READER’S CHOICE: METAL FROM CONNECTICUT EDITION
Before we get to today’s regionally-themed “Reader’s Choice,” I’d like to set three quick ground rules for this thing moving forward, since some of you don’t seem to think so good:
- Leaving a comment saying “Hey, do this city!” ain’t gonna do nuthin’. You need to send me an e-mail with your suggestions. Sorry.
- That e-mail should include LINKS TO WHERE WE CAN HEAR THE BANDS. I can’t believe we still have to say this. We’re not gonna google these bands just ’cause you said so. LINKS, PEOPLE, LINKS.
- That e-mail should be relatively polite. If you say “I can’t believe you did this town and not that town” or “I can’t believe you included those local bands but not those local bands,” guess what? I have no choice but to assume you’re dumb. ‘Cause this is “Reader’s Choice.” The band’s are — you guessed it! — selected by readers. If you didn’t e-mail me about your town or about particular bands, well, what were you expecting? That I would just happen to be familiar with every local scene in the world? That’s just not feasible; people send us so much shit that I could probably listen to twenty bands I’ve never heard of every day and STILL be behind. So chill.
Now that I’ve gotten that outta my system, let’s check out some Connecticut bands recommended by the reader known as “needly needly doo,” shall we?
Total djent/tech stuff. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, other than the fact that we get bombarded with dozens of bands that sound just like this every week, and, at this point, you pretty much need to be doing some Periphery-level stuff to impress me. Also, I hate the clean vocals, but that’s mostly just me being grumpy. On the whole, this is pretty good.
Not really djenty, but definitely has some proggy elements… I would actually tell them to get crazier with their shit. There’s a lot of different flavors being mixed in here — the band alternately sounds like Lamb of God, As I Lay Dying, take your pick of hardcore band, Between the Buried and Me, take your pick of hardcore band, and then there’s some irritating clean vocals again — but it plays out in linear succession. In other words, here’s the AILD section, here’s the hardcore section, here’s the BTBAM section, etc. If they throw it all into a blender instead of doing each thing one-at-a-time, they might come up with something truly original. As it stands, they’re like Tight Rope — totally competent.
Tight Rope and Basilisk might have the same problem, which is that they’re skilled musicians, but it seems like they haven’t really put their hearts and their balls into the music; it’s more like “We can play this and we should play this so let’s play this,” and the creations end up feeling somewhat unoriginal and uninspiring. A Red Sky Morning, on the other hand, are just terrible. Boring, generic deathcore.
Oh, The Breathing Process! I know this band. Sammy reviewed their album earlier this year. I agree with every word he wrote. In fact, he was a lot kinder to them than I would have been. So, there ya go. I am not a fan of this band. Sorry.
I guessed that there was no way a band called “Give Us Wings” could be good, and I guessed right. Metal doesn’t get more carbon copied and sterile than this. It’s actually really, really depressing to listen to this stuff. Next.
Should be called “If I Had No Ears.” As in, “If I had no ears, I might like this,” or, “If I had no ears, I wouldn’t have to listen to this crap.”
Okay, now I’m gonna go on a little bit of rant, ’cause there’s a common theme amongst a lot of the bands you nice folks have been sending in.
I understand wanting to emulate artists you admire, and the feeling of satisfaction that comes with achieving the emulation of that style. To some extent, I think that’s part of the developmental process — you want to deconstruct the work of your heroes, to figure out the magic trick. I get that.
What I don’t understand is why people don’t then go, “Okay, I understand how those dudes did that, now how can I push it a little further?” There’s a place for tropes, which I would argue are necessary or semi-necessary conventions, but there’s no place for clichés, which are horribly unnecessary conventions. For example, if someone sent me a death metal album and there wasn’t a single blast beat or guitar solo on the whole thing, I might be a little put-off; but if the album sounded exactly like a million other death metal albums, it would soon find its way into some reader’s prize package. My copy of The Bleeding still plays just fine, so why do I need another?
If these bands said, “Well, we can play our instruments, and now we understand what it is that makes [Insert Favorite Band Name Here] so awesome, but we’re gonna try to put our own little spin on it — to just do this thing a little bit differently, in a way we can’t recall having heard before,” they might be onto something. Instead, it feels like bands are going, “We wrote a Job for a Cowboy song! YEAH!”, high fiving each other, and heading out into the world.
Is the issue just that these bands are too young? Am I being overly critical of kids who are still in their developmental stage? Maybe. But then I meet the dudes from, for example, Last Chance to Reason, and I don’t actually know how old they are, but they look to be all of like nineteen or something, and they’re fucking great. They’re doing exactly what I just recommended (of course, they figured it out on their own) — they’re taking some tropes from genres they like and putting their own spin on the material, so that even the old tricks feel new again. ‘Cause I’d wager no one ever felt really inspired by art they feel like they’ve already experienced, let alone experienced a hundred times before.
Not everyone can be a visionary who’s gonna break new ground. But people are like snowflakes, as the cheesy saying goes — no two are alike. So why aren’t these bands allowing their own unique personalities to shine through?
That’s it. Rant over. I’ll do another region tomorrow if I can.