Metalcore has always been a bit of a shotgun wedding. There was no reason that screamed verses and cleanly sung choruses were supposed to be put together, not to mention becoming the blueprint for an entire genre of music. Very few of the metalcore bands have ever been able to make a compelling case for why their music isn't the musical equivalent of the TV show “Chopped”, with random ingredients thrown together for the sake of seeing what could be made of them.
Six years after the world did its darnedest to implode, it's not surprising that we are in the midst of a doom revival. Though seminal bands like Cathedral and Candlemass have called it a day (the latter I'm skeptical of), doom is pumping strong in the metal underground. Bands like Electric Wizard and Sun O))) garner all manner of critical acclaim, and while doom is never going to barn-storm the charts, the scene is healthier than it has been in ages, because we are living in the aftermath of shattered dreams.
For all the great bands and historical impact the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal had, I have to say that it's a subset of metal that I never had much experience with. Aside from Iron Maiden, most of that entire generation exists in my mind as academic notes I have read about, not altogether unlike peering through the fossil record. So when a new band comes along that promises to revisit the sound and feeling of that time, I'm not sure what to think, since I don't have an opinion on the original.
When bands like High On Fire, who lead the way in the world of sludgy stoner metal, get praised to the hilt, I'm often left confused as to what it is I'm missing out on. That particular brand of metal, with fuzzed out guitars and riffs upon riffs, taps into the primal need for heaviness that so many metal fans have, but seldom shows the care for songwriting that I dare say is necessary, no matter how heavy your band is. Stoner metal is called that for a reason, because it was long noted that being in an altered state was necessary to either play or enjoy so much of it.
Certain phrases don't appear to make any sense. We hear them, and even without letting our minds pour over the intricacies language can convey, we instinctively know there's something wrong with them. I'm reminded of this as I prepare to listen to Khold's “Til Endes”. The album is described, in the accompanying literature, as 'groove-laden black metal', which is one of those things that doesn't sound like it should be. Black metal is the antithesis of groove, a frosty concoction of pain and misery, with no time or patience for such endearing qualities as 'groove'.
Most people wouldn't know it by looking at me, but half of my heritage comes from Poland. Knowing that fact, you might think that I would taken at least a passing interest in the music scene from that country, but that isn't the least bit true. Poland has not been a leading exporter of music I would want to listen to, but the fact that Decapitated comes from one of my ancestral homelands is enough to at least pique my curiosity.
If there is a band that is a better example of the dangers that come with artistic evolution in the world of metal, I don't know of them. In Flames has, over the course of their career, inspired more venomous rage amongst their fans than anyone this side of Metallica. After pioneering melodic death metal with their early releases, they did the natural thing and changed course as they got older. At first they dipped their toe into the sounds of nu metal, but quickly moved on to a mix of modern rock and sinewy guitar riffs that was more befitting a band of their age.
Music is, in essence, the art of carefully controlling noise. In the massive spectrum of audible sounds, we have singled out the ones that are pleasing to us, and those are used as the basis for everything we choose to pour into our ears. The fact that it is still noise is forgotten, unless we are griping about a style of music we don't enjoy.