Mordy's Metal Listening Club - New Albums Every Monday

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if there was anything remotely interesting about the production i could give this a positive review tbh

call all destroyer, Monday, 19 April 2010 18:11 (4 years ago) Permalink

glenn, I guess I wonder by that measure (breaking voices, surging bass, crunchy guitars) that makes bands like Thursday, Thrice, Coheed + Cambria, My Chemical Romance, or The Used metal too. Obv genres are as useful as far as they help communicate, and I'm not trying to draw firm lines where this is metal and this isn't, but I wonder what the use is to call HIM metal when they seem to share a lot of commonalities with a band like Evanescence and less so with a band like Iron Maiden, or Black Sabbath (whether or not those are huge influences on them). And obv influences distill in weird ways and maybe in some ways a band like Thrice IS heavily influenced by metal. But what does it give us to call HIM metal outside making explicit that influence (that could otherwise be stated/acknowledged).

Mordy, Monday, 19 April 2010 18:13 (4 years ago) Permalink

this actually seems to be of a piece with europe's boner for crunchy-but-melodic rock that i am tangentially familiar with, except it gets marketed to teenage girls too?

i'm on the 6th track--i mean, after a while you've reached your daily limit of sugary hooks, right?

call all destroyer, Monday, 19 April 2010 18:27 (4 years ago) Permalink

Lacuna Coil-style

Mordy, Monday, 19 April 2010 18:28 (4 years ago) Permalink

Turbonegro do it so so so much better

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Monday, 19 April 2010 18:28 (4 years ago) Permalink

I was actually going to do Turbonegro - Apocalypse Dudes last week but I decided against it as I knew far too many would say it wasnt metal.

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Monday, 19 April 2010 18:29 (4 years ago) Permalink

Wrapping up last week's right now with my 100th or so listen to Remission. Such an absolutely fantastic album and the first I turn to when I want Mastodon to pummel me instead of regaling me with prog tales of Rasputin and shit. "March of the Fire Ants", "Mother Puncher", "Ol'e Nessie", love 'em all.

I will give the HIM a fair shot, but I could never get the Spotify U.S. proxy thing to work right and it's not on Grooveshark, so unless I find another way I might skip it.

he's always been a bit of an anti-climb Max (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Monday, 19 April 2010 18:30 (4 years ago) Permalink

I guess the good news about weeks like this is that I don't have to worry someone will beat me to the albums I'm gonna pick.

Mordy, Monday, 19 April 2010 18:30 (4 years ago) Permalink

it's on lala jon

call all destroyer, Monday, 19 April 2010 18:31 (4 years ago) Permalink

actually that reminds me the fates warning is not on lala--any u.s. bros have any tips for hearing that?

call all destroyer, Monday, 19 April 2010 18:31 (4 years ago) Permalink

Fates Warning is on Grooveshark.

Thanks for the lala tip.

he's always been a bit of an anti-climb Max (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Monday, 19 April 2010 18:34 (4 years ago) Permalink

ok word. will investigate.

call all destroyer, Monday, 19 April 2010 18:34 (4 years ago) Permalink

"in the arms of rain" is my new favorite HIM track fyi

call all destroyer, Monday, 19 April 2010 18:35 (4 years ago) Permalink

lol i'm probably gonna download that one track for the misc. section of my ipod

call all destroyer, Monday, 19 April 2010 18:36 (4 years ago) Permalink

Seeing some of the band names tossed around, I guess I shouldn't be so dismissive of HIM. I mean, I have at one point or another heard and enjoyed album's by Thrice and Coheed and Cambria... so... glass houses and such.

he's always been a bit of an anti-climb Max (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Monday, 19 April 2010 18:36 (4 years ago) Permalink

i am liking it WAY more than i ever thought (tho it's still outside of something i would actually buy) so props glenn, i would have just ignorantly hated on this band without you.

call all destroyer, Monday, 19 April 2010 18:39 (4 years ago) Permalink

I think it's a context issue. When I come to a Coheed album I'm expecting one thing, and when I come to a HIM album (through the metal listening thread, but through the genre signifiers too) I'm expecting another and then it fails to deliver. It's not a super successful album as Hot Topic Punk either tho -- since the tunes aren't super memorable and I'd still rather listen to MCR's Teenagers again. So it kinda fails on its own level, not to mention failing on the level on which I was trying to listen to it. It took half the album before I realized that it wasn't about to turn into metal (there's that turn on so many albums where the first track is soft, melodic, and then the next track is brutal) and that never happens here. But maybe it says something about me that I expect brutality from metal and am disappointed when it doesn't show up.

Mordy, Monday, 19 April 2010 18:39 (4 years ago) Permalink

(Also, glenn, I think it was a great idea to include HIM if only to open up these discussions about what is metal, what is HIM, etc. So even if I'm hating on it, I think it was a fab choice.)

Mordy, Monday, 19 April 2010 18:42 (4 years ago) Permalink

xp i disagree with part of that--i think it's pretty successful on its own terms. i guess i can see mcr being more "memorable" but i always found the tone of their stuff a complete turnoff, where HIM is kinda campy in a way i can get with.

call all destroyer, Monday, 19 April 2010 18:43 (4 years ago) Permalink

So the first track on HIM was a lot better than I expected, but "Scared to Death" is killing a lot of the goodwill built by it. This is just too far on the cheesy ballad end of things for my tastes. Yeah, wow, the "I am scared to death to fall in love with yooooouuuu-oooh-oohhh" is just killing me. Hoping the rest of the album has a lot less of this and more of the first track.

he's always been a bit of an anti-climb Max (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Monday, 19 April 2010 18:43 (4 years ago) Permalink

and yeah ppl in this thread shouldn't fear bringing in something "not metal enough" esp. since i'm pretty sure we all listen to plenty of other kinds of music.

call all destroyer, Monday, 19 April 2010 18:43 (4 years ago) Permalink

i think scared to death was the worst track actually

call all destroyer, Monday, 19 April 2010 18:44 (4 years ago) Permalink

Yeah "Heartkiller" is a pretty good pop tune.

he's always been a bit of an anti-climb Max (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Monday, 19 April 2010 18:45 (4 years ago) Permalink

Should've been able to tell from the title alone, but "Disarm Me (With Your Loneliness)" is on some 80s power ballad ish, and not really in a good way.

he's always been a bit of an anti-climb Max (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Monday, 19 April 2010 18:55 (4 years ago) Permalink

"Love, The Hardest Way" has a killer solo but I wish they'd have kept those synths from the intro going.

he's always been a bit of an anti-climb Max (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Monday, 19 April 2010 18:59 (4 years ago) Permalink

(xp from back upthread where Mordy mentioned Thrice)

I wasn't saying that breaking voices, surging bass and crunchy guitars inherently make something metal, I was asking what does. I just went and listened to some Thrice, for comparison. Clearly they have a lot of non-metal songs, but if I take the most metal-ish ones I can quickly find, like "To Awake and Avenge the Dead" or "The Earth Will Shake", I still find a couple easily identifiable non-metal elements: the singing goes between hardcore shouting and soulful sighing and this emo-ish sensitive-boy croon, and the drums are much more twitchy than battering. It'd take me a while to construct a music-theoretical explication of what I mean by that, exactly, but I have a feeling it could be done.

Now take nearly anything loud from Sentenced's final album, say "Vengeance Is Mine" or "Consider Us Dead" or "Lower the Flags". As far as I can hear, HIM are doing a very similar thing. A little more production sheen, a little more keyboard support, and Ville Laihiala's singing has a throatier rasp than Ville Valo's, but otherwise it seems to me that it could easily be the same band, a few years apart. Now you could say that by the end, Sentenced wasn't "really" making metal, either, but to my ears it's a pretty smooth continuum all the way back to Down, at least, and I hear plenty of similarity in the band's music even back to their two albums with Jarva grunting.

So take these gradual musical evolutions, and I don't understand how we confidently draw lines and say "Oh, this clearly isn't metal". Not on aesthetic grounds, I mean. If we're bringing album-covers and politics and other stuff into it, that's its' own deal. But if tomorrow we unearthed two unknown early HIM demos with a death-metal singer, would we feel differently? If so, I think we're not so smart.

My own theory (and this is why I used HIM's own "genre" label, Love Metal) is that the thing we're responding to here is, more than anything else, Ville Valo's emotional affect and vocal presence. We're used to distance, to listening to metal as observation. Guys in corpsepaint are doing a spectator sport; they're not offering to come spoon with you and get paint in your hair. Ditto for power-metal technique, or black-metal muttering, or Dani's shrieking, or obviously anybody trying to sound like a monster. Valo's singing, on the other hand, or maybe more importantly the production of his singing, is disarmingly human, more Tori Amos than Dio or Gaahl or Wrest. More seduction than ceremony. Oh, and he sounds happy. Not a small thing, that last point.

If there's anything to this idea, by which I mean anything that resonates with anybody other than me, I think it has interesting cultural implications for the form. If happiness and unavoidance of contact are what makes this "not" metal, should they?

glenn mcdonald, Monday, 19 April 2010 19:16 (4 years ago) Permalink

that is interesting reading, but tbh what makes this "not metal" to me is the straight-up melodic pop chord progressions and song structures they use on exactly 100% of the album.

call all destroyer, Monday, 19 April 2010 19:22 (4 years ago) Permalink

We're used to distance, to listening to metal as observation. Guys in corpsepaint are doing a spectator sport; they're not offering to come spoon with you and get paint in your hair. Ditto for power-metal technique, or black-metal muttering, or Dani's shrieking, or obviously anybody trying to sound like a monster. Valo's singing, on the other hand, or maybe more importantly the production of his singing, is disarmingly human

This feels false to me. On one hand, even the most human voice (let's say Joni Mitchell imo) is still affected when singing and is constantly using that affect to deal with affect/emotions in really interesting ways. So there's a level of spectator in all music. No one is rubbing their paint in your hair. But moreso, in many ways metal is even more personal to me and is often dealing with affect in a way that's incredible intimate. Sometimes that's terrifying, or more recently in dealing with NSBM, is there anything more personal than listening to a band that hates me? Whose music is being aimed precisely towards me and my personal identity? By contrast to that, HIM is incredibly distant, and many of their lyrical/musical tropes are almost too cliched to strike in a personal way at all. To draw a comparison to last week's albums, I feel much closer to Kyuss than I do now to HIM -- part of that is sensorium-related (or synesthesia) as I associate Kyuss now with a warmness, a slow desert feel, like lying out on a bench in the sun (and it helped that the day I first listened to it was really warm and I sat outside, and there's a drug association there too). With HIM I feel impossibly distant, almost like I'd have to be a totally different person to relate to what's going on there (specifically, a 17 year old version of me).

Also, I don't hear happiness in his voice. Is there a specific track you're hearing that in?

Mordy, Monday, 19 April 2010 19:23 (4 years ago) Permalink

but i agree, dude's vocals are a+

call all destroyer, Monday, 19 April 2010 19:23 (4 years ago) Permalink

You've got some great points in there glenn. Not sure I've got my thoughts in a nice orderly place to respond, but in general I pretty much agree with your general gist.

Just wrapped up the HIM. I would say there might be a handful of tracks I'd be willing to hear again, but I can't say I'll find myself aching to go back to any of it. There was a time in my life where this would have been right up my alley, but I feel like I've heard enough variations on this type of music that I don't have a place for it. I can see the merit and understand why he's got a pretty dedicated following, but I just don't feel like this is offering me something I can't find in other bands.

he's always been a bit of an anti-climb Max (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Monday, 19 April 2010 19:24 (4 years ago) Permalink

I'm surprised Chuck isn't taking part in this.

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Monday, 19 April 2010 19:24 (4 years ago) Permalink

Sure, all recorded music is obviously distanced by definition. But being Jewish and listening to NSBM is "personal" on a different axis than what I meant. I didn't mean that Valo's style "makes" you feel close to him; that part of your reaction is entirely up to you. But he sounds open, in a way that most metal singing feels to me much more closed. Or at least that's my subjective attempt to distill the objective difference, which is obviously a dubious proposition (but then, so is typing about music at all).

glenn mcdonald, Monday, 19 April 2010 19:35 (4 years ago) Permalink

goddammit i accidentally listened to three songs from the nymphetamine bonus disc instead of the album itself

call all destroyer, Monday, 19 April 2010 19:42 (4 years ago) Permalink

I guess I hear his "openness" as stylized in a totally different way, which may be a product of listening to so much "emo" over the last decade. Artists who I generally associate with openness (Chris Carrabba, earlier Conor Oberst, Geoff Rickley) feel open to me because it sounds like there's so much risk for them in singing what they sing -- so much seems almost affectless (particularly stuff like "This Bitter Pill," "Understanding in a Car Crash") which is an affect itself, but there's something raw here. I can't get by here how stylized the vocals still are, which doesn't code for me as openness. (Death metal growls, which I still can't wait to discuss, and I've got a paper on them that I'll be ready to show you guys in a few weeks, are open to me in a totally different way.) The vocals are too clean, and even when they break-falter-crack they do so in a way that's so immediately recognizable as a trope of the genre that I'm not impressed by the "openness."

Mordy, Monday, 19 April 2010 19:44 (4 years ago) Permalink

(Which is to say: This definitely has something to do with when I'm hearing this, and I might've felt a little intimate connection to the singer if I had heard it just a few years ago. Maybe.)

Mordy, Monday, 19 April 2010 19:45 (4 years ago) Permalink

I've got a paper on them that I'll be ready to show you guys in a few weeks

psyched for this!

call all destroyer, Monday, 19 April 2010 19:45 (4 years ago) Permalink

HIM def young person's music in general

call all destroyer, Monday, 19 April 2010 19:46 (4 years ago) Permalink

^^^^^

If HIM were around in 1991-92 I'd have been in heaven.

he's always been a bit of an anti-climb Max (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Monday, 19 April 2010 19:47 (4 years ago) Permalink

Re "young person's music", I note for the record that a) I'm 43, but b) I often still respond very positively to art that I "would have" liked when I was younger.

Also, I definitely agree that HIM is stylized, and I didn't mean that Valo is impressive or unusual in his "openness". Maybe reverse the question: is there anybody you do think of as clearly metal whose singer sings like that? Could Entombed be metal if they had Conor Oberst singing?

glenn mcdonald, Monday, 19 April 2010 19:57 (4 years ago) Permalink

I like early bright eyes , but keep conor away from metal!

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Monday, 19 April 2010 19:58 (4 years ago) Permalink

throwing in a vote for eluveitie's Slaina album.

forksclovetofu, Monday, 19 April 2010 21:45 (4 years ago) Permalink

Eluveitie is remarkable. I can't wait for folk metal week(s) (there's so many of it!).

Mordy, Monday, 19 April 2010 21:48 (4 years ago) Permalink

Btw, I just wanted to give kudos to kerr + glenn. Both weeks are really productive in terms of how the albums speak to one another, especially in unpredictable ways. These three albums clearly share something (some kind of gothic sublimity), though how they go about it is so different from each other. More to say on this after I've listened to the albums a bit more, but esp Fates Warning w/r/t HIM, where one expression is elongated, bombastic, stylized in a really familiar metal way and the other is more softened, pop, mall-style (whatever that may or may not be), but both seem to be drawing from similar impulses. The theatrically occult, the dramatically morbid. Cradle of Filth too, tho there the voice is doing such weird things (it's almost insane, the more I listen to it -- it's like a voice of total lunacy in such a really interesting way) that it's hard to really compare it with the other two. Ie: It's hard for me to get past the voice. But clearly they're all covering similar aesthetic terrain, but in such different (chronological, stylistic) ways.

Mordy, Monday, 19 April 2010 21:51 (4 years ago) Permalink

One thing I'm interested in w/r/t metal is how often it's coded super masculine (Deena Weinstein writes about this a bit in her book), but stuff like this week's albums seem to undermine that. It's so theatrical and esp re: HIM very soft almost, without the hard masculine edges you expect from metal. (I used to see this a lot when I hung around metal/punk forums and something like HIM would often be called "gay," or something like that which indicates the listener's discomfort at hearing something that doesn't conform to the expectations of metal music.)

Mordy, Monday, 19 April 2010 21:59 (4 years ago) Permalink

Another reason I hate Him is because they forced the Doug Scharin HIM to change their name despite doug having it first.

What Mordy says about COF/Him being "mallrock" they do get Kerrang covers and lots of teenage girls like them.

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Monday, 19 April 2010 22:27 (4 years ago) Permalink

Actually, I think Scharin forced the Finnish HIM to release their US material as HER until they eventually paid him for right to share the name.

For the curious, and especially those among the curious who think of Conor Oberst as the antithesis of metal, the second disc in the two-disc version of Screamworks is Valo doing hushed mostly-acoustic versions of the whole album. Really.

glenn mcdonald, Monday, 19 April 2010 23:36 (4 years ago) Permalink

Haven't listened to this Cradle of Filth in a loooong time, think it still might be my favorite of theirs. They may be pretty much a cartoon version of an extreme metal band at times, but I still feel like this album is full of some pretty great riffs and solos. Love pretty much all of the guitar playing in "Nemesis".

he's always been a bit of an anti-climb Max (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Tuesday, 20 April 2010 02:47 (4 years ago) Permalink

Like the theatrical piano bit in "Gabrielle" would annoy me in pretty much any other band, but its all part of the CoF charm.

he's always been a bit of an anti-climb Max (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Tuesday, 20 April 2010 02:58 (4 years ago) Permalink

Hahaha this bit in "Absinthe with Faust" reminds me sooo much of the Tenacious D inward-singing skit. Never caught that before.

he's always been a bit of an anti-climb Max (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Tuesday, 20 April 2010 03:02 (4 years ago) Permalink

haven't listened to any of this week's picks yet but I'd just like to say that this thread has been top-notch.

¬_¬ (Alan N), Tuesday, 20 April 2010 14:02 (4 years ago) Permalink


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