From Hell’s Heart – My Unpopular Opinions (June 2009)

June 2nd, 2009
by EvilG
From Hell’s Heart: June 2009

"My Unpopular Opinion" 
From Hells Heart...

Each of us took the opportunity to break from the pack and voice our unpopular or out of step views on anything metal related, like “Judas Priest is totally overrated,” “FORBIDDEN is the best Sabbath album ever,” or “RELOAD is the bestest ‘tallica album and they need to wear more green eyeliner again! harhar!”  Here’s what the staff of metal rules had to say……


Aaron Yurkiewicz

I’m completely SICK of hearing about how fans and file sharing are ruining the music industry. In my unpopular opinion, the bands, the labels, the music retailers, and anyone involved in the business end of the scene have ruined the industry. The fans are just an easy scapegoat for everyone to point a finger at.

First and foremost, I don’t agree with illegal downloading – artists work hard to craft creative music that will hopefully appeal to fans and maybe earn them enough to make a modest living. If you don’t pay for it; it’s stealing plain and simple. BUT, whenever the subject of downloading comes up, everyone acts like the internet is something that snuck up on the world and “just kinda happened.” Legitimate digital distribution services were around ages before “iTunes” was a part of everyone’s vocabulary, but none of the labels capitalized on the (then) technological potential of the internet. Rather than recognize the way that the world was turning, labels and retailers chose to stick their heads in the sand and completely ignore it.

I remember when I first subscribed to e-Music like 10 years ago (give or take), and how impressed I was at being able to pay a flat monthly fee for access to a label’s entire catalog. Metal Blade, Earache, Roadrunner, and either Nuclear Blast or Relapse were the metal labels on board at the time, and it introduced me to bands and albums that I would never have discovered otherwise and reintroduced me to some I hadn’t heard in a long time. But neither the artists nor the labels did anything to promote this kind of association. The only reason that I found out about the service was because I happened to see a print ad while flipping through a copy of Metal Edge at the drug store. But I was (and still am) happy to pay a monthly fee for legitimate access to such a breadth of music, both new and old.

But there was minimal effort to acknowledge or capitalize on the technology. Nobody was looking towards the next medium that music would manifest itself in, and it seemed like industry was ignorantly confident that CDs would never go away. Did we learn nothing from vinyl, 8-tracks, or cassette tapes? Rather, the bands, the labels, and the retailers were content to charge fans upwards of $20 for a single disc CD at their local Sam Goody. Some bands have tried to combat high prices; Voivod’s THE OUTER LIMITS had a sticker price on it stating to not pay more than $6.99 for the cassette version of the album, I don’t remember the CD price. But this was the exception and not the rule. Everyone was content to charge fans out the wazoo for a CD that had so many markups on the final price, you almost needed to take out a small loan at the register.

Fans were upset at shelling out that much for a disc, but again, there was not a peep uttered that you could download a legitimate copy to your PC for less than $15 a month. And then the unthinkable happened – Shaun Fanning developed a peer to peer service that could deliver the same content for free. Then, and only then, did the music industry acknowledge the potential of digital distribution, albeit only acknowledging the negative potential. But again, rather than take steps to capitalize on a technology that was spreading like wildfire, the bands, the labels, the retailers, etc. kept their heads in the sand and chose to make the technology a pariah and prayed it was just a fad that would go away. And with the exception of a few vocal minorities, most artists chose to sit on the sidelines and not get involved either way. By doing so, they gave up ownership of their craft and by proxy, their livelihoods. Any artist who complains about how bad their sales are now needs to take a hard look in the mirror and ask “what did I do to stop it?”

But like Clutch says, “You Can’t Stop Progress.” Millions of years of evolution have taught us that you either adapt to your environment or you become extinct. The music industry made a conscious decision not to adapt until it absolutely had no choice. But if you wait until that wildfire is looming in your backyard to do something, it’s way too late. Now with expanded broadband connections and torrent services, you can download a band’s entire body of work in minutes. If one site gets shut down, another will pop up with the same pirated content, if not more. There was plenty of advance warning, but nobody listened. Legit online services like Rhapsody, e-Music, Napster, iTunes, and more offer great selection from just about every label and artist, at a fair price. But they’re fighting an uphill battle now; why would the fans pay for something that they can get for free? Walk into FYE or Sam Goody’s today and you’ll still see CDs with a $20 price tag. What has the industry learned? Nothing. Windbags like Gene $immon$ love to tout how fans have killed the music. But I respectfully disagree; music isn’t dead, the music BUSINESS is dead. And it’s the collective greed and appalling lack of foresight of individuals like Mr. $immon$ that truly struck the fatal blow.


EvilG’s Unpopular Opinions

#1: I love COLD LAKE by Celtic Frost

celticfrost_coldlake.gifAlmost all critics, fans, and Tom G. Warrior himself hate this album. Being released in 1988 it was an album that was not out of step with what was happening in mainstream metal which is for the most part what I was also listening to in 1988. Sure it was out of step with what Frost had done up until then, but for some sick reason I really like the album. I did like Celtic Frost before COLD LAKE and the only thing I found really weird at the time was the glammed up image and thinking “what’s Tom doing wearing an LA Guns t-shirt?” ha! I actually liked the first LA Guns album so this too didn’t bother me.

Songs like “Seduce Me Tonight”, “They Were Eagles”, “Cheery Orchards”, “Juices Like Wine”, and “Roses Without Thorns” are great and sound enough like Celtic Frost to me.

I told Tom as much in a 1999 interview (http://www.metal-rules.com/zine/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=258) check it out to see what he had to say. Smiley

 

#2: I’m a sucker for power metal…including HammerFall

hammerfall2009c.jpg

While I love many bands that are not in the power metal genre, I freely admit to still having a passion for power metal and always will. From what I read online from other critics (including other Metal-Rules.com staffers), forum jockeys, and people just into metal, I always hear the same tiring shit about how Power Metal is too flowery, or not heavy enough. A band like HammerFall might be that original, but they play the style so well that I’ve loved every one of their albums (just not all their ballads ha). I sometimes listen to unhealthy doses of bands like Stratovarius, Helloween, Firewind, Edguy, Primal Fear, and especially Gamma Ray. So while people continue to worry and argue amongst themselves over who is more metal or who is heavier, I’ll continue to listen to what I love regardless of how unpopular my opinion may be.

 

#3: Nightwish was better with Tarja.

tarja.jpg

When the new pretty face joined Nightwish, I expected (hoped for) someone singing the opera-metal style. However, the vocals are pretty much what you’d hear on an Abba record. Sure, Annette has a nice voice, and I still ‘like’ the band but for me the magic that set them apart from other female fronted bands is gone. I’m still surprised when so many have followed along or have only now found the band palatable that they have a pop singer. Although I’m not alone in preferring a Tarja fronted nightwish, I am in the minority.

 

#4: Glam Metal…is METAL!

(and keep your core out of my metal!)

classiccrue.jpg


This was the topic of a previous FHH article (http://www.metal-rules.com/hell/index.php?month=7&year=2002) and my thoughts haven’t changed at all. Give me Ratt, Dokken, or Crue over just about any of the metalcore / thrashcore / mallcore / applecore / whatever-core bands that are getting signed to many labels these days. I’d rather spin OUT OF THE CELLAR, SHOUT AT THE DEVIL, or TOOTH AND NAIL any time than have to suffer through to a single note from these emo-core diet metal chumps.


Brat

Amongst my many opinions are these:

What’s with bands teasing fans by releasing cover art and song lists before CDs are released? Has metal now come to the point that listeners are judging books by their covers? Sorry, I just can’t get a happy looking at a picture or a bunch of words. Tease me with song grabs and then I’m more likely to check out the album.

I’m loving the multitude of metal blog sites where I can download and discard the 90% of crap metal that’s being released independently by bands. In the days before downloading A&R people did this job for us. I admit that many good bands didn’t reach my ears as a result of these gatekeepers, but they sure as hell saved me a lot of time listening to bad writing, bad recording and some really bad vocals.

In the seven years I’ve been lucky enough to attend metal festivals they’ve expanded beyond reason. I’m over the biggest metal festival in UK/USA/Germany/Europe/etc. You no longer get value for money in spending thousands of dollars to travel to a huge festival only to watch a video screen so as not to miss the action on stage or stand outside a tent listening to the band. Yes, you can stand in front of one stage all day and risk dehydration, hunger and urinary tract infection to secure a good spot, but you also miss out on three-quarters of the bands playing and one of the major drawcards of these festivals—making new friends from all over the world.

KISS should banned from touring and releasing any more merchandise UNLESS they can produce a new, better than mediocre CD to promote with a tour. How many more ways will be try to draw blood from fans after the Farewell Tour, the “We-had-our-fingers-crossed-behind-our-backs-last-time Tour”, the One Only Symphonic Show in Melbourne Australia, and who can forget the “How To Make Money Gene Simmons Motivational Speaking Tour”. I’m surprised they haven’t jumped on the ‘biggest festival’ wagon and announced an annual Kiss Army Boot Camp. There are regulatory bodies in most developed countries protecting consumers from being bled dry by companies/corporations. It’s a pity loyal fans can’t be protected the same way.


 

Robert Williams

VELVET REVOLVER/ex-GUNS N’ ROSES bassist Duff McKagan has penned the latest installment of his weeky financial column, which appears at Playboy.com. An excerpt follows below.

"Back when I was in GN’R, bands like us could pretty much operate at a break-even point on the road because acts were selling more records than is even imaginable these days. The reason for the dramatic downturn in record sales, of course, was the digitizing of music. Putting music on CDs meant it had to be in digital form; eventually this led to the situation where digital files like the MP3 were divorced from any physical product, making the Internet and home computers the prime means of distributing music. A rock tour back then, at the dawn of the digital era, was really just a huge commercial to sell your record. Because a larger portion of people get their music for free via piracy these days, touring, ‘merch’ sales (mostly t-shirts, but also stickers and pins and anything else you can slap your band’s logo onto), and licensing of one’s music for ads and ringtones must support the average music act these days.

"The major record labels missed the only real opportunity to get paid from illegal downloading back in 1997 or so. We all remember the Napster conundrum when METALLICA sued them, right? Hey, as far as I’m concerned, METALLICA had every right to demand payment for their hard-wrought recordings. But there was another deal on the table then from Napster that was never really publicized — and this where the ‘major labels’ fucked up in my opinion.

"Napster was making truckloads of dough off banner ads back then. It seemed the site was the most looked-at space on the Web and therefore a hot property. Car companies, cola bottlers, movie companies, and many others were paying top-dollar to get access to those Napster-glued eyeballs back then. Napster offered to share this ad revenue with the major labels so that artists would get paid for the downloading of songs that Napster made available for free. It now seems like the perfect business model for what was then a largely unanticipated future of digitized music. The majors balked and a huge opportunity was missed."

 


Bruce Sanchez

The word “brutal” has become irreparably overused. Worst of all, “brutal” and “metal” are now interchangeable. I blame youth mostly, especially ones outside of the metal community, or who are just casual metal listeners (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Their lack of vocabulary and understanding of the complex usage of language has hindered what was a decent phrase. To call something brutal was to hold it in high regards. To say a riff was brutal was to say it was the heaviest shit ever. Ever! But now, any chug-a-long riff is “brutal”; any cool album cover is “brutal”; anything remotely metal is now “brutal”.

I first noticed this in the show Metalocalypse. To be fair, most of the stuff that happens on that show actually is brutal by definition. But this gets lost on viewers. Even before then, the word had become over-saturated and watered down, and Metalocalypse often uses "brutal" satirically because of this. But suddenly, brutal became synonymous with metal. And it spread. Uncontrollably. Ungodly. It spread. I officially retired the term from my metal vocabulary when I heard two kids use it on the bus. They were reading their school books and one remarked, “Man, Stalin killed so many people. He was so brutal.” To which the other replied, “Yeah, he’s so metal.” I died just a tad bit then.

No, kids, Joseph Stalin is not metal. And nothing about metal will ever be brutal. Not even the black metal shit about burning churches and killing each other is brutal. It’s just stupid, and one of the many reasons why I hate black metal (but that is a different rant). With metal at its highest peak in popularity, should we not seek to expand the lexicon? It’s a style that rivals classical music in complexity and theory. Let’s start treating it like it does. I’m not saying that metal needs to be discussed in elegant words, but it shouldn’t be described with mostly pejorative terms.


Alan Gilkeson – My Unpopular Opinion

Hammerfall are the worst Heavy Metal band in the history of Metal. Why are they so popular and why are they considered True Metal? I have no idea. But let’s face it, they’ve never had an original idea or concept. Everything’s a parody of Metal, they’ve developed nothing on their own, and I for one do not understand why most people don’t consider them a joke.

Some of you may remember a Metal Rules Interview with Mikkey Dee (http://www.metal-rules.com/interviews/WeAreMotorhead.htm) where he said this about Hammerfall, "…and the way they became big is by ripping off Helloween, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, even King Diamond stuff. I hear a complete rip off of some harmonies that are complete King Diamond stuff"

I don’t dispute that Joacim can sing, that Oscar and whoever else can play guitar, that Frederik and Anders aren’t a decent rhythm section, but you can find the same thing in a Judas Priest tribute band. Hammerfall should just say, ‘We’re a Judas Priest tribute band’ then I might go see them.

In the vain of Manowar, I consider them a bit of a gimmick band, but at least Manowar created the damn gimmick. Hammerfall have not done one thing that separates them from the pack. They sound like everyone else, except for Hammerfall. The only reason I can think of for their rise to popularity is being at the right place at the right time. GLORY TO THE BRAVE came out in 1997, when Metal was looking for a band to lead it into the next century. If nothing else, GLORY TO THE BRAVE was a definitive Metal album, taking oft used styles and mannerisms, and reminding people about True Metal. It wasn’t anything original, it just appeared at the right place and time. Soon after, a lot of the historically great Metal bands started getting together, creating original stuff, while Hammerfal has continued to copy them, riding the wave of that first album.

Hammerfall mimic 80′s Metal, simple as that. They look like they’re from the 80′s, they sound like the 80′s, and they steal from bands from the 80′s. Hammerfall, the 80′s called and wants their hair and clothes and music back! I can barely get through a Hammerfall album for reviews. They sound like Grim Reaper, it’s just horrible. I agree with Mikkey Dee, Hammerfall are a complete rip off.

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