Thursday, January 22, 2009

This Metal Hand

I'm really thinking of focusing on music for this blog, with snippets of my life included every now and then. I don't really see any music-orientated blogs in the Bruneian blog scene, so I thought this might be a good idea.

How should I start then?

I'm going to start with Metal. Yes, this is only going to be an introduction for people who don't really listen to Metal. If you already listen to Metal extensively, then you'll know this is not as detailed as I would like it to be.

At first glance, it's quite hard to see Metal as a very versatile genre. People think it's heavy riffs, guttural vocals and machine-like drums, and that's it. But that's quite a shallow view of Metal.
Metal, underneath the Satanist, violence-mongering accusations, is a very varied genre, with sub-genres and sub-sub-genres that give metalheads more than just their fair share of diversity.

From its core sound (doom metal, symphonic metal, grindcore) to its outside influences (nu metal, folk metal, neo-classical metal) to its regional origin (Norwegian black metal, Bay Area metal, German industrial metal), metal takes into it a variety of ideologies, musical inspiration and local flavour. A proper metalhead would be able to differentiate, say, between metalcore and progressive metal.

Metal is revered by its fans for a variety of reasons, some contradicting of each other. Some would see it as a gimmick-free, up-front, straight in-your-face aggression and like it for what it is (Lamb Of God, Sepultura). Others like it for its theatricality, over-the-top dramatization, showmanship and its gift for entertainment (Slipknot, Alice Cooper, Kiss).
The early influences that shaped Metal was - and this will be surprising to some - blues music and psychedelic rock, and to an extent, classical music. Many of the approaches by these musicians were taken up by future metalheads, namely the distorted guitars and the heavy riffs. The powerful vocals and the heavy drums were adopted to compete with the guitars, and this formed the basis of Metal as we know it today.

Every decade since the 1960s has been characterised by at least one major Metal sub-genre. There was the New Wave of British Heavy Metal that brought Iron Maiden, Motorhead and Diamond Head to the ears of millions. Thrash metal brought us the Big Four: Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax. The noughties brought us Nu Metal, which has all but died down. Despite the rise and fall of the horrible Limp Bizkit, it did bring us Slipknot and the polarising Linkin Park.

There are many things that can be said to characterise metalheads: the devil horn, all-black clothing, long/no hair, tattoos, leather.

Though many bands claim to worship the devil in their lyrics, many in real life are doing this for its theatrical effect, an outlet for aggression and a catharsis that is impossible in a society that frowns upon any sort of chaos. A metal gig is essentially controlled violence, in which a mosh pit is the confession box where people let out their inner anger, yet pick each other up and smile, intending no malice towards each other. The mosh pit is the ultimate cathartic tool, a kind of high that captures your body and you never want to let go.

This is my introduction to you of Metal.

Signing out

Over and out

Now playing: Metallica - Master Of Puppets
via FoxyTunes

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