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Diversity needed in metal

Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dear Mr. Miller,

Your article in Wednesday’s Observer (“A simple plea,”?Jan. 14) piqued my interest. You see, like your friend Paul, I, too, am an avid listener of heavy metal. And while I agree that there is a cancer growing on the music industry, your characterization of it is wholly inaccurate.

You claim that the music industry has manufactured genres in order to sell terrible music to easily malleable music fans. While this may be true, one of the primary laws of economics is that of supply and demand. Listeners would not be buying this “garbage,” as you so subtly referred to it, if there were not a demand for it. Hawthorne Heights would not write songs like Ohio Is For Lovers (arguably the worst musical abortion ever foisted upon innocent radio listeners) were it not for the fact that there are thousands of black-wearing, MySpace-utilizing, poetry-reading Tim Burton-imitating emo fans.

My second point is this: you say that “genre-fication” is artificial. It may be in some mainstream music, but certainly not in metal. The reason there are so many metal genres is because of the style’s rich history and divergent musical paths. A well-versed jazz listener can tell you the difference between early, middle and late-period John Coltrane records, and can discuss the particulars of the subtle musical arrangements on Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue.”

Likewise, an educated metalhead can discourse at length on the variations in style between Cannibal Corpse’s early “Tomb of the Mutilated” and the more recent (and succinctly titled) “Kill.” The worst examples of industry-based “genre-fication” in metal are insignificant compared to the revolting qualities of American Idol and any given song on pop radio stations.

At the very worst, you’ll hear people at concerts discussing whether a band is deathcore or death metal, or perhaps you’ll find a sticker on a CD that demands you purchase it if you like “Slayer, Lamb of God and Mastodon!” Compare this to the last 20 years of pop radio, which have largely been based upon bands saying, “Hey, remember that Nirvana song with the four chords? Let’s do that for 12 tracks!”

In conclusion, dear sir, if you want an example of “genre-fication,” avert your eyes from metal and stare into the deep, dark recesses of the pop and rap music industries. Oh, and as for metal being the “most annoying form of music out there,” I submit to you every Akon song ever written, which you can frequently hear being blared at 4 a.m. out of the dorm room next to mine.

Now I’ll go back to listening to The Dillinger Escape Plan (mathcore – yes, it’s a genre), Opeth (progressive death metal) and Decapitated (technical death metal).

Patrick Hernandez


Dillon Hall

Jan. 14