Thursday, August 18, 2011

Just What is Metal to the Average Person?

One thing that's recently struck a chord with me is how the general public views metal. Ask any "normal" listener to describe genre, and they'll likely give you a bunch bologna saying it's all noise and screaming.

As such, I find myself wondering where that stereotype originated. Back in the eighties (and, for that matter, the seventies), the most mainstream of mainstream metal had clean vocals or something similar to it. Harsh vocals were, for the most part, something that only appeared with the more extreme thrash metal acts and the death metal bands that started to surface in the mid to late eighties. I've even had people tell me something isn't metal because it has clean vocals. Just when did this nonsense start? Plenty of metal has clean vocals.

Mind you, I'm not throwing a tizzy fit about this, and I don't care what people think of our holy music. But sometimes I feel the need to go out of my way and preach where necessary. The general public views death metal as noise and screaming, but, contrary to the popular belief, there's very little screaming in death metal. Most vocals are done gutturally, or with the diaphragm, creating a vocal technique called "growling." Naturally, there's screaming here and there, but what subgenre of metal doesn't have a bit of screaming? Rob Halford has been at it for 30+ years (even if he can't do it anymore...). Sheesh.

I'm sure we can also "thank" the metalcore and deathcore scene for this stereotype because that's the "metal" that has broken into modern mainstream culture. Typically, bands in those subgenres fall into two categories: simply put as, ones that are actually metal and ones that are not. I find many of these bands to lean toward the more hardcore side of things with too many chugga-chugga "riffs" and one-note breakdowns.

Alternatively, the other side takes the most influence from metal, but splices it with elements of hardcore. All of these bands fit under their respective umbrella, yet they're still distinct in their approach to music So just what am I getting at here? Hardcore and anything that's heavy is labeled as metal by the mainstream and normal, everyday people. Fundamentally, that's where we encounter the misconception that all metal is screaming, noise, and musically challenged. Quite interesting, to say the least.

It's pretty unfortunate that we can't all go out and educate that masses about our favorite music. But that's just it. Metal isn't for the masses, and we're going to find stereotypes floating around. I'm not as educated as I'd like to be on every subject, but I'm not about to go around and make some sweeping generalization. I guess I'll end my rambling here, but I just find this an interesting phenomenon, and one that can often be frustrating. 

-TMA

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