Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Folk Metal, Operatic Death Metal, Pirate Metal? Whatever next?!

Question: Hi, I have three questions that I would like To ask:

1. What do you think of the Folk Metal Sub-genre of Heavy Metal?

2. Is Having a Unique Sound in Heavy Metal a good thing? For instance there is a band called Neurosis and they have made a unique sound to them and I say they are pretty successful. Are some people just looking for a unique sound?

3. Lately I have been finding lots of Death Metal bands that incorporate Operatic and Classical Elements into their songs but still have the same Brutality expected with Death Metal (Like Angelus Mortis (which has a session Opera Singer) and Fleshgod Apocalypse). What are your views on those type of Death Metal Bands? From: Silva_eternal@earthlink.net

Answer: Thats nothing dude - wait till you hear the absurd Acapella-Metal of Van Canto or the Superhero-Metal of Grail Knights (pictured above).It's fair to say, things are getting out of hand. I mean, come on, 'Superhero metal' - well, its just comical.

Even Folk metal is not really my cup of tea, but it's been interesting to watch its slow rise towards acceptance by the metal throng. Finntroll this week charted in the UK mainstream rock chart so you could say that the leaders of the scene have finally become accepted, and to be fair, its now a pretty successful sub-genre of metal.The band paid their dues and earned their success,so good on them.

I remember simpler times though, when metal in the 80s meant regular, no frills, straight-up Heavy Metal. The nearest to a folk metal song you got was Ritchie Blackmore's folky excursions in Rainbow. His Renaissance-folk-rock band 'Blackmore's Night' (who still exist today,I'd say their 2008 album Secret Voyage is a masterpeice of the genre) pioneered the sound. Ritchie often plays Medieval era instruments in the songs.

The UK were leading the way as usual, Martin Walkyiers Skyclad (pictured) picked up the torch in the 90's, and are the pre-cursor to all the folk-metal that we hear today.Skyclad were big sellers in Germany during that decade, until they broke up.

Newer bands like Eluveitie and Finntroll are of course much more uptempo, more raucous and though they boast pagan and folklore themes, the music is not half as folky as the tag suggests.

Y'know, all the wacky and crazy metal-concoctions which populate the scene today are all the inventions of the German/Austrian and Finnish record labels. You'll find Nuclear, Spinefarm & Napalm records are behind a lot of the wackier mix-n-match metal bands.If you can imagine metal being mixed with something mainstream and commercial, you can bet they have already thought of it and released it.The reason is the runaway success of Apocalyptica and Nightwish.

I distinctly remember seeing Apocalyptica play an early show, doing Metallica covers on cellos. The venue was in Cologne in Germany during an industry showcase,and it was packed with people going nuts. We Brits had to leave instantly and hit the bar across the street where we discussed the ridiculousness of what we had just witnessed. Metallica? On Cellos? How absurd. Turns out we had seen the beginning of the entire Symphonic Metal genre, but it was too wacky for our hard-bitten traditional HM tastes to take seriously. More fool us. They now sell hundreds of thouands of concert tickets and Cds, though who is buying them I have no idea.

Earache often gets accused by journalists of promoting gimmicks or trying to create metal trends, as if Thrash or NWOTHM bands were somehow manufactured in our underground lab. Meanwhile Frankenstein-esque concoctions of mainstream & metal solely crafted for the persuit of Nightwish-style crossover-sales appeal are routinely reviewed without comment. If anything, these grotesque abominations are applauded, for being "original".

STOP PRESS: The eagle-eyed readers of this blog have recently told me about what could be the most ridiculous metal-abomination of all time. HEVISAURUS is a current 'Dinosaur-Metal' band from Finland, supposedly big on kids TV shows and allegedly features members of Sonata Arctica. This one has floored me, it is truly astoundingly bad.

Pick the bones out of this one:


The Mule said...

Thanks for giving Skyclad some credit. I'm not a fan of contemporary folk metal, but the first few Skyclad albums rule.

diamonddave said...

Finntroll is horrible. Most that stuff is embarrassing to listen to. And that Dinosaur band looks like Barney on Dust....im gonna start a genre called zydecogrind.

Anonymous said...

My son loves Hevisaurus!