Think Tank: Reptilian Replication Edition
The venerable Dr. Dubzlinger of Washington has allowed your reptilian
hindrance.. friend… uhhhh.. acquaintance to offer up an edition of this esteemed column for your perusal. This post will cover the concept of replication in metal, or music in general really. I’m not talking about bands that are merely influenced by others, I’m talking about bands that seem to exist solely to replicate their idols. The (loose) question is – does it take as much/more skill to create a style or to create a nearly identical replication of an existing style?
Every now and then throughout history an artist has come along who is, over time, considered to be a pioneer, or of genre-defining proportions to their art. Their craft is the epitome. They have set a new standard for which others will reach. People will try to follow their lead, taking cues from various elements and mixing in styles taken from others, or original concepts of their own, creating something new (yet still somewhat derivative) with the combination. Then there are those who appear to have the ability to essentially forge the exact style of the original proponent. These are the artists we are going to be looking at today.
Art forgery has presumably been going on since art became a commodity. However sinister it may be, if you can create a duplicate of something that will fool even those who live and breathe the art, you must have some skill. I’m not talking about crude knock-offs, or copies of something that was originally some average run-of-the-mill exercise in mediocrity. I’m referring to high-end art. The material that scholars fight over ad infinitum. If they’re using AAS (Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometry) to check if your Fuseli is legit, someone else can fucking paint.
This concept can be applied to music. After the (awesome) Gruesome album Savage Land dropped earlier this year, the cold-blood started pumping through my little lizard brain. Death were such a force in the formation of one of the most heavily expanded upon genres of metal, yet it’s been nearly 20 years since their last album, and to my knowledge, no-one has managed to sound as close to them as Gruesome. Surely this is not through lack of trying, Death are fucking icons.
Hardcore Chuck fans may have been a bit sour about the band’s debut album sounding so similar to their beloved hero, others seemed extremely happy to hear a group continuing on his legacy. Gruesome (featuring members of Exhumed, Possession, Malevolent Creation and Derkéta) made no secrets about their worship and wore the influence on their sleeve proudly. They even went as far as to get Ed Repka‘s handiwork for the album cover. Had you told me 2015’s Savage Land was a contemporary remastered version of a lost Death recording between the Scream Bloody Gore and Leprosy albums, I wouldn’t have had the means to definitively prove you wrong. Do they possess a similar skill level as Death? I don’t think the answer is as easy as the one you’re about to assert so assuredly below in the comments.
The relationship between Death and Gruesome is not the only one that I considered for this article. Another similar connection can be made between Dissection and Thulcandra. In both instances (Death and Dissection), the vocalist/guitarist has died and the band disbanded following the death. The parallels are stark. Toilet Ov Hell’s resident grindologist Tyree offered me a couple of other similarly salient examples of worship to add to the two I have used so far, with Regurgitate aping the early goregrind period of Carcass and Blasphemy bowing at the throne of Sarcófago.
What I’m asking could be easily misinterpreted. The skills required to create a style are different to those required to perfectly mimic it. With practice, practically anyone can learn to play an identical cover of a Metallica song but to create an original song/album which could ostensibly be a Metallica song to a devout fan, is surely an art of its own.
Well I’ve said enough. It’s time for you to have your say. So crack a beer, pour a single malt (islay or GTFO), put on your dankest smoking jacket and fire up!