How do you follow up a blog about your Top 5 albums of all time? The only way I can think of is to do a complete ‘180’ and look at some of those bands, albums or sub-genres that perhaps don’t do it for me like I think that they should, or how others think that they should. If nothing else, my posts on this blog have been 100% honest and to continue that theme, here goes…
First up is the American progressive rocl/metal band Tool. As you are all aware by now, I am a massive prog-head. Technical music of most descriptions manages to draw me in and gives me a lot of pleasure. That said, I cannot get into Tool. I have tried, believe me. My brother was a massive fan and I even spent over £200 on two tickets to take him to see the band in London a few years ago. It was the longest night of my life. I mean, the big screens were pretty cool, as was the atmosphere within the venue. But the music just failed to resonate with me.
The worst thing is I cannot seem to pinpoint the reason or reasons why Tool don’t click with me. I think that some of it has to do with the way in which a lot of the compositions are long, drawn out affairs that either don’t really go anywhere or don’t do enough for me overall. I understand that this is deliberate and is part of the Tool experience, but I don’t think it’s for me. Having said that, I suspect I will continue to try until I go deaf!
Another contentious name I will bring up now is Opeth. This is a band whose name is spoken with reverence by millions of metalheads the world over. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to be one of them. Don’t misunderstand me, I do quite like some of their material – ‘Still Life’ stands out the most – but I don’t love it. If one of their songs pops up during a random shuffle, I will listen and admire the music. But I won’t be engaged enough to want to go and listen to their back catalogue.
Furthermore, I have seen Opeth live on a couple of occasions and I will admit to finding their stage show a little bit dull. I fact, the most entertaining thing about an Opeth gig is the inter-song banter from Michael Akerfelt, which can be hilarious at times.
I could also throw into the mix, at the risk of being shunned by large swathes of the metal community, Slayer’s ‘Reign In Blood’. Here is a band that I really do like. In fact, I love much of their material, even some of the much-maligned recent material. But, for some reason, I have never had the same affection for ‘Reign In Blood’ as I have for, say, ‘South Of Heaven’. This, like so many of my choices, probably has to do with the order in which I discovered the albums, having been too young to be there from the beginning. Had I have discovered ‘Reign In Blood’ first, things may have been different, although I do prefer the slightly slower, more ominous atmosphere of ‘South Of Heaven’ regardless.
Speaking of thrash metal, whilst I love the vast majority of the exponents of this genre, I never discovered the love for Anthrax. I have a few of their albums and I enjoy a healthy proportion of them. The problem was however, that I fell in love with the other three of the ‘big 4’ first and never gave Anthrax the time and attention that they deserved. The upshot is that when I listen to their music now, I feel a little disconnected to it. I also sit in the minority who prefers the Bush era to the Belladonna days. The new album ‘Worship Music’ is pretty damn cool though!
There are loads more bands that I could mention before ending this blog. However, in order to keep this post succinct, I’ll just throw in a few names like AC/DC, Motorhead, Porcupine Tree, Mercyful Fate, Judas Priest, Neurosis and Marilyn Manson. To reiterate, I’m not saying that I dislike any of these bands, far from it (except Manson, who I do hate!). It’s just that they don’t hit the heady heights for me like they do for others.
Next up is an entire sub-genre and hopefully this is where things begin to get a little less contentious: ‘Nu-Metal’. During my late teens, the metal world was quickly dominated by a brand new approach which was quickly dubbed ‘Nu-Metal’. Combining metal with other disparate genres of music such as rap, hip-hop and hardcore to name but a few, it gained a popularity and notoriety such that it dominated the metal world for quite a few years. Me though, I stood on the outside, looking in thinking ‘huh? What? Eww, no. Now where are my Iron Maiden CDs?’
I tried out the debut Korn album and sold it almost immediately to a friend at high school. I listened to Papa Roach, Limp Bizkit and Slipknot with incredulity, wondering what all the fuss was about. I mean, rapping and DJ’s in metal? Really? And the fashion…dear God! The only exception to the rule came in the form of Linkin Park, whose music I initially didn’t mind and have grown to grudgingly like. Actually, as the years have gone by, I have also softened a little towards Slipknot, although I’d not call myself anything like a fan. The rest? I’m glad that they’ve either disappeared or are no longer the darlings of the ‘metal’ world. Normal order to some extent has been restored…although my latest beef is the whole ‘metalcore’ movement.
Enough of the beatdowns, faux-aggression and shouty vocals, people, enough. Screams, grunts and growls are great when executed well, but I cannot stand that ‘shouty’ approach one bit. To me, it all sounds very cynical as well of late – much like any scene that takes off, everyone seems to want a piece of the action and you can almost imagine bands sitting around working out how they can incorporate another beatdown or angst-ridden crescendo into their songs. And don’t even get me started on the whole ‘emo’ thing, or I may just explode!