal.
\m/\m/

gbbb
April 5, 2011 at 7:09 am

Poeple should stop placing fucking labels on the bands !! it’s not because a band is not Death or Black Metal that it is not metal !! I considered Nu-metal Metal! and it’s not because a band is not in the metal archives, that it is not a metal band!! the metal archives ARE NOT THE GOD OF METAL !

Mikkus
August 9, 2012 at 4:24 am

No, but it’s the musical elements that determine if a band is Metal or not.
And because of that, Nu Metal is simply not Metal.
The genre just don’t have enough Metal elements in general in it to be concidered actual Metal.

Aris
July 10, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Nu-metal was more like a movement or trend rather than a distinct music genre. It was a hip term coined in the 90s to categorize bands like Korn and Linkin Park.

darknessofqueen
April 5, 2011 at 7:02 am

Nu-metal IS Metal !!! System Of a Down and Slipknot are Metal!

Adam
January 29, 2011 at 9:12 pm

For a lot of people that don’t listen to metal habitually, anything with drums/bass/guitar that does not neatly fit into another genre becomes “metal”.

I’ve always considered SOAD borderline metal, especially the earlier stuff. SOAD is hard to classify, for as much of an argument as you can make about it not being metal I can’t think of what else it would be even though they don’t quite fit the metal label. Certainly not hard rock. Alternative doesn’t really fit either unless you just want to label anything that’s hard to classify as alternative.

Personally, I think people put far to much importance on whether a band is metal or not. A lot of non-metal bands do some metal material but aren’t situated squarely in the genre and a lot of metal bands sometimes step outside the genre.

Wei-Wei
January 17, 2011 at 4:12 am

I don’t want to assume things now, but I’m going to revise my list now, with more detail and hopefully a little more listening experience. (Finally loaded the videos, because Youtube doesn’t work in China!)

Slipknot: definitely nu metal/hard rock here. I really can’t say anything else apart from I’m kinda proud of myself for recognising the sound. This does not sound metal… at all. I’ve always loved their masks, though. Honestly… it’s a little hard to listen to. Kinda boring.
Disturbed: wow, holy shit this guy can really sing! I actually kind of really like his voice. The Sickness has more of a metal sound than Slipknot, actually (shock horror) with the overdrive, but it’s a tad repetitive. But on the contrary… 10 000 Fists sounds more like nu metal to me. It gets more metal as the song goes on, though; this sounds very different to The Sickness!
Sunn O))): I can’t listen to this either. I was looking for more of a bit of background ambience music but this is… noise? It’s a genre. I think. Their robes are creepy, but I really would put them in experimental drone/doom. They’re really, really creepy…
Lordi: definitely hard rock in their sound. I really have nothing else to say. Not nu metal – hard rock.
Leaves Eyes: I’m not a fan of Gothic/Symphonic metal, but I believe they are a pretty good example.
Avenged Sevenfold: really not much to add to that…
Rammstein: I think that they have a very industrial, dance-y sound (they’ve even sort of labelled themselves as “danss-” something) with a heavy metal quality thrown in. My favourite. I feel like industrial metal is usually a crossover between dance/industrial music and metal and thus tend to use mainstream instruments (synthesisers and keyboards) without sounding mainstream. Mm. Lovely. (I’m just shallowly charmed by Till’s flame gauntlets) Oh, and THAT IS THE MOST FUCKING EPIC MUSIC VIDEO EVER OMFG
SOAD: nothing to add. I’m getting tired of their stuff…
Blood Stain Child: I definitely agree that “Slience of Northern Hell” is very very metal but since I didn’t watch the other one, I can’t vouch for that.
Metallica: real quote by metalhead friend – “Metallica was epic before the Black album. Now they’re shite.”

I don’t know, it seems a little harsh to judge whether a band is metal or not based on an online encyclopedia, but the Metal Archives seem pretty legit and I’m wondering what kind of people run and moderate the place.

Fred
August 31, 2012 at 10:24 pm

I think the term you refer to about Rammstein is Tanz Metal.

MrPolek
January 16, 2011 at 3:59 pm

When I first became aware of metal, must be late 90s, Metal was pretty much about not giving a f*ck about labels, rules or what ever. At least that was how it looked. I was not into metal back then, became a metalhead years later.

I don’t know if the mentality changed from back then to now, but there are like a million rules if you wanna be a metalhead nowdays.

As it is with labeling. Genre discussions became pretty silly now days.

My conclsion is that being metal is not about the music. Heavy Metal is a philosophy. To me this philosophy is about the brothership of socially excluded. You dont listen to metal if you are cool or hip but the weired kid.

To me things that are pure metal are for example: food made by my grandma, the stuff my mother knits, bbq, beer, wacken.

dschalek
January 16, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Another band for consideration in this article would be Monster Magnet. I consider them metal, though barely. They still kick ass, nonetheless.

Rob
January 14, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Crap..that link was supposed to be http://www.metal-archives.com/band.php?id=2976

steff
January 15, 2011 at 2:38 pm

@Rob woah, how did I miss that? Also, yes! You said that better than I was going to \m/

Rob
January 14, 2011 at 4:31 pm

@PorridgeBear

She isnt citing Metal Archives because it backs her up, shes citing it because its the single biggest resource on the net for metal bands. Its run by people who have forgotten more about metal than you or I will ever know, but those same people have certain preferances for what they consider metal. If your going to disregard it because they dont like the same things you do then your foolish. Its a resource to be used, not a metal government that sets down rules.
.
.
As for the second part of your argument. Saying something sounds “heavy” so it must be metal dosnt hold up. “Heavy” is in the eye of the beholder. I know people who listen to warmetal, which I cant even wrap my head around because it so raw. I listen to doom, old school death, black..etc. To me bands like AX7, Slipknot, and KSE sound like pop music, yet if I played All that Remains for my wife she would say its just noise.
The fact of the matter is many metalheads have rejected mass produced “Mtv metal” because they feel (correctly or not) that it waters down the genre. Metalheads are passionate about their music, and do not want people who are only interested in being part of a scene. So many of them reject music like this and the people it attracts.
.
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Finally stop taking it so personal, Steff has never gone on record as saying these bands are bad, or that you cant listen to them. All she has given is her OPINION about metal music.
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PS @Steff..Lordi is on MA…http://www.metal-archives.com/index.php

PorridgeBear
January 14, 2011 at 3:30 pm

What I learned is that there is way too much procrastination going on. You cannot cite Metal Archives simply because it’s a self-reinforcing proof. If they all procrastinate like you suggest, then I would not wish to learn from them at all. Slipknot not there? Metalcore not there? Then it’s not an archive I care to entertain.

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then for 99% of the world it is a duck. If I put on Slipknot, Korn, Metallica, Opeth, AV7X and so on at 99% at 100 peoples’ houses chosen at random from the world population then they would simply say – that’s (heavy) metal right.

And that’s what metal is. Just a sound. Recognisable by 100% of the world’s population who have never seen all these other qualities you believe “metal” is about.

Anyway, I am going to listen to some heavy metal or whatever it’s called and it will include Slipknot, KSE as well as Black Sabbath and Deep Purple and Amon Amarth and all the rest of it.

emile
August 19, 2014 at 11:24 pm

So you are saying that people that know metal are less accurate to judge if a band is metal or not than people that dont know a thing about metal? You do understand it doesn’t make anysense right?

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