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Noktorn
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:16 pm 
 

It's something you see constantly from people six months to a year into their metal exploration- "Tell me some of the essential albums!" I can't count the number of times I've been asked by random people over AIM or MSN what the most 'important' black or death metal albums are. Worse yet are the kids with too much money on their hands who sequentially go through all the 'important' metal albums they see recommended and purchase discographies one by one; "I feel like getting everything Mayhem's released" occurs one week, Death the next, maybe Testament over the next couple.

What results are people with an utterly skewed and retarded perspective of what heavy metal actually is, with a superficial knowledge of 'major' releases but absolutely no perspective as to what actually makes them remarkable in the first place. Despite the recommendations that people so frequently provide, having a copy of 'De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas' or 'In The Nightside Eclipse' in no way actually communicates what black metal sounds like, and only investigating those sorts of releases gives one a hopelessly distorted perspective on what the whole idea of these genres is.

There's a certain breed of new metal listener who believes that being acquainted with the major releases of each respective genre results in some taxonomic understanding of them; to anyone more acquainted with the styles, this is utterly not the case. These sorts seem to be under the impression that metal music is some sort of ladder, and grabbing all the top rungs (insofar as popularity goes) will somehow grant knowledge of everything beneath it. But we all know that merely knowing the most obvious examples of the style provides just over zero actual knowledge of the style itself, in the very same way that being acquainted with the LLN but no other black metal doesn't give a remotely accurate perspective of the genre.

But more to the point of major bands, let's ask a simple rhetorical question, notions of quality control aside: What's a more essential and accurate perception of black metal as we generally know it, Zarach 'Baal' Tharagh, or Burzum? While I suppose the 'true' answer is neither (as no one perspective is going to grant significant enough information about a style to be worthwhile), the lesser of two evils is probably the former, which is a much more accurate depiction of what black metal generally sounds like than the latter. Are people who investigate only the most obvious leaders of black metal going to understand what's going on at the ultra-DIY level of a band like ZBT? Of course not, and while it might be equally laughable to suggest that ZBT gives one a working knowledge of Emperor, as far as numbers go, it probably provides more information overall.

This is a rather sprawling and disjointed post, so let me try and bring it back home with a fairly simple statement: a couple thousand MP3s and a year of exploring Norway circa '91 barely tells you any more than nothing about what black metal 'really is', and this same logic can be extended to the rest of the metal scene as well. I'm not positive whether this is just a screed against people who explore only the most obvious levels of metal or a simmering resentment towards overly presumptuous people not involved in the underground, but I still think it's a sentiment worth expressing. So if you have any comments on this particular idea, go for it.
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Gravemarker
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:24 pm 
 

While you make some valid points, I have one major problem with your theory. You make it seem like these metal newbies listen to the classics then say, "yup I've listened to all the metal albums ever recorded, I'm done here". When really, I don't think anyone could be that ignorant and dull-witted. I think that once they have the classics down, they begin to slowly seep in to the underground stuff, to search for and discover new, more obscure bands, and broaden their musical horizons. Almost nobody starts off listening to metal through the underground end of the spectrum. I'd say that almost everyone gets into it through the mainstream stuff, and that's just the way it is, there's no changing that.

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ThrashingMad
Skanky

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:32 pm 
 

I see where you're coming from, however, I think you're mistaken in assuming that people approach Metal with such scientific goals in mind. Most people don't want to hear and understand the genre archetype or at least that is not their main goal, but rather to hear some excellent music. So while Altars of Madness may be rather atypical in the context of the "Death Metal sound", much more so than, say, the first Deicide album, that doesn't change that it is a truly magnificent work, regardless of its connections to the aforementioned archetype. Maybe if some outsider was write a book on Metal, summing up each sub-genre in the same way one would a philosophical movement or political ideology, than sure, starting with AoM or Ride the Lightning would be a horrible idea and would only lead to misguided results, but if one is simply looking for good music then it's a different case altogether.

However, this "seeking out the classics" mentality does breed some problems, albeit ones you did not mention, the main one being an ignorance or worse, an intolerance to/for music that didn't gain "classic" status.

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unclevladistav
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Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2008 8:33 pm
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:33 pm 
 

Gravemarker wrote:
While you make some valid points, I have one major problem with your theory. You make it seem like these metal newbies listen to the classics then say, "yup I've listened to all the metal albums ever recorded, I'm done here". When really, I don't think anyone could be that ignorant and dull-witted. I think that once they have the classics down, they begin to slowly seep in to the underground stuff, to search for and discover new, more obscure bands, and broaden their musical horizons. Almost nobody starts off listening to metal through the underground end of the spectrum. I'd say that almost everyone gets into it through the mainstream stuff, and that's just the way it is, there's no changing that.

^This.

And another thing: you seem to advise people should start off in the obscure section of each genre to get a more accurate reading of the overall genre. If you start off in black metal with an obscure, lo-fi, shitty band, you may be lead to believe all black metal bands sound this way (again, this is if the person is willing to make such a generalization). Starting out with something that is a complete and utter contrast to what you're used to may not work out, and you may dislike it. On the other hand, if you start out with the more famous, accessible acts, you can progress down the ladder. (I just realized you already used the ladder analogy, but I do think it applies in a different way. At the top would be the most famous, easiest to get into, the bottom would be the obscure, etc. Listening to any one part does not grant infinite understanding over the genre. This is only achieved, in my opinion, by listening to every type of the genre).

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madbringer
Metal newbie

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:35 pm 
 

I'm not sure what you're trying to say, here. It's a given that an entire genre cannot be described using just one or few bands/albums/songs - however, one has to start somewhere, and there are bands/albums/songs that give a clearer definition of how a specific genre sounds and feels like than others. Perhaps your point is that people don't involve themselves as much, or even at all, with their respective scenes? Or that you can only truly 'know' the music by attending 10 gigs a month, sitting several hours a day at your local meeting point and drinking vodka in a graveyard while incoherently spewing the lyrics from 'Chainsaw Gutsfuck'.

I'd rather suggest a newbie to start with a well known classic than throw several diverse but obscure and much harder to swallow titles, send him to a 50 man Dark Fury concert to get beat up and call it a day.
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Noktorn
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:35 pm 
 

I suppose my main problem with 'classics' is that it often breeds an overwrought fixation in albums which have achieved 'status'. I don't think it's necessarily very common for people to immediately say they've heard everything as Gravemarker says, but I think people who do get into metal through the classics-only route tend to give more weight to the classics than they should, in many ways viewing anything that hasn't achieved that sort of status as 'less than' by virtue of lack of popularity. I realize I'm getting into fairly abstract territory here, but it does bother me when I see people pronouncing big things about metal who then appear to have no deeper knowledge than the 'essentials' which have become so canonized in the metal pantheon.
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wight_ghoul
Metal newbie

Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2004 1:44 pm
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:35 pm 
 

I don't agree at all, or at least I'm missing your point. If this is the 'worst' way, what are you suggesting is the 'best' way? Listening to nothing but randomly selected bands to give an accurate survey of the scene?

Listening to the most popular/seminal/influential albums first makes perfect sense to me, because these are the most relevant albums to the genre, these are the ones everybody talks about, takes their influence from, and so on. If knowing only a handful of the most popular bands gives you only a slight knowledge of the genre, I don't see how knowing only a handful of the most obscure instead would somehow give you a better picture. A mere year of exploring a genre isn't going to give you a great picture no matter what you're listening to, but I think listening to Burzum/Emperor/Mayhem/etc. would lead to a better understanding than listening to a bunch of obscure Croatian black metal or something.

:scratch:

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Noktorn
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:41 pm 
 

wight_ghoul wrote:
Listening to the most popular/seminal/influential albums first makes perfect sense to me, because these are the most relevant albums to the genre, these are the ones everybody talks about, takes their influence from, and so on.


This is the crux of what I disagree from, and I think this perception that nearly all music is descended from these handfuls of very popular albums is deceptive. I think the average black metal band that started in, say, 2003 generally sounds very little like any of the major Norwegian artists, and instead sounds like 'black metal', the averaged essence of the sound that the genre has established over many years. In the same way that merely listening to Black Sabbath gives you little understanding of Judas Priest, listening to Darkthrone doesn't give you much information about Azrael.

The way I got into metal was as such: listening to both popular and obscure bands to give a well-rounded picture of the genre. Instead of spending $14 on a new Immortal album, I'd buy three CDs from bands I'd only half-heard of for the same money. I think this, in a roundabout way, gave me a much better picture of what metal is like than I would have had I gone about establishing my collection in a more orderly manner. Do I think that buying three completely random underground black metal CDs will give a better picture of black metal than buying one copy of 'Det Som Engang Var' will? Absolutely. While albums like that one are important in understanding large elements of the genre, they don't really result in anything meaningful in and of themselves without underground releases to compare them to. Knowledge is a result of the sum of the parts, not any specific ones.
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ThrashingMad
Skanky

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:45 pm 
 

wight_ghoul wrote:
I don't agree at all, or at least I'm missing your point. If this is the 'worst' way, what are you suggesting is the 'best' way? Listening to nothing but randomly selected bands to give an accurate survey of the scene?


Getting into metal through genre archetypes would, I suppose, be the flip side, however, I can see that breeding a rather narrow vision of a certain genre "should" sound like. Doesn't seem like a productive alternative to me.

Then again, in this age of readily available media at a click of a button, what's stopping one from listening to both?

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ForNaught
Metalhead

Joined: Mon Mar 27, 2006 5:37 pm
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:53 pm 
 

Nah... I mean, obviously you can't know everything there is to know about a genre based on the work of a handful of iconic bands, but you're implying that you need to be underground for your opinion to be valid. In fact, you as much as say so at the very end. "(A) simmering resentment towards overly presumptuous people not involved in the underground" is something I can understand well enough, despite not being remarkably "underground" myself-- it's the word presumptuous that wins me over there. But really, very little of your post really deals with that particular nuance in a greater than tangential manner, and reads more like a straightforward rant against your other summary point-- "this is just a screed against people who explore only the most obvious levels of metal". And I can't get behind you on that, because you've aimed that criticism at people who are new to the genre.

It's a pretty natural behaviour for a person who is new to a hobby or interest to start out with the common, the obvious, the classic, etc. as that's how you start to find your feet. Some people will delve deeper in a direction they see fit. They may ask for help from more established fans of their interest in doing so or they may go solo. Others will never really leave these staples and dive into the unknown. That's their choice. It's a little sad, granted, but provided they don't think those staples are all there is, then there's also nothing wrong there. They are not somehow less of a fan of the interest in question, just a less broad-based one. I'd go so far as to say that you seem to be claiming some kind of moral high ground based on a more obscure range of knowledge or tastes within the genre of heavy metal.

To cut to the chase and avoid more tedious analysis of your argument, I'd say that you're misdirecting your rage, misrepresenting your rage, or simply probing for a reaction (going to avoid the T word here). Based on the somewhat incendiary nature of the post and what little I know of you, I'd posit a mixture of the second pair. I think you wanted to vent about kids who think they know everything once they've heard the complete discographies of the big four of (sub-genre), and constructed this slightly flimsy and confused argument in an attempt to justify it in a more acceptable/less flame-like manner. Am I in the right ball-park here?

Edit: Oops, I type slow? I will read your supplementary posts tomorrow and see how they compare to my interpretation. Looks like I'm not the only one who's not too certain of what you're trying to say, though.
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Gravemarker
The Bloody Heartland

Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2008 5:32 pm
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:53 pm 
 

Noktorn wrote:
I suppose my main problem with 'classics' is that it often breeds an overwrought fixation in albums which have achieved 'status'. I don't think it's necessarily very common for people to immediately say they've heard everything as Gravemarker says, but I think people who do get into metal through the classics-only route tend to give more weight to the classics than they should, in many ways viewing anything that hasn't achieved that sort of status as 'less than' by virtue of lack of popularity. I realize I'm getting into fairly abstract territory here, but it does bother me when I see people pronouncing big things about metal who then appear to have no deeper knowledge than the 'essentials' which have become so canonized in the metal pantheon.


Now that's a bit more feasible, and I think that on this point you are absolutely right. Once people have heard what they believe to be the magnum opus(es) of genre X, they refuse to believe that any album could be better than said release, and tend to dismiss the works of lesser known, yet better (in terms of musicianship and songwriting) bands. There are many albums, considered "classics" that are given much more credit than they deserve, especially the older ones. Take Cannibal Corpses' "Eaten Back To Life" as an example. It isn't a very good album, to say the least, you could almost say that it sucks, but because of the time period in which it was released, it is given much praise. Now, I believe that this praise should be given to Cannibal Corpse for their forward thinking, but some people actually praise the awful musicianship! I'm very much against stuff like that, and on this point I am completely in agreement with you.


Last edited by Gravemarker on Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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cultofkraken
Metalhead

Joined: Tue Jan 11, 2005 1:18 am
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Location: Canada
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:56 pm 
 

Noktorn wrote:
wight_ghoul wrote:
Listening to the most popular/seminal/influential albums first makes perfect sense to me, because these are the most relevant albums to the genre, these are the ones everybody talks about, takes their influence from, and so on.


This is the crux of what I disagree from, and I think this perception that nearly all music is descended from these handfuls of very popular albums is deceptive. I think the average black metal band that started in, say, 2003 generally sounds very little like any of the major Norwegian artists, and instead sounds like 'black metal', the averaged essence of the sound that the genre has established over many years. In the same way that merely listening to Black Sabbath gives you little understanding of Judas Priest, listening to Darkthrone doesn't give you much information about Azrael.

The way I got into metal was as such: listening to both popular and obscure bands to give a well-rounded picture of the genre. Instead of spending $14 on a new Immortal album, I'd buy three CDs from bands I'd only half-heard of for the same money. I think this, in a roundabout way, gave me a much better picture of what metal is like than I would have had I gone about establishing my collection in a more orderly manner. Do I think that buying three completely random underground black metal CDs will give a better picture of black metal than buying one copy of 'Det Som Engang Var' will? Absolutely. While albums like that one are important in understanding large elements of the genre, they don't really result in anything meaningful in and of themselves without underground releases to compare them to. Knowledge is a result of the sum of the parts, not any specific ones.


I hear what you are saying here. Funny because the way you came into it is much like how I did. Instead of buying one cd from a rather well known band, I would buy 3 from bands I didn't even know, hell I bought them blind. For example I bought Himinbjorg's In The Raven's Shadow, Veles' Black Hateful Metal, and Setherial's Nord back in 1998. I didn't know the albums at all and at the time file sharing or sampling hadn't really boomed.. getting into those first created such a larger perception than I ever could have gotten buying one Emperor/Satyricon/Immortal/Darkthrone/Burzum et al discs.
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wight_ghoul
Metal newbie

Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2004 1:44 pm
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:58 pm 
 

Noktorn wrote:
Instead of spending $14 on a new Immortal album, I'd buy three CDs from bands I'd only half-heard of for the same money.
...
Knowledge is a result of the sum of the parts, not any specific ones.

Well in this sense your argument seems to come down volume. Sure, three bands might well give you a better picture of the scene than one. But buying, listening to, and understanding (read: spending time with) an influential album that near everyone has heard still seems to make more sense than an obscure release that has had a minor impact on the scene. I see plenty of value in exploring all areas of a scene, but I'm not understanding why starting with five classics is inferior to starting with five albums that you won't even be able to have a conversation with other fans about.

Listening to the early, important classics seems like a great way to get started. It worked for me. Sure, I checked out less popular things that caught my eye along the way, but who doesn't? I don't think I've seen a prevalent attitude praising classics and ignoring the underground (especially not in black metal). Starting with the classics, the bands that started the movements and different varieties of sounds is a great starting point, as long as the listener understands that they are the starting point. Listen to the beginnings of the scene, then go forth and explore the different paths that appeal to you.

I don't think starting with the classics is the worst way, instead perhaps starting with the current flavour-of-the-month bands while ignoring the classics is the worst way.

ForNaught wrote:
It's a pretty natural behaviour for a person who is new to a hobby or interest to start out with the common, the obvious, the classic, etc. as that's how you start to find your feet. Some people will delve deeper in a direction they see fit. They may ask for help from more established fans of their interest in doing so or they may go solo. Others will never really leave these staples and dive into the unknown.

This is a pretty reasonable characterization, and I think it is 'natural' to get into music this way.

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spoonhead
Metal newbie

Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2007 10:01 pm
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 10:08 pm 
 

Noktorn wrote:
wight_ghoul wrote:
The way I got into metal was as such: listening to both popular and obscure bands to give a well-rounded picture of the genre. Instead of spending $14 on a new Immortal album, I'd buy three CDs from bands I'd only half-heard of for the same money. I think this, in a roundabout way, gave me a much better picture of what metal is like than I would have had I gone about establishing my collection in a more orderly manner. Do I think that buying three completely random underground black metal CDs will give a better picture of black metal than buying one copy of 'Det Som Engang Var' will? Absolutely. While albums like that one are important in understanding large elements of the genre, they don't really result in anything meaningful in and of themselves without underground releases to compare them to. Knowledge is a result of the sum of the parts, not any specific ones.


Maybe that's ok if you have money to burn, and are completely open and don't need to follow the route of accessibility to enjoy the raw underground stuff. Lets face the facts, if you're new to metal, you're probably used to hearing things with nice production, straight forward themes and and all that. Being thrown in the deep end is likely to turn you away all together. I think this is why recommending the essentials is important as it eases one into the genre without being too much of a shock. If they enjoy a more accessible album then they are likely to explore deeper but if you throw something unaccessible at them are they more likely to think "this is shitty" and stop right there.

You also have to keep in mind that newbies just aren't familiar with what's good and what's not. If you're a newbie, do you take the risk of buying albums you know nothing about and could in turn be, in your opinion, a waste of money or do you take heed to recommendations from experienced listeners? I support the former. Then, from their, after they've tested the waters, its up to the newbie to explore and go down their own musical journey.

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Noktorn
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 10:09 pm 
 

ForNaught wrote:
Nah... I mean, obviously you can't know everything there is to know about a genre based on the work of a handful of iconic bands, but you're implying that you need to be underground for your opinion to be valid. In fact, you as much as say so at the very end. "(A) simmering resentment towards overly presumptuous people not involved in the underground" is something I can understand well enough, despite not being remarkably "underground" myself-- it's the word presumptuous that wins me over there. But really, very little of your post really deals with that particular nuance in a greater than tangential manner, and reads more like a straightforward rant against your other summary point-- "this is just a screed against people who explore only the most obvious levels of metal". And I can't get behind you on that, because you've aimed that criticism at people who are new to the genre.

It's a pretty natural behaviour for a person who is new to a hobby or interest to start out with the common, the obvious, the classic, etc. as that's how you start to find your feet. Some people will delve deeper in a direction they see fit. They may ask for help from more established fans of their interest in doing so or they may go solo. Others will never really leave these staples and dive into the unknown. That's their choice. It's a little sad, granted, but provided they don't think those staples are all there is, then there's also nothing wrong there. They are not somehow less of a fan of the interest in question, just a less broad-based one. I'd go so far as to say that you seem to be claiming some kind of moral high ground based on a more obscure range of knowledge or tastes within the genre of heavy metal.

To cut to the chase and avoid more tedious analysis of your argument, I'd say that you're misdirecting your rage, misrepresenting your rage, or simply probing for a reaction (going to avoid the T word here). Based on the somewhat incendiary nature of the post and what little I know of you, I'd posit a mixture of the second pair. I think you wanted to vent about kids who think they know everything once they've heard the complete discographies of the big four of (sub-genre), and constructed this slightly flimsy and confused argument in an attempt to justify it in a more acceptable/less flame-like manner. Am I in the right ball-park here?

Edit: Oops, I type slow? I will read your supplementary posts tomorrow and see how they compare to my interpretation. Looks like I'm not the only one who's not too certain of what you're trying to say, though.


I'm not necessarily trolling, and a bit of it is raging, but I think I have a more coherent point amidst all the rambling. I think there certainly is a section of the metal listening population who, above and beyond not wanting to get into the more underground aspects of the genres, genuinely believe that an acquaintance with the largest names of a particular genre actually gives them a complete knowledge of the style. The 'presumptuous' statement is directed at those who try to comment on the very nature of death metal while they've only heard the very biggest Tampa/Sweden artists. Yeah, it might be a bit overly precise, but it is who I'm directing those statements towards.

Perhaps a more overarching point is that as metal's classic records have become more defined and canonized as time has gone on, many people have less motivation to explore the lesser known parts of the genre, figuring that much of the legwork has been done for them. This is something of an assumption on my part, I'll admit, but it certainly seems to point to that sort of logic when the operative game of a recommendation thread is rarely simply to recommend good bands, but to recommend the biggest, simplest targets. Rec threads are hardly the best way to quantify overarching trends in the metal scene, but they're the most obvious element I can come up with.

And I suppose this extends to another tangentially related element I'm seeing: people unwilling to explore the genres for themselves and instead relying on others to tell them what to listen to. I'm not trying to jack myself off here or even state that there's been a particular change in the way people explore metal, but even when I was first getting into the style I wasn't hounding people for information on what I 'should' be listening to; hell, in many ways this obsession with popular bands could be directly related to my admittedly pretentious ideas of 'getting to know the genre'. At the same time, I definitely see a lot more people lately (anecdotal, I know) who want to know what they're 'supposed' to be listening to rather than just going on Soulseek and figuring it the fuck out for themselves.

EDIT:

spoonhead wrote:
Maybe that's ok if you have money to burn, and are completely open and don't need to follow the route of accessibility to enjoy the raw underground stuff. Lets face the facts, if you're new to metal, you're probably used to hearing things with nice production, straight forward themes and and all that. Being thrown in the deep end is likely to turn you away all together. I think this is why recommending the essentials is important as it eases one into the genre without being too much of a shock. If they enjoy a more accessible album then they are likely to explore deeper but if you throw something unaccessible at them are they more likely to think "this is shitty" and stop right there.


This is an idea I've always found sort of weird. Getting into a style of music isn't generally a super conscious decision on one's part (though a weird proliferation of 'getting into metal' threads seems to be changing that), and so I've never understood the idea of someone needing to 'ease themselves into' a genre. If you're willing enough to accept the basic aesthetics of extreme metal- harsh vocals, intense guitars and drums, imperfect production- I don't think it's a severe leap anywhere in the genre from that basis. For instance, I'd fail to see how someone who enjoys Morbid Angel would find it so dramatic to give Suffocation a listen, and if they ended up not liking that band, I really doubt it would be an issue of the aesthetic being too extreme. Pardon me if I missed the point of what you were saying.
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thomash
Metal Philosopher

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 10:27 pm 
 

I have to disagree with Noktorn (again). It seems that I do on most things and this is no exception. Honestly, I can't think of a better way for people who are interested in metal to learn about it except through 'classic' bands because, not only is it the most practical method, but also because classics are so called because they have had a major influence on the scene. Strictly speaking, classic metal albums are albums that have been heard and loved by more metalheads than other albums and this generally implies that classic bands exert a heavy influence other metal bands.

Consequently, classic metal albums give more insight into particular styles of metal than would other albums. Based on that insight, a newbie can determine what he/she likes or doesn't like about those classics and ask for recommendations in the most informed manner possible. Thus, if a newbie likes Darkthrone but not Emperor, experienced metalheads can steer him in the right direction even though the newbie may only ever have heard two black metal bands. However, the preference expressed correlates strongly with a preference for, in this case, raw, minimalistic black metal and a dislike for symphonic black metal.

Noktorn's rejection of taxonomies seems unfounded to me because I can only assume that it is based on an overreaction against misuse of taxonomies. I'll assume that we both accept that classic bands are very influential because I think it's an obvious and widely accepted point. So Noktorn's objection would seem to be that one can't assume that one's preferences for particular styles will correlate perfectly with one's preferences for classic bands, which is true: It is obviously possible for a metalhead to dislike Emperor but love symphonic black metal. However, this shouldn't mean that we abandon a loose association between classic bands and the styles they have influenced for three reasons:

1) Taxonomies of this sort do not imply or assume that classic bands are perfectly representative of the styles they inspire simply because that sort of burden would make it impossible to develop any system that identifies similarities and relationships between bands. However, it should be obvious that such similarities and relationships exist. Therefore, such taxonomies can only be reasonably assumed to imply a loose, imperfect association between classic bands and styles. (Hence, if someone is mistaken about the way that metal works, assuming, for example, that 'classic' works are always better on the basis of his/her knowledge about another genre of music, then it should be easy for an experienced metalhead to persuade that person that they should revise the way they are using the taxonomies based on that experience.)

2) The previous point necessarily implies that people who adamantly refuse to listen to bands in a certain style solely because they didn't like the classic band that inspired that style are behaving irrationally. Such individuals' errors shouldn't cause us to abandon or alter our system of taxonomies because irrational people might decide to do anything. If someone is an asshole who doesn't want to hear about bands in a certain style aside from the classic band, then he is doing so for completely arbitrary reasons.

3) Even if the correlation between the 'classics' and the style in general doesn't hold in a particular listener's taste, that listener is still likely to find more obscure bands that they do like in that style assuming that he/she is interested in hearing more albums that sound like the 'important' ones that they like. Let's suppose that the dude we mentioned before liked Darkthrone and disliked Emperor. He hasn't heard any other black metal bands and is interested in hearing more that sound like Darkthrone but it turns out that, in general, his taste inclines toward the symphonic style in black metal and he just hasn't heard those bands yet. It seems that he'd be led astray by his interest in Darkthrone, but this isn't necessarily the case. He will, very likely, be recommended Immortal, find out that he likes the more melodic period most and proceed by degrees to obscure symphonic bands.

The point, in short, is that getting to know important bands and albums is a good way to begin learning about metal because it allows for a system of approximating the variety of sounds and styles in metal. Listeners probably aren't interested in all the sounds and styles, so they gradually develop more detail on fewer styles which gives them a better idea of what the styles they like 'really are.' Indeed, I submit that, without 'classics,' fewer people would end up listening to metal because they wouldn't have any clear set of starting points. Classics act as signposts, guiding metalheads to the bands that they will enjoy the most.

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Noktorn
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 10:44 pm 
 

One of the central pillars of my argument is based on the idea that 'classic' artists not only can't be related perfectly to the specific stylistic varieties that they helped spawn, but can in fact only be associated in the most absolutely general of terms. Here's some more specific analogies:

We can start with Emperor, as that was an example that you used. Many people regard Emperor as a central forebearer of symphonic black metal, and in many ways I'd agree with this; they certainly were a band who likely brought the idea of symphonic black metal to more than any other. However, I would also heavily disagree on a couple major points: one, that Emperor is particularly representative of symphonic black metal as a whole, and two, that one can gain any particular understanding of symphonic black metal or knowledge of enjoying the style from Emperor.

Certainly one can see TRACES of Emperor's work in bands such as Dimmu Borgir, but I'd say that the sort of intense cloning that many people suggest about cases like this are very misleading. Emperor gives a very, very approximate understanding of a band like Dimmu Borgir, and as it goes further down the line, less and less as the genre progressed and took its own shape even if in distant ways it owes to Emperor. Does Emperor's style in any way relate to the Slavic style of symphonic black metal such as Nokturnal Mortum or Lucifugum? How about the heavily orchestrated works of Hellveto? The new 'symphonic extreme metal' of bands like modern Dimmu Borgir? What of any number of avant-garde black metal bands who use symphonic elements? While each and every one of these artists and styles owes to Emperor, listening to and understanding Emperor gives very, very little indication of what the genre IS and whether you truly like the genre or just Emperor.

Let's look at another case in the form of Mayhem. I absolutely love 'De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas'; I think it's an amazing album and a complete black metal masterpiece. At the same time, I think calling it an incredibly influential album, a mandatory listen for perspective on the genre, or even something that can be related to the genre of black metal overall in all but the most superficial aesthetic regards is a complete misnomer. 'De Mysteriis' is most certainly a black metal album, but it has so many elements that are unique and unusual in both obvious and subtle ways that recommending it to someone who wants to learn about black metal is really something of a fool's errand; it might be a great album in the genre, but it's an oddity in more ways than one. Nothing else in black metal particularly sounds like 'De Mysteriis' (to me, at least), so what's the purpose of using it as an example of the genre?

While these main creators of styles (and I don't mean just black metal, though I'm using it for most of my examples) do give a very primitive and unformed look at the styles they would come to influence, I take great issue with those who would suggest that they're a great or even particularly good way of getting acquainted with a genre. You can state that listening to Emperor is a good way of understanding symphonic black metal and whether you'd like it, but how is that possible when, quite frankly, almost all the symphonic black metal today doesn't really sound like Emperor? I might be being pedantic here, but I honestly believe that these major bands, while influential to the general sound of genres, don't have nearly the brick-by-brick influence that hordes of underground bands bashing out unknown EPs have at hashing out the particular details of these styles.
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spoonhead
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 10:47 pm 
 

Noktorn wrote:
ForNaught wrote:
This is an idea I've always found sort of weird. Getting into a style of music isn't generally a super conscious decision on one's part (though a weird proliferation of 'getting into metal' threads seems to be changing that), and so I've never understood the idea of someone needing to 'ease themselves into' a genre. If you're willing enough to accept the basic aesthetics of extreme metal- harsh vocals, intense guitars and drums, imperfect production- I don't think it's a severe leap anywhere in the genre from that basis. For instance, I'd fail to see how someone who enjoys Morbid Angel would find it so dramatic to give Suffocation a listen, and if they ended up not liking that band, I really doubt it would be an issue of the aesthetic being too extreme. Pardon me if I missed the point of what you were saying.


True although I was referring to the complete newbies who had perhaps only heard Metallica and Slayer. Or hell, shit like Slipknot and such.

Morbid Angel to Suffocation would actually be a pretty logical step, however Morbid Angel to Disgorge (mex) for example would be like skipping a few rungs. Sure there's definitely people who will get into anything right away, but for most it's more of a progression especially when the music is naturally inaccessible.

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Misainzig
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 10:52 pm 
 

I started my love of metal with a lot of "classics." The following goes for just about every genre I listen to: After I covered a lot of the bases, I began digging deeper and discovering stuff I thought was much better. Since discovering more obscure bands, it has given me a much broader sense of what a genre really is, kind of like you said. For me, the idea of listening to "classics" first, is not necessarily a bad thing. Through time, it hasn't affected my perception of any genre a lot. I can simply see how each of the "classics" fit into that specific genre.
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wight_ghoul
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 10:55 pm 
 

Noktorn wrote:
We can start with Emperor, as that was an example that you used. Many people regard Emperor as a central forebearer of symphonic black metal, and in many ways I'd agree with this; they certainly were a band who likely brought the idea of symphonic black metal to more than any other. However, I would also heavily disagree on a couple major points: one, that Emperor is particularly representative of symphonic black metal as a whole, and two, that one can gain any particular understanding of symphonic black metal or knowledge of enjoying the style from Emperor.

I'm still waiting for your alternative... what band is a better starting point than Emperor? What band gives a better picture of symphonic black metal as a whole? Your alternative so far seems to be that three average bands makes for a better introduction than one classic band... but that's not much of an argument at all, it's essentially saying that listening to more bands is better than listening to fewer bands.

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LordSlash
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 11:03 pm 
 

@Noktorn: GET OUT.

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thomash
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 11:18 pm 
 

Noktorn wrote:
One of the central pillars of my argument is based on the idea that 'classic' artists not only can't be related perfectly to the specific stylistic varieties that they helped spawn, but can in fact only be associated in the most absolutely general of terms.

I've got a couple things to say in response. First, I don't think that I altogether disagree with this point: I agree that Emperor doesn't really sound like a lot of modern symphonic black metal. (I do think that there are some significant similarities between them and Nokturnal Mortum and I would dismiss Dimmu Borgir as largely irrelevant, but that's not really important.) However, I think that the idea of an introduction to metal is, by nature, giving an account of a style based on a limited number of bands so I would say that it's impossible to establish any means of introducing newbies to a style that does not depend on limited, loose, general associations.

Second, I would argue that you're not really giving enough weight to the relationship of influence. As I said before, classic bands are the most likely to influence other bands which means that most underground bands can trace their musical 'heritage' to some classic band or another, which is to say that they will be similar to some classic band. That similarity might be slight, but I think you recognize that it exists.

Ultimately, the problem with your position, I think, is that you can't provide an alternative that would cover as much of the style with as few bands as possible. I assume that we use as few bands as possible to introduce people to metal for two reasons: Practically, people are not likely to investigate a lot of recommendations as well as a few recommendations. Also, it no longer seems like an 'introduction' if a newbie is listening to a significant chunk of bands in a particular style.

Hence I propose that listening to underground bands without a good basis in classic bands is likely to result in 'spotty' coverage of metal. The current USBM scene is clearly different from the French scene, for example, but both clearly share a lot with the first and second waves of black metal. Hence, listening to current bands is not likely to be as revealing of one's musical preferences in a style precisely because, as you point out, bands tend to diverge in style in the underground.

I admit that listening to classic bands can result in some 'dated' information but I don't think that there's any better method of introducing people to metal. It seems to me that your objection boils down to one of two things or both: Either classic bands are behind the times or a listener needs to hear a lot of albums to really understand a style. The first is inevitable and, I think, necessary for these bands to be as important as they are: it's only in hindsight that bands' influence becomes fully apparent. The second is just impracticable as an introduction (as well as seeming a bit of a contradiction in terms). In my experience, new listeners have an easy time expanding their understanding of metal based on a small number of classic bands and a little determination. After the first step, their tastes grow exponentially.

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Noktorn
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 11:18 pm 
 

wight_ghoul wrote:
Noktorn wrote:
We can start with Emperor, as that was an example that you used. Many people regard Emperor as a central forebearer of symphonic black metal, and in many ways I'd agree with this; they certainly were a band who likely brought the idea of symphonic black metal to more than any other. However, I would also heavily disagree on a couple major points: one, that Emperor is particularly representative of symphonic black metal as a whole, and two, that one can gain any particular understanding of symphonic black metal or knowledge of enjoying the style from Emperor.

I'm still waiting for your alternative... what band is a better starting point than Emperor? What band gives a better picture of symphonic black metal as a whole? Your alternative so far seems to be that three average bands makes for a better introduction than one classic band... but that's not much of an argument at all, it's essentially saying that listening to more bands is better than listening to fewer bands.


Does it need to be an argument? It sounds like a fair idea, if your objective is to get an overview of a style. In response to your main question, I don't necessarily think there's any one band that will give a better overview of the style than another.
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Empyreal
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 11:20 pm 
 

Just because someone cannot "gain an understanding" of the genre by listening to the "classics" doesn't mean you shouldn't show them to people anyway. What you're proposing makes sense, but it's like yanking the rug out from under their feet before they even notice they're standing on a rug.

Yes, you can give someone a better understanding of the music by showing them more bands, but if you show them shitty bands or stuff that is hard to get into (like your Zarach Baal Tharagh example), how do you expect them to really want them to explore the genre more? That's the only problem I had with the OP.
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Cheeses_Priced
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 11:21 pm 
 

ThrashingMad wrote:
Most people don't want to hear and understand the genre archetype or at least that is not their main goal, but rather to hear some excellent music.


One would hope, anyway. I guess Sturgeon's Law dictates that listening to only the most important bands is going to distort your perspective, but not necessarily for the worst. That last bloated megapost about Emperor looks for all the world like a really great argument to just stick to listening to Emperor. Let alone the issue of Zarach 'Baal' Tharagh vs Burzum!

The general pattern for metal (and probably a lot of other music) is for a couple of guys to come along with a really new perspective, and then a legion of monkeys to drive it into a black hole of self-referential obscurity. When I find myself listening to music just to increase my 'metal knowledge', I back up and go find something else to do. Seems wise?

But as far as the 'best way to get into metal', you'd think people would be able to figure it out for themselves, as needed.

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FasterDisaster
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 11:23 pm 
 

LordSlash wrote:
@Noktorn: GET OUT.


You have contributed absolutely nothing to this thread, so I suggest you sit down and shut the hell up.

Noktorn wrote:
We can start with Emperor, as that was an example that you used. Many people regard Emperor as a central forebearer of symphonic black metal, and in many ways I'd agree with this; they certainly were a band who likely brought the idea of symphonic black metal to more than any other. However, I would also heavily disagree on a couple major points: one, that Emperor is particularly representative of symphonic black metal as a whole, and two, that one can gain any particular understanding of symphonic black metal or knowledge of enjoying the style from Emperor.


I think it is interesting that you bring this sort of discussion up, but I think you are missing something crucial. There is no real blueprint or expected path of understanding and getting into heavy metal, or a certain subgenre for that matter. It is undeniable that the single best way to get into certain subgenres is to get the most critically acclaimed and popular albums. They have been established over the years as the best representation of the said subgenre, both for fans of the genre, and those who are interested and need a starting point for a genre.

Now, when I was talking about the blueprint, this is what I mean: The fact of the matter is, if a beginner is interested in a genre, they will explore further inside and get to their juicy bits until they discover what they like. Even if they don't like it at first, just the for the sake of exploration and understanding and learning something new, they will go deeper, no matter how or what way - they will.

Empyreal wrote:
Just because someone cannot "gain an understanding" of the genre by listening to the "classics" doesn't mean you shouldn't show them to people anyway. What you're proposing makes sense, but it's like yanking the rug out from under their feet before they even notice they're standing on a rug.


This.

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Noktorn
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 11:33 pm 
 

thomash wrote:
Noktorn wrote:
One of the central pillars of my argument is based on the idea that 'classic' artists not only can't be related perfectly to the specific stylistic varieties that they helped spawn, but can in fact only be associated in the most absolutely general of terms.

I've got a couple things to say in response. First, I don't think that I altogether disagree with this point: I agree that Emperor doesn't really sound like a lot of modern symphonic black metal. (I do think that there are some significant similarities between them and Nokturnal Mortum and I would dismiss Dimmu Borgir as largely irrelevant, but that's not really important.) However, I think that the idea of an introduction to metal is, by nature, giving an account of a style based on a limited number of bands so I would say that it's impossible to establish any means of introducing newbies to a style that does not depend on limited, loose, general associations.

Second, I would argue that you're not really giving enough weight to the relationship of influence. As I said before, classic bands are the most likely to influence other bands which means that most underground bands can trace their musical 'heritage' to some classic band or another, which is to say that they will be similar to some classic band. That similarity might be slight, but I think you recognize that it exists.

Ultimately, the problem with your position, I think, is that you can't provide an alternative that would cover as much of the style with as few bands as possible. I assume that we use as few bands as possible to introduce people to metal for two reasons: Practically, people are not likely to investigate a lot of recommendations as well as a few recommendations. Also, it no longer seems like an 'introduction' if a newbie is listening to a significant chunk of bands in a particular style.

Hence I propose that listening to underground bands without a good basis in classic bands is likely to result in 'spotty' coverage of metal. The current USBM scene is clearly different from the French scene, for example, but both clearly share a lot with the first and second waves of black metal. Hence, listening to current bands is not likely to be as revealing of one's musical preferences in a style precisely because, as you point out, bands tend to diverge in style in the underground.

I admit that listening to classic bands can result in some 'dated' information but I don't think that there's any better method of introducing people to metal. It seems to me that your objection boils down to one of two things or both: Either classic bands are behind the times or a listener needs to hear a lot of albums to really understand a style. The first is inevitable and, I think, necessary for these bands to be as important as they are: it's only in hindsight that bands' influence becomes fully apparent. The second is just impracticable as an introduction (as well as seeming a bit of a contradiction in terms). In my experience, new listeners have an easy time expanding their understanding of metal based on a small number of classic bands and a little determination. After the first step, their tastes grow exponentially.


I certainly understand the importance of influence in the establishment of genres, but I'm proposing that early Norwegian bands don't have nearly the influence they do now that they did when they were new. The basic black metal band doesn't typically sound like Enslaved or Immortal or Gorgoroth; they sound like 'black metal', a typified sound which has been averaged over many years of stylistic migration, and though elements of older bands can easily be found here and there, the bulk of the music has little in common with those older artists except in aesthetic similarities: the overall melodic sense and style of the most 'average' black metal band today cannot be easily traced to any one band in particular from black metal first couple of major waves.

My argument is twofold and the points hinge upon each other in that not only are the older bands not exceedingly musically related to modern material, but that those older bands are so musically divergent in and of themselves that they create no point of reference to the modern incarnations of the genre. It depends on what you're trying to get out of listening to a band. If you say "I'm listening to Emperor, and I like this music", going through the classics is perfectly fine. If you say "I'm listening to Emperor, and I want to hear more symphonic black metal because I like Emperor", it becomes more problematic due to skewed perspectives of the genre.

Empyreal wrote:
Just because someone cannot "gain an understanding" of the genre by listening to the "classics" doesn't mean you shouldn't show them to people anyway. What you're proposing makes sense, but it's like yanking the rug out from under their feet before they even notice they're standing on a rug.

Yes, you can give someone a better understanding of the music by showing them more bands, but if you show them shitty bands or stuff that is hard to get into (like your Zarach Baal Tharagh example), how do you expect them to really want them to explore the genre more? That's the only problem I had with the OP.


Note that at no point do I suggest that we should stop recommending major bands entirely; that's absolutely anathema to what I'm trying to express. My point is merely that treating major bands as a one-stop-shop for genre knowledge is doing a disservice to those who want a deeper appreciation of the styles and handicaps people's understanding of style.

I think the perspective of major bands necessarily being the easiest to get into is a bit of a false dilemma; I don't see how there aren't dozens upon dozens of bands in the underground black metal scene that not only are as accessible as Emperor but give a more accurate representation of the modern style of the genre. Plus, I think it's sort of an assumption that people wouldn't be able to get into more extreme varieties of the genres for a couple reasons: one, they're actively seeking out music they already know is harsh, abrasive, and extreme, and two, many of the classics of metal history are just as daunting as many releases in the underground scene (I bet more than a few people who were tossed 'Transilvanian Hunger' in a rec thread didn't know what the fuck was going on). There's nothing in the nature of the classic albums that really make them more worthy than anything else of a recommendation apart (naturally) from perceptions of quality.
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Noktorn
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 11:40 pm 
 

Cheeses_Priced wrote:
The general pattern for metal (and probably a lot of other music) is for a couple of guys to come along with a really new perspective, and then a legion of monkeys to drive it into a black hole of self-referential obscurity. When I find myself listening to music just to increase my 'metal knowledge', I back up and go find something else to do. Seems wise?

But as far as the 'best way to get into metal', you'd think people would be able to figure it out for themselves, as needed.


I'll be the first to admit that this thread is a bit of academic naval-gazing at best, but I'm not really suggesting that I or anyone else listens to music with the express intention (or any conscious intention at all, really) of increasing knowledge of the genre. That's a pretty bizarre epistemological grey area that I can't even begin to get into. It's always certainly a matter of listening to interesting new music first and commentary/knowledge second. But I'd say a major point of this thread is that I feel that more people should be doing exactly what you say in your concluding sentence rather than walking around wide-eyed with printouts of 'important albums', which is exactly what a lot of people do.

FasterDisaster wrote:
I think it is interesting that you bring this sort of discussion up, but I think you are missing something crucial. There is no real blueprint or expected path of understanding and getting into heavy metal, or a certain subgenre for that matter. It is undeniable that the single best way to get into certain subgenres is to get the most critically acclaimed and popular albums. They have been established over the years as the best representation of the said subgenre, both for fans of the genre, and those who are interested and need a starting point for a genre.


This is where we diverge: I think that it's completely deniable that the most acclaimed and popular albums are the most representative of the genres. Using black metal yet again as a reference point, I see essentially no bands that sound significantly like Emperor, Immortal, or Mayhem, a few which attempt but fail to sound like Burzum, and a handful which have a slightly more than passing resemblance to Darkthrone. All bands which are certainly some of the most highly acclaimed in the black metal scene, but all of which sound radically different from what modern black metal is actually like.
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FasterDisaster
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 11:44 pm 
 

Noktorn wrote:
This is where we diverge: I think that it's completely deniable that the most acclaimed and popular albums are the most representative of the genres. Using black metal yet again as a reference point, I see essentially no bands that sound significantly like Emperor, Immortal, or Mayhem, a few which attempt but fail to sound like Burzum, and a handful which have a slightly more than passing resemblance to Darkthrone. All bands which are certainly some of the most highly acclaimed in the black metal scene, but all of which sound radically different from what modern black metal is actually like.


So? If they really want to get into the genre, they'll get to that shit eventually. No need to get your panties in a bunch and feel the need to restructure how beginners get into genres. You're simply expressing your opinion of black metal under the guise on an intelligent discussion. This is certainly how it's turning out.

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thomash
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 11:56 pm 
 

Noktorn wrote:
the overall melodic sense and style of the most 'average' black metal band today cannot be easily traced to any one band in particular from black metal first couple of major waves.

This is undoubtedly true. However, my system which, I think, models how classic bands are often used to recommend bands merely uses classic bands as a starting point. It might take a while to catch up with newer material, but gradually it will select for bands that the listener likes. Each recommendation brings the listener closer to 'catching up' with the metal scene as it exists today, assuming that the listener is inclined to like modern material. (For example, suppose I like Morbid Angel; I would likely be recommended Gorguts, then Suffocation if I like certain aspects of Gorguts's sound, etc. I think it should be evident that eventually I'll find myself listening to more modern brutal death metal if my tastes are so inclined.)

I think your mistake is in assuming that classic bands are used to jump right into modern bands. You're right in thinking that this wouldn't really work intuitively. However, it's a small matter to just accept that it will take a few rounds of recommendations for a newbie to catch up, so I don't think that it's ultimately a huge problem. Even if modern symphonic black metal bands don't have that much in common with Emperor, I think you'd have to agree that they can trace their lineage to Emperor in some roundabout way even if they are a few generations removed. There's no insurmountable chasm between old classics and new bands playing a similar style.

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RevBau
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 11:57 pm 
 

I think theres a difference between needing to listen to the classic bands and knowing the classics bands. I mean if the achknowledgement is unimportant of the 'forefathers' then you cant get mad (lets just say for example with all the recent threads) at the deathcore kids who dont know shit about the bands who created/influenced their beloved genre. It also depends on how serious you are about music. I personally feel like I should know or atleast hear the essentials but that doesnt mean I have to like them. I stated in the FFA thread that I too cannot get into Morbid Angel but that doesnt mean I think they are a bad band. They play good music and are a huge influence to everything I listen to. I respect them but dont care for their music. If I were suggesting someone to check out a genre of music I would suggest to them my more favored bands and let them take it from there. If they want to know the history of or the whos-who?, then Il tell them.

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Noktorn
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:08 am 
 

FasterDisaster wrote:
So? If they really want to get into the genre, they'll get to that shit eventually. No need to get your panties in a bunch and feel the need to restructure how beginners get into genres. You're simply expressing your opinion of black metal under the guise on an intelligent discussion. This is certainly how it's turning out.


These are some pretty vast logical leaps you're making; I'm not getting rage-filled about the way people get into music nor do I need to pretend to talk about something 'intelligent' in order to express my opinions. If I felt like just talking about black metal, I would.

thomash wrote:
This is undoubtedly true. However, my system which, I think, models how classic bands are often used to recommend bands merely uses classic bands as a starting point. It might take a while to catch up with newer material, but gradually it will select for bands that the listener likes. Each recommendation brings the listener closer to 'catching up' with the metal scene as it exists today, assuming that the listener is inclined to like modern material. (For example, suppose I like Morbid Angel; I would likely be recommended Gorguts, then Suffocation if I like certain aspects of Gorguts's sound, etc. I think it should be evident that eventually I'll find myself listening to more modern brutal death metal if my tastes are so inclined.)

I think your mistake is in assuming that classic bands are used to jump right into modern bands. You're right in thinking that this wouldn't really work intuitively. However, it's a small matter to just accept that it will take a few rounds of recommendations for a newbie to catch up, so I don't think that it's ultimately a huge problem. Even if modern symphonic black metal bands don't have that much in common with Emperor, I think you'd have to agree that they can trace their lineage to Emperor in some roundabout way even if they are a few generations removed. There's no insurmountable chasm between old classics and new bands playing a similar style.


It's all semantic when you're dealing with people who will get into the underground styles however they begin their journey; this is just a discussion about the various methods people use to get into it and their validity as a whole. I just think that particularly linear ways of entering styles are unnecessarily restrictive and tend to make metal out to be more clear-cut than it actually is. It's not so much the principle of classic bands being used to get into the styles that bothers me so much as the cut-and-dried list aspect of it, which I think restricts peoples' views of the music and more or less stifles discussions of some of these older bands.

This might seem a bit off-topic, but I think one of the dangers of these overtly list-focused varieties of entry into the genres is a somewhat narrowed view of music as a whole, with, as we've gone over, people dismissing elements that aren't entrenched in metal's established canon. One of the most profound instances of this I see is how little understanding of hardcore (and this is referring to traditional hardcore punk as well) and its influence on metal as evidenced by some incredibly bizarre and incoherent statements I regularly see on grindcore, thrash, and other hardcore-influenced varieties of metal, particularly in the wake of metalcore and deathcore's rise to popularity. Perhaps this isn't exactly related to the topic at hand, but I think it's something of a note towards that narrowing of perspective.
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cloud197
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:08 am 
 

Gravemarker wrote:
While you make some valid points, I have one major problem with your theory. You make it seem like these metal newbies listen to the classics then say, "yup I've listened to all the metal albums ever recorded, I'm done here". When really, I don't think anyone could be that ignorant and dull-witted. I think that once they have the classics down, they begin to slowly seep in to the underground stuff, to search for and discover new, more obscure bands, and broaden their musical horizons. Almost nobody starts off listening to metal through the underground end of the spectrum. I'd say that almost everyone gets into it through the mainstream stuff, and that's just the way it is, there's no changing that.


This is basically how I think of it.
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Ribos
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:18 am 
 

Holy shit, I'm actually agreeing with Noktorn for once.

The problem is the difference between "great" albums and ones "typical" of the style. Specifically, the problem is that there is such a difference, and the average uninformed person tends to not know that.

For example, tell someone to listen to Sabbath Bloody Sabbath for an example of doom metal. It is a great album, no doubt. But is it typical? If you were to pick up a random album that claims to be doom metal, would it sound like Sabbath Bloody Sabbath? There's a chance of that, yes, but there's also a chance it might sound like Catacombs.

Problem is, too many people will listen to Black Sabbath and go "oh yeah, doom metal, I know about that." They will hear that Catacombs does doom metal, and mentally associate them with Black Sabbath. I'm pretty sure that's the point Noktorn is making, and with that, I fully agree.

Yes, the classic albums are great and essential listens and all, but rarely are they typical of the style they play. Yet the new, uninformed people seem to think such paragons are accurate representations of the entire breadth of their style. To truly understand the style takes time, listening to many different bands within a genre. This is why a mix CD containing one track by fourteen different bands is better than one classic album by one band for introducing people to metal.
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thomash
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:38 am 
 

Ribos wrote:
This is why a mix CD containing one track by fourteen different bands is better than one classic album by one band for introducing people to metal.

I agree with that.

Noktorn, I think that we might have been talking past each other so far in this thread. If you mean something like what Ribos is saying, then I can't really disagree but I would say that I tend to think that such people will never be real metalheads because they tend not to have a passion for music. Passionate music listeners tend to seek out and recognize musical variety within and across styles so they don't really become prejudiced about styles or bands.

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Noktorn
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:41 am 
 

I guess I am somewhat saying that, but what 'such people' are you referring to?
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FasterDisaster
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:57 am 
 

Noktorn wrote:
I guess I am somewhat saying that, but what 'such people' are you referring to?


Those who aren't passionate about music.

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Cheeses_Priced
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 1:07 am 
 

FasterDisaster wrote:
Noktorn wrote:
I guess I am somewhat saying that, but what 'such people' are you referring to?


Those who aren't passionate about music.


How about - those whose interest in metal extends no further than knowing enough to try to tell other people what it means?

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Nyaricus
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 1:42 am 
 

Okay, here is my opinion:

Many people, before they realize they are REALLY into music, are those "I like a bit of everything people" They might listen to metal, but really consider it to be more like hard rock or what have you - I'm talking Iron Maiden, Metallica, Black Sabbath and so on. They like a little bit of a little bit, and don't really get too deep.

That's where the classics step in. While your argument is that they don't accurately portray the genres they come from, I would say that Altars of Madness sufficiently separates death metal from prog rock ala Pink Floyd, or pop music ala N*SYNC. The fact is, people are naturally gravitated to the classics because they are a good intro into the genre - sometimes because they were once of the first (and thus most well known), one with the best sales from that genre, one which had the biggest media coverage or whatever around it, etc.

The classics are thusly called classics for a variety of good reasons, and I would say that if you don't like the classics, you likely aren't going to like the genre in question - and if you find later you do, then you have found something which you can truly enjoy, and that is a good thing, simple as that.

Besides, metal is, by and large, an underground music form. Certainly you will see people new to the genre asking for some place to start - it gives them an idea of where to start, and can lead them (through associated bands, ex bands, bands thanked in the liner notes, etc) where to head to next.

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cloud197
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 1:59 am 
 

Nyaricus wrote:

Besides, metal is, by and large, an underground music form. Certainly you will see people new to the genre asking for some place to start - it gives them an idea of where to start, and can lead them (through associated bands, ex bands, bands thanked in the liner notes, etc) where to head to next.

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Now playing: Belphegor - The Goatchrist


This is how I got into more bands, I just listened to bands that they once were in and checked the "Thanks" section for bands, Thats always the first thing I usually do when I buy a new cd on the car ride back home.
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