The Webernets

Phil Labonte Isn’t Good with Vocabulistics Like You and Me

  • Axl Rosenberg

labonte groot

All That Remains vocalist Phil Labonte recently posted the following message on Facebook (screen cap here in case he yanks it down):

“So in the past six months bleeding through called it quits, god forbid called it quits, and just today shadows fall has announced that for all intents and purposes they’re calling it quits. I’m so glad ATR have transcended ‘metal’ and have become ‘musicians.’”

Andy Synn over at No Clean Singing has written a lengthy, very well argued editorial in which he basically asserts that not only is Labonte’s message condescending to the genre that made him (seeing as it implies that metal musicians aren’t, y’know, musicians), but that’s bullshit for a number of other reasons, such as:

“It’s interesting to note that many of the bands who attempt to negate their critics (or ‘haters’ as I believe they like to call them) in this manner often fall back on citing their record sales as proof of their superiority… but then when you point out that, say, Miley Cyrus has sold ten times as many albums, they grow curiously silent… it’s an odd state of denial and delusion that I like to call ‘The Disturbed Defence.’”

Synn continues:

“A word like ‘transcended’ suggests that the band have gone above and beyond something… it suggests that the very idea of being ‘metal’ is in some way a limitation… and while this can be true for many bands (usually not very good ones), addressing it in this way is essentially the same thing as admitting that you simply weren’t capable of being better at it.

“Honestly, there are so many bands out there pushing the limits of what metal can do and what it can be, expanding the definition and boundaries of the genre with creativity and talent, that claiming to have been restricted by the genre comes across as incredibly disingenuous, and rarely reflects positively on the bands making the claim.”

I can’t believe I’m defending Phil Labonte, but I’m not sure that Synn’s assumptions are correct — it seems entirely plausible to me that Labonte’s implication was a total accident. Evidence suggests that Labonte isn’t very good about considering the actual meaning of his words. Or, put more simply: he seems kinda dumb. So I guess it’s possible that Synn is dead on, and that Labonte is being a total dick, but I think it’s also possible that this is just a case of “type-before-you-think.”

Of course, the funniest thing about Labonte’s message is that he refers to himself as a musician. There are literally dozens, if not hundreds, of metal vocalists with more raw talent than Labonte who haven’t enjoyed a fraction of the success he has. So if he did mean that he’s a musician and those metal dudes aren’t, then the word “musician” no longer means what it means. Which is actually kind of the case in the computer era anyway.

Read the rest of Andy Synn’s piece here.

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