Now That’s Metal…

Metal is a genre that has been sub-genred and sub-sub-genred to death. Who the hell can keep up? (Don’t answer that, metal heads). So I’m gonna just lump the metal I find that I really can’t get into (Cookie Monster vocals, y’all), find generic, or is derivative. Sub-rate hair metal, cliched death metal, or bands that are outrageous for no damn good reason.

ALCATRAZZ – Three albums, three guitarists (Malmsteen, Vai, and some other guy), same singer (Graham Bonnet), decreasing quality (somehow). Boredom and ennui.

APOCALYPTICA – Finns playing metal with cellos. Almost sounds like a Monty Python skit. It just leaves me a bit cold, myself. I think if you do something neat like having a cello in a metal song it should be a part of the entire metal ensemble and add that great texture to it, not bloody replace everything.

ARCH ENEMY – A death / doom / black metal supergroup of sorts. It runs into the super group problem where it sounds good on paper, yet doesn’t really cohere. Plus some of the vocals don’t sound doomy – they sound like the singer has acid reflux.

AXE – They started out emphasizing keyboards more than hard rock guitars, but when they moved to ATCO they toughened up their sound. Still wasn’t anything to write home about, but they got a little MTV play at least.

AVENGED SEVENFOLD – To my ears, they seem to want to relieve the Black Album over and over again. They’re going right for the commerical payday without moving the art from forward.

BABYMETAL – In Japan, they’ll mix anything together. This is J-Pop and metal. It’s very hooky, but I can’t listen to more than one song at a time without laughing out loud.

BANG TANGO – Cross mediocre hair metal with a vocalist who sounds like you just stepped on his tail when he tries to do his shouting voice. You get this forgettable band that was swept away by grunge, thankfully.

BATHORY – They (he) could be looked at as founders or early adapters of black metal and viking metal, but first doesn’t mean best.

BLIND GUARDIAN – Bombastic proggy metal can be just as pretentious as bombastic proggy rock. They’re just a bit over the top.

BORIS – If I had time, unlimited space, and a full collection of adjectives, yeah, I could review every album they did. But they’re so prolific, collaborate so much, and are proud of their chameleon-esque ways that it’s probably a fools errand.

BRITNY FOX – Biggest hair. Screechiest singer. Eightiest drum sound. Genericest songs.

BULLETBOYS – Thank goodness grunge came along and exiled this tripe to the margins where they always belonged. The worst of hair metal and 80’s production meet and have lousy albums.

BUTCHER BABIES – I’m really not feeling them. It seems they’re throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks. It just seems calculated to me.

CANNIBAL CORPSE – Fourteen records, and they almost all sound the same. You do you, Cannibal Corpse.

CARCASS – Well, I tried. The riffs are good, but I do not cotton to the vocals, which sound like someone belching the alphabet in the bass clef. Oh, and the song titles…yeesh. How can I put “Crepitating Bowel Erosion” on a mix tape? “I made this for you!”

CINDERELLA –  I didn’t realize how bad glam metal vocalists were until recently, when I saw a You Tube critic point it out. I just didn’t notice since it was all part of the package. Tom Keifer (who sounds like a cat that was just stepped on) kind of derails it all for me. And yeah, I’m calling them glam metal. I have spoken.

CONVERGE – It’srealllyhardtounderstandtheappealofsomeoneSCREAMINGLIKETHISATFULLVOLUME.

CRADLE OF FILTH – There’s taking yourself way too seriously, and then there’s Cradle of Filth. Bombastic, overblown, and ridiculous all at once. Bonus points if you can name everyone that was in the band at one time or another without looking.

DEAFHEAVEN – This one’s probably on me. I can hear interesting things, but for my tastes I don’t like it when this band puts it together, especially the intense vocals.

DESTRUCTION – Is there such a thing as pro-forma thrash? I think this is it.

THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN – I can admire them and not like them, right? Well, I do and I do.

DISCHARGE – Here because every collection has 40 or more songs on it, and I need more of a concise overview before I dive in whole heartedly. But kudos for “Free Speech for the Dumb”.

DISSECTION – They’ve got (or he’s got I guess) a history that didn’t end well. There are better Swedish death metal bands without the stain, as it were.

DRAGONFORCE – If hair metal bands could play thrash,  they’d be Dragonforce. That’s not much of a compliment, gents.

EMPEROR – They cram everything into a six-minute song. Bombastic choirs, keyboards, Poopdeck Pappy on vocals, riffs, another riff and the speed drumming fills. Just a bit much,

ENUFF Z’NUFF – They were among the best (?) of the later glam-metal bands. Damning with faint praise.

FASTER PUSSYCAT – Everything that was wrong and corrupt about the LA Hair Metal scene distilled into one band.

FEAR FACTORY – They’ve gone through a lot of styles and band members, and I still feel cold when I listen. Just meh.

FIREHOUSE – “Power ballad specialists” is not something I want on my tombstone. Also, minus points for allowing people to confuse them with Firehose.

LITA FORD – A songwriter! A songwriter! My metal empire for a songwriter!

GAMMA – Ronnie Montrose tries a new band, but without Sammy Hagar, it’s just more primordal Night Ranger. “Mean Streak” may be the highlight, but that’s a low highlight.

GODFLESH – Industrial meets electronica meets metal. I’m not feeling them. I kind of like those things separate. My old brain gets overloaded.

GOJIRA – Technical progressive speed metal? It is impressive on its face, but I personally don’t feel any soul or swing. It’s hearking back to those 80’s guitar gods that just worked on technique all the time. I think they’re starting to get out of that rut, though. I’ll keep an ear on them.

HATEBREED – Some of these bands do one thing, and do it to the best of their ability. “Destroy Everything” is all you need to know about them, for good or bad.

THE HIRS COLLECTIVE – A great idea, but I’m not a fan of the whole ‘grindcore’ or however they name it.

HUNTRESS – The novelty of the female operatic lead singer is dimmed by the generic sounds of the music therein.

ICED EARTH – Aligning yourself with Q-Anon and the Proud Boys gets you on this list.

JACKYL – I do have do give them credit for “Down on Me”, as it’s catchy as hell (as well as sleazy as all get out). Points for riffs, but huge minuses for being terminally stupid.

KORN – The farther along they went, the more depressing and desparate they sounded. What the hell were we thinking in the 90’s?

LIMP BIZKIT – Pluses: Wes Borland. Minuses: Fred Durst, Fred Durst, Fred Durst, Fred Durst….

LINKIN PARK – Better than many of their nu-metal compatriots, but still breadth and depth is a problem.

MAJORITY RULE – Screamo? No thanks.  They yell enough in emo. I don’t need that x10 with pile drivers going off in my head.

MANOWAR – Cliche-ridden cartoon metal loses any points in their favor due to sheer inanity.

MUNICIPAL WASTE – Fast for fast’s sake, so it seems. Also, ‘funny’ at times. There are better ways to bang your head.

MY DYING BRIDE – Sometimes they remind me of a depressed Leonard Cohen singing behind a turgid metal background. Then they Cookie Monstered themselves and sounded even more desperate. It’s hard to be bored with metal. I am here.

NAPALM DEATH – I listened to their big anthology and by the fifth song I felt rage build up in my body, and by song 10 I seriously wanted to throw everything in the house and punch all the walls. I think I need to take them in small doses.

PARADISE LOST – Gothic metal may be something they (or their fans coined), but they intrigue me only in fits and starts, and then when I get really intrigued they turn on the pretension.

POLARIS – Am I hearing an unholy mix between 00’s anthemic rock and thrash where everything is LOUD NOISES? I think so.

QUEENSRYCHE – I’ve tried. I’ve really really tried. I just can’t get over the hump that they’re making things way too complicated and unfun. This is supposed to be fun, right?

RISE AGAINST – Here’s one where the band isn’t BAD, but they sound so much like Bad Religion moved up a couple of decades (harmonies, anthemic singing, punk guitar licks) that it straddles between tribute and abject copying.

SATYRICON – Early on it was all gothic stuff with choirs and really ornate crud, but they’ve shed a lot of that now and seem to have been on the right, black path for a while. I’m going to reserve total judgement.

SEETHER – Let’s see…acoustic guitar intro, growly vocals for the first verse, band comes in loud, growly vocals for the second verse and loud chorus…alternate and add a bridge. Viola. Every fucking Seether song, ever. You’re welcome.

SIX FEET UNDER – Will someone give this guy some Chloraseptic or something? Another case of being among the first out of the gate doesn’t mean you’re memorable.

SKID ROW – Were they metal? Or just haircuts? At any rate, they couldn’t survive the grunge era, and their recording contract is infamous for illustrating how the hair metal bands of the late 80’s really got screwed over.

SLIPKNOT – I’ve heard them but I don’t understand their appeal at all. Every time I hear a track by them I feel someone has trepanned me, in a bad way.

S.O.D. – It may have been a joke in 1985, but it hasn’t worn well. Puerile is as puerile does.

STAIND – They’re not the WORST Nu Metal band. Damn with the faint praise why don’t ya.

STRAPPING YOUNG LAD – Just didn’t feel this in any way, shape, or form. I guess I didn’t like it.

SUNN 0)))  – When you make the Melvins seem like speed metal, you’ve got turgidity down to a science. I know what they’re trying to do, and I wonder why I’d listen to it more than once, or for more than five minutes.

TESLA – “Love Song” may be amongst the best of the hair metal ballads. Joe Quinn was the best of the 1899 Cleveland Spiders. It’s that kind of comparison.

TRIVIUM – Another band that really wants to be Metallica’s younger brother (circa 1991). I know Veddering is a thing, is Hetfielding?

TYPE O NEGATIVE – They really wanted to be the Goth Metal band that did soundtracks for Broadway or The West End.

WARRANT – Every once in a while I nod my head to “Down Boys”, but as far as their other crap, it’s stinky or misogynistic, or stinky AND misogynistic. Thank God grunge came around and saved us from more of this gunk.

WINGER – No Kip, Beavis & Butthead didn’t ruin your career. You did that all on your own. You had just two good-to-great songs, and one of them advocates committing a felony.