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" music listener to describe metal, and they'll likely give you a bunch bologna saying it's all noise and screaming. Because of that, I find myself wondering where that stereotype originated. Back in the '80s (and for that matter the '70s), 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 '80s. I've even had people tell me something isn't metal because it has clean vocals. Just when did this ignorance start? Plenty of metal has clean vocals. Clean vocals are a de facto metal trait.
Mind you, I'm not throwing a tizzy fit about this. For the most part, I don't care what people think of my coveted and holy music. But sometimes I feel the need to go out of my way and educate the uneducated. It's just in my nature. On a more serious note, we surely can't thank death metal for this stereotype. ...or can we? The general public views death metal as relentlessness 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 wretched stereotype because that's the "metal" that has broken through into modern mainstream culture. Typically, bands in those subgenres fall into two categories: ones that are actually metal, and ones that are not. I commonly find many of these bands lean towards the more hardcore side of things with too many chugga chugga "riffs" and one note action breakdowns. Contrary to that, there's the other side that takes the majority of their influence from metal, but splices it with hardcore elements. All of these bands fit under their respective umbrella, yet they're still distinctly different. So just what am I getting at here? Hardcore and anything that's heavy and abrasive 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 generally musically deficient. 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. Heck, 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 about whatever it may be. I guess I'll end my rambling here, but I just find this an interesting phenomenon, one that can often be frustrating.
The Metal Advisor