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Drawing Lines – The Self-Defeating Division and Derision in the Metal Community

You may remember me writing a different article on prejudice and bias in the metal community a while back. Consider this a companion piece to that one, as I’m taking on the same basic issue from a slightly different angle. Enjoy!

Image courtesy of  Last.fm

Image courtesy of Last.fm

I had an interesting talk with a co-worker the other day.

This co-worker of mine is big into the punk scene. He’s very much like me in his approach to punk in that he believes all forms have bands with merit. He doesn’t discriminate between pop-punk bands like Gob, hardcore like Black Flag, proto-punk like The Stooges, etc. He feels that there is quality music to be found in every portion of that genre. He feels that for punks to put themselves in even smaller boxes is ultimately self-defeating.

I couldn’t agree with him more. As someone who likes glam metal, death metal, NWOBHM, tech-thrash, and a whole host of other styles, I feel that for a metal fan to deny ones self exposure to new music based purely on some kind of prejudice against a certain scene or time frame is the definition of narrow minded.

For example, I’ve met my share of progressive metal fans in my travels. These are guys who like the high-minded, technical side of traditional and power metal. They like their music to be intelligent and ever-changing. I too think that progressive bands are incredibly interesting and would call myself a fan of several. But many prog fans deride glam metal as some kind of lower form of entertainment for less evolved beings. I don’t think that those fans, in all honesty, are being fair to themselves. Sure, there are many bands in that genre that could be considered simple pop music with hard rock guitars thrown in. But for every Poison or Bon Jovi, there’s a Mötley Crüe or Ratt.

That may make a lot of you chuckle, because they aren’t a technically gifted outfit, but think about it the breadth of their material. Throughout the course of their career, Crüe has never made the same album twice. Their sound has always fluctuated and changed and they now have one of the most musically diverse catalogues of music in heavy metal. Just through their first four albums they have glam rock/glam punk (Too Fast for Love), traditional heavy metal (Shout at the Devil), Sleaze Metal/Hard Rock (Theatre of Pain) and straight-up rock ‘n roll (Girls, Girls, Girls). That’s four different styles of music, each presented within the band’s own identity. Has Dream Theater ever been as diverse from album to album?

If you’re a prog fan who’s in it for the technicality and musicianship more than the variety and evolution, you might appreciate Ratt, who’s simple radio-friendly structures hide supremely talented and technical players. Just listen to the chops on “You’re In Trouble” from their first album.

Courtesy of KonigNick

To go for another example, I’ve met many people who claim to be massive fans of Pantera. I ask them if they’ve ever heard any of the stuff off of Power Metal, Projects In the Jungle, Metal Magic or I Am The Night; the band’s early, glam metal albums. More often than not they just stare at me looking perplexed. This is largely because that band, as awesome and awe-inspiring as they would become, completely abandoned and ignored their older material. I understand the reasons behind that decision, but I still feel it’s a shame that they felt the need to do that. There’s a ton of great songs, like “Out For Blood“, “Right on the Edge“, and “Death Trap“, that many Pantera fans have simply missed because, at the time, the band felt their only way to survive was to completely shed not only their old image, but their old material as well. To this day, many fans don’t know of that fantastic old-school material with Dimebag (Then known as “Diamond”) Darrell’s always stellar guitar work. That is down to the total derision of an entire section of the metal community in the 90s.

So don’t just ignore whole sub-genres based on your own prejudices or preconceptions. Give every band a fair chance to win you over, even if you’re not particularly fond of their image. You may find interesting material in places that you wouldn’t have thought to look.

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It’s been a while…

Hi everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve made a post. In fact if I’m not mistaken it’s been the better part of a year. That’s crazy. But a lot of stuff has been happening, both metal related and not.

I’m completely finished my schooling. I now hold two degrees from Algonquin College (Broadcasting-Radio and Professional Writing) and I am ready to really start pursuing my career goals. Excited to be done, excited, and a little scared, for the future.

Marina and I

Marina and I

My wonderful girlfriend and I are in the process of moving in together. We’re looking in to getting a slightly bigger place than what I currently have, so if you’re in the Ottawa area and know somewhere (preferably in the west end) where we can get a large one-bedroom for a reasonable rate, shoot me a message here, to my gmail, or on facebook.

I’ve been working at a record store here in Ottawa for a year now. It’s called Legend Records and we specialize in new and used vinyl. It’s a pretty cool gig for a 23 year old student, especially as a stepping stone to hopefully using the skills I’ve acquired at Algonquin. If you want to pop in, our hours are 10 AM – 6 PM Monday-Saturday and 12 PM – 5 PM on Sunday.fuel-youth

In my last semester of school, I did a work-placement with two organizations. The first is called Fuel Youth Engagement. They’re a really cool company (Seriously, FHM magazine said that they were among the top ten coolest places to work in Canada!) who work in browser-based and mobile gaming geared toward children and teenagers. I did some really cool stuff with them that involved marketing and tech research, ideas for story concepts for upcoming games, in-game dialogue, etc. It was a real privilege to work with them and I would not hesitate to do so again if there were a place available for me. The people are great and it is they who truly make it the cool place it is!

Metal Blast

The second place I did my placement is a website based out of the Netherlands called Metal Blast.net. I’ve been writing album reviews for them and just recently started doing some interviews. They’ve kept me on since my placement ended and I’m having a blast (no pun intended) writing for them. It’s not a paid position but it has the potential to grow in to one. So if you’re here because you’re a metal fan, check out Metal Blast and the Metal Blast facebook page to see the awesome reviews and interviews that I and the other guys have created. They’re really an awesome, honest, incredibly passionate collective of metal maniacs! (Be sure to “Like” us on facebook and follow us on twitter)

So what does all this mean for the blog? Well, a few things. Firstly, I WILL be resurrecting my activity in these pages. Secondly, while I will still be posting the occasional review, the bulk of my reviews will be posted at the Metal Blast website. The same goes for interviews. This space will now mostly be reserved more for my observations and opinions on hard rock and heavy metal music, the scene surrounding it, and my personal travels through our metallic world. I’ll also be bringing back the weekly rare tracks (and hopefully having a little more focus on the whole “weekly” part) so that I can bring you all some relics from the hard and heavy past.

If you’re interested in some of the writing I’ve been doing with Metal Blast, here’s the page that shows my work. We’re also looking for more people, so if your grammar is good and you’re an adequate wordsmith drop us a line here. As always, I hope you enjoyed reading this post as well as upcoming content. Keep it locked and stay Metal!

– Matt


Concert-goers: Put Up or Shut Up!

It seems to me that there are a lot of people who complain about certain tours not coming to their town. I do this myself. I was upset when Saxon didn’t come through Ottawa on their recent North American tour. I was the same when Razor did a short tour last year. The thing about so many people bemoaning artists’ lack of attention for their city is that when they finally come through town, they have a ticket for another city, no ticket at all, or a generally apathetic attitude towards the event.

My recent trek to Kingston for Gigantour at the K-Rock Centre was a good example of this. The crowd that was there was fantastic. The bands all put in great sets, and it was one of the best shows I’ve seen.


Coutesy of TheVickShow

The problem was that roughly one fifth of the venue was empty at the concert’s peak. A good number of people then left after Motörhead finished playing. This left the venue at about two thirds capacity for headliners Megadeth.

To my mind this comes down to the attitudes of concert goers and Metal fans in this country, or at least our corner of it. For some reason, so many of us are complacent and even a little apathetic towards the music and musicians we supposedly love. A vivid moment I experienced was when I went to see Ozzy Osbourne at Scotiabank Place in November of 2010. The venue was very nearly full, but the attitude of the concert goers was very subdued to say the least. While I was headbanging away and singing along with my friend, I saw more than a few people standing in place with their arms crossed doing nothing at all, as if to say “Impress me, Ozzy, I dare you.” This after the Ozzman having said at the beginning of the show, “The louder you are, the longer we play!” The result of the crowd’s overall complacency was Ozzy and his band playing four songs less than they had played in Winnipeg a few nights before.

Back to the situation at Gigantour, it was to some degree, the differing result of the same problem: An enthusiastic crowd in a half-empty venue. This comes after so much fervor and excitement over the fact that Gigantour was actually coming through Kingston at all. It was disheartening, after everything I’d heard from people from Belleville to Ottawa and all points in between, to see the state of the venue.

I guess what I’m trying to get across to everyone is this: If you’re not going to go to a concert and show your appreciation as a passionate music fan for all the wonderful art that these various legends have given us over the years, then don’t complain about the tour dates not including your town. If they come through and you don’t go, and moreover you don’t stay for the whole show, the only excuse you have is lacking the cash or being ill. Anything else is simply ignorant.

Put up or shut up.

This article is an slightly edited re-post of an article I originally wrote for Metal Heart; a blog I wrote as part of my college program’s web writing class. Check out all our content at Spine Online and espeically our collaborative webzine Bark. (Originally published 13/02/12)