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.
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 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
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
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.