Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Show Me Your Metal: Exploring the sounds of metal music II

I'm continuing my series on metal music. My first post of the series was a flushed-out introduction to melodeath metal. This one will be an impulsive quickie-post which I may or may not elaborate upon later. The reason why is because it is not so much a primer on a sub-genre of metal as much as it is highlighting a subject that is influencing metal music, arguably much more so than in any other genre of music - Environmentalism.

Say what? Michael, you seriously mean to tell me that the same genre of music known lyrically for brutishly admonishing the worst traits of human nature and exhorting the impending rapturous apocalypse is down with treehugging? Well, yes, Reader. Exactly that. Hear me out, because it is actually quite a perfect fit.

Metal music is known for being angry, cynical, and critical; particularly of humans - those deceitful, destructive, devious, diabolical humans. Another popular subject matter in metal music is death and destruction. Apocalypse, fire and brimstone, all that jazz. What better avenue for metal music than to channel that spite and malice towards those irresponsibly contributing to the environmental degradation and eventual destruction of our hospitable planet?

Well, it's not just a perfect hypothetical. Environmentalism is already a focus for a lot of metal outfits. Here are some good examples:

Tool is known for having cryptic lyrics, but this one is not too hard to interpret. Global warming raising sea-levels, washing the earth clean of the human scourge. A more apocalyptic take. Learn to swim -

No interpreting here, Testament is straight-in-your-face with this thrashing anti-ballad. Simple ultimatum proposed: Take a stand, or Environmental Holocaust -

Global Warming, Ocean Planet, and Toxic Garbage Island are the names of just three songs from French metal outfit Gojira. If any metal band could be considered an "environ-metal band" Gojira would be it. Environmentalism has been THE dominant concept of their albums and driving influence of their music. I really am quite enamored with Gojira at the moment. I don't know if it is their unwavering passion for their subject, their unique stylistic blending of progressive metal, groove metal, and technical death metal, frequent  incorporation of atmospheric sounds and instrumentation, or their uncommon song structures and rhythm patterns. I think it's all of those things. Here is a beautiful and accessible (for those not accustomed to Gojira's more avant-garde style) song from their album From Mars To Sirius. Lyrically it is more magical, mysterious, and ambiguous and it ends with potential hopefulness rather than pessimism - something the first two examples from Tool and Testament did not -


I Hope you liked this installment. So the next time you hear a metal song with guitars riffing, drums kicking, and lungs screaming, you can think about how much they probably care about recycling.

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