"some music was meant to stay underground..."

The Rise of Art-Metal

Jon Caramanica has written a surprisingly excellent article in the New York Times about the shift in metal and the rise of "art metal" and "post metal," the latter label I dislike more than the first. Here's an except to get you started:

You might not have known it from looking at the audience, but when the Chicago instrumental band Pelican performed at the Knitting Factory in late July, it was playing metal.

Instead of long hair and all-black outfits, the crowd was displaying the trappings of brainy, slightly nerdy indie rock. Young men wore artistically cropped hair and tight-legged jeans, and there was even a smattering of young women in librarian glasses and worn-out Chuck Taylor sneakers.

This is not your older brother's metal crowd. "I've been wearing my Def Leppard T-shirt on tour recently," said Laurent Lebec, a guitarist in Pelican and a fan of that archteypal 1980's metal band. "People come up to me and ask, 'Is that a joke?' I have to tell them that I don't wear T-shirts as a joke."

The particularly dark and aggressive strain of rock called heavy metal has been around for more than three decades. In that time, it has spawned a range of offshoots, but none have been as unlikely as the recent wave of bands using metal as a jumping-off point for a range of experimental styles, dabbling in free jazz, minimalist post-rock, noise and even modern classical music.

This is art-metal, a curious scene populated by a new generation of metal acolytes onstage and younger fans often unfamiliar with metal's headbanger heritage.

"Metal in general has long been unjustly maligned as solely the province of knuckle-dragging meatheads," said Aaron Turner, a founder of the influential Hydra Head Records, which has released three CD's by Pelican, including, recently, "The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw." "That said, there's never been a group of musicians like there is now, who are helping to advance the form."

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21 Comments on "The Rise of Art-Metal"

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Anonymous Reader
1. graveland writes:

arrogance + ignorance = this crap.

"knuckle dragging meatheads" sounds like these nerds liked metal in high school but got beat by real metalheads.

# Sep 23, 2005 @ 6:13 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
2. marcus writes:

guys in tight pants wearing glasses? artistically cropped hair? this is a joke right? unless this band sounds like HIM or something

seriously, this sh** is NOT cool.

# Sep 23, 2005 @ 6:30 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
3. key to nothing writes:

why does this guy feel the need to change metal,he acts like metal's in the sh**ter when in reality its the strongest its ever been(if you are an underground person that is) and is far stronger and has more talent then any industry generated genre,this guy should stick to writing

# Sep 23, 2005 @ 6:38 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
4. marcus writes:

"Recent metal albums have paid tribute to authors from Melville (Mastodon's "Leviathan") to Tolkien (Blind Guardian's "Nightfall in Middle-Earth")"

either their going way off topic, or their under the assumption that the "emo/artsy" concertgoers enjoy blind guardian...which for the most part i dont think they do.

# Sep 23, 2005 @ 6:52 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
RememberMetal?'s avatar

Writer/Reviewer

5. RememberMetal? writes:

So how are everyone knuckles doing?....

I had to get a blood transfusion since I've been dragging mine for the better part of 15 years.

Pelican, despite their sh**ty name do have a great deal of promise....Reminds me of how giddy I was when I heard "Call of the Ktulu" for the first time.

Differnt vibe but the same feeling.

good stuff.

# Sep 23, 2005 @ 8:17 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
6. key to nothing writes:

i cant say that i find pelican all that promising but isis and khanate are very intriguing

# Sep 23, 2005 @ 8:27 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
7. johnson writes:

art metal = rich f***s that dont know sh** about Lamb of God, Slayer, or Testament

# Sep 23, 2005 @ 8:43 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
8. the ghost of DEAD writes:

okay this sub gerne thing has gone far enough

# Sep 23, 2005 @ 8:44 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
9. key to nothing writes:

i like all the sub-genres as long as they are metal,this doesnt sound like a real metal kind of genre though,sounds like emo and nerds

# Sep 23, 2005 @ 8:52 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
10. the ghost of DEAD writes:

i couldve put that better
Now Playing"The Final Command" by Slayer

# Sep 23, 2005 @ 8:55 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
11. key to nothing writes:

now playing "seven" by necrophagist

# Sep 23, 2005 @ 9:01 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
deathbringer's avatar

Founder, owner & programmer

12. deathbringer writes:

Most of the bands named in the article aren't bad (although none really impress me either). I don't think the writer is so much condescending rather than focusing on a new sound and image in metal that does not fit the traditional metal stereotypes. Surely if it gets popular enough or widespread enough, it will earn screams of "not true metal" (it is already I think). If the new crowd it taps into is large enough to drive a commercially-backed movement, then the screams grow louder and inevitably the art will be gone from art-metal.

# Sep 23, 2005 @ 10:04 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
RememberMetal?'s avatar

Writer/Reviewer

13. RememberMetal? writes:

I like the concept of bands that play purely instrumental metal that don't get caught up in gimics (ex: Slipknot, Kiss, Dimmu and Mudvayne who have wisely dropped the paint) the tired lyrical themes, the same dumb old riffery and the "where have I heard that before?" solo sh**.

The guys in Pelican look like the guy behind the counter of the used book store or the liquor outlet. The fans just happen to be nerdy fashionistas who are trying to get into something a few years before it gets popular so they can be cool in the eyes of their more normal friends.

While Pelican have quite a way to go, I like that their sound comes from all over the soundscape and they cherry pick from nearly all genres....While their nothing to write home about I think theres potential there.

As far the genre title "art-metal" gets thrown around a little too often.....The Melvins, Fantomas, Incubus, Dredg, Butthole Surfers, Tomahawk even Queens of the Stoneage have been called art-metal in one rag or another....

The label is a lazy way of saying experimental or unclassifiable with some metal oomph.

# Sep 23, 2005 @ 11:18 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
14. key to nothing writes:

heres the way i see it,.....if you really want good insrumental stuff without alot of vocals than why dont you just listen to necrophagist or arsis(both favorites of mine)

# Sep 24, 2005 @ 11:18 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
15. Rulin Kmadd writes:

Incubus are the beach boys of nu-metal. but this so called art-metal is been going on
for years stuff like O.L.D, Helmet , Neurosis and even Fugazi was being played 12 to 13 years
ago. The Melvins are very experimental check out Pigs Of The Roman Empire
with them and DJ Lustmord dark electronic music mixed with The Melvins very cool
stuff indeed and I had the pleasure of seeing them with the great Jello Biafra
doing Dead Kennedy's cover it was phenomenal!!

# Sep 24, 2005 @ 2:01 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
16. ! writes:

art=fag .

# Sep 24, 2005 @ 5:02 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
brokenwings13's avatar

Member

17. brokenwings13 writes:

That article was ok, he missed a few points though.

# Sep 24, 2005 @ 6:25 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
18. theresshitonthewalls writes:

Art Fag... Ha ha ha... Rulin's right tho', art metal has been around for years, this is nothing new, now it's just that there are trendy art fags showing up to the shows to pose in Weezer influenced geekwear. So f***ing what. Next?

# Sep 24, 2005 @ 6:48 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
RememberMetal?'s avatar

Writer/Reviewer

19. RememberMetal? writes:

The writter missed alot of points and about 50 noteworthy bands and 500 sh**ty ones.

The whole metal fan sterotype is a crutch of writer who lacks both wit and a significant angle or point to make. It was this round about, meandering way of saying "heres a band and a scene that isnt so well known, devour it good little trend setting consumers so this too can become the next thing people laugh at like disco.

# Sep 24, 2005 @ 6:53 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
20. Don't be stupid writes:

I t hink most of you are missing the point of the article. The writer is simply stating that the stereotype of metalheads has always been knuckledraggers, while in truth, their has always been intelligent metal. It's just that now the mainstream is actually starting to figure that out. The article is more about mainstream perception's of metal than anything else.

And seriously how is he going to mention every good intelligent band out there. Most of them he mentioned were good.

# Oct 16, 2005 @ 8:38 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
21. relentless austin writes:

The only thing that bothers me is "post metal". Is that a new genre,
or is it statement about the relevance of typical old metal? It sounds like just a bunch
of nerds playing metal. Whatever. If that's the case, it seems like the article is just putting
a label on something that doesn't need to be labeled.

# Oct 16, 2005 @ 10:53 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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