Category Archives: Ramblings

Thoughts about all things metal, from metal truisms to thoughts about the music we hear.

The Metal Elitist

tumblr_niwmgl7li31thdy8lo1_500I am not sure when I first started seeing people toss the word elitist around within the metal community.  I thought we are all playing for the same team whether your preferred genre be death metal, black metal, thrash metal, or blackened-technical-atmospheric-doom oriented metal with a touch of industrial-sludge.  After all, metal is metal even if your favorite band is Korn, right?  Apparently not.

Metal elitism exists, unfortunately.  If you are unsure you have ever met a metal elitist, you may very well be one.  But, here are some traits I have noticed about metal elitists while scanning forums, websites, and blogs for my daily dose of metal happenings.

  1. No matter what band you like, the metal elitist will always say they suck.
  2. No matter what shows you have seen live, they pale in comparison to those the metal elitist has been to. Even if you have seen the same bands live from the same tour, the show they saw in their city was better.
  3. You spent three days at a metal festival and had the time of your life. The elitist will still brag about the festival they went to 10 years ago…and it will have been better.
  4. No matter how jazzed you are about anything metal or metal-related, the elitist will take that away from you and crush your soul.
  5. Chances are, most of the music the elitist listens to is shit you’ve never heard of.
  6. You’re standing in line waiting to get into a show. They look at you and look at the shirt you are wearing and based on that shirt, their eyes roll and they turn around and ignore you.
  7. Everything the elitist likes is “the old shit.” They rarely, if at all, praise anything new.
  8. The elitist cannot be bargained with.
  9. The elitist’s opinion cannot be changed.
  10. If you are talking with an elitist and you agree with everything they say; congratulations, you are also an elitist.

c434f14efdeda11f14ac045f308a42c0Bottom line:  This shouldn’t be taken seriously.  However, it shouldn’t matter if someone is total fanboy (or girl) just can’t stop going on and on and on and on about Kamelot as if other bands don’t exist.  We’re all part of the metal family and should treat each other respectfully and respect others’ opinions.  Sometimes the best part of going to a show or hanging with metal friends is talking about metal, shows, lists, and being introduced to new music.  We should be a tight knit community and not allow ourselves to become divided by pointless snobbery. Strength in numbers, I say!

What is a True Metal Fan?

Bwib33wYou’re not a true metal fan!  This is the allegation I have read in several metal forums over the years.  It always boggled my mind when I saw someone say that to someone else.  I mean, who gets to define what a true fan is?  What constitutes being a fan of something at all, let alone being a “true” fan?  What the hell does that even mean?  In the context of heavy metal I have heard this phrase expressed for at least a couple of reasons. Read the rest of this entry

How Important are Lyrics in Metal?


It all makes sense… we’re capable of beauty.
Through sounds which make one cringe.  The dogs only hear us now.
For the first time tears came to my eyes while I was listening.
Noise brings so many things… make my tingling skin freeze.

I’m positive that nearly every metal fan, especially the lovers of the more extreme spectrum of the genre, have heard this before.  “But with all that noisy growling and screaming, how do you understand what they’re ‘air quotes’ singing?”  To which we usually reply along the lines of something like “You get used to it.” or “It’s like learning an accent.”  Yet regardless of how we break it down or try to explain it they just look at you with their head slightly cocked like a confused puppy and then you usually just give up and go about your day. Read the rest of this entry

Sorry, Opeth!

When we Metal State reviewers gave the round table treatment to Opeth’s “Pale Communion” earlier this year I was less than flattering about the album. I said it wasn’t hard enough to be good metal or inventive enough to be good prog.

It isn’t metal. It is, however, damn fine heavy prog rock. That is what Opeth intended it to be, I believe, and that’s what it became.

Opeth and their industry associates haven’t said anything about the review. Nor have my fellow reviewers or any Opeth fans. It’s my conscience that’s been smacking me on both earholes.

I did update my comments and rating of the album in our published review, but such things tend to go unnoticed. If we’re wrong — not necessarily when we’re told we’re wrong but when we know it deep inside ourselves — we should retract and correct. It gives me the greatest of pleasure to concede how very wrong I was about “Pale Communion”. The more I listen to it, the more I know it’s one of the best prog albums of the year.


Know your enemy: Auto-Tune


Thus far, metal has remained largely immune to Auto-Tune, the insidious technology that does what this poster says. Auto-Tune is now standard equipment in just about every recording studio. In brief, it is used to turn an off-key note into an in-tune note. As a result, the bands and singers who use Auto-Tune on their recordings sound nothing like they do in live performances… unless they mime their singing to an Auto-Tuned track.

There have been accusations — or maybe they’re just unfounded suspicions — that a couple of metal bands have used the technology to make their albums sound better. That could be very risky since metal fans who know anything about Auto-Tune are united in their hatred of it.

Read the rest of this entry

Know your enemy: Dynamic Range Compression


More and more bands are releasing limited editions of their albums on vinyl. This is not just to meet a demand from the nostalgic who enjoy the physical packaging and feel of an LP more than a CD. These days it is generally true that music sounds better on vinyl than on CD.

It shouldn’t. With the great advances in digital sound technology, a CD or high-quality digital music file should sound identical to the best-quality analog recording on vinyl – to the human ear, anyway.

There’s a big problem with a lot of digital music, though. It’s called Dynamic Range Compression (DRC).

Read the rest of this entry

Marty Friedman picks himself

Elsewhere on the Internet I’m playing a fantasy band game with a bunch of metal people. We take turns to pick a line-up of musicians, one at a time, to make up our perfect fantasy band.

Yesterday Marty Friedman hit me with his axe and said: “Ahem! Guitarist.” I’m sure those exact words came through my speakers.

Marty was guitar man for Megadeth in the final decade of last century. This century he’s done a string of gleaming solo albums. This song is from his new album, Inferno, due for release on 27 May. Maybe Marty won’t do guitars for my first fantasy band, which will have an all-female line-up, but I sincerely hope I get to pick him in the next round before anyone else does. He is such a complete all-round axeman that he could excel in just about any type of metal.


Metal Meets Yoga

cropped-mudra-sans-faceIn the last couple of months I picked up this thing called yoga.  You might have heard of it.  That thing where you do strength and flexibility poses and it’s supposed to make you strong, limber, and cleansed in the mind and body.  Ask a yogi and they will probably give you a more philosophical answer to what yoga does for a body.  In layman’s terms, all I can tell you is that I feel freakin’ good when it’s over.  I am getting more flexible and stress-free and that’s kind of important at my ripe old age of 40.  I attribute my progress specifically to my twice-weekly sessions.  See, only twice a week and I have come so far.  Who says they don’t have time for this?  Anyway.  When it’s over, I feel like all I need is a shower and a bed – I feel so relaxed.  Something must be working and I found that I am starting to “need” these yoga sessions twice a week.  It’s kind of addicting. Read the rest of this entry

The Great Black Metal Debate

Is  old-school, uncompromising black metal better or worse than the modern styles of progressive, atmospheric, melodic or symphonic black metal? Or are they equally good in their different ways?

This topic sparks more frequent discussions, debates or fights than most metal topics. Some fans are so biased towards either the old or the new approach that they steadfastly refuse to listen to the other approach.

I won’t take sides. I will make one technical observation which has nothing to with the music itself – modern black metal does generally seem to benefit from better engineering and production.

This video was posted on YouTube a few years ago. It’s still very relevant and interesting. So… what do you think?



Turn Your BBQ into a GWAR BQ

gwar-beerzIt seems to have become a trend for bands to further their marketability out side of T-Shirts and back patches and into the realm of one of metals favorite things.  Alcohol.  Unfortunately, when this trend started many bands seemed to think wine was the best path to take.  Well, in my humble opinion, fuck that.  Metal ain’t no wine sipping music, and quite honestly, wine puts me right to sleep, and that ain’t something I want to be doing while at a metal show or raging against the machine with my buddies in their backyard while grilling up copious amounts of food.  What I want in my heavy metal branded alcohol is what any rational, x-chromosome metalhead would want.  Some ice-cold beer.  Really, I thought that was a no brainer?

Anywho, it seems that some bands got my dearth of angry letters and bands like Iron Maiden, The Sword, Clutch, and others have started brewing their own craft beers, with the Iron Maiden one being especially tasty.  But not to be left in the dust heavy metal legends GWAR have now began manufacturing their own brew.  What really catches me about their beer is that instead of going with the fancy craft brew in those fancy-shmancy bottles, they have opted for average Joe Shmoe cans.  So you could say Clutch’s beer is like a nice Long Trail Ale Double Bag brew and GWAR’s is like a Bud.  Both serve their purposes for the beer aficionado.  Really, pounding craft brews by the 30 pack is just not a great idea if you’re at a BBQ, but if you have an ice filled cooler topped off with cans of Bud you can suck them back without fear of vomiting up hundreds of dollars worth of brew later in the evening.  So bravo GWAR on tapping that market.

So, start warming up the BBQ coals and send your significant other to the store with explicit instructions to by GWAR BQ Brew and get your midsummer partying on.  Also watch the below commercial for GWAR beer, it’s pretty damn funny.  And if you live near or around the Richmond, VA area celebrate the launch of GWAR beer at the GWAR BQ festival (info here). Peace Love and Metal!!!!

And on a side note, where the fuck is my heavy metal whiskey!?