Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Post Surgery

Post-rock has a few definitions. Most people consider the sound definition of 'instrumental songs played by a rock band that slowly build up to a crescendo and then do it all over again'. This is a valid definition, after all, from a point and onwards that's what most post rock bands sounded like. I see your Mono and trade you my Explosions in the Sky, zero sum.

However earlier on, post-rock seemed to be an attempt to subvert and/or invert the tropes of the rock genre while using its own means. Hence, since rock and roll is generally considered a physical sort of music, we'll write songs that are terse and lacking in groove. If rock and roll depends on charismatic frontmen, we'll have none of that. If rock and roll depends on verse/chorus/verse structure, we'll just write long suites.

Then we have post-metal. It certainly also subverts similar rock cliches, but in a very curious way, not too many metal tropes. Sure, rock music has tame structures, but there's very adventurous metal music (structurally) and there's been such for a while now. Whereas the adventurous rock music (the more outre types of progressive rock) is comparatively outside its mainstream, in metal terms, Metallica and Iron Maiden with their 12 minute songs are right there in the middle. So, for a post-metal band to write a long suite doesn't subvert anything in metal terms. Or say, repetition. The original second wave black metal bands (completely and totally the opposite of 'post-metal' anything) were droning on the same riff ten years before Pelican. 

What are the metal music tropes post-metal could really subvert? There's guitar solos, and indeed most post-metal bands do not have too many of those. But still, guitar solos are not the pure domain of metal music. There's double-bass drumming and constant palm-muting, really. That's pretty much it. Harsh vocals are also very punk-related. Curiously, post-metal bands do not shy away from double-bass, muted chords or people yelling at all. There's melodic (and usually high pitched) singing, and indeed post-metal bands do not attempt anything like that most of the time. If there's a pattern in post-metal choices, it's hard to detect.

But I do submit that there is a pattern, and it's a very schizophrenic one.

1. Post-metal bands understand - and communicate - with various types of rock music much more than they do with metal music. 

This has to do a lot with how metal music was coming out of an aesthetic depression so to speak circa the end of the '90s so nobody knew exactly what metal music was (outside of black metal which was startlingly clear to identify). Post-metal bands then are in a dialogue instead with the same old common rock and roll tropes, and some of the time punk rock tropes in particular. A heavy metal guise is a tool utilized, it's not the point. Consider arty punks that perhaps like a couple of metal bands -let's say Celtic Frost and Metallica- and they're subverting rock and punk tropes by playing with a few metal sonic identifiers like double bass and palm muting. In effect this means post-metal most of the time is post-punk or post-hardcore in most of all, post-indie. This is probably infuriating to real punks that consider their post-punk to be a historically different thing, but if they could be open-minded for a minute here...

2. Post-metal bands are not subverting metal tropes as much as they're incapable of achieving them in the first place.

To play a complicated and considered guitar solo takes a certain degree of capacity that the metal musician has to hone for a few decades. Heck, to have two guitarists playing interesting harmonies without it all coming out like mud takes a certain precision too. So, no soloist? No solos. No guitar bros for life? Single guitar. No audible bass tone? No bass. A disturbing aura of an autopsy permiates. Most post-metal bands, for all their rhythmic or compositional graces, do not seem to employ any talented lead players. There is no trope to subvert when one is incapable of scrutinizing the trope first-hand. Likewise with a talented lead singer that's willing to span a range. Not too many of those around, and those that do exist would be more interested in actually playing to the trope than to subvert it (for good or worse). 

This is revealing for post-metal, especially why long-time metal music listeners feel ill at ease with it. Post-metal is the outsiders looking inside metal music for incidental reasons, it's not forward thinking metal music made by passionate metalheads trying to come up with something new by testing limits. 

A case could be made that whatever actual post-metal experimentation occurred, it happened in the early '90s with the short rise of progressive metal instead. 

Isn't it startling how little time post-metal listeners have for progressive metal and its meandering solos, overdramatic singers and complicated song structures? It's because these post-metal listeners aren't actually interested in metal music, they're interested in the warped reflection of other rock types on the metal mirror. This also explains why although most real metal listeners were captivated for a spell by the types of Pelican or Isis, ten years down the line do not listen to that music much if at all. It's not just because they're getting older and more conservative, it's because it's exhausting to confuse the outsider perspective for the inner one. It leads to alienation from one's own core ethos.


  1. Interesting post. Do you mean that most post-metal bands fit into one of those two things or that they fit into both simultaneously?

    I think my brother was really into Isis many years ago, and I haven't heard him mention them for quite a long time now. I wouldn't describe him as much of a metal listener, though.

  2. I don't have a very refined view on post-metal because of little exposure to it but it's something like: "post-metal seemed to be an attempt to subvert and/or invert the tropes of the metal genre while using its own mean." It seems to be a more complex thing though like you point out as sonically post-metal bands seem to fit in a very small space and are not really doing anything with most metal tropes. I've made a connection with postmodernism and post-metal before but now that I think about it the most "postmodern metal" there is got to be the alternative/experimental metal like Mike Patton's bands.

  3. Never really cared for Pelican. Isis I've got a soft-spot for. Then again, I haven't been listening to them for ten years (via being 20).

    I read once that you first reacted to Pelican as if they were some revelation, the shape of metal to come. Probably a pretty common reaction. Maybe I can appreciate post-metal more since I'm listening to it only once it's become passé? Basically, I'm not approaching an album like "Oceanic" as if it's a metallian epic; I'm listening to it as atmospheric chill-out music, a role it fulfills well. So when I listen to it, I don't need the soaring vocals or ripping solos. I get what I want and I'm happy.

  4. Panopticon is one of the greatest albums of the last 10 years. To me the way they use their guitars is much more interesting and "metal" (even without solos!) than most of the "gay-double-bassdrum" bands. Pelican were also great during the Australasia period. I enjoy frequently both albums. Of course both bands were not as great as "they" told us, but that's true for most bands. Ethos has nothing to do with anything. But that's just an opinion

  5. Both Pelican and Isis do very little to me but I've learned to appreciate Neurosis's Through Silver in Blood and Times of Grace if it counts something..

    I don't mind a little outside interest in metal but it can get a little annoying when "music people" want you to care about this or that stoner or sludge metal album of the year!

  6. Erenan: both, at different degrees.

    Nekromantis: it's interesting to consider anything Mike Patton does 'metal' at all because the closest he's ever gotten to an active interest in metal music is Mr. Bungle's guitarist being interested in Slayer and Obituary once as a teenager, and perhaps covering Black Sabbath once. Patton was interested, during 'Angel Dust', in Godflesh, but not as a metal band but instead because they were actively trying to make music that sparks uncomfort. Like an industrial, noise-ish construct, as he also liked Skinny Puppy and whatever else ugly and disconcerting on a similar way. Patton was never a metalhead, and I think his experience with them in highschool was bad (remember, he grew up on the thrash and glam metal boom), probably with metalhead jocks beating him up. Unfortunate, but that sort of thing shapes one's viewpoint.

    Alex_P: it'd be very interesting to you to go back and read the mainstream metal press for when Isis made a big splash. They were considered very metal, they figured on magazine covers of all the metal press. They weren't arty hardcore punk kids dabbling in sonic extremity, they were metal. For whatever value of 'metal' in the early '00s.

    Consider Mastodon. They started out decidedly un-metal. Sure, there were harmony guitars, but that came from Lethargy and similar 'caustic hardcore' bands they took influence from, and their favourite band was - and is, as far as I know - the Melvins. But with each new record, as embraced as they were and are by the metal press as metal saviours and the 'next metallica', they've been incorporating (and not subverting at all) more and more rock and roll and '70s metal cliches like clean crooning, sappy guitar solos and atmospheric Iron Maiden epics. They look to the '70s and early '80s for metal tropes because that's what they think metal *is*. Essentially, Spinal Tap, but done serious. And I'm not saying metal isn't in the '70s or '80s, it's just not only that, and it's telling when a mainstream band tries to play up its metallicness, what sort of tropes they pick first, how they use King Diamond as a joke for example, how outsidery it all sounds.

    So Mastodon were never a post-metal band, they were some sort of metallized post-hardcore, and increasingly they've become a mainstream metal band, albeit a confused and faux-intentioned one.

    ivory gate, was Panopticon the Isis record that came out at the peak of your interest in Isis? Have you listened to it much more than any of their other records? I ask because Oceanic is considered their best by most, and it is essentially because that's the record they (and I) paid the most attention to and the rest of their stuff seemed like retreads.

    I do agree they were playing wonderful music and their guitar interplay is something to appreciate and study. I'm just interested in their status as a metal band, a post-metal band, or whatever else.

    As to 'gay double bass drum' bands, I am not sure what your quote refers to because I never called anything gay, least of all double bass. If you're putting quotes around your own saying, would you mind terribly if I ask you to qualify your usage of 'gay' in this context?

    Also, for my demographic interests, what is your age, how long have you been interested in loud musics and do you play any instruments and if so to what capacity? I appreciate any answers in advance, and I will also quietly appreciate it if you decide not to answer as well, the internet has taught me that!

    You're free to any opinion but 'Ethos has nothing to do with anything' is by far the least correct one uttered in the premises, heh. I urge you to reconsider, or at least have a discussion with me on the subject someday.

  7. Nekromantis part deux: I also enjoy these Neurosis records and I do not consider them post-metal at all. They are instead *all* about a pathos and ethos that is very close to the core of what romantic Heavy Metal attempted. The lyrics to Times of Grace are anything but the vague disaffected nothings that other similar sounding bands offered, their terminology and symbols are ancient, very clear and startling language. I don't consider them a metal band exactly either, they're close to what Amebix were about, in my mind. I still listen to those two records too.

    As to outsider interest in Heavy Metal, I do not mind it, it's actually very interesting. It's just something to be aware of.

  8. "it's interesting to consider anything Mike Patton does 'metal' at all"

    I sort of agree but the "public" doesn't. Let's put it this way: some of Patton's music occationally makes use of metallic sonics to make postmodern art. Prime example: early Mr.Bungle. At least if I can trust wikipedia on postmodern art:

    "There are several characteristics which define the term 'postmodern' in art; these include bricolage, the use of words prominently as the central artistic element, collage, simplification, appropriation, performance art, the recycling of past styles and themes in a modern-day context, as well as the break-up of the barrier between fine and high arts and low art and popular culture"

    On to the Neurosis.

    "I also enjoy these Neurosis records and I do not consider them post-metal at all."

    I'm not trying to make any arguments here because as I said I know very little about post-metal. Only reason I brought up Neurosis is that that's what they are commonly referred to. Why do you think it is so? Because of their hardcore roots?

    "they're close to what Amebix were about, in my mind. I still listen to those two records too."

    Amebix is great!

  9. I think Neurosis are considered post-metal in retrospect. Their style post Silver in Blood was the blueprint for other post-metal bands like Cult of Luna and Isis, so they're retroactively lumped in with them, although they never sounded like metal to me. If anything 15 years ago when I bought Times of Grace (for two euros in today's currency, not adjusted for inflation) in a metal store nobody was interested in them and they sounded to me like some variation on 'extreme doom', like a more bipolar version of stuff the Finns were doing at the time with Thergothon and Skepticism and stuff like that, which, although decidedly from metal origins, had dropped most metal sonic structure identifiers by that time (there's no palm muted notes I can remember in Skepticism, for example. Or solos. Or meter. Or beat). I didn't know aboyt Neurosis' crusty punk stuff, or even their -somewhat hilarious Metallica-esque variations - and they still sounded very outside metal. I think the biggest tell is compositional. We can take any great Neurosis song (let's say "The Doorway" which opens Times of Grace) and at the end of each riff we can imagine what a metalhead would add to it as a coda to spice it up, to make it sound more interesting. Likewise for drum rolls and whatnot. Neurosis aren't resisting the urge to do the same to keep it simple because they're 'post' anything. It just doesn't occur to them. Because they're not metalheads. That's all they can play.

  10. Obviously that ‘gay’ reference was meant to be funny, it has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Scrap that and put ‘faux’ if you please.
    I disagree with most people claiming that Oceanic is the best Isis work. But, as always, that is just an opinion. To me it’s the album with the most astonishing guitars, best songs, and thankfully fewer guttery vocals.
    I believe that we have different things in our minds about that “ethos” comment, so it makes no sense to elaborate.
    I think the premises of your argument, which in short and somewhat (over)simplified is that post-metal has more to do with punk than metal is incorrect. One needs to check other projects by those band members to see that they probably have more metal connections than what you argue they do.
    But, is there any degree of metal-ness? More so, is a band - random selection - like, Angra more metal? Why?

  11. I'm sorry I did not understand your humour, but I can't promise I'll find calling things gay funny the next time either. Adjust accordingly.

    I'm interested in your definition of ethos, but I'm also patient. I can keep writing for the blog and you can keep commentating when you feel like it and I'll find out all I'm interested in eventually.

    The oversimplified premise as you put it is right. Post-metal has more to do with punk, indie rock and other outsider sources looking in than it has to do with heavy metal musicians working from within towards the outside (which I posit occurred in the mid '90s instead). And this is not a damning indictment, it's just an explanation as to why post-metal has become so startlingly passe so fast, why both musicians and listeners are jumping ship.

    I would like concrete examples of post-metal musicians with actual heavy metal connections before I can concede the point. Because if you are thinking of stuff like a person in Isis having played black metal after Isis with three other post-dudes and a guy from Leviathan is a metal connection, I find that in the very least arguable. Now if a guy in Isis had been playing with say, the Gates of Slumber pre-Isis, then I'd eat my words.

    As to there being a definition of metalness, well, yes, there are. Many. You can choose your own. From my blog there can be gleaned a - complicated, yes - construct of such a thing. By my definition loud guitars are not enough to call something metal (though it's certainly useful for shallow communication to do so). There needs to be addressed also then, an issue of ethos. What is the ethos of Heavy Metal? Well.

  12. Blame Post Metal on media. It's a media creation mostly. Metal magazines have to appear cutting edge, finger-on-the-pulse, etc. and if their writers appear to stagnate, i.e., start fixating on music released decades ago, or having a lot of trouble hiding disdain for a majority of contemporary releases, they are either canned or their roles are woefully minimized.

    Post Metal is popular music; it's not metal. As you say it has more in common with punk and indie rock. It's punker playing Metal. That's fine and all, but it's not Metal.

    The problem is when someone says it's not Metal. The bands don't necessarily get pissed; their fans do. And then you have an Internet shitstorm brewing because all people really care about is their own credibility and "authenticity;" it's never ever really about "the music."

  13. Yes, exactly. I'm certain Isis never gave a shit if they were considered metal or not.

    My interest is where fabrication becomes reality. Where second-wave 'post metal' bands believe this is the future of metal and go on and honestly play a post metal that never was metal to begin with. Isis may have never cared if they were metal or not, but you bet x new band in the neurisiscan form thinks of themselves as metal. Cutting edge, new and vital metal at that.

    Humans have a great capacity for imagination and the reworking of a senseless reality into a linear series of causal events via imagination. If enough metal media say post-metal's a real thing, then the next wave of bands will consider it a real thing and try to incorporate it into their realness-becoming-unrealness.

    This hasn't happened just with post metal of course. The great ghost of black metal looms over anyone picking up a guitar to play a tremolo riff today, for example. It's really fascinating.

  14. My oh my.
    No sir, overanalysing does not “separate the body from the mind”. To me, as to any listener, only one categorisation makes sense ‘good’ and ‘bad’. And still, this is in the eye of the beholder. Definitions of ‘metal’ are meaningless to me, because i don’t think that way. Why do you need to define something you listen to? If it’s good, it’s good, end of story. To be fair, ‘loud guitars do not make it metal’ is a simplified argument and i have to answer back with oversimplifications like ‘do you know a lot of punk bands with keyboards’? and ‘do you know a lot of punk bands with complicated song structures or more than 3 chords’? (both arguments refer to Isis).
    Now about that ethos. Do you really believe that Sepultura were driven by ‘some kind of eeeeeethoooooos’ [Hetfield voiceover] when they were recording Beneath the Remains? If ‘death, destruction and hate for society’ is your answer that describes this ethos, then this does not qualify for ‘metal’. There are many pop artists that sing about the same things. Even worse, is there a significant difference between this kind of ‘ethos’ and the ‘punk ethos’?

  15. Your tone is dismissive. Do you want to have a conversation or do you just want to reply to something?

    In the latter case:

    1. 'good' and 'bad' are weak tools for explanation. You either have an urge to explain phenomena around you or you don't. I'm not interested in what you find 'good' and what you find 'bad' if that's all you have to say about these things.

    2. Yes I do know some punk groups with keyboards and a lot more with strange or complicated song constructions, a lot more if you count New Wave and Dark Wave as punk as well (I do, just like I count death metal as a type of metal).

    3. I do think Sepultura were driven by many things, and they do display both pathos and ethos and the former has a lot to do with the same energy that drives a lot of punk, the latter's has an edge and a discipline that's not very related to it.

    4. There are many artists that sing about similar things. What you might want to pay some attention to is what makes them individual and distinct as much as you seem to pay attention to what makes them similar, so as to avoid reductionist arguments. That Christian Death sang about morbid topics does not interchange them with Deicide.

    In case of the former:

  16. I am not dismissive, and here is a brief attempt at overanalysing.
    The theme is twofold:
    1. Is post-metal (mostly) punk?
    2. Is ‘ethos’ a decent exploratory unit of analysis?
    Let me try my best, although i don’t really know the end-target for (2), because it hasn’t been stated. Meaning, “ethos used as an analysis for what?” “is defining the ethos the end product?”.
    Contrary to what you think binary thinking is a great analytical tool. The ‘good’/’bad’ distinction (or if you prefer the Y/N or 1/0) is THE analytical tool when you can’t or you don’t want to quantify what you measure. Now, if you want to measure something abstract like ‘ethos’ you need a working definition (i.e. characteristics). So, let me adopt the characteristics instead...
    Now instead of defining the characteristics of metalness, it is easier to define the punkness instead. If there is a clear definition of what punk is, then it is easy to define what metal is (what is left-out of the definition). All this under the assumption that ‘loud guitars’ means punk/metal in the 98% of cases (Yes, i know that even southern rock has loud guitars. So, ‘loud guitars with a certain attitude’ would do..).
    Punk, being a counter-reaction to 70s Musos/concept albums/20-minute tracks/10 minute solos/Tolkien lyrics/’long haired image’ could be summed up to the following characteristics:
    1. No musos
    2. No concept albums
    3. No 20-minute tracks/ three minute tracks instead
    4. No 10 minute solos/ NO solos instead
    5. No more than 3-4 chords to construct a song and the basic (verse/chorus/bridge) structure
    6. No Tolkien lyrics/ ‘social’ lyrics instead
    7. Short hair, pins, etc.
    What is left out of this definition can be regarded as ‘metal’ [mission accomplished for (2)]. Of course there is one variable not counted in the above definition, and that is Time.
    Now, going back to (1) let’s see if Isis or Pelican exemplify the characteristics of punkness:
    1. Certainly both bands have more than adequate musicians
    2. Pelican skip that part due to the lack of vocals. For Isis no concept albums (at least in the traditional sense)
    3. Both bands have compositions of over 10 minutes
    4. No solos
    5. Complicated song structures
    6. No Tolkien lyrics, but could they be called ‘social’?
    7. Pins out of the question, hair from short to long
    ISIS: Yes we are a punk band!: (2), (4), (6?), (7?), No we are not!: (1), (3), (5), (7?)
    PELICAL: Yes we are a punk band!: (2), (4), (7?) No we are not!: (1), (3), (5), (7?)
    We have to consider also that (2) is the case for a multitude of metal bands as also (6).
    Perhaps Time has something to do with metalheads adopting punk characteristics and the other way around.
    End result: placing equal weight to the 7 characteristics, in any case more metal than punk!!!!

  17. I am not sure why you think that's a 'binary' type of logic, as it is not. What you're attempting is to define what punk isn't in contrast to progressive rock. Basic dialectics. That has an underlying request for a definition of progressive rock to work against. Which you make. And your definition is an aesthetic one - 20 minute long songs, concept albums etc - which is fine, that's how most people define progressive rock. And Heavy Metal indeed certainly has ties to progressive rock. It's a dumber yet more ambitious cousin.

    But I am interested in *why* progressive rock people decided suddenly to make 20 minute long songs, and why punk people suddenly decided that's passe. And why, finally, heavy metal people decided that, although it's passe, they'll do it again.

    I am not interested then, in the underlying theme of your argument, which revolves around your preferences and trying to justify them. What colors your logic is that you like one sort of music more than another. What colors mine is that I want to be aware of how the music I like is shaped.

    The whys of progressive rock / punk / metal have everything to do with social situations, psychodynamics and philosophy, ethos, arete. Punk discarding long songs has much more to do with the economy in the UK in the 70s than it has to do with the number of bobby pins on Wakeman's leather jacket.

    On 1:

    I never said post-metal is mostly punk. I said it's played by (ex/quasi/mostly/arty) punkers. I said post-metal is a dalliance. I said post-metal is the result of cooption of tropes.

    Anyone can notice that post-metal has little to do with the Sex Pistols in terms of sonics. On the surface, it sounds like some sort of metal! Hence the confusion, hence the article.

    If one uses a definition of metal that rests directly on the sonics ('what is sounds like') there is no argument. Post-metal is a type of metal. End of story.

    I'd be fine with such a definition (and I was for some years) if it explained why post-metal is an autumn leaf rotting on the ground while the basic heavy metal branches seem to be as eternal as ever and in no conflict with the foundation of the tree. If it's a sort-of-metal, why doesn't it take its place on the grand HM tree with its countless branches and quietly cross-pollinate with all the other types of it? Like metalcore, it doesn't because it doesn't really belong. In trying to explore why, sonic-quality-based-definitions are not enough, we have to go to social dynamics, to psychological charges inherent in the silly loud musics we listen to, to an undercurrent of philosophy of art.

  18. Interesting conversation so far!

    Regarding Progressive Rock I think the origins of 20 minute songs can be attributed to the classical music education musicians had (especially keyboard players), appreciating as a result longer compositions and a more adventurous songwriting, as well as their will to push the physical mean of sound playback of those times, namely, the ever-loving record. The average vinyl could not contain more than 20 minutes of music on each side, without the sound quality deteriorating. These musicians pushed it to the extreme! Vanity? In some cases, perhaps.

    I also cannot consider Post-Metal, however briefly acquainted with it, as an offspring of Heavy Metal. The press embraced it as an attempt to remain "hip" and "in the know", at their relentless need to cover new, edgy ground. It is not Heavy Metal, it does not sound like it and certainly does not create the same feelings Heavy Metal does, as far as this poor listener is concerned. Its origins lie outside the Heavy Metal realms, as the musical expression of kids that listened to a variety of Rock music, some Metal included.

  19. I'd call 'Tales of Topographic Oceans' by Yes a result of vanity, certainly. Double-vinyl, baby.

  20. I am glad somebody found this exchange interesting. You know,it seems as if the verdict has been given, no matter what. Which makes the whole point of argueing futile. But still, listening track-by-track Panopticon, however i stretch definitions, or try to see things from a different perspective, they still don't sound punkish. They sound prog (i see those tomatoes thrown at me...). Just a different kind of prog...

  21. There are no tomatoes being thrown.

    You can end up at 'prog' from many different vantages. Have you listened to The Cardiacs?

  22. For a starter, let just all excuse my english as I'm french-canadian. Now, here we go.

    I don't read any Metal magazine nor any Metal website or critics or whatsoever, so let's take that into account. I just browse the internet and discover and pick up bands that I like throughout various process.

    What about the post-metal connection to the metal realm? If you base the metal genre all around "Heavy metal" of course post-metal (Cloudkicker, Pelican, Russian Circles, Isis, Intronaut, Red Sparowes etc) is far from it. But I never considered "Heavy metal" to be a true example of modern metal. First of, "Heavy metal" is really more "High, fast and excited metal" more than it is "heavy", compared to things like "Death Metal" anyway. This is where my background in Metal comes from, Death Metal. I'm young and I started with the early Children of Bodom, then derived from there to Kataklysm, Arsis, Cryptopsy, Cynic and until recently I discovered Gojira, went crazy, and searched for more of that... that little something that made Gojira unique. Low staccato and rythm based heavyness. As I said, if your lighthouse in the metal see is "heavy metal", this won't make sense. Maybe for you something metal is something fast and intense, while for me it's something really bassy, raw, pulling teeth-y, growly, creaky... So the post-metal genre really fall under this. But here... what is "metal"? Does having a loud distorted guitar makes something metal? Sadly, for me, it kind of does.

    Now on another note... if I take a post-rock band like "And So I Watch You From Afar" with its track "Set guitars to kill" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KU_wQb1qs-4 is it "rock" or "metal" ? Because from my point of view, it sounds really heavy, it's really closer to any metal band I know than it is to any rock band I know.

    I think I draw the differences between rock, metal and punk with some sort of "intensity quantifier". As rock is some sort of "more intense than blues" but sill laid back, and fun (lets not forget what "to rock" means (this is relevant for me because I speak french, so to discover that "to rock" isn't just about the mineral but about a movement is kind of interesting) I hear some sort of stronger "investment" in punk as a social music genre (the urge to change things with music, and it really transcend through the music) as Metal is really more a "journey into oneself deepness". I'm having some trouble explaining this.

    Explosion in the Sky is definetly rock. Pelican is definitely metal. There couldn't be any post-punk band in a sense of "deep, emotional and slow but still heavy in meanings", the any closer we could get to a punk sound mixed with laid back emotional "deepness" would be things like The Clash or any acoustic Against Me! songs, but as far as punk could go, an instrumental melodic song couldn't be punk.

    So for me, post-metal ain't got nothing to do with the punk culture and is definitely metal.

    I don't know if this was the point of the artcile, and to be honest I'm kind of lost in my own thoughts right now but anyway. Hope I could bring so interesting point, I'm sorry if this wasn't the case. Have a good day!

  23. Hi, k. Thank you for your thoughts.

    Indeed the point of the article is to not judge what is and isn't metal solely based on what it 'sounds' like, but what it connotes, the aesthetic considerations around the sound, not just the shape of the sound. Extreme forms of punk and extreme forms of metal have been sonically interchangable for a long while now.

    I agree Heavy Metal is about an inward journey of sorts, that's on the right track. I don't hear that at all in Pelican, a band bereft of any sort of higher narrative (as they're instrumental and the covers of their records and names of their songs convey examinations of the outer, not the inner). Can there be a journey when there is no narrative? Perhaps. But more often I think what there is is the promise of a potential journey without any of the steps really taken: lazy, low-effort art (even if the sound and composition themselves are high-effort and well-crafted) masquerading with melodrama as something bigger than they are.

  24. This post ( and following conversation) reminded me of something you posted at asides-bsides before. Were you said that to you Fields of the Nephilim were as much a HM band as any others. And that naggled me for awhile. Because surely they were a gothic rock band. It took me a long time to understand what you meant. If the defining difference between Heavy Metal and all other kinds of music is purely loud distorted guitars then the Fields are (most times) not a metal band. But if you read their lyrics and listen to the songs would you place them beside the Cure and other post-punk bands? Not in my opinon. There is nothing post-punk in what Fields of the Nephilim are achieving it is much closer to what Black Sabbath wrougth upon us. Even if there isn't a clear connection between the two as far as influences and instrumention goes. It took me awhile to realize that Heavy Metal is what we make it. Hope this made sense.

  25. I'm glad if I've contributed in any positive way.

    This blog is hibernating due to real-life work and concerns, but I'm happy people still find something in the backlog that is of use to them.