Aug 29, 2005

More Musing about Metal

Kickin' it on my Sony Discman:
*Opeth - Blackwater Park
*Aretha Franklin - Young, Gifted, and Black
*John Coltrane - Stellar Regions

*(old mix of pensive songs/instrumentals):
James - "Say Something" and
Annie Lennox's cover of "Waiting in Vain" stand out

I have to give a shout to burnedouteyes for a bunch of cd's that he graciously copied for me a while back. There were some real gems in the bunch, which I've only slowly been able to uncover and listen to with more care. Opeth is an amazing band, even though I can't quite figure out what they are singing about in any album save for Damnation. Their style isn't formulaic, and combines the old school power of death metal (with requisite cookie monster vocals) with a really clean, really compelling power acoustic sound with crisp vocals that you can actually understand. Blackwater Park carried me through a trip to India on my own in January 2004 (has it been that long already!), and I have been listening to the acoustic Damnation from the minute that I downloaded it.

It's a guilty pleasure to meet folks who are also metalheads, of the variety who are familiar with the esoteric, the obscure, the days of tape-trading and head nodding from the power of oblivion that the best bands invoked on their albums. And at least for me, the power of the best music to make me think, when lyrics matter and Ben Franklin is not the muse that compels them to write. It's nice to be part of a group that's not really a group - those who know about the bands and see something more than a fad from the 80s and early 90s, but don't necessarily see eye-to-eye on everything either.

But perhaps that is the truly transformative quality of music - the ability it has to bridge divides, to stir up emotions, and to fuse so directly with particular memories that the song is regarded as a memory in and of itself. You'll remember the song when you hear it, it will take you back to some other time and space, but you may not remember the particulars of that time and space, save for the song and the emotions that you felt when you heard it. I know that there are a lot of songs that take on that quality for me - regular pop, and even the metal that I listened to when I was younger.

Anyway, I want to take some time to actually think about some of the elements of this particular genre (or really, set of genres) of music that never really had a mainstream following (at least in the United States, because let's remember that bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest actually chart in the UK and Japan), and has remained in that shadow from its birth in the late 60's to its revival in the mid 00's. Not only some of the elements that I've mentioned before in passing, such as the power and lyrical chops (of some groups) but also about the specific way that metal supported me, gained me my first community in adolescence, and has been a place where I feel safe within the music, and even kinship with some strains of the subculture.

Perhaps more with the music and the musicians than with the fans, but I'm also realizing that there are a lot of metal fans of color out there, perhaps not in the United States itself, but definitely around the world. And I've also noticed in the last couple of years how many young Mexican and other Latino men I see with old Metallica and other metal shirts. There's a strand of something there that I want to tease out, as well as my quest to find POCs who shred in metal bands, and what they bring to the music (see: Cyclone Temple). Let's see if I get around to it, while I try to sort out the rest of my life.


burnedouteyes said...

hey, and thanks for the music you dropped on me, as well!

the Enslaved stuff is similar in many ways to Opeth -- you might like 'em also. But you *really* won't know what they are singing... they mostly sing in Norwegian.

burnedouteyes said...

I think I fwded this to you before, but you might find this interesting:

Vedic metal is a form of heavy metal music popularized in South Asia and South East Asia. The lyrics heavily derive from the Vedic literature and philosophy.

Rage said...

Wow. Vedic metal. I guess that I'm VERY limited in my exposure to non-European (or Brazilian) metal. That's CRAZY!!! I'm now vowing to learn ALL about this genre - gotta get down with rusty brown!

burnedouteyes said...

I don't know scheisse about it either.... saw it mentioned on some other blog, that's it.

actually a quite interesting blog:

Sham said...

stumbled here after a random search on myself. Thanks for mentioning my blog here. :-)

Your blog is quite interesting!


Rage said...

You got it - definitely tune in again, especially on music.