Sunday, 2 February 2014

Why Metal Music Isn’t As Bad As People Think

by Henry Ling

Metal music is something that I have immersed myself in over the years and find rather pleasing to the ear. I decided to write an article based on this topic, though, because the vast majority of people say that Metal music is just noise, which is highly unfair and stereotypical, not to mention the fact that (if I want to be pedantic) then all music is just noise.
Furthermore, I disagree strongly when people come up to me and start say the word “screamo” because Metal music isn’t “screamo” (not all of it, at least). There are hundreds of different sub genres to metal, ranging from symphonic metal to gore grinder death metal (brutal even by my standards), and there are a vast majority that have no screaming at all.
Firstly I would just like to say that to all who don’t like the shouting aspects of Metal, could you at least understand two things: one that the Death Metal scream is one of the rawest forms of emotion and it can be used to highlight the darker aspects of life; and (two) that, whatever you think, the Death Metal scream is talent (a form of talent one may detest, but still a form of talent. On many occasions I have had a go at a Death Metal scream but with little effect; it is really hard to sustain and it always leaves my throat in a wreck. So what these people are doing is hard; I would love to see you sustain a 13-second long scream like Peter Tägtgren. Here is a demonstration (skip to 25 secs if you only want the scream):

The next thing I would like to highlight is the skill of the musicians involved; these people have to do so much work. Most music that people listen to today is made on computers and the person/persons when playing live only have to press play. However I don’t really want to waffle on for a couple of pages on why I don’t like some other forms of music but what I would like to say is that the people in Metal bands I know do an exceeding amount of work live. For example, a band called Epica did a three hour long live DVD which was Epic(a), but by the end the drummer, especially, was completely spent - as one may imagine. Furthermore, in the majority of Metal bands you get many great guitar solos which are really hard to play and take a lot of time and skill to perfect. I will now show you one of the most amazing bands, who you may know if you like guitar hero, Dragonforce (the main solo starts 1min 55seconds in):
The one thing I hate the most though is the stereotypes which people have. Take a look at these people, all of whom are pleasant enough individuals, but who many others think are weird and violent:
Marylyn Manson
Marco Hietala

The point is that not all the people in Metal bands are screaming psychopaths. For example, Marco Hietala has an excellent singing range, tending to stick away from the growling vocals. Furthermore, the band he plays with has, as its main vocalist, a more operatic singer which is not at all objectionable seeing as I got my grandmother to like the band (and, trust me, that’s a challenge). The band I’m talking about is called Nightwish. Feel free to look them up but the song that is next is one which doesn’t employ the female vocals, but shows you the true range of Marco Hietala (you may be pleasantly surprised):

On the same topic, another thing I would like to say is that most vocalists have a diversity to what they do; most singers can do both the growly and the more regular vocals, generally for different bands like Peter Tägtgren who plays in both a Death Metal band, Hypocrisy and a just Metal band, Pain (who aren’t as bad as the name may suggest). To demonstrate this, I will play you a song from Pain (cover of a Beatles track) which is completely different to the song at the beginning, with the scream:

Another prime suspect for vocal change is Mikael Akerfeldt from a band called Opeth, who are knwon by metal heads as “posh” Metal (or, I guess, people like me), as he changes between soft and harsh vocals in a single song; however, I don’t have a video because all of their songs are at least 8 minutes long and I doubt most of you can stomach the harsh vocals for that length of time. However, if you are interested, type in Beneath The Mire-Opeth into Youtube.

The next thing I wish to tell you is that we ARE NOT all really violent and horrible, and I know this from experience (as well as the fact that I am not extremely violent). For example, last year I went to see a band called Airbourne with a group of friends. After the support band Orange Goblin, I began to notice a “mosh pit” in the centre of the venue (Pyramids centre, just down the road from PGS). For those of you who don’t know, a Mosh Pit is where everyone jumps around pushing and shoving each other and generally being rowdy. So, as one might expect, at the beginning I was a bit sceptical because I was afraid of getting crushed. But the Mosh Pit was pretty much where I was standing and, with a push from my friends, I was hurled into the Pit and began pushing, shoving and having a lot of fun. When someone falls over, everyone stops, picks them up and makes sure they’re OK before going back again, so we were all friendly; in most places, you can get killed if you fall down in a Mosh Pit but us metal heads aren’t that cruel. Furthermore, I ended up headbanging (the only dance for people like me) with random people who I never have seen before or will see again. The only problem, however, was near the end, when you had 50yr old, rather overweight men jumping around without their shirts on, because it’s incredibly hot jumping around in a small venue especially one which has swimming pool heat.      
The last point I really want to make is that the music is so wide spread across the world, which I’ve noticed doesn’t seem to happen with genres like Pop and Rap. There are bands from obviously America- Metallica who are an amazing band and form one of the Big Four, which are some of the greatest names in Metal; their music may not be as heavy as you might expect but it’s still awesome:

There is also Britain- Iron Maiden- one of the best bands ever - has great credibility as they all had good educations, which most people don’t expect; the lead singer is also a commercial airplane pilot and flies their plane to tours. Black Sabbath is another of Britain’s amazing bands who most people have heard of and are up there with Led Zeppelin for being the founders of Metal: 
 Then, going further afield, we have Chthonic, a Taiwanese Metal band, who work closely with Amnesty International in fighting for freedom and peace. There is Rammstein, a German band, who I saw live last year, who are known for their use of pyro techniques (1min 4sec he sets his jacket on fire while he sings):
Italy has Lacuna Coil (again, not an objectionable band) Then there’s Scandinavia, where the majority of Metal bands come from, like Nightwish, Amon Amarth, Lordi (who won Eurovision song contest so can’t be that bad):  
One more I would like to mention is Epica; I wish to mention them again because they are a spectacular band and they always play live with an orchestra which is more than you can say about most bands that the majority of people listen to. This next song is a cover of Presto by Vivaldi (soz for bad quality but it’ll do):  
And also, because I’m a nerd, I would like to add in their cover of the Imperial March (Star Wars):
 . . . and there's much much more, but I don’t want to keep this going any longer. However, I do want to offer one final pairing of maps; if you would take a moment to observe the global distribution of both Metal music and happiness, you can see there is definitely a correlation, especially if you look at Northern Europe:
Global distribution of Metal bands
Global distribution of happiness


  1. Don't you think that global happiness may be more to do with the economic and political state of the country, rather than its concentration of metal bands?

  2. Don't you think it was a comical jest and that he wasn't actually arguing that point seriously...


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