The problem? It’s a prime example of what Audiohammer Studios producer and MetalSucks columnist Eyal Levi (The Black Dahlia Murder, Arsis, Last Chance to Reason, a trillion other bands) has called “the misuse of plugins” — specifically, Guitar Pro. This software is intended to create musical tabs, but it features a “realistic sound engine,” theoretically to play the musician’s parts back to him. Unfortunately, some people use this “realistic sound engine” to give the appearance of being able to play parts which they cannot actually play.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Lucas Mann:
It doesn’t take a professional producer to realize that this is Guitar Pro, and not real guitar. I mean, it sounds like poorly-written music for a Nintendo game, fer Chrissakes! Mann simply hit the space bar and filmed himself moving his fingers along to the sounds being produced by a computer. This is the guitar equivalent of Milli Vanilli; the only difference is that instead of having some talented singers record their parts clandestinely, a software program is being used to play back the guitar parts in MIDI (thus, the Nintendo-ish quality to the sound). This is basically electronic music, not technical metal. Which would be fine if Mann were part of an EDM act. But he’s not. He’s part of a technical metal band; he’s part of scene which is supposed to value musicianship.
(And lest you think this is a guitar synth… it ain’t. Ask any recording professional worth his salt: guitar synths simply do not track well at high speeds. In other words, this is not how a guitar synth would sound. This is Guitar Pro.)
Put more simply: Mann (and by extension, Rings of Saturn) are duping their audience, posing as musicians who possess skills that they do (or, at least, that they haven’t proven they possess). Furthermore, they’re lowering the bar for ALL music. The message they’re sending to other aspiring musicians is, “Hey, it’s okay to let a computer do all the work while you just play rock star. No need to learn your craft. Hell, no need to even be holding an instrument when you write your music! Just input that shit into a computer and voila! You can still get signed and do big tours and all kinds of other awesome stuff!”
To use the parlance of your mother, “They’re setting a bad example.”
Mann and guys like Mann are setting themselves — and their whole genre — up for a total disaster. Because eventually, their audience will catch on to them. Art is a long-con; the stuff with no substance never lasts (see: hair metal, nu-metal, etc.). This kind of BS could very well signal the beginning of the end for the tech metal movement.