Today we are going to undertake a cultural experiment – does a fan of electronic music find anything to enjoy in the extreme end of Metal? Being the fan in question I really, really hope so…
Before we get on to the details of the experiment itself let me explain the background. As readers of this blog will be aware I mostly enjoy electronic music, listening to anything with even just a hint of synths, whilst I’m also partial to classic rock, a little pop, soundtracks and some classical music. However I don’t embrace every form of music, in fact having previously dismissed entire genres out of hand I’ve even been described as a musical snob. One of those genres is the more extreme end of Metal – so Death Metal, Grindcore, Black Metal and so on. In fact I’ve described it as mindless, talentless noise only listened to by the uncultured and teenagers who don’t know any better. Sure I used to be a fan of the more mainstream, and dare I dare classic, Metal such as Iron Maiden but I never liked anything overly heavy even then and it’s only got more extreme in the intervening years. This view has led to some criticism from certain quarters, most vocally from Lauren in my office, who is a fan of the music. So to show I’m not a total snob and open to new ideas I’ve volunteered to give some extreme Metal a listen.
Lauren has kindly selected a short list of bands and tracks for me to listen so, some of which she’s a fan of and some that just demonstrate the range of the scene. I will give as many of them as I can a listen and note my thoughts which I’ll type up later to add to this post. So for the first, and perhaps only, time on With the DJ let the experiment commence!
Mortician – ‘Hacked up for Barbecue’
I picked this one as I liked the name. Mortician sounds like a WWE wrestler and ‘Hacked up for Barbecue’ is an excellently evocative image, if grammatically dodgy outside of the colonies. I have to admit to a slight trepidation at this point. Mostly I’m concerned about having to put up with tune after tune of identical Death Metal but just a little scared I might end up liking this stuff. Well fortune favours the brave so I’m pressing play….
It’s started with some kind of generic feedback-y noise which is a bit dull and not the musical assault I was expecting. But I am taken by the mug shot-like photos of the band used in the Youtube video. You’d imagine “Will and Roger” were middle aged members of UKIP not rockers who look like Conan the Barbarian and a Star Wars nerd.
There’s still no music but along with the feedback we’re getting the screams and torment of a woman now and if I’m being honest it’s slightly unpleasant. I’m certainly feeling more disturbed than I hoped I would at this early stage. There’s evil cackles in there now too – I’m getting even more concerned now and seriously questioning the whole experiment. What have I done? Why on Earth did I start this?
I’m now 90 seconds in and there still hasn’t been a note but we do get unique whine of a chainsaw. Chainsaws, particularly when used to dismember zombies are great, I’m less keen when the victim is more alive and screaming. I don’t imagine many girls introduce Will and Roger to their mothers – “Hi Mum, this is my new boyfriend Roger. He likes to make music filled with the screams of young women being chainsawed to death by demonic forces. I think you just going to get on perfectly.”
Anyway the chainsaw has finally given way to music. It’s exactly what I was expecting too – classic metal but pushed beyond good sense – really heavy drums, hugely overdriven power chords. It’s actually not too bad. At least for a few seconds it wasn’t but it’s been totally ruined by Will starting to sing. I say sing, it’s more a guttural dirge, it’s possible he’s trying to speak Welsh.
It’s going on quite a bit now, nothing seems to change much either, the odd pause followed by a chord change but hardly radical musical experimentation or, you know, melody. Occasionally the drums go totally mental – I assume Roger brings to mind Jar Jar Binks to summon the suitable rage in those sections.
Frankly it’s getting very boring, very quickly and I’m starting to long for the women being chainsawed. That was pretty unpleasant but least it wasn’t tedious. Thankfully after only two minutes of actual song it has stopped. No real ending it just stopped. I’d hate to be a DJ having to mix out of that.
All Shall Perish – Wage Slaves
So that was both terrifying and boring which is a pretty impressive range of emotions for a four minute song so let’s see how this next lot do. Good to see another excellent name; it’s nice to see bands facing up to all our inevitable ends. ‘Wage Slaves’ is a less interesting title,in fact I’d go as far to suggest it’s a phrase that was abandoned twenty years ago due to overuse but let’s see what these guys do with it. I’m hoping for biting political satire.
Well a few seconds in and it sounds very similar to the last lot – so far the only thing that has caught my interest is that the video was uploaded a Youtube user called “WhoreToAChainsawTAIM”, I sense we may already have picked up our first running theme.
Not sure there’s going to be much satire either, or at least if there is, it is totally unintelligible. Which I feel is something of a drawback for satire. The problem is this guys is an even worse singer than Will, it’s Welsh with a bad throat infection. I have absolutely no idea what he’s growling about. The whole band just screamed something which sounded more like English – possibly a death threat, possibly a declaration of love, it’s hard to say.
Now we have more mental drums – the most mental so far, so well done All Shall Perish that’s something. Then more shouting. Then more drums. Then we get a kind of breakdown, a “hands in the air moment” if you will, doesn’t quite have the epic build up of an EDM “classic” though. In fact it just kind of slips away to the end which I didn’t expect. Seems these bands prefer to finish with a whimper rather than a bang.
Well that was mostly boring but at least it won’t give me nightmares like Mortician will.
Agoraphobic Nosebleed – Agorapocalypse Now
Well it’s clear no band or tune could ever have a better combo of names. That’s excellent, very impressed with that. The tune is also starting out quite nicely with an epic crescendo that wouldn’t be out of place at the end of a twenty minute Ginger Baker drum solo. Quite like that.
Things are quickly going off the rails though – the “singing” is even worse than the last two. Whilst you might be able to actually hear the odd word he sounds like a toddler who hasn’t had his ritalin. He really needs a timeout on the naughty step.
God we’re only 30 seconds in and I really want it to end. This is definitely the worst yet. It is basically just noise. If it wasn’t for my dedication to the scientific method I assure you I would be jumping to the end right now. There is no variety, melody or anything of interest. Definitely the worst one so far.
Do you think it’s called Death Metal because it makes you want to die? I think it might be. And he’s bloody shouting again. But there we go again, it’s suddenly all over. No warning, it just stops. Clearly big finishes are not part of the genre. (I’m starting to feel a little sorry for their girlfriends.)
Napalm Death – Scum
I’ve actually heard of this lot. When I was into metal as a teenager they were around, I think they were one of the main progenitors of Death Metal but I may be totally wrong. Anyway this is the title track of what I am told is their best album so let’s see if it’s any better than Agoraphobic Nosebleed, it bloody better be.
Okay, sounds a lot slower than the rest which is nice. It’s similar guitars and pounding drums but you can appreciate it a bit more as it actually has space for the notes to exist. Not going anywhere though, we’re a minute in and still sounds like one long intro, no vocals at all.
Ah, now here there are, or at least I think they are. It’s also possible a rottweiler just got into the studio and growled into the mic. On the plus side they vanish after only a few seconds, though that does leave the increasingly dull instrumentation on the it’s own – getting bored again.
The vocals are back, which is good as my attention was wandering to an ad on the side of the video for a new album from Connan Mockasin. I have no idea who that is but the Guardian liked it so it’s probably shit. Though I hope for Connan’s sake not as bad as Napalm Death, this is really awful now, just endless drums and shouting again. I think there may only be one extreme metal song and all the others are just covers of that. Still it’s over now. I’ll try and push on to a couple more tracks, maybe I’ve just not heard the good stuff yet.
Job For A Cowboy – Entombment of a Machine
A rather different band name this time, sounds more like a Post-Punk Country group than Metal but let’s give it a go. I quite like the track title, it has a certain sci-fi vibe and I can appreciate at least.
Wow. We are straight in with the shouting this time. That actually startled me. I think I might need a moment.
Not that Job for a Cowboy are giving me one. Still I’m not totally hating this. For starters there is an old Cowboy in the video, I hope he’s in all their videos, perhaps telling a story like the videos for Aerosmith’s ‘Amazing’, ‘Crying’ and ’Crazy’ did. They were good, I mean the songs were rubbish but the videos stared Alicia Silverstone and Liv Tyler, and you can’t really beat that. Always think it was shame Alicia Silverstone’s career was totally ruined by that Batman movie. Arnie was in it, didn’t affect him did it? He got to be governor of California after that. Though I suppose Mr Freeze probably wasn’t a big part of his campaign.
Anyway back to the Metal, as I was saying this is better as it has a little more variety, things change a little more. I mean it’s not exactly Beethoven but it least goes from fast pounding drums with shouting to slow pounding drums with shouting. The guitar is very samey though.
It’s really going on now too, one of the things I appreciated about the rest was the short runtime, two minutes seemed long enough but we’re already at two minutes and it’s only half way. It’s just going on and on and on…
No this really is too much. I’m stopping it.
[The report ends there. I think Alex has gone for a quiet lie down. Rest assured, he be back next week covering music with less shouting and chainsaws. Sorry Lauren. - Ed]