The Parameters of Metal

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Is there good metal still being released?

The last couple of years have proven that good heavy metal music can be written, recorded and played. One has to be of the ‘open to new things breed’, I’ve found as I’ve gotten a little older (just mid 30s) a lot of my friends have stagnated or maybe a more positive light congealed in their tastes.

So the answer to this question is yes, there still is good metal being written by new bands so long as you’re tastes and interests haven’t congealed. Black Metal, Doom Metal, Death Metal (although not technical death metal), experimental metal all have had some incredible¬†projects written and released in the last couple of years and have made considerable jumps in evolution not forgetting their forefathers but also not copying them.

Metal is typically a very heavy sort of music that can have clean vocals but also very often has growled or screamed vocals. The words extreme and brutal are are overused adjectives in the metal world but they are also the best words to describe most of the music. Epic and loud come in as close seconds.

I’m a follower of the music because (in theory) the music should have no limits. It is loud, epic, brutal and extreme. Artistic discovery can go all over the place, from fantasy, to politics, to war to negativity and hell. All wrapped in a raging inferno of riffs and growls.

Iterations of metal have been popular and appeared on the radio and many of those iterations are now mainstream. With that said the metal sub-culture knows that great bands have to be discovered solo or within the sub-culture itself. But because there have been iterations of metal that have become closer to being accepted in the mainstream it has also created a backlash on what heavy metal really is by metal fashionsitas.

Calling someone a metal fashionista probably sounds negative and maybe it is, maybe I should change the word I’m using to describe this type of person. The fashionista though has created a set of social parameters on what metal is and can be. This isn’t a scientific data based thing I can point to like I might do in my day job, it’s something social and based on observation of the scene.

The early 2000s were filled with nu-metal and metalcore groups that had silly amounts of clean singing mixed into their songs, many of those bands still exist. The scene combated that by creating websites like nocleansinging.com (a great website btw) that made sure the focus stayed on more hard line death and doom metal type bands no matter how good the drumming on an Avenged Sevenfold album was.

There was a backlash against commercialism and even though talking individually to one of these fashionistas was an obnoxious trip through pretentious-ville (except with corpse paint on) they’re reaction to that switch to a more palatable metal was necessary (I should mention I could sometimes be this fashionista). The scourge of commercialism endangered the extreme try anything nature of the genre.

My opinion is that sometimes they go too far, like the hatred bands like Deafheaven and Liturgy have gotten. But all fashionistas can’t agree. The point is they created limits of what’s accepted in the true sub-genre.

It’s hard to define what those limits are in today’s world. Poppy styled clean singing and excessive hardcore styled breakdowns are pretty much not allowed. ¬†The other social limits on what’s allowed in “real” metal are a bit harder to zero in on. But they’re there, all you need to do is talk to someone during a Goatwhore show to find out what the Metalstorm.net message boards are complaining about.

What we have today is a set of parameters that new musicians must operate in to be considered in relevant in the sub-culture. They have limits and parameters that their forefathers did not have yet they are still expected to break new ground and not sound repetitive.

It is much harder to be a doom/death/black metal artist than it ever has been. So when something new is good, when a new album really makes you hit one of those emotional highs, when you really feel riff in your soul, you know you’re listening to something that has value to your ears.