The first two installments in these Heavy Metal blogs concerned my preconceptions of this musical genre and how its resurgence in popularity randomly popped into my musical world.
Now the Odyssey takes a more determined path as I specifically seek out and investigate different types of Heavy Metal music.
Before that, lets talk about ‘Accessibility’.
About half the Metal albums I own I haven’t liked when I bought them. Truthfully, I hated the first Machine Head album I purchased. After about three play throughs I had dismissed it as a poor choice and waste of money. (I would later, slowly, become accustomed to it)
Death Growling is an immediate turn off. It’s noisy, aggressive and even if you get used to it, no one else around you will like it. And that’s just the singing! The music can be just as loud, chaotic, droning and repetitive. It can be a lot to adapt to, especially if the song is well over 10 minutes.
Beginning my investigative journey into different sub-genres, I was wary about spending $30 on an album I wouldn’t enjoy (I still am!). With the help of internet reviews and a youtube full of video clips, I finally settled on a nice safe sub-genre that would be easy to get into….
Swedish Melodic Death Metal!
No, that’s not an incorrect link… It’s actually Gothenburg, Sweden. This city is notable for number of things. For instance, seven of the Swedish Chef of the Year Awards have been won by Gothenburgers.
It’s also known for being the home of Melodic Death Metal, sometimes known as Gothenburg Metal. Heading away from the popular American Metal, this was the first sub-Genre I ventured into.
Wait a sec… wasn’t the goal Accessibility?
Death Metal is a fairly intimidating phrase. Death. Metal. This genre is the originator of the Death Growl. Bands such as Cannibal Corpse (you can look it up if you want) focus on gory themes and brutal sounds.
The key difference is the melody. The Melodic Death Metal retains the growling and morbid songs (if generally less gruesome), but picks up the catchy melodic guitars of bands like Iron Maiden and other NWOBHM bands. Between the growling and thundering drums there are catchy, hum-able melodies. The high pitched guitar solos appealed to me immediately and it quickly gave me faith that I was onto a good thing with my Odyssey.
The big band for me here is Arch Enemy. Featuring a unique Death Growling female singer in Angela Gossow and two brothers on Lead and Rhythm guitar. In a Spinal Tap-ian eventuallity, they are actually huge in Japan. Their Live DVD/CD Tyrants of the Rising Sun is simultaneously a fantastic watch and excellent ‘Best Of’ their current material.
In researching for this blog, I noticed that there is a Non-Swedish Melodic Death Metal band in Be’Lakor who are actually Australian. Having only bought their first album moments ago, I’ll now listen to them while I move on to the next section.
That other Swedish Metal Band.
One surprise in my Odyssey came with a band that played 10+ minute songs, growled, used Doom Metal techniques and through in bizarre clean folky sections. The surprise for me was a number of people I would never have suspected to like modern metal, already knew who they were.
The band is Opeth and they are currently one of the most respected Heavy Metal bands with both traditional fans and also fans of 70s and progressive rock music.
From this point there are two options. The first is to continue in the vein of Opeth and delve deeper into the long complex consturctions of Progressive Metal/Rock.
Instead we will look at the genre that inspires the twin guitar solos of Arch Enemy and one of the most recogniseable names in Metal … Iron Maiden and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. To the early eighties we go!!!