Thursday, April 29, 2010

Will the New Wave of True Heavy Metal (NWOTHM) bands have to modernise their style to succeed?

Question: Do you think the nwothm bands at some point will have to adapt with the times to get anywhere i mean as much as i love cauldron, white wizard and enforcer im sure at some point the market is going to dry up as people will tire of that sound and do you feel that the bands may have to take a more modern metal approach sort of like what evile have done with thrash or biomechanical or even the other extreme like aussies electrik dynamite have done eg keeping the traditional metal elements but sprinkeling a touch of modern aspects? From:

Answer: I think you are missing the point dude, the new young NWOTHM bands on the Earache label like Enforcer, Cauldron and White Wizzard all play HEAVY METAL precisely because they aren't into what passes for metal in the current climate. If you talk to them, they just don't have an appreciation for or even relate to the likes of Pantera, Lamb of God, Mastodon, and certainly not Killswitch Engage/Bullet For My Valentine or whatever is deemed 'metal' by 99.9% of the metallic population.

To these bands, downtuned guitars, sludgy riffs and extreme growly vocals are seriously unhip. In the 90's and 00's some geniuses thought that Metal was better when mixed and matched with hip hop and hardcore, then symphony orchestras and even opera divas got in on the act too, and almost unbelievably, these abominations somehow became the acceptable face of modern metal to most people.

Luckily not everyone agreed- to the NWOTHM musicians all that modern stuff is just laughable. Instead they crave a return to a sort of 'authenticity' in metal, and from where I'm standing, that's what this New Breed of HM bands signify more than anything. That's what the "True" stands for in NWOTHM. If you meet the guys, they are pretty snobby about this being the only way Heavy Metal should be in the 10's. I guess time will tell if they are right.

Olof from Enforcer can explain his vision better way than me: " I think it's because we take things all the way, making heavy metal something spectacular again, both musically and aesthetically and I think that frightens people in the 21st century. If you look back at almost all bands since the early 90's and forward the bands forgot about taking it all the way. Somewhere in the musical progression bands forgot about attitude and looks. What's so fun with that? If I go and see a band I don't want to see some lazy old dudes playing around, laughing about what they do, dressed in their regular clothes. I want to see something spectacular, a show, see some enthusiasm and get infected by the energy on stage or even get scared. Nowadays what Heavy Metal has turned out to be is so damn mediocre."

So there you have it--it's about the singer, songs, and showmanship, stupid. Though way too young to remember it, Olof's definition of metal is based around the spectacular sight of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Scorpions and Dio etc in their pomp, not the monochromatic vision of say, Morbid Angel, Dimmu Borgir or Cradle of Filth and their ilk. Yes I agree the roots are unashamedly retro, and the sentiments pretty naive, but at 21 years old Olof Wikstrand still has plenty of time to develop a more unique character, and I believe given enough time and enough budget to achieve his aims, Enforcer will in the future put on the some of most spectacular live shows his generation will have ever seen.

The NWOTHM scene is currently dividing the opinion of fans and journalists like no other. Newcomers Steelwing (average age 19) on Nuclear Blast received a thorough bashing and a paltry 4/10 review from extreme metal specialist mag Terrorizer. Steelwing were bashed for basically being unoriginal,because they choose to play an outdated, 30 year old Heavy Metal style.The same mag praises the likes of Landmine Marathon for successfully recording a straight-up copy of the Earache circa 1990 sound. While I'm happy to see our 90's era back catalog being so influential with new bands, I fail to see the logic in bashing a band for playing 1980's metal while praising one which worships 1990's metal. Its a matter of taste, I guess being retro is only cool if you copy the right decade?

There is a precedence for this- it has been pretty hip in metal circles to appreciate Black Sabbath type retro riffs for years, the entire genre of Doom Metal is pure unadulterated Black Sabbath worship, so you could argue that retro metal in some guise has always been around in the underground.

If you like no frills, heads down Heavy Metal make sure to catch ENFORCER & CAULDRON on European and UK tour in May, this is what you can expect:

Heres Cauldron and Enforcer causing chaos backstage aswell, on current May 2010 tour. UK better watch out!


Invisible Oranges said...

Morbid Angel were/are certainly as capable of "pomp" as traditional metal bands. Crazy stage outfits by Trey and David, Pete Sandoval's ridiculously large drum kit, and some rather grandiose songs - not exactly Iron Maiden, sure, but not sweatpants death metal, either.

Helm said...

"not the monochromatic vision of say, Morbid Angel, Dimmu Borgir or Cradle of Filth and their ilk"

As Cosmo says.

Morbid Angel doesn't belong in this lineup, at least not circa Abominations of Desolation / Altars of Madness / Blessed are the Sick. Much color and variation on the Mercyful Fate template there. If you ask Enforcer, they'll probably agree.

Anonymous said...

I actually think your argument falls flat on its face comparing nwothm bands to the stoner scene. For example lets take the band most people consider the best of the stones scene Electric Wizard. I dont remember ever hearing sabbath use extra distortion combined with beefy production, processed vocals, a semi shouted delivery ( see dopethrone) and also samples between the songs. for me the stoner scene has alot of inovation attached to it, which the new wave of trad heavy metal does not. plus i really dont see any of enforcer or cauldron's records being held as highly as dopethrone a decade on im sorry but for me the bands sound very fad like as in their records are there to fill a gap in the market.

Poney said...

i really enjoy enforcer's sound but this vision about looks and not to be yourself at the stage just makes me sick. guess my metal is too punk. hehe.

cheers, dig.

Joaquim said...

My problem with this scene is that this IS about the looks and fundamentalism, in all senses. Any innovation or attempt at creativity is seriously frowned upon, and the goal is to try and repeat over and over and over again jut about 5 or 6 years of music, say from 1982 to 1989 or so.

The people who are doing this are bringing back to metal that close-minded, insecure, fundamentalist, conservative mentality that I so much hated in the late 80s and early 90s. It walks hand in hand with metalheads being conservative idiots, homophobes, etc. Look at the reactions to Ghaal. In the 90s death metal bands had to push themselves harder to deliver something new, and every album had to be different and experimental, that's why we had such interesting groundbreaking music like Nocturnus, Godflesh, Bolt Thrower, OLD, Sepultura, Ministry, Pestlence, Cynic, At The Gates, Disharmonic Orchestra, etc all coming in that era. Bands were different and struggled to evolve and deliver different records. You shouldn't repeat yourse. Surely there were failed experiments, but the amount of interesting and influential music that came out of that is impressive.

This new generation is spearheaded by a conservative, afraid-of-change mentality of people who want to pretend they are living MY youth, dressing up and basically doing a cosplay version of the 80s, playing sub-Metallica, Kreator and etc riffs. I have zero time or interest for such things, as this is strictly a revival made by people with very little references and artistic openness in their mind, hence the sub-par results. My problem with Earache spearheading that scene is that the label used to be the most out there, innovative extreme label ever, and now it is basically a rockabilly label, in the sense it tends to support the thrash-cosplay scene. Fair enough I think some people are having fun with it, more power to them.

As for the Landmine Marathon comment, I was unimpressed by the band, but Dig I think that the thing is extreme music hasn't moved so much from what was made in the 90s, it's hard to top what was created then and there and I suppose little has been achieved to higher or change the way people write and make heavy music. I see extreme music in a bad time now, you would disagree as probably gigs and scenes are strong, but all I see is cosplay everywhere, 90s death metal, crust punk, thrash revival, NWOTHM, Black Metal, etc, it's all basically trying to repeat the past of people who are now at LEAST 40 years old, and historically this moment will probably go down as one of the dullest, in terms of creativity, for rock music. "They couldn't do anything better, so they attempted to live their older brothers and father's past". Basically it boils down to that. Personally it gives me zero excitement but I sincerely wish good fun to those who are into it.

Havohej said...

I had to google 'cosplay'. Man, that is hilarious!

CernunnosTrismegistus said...

I don't really understand why this scene exists as a separate entity when Power Metal for the most part has been aping the neo-classical harmonies and Masters of the Universe aesthetic of NWOBHM in the same way stoner metal aped Sabbath and 70s hard rock.

It's the same way I feel about deathcore. It's a scene that thinks its some new wave even though every band is mimicking a sound that has already been mimicked for about 10 years prior.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say the down-tuned, growl thing isn't hip for Enforcer considering one of the dudes is in Tribulation.
I do love this NWOTHM a lot though. When all the major bands retire, who are we going to want to see as headliners on tour? As much as I love some new stuff like Dead Congregation coming out, not a lot of bands have headline capabilities after the originals are gone. I think Enforcer and White Wizzard are really gonna start carrying that flag for the future of metal. Death metal is a dying breed and only the NWOTHM bands have the ability to rise to the top eventually.
I think most of the thrash bands Earache has signed are trash, but then again I think nearly the entire neo-thrash movement is forced garbage. However, Earache has done exceptionally well with these traditional bands. It all sounds genuine. I hope we see this trend continue and get stronger.

Unknown said...

I thought the T in NWOTHM stood for Traditional, not True. *shrugs*

Unknown said...

One have to remember where many of these NWOTHM bands come from; Sweden.
And the metal scene here has been ravaged by sooo many black metal bands that its ridiculous. Like, Disection, At The Gates etc they were responsible for every teen kid getting corpsepaint and growling their head away in some basement about riding in the back seat of mommies minivan. True story.

The NWOTHM movement here in Sweden is more or less a reaction to that; That we are fed up with this bs.

Its not that these guys just suddenly discovered NWOBHM and decided they wanted to be like them. Most of them have listened to Maiden and Saxon for the better part of their life that is worth remembering.

Its not about being anal on how things should sound, its bout picking up the guitar where the rest of the metal scene left them -91 and continue from there. In an essence they are evolving and developing the sound that once was, not simply just mimicking. One could argue that 90% of the so called commercial metal today is just a bad replica of what was 'cool' 2005.

Anyway here's more awesome NWOTHM;
KATANA; also from Sweden.

Anonymous said...

Well the reason why people like enforcer steelwing white wizzard and me an aspiring musician are trying to bring this type of metal back is because we are tired of all these bands using doublebass a whole song or either trying to scream growl or pig scream or whatever the hell its called the whole song thats mainly all you see these days whenever you go to a show you dont wanna see people who look like they just walked off the street heavy metal is pretty much like theatr you should try to have all around elements of it the look and also knowing how to play im not saying all bands should be the same but all thats really out there is screamo emo and growly bands but what we really need to do is destroy rap

Pete said...

Late to this debate, but hey:

I will NEVER understand people who constantly clamour for a new sound just for the sake of it. Is innovation in sound more to you than a GOOD SONG?

I like pretty much something from every kind of metal, so long as there's good songs. and white wizzard, cauldron et al are writing the BEST songs in metal at the moment, period