(picture by Rita Carmo)
Sometimes I realise that I don’t write enough about Music. After all, first and foremost, I am a musician. 25 years doing it bridged the modesty of assuming being one and all the experience and a lifetime in the business did the rest. Also I think that there’s are a lot of people writing and commenting on Music with the disputes we know it generates which doesn’t really keep standards that allow you to learn something about the object in discussion. Then we have politics, even in Metal yeah, and so forth.
So I’d rather write reviews about out of print book for my book clubs online, it’s healthier for everyone. But there’s always exceptions. I had the idea for this post by reading the editorial of Loud (PT leading Metal magazine). The director (JMR) states that we weren’t expecting, nobody was, for METALLICA to do such a great, imposing new album. That it is kind of surprising to the scene, especially because it comes from an old, legendary, established band. He points other cases, like Anthrax, Death Angel, Megadeth, and if I may add Metal Church all with great albums released into the contemporary scene.
I would like to analyse these words, especially because the vibe I get from those shapes into a single question: how could they do it? How could Metallica do it?
For me it’s a straight answer: because they can!
It’s true that the Press, the scene, the fans, the promoters, the social networking are always more excited about newer bands, or bands that enjoy public and media success now (not then), in sum about the flavour of the day. It’s a fact. I remember when Moonspell was a younger band with Irreligious, we had the favor of the press. It wasn’t as amazing as it is for some bands now, but it was solid. I also remember that older bands in the scene took a grudge against us. Not all of them but the ones competing with us for the spotlight, in our own label or tours, in our territory. And it’s easy to get judgemental here, so I decided to keep it abstract as some really cool people and friends belong to bands that I am more excited about our friendship than about their music. Yes that can happen and no problem being honest.
Having said that, I believe that bands who were born a little bit before and that entered the “new scene” with a lower profile than the shooting stars, were more musically talented and went deeper into experimenting and risking. I believe that now it might be harder to do that because there is more to loose and a better conscience of numbers and of what fans “want”. I am not saying band X or Y will not do their best to create music that represents them, yet they eventually will fall into a place where all albums will be repetitions of a style they adopted and that in many ways it’s not at all original but possesses a star quality thousands of fans respond to.
On another hand ,I bet my money that band X or Y won’t pull up something like Hardwired simply because they can’t do it. They haven’t traveled the long road Metallica did, they didn’t have to put up with an entire cynical scene commending their death, and they don’t have the sense to write a song that sounds like themselves because that’s something public success doesn’t bring to the table: uniqueness. Hardwired is so much than music in my opinion. It’s a triumph against Metal cynicism, against wise asses, against internet, against boredom, against power metal meat and potatoes or symphonic metal Eurovision appeals.
I listened to the whole album on the way back home. The first part at least and the the second when I was back to the studio, same road, everyday. And since I successfully avoided the Internet drama and overanalyses, I could genuinely feel the first kick drum on my chest and the riffs in the back of my head. I felt excited like only Metallica and their groove can make me feel. For a band member there’s so much to read about this album which is unwritten on the lyrics or unsung by the songs. So much in between the lines.
It’s an album from a band with nothing to prove yet with everything to prove. It’s a record by a band that know themselves better than any fan ever will. The …And Justice for all reminiscences tells me also that it’s a band that knows how far can they go into their own repertoire and rescue moods and ideas. It’s an intelligent, intuitive Metallica who wrote and recorded this album. On the contrary of Loud’s director, I am not surprised at all and I believe that old bands still got it and that all is fruit of talent, experience and time, qualities that sometimes do not matter for a magazine to put you in their cover.
The other day I had a Xmas dinner with a few buddies, all Portuguese musicians and friends and eventually we talked about PT bands and why they succeed or don’t. I argued that it’s indeed a question of quality, pertinence, image, sound; so to speak qualities bands can find and must explore and improve for themselves. I find it quite logic. But the fact is that (and this is a big problem in the PT scene) bands almost always attribute recognition or the lack of it to external problems, to lack of promo, to a shitty scene, to other bands, to labels now doing their job, to magazines. I believe this is the Metal scene of today ‘s biggest problem. The fact some bands have it, others don’t. That axiom is not really a problem to enjoy a big success. But good luck if you to try to write an album like the new Metallica.
I was modern once and enjoyed the favours and the dramas of it. I was still on time to be a part of the 90’s European Metal growth, based upon bands that were interested in expanding. I also thought that was modernity. But that doesn’t matter today, it doesn’t account to anything. Why have a Tree of Life backdrop when you can have a tank? Why have snow on stage when you can see dragons firing away? Why have a 40 year old urban-depressive vampire when you can marvel at one of the metal goddesses live?
It’s no country for old man, all you can do is music that counts more than numbers and don’t forget to take a deep breath.
#hardwiredtoselfdestruct #metallica #moonspell#modernity