photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
i think its fair to say that METAL fans are a pretty conservative lot. they know what they want and are disappointed when their favorite bands make stylistic choices that deviate too far from their core expectations, which tend to be related to things like TEMPO, TECHNICALITY and extreme DISSONANCE (i.e. BRUTALITY). there is not much room for evolution in that constraint, but such is the case with METAL fandom.
what i like about the ongoing series 11 GREAT NON-METAL ALBUMS FOR METALHEADS on the REVOLVER magazine YOUTUBE channel is how it showcases the DIVERSITY of appreciation by actual METAL musicians. so far this includes NEIL FALLON OF CLUTCH, STEVE VON TILL of NEUROSIS, KIRK WINDSTEIN of CROWBAR / DOWN and RANDY BLYTHE of LAMB OF GOD. their choices range from expected like-minded AGGRESSIVE genres like FUNK, HARDCORE, OUTLAW COUNTRY, INDUSTRIAL MUSIC, DELTA BLUES, PROGRESSIVE ROCK and ROOTS REGGAE to more EXPERIMENTAL stuff like POST PUNK, JAZZ, FOLK MUSIC, GOTH ROCK, KRAUTROCK, AMBIENT MUSIC and even DISCO.
it just goes to show that INSPIRATION comes from anywhere and that ultimately FORM is less important than CONTENT. i remember when i was an english teacher living and working abroad i made a point of attempting to learn and understand local customs and folklore if possible. exploring that which i didnt know made my classroom all the richer for having made the attempt, even if i didnt utilize such knowledge in the classroom. i can only imagine that a songwriter must similarly have their antennas up for new IDEAS and JUXTAPOSITIONS all the time in an effort to make their own craft that much more COMPLEX and ROBUST. hopefully this series will shed light on such outside passions that will lead metalheads to explore the greater world of music beyond NWOBHM, GRINDCORE, METALCORE, SLUDGE, DEATH, BLACK and THRASH METAL.
sadly i doubt it.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
the VICE subsidiary NOISEY which produces content on its YOUTUBE channel dedicated to largely underground aspects of global MUSICAL CULTURE did a deep dive a few years ago with their seven-part series NOLA: LIFE DEATH & HEAVY BLUES FROM THE BAYOU (NOISEY, 2014) into the origins and legacy of SLUDGE METAL and its LOUISIANA origins.
in essence this series investigated specifically that music of DOWN members and proud LOUISIANANS JIMMY BOWER (EYEHATEGOD), KIRK WINDSTEIN (CROWBAR), PEPPER KEENAN (CORROSION OF CONFORMITY), and PHIL ANSELMO (PANTERA, SUPERJOINT RITUAL) as well as members of ACID BATH and GOATWHORE among others. in essence these musicians were heavily influenced by their surroundings. rural living and laid back southern vocal affectations manifested in rhythm tempos that were decidedly relaxed and slower in cadence. this tempo shift is in direct opposition to the concurrent strains of THRASH METAL and DEATH METAL that took place in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s. in case you find this a little jarring, its important to consider that JAZZ, another LOUSIANA contribution to the AMERICAN musical tradition, was rooted in the STORYVILLE red light district of NEW ORLEANS where musicians would shift their tempos to the rhythms of a brothel's occupants in lieu of securing a tip.
SLUDGE METAL is a thick, brutal METAL sub-genre which traces its roots to bands like THE MELVINS (from rural WASHINGTON state) and particular BLACK SABBATH (famously from the industrial wasteland of the MIDLANDS in ENGLAND), but it is hard to argue that it found a true home in LOUISIANA. again, interesting to see how landscape, location and even linguistics impact art and music. when you consider that SLUDGE METAL has influenced the likes of the even more extreme and sonically stretched-out explorations of modern DRONE METAL and POST METAL which revel in the nuances and textures of space and distortion, it is intriguing to consider what spices have been added to that gumbo. who knows where its all heading next which is pretty exciting.
in summation, this documentary is well-constructed and worthy of further investigation if you are so inclined.