Friday, October 10, 2014

The Bad Rock/Punk/Metal Music Writing Drinking Game

In case you haven't noticed, the writing people tend to do about rock-variant forms of music is almost universally awful. Here's a guide to a drinking game to make it a little bit better. Or worse.

Take a drink whenever the article invokes nostalgia.

Somehow, I miss the metal elitism of days past.

Take two if it invokes nostalgia for times that were only slightly not worse than now, in the writers esteem, just so they can establish curmudgeonly-ness.

The prototypical metal nerd was the type of person who wanted to push the boundaries of how crazy-fast they could play a song. These days, it seems so quaint, seeing that lanky pony-tailed dude in Guitar Center pull off overwrought arpeggios, telling everyone around about his new band. He was the archetypical punisher; if you mistakenly took the time to compliment him, he would somehow loop you into a 15-minute conversation ending with his critique of Devin Townsend’s latest output, and the production conceits found within the record. While it was a world I never spent too much time trying to explore, there was a comfort knowing that it was all out there if one ever wanted to engage in it.

While that track of metal went by, metalcore chugged along, capturing the hearts and minds of impressionable teens throughout the world. Also something easily ignorable, that scene relied on comparing dope 808 bass drop-drenched breakdowns threaded under dudes with really nice hair screaming at you in some dingy club in Orangevale, CA. Also, a scene of people you really never need to engage with unless you want to. But something terrible has happened. The streams have crossed, and a revolting freak of a genre has been unleashed onto the world. Instead of some compound word that takes two genres and fits them together like a puzzle, instead it takes form in the dumbest subgenre name to ever rear its head: djent.

Take a drink when an influential band is described as being somehow way better than the bands that supposedly copy them, as though the bands that are supposedly following so closely to their original formula are also somehow incredibly perverting it through what alterations they do add. And yes, that does mean you have to drink almost continuously through any article concerning At the Gates.

That’s why the idea of djent is such a fucking bummer. Even when Meshuggah had that one album that was literally one song extended to fit a full-length, they were able to employ subtleties in order to make a cohesive unit of an extended piece of work. But each band that plays the same down-tuned, lameass songs do so with very little care as to delicacy of a song, or even differentiating oneself from the rest of the pack.

Take a drink if Warped Tour is mentioned, as Warped Tour, in the eyes of Mature Adults™ is the venue for terrible bands that only teenagers like, and given that teenagers were responsible for propagating the popularity of acts like Black Sabbath, Metallica, Nirvana, Pantera, and At the Gates, they’ve clearly had an incredible negative effect on the history of metal music alone, not to mention punk rock.

The groups would love to be in the same conversation as other technical metal titans, yet the highest accolade they could achieve would be a spot in the Fleshlight stage at Warped Tour. In short, the genre is trite as hell, and it’s time for this shit to stop.

Take a drink if the writer blames a popular band themselves for less talented musicians copying them, as though we can genuinely blame Bathory for the existence of Burzum.

I retract my earlier statement of Meshuggah being to blame for all of this. Really, the fault lies squarely on the shoulders of Periphery. As soon as these dudes came out of the gate, every two-bit guitar player started copying the hell out of them.

If the article is about metal, take a drink when Emmure is namechecked as a negative comparison, as though a melodic prog-metal band with what amounts to a classy pop singer can in any way be compared to Emmure.

Upon first listen, you may think to yourself, “Wait a minute, what’s with that rhythm of boring, hum drum chug riffs? I thought I was listening to a technical band, not Emmure!”

Finish the entirety of your alcoholic beverage, whatever quantity of alcohol that beverage represents if Hot Topic is named in any way, for the exact same reason you drink when Warped Tour is mentioned. Also take a drink when writers suggest that when you remove definitive elements of a genre all you have is the generic stuff, because clearly that demonstrates how "generic" supposedly generic music is, as though you could call Yngwie Malmsteen a plagiarist by saying "Well if he wasn't playing it on an electric guitar . . ."

See, that’s the funniest part about this whole scene. If you remove the off-time guitar parts and the boring noodly bits, the track is reduced to your standard fare of Hot Topic-core scene metal.

Take a drink when mid-2000’s emo is mentioned, as though the writer missed their opportunity to rage against it when it was most likely to make them a respected arbiter of musical taste during high school.

Breakdowns, lame-o scream-sing tradeoffs, and not much else make this band sound like Saosin covering Meshuggah at a high school talent show. At least the new singer is pretty good when he’s singing? Too bad when he’s not fronting this shit-heap, he’s the new frontman of reunited old school emocore band From First to Last. A great feather to add to the cap of shit genres.

If the article is about metal, take a drink when Limp Bizkit is namechecked as a negative comparison, as though a melodic prog-metal band with a clearn singer can be compared in any way to Emmure. Drink even more when you realize that this means that writers are still trying to make fun of bands by connecting them to the legacy of nu-metal in 2014 long after the metal youth has so agreed that nu-metal was, in fact, quite enjoyable, that Slipknot's new album is an anticipated event and many metal bands are starting to incorporate elements of nu-metal, or are reviving the genre outright.

Anyways, Volumes is probably the Limp Bizkit of the pack,

Spit at the screen when the writer attempts to claim that Limp Bizkit have any kind of self-awareness.

though the LB at least has an aspect of satire to themselves.

Wipe off the spit and realize that the writer uses the word "dope" to positively describe something in 2014, and ponder how old an intern at a popular music site could possibly be.

At least the dog is pretty dope?

Take a drink when the article describes bands you listen to and/or enjoy that seem to indicate that they have no clue what they're talking about, as though SikTh's dual hardcore-styled vocalists, 2006-style breakdowns, or use of diatonic melody could ever be described as being in any way similar to Meshuggah.

Sikth (or SikTh if we’re being technical) has always been Meshuggah’s annoying-ass little brother. Take the shittiest elements of Deftones (and somehow not the 8-string guitar they employ)and  a little bit of grindiness a la Daughters, and you have Sikth. A true grandfather of the genre; being an inspiration for all other hacks to come together and have a fair shake at glory.

Ponder what parallel universe where the Deftones sound like Meshuggah.

Take a drink when the writer forcibly inserts Attack Attack! into the story years after the band has broken up just so he can link the much-maligned band and the other bands in the article he wishes to disparage and take self-congratulatory post-mortem potshots,  because ad hominem I guess.
In the band’s last breath, Attack Attack! attempted to also cash in on the subgenre, but fucked up royally.

Finally, take a drink when the writer suggests the inevitable, that this trend will come to pass (as though a genre named for a guitar tone will be the end of music history) despite the fact that some of the musicians talked about in the article have been major players in metal for well more than a decade now, such that the legacy of the big bands like Meshuggah, Periphery, and yes, Attack Attack! (with the countless follow-up bands that have emerged and gained popularity) are at this point, totally secure.

Attack Attack!’s fate should be a cautionary tale to all “djent” bands: this shit isn’t going to last. Jocking a band’s style so hard to the point where it creates a new genre, really isn’t anything new. We saw it in the early 2000s when tons of metalcore bands started using At The Gates riffs in their songs, and ten years later, people have moved onto a new band to copy. Really, djent looks to be on its last legs. There really isn’t anywhere else for the genre to move. So we ask of you, please just hang up the guitar and go back to the drawing table.

Take a drink, then take loudrock music writing back to the drawing table.

  • Austin C. Howe, Maryland, 2014

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