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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