September 18, 2005

Art metal.

Heavy metal music has gotten rather intellectual. So says the NYT. I don't know. You decide. This is offered up as evidence:
When Atsuo, the single-named singer-drummer for the sludgy Japanese post-metal band Boris, was asked recently in the online magazine radcompany.net about the influence of Satan on the band's work, he gave a predictably high-minded answer, engaging the question's absurdity - heavy metal's Satanic influenceis one of the genre's great clichés - and then trumping it. "It's simple to talk about Satan as a symbol, but it's important to consider the deeper meaning of the symbol," he said in one of his rare interviews to be translated into English. "To me, the Devil is not a symbol, but a moment that touches on morals. The moment when a person changes - that is the Devil."
Does that strike you as intellectual or ... I don't know ... something out of the "Spinal Tap" screenplay? But then, it doesn't matter so much what they say as how it sounds. I stop at the heavy metal stations on XM radio when I'm driving in my car and am often surprised at how good things by bands with strange names sound. I tell myself to remember the names. I don't know if the ones I've liked are the same art metal trend the Times is tracking. They do name a lot of bands in the article, but unfortunately I've forgotten all the names I meant to remember.

15 comments:

L. Ron Halfelven said...

If they really knew their Satanism they'd call themselves Böris. Never trust a heavy-metal band without an umlaut!

Troy said...

Not just the umlaut but the "S" in Boris would be a lightning rune -- (the Nazi SS "S") and there would be songs inspired by sword and sorcery fantasy.

Dave Mustaine from Megadeth is about the only metal guy I've heard who could actually have an intellectual conversation where he seemed to understand the words he used.

Most of the metal guys I hear talk (say on Headbanger's Ball, etc.) are on the level of Kanye West or Ludacris, et al. They
are inventive, but hardly ones to talk wth any knowledge on world issues.

miklos rosza said...

My wife is from Avignon and used to be in a "darkmetal" band. There are a lot of subcategories. "deathmetal" is different from "blackmetal," etc. The only Euro-metal I've heard that's any good is a Swiss band ("industrial metal") called Kill the Thrill.

ziemer said...

the times is a little late to the party.

art metal has been around for a long time. we used to listen to celitic frost back in the 80s.

its nice to know that it survived those horrid grungy people in the 90s and is still around, though.

Troy said...

Ah! Celtic Frost -- I almost forgot...

Noumenon said...

Megadeth -- the thinking man's metal band! System of a Down might not be quite metal, but they have some songs that are well acquainted with Informing Consent and other intellectual stuff.

Simon said...

I think the closest metal got to being intellectual was back when Dream Theater were making interesting records 1989-1998. Sadly they've rather wandered off the reservation into mindless technical excercises and trite lyrics since '98, but they were brilliant while they lasted.

gs said...

The Western canon of ill-defined "serious" music, stretching from, say, Palestrina to Shostakovich, is at risk of ossifying into museum displays, or maybe even being forgotten. I'd like to see the DNA transplanted into a vital musical genre.

ziemer said...

gs,

back in the late 80s, you couldn't be considered a respectable metal guitarist unless you knew your paganini.

obviously, when i speak of metal, i mean the real thing, not the def leppards and those people.

ziemer said...

troy, its good to know someone else still remembers celtic frost.

wasn't that a time?

HaloJonesFan said...

Pöyzen Böyzen, pretty good for a double-umlaut band.

Ann, you're right about the satellite channels--who the hell is "Edguy"? Good band, strange name.

chuck b. said...

I enjoyed Some Kind of Monster for the peek inside Metallica's creative process. I'm not exactly a metal fan, but it's fun to observe self-absorbed creative types from a certain distance regardless of their creative medium.

It amazes me sometimes how far people can get confusing their feelings with their thoughts, like the two are interchangeable.

Ann Althouse said...

I loved "Some Kind of Monster." Here's my old post about it.

Andrew said...

I never liked metal. It has no sense of humor. Everything's so SERIOUS.

To each his own.

Chris said...

Well there's all kinds of metal, some more 'intellectual' than others, and plenty that are just psuedo-intellectuals trying to cash in on a trend. Probably more of the latter, as is usually the case. Except for the thrash/industrial metal bands, metal has pretty much always tried to be intellectual, to varying degrees of success, from the early post hippy jazz days of Black Sabbath to the early heavier King Crimson.

It gets a bad rap IMO for being unlistenable noise, but there is some beautiful sounding metal out there, even in the trash/death metal genres. I challenge anyone to listen to Fracture or Lark's Tongues in Aspic by King Crimson and not like it at least a little. :P Or listen to A Change of Seasons by Dream Theater. It's a pure symphonic masterpeice of metal IMO.

I personally listen to pretty much all types of metal from the original metal, the early Black Sabbath, prog metal stuff by Dream Theater or King Crimson and Tool and Devin Townsend, to Meshuggah and Opeth, and even some death metal and trash metal, but lots of that IS the kind of unlistenable garbage that gives metal as a whole a bad name.