Green Eggs and Slam

Which is more important, writing good songs or being rly good at ur instrument???

  • Sergeant D


Have u ever wondered how someone with functioning eardrums can listen to NECROPHAGIST, OBSCURA or NILE?? If so, ur not the only one who has asked themselves why metal fans seemingly fetishize technique over everything else, leaving songwriting a neglected, vestigial nub in sadder condition than the useless little arms on a t-rex.

When it comes 2 the topic of songwriting vs technical skill, it turns out that this is a trick question: the answer is that it depends. In a nutshell, in REAL music (pop, hip hop, radio rock, etc) songs are more important, while in metal it is much more important for u to be really good at ur instrument.

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 11.46.40 AM

In real music, being good at ur instrument is not rly important at all. In this genre, the formula 4 success is simple: all u need is a good song performed by a charismatic person/band. Also, Real Music does not even use acoustic instruments, so it is not important if u can play one or not.

Real music is not about wasting ur time learning how 2 sweep or whatever, it’s about coming up with a very simple, catchy idea (almost always based on a rly catchy vocal hook) and using subtle variations in arrangement to create dynamics and turn it into a complete song. This might come as a surprise 2 u, bc Real Music producers do this so well that u usually don’t even notice that there is only 1 core idea in the song.

one of my favorite examples of how REAL music works is the multi-platinum hit “Just Dance” by LADY GAGA, in particular the breakdown at 3:07 where it sounds like a totally new part, but it is rly just a simple variation of the same melody u have been hearing throughout the song. she just modulates teh scale of the main melody coupled with a dramatic change to the arrangement– it sounds like a “new part” but rly it isn’t. Very advanced, isn’t it??

Bass music/trap/twerk is another great example of how the foundation of a song is ONE good idea, and u build everything else around that. Like in this song by DJ SNAKE, the idea is the 3-note main melody (drop is at :59). Everything else in the song is just 2 create tension and release around that synth lead. It’s as simple as that– sweep picking not required!

The point here is that in Real Music, it is not important if u can ‘shred on ur instrument’ because a) Real Music hardly even uses acoustic instruments and b) u have so many other tools at ur disposal as an artist that virtuoso playing is not just unnecessary, it akshually gets in the way of the song (because girls can’t dance 2 sweep picking).

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 11.46.46 AM

On teh other hand, with metal, being able 2 play ur instrument becomes very important. Why? Because the creative boundaries of the genre are so limited that u have so little else at ur disposal that shredding is about all u can do lol.

For example, listen 2 this DYING FETUS song in comparison 2 the Real Music examples above. It should become obvious within a few seconds that it is, objectively speaking, terrible. But more than that, pay attention 2 how the limitations of the genre force them into shredding: there is no vocal melody, which means there can be no harmony, and the “”dynamics”” are limited to either blasting or chugging (lol). They have painted themselves into a corner creatively, so they must resort 2 sweep picking :( Also, what gave them the idea that this song should be FIVE F***ING MINUTES long lol

This song probably has like 14 different parts in it, but they literally all sound the same and not a single one of them is catchy. Since the song itself is terrible, the band’s only hope for catching ur attention is by doing a bunch of dumb flashy crap and hoping that u will be like ‘omfg did u see that??!’ like one of those corny vegas “illusionists” who impresses tourists by making a car disappear or whatever.

aaron spears, best known for playing USHER’s band– his groove and dynamics are head and shoulders above anything u will find in metal. i mean, why would anyone this good waste their time playing a genre where the pinnacle of success is playing to 800 ppl at MDF lol

Also, the punchline 2 all of this is that the ppl who play in Real Music are actually far superior players. As many of u probably know, most of ur favorite metal bands rely on technology to create their cheap parlor tricks, like recording their guitar parts 1-3 notes at a time, editing/sample replacing the drums 2 the point where they might as well be programmed, etc etc.


As u can see, the answer to the question of whether songs or technique is more important is kind of a false dichotomy– don’t get suckered into this foolish debate!! Basically, Real Music = songs, metal = flashy parlor tricks like sweep picking and blasting. Simple!

Show Comments
Metal Sucks Greatest Hits