After reading a short article on Metal Undeground about metal and image, then debating people in the comment section, I decided to make my opinions fully known here on my own personal soap box. The author brought up 2 up and coming bands that are flown under the metal flag, Ghost and Ancient VVisdom, whom are not the typical metal band that would fit a bill with Sodom or Autopsy. They have the look, they have the lyrical inspiration, but do they have the sonic capabilities to be considered "metal"? In that line of thinking, what does it actually mean to be metal? Is it being fast and furious? Is it soaring vocals? Is it twin guitar harmonies that shred the living daylights out of mere mortals? Is it corpse paint that brings to mind the living dead? The answer............who the hell knows!?!?!
Ancient VVisdom – “The Opposition”
This is a subject that I have considered many a time, whenever I talk to people that listen to nothing except whatever is spewed out from the radio and they try to denigrate the art form that I love. I, though, actually listen to what they have to say and take in their criticisms. However, they do not have the depth of knowledge that I have when it comes to music. I know about the popular art forms they listen to because it is everywhere and damn near impossible to escape whereas metal music is something that has to be researched to be found, one cannot just turn on the radio or TV and find the newest track from Prostitute Disfigurement. What I see when I think of most of the "artists" that they bring up are people that rely on extravagant stage shows that contain crazy light shows or beautiful choreography. I usually think to myself, "Why do these people need all these extra aspects in order to enjoy a musical performance? They must not have anything innovative to offer musically to audiences." I then start to think about the myriad of performances that I have seen in my time, majority of those being a combination of simply band + stage = amazing time. However, when I think of the shows I have seen by Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, GWAR, or Opeth, they all apply either huge props, giant stage shows, incredible lighting, or theatrics to entertain yet I can listen to their music all by itself.....what does that mean?
Iron Maiden (featuring giant Eddie) – “The Number of the Beast”
Prostitute Disfigurement – “Sworn to Degeneracy”
Then I start thinking about the other shows I have seen that render me speechless that contain barely more than a band playing on a stage such as Skeletonwitch, Melechesh, or Exodus. These bands rely on nothing more than their music and energy to create a live show that is unforgettable. This is what I think about when I think of what metal is. The brute force of crashing their material into our ears that turns us into body slamming, head banging, horns raising piles of human flesh. If it doesn’t get my blood flowing a hundred times faster than it usually does, how can I consider it metal??? However, as I grow older and my wisdom increases, I tend to realize that there is not just one aspect of music that deems something as metal. It is all that I have talked about and more.
So what am I getting at with all these ramblings? Something that I have preached for years, ever since I started growing up and not taking metal so seriously, is that there is no rubric for what can be deemed “metal”. With the cross-pollination of various sub-genres it was inevitable that we would stumble across this conundrum. Bands such as Ghost contain musical attributes of the originators of metal and occult rock while containing a visual element and mysticism about them that appeals to older fans and young ones as well. One of the main attributes that one has to consider when thinking about what can be deemed as “metal”, powerful musicianship is a must. That is one of the few characteristics that can be seen across all subgenres of the metal-sphere. And those that are playing the music just for show can be picked out of the crowd very easily, and those are the ones that do not leave a lasting legacy.
But above all, if you like the music, you shouldn’t have to worry about what others think, if it’s “metal” or not. And if you stand up for what you love to listen to, then you are the most metal person of all.