In 1999, I bought an album by Orgy. It was called Candyass. It was a ridiculous affair, really, the band decked out in outfits reminiscent of Poison, belting out nonsensical, nihilistic lyrics over a steady drone of power chords and synthesized drums. I loved it though, the dark sound, the aloof anger, the volume. From there, I got more and more into the metal scene. At first, it was just bands like Metallica, Korn, and Slipknot. I can’t say I was ever the type of sheep that would listen to these albums and the go out and get my hair spiked and yell at preps “DON’T GIVE A FUCK! DON’T EVER JUDGE ME” like the little mallcore goth kiddies that infest the flocks of modern youth.

Just like the punk of the 70s and 80s, modern hard rock and metal as well as modern rap (until it forays into the fantasy-fulfillment, bling-bling area of the genre) are all intent upon their weak notions of iconoclasm, providing a cathartic means of communication/entertainment for the poor downtrodden blacks or the whiny suburban white kids. Metal and hard rock is inherently nihilistic (or at least existentialist), asserting generally that all values are baseless, at least save for the “independent” precepts of the individual listners. Punk, traditionally, is anarchic, insisting that free reign is inseparable from free will. Both concepts are essentially nonsense, at least when taken to their logical conclusions.

A few bands have bothered to break free of the simple angry noise tendency of such genres and explore actual social activism, such as Rage Against the Machine or U2. It’s a pity, then, that neither band can make good music.

My friend ffanatic and I both got into postrock. You might know a little postrock yourself, if you’ve ever heard Radiohead, which is a more palatable, if esoteric and dispassionate, example of postrock. Another postrock band, Godspeed You Black Emperor! actually made it onto the pages of Spin, once.

Postrock is largely an underground movement, like punk, but without the squalid rage or vacuum of talent that marks the latter. It can range in musical scope from somewhat traditional instrumentation (Aereogramme) to an incorporation of string and other instrumentation (Esmerine, A Silver Mt. Zion), to surrealist (almost amusical) instrumentation (Set Fire to Flames). Postrock deals with much headier concepts than simple anger, depression, et al. One Aereogramme album was about the plight of coal-mining towns. One Godspeed…! album was about vast (and sometimes hidden) corporate ownership of, well, everything.

Postrock can span the gamut, can contain just as much iconoclasm, dissent, and push as their powerchord contemporaries, but manages to do it without the fringe Satanism, National Socialism, violence, or debauchery. Perhaps that’s why I find myself shying away from the label of “metalhead” and sticking to my noetic guns of progressive and post rock.

§381 · August 2, 2004 · ·

39 Comments to “Why I hate metal”

  1. ffanatic says:

    I agree completely wih you; I am finding myself wanting to rather listen to the likes of organic acts like Neutral Mik Hotel or post-rock then metal nowadays. Even though I still like many bands of the genre

    Have you noticed how quickly people (especially on UM) are quick to label post rock bands as pretentious? It’s a shame. Though I can no doubt see the basis for this statement (just read Constellation’s “words from us ” section), it is still saddening, as these bands aren’t prententious in the least; they earnestly believe what they stand for.

  2. Andy says:

    For good or ill, didn’t your odyssey truly begin in 1995 or 1996 when introduced to a certain drug-addled chick-fronted alternative-pop-rock group from Boston? Did not this, in fact, Break the strangling grip on your musical palate theretofore held by The King of Pop?

  3. Ben says:

    Andy:
    True, but can one really claim that an odyssey into metal really began with a band (liberal and chemically-induced) labelled as “bubble gum rock”?

  4. Andy says:

    As I see it, yes. :)

    My journey from Huey Lewis and the News to Lacuna Coil/The Gathering, et al, began one fateful day in Typography 200 class when a rapid-talking chick I had never heard before came on the radio as we were all struggling to master HTML Editor 1.0.

    Admittedly, there is a high degree of separation between L2C and, e.g., Opeth. But L2C represented the first step away from what others listened to toward what I myself liked. For me, I see not a connect-the-dots progression, rather a long strange trip I never would have begun otherwise. I thank God I am not like so many of my high school “friends,” waiting in vain for the next L.A. Guns album to come out so they can steal it.

  5. Ben says:

    I’m impressed that you either know about or remember Opeth. *tickled* I find it hard to be impressed by banal mainstream music; I worry I’ve gotten somewhat (somewhat?) elitist.

  6. Andy says:

    Somewhat elitist? Your painfully specific pedantry, in its way, makes Dennis Miller look like a piker.

  7. James C - says:

    Shut up you imbecile – it seems to me you just hate everything!, i bet you dont even know where the basis bands for REAL metal came from do you? Like everything theres always the good and bad sides of things, i guess metal was just the rebellious side of the music scene. Metal fucking comes from Classical descent therefore stating TRUE metal values in its place.

    Your just see shallow you earl. To believe your idiodic claims are going to get through to people is heresy within itself!

    Metal holds some of the greatest guitarists on earth, these people are dedicated and very talented composers.

    I WISH I COULD KILL YOU IN YOUR SLEEP!

  8. James C - says:

    FFANATIC PROBLY HASNT EVEN HEARD “METAL” BEFORE,

    HE JUST THINKS HE HAS

  9. Ben says:

    I thought about deleting your trollish comments. Then I realized that you’re bolstering my argument. “Your just see shallow you earl”? What does that even mean.

    What are you, an ANUS refugee? Some slobbering malcontent that laps at Prozak’s suppurating teat? Then you head out into the vast wilderness of the internet, a bearer of the secret of metal: it is heavily influenced by classical music. Yes, we know. And I’ve read Prozak’s screeds. And I’ve listened to the requisite bands (what, did you think I listened to Korn forever?). Are we supposed to be impressed that Marduk begins a song with a clip of Mussorgsky? Are we supposed to be impressed by the tenuous and obfuscated link between the latest shit coming out of Norway or Sweden or—god help us—America and the greats of the Romantic era? Your insisting it doesn’t make it true.

    I’ve no doubt that there are a lot of “metal” bands that are excellent: I still own many metal albums, but the metal scene is just too rife with twits like yourself. “I WISH I COULD KILL YOU IN YOUR SLEEP!” Yeah, isn’t that special for you?

    The question you need to ask yourself is: why did you think that a person (to wit: you) with such a poor grasp of language, a head full of somebody else’s (wrong) ideas, and no sense of his own irony would be able to come on somebody’s blog, leave a comment on a two-year-old post, and expect to make some lasting impression? You’re a joke, one of the comic exaggerations of the internet.

  10. smoke crack and worship satan says:

    metal in itself is a beautiful artform , but modern metal is by far one of the most shitiest types of music around right now. metal back in the old days was alright, you know, guys like sabbath, and metallica, ac/dc, and the like….now, modern metal ESPECIALLY the metal from AMERICA is super lameass. FOR CHRIST’S SAKE PEOPLE, IT ALL SOUNDS THE SAME!!! you have all these “subgenres” of metal like, “metal core”, blackmetal, deathmetal, grindcore, and the infinite list goes on. but serioulsy, if you were to put, underoath, black dahlia murder, atreyu, nonus aequilbrium, as i lay dying, it dies today, and all those other really shitty bands on the same cd as a mix, and gave it to some kid who has never listened to metal in his life, he would think it they were all the same artists……christ, he might even think they were the same song…..mentioned below would be the typical elements of “modern metal”….
    1. non-stop double bass drums
    2. MINOR SCALE ONLY!!! in modern metal, the major scale is almost non existant.
    3. incessant screaming vocals, whether high pitched or low, it is incredibly painful to the ears…..
    4. for the love of god people, WHERE THE FUCK IS THE BASS!!!!??? all you hear is loud, minor scale guitar, the double bass drum playing some 32 note pattern or some crazy shit like that, and the bass almost DOESN’T EXIST!!! sure, the band may have a bassist, but he is super lame and you can’t hear him/her. IF, and IF you’re lucky, you MIGHT be able to hear the bass, but he/she has no idea what the fuck he/she is playing, you know, jut doing whatever the guitar player does, and NOTHING ELSE!!!
    you might as well not have a bass player…..
    5. lack of ANY MUSICAL CREATIVITY WHATSOEVER!!!
    6. conclusion: this decade has KILLED, AND RAPED metal!

  11. Brett says:

    OH MY FUCKING GOD!!!!!!!! You all are the gayest nerds ever!!!!!! Metal fucking rocks! FUCK YOU!!!!!!!Listen to some DYING FETUS (real music!!!) Little pussies!

  12. Ben says:

    You’re so hysterically exaggerated that I’m not sure whether to take you as a brilliant satirist or a lame troll.

  13. abou says:

    Why not both? Then you have both bases covered.

  14. Ben says:

    I think there’s a degree of mutual exclusivity there.

  15. brett says:

    There you go!!!!!!!! Your Fucking doing it again. STOP! STFU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Being a nerd!

  16. brett says:

    Your Fucking doing it again… what the fuck

  17. Ben says:

    Are you retarded? No, seriously, is there something wrong with your brain?

  18. brett says:

    No. Not at all. Im just fucking with you guys. I can’t believe your not just ignoring me.How old are you all anyway?

  19. Ben says:

    The only thing worse than an internet troll is someone who thinks that he isn’t one because he admits it.

    To answer your question, the reason that I didn’t delete your comments immediately is because you’re incredibly amusing. Even though your punctuation is atrocious beyond all measure.

  20. brett says:

    WELL GO SUCK A FERP!!!!!!!! and u dont even know what that means do you??? haha…touche mr.buddddddddd!!!Hey im only 16. Quiers

  21. Ben says:

    I should point out that you are such an incoherent little malcontent that half of your comments get caught by the spam filter. It’s like a Turing Test in reverse.

  22. brett says:

    whats a turing test?

  23. David says:

    What the fuck is your fucking problem? yall are all just fuckin retarded, you talk about the goth kids and all the other but yall are the worst fuckin ones. talkin down to everybody thinkin your all smart and shit. but think about this, im gothic and have a b average not even fuckin trying. so shut the fuck up or i will track your little nerdy asses down and beat the fuck out of you. even if i have to bust down your parents door and go down into the fuckin basement and pull you away from your masterbating to internet porn because you know your never going to get any real pussy. so grow the fuck up and learn something about people before you decide to talk shit.

  24. Ben says:

    I love it when people prove my point for me.

  25. brett says:

    WTF! I dont see any point being proved dumbass.

  26. Ben says:

    That’s my point.

  27. brett says:

    Please explain.

  28. Ben says:

    That would be a waste of my time.

  29. sambog says:

    metal nowdays has lost the plot, most of the old stuff is great though and the only modern metal bands i can credit are avenged sevenfold and dragonforce.

  30. Ben says:

    I liked Waking the Fallen, but I’m not sure I’d credit Avenged Sevenfold as being a leader of the pack. Nor Dragonforce or anything related to power metal.

    But by I large I think that any bands that are kicking around the same cartoonish tropes—Korn’s “I want to kill myself” or Darkthrone’s “I want to kill Christians” or Cannibal Corpse’s “I want to kill something and then have sex with it”—all have one foot out the door when it comes to serious critical acclaim. Not that they deserved any to begin with.

  31. Horizon says:

    Oh, wow. Thank you SO much Helio, this just made my entire week. :D Not the article – these comments are a riot.

    David – why are you here, shouldn’t you be dead by now, or do you need me to show you how the hold the razor blade correctly?

    But all idiocy beside, Helio, thank you for this – You’ve honestly just made my entire week better. :)

  32. xxccdef says:

    First of all, excuse me if some of my ideas are not expressed comprehesible since english is neither my mother-tongue nor my first foreign language.
    I think that the title of this blog should be “Why i hate people that listen to metal”. In nowadays metal scene there are too many people that don’t belong there. They go to the gigs, they apply the metalheads clothing style etc., while completely being ignorant about the true meaning of this music, its purpose, ideology and so on. And then you get such comments like above.
    About the values. You mentioned, that ” metal and hard rock is inherently nihilistic”. Couldn’t agree more. But don’t you think that nihilism, anarchy is also values? How can any type of art, any type of social movement have no values? Even fascim, nacism, the *bling-bling* era have their values . You can deny their importance, validity or rationality, but you cannot deny their existence.
    Also some of the bands, as you say, explored social activism. That is one of the reasons I don’t like punk music – all they think of is how not to eat meat and state social problems. I can see them everyday walking down the street or watching news, so why the hell I should hear them in my music? I do not find myself egoistic and I ough to distinguish between my social needs and duties and my spiritual needs (if you can call them that way?).
    Why I like metal? Because I like pure emotions. You can call it somewhat of masochism, but the music that awakes hate, anger or sadness in you, charges you in a positive way.
    As for postrock, what can I say? I haven’t listened to it to understand it. Yes, it is “intelligent” music. And sometimes snobbish. Maybe I’m too stupid for that music. As I mentioned, it actually is kind of boring to listen about all those problems, or maybe it’s my egoistic nature(?).
    Now if any statement above was offensive, be sure I had no intention to do so.

  33. andy says:

    Hello people.

    My belief is:The problem with heavy metal is,i find it to have not much rythm and alot of noise.

    Some metal i like while other are pure better for movies.

    I found that pearl jam on its on or even metallica are very noisy and work better in movies.

    I have a album by metallica,and by the 3rd song i turned it off because i couldn’t get into it.

    I do like led zeppelin and i like pearl jam when pearl jam plays with neil young.

    I like old rock alot more than i do in metal because there is alot more rythm in older rock from the 60s.

    I also don’t hate rap but i don’t necessarily like it alone because rap isn’t meant to be on it’s own,its a instrument and should therefor be applied as one and not as the music itself.

    By the way,if my writing is terribly painfull.I am sorry,i moved from the us when i was 9 years old and lived in spain and i had to learn to write in english all by myself.I alctually speak english better than i write in english.
    Most of what i know now in english is due to learning to write in english all by myself or applied from both:movies and videogames.Impressive no?

  34. Anonymous says:

    andy Saturday, November 4th, 2006

    Hello people.

    My belief is:The problem with heavy metal is,i find it to have not much rythm and alot of noise.

    Some metal i like while other are pure better for movies.

    I found that pearl jam on its on or even metallica are very noisy and work better in movies.

    I have a album by metallica,and by the 3rd song i turned it off because i couldn’t get into it.

    I do like led zeppelin and i like pearl jam when pearl jam plays with neil young.

    I like old rock alot more than i do in metal because there is alot more rythm in older rock from the 60s.

    I also don’t hate rap but i don’t necessarily like it alone because rap isn’t meant to be on it’s own,its a instrument and should therefor be applied as one and not as the music itself.

    By the way,if my writing is terribly painfull.I am sorry,i moved from the us when i was 9 years old and lived in spain and i had to learn to write in english all by myself.I alctually speak english better than i write in english.
    Most of what i know now in english is due to learning to write in english all by myself or applied from both:movies and videogames.Impressive no?

    If you can’t find the beat in metal, you’re either retarded or a parapalegic. There has to be a

    PLEASE NOTE: i’m talking about the better metal nowadays, none of the metalcore/grindcore shit that these little fuckers are spewing out left and right nowadays.

    Look at Racer X – Scarified. Perfect. The old thrash guys rule all.

    BUT, before you call me an idiot and that I ‘proved your point further’ let me say I’m a fan of other types of music, from funk to latin to jazz. It’s all refreshing rather than hearing blastbeats for 4 minutes straight in 4/4, even though that’s good in small doses.

    blah blah blah etc etc, another thing I’d like to add is even though it may be repeated a lot, you have to be pretty skilled to play some of the riffs/beats a lot of the death metal/power metal acts do. You mentioned orgy? as metal? the fuck? repeat powerchords with a synth pedal and some lame drum beat and voila, mtv/mall metal.

    Though I’m sure this comment won’t change your mind.. but whatever I tried ;]

  35. Me!?!?!?!?! says:

    the thing is that music appeals to different people, dont like it, dont listen to it, not hard to understand. \M/

  36. Ben says:

    I don’t think we’re arguing visceral appeal, here. No doubt there are legions of disaffected teens to whom a hoarse chorus of “Dont give a fuck! Don’t ever judge me!” sounds like Plato. Nor, I am sure, is there any lack of thin-skinned emo fans who listen to [insert emo band here— I don’t know, who the devil do kids listen to these day?] after their breakup and are sure that the lyrics, like, speak to them, you know?

    My point is that there is intellectual and artistic worth to things. I won’t begrudge someone who reads John Grisham novels the right to read for sheer entertainment, but neither will I try to lump Grisham and, say, Roth or Pynchon into the same group.

  37. Mike says:

    Why do you even write an article about why you hate metal? Is it so much of a problem that you need to outcast others because you have a problem with it. How about you just listen to what you want and no one will tell you that your music sucks or that they hate it, and I will listen to metal and like it. I also like many other genres besides metal, classical music perhaps, old hard rock like foghat and the edgar winter group. If you need to write a whole article about why you hate a certain genre of music, you obviously have to much time on your hands. Please, if you don’t like metal, keep it to yourself. Thanks.

  38. Ben says:

    I, for one, think that is a brilliant idea. In the future, when I have an opinion, I’ll keep it carefully to myself.