I read shit most of you wouldn’t go near in a hazmat suit. Don’t ask me why. But every now and then I come across something that makes it worthwhile, and I’m here to share it with you.
Case in point: The Nov 23 issue of The New Yorker includes an article by one Raffi Khatchadourian called “The Taste Makers.” And he means that literally. It focuses on a Swiss company (with at least one factory in the U.S.) called Givaudan — the largest manufacturer of flavors and fragrances in the world. There’s so much fascinating shit in this article, I had a nut-busting time figuring out where to draw the line in sharing it with you. But in this multi-part post, I’ll give you the highlights and explain what (in my twisted way of thinking) this has to do with extreme metal.
[Editor’s Note: NO CLEAN SINGING was originally founded by three metalheads who go by the names of Islander, Alexis, and IntoTheDarkness. In this post, IntoTheDarkness tells you a little bit about himself, and below that, Alexis introduces herself. Islander hasn’t yet written anything about himself, other than what you can read into what he writes on this site — and this photo.]
Why is there such a separation within the metal scene? Why is it that if someone likes more than one distinct type of metal, he or she gets ridiculed? For example, if you’re someone who likes both death metal and deathcore, you are suddenly no longer a true metal fan.
In an earlier post, I speculated about why metal mags and net sites create “Best of 2009” album lists and why fans read them. I also expressed puzzlement about why these lists are already appearing despite the fact that 2009 ain’t over yet. Decibel‘s recently published list of the “Top 40” best releases of 2009 prompted all of my blather (although Noisecreep has now released their Top 10 list for the year). I thought most of the albums on the Decibel list were worth noticing, though I could quibble with the rankings and I had some favorites that I thought should have been on the list in place of others that were.
In an effort to refresh my own memory about what else Decibel left off its list, I polled IntoTheDarkness — the third member of the No Clean Singing triumverate — and asked for his personal list of the Best of 2009 (using the phony assumption that the year is already over). And here’s his list. It’s a pretty fucking strong lineup of NCS Metal — and only 8 overlaps with the Decibel list.
So you all have probably read some things by the author islander, but there’s a new girl in town! I’ll be writing about the music I love and things I’m passionate about. Here is the music I love
This local story came to my attention last Friday, and it made me want to destroy things, so I listened to Nile instead.
For those of you who aren’t local to Seattle, police officer Tim Brenton was shot in cold blood while waiting in his squad car with his partner on the side of the road on Halloween evening. A suspect is under arrest. I believe the shooting was meticulously planned and calculated. A local punk band, Furious Style, thought it was a great idea to immortalize this “alleged” murderer on their merchandise; they deserve to be sent to the worst circle of hell. They claim their actions stem from their stance against police brutality. While I understand that police brutality is unacceptable, murder is murder is murder. Period. This particular officer had no history of such behavior. I try my very hardest not to ever support the taking of human life, no matter how deserved it may appear to be. Once you start making even the slightest exception, lenience just starts cascading on through.
This punk band is full of obviously immature, ignorant people who crave the spotlight with absolutely no sensitivity toward the lives that were tragically affected by the loss of the officer. Punk, metal, whatever, just be a fucking decent human being. Also, every time one of these bands (I know punk isn’t metal, but people new to the metal scene don’t realize this, and categorize us together) supports actions that are harmful to how we live, it taints the image of metal that I respect. And as Seattle Policy Guild President Rich O’Neill has been quoted as saying, if one of these motherfuckers (my word, not his) was mugged and left bleeding out in some alley, do you think they’d call their homies for a rescue op, or 911?
A couple days ago, we reported on Decibel magazine’s (premature) publication of its “Top 40 Extreme Albums of 2009” and gave you the list of 40. Many more “Best of 2009” metal lists will soon be appearing on the netz and the newsstands. Why do people create these kinds of lists and why do we read them? Music is a matter of personal taste. These lists represent the personal tastes of particular critics and fans, no more or less valid than my favorites or yours. So what’s the fucking point? I’m not sure there is a fucking point, but I’ll make a stab at it.
I am not a fan of scenesters. It’s more than just that I think the style resembles care bears on acid, it’s the attitude that seems to go hand-in-hand with the style. I try to remain open-minded and not to base judgments on appearances, but I have yet to meet a courteous, chill, scenester kid. I really haven’t. So I started this post in order to vent my frustrations about this group of youngsters, and to convey my confusion about why, why oh why, this style/scene is appealing.
*If anyone could give me a rational explanation for why males in this group insist on looking like the females, I would really appreciate it. This is what I’m confused the most about.
The latest issue of Decibel magazine arrived in my mail on Friday. Big photo of Mastodon staring me in the face. Says on the cover that it’s the January 2010 issue. My calendar says that Friday was November 20 in the year 2009. Okay, that’s not so unusual — every magazine advance-dates their copy. (Even a weekly like Time has got an issue on the stands right now dated Nov 30). I’m not sure when advance cover-dating started or why. Maybe you know. I guess if you publish a magazine you can put whatever fucking date you want on the cover.
But guess what’s inside the “January 2010” issue of Decibel: Their list of the “Top 40 Extreme Albums of 2009.” Why does that strike me as odd? Find out after the jump, and I’ll also give you the Decibel Top 40 list.
Welcome to the launch of No Clean Singing and thanks for wasting spending some of your time with us. Here’s an explanation of what we’re about, who we are, what we plan to do to for you, and what we want you to do for us. Because this is our opening salvo and mission statement, it’s way too fucking long a bit longer than will be typical:
First Principles (What We’re About)
According to the Font of All Popular Learning, “in philosophy, a first principle is a basic, foundational proposition or assumption that cannot be deduced from any other proposition or assumption.” Here are our “first principles” for this site:
- Almost all “popular” music sucks.
- Metal doesn’t suck, unless it’s metal with clean singing, which mostly does suck.
- Some metal with clean singing doesn’t suck, but that’s an exception to the rule.
- Some metal with no clean singing also sucks, but that’s also an exception to the rule.
To elaborate: In our evolution as metal fans, your Authors have reached the point where we want to vomit when otherwise promising metal songs with good riffage and crushing drumwork are interrupted by an attack of clean crooning, particularly the breathy, whiny, upper-octave kind of excretions that used to characterize a lot of metalcore but still pops up in even the most unexpected places. If you know what we mean, then you’ve come to the right place. If you don’t, then please fuck off move right along.
So, this site is mainly about metal music, but not all metal music. What we love and what we’ll spend most of our time writing about is extreme metal. To be clear, what we mean by “extreme metal” is metal with No Clean Singing (“NCS”). Mostly, we like it fast, punishing, cathartic. Purely instrumental metal, if done right, fits the NCS bill. But if someone opens his or her mouth in a song, what comes out better be growling, screaming, or squealing.
Within the realm of NCS Metal, we likes all kinds of shit. We like brutal, old-school death metal, melodic death metal, tech death, grind, black metal, viking and folk metal, deathcore, progressive metal, doom – and hundreds of other sub-genres that would be too boring to catalogue at length. (Who thinks up all these genre classifications anyway?) Your Authors have got their own individual preferences, but as a group we pretty much cover the waterfront.
We even like some extreme metal that is occasionally punctuated by clean singing (see First Principle No. 3 above). We can’t just cast bands like Opeth and Mastodon into the shit pile, can we?
And we’ll write about a few topics other than extreme metal, too. More on that below.
Who We Are
Your Authors are three metalheads who live in the Seattle area. We span a pretty broad range of ages, experiences, interests, and activities. We’re also related to each other by blood. One of us is a woman and the other two are guys. We listen to a lot of extreme metal, but our tastes within the genre are not the same. We go to lots of metal shows in the Seattle area, including lots of national tours. None of us has yet spent time in prison.
As you’ll see, we also write with very different “voices.” (If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m the older boring guy. The other two, whose occasional edits to this post I’ve deleted, are, how shall we say, more out there.)
What We Plan To Do For You
We’re going to do our best to add posts to this site every day. Some of these posts will be regular features – reviews of new music releases and music videos, concert reviews, metal news, and random observations about the scene, among other things. Every now and then, we’ll write about Exceptions to the Rule (see First Principle No. 3).
Because we live in Seattle, some of what’s on this site will be geared to what’s happening in the Pacific Northwest, but most of the content won’t be limited in that way.
Here’s one thing that will be Seattle-focused: We’ve created a page called NW Metal Calendar, which will always be linked on the home page. On this page we’ll collect in one place a listing of NCS Metal performances scheduled in Seattle, and sometimes elsewhere in the Northwest – bands, dates, and venues – and we’ll update it as we learn about new shows. Your Authors don’t agree completely about which bands are worth listing, but we’re listing all bands that any of us think should be on there.
Our focus will be extreme metal, but we care about other stuff too, and we’ll write (occasionally) about some of our other interests – movies, video games, and books. We’ll also have a feature called Mosh Pit — random observations about what’s happening in the non-metal world (we hate to venture out into that world, but as someone said, life ain’t fair).
And, because we care about you, we’ll have a feature called IQ Reduction – stuff you could read, watch, or listen to that would make you stupider if you did it. We know some of you don’t have much IQ to spare.
What We Want You To Do For Us
One thing that sets metal apart from most other music is the sense of community. Let’s be honest: most people hate extreme metal and can’t begin to understand why anyone likes it. Fuck them.Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. The fact that so many people form bands in this genre, record music, tour, and throw themselves body and soul into this scene despite the fact that the fan base is relatively tiny and there’s no money in it still blows our minds. To use a cliché, it’s us against the rest of the deluded, rapacious, ass-sucking world. Really.
We want to bring that sense of community to this site, and to do that we need to hear from you. We want your comments. We want to read what’s on your minds. And if you’ll speak up, we’ll respond.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
There’s a shit-ton of metal blogs and web sites out there. Most of them suck. We may suck, too. I’m sure you’ll tell us if we do.
But there are two metal sites that definitely don’t suck: MetalSucks and Reign in Blonde. Those sites are in a league of their own. Great writing, interesting perspectives, timely content, cool personalities. They are what we aspire to. They provided our inspiration. If we could copy them without being sued be a West Coast version of MS/RIB, we would.
Having said that, we’re under no illusions about what we can pull off here. Your Authors have all got “day jobs,” we don’t have the near-encyclopedic knowledge of metal that the writers on MetalSucks and RIB have, and we certainly don’t have their contacts and connections in the industry. But we hope to make this endeavor good enough to draw you back here. Horns up!
THE “NW METAL CALENDAR” IS NOW READY (check the link above). THE REST OF THIS WEBSITE IS STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION. CHECK BACK SOON! (FIRST POSTS WILL BE UP BY MONDAY, NOV 23.)