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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


Monday Metal Madness – Battle of the Black (American Branch Pt. I)

Looks like Within Temptation eked out Delain by one vote last week in the Dutch Symphonic Metal poll.  Congrats to them!!!

This week and my turn on alternating Mondays lets take a look at the modern Black Metal scene.  I will be pitting 2 bands from the same region together (namely the United State or Scandinavia) and it will ultimately lead up to the final battle of who is king of the modern Black Metal scene.  Note: all the bands I choose won’t be absolutely pure and kvlt, but will certainly fall into the Black Metal category (sorry elitists), and I will be choosing songs from the bands most recent albums to keep everything modern.  And if you are a fan of a specific Black Metal band let me know down in the comments (or on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever social media form you prefer) and I will include them in future battles.

Over the past handful of years Black Metal bands from the United States have been making waves and, in my opinion, giving the genre a very much-needed boost of new life.  This week the battle will take place in the dark woods of Western America between Oregon’s Agalloch and Washington’s Wolves in the Throne Room.

With a heavy North American Folk music influence Agalloch have proven to be one of the best and most original Black Metal bands to come from the State in recent years.  While there is a large amount of Black Metals famous dissonance and chaos, these guys have put some control behind it and added a good amount of melody to the music.  There is also a huge focus on texture and atmosphere which can be heard in the song I selected for their battle, “Black Lake Niðstång” off of Marrow of the Spirit.

Wolves in the Throne Room, like their contemporary in this battle, also have folk music inspirations in their music as well as a heavy focus on atmosphere.  But unlike their former they revel in the chaos and dissonance much more but churn out some beautiful music just the same.  They have recently enjoyed great success with their latest album, Celestial Lineage, cracking the Billboard charts which in turn led to the whiny elitists calling them ‘hipster metal’ and ‘sell-outs’, but I concur and say that their music is deep, inspired, and they did anything far from selling out. Enjoy “Thuja Magus Imperium”.

Theme Thursday – Why is Finland So Metal

Over the past few years, when I catch wind of an awesome new band to check out, more often than not, I find out they are from Finland.  Stratovarius, Nightwish, Moonsorrow, Ensiferum, Insomnium, Finntroll, Children of Bodom, Ghost Brigade, Norther, Amorphis, Korpiklaani.   These aren’t little known bands, in the metal circle the mentioned bands have made quite a huge buzz and there’s many, many more creating tons of buzz and gaining international fame.  What is it about Finland that makes them so metal?  Hell, for every 4 people there’s 1 metal band, making it the country most dense with metal bands, and the vast majority of them top quality.  I was curious about why Finland is so metal, so I did a little digging around the web to try to find an answer to that question.  And here is my opinion on why Finland is the Promised Land of Heavy Metal.

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In With the Old, Out With the New

While they may never become as popular as they once were, I’ve noticed that the availability and demand of vinyl records has increased over the past couple years.  Since the vast of my music hunting is done in the metal realm, I’ve personally noticed that spike is pretty large in this genre.  It seems that just about every major metal release is getting a pressing run on vinyl.  For some bands they vinyl format fits their sound quite well, such as the recently released Heritage by Opeth and Celestial Lineage by Wolves in the Throne Room, I can definitely see how the warm sound of vinyl would fit those albums perfectly.  Some great benefits from vinyl albums include the analog audio quality, bigger and more detailed artwork, and since it is still not the most popular distribution method, something a bit more rare for fans and metal album collectors.  All in all, it seems that vinyl is starting to make a comeback.

Personally I don’t own vinyl records other than a few Iron Maiden and Journey albums I came across over the years nor do I own a turntable to play them back on.  However the idea of having and collecting vinyl seems really lucrative to me.  Thing is, I’ve been collecting CD’s for so long now that I don’t want to break my CD collecting streak, and that adding another 20 to thirty euro/dollars onto each of my album purchases and also picking up the equipment to be able to listen to my vinyl on and creating more space for all this stuff seems a bit unreasonable at the time.  But in the end, having the physical album in my hand makes me happy enough(especially when it’s one of those nice well made special edition releases) and I don’t think my CD collecting habits will change anytime soon.

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Not In Defense of Mobid Angel

Does a band have a responsibility towards its fans?  It’s kind of a grey area.  On one end a band and people should be free to experiment with their music and style and do what makes them happy.  Often times experimentation leads to great things, look at bands such as Opeth, Dream Theater, and Amorphis, without them we wouldn’t have been exposed to some amazing albums and some bands style would get stale after a while if the creators of the music don’t push themselves forward.  On the other end the fans are the ones purchasing their albums, going to their shows and giving them the opportunity to be able to do what they love.  The band does, in a way, have a responsibility to stay true to the sound or style that they made themselves known for because it is what the paying customers expect their product to resemble.

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The Way of the Physical Format

While I was on vacation recently visiting my family and friends in NJ I had noticed something while I was in the local Best Buy.  I had gone in to pick up the newly released Between the Buried and Me EP and the new Amon Amarth album.  The first thing that I had noticed was the size of the CD section of the store.  Many years ago(about 7) I had taken a seasonal job at the Best Buy I was shopping at, and then, they had a CD section that took up about 1/3 of the store, and that seemed to be about the standard for other Best Buy stores I have visited throughout my life.  And that CD section always had a large selection of many different types of music ranging from underground metal to popular jazz artists.  When I was in there picking up my 2 CDs I had noticed first that the CD section had been reduced to a little corner in the store.  The second thing that I noticed while I was pursuing their selection of music was the strong presence of metal albums available in that small selection.  The primary genre available was metal, and not just Slipknot and Metallica albums, they had the entire Amon Amarth catalog, they had Symphony X(well it was a Jersey store and their a Jersey band), there was Eluveitie, King Diamond, Dream Theater, Bathory(!!!), Fear Factory, As I Lay Dying, ect. you get my point, they had a really good diverse selection of metal, new and old.

So, that got my brain running about 2 things.  First, “Why is metal the predominant genre available in that store?”  Well, quite simply, it’s what is selling.  Best Buy wouldn’t carry those CD’s if someone wasn’t purchasing them.  And that goes to show, that metal fans truly do support their passion.  We understand that our passion isn’t free and the people who make those albums(not just the bands, but the people behind the scenes too) that we love so much need our support if we want to keep hearing more great music from our favorite artists.  So, keep it up fellow enlightened metal heads, if you like an album, buy it, whether it be on-line or in a store, support your favorite artists.

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