27 12 10 - 07:24
The DLA gets a lot of flack for referring to a broad range of genres -- stoner doom, post-rock, post-metal, modern death metal, tech death, metalcore, deathcore, and shoegaze black metal -- as "indie metal."
What does "indie metal" mean? It means they're indie rock that uses metal riffs. That's it. Metal-flavored indie rock.
Metal is a unique style of composition, a unique outlook on the world, and a unique image/ideology. The composition is narrative, or stringing together phrasal riffs based on the power chord; the outlook on the world is an epic, historical, post-human view; the image/ideology is that of a yin-yang but with masculine creative overtones, meaning that we accept good as well as evil but use them as means to an end of ever-increasing intensity and consequent beauty to life.
(That paragraph will be too much for indie metal fans. They'll start talking about how "badly written" it is because it's not awash in adjectives and exciting oddball verbs like an NPR piece. This shows you the audience for indie metal: former farm workers' kids and factory workers' kids, moved to the city, now trying to show everyone how smart they are and how cultured they are, even if in their hearts they're still just proles. They're trying to be something they are not, instead of just being what they are, which is honest and acceptable. If you are the son of a factory worker, don't pretend to be an intellectual. Be a better factory worker! If you want to know why our intellectuals these days are faux
, it's because they take prole-logic and prole-bias and then dress it up in academic terms they understand in a single context, but whose implications they cannot grasp. That's why indie metal kids are always snotty: they're trying to be better than you, so they can "feel like" they're rising socially.)
What indie rock wants to do to metal is assimilate it
, or convert it into metal-flavored indie rock, so that it is safe and predictable as rock music, but still keeps that authenticity of rebellion that metal has. People forget that rock music was designed as a perfect product: it repackaged the blues, itself a repackaging of Celtic folk country, into the simplest possible package and then started putting new flavors on it. But it's basically the same song form that has existed for centuries: verse, chorus (x3) + bridge + verse, chorus. Indie rock was a punk-flavored DIY imitation of this that incorporated a lot of the best aspects of hippie rock; the archetype of indie rock is early REM, Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth, etc. It's closer to The Beatles than it is to Slayer.
Consider this piece:
Gojira - "Where Dragons Dwell"
The song starts with a relatively plodding introduction. This violates the standard rock form, we think at first, but then we realize it's just an add-on that serves no further compositional purpose in the song. Then we launch into the meat of the song, which is a plodding verse/chorus which intensifies itself with half-sung/half-chanted vocals, but these are still over the same riff with a few aesthetic modifications. Then the song bridges, and ends. It has a verse/chorus riff pair with a few modifications and an introduction, but other than that, it's straight off the wall indie rock. They even use the same chord voicings in the way old emo bands (Fugazi, and pop-punk-prog like Jawbreaker) used, fanning the dissonant chords. They even use guitar in the same way rock bands do, which is as a rhythm instrument emphasizing repetition of a single note/chord; where metal guitars move a chord shape through a melody or phrase, rock music tries to come to this stop point and repeat the chord on a fixed but offbeat rhythm, so it can emphasize the vocals and not confuse the very simple song format.
Verdict: this song is metal-flavored indie rock.
This is why we call it "indie metal": it's not really metal, it's just indie rock with metal flavoring. Some have tried using similar ideas in metal without losing the metal-ness. Beherit's Engram
widens the metal song form without losing its structure that adapts to both riff and mood. Krieg's The Isolationist
wraps old style Krieg into the kind of song editing we saw on the live album, but uses technique (including aforementioned chord fanning) from post-rock/post-metal. They're trying to keep their metalness without dropping into rockness, but increasingly we're seeing how these techniques are incompatible because they're heading in different directions. Metal wants epic landscapes of phrase; rock wants a convenient beat and a clear chord to build vocal harmony upon. These are directions as opposite as liberal and conservative, spend and save, object-oriented and procedural, vegan and carnivore.
DEATH TO INDIE METAL
18 12 10 - 23:07
Melechesh - The Epigenesis
Power metal band Melechesh make a riff heavy, fast and technical metal that sounds like Helstar and The Haunted colliding in midair. Middle eastern influences are subtly done, reminiscent of Nile in the way they are worked around the heavy metal aggregate of styles. Energetic and introspective.
Graveland - Cold Winter Blades
Continuing an attempt to join black metal, Dead Can Dance and epic movie soundtracks, Graveland throw more of the metal back into their music with several remixed tracks and one new that presents perhaps the most "metal" and aggressive voice for the epic yet conceived. Another way to view this: if power metal were black metal, this would be topping the charts.
Divine Eve - Vengeful and Obstinate
Stygian onrushing doom-death with a Swedish guitar sound, Divine Eve follow up on 1993's As the Angels Weep
with a new EP of mid-1990s songs reworked and restructured that make good on the promise of that early work. Although these songs are doomy, they are mid-paced and run the gamut of death and doom styles artfully.
Herpes - Doomsday 2010 Demo
Old school death metal in the Autopsy style, with more punkish/grind influences like Cianide, Herpes keeps the "partially formed" feeling of early death metal while churning out riffs that fit together like chain links swinging toward the skull of a deserving victim.
Avzhia - In My Domains
If you can imagine Graveland and Summoning combined and rendered in a style like that of early Rotting Christ, with inspiration from Emperor, you can envision this sweeping, melodic and unabashedly sentimental album that evokes the spirit of early black metal. A sense of life being full of wonderful things, mostly evil, emerges from this dark musical epic.
Decrepitaph - Beyond the Cursed Tombs
Building on the death metal of two decades ago, Decrepitaph paste together Swedish riffs with the intensity of American mid-paced death metal bands like later Master and Malevolent Creation. The resulting primal battering encourages the old school death metal form to breathe again.
Malevolent Creation - Unreleased 1987 CD
Before they joined the legions of percussive death metal bashers, Malevolent Creation were a speed metal band sounding a lot like early Forbidden, Exodus, Artillery and Assassin thrown into a blender. Expect grandiose topics, ripping riffs and purely satisfying metal from these three tracks resurrected from the vault.
Krieg - The Isolationist
Chaos black metal band Krieg combine their early neo-improv punk-influenced black metal with post-rock, creating a simple but effective organization that uses post-rock technique to make music in the bolder, braver, less self-pitying style of black metal.
Salem - Playing God and Other Short Stories
After years as a Hellhammer-influenced black metal band, Salem have joined the modern metal bandwagon and in doing so, found a voice that fits their style much better. In fact, this is one of the few modern metal releases that makes sense from start to finish, with jaunty syncopated riffs dropping into sync with vocals like later Samael.
Cruciamentum - Convocation of Crawling Chaos
Attempting to make music in that seminal intersection between old Incantation and Profanatica, Cruciamentum render a dark churning through this short demo that conveys the old school death metal spirit and its contemplative alienation.
Into Oblivion - Creation of a Monolith
Most of the progressive or experimental metal out there simply repeats experiments in other genres, which are "new" to metal but only aesthetically; Into Oblivion attempt an instrumental metal approach working through layers of motif-based riff clusters. Reminiscent of Black Flag's "The Process of Weeding Out" if executed by Profanatica and Averse Sefira on shore leave.
Prosanctus Inferi - Pandemonic Ululations of Vesperic Palpitation
This album could well be a tribute to Fallen Christ, Dark Angel and other blistering speed bands who throw in dozens of riffs and stitch them together somehow into a single entity. High speed riffs that often use similar progressions clump together and form a super-high energy death/black metal hybrid with enthralling percussion.
Truppensturm - Salute to the Iron Emperors
Someone had to inherit the throne of Angelcorpse, and this low-tech phalanx of gnarled high-shock riffs fulfills the role and picks up in the process some of the murk of occult bands like Beherit and Blasphemy. The result is less martial organization than an exploding of raw Id, overrunning the social conditioning by which we normally live.
Celestia - Archaenae Perfectii
This flowing black metal suffers from "Kreator syndrome": with at least two powerhouse riffs per song, it stands out during those riffs but the rest of each song is disorganized supporting material which adulterates the impact. Yet some of the more interesting black metal this year.
Overkill - Ironbound
Many metal fans out there if waterboarded would admit that they just want 1980s speed metal to return. Never fear, as Overkill brings us a collection of carefully-polished songs in the middle-period Metallica style, with small elements of Slayer and Exodus worked in. Nothing old but nothing particularly new, just a more experienced ear for songwriting re-approaching these concepts and making a modern version in the older styles.
18 12 10 - 19:29
From the forum:
Metal riffing is usually most successful when there is a large transfer of energy from one riff to another, as this is how the song communicates.
Multiple riffs or layered riffs in the best metal often manage to achieve complex intertwining tension trade-offs, whether it be the battering complexity of tracks like âFall From Graceâ or poignant riffing of âMy Journey to the Starsâ. Melody, rhythm, and just about everything play into this structuring of music.
Trophic levels seem to be a good metaphor for this:
(Losing energy as you travel up the food chain)
Something like that. Much like how trophic levels have certain amounts of energy being transferred from one member in the food change to the next, riffs have that power as well. The main difference is that riffs are not locked into certain energy transfers, but rather by manipulating this, we can see varied results.
If we take a band that has very high net energy transfer, we get something like this.
(Energy is transferred totally from level to level; sturdy structure technique can fail if not enough energy spread throughout. Unlike later FAIL in that it has a large amount of energy that maintains interest.)
In this case, we have a song that transfers all energy from one riff to the next. This tradeoff creates an intense song, maintaining power throughout.
Now letâs take something more complex:
(Repetition of A riff later on is given more poignancy by putting in two riffs which help magnify its later recurrence.)
Now, we begin with a riff, before cycling into a riff with a distinct lack of power in comparison to the first (C), but this riff paves the way for the more powerful riff following it, and to cap it off, the initial riff is repeated, creating a sense of importance.
This structure would be a âjourneyâ as ANUS puts it, as the same riff is used at both the end and beginning, but the last one is more important due to interaction in between. (Mind you that there can definitely be more than 3 riffs, this is just an example.)
Now for ambient, itâs different:
---------- A ----------
(Different in that the idea is "framed" inside the music, as stated somewhere else on forum)
Now these are the ways you can FAIL.
(Loads of riffs, but there is no journey or real kinetic friction, so something like Necrophagist could be likened to this, âriff buffetâ. NO difference in energy levels, and very little to start with)
--A (It's probably C in disguise actually)--
(metalcore, AKA caveman structure. Very little variance, and the small jump in energy from C to B is pretty pathetic anyway)
Metal is interesting in that it can use both the ambient and riff like structure to great effect.
Let me know what you think, what can I fix, I know I ignored some things. Is this an oversimplification?
10 12 10 - 22:27
The "20something neckbeards who get paid $60k/year to lardass around 'programming'" on Reddit did a metal survey, and the results were interesting. While not much was revealed about how people enjoy metal, the data on what other genres are also enjoyed was a nice wake-up call, with classical music coming in second place to classic rock.
According to the Reddit metal survey, 61% of metalheads out there also listen to classical music.
You can see the full results of here