Category: Entertainment

You should read this, as you look at the greatest metal albums, what you’ll notice is that often, they are composed of eight to twelve songs that all sound relatively the same, but on repeated listens, each one becomes unique and stands out (the best examples of this are Immortal, Demilich, Massacra, the first Morbid Angel album, Graveland, and early Emperor). As a collection of baroque pieces or Gregorian chants, it all sounds like on the outside, but each individual piece varies greatly, at least to a trained ear.

This is because good metal, more so than other forms of popular music, is structural music with narrative song forms, meaning that the music is composed of a series of repeated phrases (riffs) that follow each other and interact with each other in ways you’ll never hear in a Britney Spears or Jay-Z song. It’s more complex not only musically, but artistically as well, due to the fact that some form of ideation or ideology often precedes the composition of the actual songs.

Metal isn’t really focused on sounding appealing to commercial tastes, and unlike certain odious trends, it is not about being “different” or “diverse” by throwing in a bunch of random elements, styles, or parts, and feeling smug and “open-minded” for doing so (examples of this? Between the Buried and Me, Opeth, Psyopus, Dream Theatre, Dillinger Escape Plan). Like classical music, it is more focused on actual composition, which is more mathematical/logical and simultaneously more emotional/artistic than most other forms of modern music, which are socially or financially motivated.

You could diagram it like this:

“Heavy” ideas, realistic values, or interesting observations — gt; Musical representation of that idea (or as close as you can get) — gt; Several ideas grouped in logical / emotionally powerful order — gt; Good metal, folk, classical, neoclassical music.

“What most people want to hear” — gt; Familiar musical ideas — gt; Verse-chorus-bridge format — gt; Pop music, hip hop, soul, emo, etc.

So if you want to write good metal songs, there are several basic traps to avoid. For one, music that has nothing to say won’t stand the test of time, no matter how virtuosic or well-put-together it maybe (I’m looking at you, Necrophagist!). Second, if you’re going to form a band, know that metal left behind the verse-chorus format over twenty years ago. And lastly, throwing everything and the kitchen sink into your songs doesn’t make your music smart or artistic, it usually just makes it distracting and ugly.

When you find what you want to say and the media / aesthetic in which you choose to say it, focus on writing the best material you can, composition-wise, and make the music you want to hear – it doesn’t matter if it”s cut from the same cloth as Bathory, or has the exact same product as Incantation. There is nothing wrong with an honest tribute (as long as it offers a new angle and isn’t just a blatant ripoff), and it is perfectly reasonable to stay within the orthodoxy of metal imagery, lyrical topics, and aesthetic values. Because if there’s poetry within them, your songs will be collectively an eternal meditation on the logical architecture of reality and the irrational language of emotion all at once.

 

My husband and I were recently in Key West for the Fantasy Fest week and decided to take in a drag show. We had walked up and down Duvall Street, the main street in Key West that goes from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic and this was the only show where the show was promoted. They usually have a show at 9pm and 11pm but since this was part of Fantasy Fest the only one being advertised was the one at 9pm. They were handing out promotional tickets at 7pm.

We came back at 8:30pm and after paying a $12.00 per person cover charge we entered the bar area and decided to sit at the bar. We ordered a drink, and to our surprise it was a very strong one, not like the watered down versions in other establishments. We paid $5.00 per drink which is standard and possibly lower than other bars in the area. They had a great selection of drinks, from ordinary mixed drinks like vodka and tonic and frozen margaritas. They had a very large selection of beers. There were several high drink tables and one area to the right was set a little higher than the stage with couches and small drink tables. Unfortunately we were not able to sit on the couches as they had been reserved for a birthday party. We sat at the bar until the place filled up and the show began at 9:00.

They have five drag queens but only three drag queens were working that night. The first one, Inga, was continually dressed with a blonde wig and did several impersonations and sang a few racy songs. She was hilarious. The next one was named Victoria and had a dark wig. She did a fantastic impression of Celine Dion, Cher, Shania Twain and Pat Benetar. The third one was a black performer who did a fantastic impression of Aretha Franklin and a host of other performers.

They would take turns singing and interacting with the audience, sashaying around accepting tips, They were incredible performers. They could really belt out a song. You could not tell they were not women until you got up close. The costumes were very well done and the shoes they were wearing had heels that were at least six inches high. They would also interact with the wait staff and everyone seemed to love what they do.

Since this is a gay bar a lot of reference was made to gay issues. Being straight they did not make us feel uncomfortable. They were extremely professional and the singing and costumes were so precise it was hard to tell they were not the performer they were imitating.

Such performances are not the regular ones that you get to see in nightclubs and what was comforting was that they were not mocking the gay community by any standards and the show was quite excellent that made the people in attendance take notice and people simply refused to budge until the last act. A truly illuminating experience it was and one that no one will ever forget, a stark contrast Lavelle Toronto, which many times resorted to vulgar and crude jokes whenever there was a sensitive topic for the theme of the party, not to mention uncouth behavior of certain individuals.

The show went on until 11:30pm and I can honestly say that this is a show you must not miss. The performers came into the crowd after the show so that patrons could take pictures with them. They did not rush anyone and would take as many pictures as people wanted. We had the best time and highly recommend this show to anyone.