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'Authentic' metal? help with research wanted...

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Time Signature Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Apr 2011 at 9:40am
Originally posted by TheCroust TheCroust wrote:

Do you think maybe the reason people might consider the more extreme forms to be more 'authentic' (sorry I have to keep using that term), could be to do with minority status? A common way in which people seem to validate their music is through scale, i.e. smaller = more authentic. I can't remember where I read it, which is annoying, but somewhere it said 'as music grows in popularity, the piece of ourselves that we have invested in it, or that bit of the music we feel 'belongs to us' in some way', shrinks'. It becomes less personal, and maybe one way of dealing with what feels like a loss is to attack it with charges of (uh-oh) 'selling out', or such like.


That certainly seems to fit in with the identity-building we've discussed. By affiliating oneself with a sort of exclusive and difficult to understand kind of music - which a lot of extreme metal is to mainstream people - one becomes part of a sort of exclusive and elitist group... and I am sure we see similar patterns in youth subcultures associated with other genres of music.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Certif1ed Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Apr 2011 at 1:34am
I deliberately haven't read what others have posted to avoid colouring my response, so please excuse any duplicate comments - I will go back for a good read later!
 
Authentic, as opposed to "true" or "troo" metal to me is simply a form of hard rock with an unmistakable metallic edge to it.
 
It meets the following criteria;
 
1. The lyrics are nihilistic, occult or extreme. They will tend to avoid areas of  sex and relationships, excepting the most sleazy and direct forms, as metal lyricists explore taboo areas with glee - this gives the music as a whole an authentic nature, as the darker side of the soul is expressed. No subject is left untouched, and even dark humour can be found.
 
2. There will typically be an absence of "swing" in the music, if there is any, it tends more towards the brawny, macho swagger, as metal is and has always been a predominantly masculine form of music.
 
3. No musical styles are left unexplored - metal started out as a bastardisation of other genres, and has continued to pillage and rape other genres for new ideas, just as other genres have attempted to add metallic elements to their sound, generally with limited success.
 
4. No metal band has to adhere to any of these rules or any other rules that anyone makes up. If it sounds like metal and has metal attitude, then it's authentic. It can sound traditional or entirely new - it only has to sound and be metal from its very core - metal at heart, you might say.
 
5. There will be LOUD GUITAR!!!!!!!! (although this is actually optional, and not specific to metal - see item 3).
 
 
Non-authentic metal is a bit harder to put your finger on, but you know it when you hear it, or particularly when you see a band playing it live.
 
The difference is strongest in item 4 above. While a metal band can play what it likes, if it just sounds like its jumping on the bandwagon, playing metal music to get attention or money, etc rather than playing it for the sheer heartfelt pleasure of playing metal music, then that comes across - quite strongly sometimes.
 
 
"True" and "False" metal differ in one respect only.
 
True metal is true metal to metal fans, and false metal is false only to the gang or bigmouth with friends who goes around saying it is. It's a kind of musical gang warfare, and the "false" metal will usually be a specific subgenre. Glam tends to get a lot of stick in this department. However, referring back to non-authentic metal, false metal does exist - just not where a lot of people say it does.
 
Some people will say anything for attention!


Edited by Certif1ed - 09 Apr 2011 at 1:36am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Colt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Apr 2011 at 4:58am
^
I was hoping you would see this thread Mark, I knew you would put it into words far better than me and I couldn't agree with your comments more. I would maybe add that lyrically some of the great bands have explored fantasy too. I guess though you could call this an extension to the occult.
 
Funnily enough, over at PA there is a thread asking if Riverside are Prog Metal or Heavy Prog. The posts really show peoples lack of understanding of what makes music  truly "metal".
 
Obviously, there are also the purists who would argue that metal is only metal if you add death as a precursor - and most people here know my thoughts on that.
 
Metal has been around for 40 years not just the last decade or so.
 
...and here's some witches brew for you:
 
Hemispheres, Waves and Pictures were played alongside Iron Maiden and Motorhead. At the time we saw no difference.
 
King Crimson were inscribed on my college folder amongst all the classic metal bands - go figure!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote goskoski Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Apr 2011 at 6:10pm
Bands who attend Wacken Open Air and similar festivals are metal, be they gold, iron, copper, or mercury.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TheCroust Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Apr 2011 at 12:43pm
@Cert1fied, some interesting points there. The idea of taboo subject matter and exploring the 'darker' sides of life making art more 'authentic' is something that crops up a fair bit. This of course means that happy or optimistic art must somehow be 'inauthentic', a criticism often made of commercial pop (along with being, er, commercial). Weirdly, although I know that this argument can't work, I kind of agree with it... it's almost as though by being all happy and fluffy, people are trying to disguise the realities of the world. But then, optimism can be dark as hell sometimes.

The other big one is obviously the question of why it's bad for artists to have money and/or fame as a priority. Compromising artistic integrity is the normal explanation, but then you have to ask, what is artistic integrity? If they set out to try and make money from their music and then do so, surely they have done what they intended?

Just playing devil's advocate here, but technically all popular music has always been commercially motivated (I know Gaahl reckons black metal was never intended to reach an audience, but I would ask, why release a record then?), so really how do we decide who has 'integrity' and who doesn't?

@Colt, funny how the meaning of 'metal' has changed so much with time. I'm not sure 'rock' has experienced the same shift in meaning - it probably includes more genres now but I can't think of a band that used to be called 'rock' and isn't any more. Metal though, used to include Van Halen and Def Leppard (did I mention that earlier?), but I'm not sure they're generally referred to as such any more - or maybe its just a generational thing?


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote goskoski Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Apr 2011 at 10:59pm
I still can remember from the 1980s when I listened to a radio program called "Nightmare" and "Wildside". It was a metal show, but they played Slayer next to Journey and TNT. From AOR to Thrash/Death all facets of Hard n Heavy were played and not just one. I remember that there was once a Bon Jovi and on another day a Mordred special. They were invited as guests to the show. A few weeks later they had Testament in their studio.
 
Even the metal magazine, Metal Hammer Crash was very tolerant to different styles of hard rockmusic. They even had a Bon Jovi section and a Meat Loaf special. Even musicians such as Rick Springfield and bands such as Triumph and Foreigner were present.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Certif1ed Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Apr 2011 at 1:54am
Originally posted by TheCroust TheCroust wrote:

@Cert1fied, some interesting points there. The idea of taboo subject matter and exploring the 'darker' sides of life making art more 'authentic' is something that crops up a fair bit. This of course means that happy or optimistic art must somehow be 'inauthentic', a criticism often made of commercial pop (along with being, er, commercial). Weirdly, although I know that this argument can't work, I kind of agree with it... it's almost as though by being all happy and fluffy, people are trying to disguise the realities of the world. But then, optimism can be dark as hell sometimes.

The other big one is obviously the question of why it's bad for artists to have money and/or fame as a priority. Compromising artistic integrity is the normal explanation, but then you have to ask, what is artistic integrity? If they set out to try and make money from their music and then do so, surely they have done what they intended?

Just playing devil's advocate here, but technically all popular music has always been commercially motivated (I know Gaahl reckons black metal was never intended to reach an audience, but I would ask, why release a record then?), so really how do we decide who has 'integrity' and who doesn't?


 
Certainly for metal music, the darker aspects have always been a defining factor - and the "obsession" with it is something that separates it from hard/heavy rock, which will happily explore the lighter, fluffier sides as well - hence the difficulty with categorising bands like Led Zeppelin.
 
I wouldn't apply this to all areas of art - I recently visited the Doge's Palace in Venice, and was stunned at the art dedicated to religious themes, and Bach was known to have dedicated all his work to the glory of God.
 
This latter approaches your next point - the motivation behind art is important to those who enjoy the artistic merits in their own right, as opposed to simply enjoying art as a consumable. There's nothing wrong in either approach - I've heard many pop songs I enjoy which fit the Zeitgeist of a moment in time - but, like most fans of artistic music, I tend to enjoy music which has a lasting quality far more - and most often it's music created with some kind of integrity that lasts.
 
Metal is very interesting from this point of view; I grew up with the NWoBHM, which featured musicians of all abilities, from the musically near-hopeless to extreme talent. The exciting thing about metal to me back then was that ability was only a single factor - if it came "from the heart", it didn't matter if you were Ritchie Blackmore or Joe Smith from the pub who'd just gone out and bought his first guitar.
 
Somehow you could feel in your gut if someone was relying on something other than feeling to create the music - Holocaust are one of my favourite bands from that time; Songs like "Heavy Metal Mania", "Smoking Valves" and the legendary "Small Hours" are testament to extreme passion for a growing musical movement and all it stands for, backed by pretty simplistic musical backgrounds.
 
On the other hand, it's difficult, if not impossible to name a band as lacking this kind of integrity, as music always finds its own level - this is probably best left to the ear of the beholder. Or beerholder, preferably. I don't think there are any scientific measurements we can take to prove anything here - it's down to opinions and straw-man polls at the end of the day.
 
One personal example I can give is Muse, who I saw a couple of years ago at Wembley Stadium.
 
The show was amazing, the sound was lousy unless you were at the front, but Muse seemed to go through the motions on all the songs - there was no "life" in the music, and I felt I could have just as well stayed at home and listened to the CD - or waited for the DVD release. I felt that Muse were cynically funding their next batch of recording sessions through extortionate ticket prices and merch.
 
But a lot of others who were there really enjoyed the experience.
 
A few years earlier, I saw them at Glastonbury, and can safely say that it was one of the best, most "authentic" performances I've ever witnessed.
 
I'd say THE most "authentic" and least commercially oriented band I've ever seen is either Hawkwind or, more likely, Here and Now. The latter used to do a lot of free gigs and festivals - small wonder their record label went bust, and I used to see the former at free festivals, where they'd pass a bucket or two around during the many encores to collect "donations".
 
Metal is a perpetually evolving sub-genre of popular music, and one of the longest lasting.
 
People who grew up with more recent incarnations are going to hear the older styles as somewhat faded in comparison. To my mind, what was metal during the NWoBHeavy Metal is still metal (and that includes Def Leppard, of course) - so yes, it's almost definitely a generational thing.
 
Mind you, a lot of people are coming round to Proto metal, and all the exciting "proto-doom" bands like Iron Claw, Possessed (not the thrash band!) and Dies Irae. As different and less extreme forms of metal become popular, the older acts are slowly becoming re-recognised for the pioneers they were. Def Leppard and particularly Van Halen's earliest outings are constant sources of surprise for those who only know their recent material - but then there's confusion about the lyrical content, and the fact that Halen especially enjoyed mixing it up and covering soul tunes and other esoterica. There's plenty of really heavy stuff too - especially on albums like Fair Warning.
 
Ultimately, metal is where you find it - hence we get discussions about Boston and suchlike. Authenticity and integrity have always played an important part in the music and with its fans, but defining what those are is proably best left to someone with a Psychology degree - or simply go with your gut.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TheCroust Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Apr 2011 at 8:30am
Originally posted by Certif1ed Certif1ed wrote:

Authenticity and integrity have always played an important part in the music and with its fans, but defining what those are is proably best left to someone with a Psychology degree - or simply go with your gut.


Heh heh, I think this is the central point here - defining them is something that can only be done by the listener. We all take what we want from art, it means something different to everyone. I try and think of it in (very simplistic) terms like everyone having a slightly different view of the stage. Although there may be such a thing as a definition, it can only ever be an individual, subjective thing.

The debate is one that can never end, as everyone competes to validate and reinforce their own opinions, tastes - identities. What's good (or bad, depending on your view), about the internet is that it has enabled 'normal' people to voice their opinions and get them heard (read), rather than 'authenticating power' resting with critics and such like.
It's a bit of a shame most of what's on the web isn't very articulate, but then most people don't tend to spend too much time thinking about and trying to explain why they like something or not.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote UMUR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Apr 2011 at 8:48am
The why issue is very much a subjective emotional thing IMO. Itīs hard to define why something moves you more than other things do. Itīs probably got something to do with your nature, your history and how you perceive things but Iīm not always sure itīs a conscious thing. Certain sounds or progression of sounds wake various feelings in you.

Edited by UMUR - 14 Apr 2011 at 8:49am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Certif1ed Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Apr 2011 at 9:14am
It'd be interesting to explore what makes metal authentic - using some great examples, naturally!
 
After all, that was the original question, and, if it's for an MA, it's going to be largely hypothetical anyway - so my suggestion is to dig out a song that we can discuss the authenticity - or otherwise. Or just drink more beer and headbang to it. Either way, we all win.
 
It don't get more authentic than this, IMHO;
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Colt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Apr 2011 at 11:58am
^^
Metal Gods, indeed they were and still are Big smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TheCroust Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Apr 2011 at 2:23pm
Thanks to everyone who contributed on this thread, currently writing up the piece. I assume people are happy for me to quote them? No-one seems to have registered any objections...Wink 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote J-Man Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Apr 2011 at 3:39pm
Originally posted by TheCroust TheCroust wrote:

Thanks to everyone who contributed on this thread, currently writing up the piece. I assume people are happy for me to quote them? No-one seems to have registered any objections...Wink 


Feel free to use any quotes from me. Thumbs Up
Check out my YouTube channel! http://www.youtube.com/user/demiseoftime
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Certif1ed Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Apr 2011 at 4:03pm
I'm likewise very happy to be quoted - but at my college, it was a bit like Wikipedia - our sources had to be verifiable and "recognised", meaning the source had to be someone who had published work and was a recognised authority in the chosen field.
 
I can't speak for others here, but I have no work published in my name, so that may be something to bear in mind for any kind of authoritative souce in an academic thesis.
 
As far as I'm concerned, I've "worked" with most of the guys on this site for quite a few years now, and can safely say it don't get much more authoritative - depends on how you present it, or how important that is to your college, I guess.
 
I'd be interested in seeing the finished result!


Edited by Certif1ed - 16 Apr 2011 at 4:05pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TheCroust Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Apr 2011 at 2:16am
I'll email anyone who wants to see it with the piece, no problem. It's kind of a strange question now though, morphed slightly over the last week or so. It'll deal with a range a musics with examples from different forums and comment pages, and talk about how, even though the place of critics etc may have been slightly eroded due to the internet, the values and 'authenticating strategies' used by fans are pretty much along the same lines as the western 'canonical' values which have been in place for hundreds of years...nothing changes.
Anyway, thanks again - let me know if you actually want to read it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Certif1ed Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Apr 2011 at 3:11am
Thumbs Up   I'd be very interested to read it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Colt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Apr 2011 at 3:47pm
Maybe you can either post the article or the link so we can all read it Big smile
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