Mordy's Metal Listening Club - New Albums Every Monday

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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 (3 years ago) Permalink

but i agree, dude's vocals are a+

call all destroyer, Monday, 19 April 2010 19:23 (3 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 (3 years ago) Permalink

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

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Monday, 19 April 2010 19:24 (3 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 (3 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 (3 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 (3 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 (3 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 (3 years ago) Permalink

HIM def young person's music in general

call all destroyer, Monday, 19 April 2010 19:46 (3 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 (3 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 (3 years ago) Permalink

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

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Monday, 19 April 2010 19:58 (3 years ago) Permalink

throwing in a vote for eluveitie's Slaina album.

forksclovetofu, Monday, 19 April 2010 21:45 (3 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 (3 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 (3 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 (3 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 (3 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 (3 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 (3 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 (3 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 (3 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 (3 years ago) Permalink

I'll say a little about Fates Warning to start my day. My own personal creation-myth for theatrical progressive metal holds that Queensrÿche defined it with Rage for Order, but that it was Fates Warning's Perfect Symmetry and especially Parallels that made it into a genre, as opposed to just one band's particular style. (And later Dream Theater took it over and led it astray, but that hadn't happened yet.) Fates Warning always worked with a more muted and more limited palette than the other two, and although I think that eventually wore on me (A Pleasant Shade of Gray, in particular, seemed helplessly aware of its own drabness), in some ways it makes these earlier albums more intriguing. I.e., anybody can make complex-seeming music by layering enough stuff onto it, but to make complex music with fewer layers you actually have to compose it.

I know for some FW fans the Arch era is the only one that matters, but I admit I never learned to love his singing. Alder, conversely, I adore. The Journey comparison is both cheaply dismissive (Alder and Perry belong to a long tradition of singing that neither of them remotely invented, and Perry is the notorious poster-child for its wimpiest manifestation) and technically accurate (they do both belong to it, clearly). For me the key thing about Alder's style on Parallels is that he provides the legato ties that hold together the twitch-shifting turns of the music behind him. In a lot of metal, everybody goes full-speed, or full-force, or whatever full-thing the band happens to be going for. Contrast isn't unheard-of, but metal's defining quality it ain't.

glenn mcdonald, Tuesday, 20 April 2010 14:51 (3 years ago) Permalink

listening to "abinsthe with faust" from nymphetamine right now (a++ title if nothing else). this album has some catchy riffs for sure but i can't really get w/the camp/goth elements and terrible keyb/string sounds.

call all destroyer, Tuesday, 20 April 2010 18:58 (3 years ago) Permalink

somewhere near the end now and i'm pretty bored. i was surprised by "guilded c***" because it was pretty aggressive and i thought this band wasn't really like that. so the rest of it has been disappointing me by fulfilling my expectations. also: TOO LONG!

call all destroyer, Tuesday, 20 April 2010 19:33 (3 years ago) Permalink

soooo many piano/ambient/fake-choir intros and outros

call all destroyer, Tuesday, 20 April 2010 19:47 (3 years ago) Permalink

Am a week behind but I'm gonna try this Emtombed thing once the football ends.

tart w/ a heart (a hoy hoy), Tuesday, 20 April 2010 20:37 (3 years ago) Permalink

It's ended

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Tuesday, 20 April 2010 20:37 (3 years ago) Permalink

Thus the week behind. Let a fella catch up, gonna still get in all of this weeks listening.

tart w/ a heart (a hoy hoy), Tuesday, 20 April 2010 20:46 (3 years ago) Permalink

"All ILXors and Lurkers welcome!*"

*except ones that saw this thread a week late.

tart w/ a heart (a hoy hoy), Tuesday, 20 April 2010 20:47 (3 years ago) Permalink

I think he meant that the match is over. You're welcome to keep talking about last week's albums.

glenn mcdonald, Tuesday, 20 April 2010 20:55 (3 years ago) Permalink

ah glenn, you and yr logic.

currently listening, and enjoying. being roughly the 14th metal record i've ever listened to though, i have nothing to say about it as I don't yet know anything else about the genre that falls into 'i like this' or 'i don't like this'.

tart w/ a heart (a hoy hoy), Tuesday, 20 April 2010 20:57 (3 years ago) Permalink

yeah, the silly sod posted after the game already finished

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Tuesday, 20 April 2010 20:59 (3 years ago) Permalink

winston feel free to give albums ratings based on arsenal players ;)

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Tuesday, 20 April 2010 21:00 (3 years ago) Permalink

cradle of filth is definitely a Lolmunia to my eyes

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Tuesday, 20 April 2010 21:02 (3 years ago) Permalink

Kyuss - Armand Traore (Talented sure, but needs to grow a fucking pair before worthy of actually playing.)

Entombed - Thomas Vermaelan (Hard headed motherfucker, like a lot against my better judgement.)

tart w/ a heart (a hoy hoy), Tuesday, 20 April 2010 21:04 (3 years ago) Permalink

If Entombed is actually some weak shizz then my bad, 14th metal record and all that.

tart w/ a heart (a hoy hoy), Tuesday, 20 April 2010 21:05 (3 years ago) Permalink

i thought you were checking out the EOY metal polls?

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Tuesday, 20 April 2010 23:48 (3 years ago) Permalink

I meant to and forgot. Still have the spotify playlist, so I may still sometime.

tart w/ a heart (a hoy hoy), Tuesday, 20 April 2010 23:51 (3 years ago) Permalink

you said that about the 2008 poll!

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Tuesday, 20 April 2010 23:52 (3 years ago) Permalink

I actually downloaded and listened to a bunch of them! The few metal records I have actually listened to are basically 10 random 2008 things and a couple Sabbath things.

tart w/ a heart (a hoy hoy), Tuesday, 20 April 2010 23:54 (3 years ago) Permalink

you need to get to it

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Wednesday, 21 April 2010 00:57 (3 years ago) Permalink

So the Fates Warning 30-second clips on iTunes are not giving me hope. I never "got" Dream Theater either.

he's always been a bit of an anti-climb Max (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Wednesday, 21 April 2010 02:17 (3 years ago) Permalink

The Fate's Warning is way better than Dream Theater.

EZ Snappin, Wednesday, 21 April 2010 02:28 (3 years ago) Permalink

Absolutely, Dream Theater doesn't compare to early Fates. Awaken the Guardian is actually the album of theirs I prefer.

A. Begrand, Wednesday, 21 April 2010 02:31 (3 years ago) Permalink

Well, that gives me a little more motivation to give it a spin, but still not entirely sold.

he's always been a bit of an anti-climb Max (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Wednesday, 21 April 2010 02:51 (3 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, I think my biggest problem will be the earnest, smooth vocals. I like harsh, growling vocals in my metal. I don't like being soothed. Have a feeling I'd like an instrumental version much better. But away we go...

he's always been a bit of an anti-climb Max (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Wednesday, 21 April 2010 03:04 (3 years ago) Permalink

^^ Agreed x100

Mordy, Wednesday, 21 April 2010 03:05 (3 years ago) Permalink

The musicianship on display is fantastic, so I totally get that part of the appeal.

he's always been a bit of an anti-climb Max (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Wednesday, 21 April 2010 03:09 (3 years ago) Permalink


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