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pressingtoplead13
Metal newbie

Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2009 6:05 pm
Posts: 379
PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:02 pm 
 

Been into metal since I was 12 in 02 So I grew with metal and went through obvious changes and realizations about life. As a teen I pretty much agreed with the common sentiment that emo lyrics/relationship and everyday life drama didn't belong in metal and it was wimpy shit. Real metal to me was about gore, death, antireligion/establishment. However as I've aged it seems a bit confusing to me that we complain about emotional lyrics when in reality thats what life is about. Is it not more childish to make up some obscenely grotesque song such as "babykiller" by Devourment where the entire point is to say look how gross I can be, aren't I cool? As opposed to well thought out and conscious lyrics. Human struggle, anger over divorce/breakups, child abuse, these topics seem much more mature to me than Deicide saying how much the hate god in about 150 different ways?

So I ask? Why is the stigma that angst is almost entirely associated with "teen music" and seen as whiny? Doesn't it take a "real man" to speak the truth as opposed to using some other corny stuff as an escape?

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jimbies
Metalhead

Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2016 2:52 pm
Posts: 537
Location: Ontario, Canada
PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:33 pm 
 

I don't know if there is a real way to answer this, other than, if the lyrics mean something to me and make me feel something, then I really don't give a shit how anyone else (other metalheads, older people/people of authority, etc) feels about them. In 2000-2002 when I found Anathema for the first time, I felt like Alternative 4 was speaking to me in a way no other band had at that point. When I listen to some of those records now, some of the lyrics feel a little immature or campy to me, but I'll never forget what they meant to me at the time. I still think their songs like Lost Control and Regret have more merit lyrically than Cannibal Corpse's 600 songs about killing someone.

But again, if you really like songs about fistfucking god's planet, I have nothing bad to say to you about that. So count me as one of the metalheads that appreciate all styles of lyrics. Personal, emotional, gore/horror influenced, war. I think I'd get sick of any of them without the others.

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MutantClannfear
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Joined: Thu May 27, 2010 12:12 am
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Location: United States
PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:34 pm 
 

Well, metal was built around a counterculture, and with that counterculture comes a certain degree of embracing escapism from the humdrum of everyday society. That's why all the lyrics are vivid images of violence, destruction, evil and fantasy and why mundane, down-to-earth topics are shunned. It's really nothing deeper than that.

EDIT: Also, because emotions can be so delicate to people, I think we're more likely to cringe at badly written lyrics about personal feelings than badly written lyrics about zombies eating each other out. This leads to a sort of feedback loop where more bands cheap out and go for gore because it's cheap, easy, and won't cause any controversy.
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Empyreal
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Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2006 6:58 pm
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Location: Where the dead rule the night
PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:42 pm 
 

MutantClannfear wrote:
Well, metal was built around a counterculture, and with that counterculture comes a certain degree of embracing escapism from the humdrum of everyday society. That's why all the lyrics are vivid images of violence, destruction, evil and fantasy and why mundane, down-to-earth topics are shunned. It's really nothing deeper than that.

EDIT: Also, because emotions can be so delicate to people, I think we're more likely to cringe at badly written lyrics about personal feelings than badly written lyrics about zombies eating each other out.


This is about it, yeah.

Also thinking that lyrics can only either be fantastical macho-man fantasy stuff about war, death, violence, etc or emotional whining about love is reductive. There are so many other factors and things to write about. This whole argument just comes down to metalheads sometimes not being well versed in other music.
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Napalm_Satan
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Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2015 4:27 pm
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:53 pm 
 

Yeah that perception occurs when metalheads broadly divide music into 'metal' and 'non metal' - metal itself is a diverse genre and 'non-metal' naturally is an extremely broad category. People from all walks of life are making music in both the 'metal' and 'non metal' camps, which in turn leads to a much more varied picture than that reductionist view suggests.
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pressingtoplead13
Metal newbie

Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2009 6:05 pm
Posts: 379
PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:53 pm 
 

I agree its an escape but to me the music in itself is an escape. One of the many things I like about metal is its a release through tonal aggression or whatever emotion the music is implying. When I throw on "Ornaments of Decrepancy" and hit the weights the tone and aggression of the music alone is an escape, its like unleashing that inner beast that can't exist in the real world. It just seems odd to me that its frowned upon to discuss very real and common emotions. Honestly I don't pay attention to lyrics that often in metal music anyways but I cringe at poorly written lyrics regardless of what they are implying.

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pressingtoplead13
Metal newbie

Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2009 6:05 pm
Posts: 379
PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:56 pm 
 

Surprised by some of the answers although to be honest most of the posters replying are the well respected guys who are probably older and been around the block sharing a similar viewpoint to my own. I guess I was hoping someone from the other side of the fence would shed some light on their opposite viewpoint.

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BuriedUnborn
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:01 pm
Posts: 19
Location: 50°02′09″N 19°10′42″E / 50.035833, 19.178333
PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 5:48 pm 
 

I never actually cared about lyrics, except when they are about christianity (I hate christian metal). I always find lyrics as a way to show someone's thoughts or feelings or for telling a story (well, lyrics are for that), some albums, like "The Weight of the Oceans" by In Mourning, have lyrics even about love (and In Mourning is a prog death band).

By some reason, people think that lyrics about gore, death, satanism, sex and other "rebellious" stuff is a requisite to be metal, and it's the most stupid thing ever, it's a dumb cliche. I even saw people say that some bands are not metal because their lyrics aren't "dark" enough.

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Turner
Metalhead

Joined: Fri Aug 23, 2002 2:04 am
Posts: 1866
Location: Australia
PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 6:00 pm 
 

I think the simple answer is that "teen angst" really only appeals to people under about age 21. Lots of metal was meant to be angry but in "tougher" ways. I don't buy the counterculture/escapism argument - regardless of how many Tolkien concept albums you can rattle off there's too much thought gone into it; most metalheads aren't social psychology majors. But there's simply a childishness to lots of the angsty stuff that you can't identify with once you've left high school, realised you never wanted to root the popular girl anyway, found a group of mates who you're not trying to fit in with in the square peg/round hole sense, worked a job/studied something you're passionate about, etc. Very few people go into their mid-20s with pent-up high school angst... still, Jonathon Davis made a quiet couple million out of it in the 90s...

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PvtNinjer
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Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:45 am
Posts: 3581
Location: Canada
PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 6:06 pm 
 

Personally, I think most lyrics can be done well, but I do agree that lyrics that are more human are definitely "better" to me, as there's more to relate to. Some people make fun of bands like Warning for their "whiny" lyrics, but really it just deals with emotions we've probably all felt at one time, and I can appreciate that. It's not macho, though, so some folks don't like that, or they find the confessional style to be cringey or something. :p Typically, I don't really care too much about the lyrics when it comes to metal, but good lyrics are always a massive boon. I prefer stuff like the fantasy of Fates Warning, confessional stuff like Warning or 40 Watt Sun and the folksy storyteller stuff that you might find in Thin Lizzy of Pagan Altar.

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Oxenkiller
Metalhead

Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2008 3:42 am
Posts: 1904
Location: United States of America
PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 8:08 pm 
 

My personal preference, and everyone is different: I like metal lyrics that are escapist. All about ESCAPING from angst and inner feelings about girls, being "misunderstood" or alienated, or whatever. I've always been this way. As a teenager (and even for a few years afterwards) I went through all that teenage angst alienation heartache BS just like everyone else, but I didn't want to listen to music just to hear about someone else's.

But there are ways to address these issues that don't just sound cliche'd or whiny, and it definitely helps if the music is interesting enough (or catchy/ballsy enough) to overcome any lyrical deficiencies.

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Warty_basaloid
Metal newbie

Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2016 11:32 am
Posts: 285
PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 5:14 am 
 

I want aggression, sci-fi, humour, gore, history, war, horror and sadism, pretty much anything goes, but absolutely no whiny my girl left me r&b pop lyrics pls, and if someone really needs to go down the sjw route, even though it really isn't a good idea and you probably should be ashamed of yourself, at least keep it entertaining.

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Opus
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Joined: Sun Sep 22, 2002 11:06 am
Posts: 2779
Location: Sweden
PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 2:13 pm 
 

pressingtoplead13 wrote:
As opposed to well thought out and conscious lyrics.

And how many can write those? Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen, who else? If I want literature, I'll read a book.

I really don't care about lyrics. I listen to metal, and they can sing about whatever silly metal topics they want, and "classical", which have no lyrics at all, yet it conveys a complete range of emotions through the instruments. I love opera which have lyrics, but they are in Italian so I have no idea what they are saying, nor is it important. The emotions are expressed through the way they are singing, not what they are singing.

In metal it's much more important how it sounds rather than what the meaning is. Judas Priest for example are great at having lyrics that sound good. The meaning? No idea. Electric Eye can be interpreted as a critique of the Big Brotheresque society we are living in today where we are constantly monitored and categorized. Or it could deal with the the duality of keeping the bad elements in society in check without infringing on the freedom and rights of the rest of us. To me it's a cool song about a satellite.

I'm made of metal
My circuits gleam
I am perpetual
I keep the country clean
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pressingtoplead13
Metal newbie

Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2009 6:05 pm
Posts: 379
PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 2:11 pm 
 

Opus wrote:
pressingtoplead13 wrote:
As opposed to well thought out and conscious lyrics.

And how many can write those? Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen, who else? If I want literature, I'll read a book.
[/i]


Again I'm also in agreement that lyrics aren't usually a huge factor for whether or not I enjoy music, especially metal music where I mostly enjoy Death metal and Grindcore which isn't always clearly enunciated to begin with. That said lots of bands write intelligent lyrics, without much of a search I'd say Morbid Angel (Formulas and Gateways), Napalm Death, Cryptopsy (early work), have very creative and well thought out lyrics. My post was never meant to bash metal lyricists just simply to point out a stereotype that I think is a little more "tough guy" bravado that the metal image tries to maintain as opposed to something based on merits of society and humanity.

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RakdosWarlord
Metal newbie

Joined: Sat Jun 10, 2017 4:26 am
Posts: 44
Location: United States
PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 6:59 pm 
 

I don't like "emo" music and I think the lyrics are the worst part of emo music. I probably wouldn't listen to metal with "emo" lyrics. I prefer music about mythology, adventure, battle and whatever kind of insane shenanigans I can find. I just can't relate to the sensitivity of emo songs, its probably a generational thing. I really don't think whiny break up songs fit the genre well anyways.

That being said, I am not against emotional lyrics. Pantera's Hollow is an emotional song but it feels genuine to me. I don't want a steady diet of sad but now and again if it is thought provoking it can be good.

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ThePoop
Metalhead

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 8:38 pm
Posts: 813
Location: New Hampshire, United States
PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:00 am 
 

You know OP, in some ways I can empathize with your sentiment. As I've grown older I've become much more tolerant of extremely personal/honest/emotional lyrics, and in fact have in many ways grown to prefer this style of lyricism in my music. There was a time when I was younger where I would have dismissed a lot of my favorite lyricists as whiny or "emo."

As people have mentioned, when you think of high-quality well-written metal lyrics, you're generally thinking of something in the realm of philosophy, fantasy, history or horror. Rarely, if ever, do you think of a personal and emotional prose. Don't get me wrong, some of my favorite lyrics of all time can be found in songs from Deathspell Omega, Bal-Sagoth or Primordial but my appreciation comes from a literary frame of mind. They don't necessarily stay with me because they connect with me personally. They don't make me feel a connection with the lyrics. This is an area where the genre of metal lacks (which isn't to say you can't find many examples of extremely personal lyrics in metal), but I don't buy that the two are mutually incompatible. Metal doesn't have to be rooted in aggression, escapism or macho cliches and there are many examples to prove it. The lyrics that truly stick with me tend to come from emo/post-hardcore, bands like mewithoutYou, Touche Amore, or Pianos Become the Teeth. They deal with loss, struggle, sex, depression or daily anxieties. Subjects that can easily enter whiny or cringey teenage territory, or when written honestly with great care and poetry, can be extremely moving and real to any adult listener. There has been an influence on some metal bands from post-HC in terms of lyrics, and I've really welcomed it and come to appreciate the depth that this style can bring to an already highly emotive genre like metal. I'm thinking of projects like Deafheaven, or A Pregnant Light. Even someone like Wrest from Leviathan, who has had his fair share of troped-out metal lyrics, has written some truly intimate lyrics that connect to the listener on a much deeper level than gore, war and whores.

Personally, the idea of a metal album containing lyrics as humanly existential and emotional as say Phil Elverum of Mount Eerie, piques my interest. That stuff is just as extreme and individualistic as any other lyrics, and aren't those the cornerstones of metal at the end of the day? Idk, I'd love to see more of it.
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John_Sunlight
President Satan

Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2010 4:41 am
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Location: Kansas City
PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:12 pm 
 

I think the OP has misunderstood metal lyrics somewhat. It's not that metal musicians don't express their genuine feelings about their genuine concerns and lives through their lyrics, they just do so in a less direct way than emo lyrics (per OP's example). Metal lyrics, like metal music, is more about showing than telling: instead of telling the listener directly "I'm concerned by the state of world affairs" they show the listener a portrayal of the world at its most raw and gruesome, or alternatively at what could be its most amazing and magical. Instead of telling the listener directly "I'm a great artist" as is common in popular music lyrics, they demonstrate it by making better music and exploring more themes.

Riff with the best or rap with the rest.
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PvtNinjer
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Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:45 am
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Location: Canada
PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 9:26 pm 
 

That's actually a pretty good point. Gore lyrics, even the most ridiculous or over the top say something about the depravity of mankind and our treatment of one another. You could argue that in some cases, although maybe in others it's purely coincidental.

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John_Sunlight
President Satan

Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2010 4:41 am
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Location: Kansas City
PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 11:50 am 
 

Yeah, though I shouldn't overstate the point either. A lot of metal lyrics are about standard metal topics like gore and dragons because they are standard metal topics. A lot of metal is made by genuine amateurs who are just participating in the metal process because it's fun and not because they have a new take on things. Very similar to amateur filmmakers making camp horror films for fun, not because they're trying to one up Romero.
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