NO CLEAN SINGING is three years old today. We opened the doors on November 21, 2009, and we’ve posted something (or several somethings) every damned day since then. Of course, the fact that we’re still here after three years doesn’t mean we’re worth a shit, only that we haven’t given up.
Whether this birthday is a cause for celebration or for mourning, depending on your perspective, it does seem like a good time to do three things: Explain who we are (because we seem to have accumulated a lot of new readers in the last year); take note of some accomplishments; and offer a few words of thanks.
WHO WE ARE
On birthdays it’s always nice to reflect upon your origins. This blog began as a protest against the kind of clean singing that was infiltrating metalcore music at the time (what temporarily happened to Bury Your Dead three years ago was the specific provocative incident). My two co-founders and I weren’t dead set against all metal with clean vocals — we announced from the beginning that there would be Exceptions to the Rule — we just found that the kind of extreme music we preferred usually didn’t include them.
Since then, we’ve expanded our horizons to include a much greater variety of metal, with more clean singing in the mix, though I’ve hung on to the site’s original name despite (or maybe because of) how confusing it may be to newcomers. My original co-founders fell by the wayside long ago, ultimately to be replaced by a cadre of regular writers and many irregular ones. Actually, to be brutally honest, we’re all pretty irregular. So’s the music. So, it’s a good fit.
Here at NCS, we have an uncomfortable habit of forgetting our friends’ birthdays. But hey, we forget our own birthdays, too. So there’s that.
For example, we overlooked the fact (for the second year in a row), that November 21 was the anniversary of the first post at NO CLEAN SINGING. We are now two years and two days old. Still not potty-trained, but old enough to have discovered the fascination of our own genitals. So there’s that.
Our credibility as arbiters of taste and intelligent assessment of music is still highly suspect. However, this hasn’t stopped bands from asking us to listen to their music or prevented most metal labels from sending us albums to review. And over the last 30 days we’ve had 57,808 page views and 32,475 unique visitors from 131 different countries (only about half of whom are trying to interest us in receiving large cash transfers from the estates of dead Africans in exchange for our personal details). So there’s that.
Since our launch, we’ve published 1,498 posts (including this one) and received 14,406 comments (only about half of which are my own). We haven’t missed a day, publishing at least one post every day since we started, even on those many days (including today) when I was viciously hungover.
We’ve remained reasonably true to our founding principles: We still don’t run ads; we still don’t spend much time slagging bad bands or posting negative reviews (preferring to concentrate our time on music we can honestly recommend and not writing about the music that doesn’t impress us); and our news reporting has also been reasonably true. (more after the jump . . .)
If you’ve registered as a user at NO CLEAN SINGING and ever posted a comment, you know that the image accompanying your post is a random icon called a Gravatar. If you get tired having a computer algorithm pick your icon for you, and you’d like to pick your own image, you can.
Thanks to our buddy byrd36, who reminded us, the way to do that is visit the Gravatar web page (here) and register a profile by providing an e-mail address, and then picking or uploading an image to be your icon. For example, a bunch of bats hanging from a tree like putrescent fruit. If you’ve already registered here, I assume you need to use the same e-mail you used for the NCS registration if you want the image you choose at Gravatar to appear when you post comments here. Once you’ve created the Gravatar profile, the image you picked will appear anywhere else on the web when you post a comment using the same e-mail address, as long as the site is Gravatar-enabled (and all WordPress blogs, like NCS, automatically enable Gravatar).
Sorry about the lolcat-speak in the post title. Sometimes I can’t resist — especially since I read a few days ago this stunning piece of news: There’s a Seattle-based company called Cheezburger that owns the icanhascheezburger web site, plus a shitload of other idiotic sites, all of which collectively draw more than 16.5 million people a month and generate more than 375 million monthly page views; and on January 18, Cheezburger announced that it had raised $30 million from venture capital investors. Huh. You can make big money from lolcatz but not from playing in a metal band. Go figure.
To show you just how discombobulated I am after a little time off, I totally missed the fact that yesterday was the one-year anniversary of NO CLEAN SINGING. It’s true: On November 21, 2009, my two co-founders and I put up our first post on this site. We had 9 visitors. We couldn’t even get all our friends to pay attention.
We’ve learned a lot since then, we’ve met (virtually speaking) people from all over the world, and we’ve had a fucking blast doing this. NCS has evolved into something we never would have predicted — and few things are better than a pleasant surprise.
We never set out to make money by doing this, which is why we don’t run ads, but we did promise ourselves that if we couldn’t generate interest, we’d just shut down and go find some other way to spend our free time — cuz we really had no interest in writing only for ourselves. That’s what diaries are for.
Thankfully, we found an audience for our ravings, and so we’re still here, working on Year Two. This morning we tried to think of some clever way to celebrate our One Year Anniversary, but we must have used up our weekly allotment of cleverness because all we really want to say is this: To all of you who spend part of your precious time visiting NCS, and sometimes even leaving us your comments (which we love getting), thank you for allowing us to continue with NO CLEAN SINGING. You’ve enriched our lives more than we can say. Stay metal!
We’re taking a little break from our usual posts today to celebrate a milestone (although below this post, we did put up our monthly update on forthcoming new releases). Tomorrow and the next day: Reviews of some new albums that will make your heads explode.
Not too long ago, we passed a milestone here at NO CLEAN SINGING. On May 21, 2010, we hit the six-month anniversary of this site. Six months ago, we put up our first half-baked post. We had 9 visits for that ugly little baby, including the 3 of us who collaborate in putting this thing together. Shit, most of our friends weren’t even interested.
How things have changed! In the six months since we gave birth to this monster, after a slow ramp-up, we’ve had more than 21,000 unique visitors from 122 different countries. The posts we’ve written have drawn more than 35,000 page views, and the number of unique visitors is now over 500 per day — with the trend continuing to climb. (How do we know all this? For you non-bloggers out there who may not understand, stay with us, and we’ll eventually get to that below).
We’re not quoting all these stats to slap ourselves on the back — even with the growth of our audience, the traffic we get here at NCS is a drop in the bucket compared to some other metal blogs that you probably also read. And the truth is, we’re kinda bewildered by the attention.
At the same time, we’re also pathetically grateful — and we owe some thank-you’s to people who’ve helped us get noticed: to bands, fellow metal bloggers, and NCS readers. So, bear with us while (once again) we wear our hearts on our sleeves. (more after the jump . . .)
[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.
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
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!