Bent Out of Shape: Re-Evaluating My Column, "Has Heavy Metal Become a Joke?"

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Brayn

Megadeth, Slayer, Metallica, High On Fire, Mastodon(early), Baroness, Death Angel. T-shirts and jeans metal.

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BrotherAeo

You still just don't get it and only show how close minded a musician you are. Metal is perhaps the most diverse genre of music and you want to call it one thing, basically. So, from your perspective anything outside that box you created is wrong.

You also sound like you want to paint yourself as the champion of a dying breed who still 'gets it' and understands what metal is supposed to be. Metal is not supposed to be anything other than an expression of the self and/or a message.

The concept of guitar tone is dead? No, it's different than what YOU like.

The main thing that pisses me off is how you just come across as your word is gospel and this is how things should be but they suck because they aren't.

Did you ever ponder that perhaps things aren't 'wrong' in metal today but you're just not willing to break outside your box? If you said, this is what I like so other stuff I don't like that's one thing. But when you continue to blast one of the most popular genres of music ever as if you know everything about it you just sound like a douche. I mean seriously, there are so many bands today that there's something for everyone. Live and let live instead of live and try to force all to conform to your point of view.

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GEENGADE

Metal has came to become a layer of different modes can you play all the modes and have a different collection of metal. Metal bands do make bad CD at times. The guitar has up to twelve strings and even more. After a while you tend to become tone deaf. No one is perfect. Where just becoming a collection of combinations. There will always be a Jimi, Eddie, Randy or Dimebag to goof on until we understand more on how it’s done. At this moment there is not anyone here with these types of qualifications. That's probably why there is such a bland of metal in the air right now. We need the next successor in metal to fill the void.

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shreddemon

First I would like to state that I am not living in the past, Fondly looking back on my glory days. However,I agree with Mr. Will Wallner's insight into today's "metal". I have tryed to listen to the newer bands out on tour for the last several years. Some have stood out while others ( the majority ) have blended together into a detuned mush of distortion and screaming. I understand that music needs to change with time but it should get better with time.

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irishmike42

Today's metal truly sucks , the song writing is terrible , and it all sounds the same , from the early seventies until about 1986 metal was perfect, with bands like BLACK SABBATH,DIO, IRON MADIEN, JUDAS PRIEST, MEGADETH , And METALLICA that is until the black album when they sold there collective souls to corporate rock n roll , that last great album they made was AND JUSTICE.... Today's metal bands all sound the same , there are no good song writers anymore,it's like in 88 when you had shit bands like POISON, WARRANT, and all the rest of those useless bastards , they brought true metal to its knees , someone needs to step up and bring back the metal that started it all and get rid of theses pansy ass make up wearing , bands like BLACK VEIL BRIDES, ASKING ALEXANDRIA ,DILLENGER ESCAPE PLAN, WTF? There is one group that has the balls to make some really good metal with old school guitar , AVENGED SEVENFOLD! MEGADETH has stuck to there guns playing metal since 83' ! But today's bands suck shit through a tube! And unless a group comes Along with that old school sound metal is fucked! Metal does not stand a chance today all the young people mostly white listen to rap and hip hop, and that makes me sick, if I offended anyone with this comment then good I'm glad stop listening to that shit go back back buy some old school metal , I suggest MOTÖRHEAD , BLACK SABBATH WITH DIO, DIOS SOLO WORK ,PREIST, IRON MADIEN , early METALLICA, AC/DC, and so forth, and put and end to this noise pollution!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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pwnyclub

Seriously man Avenged sevenfold is pretty fucking brutal, Dillenger escape Plan play circles around those guys. Basically all your comment says is that you enjoy thrash metal and hate everything else. Don't get me wrong I still enjoy throwing on the odd thrash tune but over all it is one of the most boring cookie-cutter genres in metal. And seriously you claim to love that type of metal but can only name like the 4 biggest groups. Seriously man why don't you open your eyes and discover some other groups. If we are talking old school thrash then bands like Voivod, Overkill and Kreator play circles around Metallica and Megadeth. Also to totally discount all new metal is pretty retarded especially considering there has been a major resurgance in thrash bands in the past couple years.
If you are really like old school metal and would like to expand your music knowledge base instead of being a fucking close-minded bigot then check these bands out.
Gamma Bomb some seriously fast thrash metal http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQGN4F3X6Xg
Municipal Waste is some awesome crossover http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xS0vqVRiSAw
Evile is some deadly old school sounding thrash http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gckfqefea_0

All of these bands are post-2000

razorrex

I was going to respond to one of your earlier rants that all metal is not the same, but when I saw that you think Avenged Sevenfold is brutal I lost all respect for you.

Overkill and Kreator play circles around Metallica and Megadeth? That's hilarious. In fact I feel that they are pretty much crappy wannabe Slayer clones.

Gamma Bomb is another bad example. They are pretty much cookie cutter straight out off the factory floor bland metal.

Municipal Waste is the same way. They have nothing new to offer music.

Evile? LMAO Evile wants to be Metallica. You bashed Metallica earlier and then reference a band that is desperately attempting to be like them.

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pwnyclub

Buddy the only reason i mentioned those bands was to show that guy that there is still thrash and metal he enjoys being made. I personally don't even like thrash I just wanted to show the guy he was pretty ignorant to hate anything post 80's. I'm actually mostly into prog-death and tech-death but also listen to my fair share of blackened-death, djent, sludge, post-black, atmospheric black, melo-death, and anything considered prog in metal. My absolute favorite bands are Death, Cynic, Illogicist, Martyr, Beyond Creation, Augury, Obscura, Cloudkicker, Atheist, Pestilince and early Meshugahh. If you want to try and bash my taste in music then do it to bands I actually enjoy bud. As for avenged sevenfold what makes them so worthy of your defense? They have done nothing for the genre and are absolutely nothing special.

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box of dope

last i checked avenged were part of that makeup wearing, black finger nail polish, hot topic shoping, trend.

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ardiril

Here's a grand fucking sweeping statement:

The biggest problem in most metal bands, past and present, is the vocalist.

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expat

I'd be curious if Will could supply the names of a couple of bands/guitarists whom he believes lack tone, or at least, lack a unique tone.

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pwnyclub

This article and almost all the commentors are brutal. Metal is on of the most diverse genres there is made up of by literally endless sub-genres. Unfortunatly almost all the best metal still resides underground. Saying there's no blues influence in metal still is a blatently false statement. What about all the stoner and doom metal bands IE: Electric Wizard and Acid Bath.
Saying metal guitarists have no feeling and bland phrasing is amazingly disrespectful to guys like Paul Masvidal from Cynic who is one of the most talented musicians on the planet and creates some god damn soulful solos together while still absolutely shredding the guitar.
Orphaned Land has successfully combined middle eastern music influence with metal and many bands have now created amazing music by combining traditional folk music with metal ala : Turisas. Ensiferum
Saying all metal just try to be heavy and fast is a ridiculously silly statement. Atmospheric black metal like walknut and post-black metal like .Latlios rely entirely upon emotion and feeling to present there music.
Progressive acts like Opeth and between the buried and me constantly push the genre and add new elements too their sound.
Meshuggah created a completely new style of music and brought poly-rythms and interesting timing to the mainstream.
Progressive and technical deathmetal bands like Augury and obscura bring bassists to the forefront and have pushed the level of bass players and drummers to unheard of heights. Metal is more varied, enriched and progressive than it has ever been. It is still continuing to expand. You just have to actually put a little effort into finding the bands you like but with the internet and the many different sub-genres it isn't that difficult.

While i love led zeppelin and deep purple, they are not metal and the fact that you think metal should have remained stagnant and similar to that era is absolutley pathetic.

Metal has always had certain theatrics atributed to the show. If its just head banging and jumping around on stage, to corpse paint and leather, to iron maidens giagantic stage shows its another them and addition to the music.

BTW its pretty hypocritical to say metal is stagnant and then play your generic 70's 80's influences hard rock. Your music has absolutely nothing original or progressive about it. You are just rehashing blues influenced rock with boring 4/4 drumming and totally unimaginative guitar playing. You cannot hold a candle to any of the artists I have mentioned.

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iommianity

That's the thing though, people don't want to look, they just want to make sweeping statements. For people who have always looked to the mainstream for their metal fix, the only way you'd see a real decline is a matter of preference. I 'prefer' hair metal to paint by numbers metalcore, but is there a REAL decline there? No, just a change in style, both of which ring hollow for me when I think of 'metal'.

The sheer amount of resources for finding bands means you do actually have to look for great music across any genre, but it's there for you if you're willing to have an open mind and actually take the time to find it.

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celticknight

hear, hear!

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celticknight

I think generalizations like this are completely useless. I've heard a number of new releases from bands - their first release from independent releases and small fry signed acts just as yourself and I find them anything but a "joke" or cliched. Of course, stage shows do become cliched quite quickly there is only so many ways you can bang your head, kick your leg or move before you fall of the small stage areas. They work hard on their sound trying to come up with unique phrasing and parts to suit their song, know theory up the ying yang (have music degrees), and work on the musicality and for the stage shows try to come up with gimmicks. After all if they aren't remembered why would you bother turning up for the band at their next concert - it's about building a career Do you remember the gimmick that KISS used? Come to think of it that was copied from elsewhere as well.

And I actually know metal guitarists who cite Holdsworth as an influence and can name just about the entire catalogue, they studied Jazz at university/college level and then talk about what Meshuggah with the same authority.

Sorry but I am going to disagree most vehemently with your generalization. Even if you had the courage to name names, which you don't, it doesn't change the fact that you are wrong and I expect a retraction.

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amon

"I've been to so many shows where the bands are one another embarrassing cliche after the next."

Name names, junior.

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diabolical

I think that metal IS Black Sabbath. As soon as you think you've written a new riff or a beat, for the most part it turns out it was already done...by Black Sabbath. Speed might be different and technique of delivery but it is all pretty much there.

Main gripe I have with metal nowadays is the cookie cutter (i.e. Andy Sneap) production. Same amps, same drum sound, just a different singer over it. That was especially noticeable when I got in the same day Arch Enemy "Anthems of Rebellion" and Nevermore "That Godless Endeavor". I couldn't tell the band from the opening songs until the singer's kicked in.

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pwnyclub

Lol, yes clearly songs like Future Breed Machine by Meshugah and Ghost of Perdition by Opeth were riffs previously written by Black Sabbath

razorrex

You need to watch "A Headbanger's Journey" -- Rob Zombie explains it.

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bdonnelly

Well, firstly I think modern production techniques - and the devices/technology they are creating these for (digital music, I am looking at you) - are soul sucking from any music genre - killing dynamics, making loudness across the sonic spectrum the main goal of music production. Combine this with the widespread use of digital sound signal chain and recording tools, triggering, etc. in modern metal and you get a very same-y sounding stock "metal" sound - especially on the guitar and drum side of things.

I also find a harder time telling one virtuoso metal player from another these days. Part of it is the lack of interest or ability (or, technological limitations as listed above) to discover a signature sound or tone. I also find a lack of personality in guitar playing. I don't think it's necessarily because the older players were blues based per se, but rather that because everyone was stuck with those five note pentatonic scale for so long within the genre, players really dug deep to find a voice, and succeeded. I mean Angus Young and Eddie Van Halen were both blues box players, but you could tell them apart easily. With the modern emphasis on more diatonic or even atonal scales, less time is spent by these players in digging deep into any particular scale to get an individual voice. Combine that with a almost artistic demand at highly technical playing and the ability to find a unique voice suffers.

Also, if you tended to the blues as an influence, you incorporated a lot of instrumental ticks associated with blues playing - and I think this also helped in developing an identifiable voice on the instrument - bends, slides, phrasing, call-and-response, etc. all can be highly idiosyncratic to an individual player. Influences from more of a strict classical side - especially adapting piano and symphonic lines to the instrument don't allow for many of the instrumental nuances the guitar affords if te time is taking to perform it correctly.

IMHO Yngwie sounds like Yngwie, he has a very recognizable tone, phrasing, etc...and everyone else who has come after him has sounded essentially like him in terms of scale use (although no one has taken the attention to detail of his tone - he's far less high gain than most people feel comfortable playing in a metal context). He was also highly melodic. He's also repetitious as hell, but he has a voice. I mean some of these young kids in these metal bands have chops up the wazoo, but I can't distinguish one guy from another.

Randy Rhoads was a player who had technical chops, a high degree of musicality - he created themes and he could also let loose with an old school rock and roll pentatonic rager. I liek the way he composed a change for what he soloed over - making the solo a unique compositional part of the song arrangement (Jimmy Page was also stellar at this). So many guys don't even see that. It's just "Oh I got my 8 or sixteen bars here and I'll just play really fast, and because their arpeggios or whatever it will sound melodic"). There is no grander sense of composition in alot of modern metal songwriting - and the guitar bits suffer as a result.

To be fair, this isn't a new gripe...there were thousands of cookie cutter blues box players in the late 70's and 80's. You'd be hard pressed to really tell alot of them apart, so in one sense their isn't much difference in that sense...but I do think alot of players these days don't even make the effort to discover a unique voice on the instrument because they are too busy ticking off the requisite boxes these days.

I love minimal players - guys like Adam Jones, Kim Thaiyl, etc. Awesome. And definitiely with one note or riff you know it's them. 

Modern metal is a lot less loose as well..it's grown more and more structured as the time cone has gone forward - also really limiting the woodshedding time on developing an instrumental personality. But hey I do like to hear a guy really play some interesting challenging, melodic stuff...and I do hear a handfull of interesting players out there who do stand out in metal and shred genres, but it's pretty few and far between. I download a lot of metal stuff weekly and when it comes down to sonically/note choice/instrumental voice of so many bands it's utterly interchangeable. 

Some bands stand out because they have developed a unique band voice - Meshuggah, Gojira, Lamb Of God, Animals as Leaders etc. You know them when you hear them, because they all have a certain quality as a collective unit...but even on a band level so much modern metal is utterly stock widgets.

razorrex

You are absolutely correct. Technicality has become paramount and in
doing such it has (IMO) caused metal to sound homogenized. You throw on Van Halen and you can immediately tell who it is. Throw on "Asking Alexandria" and you are gonna wonder if it's Whitechapel or whomever else... They all have that compressed, high gain, sharp sound.

And even the solos have become tired routine. It's awesome that 6 string sweep arpeggios at 256 bpm is common and de rigor, but there is no emotion behind them. Animals as Leader is great (I listen to them a lot) but I don't get that chill that I get when say "Comfortably Numb" solo croons out.

I think that with home recording becoming more accessible music in general is going to degrade sonically. It'll become standard to have home pro-tool'd songs that are "good enough for a pro-tools edit" rather than have the perfection (or even imperfections, some of my favorite songs have beautiful mistakes) of a musician tearing his or her hair out after the 1,000th take of their 1st A-Side track...

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iommianity

The only problem I had with your other article was the notion that metal was suffering from ditching the blues, or that that was a somehow recent phenomenon. Metal started splintering away from the blues in the 70s and 80s.

There're lots of metal bands across all the subgenres that have no problem name checking blues and rock bands that have influenced most of us, probably including you, but there were bands there from the start of the 80s that strove for something new, such as Celtic Frost. They have nothing to do with blues music, and yet they're one of the most influential bands in the entire genre, influencing artists for the past 30 years across thrash, death, black, and doom metal.

I agree that metal as a whole is stagnant now. Unless you're hanging to the latest trend like djent, or metalcore, you'll get 1 band for every 10 death or black metal bands doing something new, and that applies to most of the subgenres. People shouldn't be afraid to try new things. I just get annoyed when I see people act like metal has declined because it got away from a certain style, like hair metal or AOR bands. Metal has always had the dirty, atonal, grimy side to go with the glossy anthems or bluesy solos.

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box of dope

as long as musicians still strive for individuality and chase that elusive sound thats in theire heads there is still hope for metal.

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elbischoff

right on about the tonality of today's players. I believe a lot of that is the use of active pickups. Though not bad, there just aren't those subtle nuances in sound that a hand-wound pickup gives you.

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