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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

THAT BLOODY SOUND

Someone loaned me some Hungarian Metal-Prog today. It wasn't very good.

I'll spare the band some blushes by not naming them, because there was nothing wrong with the playing or anything - they were fairly tight and energetic (tho the vocals were a bit weedy tbh; sounded like Sophie Ellis-fucking-Baxter), so nothing gained in unfairly slagging a band who're just trying to grind out an honest buck to a disinterested world - but my biggest gripe w/ their fare was that gawdawful digitally-distorted/overdriven-yet-clipped-sounding compressed-to-fuck guitar-sound that seems to have infected 80% of Nu Metal / Thrash / Heavy Rock / Emo from bloody Metallica onwards. It fucking winds me up. Can't bear listening to it.

Part of the problem is the digital-FX pedals that all the guitarists use - the presets make everything sound the bloody same: it sounds like the same single guy is playing the same riff on the same guitar on 15,000 different records around the world.

The other problem is that, I dunno, choppy/clipped technique they all use; riffs get foreshortened into the same shorthand dakkadakkadakka grind. Sometimes they slow it down a bit, boost the distortion / bottom-end and growl, if they wanna sound, y'know, intense, man.

I can't bear it. I mean, fuuuuck off.

I wish I knew the etiology of That Bloody Sound - the exact moment it entered the Metal pallette /canon. I think it maybe appeared around the late-80s - there were Thrash bands playing those sorts o'riffs a bit earlier than that, but then That Bloody Sound gradually became prevalent. I suspect that maybe digital pedals became more commonplace, so may have played a part in its evolution, especially if the guitarists started playing off of certain tonalities inherent in this new generation of digi-pedals. By the 90s it was everywhere, but I was too busy listening to Techno so I didn't much notice or care.

Maybe someone more knowledgeable than me in such things could explain the evolution of That Bloody Sound. Even tho I don't much like it, I'm curious about how it developed. I'm sure my theory's flawed.

If I mention this to anyone under, say - errrm - their late thirties, then they just give me a look. That Bloody Sound is all they've ever known. Entire sub-genres and musical lineages have grown up around it.

I'd love to go all reductionist on y'all and just blame Metallica - Gawdknows they owe us all an apology for a whole bunch of things - but I'm sure it's far more complex than that; a case of slow Musical Natural Selection.

It started off as a form of shorthand for a certain harshness of emotion - a rising inner anger - but now, after 30 years, it just sounds fucking boring.

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