How Long Must I Keep Up This Sham of Enjoying Obscure Metal?

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Welcome to one of my several social media pages. Here you will find a carefully curated selection of unsigned or barely signed musical groups established enough that they may generate some healthy albeit fleeting online buzz among my peers, yet not so well known that I risk a taste that borders on appearing typical. You see, I have a complex sonic palette that’s grown and matured after years of experience with the metal genre. My propensity to appreciate raw, lo-fi, noisy, aural harshness far outweighs any feigning respect I have or ever had towards the polished, basic, passé, overrated, entry-level metal music that I actually listen to most of the time.

Sure, back when I was very young I was all about your Iron Maidens, your Metallicas, your Judas Priests, your Black Sabbaths and whatever the linguistically appropriate way to pluralize Sepultura is. How old were you when you first started listening to that stuff? Oh okay, whatever number you said, I was younger by several years.  Like, before I could talk even I was over that stuff, which explains how much deeper in I am than you.

I either got into metal from thinking Metalocalypse was funny or playing Guitar Hero, I don’t remember. That Dragonforce track was fucking nuts though. 

It just disgusts me on a personal level when someone stops at the most basic level with their metal listening. Clearly in those cases, you’re dealing with a person who hasn’t taken the time or effort to explore the genre’s deepest darkest corners; hence therefore has but minimal interest in the music for which they claim fandom. Only when one dives into the genre’s greatest depths and saves their admiration exclusively for the treasures uncovered below, can he or she consider oneself a “metalhead”.

When I drive, I listen to Arch Enemy with my windows up, and I turn it way down when stopped at red lights just to be safe.

My Iced Earth and Dimmu Borgir t-shirts have long since become worn and faded, grayed out and eventually tossed away; much as my feigning adoration for these mainstream groups themselves. Now I utilize my band shirt or general merch choices as a means to represent the underrated and lesser known; the groups that not only deserve my endorsement, but require it. As a metal fan with the coveted wherewithal to discover and appreciate bands whose style of sound reaches far beyond the status quo, I accept it as my duty to don the apparel of these bands. Bands of which are too harsh, too violent, too controversial, too lacking in a sense of conservative musical structure for a novice listener to be able to comfortably consume, let alone recognize and appreciate the mastery at work in this regard.

I liked every Mastodon release.

This isn’t to say I don’t know my place; when and where to truly honor the greats. We all had to start somewhere, METAL –after all — had to start somewhere. While I have grown well past finding the music palatable, I would never be so brash or small-minded to deny the immense influence on the genre that these bands had. When I’m asked what the very best albums are, I will know exactly what to tell you. I’ll say Death, I’ll say Bolt Thrower, I’ll say Venom, Slayer, Mercyful Fate, or even Mayhem; bands whose works were undeniably critical in forming the foundation for which all great metal music has been built. Although tired to many of us, their tenure is warranted, and we should never neglect to award credit where credit is rightly due.

Hatecrew Deathroll is the best metal album.

With that aside, better metal music than the ‘greats’ ever produced is released on just about a monthly basis. It’s only natural; with the passage of time, progress is inevitable. The bar has been consistently raised in esoteric forms you likely were never made aware of. We see the opposite can also be true the more popular a modern metal group happens to be. To stay marketable and ensure mass appeal in modern times, your content needs to be watered down, sleek, simplified, easy to digest, toe-tapping pop music drivel. That, or a shameless pastiche of expired metal styles as a means to tap into the nostalgia-driven preferences of aging listeners, yearning for simpler times long since passed. I mourn regularly over all the lost hours the majority of metal fans waste consuming the popular or passé. The very best music in the world is buried deep underground and precious listening time is frivolously spent dwelling as opposed to digging.

Thank God for incognito mode on Spotify because I don’t know how much Nightwish I’ve heard and neither should you.  

While everyone is wasting their money on overblown festivals or the metal has-beens headlining concert halls to get a one-note flavor of live mediocrity, I’m dwelling in dives, witnessing metal’s true lifeblood. Underground aggression unleashed at the hands of local kids pouring more heart and soul into their craft than any of those overpaid power chord strummers or their fans could ever begin to imagine.

Someone please help me, I haven’t had fun in a long time.

Probably my all-time best experience was a basement deathgrind show that got a little out of hand out in Dallas at a good friend’s place back in ‘13. The sparse and boozed up group of unwashed onlookers, the poorly leveled half-stacks blaring, barely any room for the drum kit, the broken air conditioning, the blood, the vomit and the sweat on the floor; that’s what real metal is and always will be, those are the live shows I will remember forever and look back on fondly as my very best towards the end of my time here on Earth.

It was really Amon Amarth at a packed stadium. My buddy Kevin is a real dude, but the guy doesn’t have a giant Viking dragon ship or choreographed pyro in his cellar okay, come on.

So I implore you, instead of overlooking the barely legible logos and grayscale filtered photoshoots; take note of the particularly obscure and scummy among metal’s nearly infinite library of sonic splendor. For therein truly lies metal music’s greatest creative efforts! Take into account and embrace its raw production value, its lack of a serious following, its initial harshness to the ear, the way in which it is released, promoted and performed. For the sensibilities surrounding metal music at this level is the very essence of what makes metal music what it should be and should have always been.

I can’t stop listening to Ghost.

 

–  Brenocide \,,/

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