Monday, 16 January 2012

Keep it tight... and intricate!

 So the news that post-harcore heroes At the Drive-In and Refused are reforming and playing at the Coachella festival in California may be old news now, but I finally took it on myself to listen in full to both band's major albums Relationship of Command and The Shape of Punk to Come. Having already coe to love this style of music from the second I finished listening to Refused's New Noise in full, to hear these albums in full was a array of pure raw rock and roll insanity. The frenzied hardcore riffing of Jim Ward, Omar Rodríguez-López, Kristofer Steen and Jon Brännström are some of the wildest and most gripping pieces of guitar work in this modern age of music.
 As I got into these albums, I found out that I wasn't the only one who knew-about-the-bands-but-hadn't-heard-them-extensively-before-but-decided-to-so-I-could-get-to-know-them-a-little-better-following-the-widely-celebrated-announcement-of-their-runions. Realtionship of Command and The Shape of Punk to Come were also recently new listening experience to blogger Zach Pino. (By the way, I've always wondered if Zach has ever read any of my stuff before. We're friends on Facebook and follow each other on Twitter but he lives across the pond so we've never really chatted much. Either way, Zach, if you've ever read this blog which pales in comparison to It's The End Of The Week As We Know It, well... I'm honoured.) Anyways, Pino repoted on this weeks It's The End Of The Week As We Know It that he finally got to listen to these albums and also took great joy from these albums. (I also know this because he on Facebook he liked the message that I was listening to Refused on Spotify. Sorry, that's a weird thing to announce. I suppose in the world of bloggers, having that happen would be like getting kissed by your favourite actor or something. Anyways, I really need to stay on topic.) While reading the article, there was a point made that really made me think about metal and the styles in which it is most celebrated. It's when I saw that Pino had written this:
 "There’s something about the rawness of the music that’s inspiring and exciting, and although I’m traditionally a metalhead who usually gravitates toward tight and precise guitar riffs, I’m digging the looseness, heaviness and intensity of these two bands."
 Upon reading this I realised that there is very much some truth in this. When examioning the favourite groups of full-on metalheads, it is bands who generally have a very tight and intricate sound in their riffing and rhythms. This description could be used to describe bands like Machine Head, Lamb of God and DevilDriver, three bands who recieve overwhelming respectability to the world of modern metal and of course the one band that was a predecessor to all of these groups, Pantera. On it's 1990 release, Pantera's Cowboys From Hell changed the rules of metal and gave birth for a new genre known as "groove metal". All groove metal bands would adopt the mind-blowing combination of pounding heavy metal with the pulsing and more danceable rhythms more typical of funk and hip-hop music that featured across Cowboys From Hell and take it and transform it in their own twisted manners to give it their own sense of extremity, be it in Lamb of God mariage of the style with the kind of furious jagged riffing more characteristic of thrash metal or Sepultura's combination of the style with death metal which characterized their 1993 release Chaos A.D..
 However, in this modern age of metal, the band that has really gained the most respect when playing with such a tight, intricate and perfect flowing combination of furious crushing heavy metal and bouncy, moveable rhythms is without any doubt Machine Head. Also being blessed with the ability to give this music the greatest emotional impact that any of their other peers, Machine Head have released seven albums that have all been packed to the brim with what is heavy metal perfection and I can't be the only one who thinks this way.
 So when considering the fact that full-on metal fans like their music to have this intricate and tight sound where the pounding riffs flow together natrually, it really explains why most of them started to hate Metallica with everything released after and including the Black Album. While songs on the Black Album such as Holier Than Thou and The Struggle Within proved that Metallica were still capable of making fast paced adrenaline fueled thrash metal songs , this was no longer the main priority of the band and instead, monolithic slabs of riffing took centrefold on songs like Sad But True and Don't Tread On Me. This departure of intense thrash metal that so many loved is also the ultimate reason as to why 2003's St Anger is despised by everyone. Because it was the exact opposite of tight, precise and intricate. Listening to it there seems to be a greater influence from bands like At the Drive-In and Refused in it's sense of looseness and uncontrollability.
 So ultimately, what I guess I've proven is that in with it's sense of perfection, rhythmic neatness, and structured flowing pattern, it is the groove metal genre that is most widely cleabrated modern style by genuine metalheads. The people who celebrate groove metal do then seem to be the same people who are critical of the metalcore genre which sees the metallic element released in a slower and more dense form in it's array of insane breakdowns. This genre and all it's descendants. (deathcore, mathcore, synthcore, Nintendocore) This isn't really relevant to anything but I hope it's filled you with some knowledge and made your day.

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