Sep 242016



(Andy Synn rants again….)

(Please note – the following rant is very much tongue-in-cheek and not intended as a piece of serious critical writing. No-one is going to actually stop you using these words. That being said, there’s possibly a kernel of truth or two in here somewhere…)


Ladies and gentlemen and smizmars… let’s try a little experiment shall we?

What I’m suggesting is that we – as writers, as fans, as commenters – agree to a moratorium (i.e., a temporary prohibition or embargo) on the use of certain words and phrases which have, to my mind, been roundly and seriously abused, over-used, and thoroughly bastardised in recent years.

Can we do it? I don’t know. What will happen? I don’t know either… but it might be interesting to see what comes from removing (albeit, only temporarily) certain “go to” words from our lexicon.

Plus, let’s face it, I’m sure some of you are just as sick of some of these words being misused, misapplied, and lazily attributed where they don’t belong!





This one pops up all the frakkin’ time, and it’s just lazy. Really, really lazy. In fact it’s become so diluted and devalued that when I get a PR blurb talking about a certain song as an “anthem” my brain immediately autocorrects this to “song with the most generic-sounding chorus and widely-appealing/non-specific angsty lyrics”.

You know the type. The ones about not being “held down/held back” by “them”. The ones about “standing up” or “standing your ground” or “not backing down”. Or perhaps about some generic, but never specifically described form of “pain” or “loss”. Because that’s something we can all relate to, right?

Well, yes… but it’s a cheap and tawdry way of attempting to create a false sense of connection with the listener, and I for one won’t stand for it any more.

It seems to me like these days most so-called “anthems” are just a blank canvas for anyone to ascribe their own meaning to… and hence the word itself is practically meaningless.



Just because you own a Black Metal album or two. Just because your guitarist wore a Marduk shirt in that one photoshoot… doesn’t make you “Blackened”.

I don’t want to be Mr. Elitist about this (since I’m neither trve, tr00, nor kvlt), but ever since the term “Black Metal” was appropriated as an artificial shortcut to critical credibility (don’t worry, I’ll be writing something about THAT particular phenomenon very soon too) I’ve seen a massive uptick in the number of bands describing their genre as “Blackened [x]”, when the music barely even plays lip service to the actual sound and style of Black Metal.

Note, however, I’m not going to embargo the use of “blackened” with a small “b” as a general descriptive word, since I do still find it useful to describe the feel or tone of certain sections of certain songs… it’s just big-B “Blackened” that is now officially prohibited, pending further review.



No more…. no more of this. No more being “post-something” as part of a pretentious and ultimately meaningless display of style over substance.

Not that I’m against the idea of “Post-Rock”, “Post-Metal”, or “Post Black Metal”, and their ilk being used as serious genre terms (though I’m drawing the line at “Post Tech Death”). But the prefix “Post“ has long-since turned into a lazy fall-back primarily used by bands or journalists vainly trying to grasp at some sort of vague profundity or sense of superiority.

Possession of a bunch of delay pedals and the entire Oceansize back-catalogue doesn’t make you “Post-“ anything. And, from now on, the misuse of that word is going to be punished by a fine of $250, plus a night in the stocks.


“Modern Metal”

First of all… what the knick-knack-paddy-whack does that even mean? “Modern” Metal? Surely all the styles which have developed in the last ten or so years (at least) are examples of “Modern” Metal? And don’t even get me started on the idiocy of using a term to describe something which, by the simple nature of time itself, will eventually NOT BE MODERN ANYMORE!!!

Anyway, if you think about it, we all know what sorts of bands get tagged with the term “Modern Metal”. Bands with no real defining features. Bands with no teeth and no balls. The bands with all the sharp edges sanded down to a sleek, neutered smoothness. The bands who are so inoffensively bland and featureless that they can’t even be said to belong to any particular style of Metal. The ones who try and be a little bit of everything, for everyone, and end up as a whole lot of nothing.

Which is why the term “Modern Metal” can go £@*!# itself.

(Also – the first person to try and coin the term “Post-Modern Metal” is going to get thrown into the sun.)



Seriously guys, you’re all now officially banned from using the word “Progressive” to describe your music. I know, I know… this will undoubtedly hurt some people who don’t deserve it, but… I’m just done with every bunch of jamokes who know how to play a simple polyrhythm calling themselves something like “Progressive Groove Metal”, when what they really mean is “Generic Djent” (which could also be translated as “MOR Metalcore with more strings and an off-the-shelf guitar tone”).

Come on people… we can do better than this. We can be better than this. Not every band has to be “Progressive”. And being “Progressive” isn’t always a good thing. Particularly when it’s just being used as short-hand for “blandly inoffensive clean vocals over toothless riffs written in a vaguely funny time signature”.


“Melodic Death Metal”

Ok, maybe not a complete ban, but could people please maybe take a few more moments to think about what this term means, and where it comes from, before randomly nailing it to every band out there who might have at one point listened to an At The Gates album?

Seriously, I get the people don’t want to be called “Metalcore” these days. And I get that some writers (myself included) don’t necessarily always want to call a band “Metalcore” in case it’s perceived as an insult, or puts people off listening to them… but sometimes you just have to call them like you see them.

And I for one am sick to the back teeth of reading things like “this band truly embodies the spirit of the Swedish Melodic Death Metal scene” only to then find myself afflicted by music that sounds like a bored Machine Head covers band playing through a bunch of worn-out, eleventh-generation In Flames riffs and lifeless, shoehorned clean choruses with all the verve and vitality (not to mention complete lack of self-awareness) of a toddler who’s missed their nap time.




So come on now everyone, what words would you happily see banned from the Metal lexicon for the foreseeable future?




  72 Responses to “A METAL MORATORIUM”

  1. Am I still allowed to listen to Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk?

  2. Could just be a matter of perspective, but I see the word “ambient” a lot. But I think this is more on the side of labels and PR folks than bands and reviewers.

    Usually when I see it, it begins with a capital A. Similar to your remarks on “progressive,” It’s been used so frequently that it’s been gutted of meaning. “Ambient” has become a buzzword like “progressive” or “technical,” as though the mere use of the word as a descriptor automatically imparts artistic superiority into the music.

  3. OK, here we go with some brand new entries to the Metal lexicon, which I wouldn’t miss:
    1. Moratorium
    2. Ban(ned)
    3. Prohibition

  4. Spot on.

    I still think someone needs to find a word for the “Gorguts/DSO/Ulcerate” thing, so that I don’t have to skim every post for “dissonant, skronky, out-of-the-box”.

    And how about “slam”? They’re just breakdowns, people. It’s not like they’re unheard of in death metal, it’s just another word made up to sidestep the lost cred of getting called deathcore for having breakdowns.

  5. Thank you! This should be required reading for every band, but also and especially for every reviewer.

    Re melo death – I never quite understand how that term is slapped on anything from, e.g., In Mourning and Swallow the Sun to At the Gates and Soilwork. To me the former and latter two bands have very little in common and while they might have sounded more alike in their early days, nowadays melo death as a genre description seems too all-encompassing to me.

    • Yeah, it’s a weird one. I guess it’s just down to the over-proliferation of the term and people not foreseeing that there would be so many well-defined and different styles forming over the years.

    • Yeah it’s basically anything with melody and death metal influences, which as you pointed out can be anything. The other term that is not used so often anymore is brutal death metal, which seemed to be saying you are either brutal, normal (whatever normal death metal would be, I think it’s all quite brutal and most of it fairly melodic), or melodic.

      • “It’s basically anything with melody and death metal influences”

        Thats not necessarily true either, though. The whole Stockholm sound was built on melody as well, but theres always been a clear line between those kinds of bands and the ones who get the melodeath label. No one has ever called Dismember a melodeath band (nor should they), so its not just melody alone that gets those bands lumped together…the degree of melody seems to play a role as well

        • That’s true. Though there’s definitely Dismember songs (and, thinking about it, Grave songs) which err a lot closer to the “Melodic Death Metal” end of the spectrum than you’d expect. And not in a bad way.

  6. Totally agree on the blackened one. Shoving black metal into your music seems like the easiest way for a band to make themselves sound smart and complex, a good example for that would be Black Fast: they play an enjoyable form of party thrash with flashes of glam rock but then they manage to ruin the whole momentum of the music with epic, grandiose black metal segments that feel extremely contrived and utterly out of place, all for the “privilege” of calling your self a blackened thrash metal band.

    • Pretty much. There’s definitely a certain type of band that seems to think “oh, and we’ll need to have a Black Metal-ish part in there somewhere if we want to look cool”…

      Which is pretty much the antithesis of what Black Metal was/is/should be about, imo.

    • The vast majority of bands I see with the blackened term have little or nothing to do with the genre, and the only people who argue it are people who are insecure because they have yet to really get into the genre yet feel the need to tell others what to think about it.

  7. Anthem dosnt bother me because its a term thats mostly thrown around by 3rd tier “-core” bands that I wouldnt listen to Anthem away, its no skin off my back

    Blackened, whether its capitalized or not, is a complete pet peeve of mine. I see way too many bands and reviewers try to use this term to give some kind of metal credibility to bands that are generally dismissed by large sections of the metal world. Suddenly calling a band like Carnifex blackened is not going to make them suck any less and its not going to fool anyone who dosnt like them into caring about them.

    I actually appreciate the term Modern Metal, its usually used to distinguish one type of death metal from its Old School equivalent. So I know its going to mean constant blast beats, clicky drums, and a production so artificial it hurts…or in other words avoid at all costs

    • I use the phrase Modern to a certain degree my selves, but that’s because I don’t care enough to differantiate nu-metal, metal-core, djent and other modern, “non-trve” and non-old school stuff (or BS) that I’m too oldfashion to appreciate.

    • See, Carnifex were exactly the band I was thinking of when writing that piece. Now, ignoring our different feelings towards the band in general, it’s been more and more obvious over time that there’s a significant Black Metal influence to their sound, and I’ve definitely described sections of their music as having a “blackened” feel… but it would be foolish of me, or anyone, to describe them as something like “Blackened Deathcore”… particularly since the band themselves clearly have no desire to do so, and are obviously self-aware enough not to go around trying to grab at labels, etc, to make themselves seem like something that they’re not.

      “Modern Metal” is just a completely useless term however, as what’s “modern” constantly shifts, year by year.

      • Again, youre thinking of “modern” solely in the context of a time period, but thats not what people usually mean when they use the word…think of it more like saying modern production values

        • No, it definitely IS what people mean when they call something “Modern Metal”. You seem to define it as something purely to do with production values, but I have seen umpteen PR and promo emails which refer to “Modern Metal” as a genre. It’s basically for bands like Sonic Syndicate who don’t want to call themselves “Pop Metal”, but who clearly don’t fit into any of the “real” categories or sub-genres, so they all get lumped into one amorphous, featureless mass.

          • Dosnt the fact that you can easily define it (i.e. pop metal) mean its more than just about the time period though? Hell, to me that sounds exactly like when people call something “alt-metal” and everyone knows theyre just talking about Nu-metal.

            Maybe at one point it was a reference to when it was released, but the way you describe it, the term seems to have taken on a life of its own

          • Sonic Syndicate is one of the worse bands to exist. Didn’t members of Dark Tranquillity guest on recent albums? sad. It’s like your son starts a band and you are so proud of him but you won’t want to tell him how terrible it is.

  8. I just don’t want to read any more press releases referring to bands as “hordes.” Unless you’re literally marauding on the Asian steppes, then no. You are not a horde. You’re some smelly people with some guitars, driving around in a beat-to-shit Chevy van and eating truck stop burritos.

  9. “Unleash(ed),” usually in press releases or adverts that say “[Band x] will unleash their new album on 23rd September.”

    Obviously it’s meant to signify the wild and savage nature of the music therein, but it’s so overused that it has become effectively meaningless.

  10. I saw an album described as post-grunge the other day. Grunge is kind of post-post-rock in its own right, and so this almost translates to post-post-post-rock.

    I remember when Dimmu et al. were widely criticized for not being black metal, and folks were arguing over a name for this new and synthetically symphonic offspring. The term Modern Black Metal was in fact used quite a bit, but by now, everyone can see just how stupid that would be.

    When In Flames play “Melodic Death Metal”, what do you cal a band that reels of melodic Death Metal? Is melo-death okay?

    • Firstly In Flames definitely DON’T play Melodic Death Metal any more. Sadly.

      Secondly, I would use the term “Melodeath” to describe something like what Soilwork and Dark Tranquillity (and in Flames used to ) do. And the various bands in and around that general style sound.

      Whereas Melodic Death Metal SHOULD, by all rights, refer to actual DEATH METAL bands, who use a notable amount of melody.

      Unfortunately in the common parlance it’s general not used in that fashion, but logically that’s what it should refer to.

      • Thanks for the clarification. I’ve mixed these two phrases a bit myself, but I blame other writers who have mistaken one for the other before me. (I find blaming others to be much more beneficial to myself.)

        PS: I wouldn’t know what In Flames have sounded like for the past decade and a half, hence the mistake. Not that I am too true, I’ve just never been into that style. I can see why it was labelled Melodeath, although a description without “death” in the description would have been better in regards to differentiating it from Death Metal.

  11. “Atmospheric”. Stop it. What does this even mean? Someone didn’t want to say “ambient” or “has synths”? Is gaseous?

    • Atmosphere, in my book, means mood, feeling or spirit, whilst Atmospheric [x] suggests an evocative approach. Such as Fen, Mare Cognitum, Agalloch or Àrsaidh (ex-Saor). Sure, some could be explained by other adjectives, such as ambient , avant-garde or unearthly, but why beat around the bush.

    • Ambient isnt necessarily interchangeable with atmospheric…As said, atmospheric is usually meant to evoke a feeling or mood of some kind. Ambient passages are a subset of that idea…background noises, usually included along with the music to emphasize the mood being created. It can be anything from a simple, quiet melody to nature sounds like running water

      …to put it another way…ambient metal is atmospheric, but atmospheric metal isnt necessarily ambient

    • I would mainly use it in the context of symphonic black metal, which is by definition atmospheric. Synths are key in that description, for me at least. Like Mists of Misery, if I get around to writing a review on them I will definitely use the term atmospheric.

  12. This is all well and good but look what happened during the prohibition era – lawlessness, the rise of cartels and organised crime. If we try and ban this, it’ll just push it underground… in fact, why is “underground” not on this list?

    We’ll end up with you’ll be going about your day, walking down the street and an unsavory looking chap will be milling about, whispering at passersby: “psstt… post-blackened anthems”. You’ll do your best to walk on, wondering if that would sound just a little bit awesome, because you know, you’re all open minded and keen to for new things…and as you walk on he’ll follow a few steps back hissing “progressive modern melodic death metal… the good stuff, from Sweden”… he’ll open up his trenchcoat and show you a USB… “20 notes it’s yours man”. Next thing, half your paycheck will going on that stuff, ‘cos it’s so kvlt and underground, not the shit you buy in store. And then you’ll be asking if there’s any chance he can “unleash some unorthodox hordes of ambient technical death metal” on you.

    Fuck that.

    • So very true. Can’t believe you’re the first commenter to notice this. Freedom of Speech is what the ISIS wants to deprive us from. As you’re saying, the prohibition era led to organised crime, the mafia, taking control of a market, and if weed were to be legalized… no wait, what was I talking about? Anyway, I totally agree. Censorship is for countries we like to think of (or at least you Americans) as “different” to, be diplomatic, and if you want to avoid an autocrat, whilst retaining diplomacy, avoid voting for Trump at all costs… no, fuck, I keep derailing here.

      In spite of the existing (metal) terminology, or perhaps precisely because of it; I say nay! – we shall not submit to Andy’s proposal of legislation § 666, that banns us from using descriptive word in reviews and conversations.
      Plus, I dare not think of what the fuck would happen to Islanders Shades Of Black if we took away the word “blackened”.
      On the other hand, Andy do have a few valid arguments.

    • Well done Booker! (and Gorger)

    • This actually happened to me last week.

    • How stoned were you when you wrote this?

  13. This is bad news for my anthemic blackened post-progressive modern melodic death metal band’s press release.

  14. Core.
    Crust. I don’t even know what it means.
    Djent. It’s a dumb word. Sorry, it just is.
    Melodeath. Ewww. No.
    This last one is way off topic, but it annoys the hell out of me. No more sexual lyrics in death metal songs, most common in brutal death metal bands. Death metal is about violence, gore, DEATH. Not getting laid. Start a hair metal band, or an r&b group. But stop singing about sex in your death metal band. Seriously. Fucking stop it.

    • Crust was always something I had a hard time explaining, but always knew it when I heard it. Its basically very dirty, raw sounding hardcore punk…kind of a precursor to grind.

      Much like “blackened” its a descriptor that gets thrown around way too much by people who dont understand what it means

  15. I propose that we reduce the use of “grindcore” to bands that are actually grindcore instead of applying it to every shitty slam or metalcore/deathcore band out there.

  16. I know I haven’t been around much and I don’t often read self-praising press releases on Blabbermouth, but I haven’t seen “anthem” or “modern metal” used very often, if at all. I do agree that “progressive” has been overused and has lost a lot of its original meaning, but you don’t have to be a band like King Crimson to be able to use it. I see it more as an umbrella term for bands that don’t stick to just one formula for writing songs. Hell, I see “prog” as much as “progressive” and I’m not so sure they’re the same. For that matter, are “melodic death metal” and “melodeath” the exact same thing? To be honest, I still don’t really get the use of “post” or “core”. Are they supposed to mean anything useful?

    Labels are a like double edged sword; they are useful to help describe a band’s musical direction, but they can also be rather divisive, especially when a band explores more than one area or if a band changes styles throughout their run. Gorger mentioned Dimmu Borgir and I will add Cradle Of Filth as bands that have changed musically over the years, both bands being what I might consider black metal exports. As to a single label that can be used, there’s nothing that really fits. “Extreme” has been (over)used, but it’s not quite enough. Still, it’s better than “blackened melodic symphonic gothic metal” or whatever else you may want to toss in the mix.

    For those of us that write about music, we need to use terms that our readers can relate to, be it the use of labels or making comparisons to other bands. Metal’s come a long way from its origins and simply calling something “metal” isn’t enough, as there are so many varieties that have come long over the past 40+ years that we need to have a way to tell Cannibal Corpse apart from Iron Maiden. Since the advent of death metal, there has been a need to have a way to tell those bands apart. Trying to describe black metal is sometimes similar, with the added bonus of the troo and kvlt not acknowledging the worthiness of anyone that wasn’t part of the scene as it began (or anything that sounds decent), but that’s another story for another time.

    Take a band like Ghost. Are they metal? Satanic rock? Luciferous crooning?

    Or what about bands that are somewhere on the hazy boundary between hard rock and metal?

    • “Take a band like Ghost. Are they metal? Satanic rock? Luciferous crooning?”

      Why do people always ask this question like its so hard…theyre an occult rock band. Theyre really not that much different than Coven was 30 odd years ago

      • Having pretty much still not heard a single Ghost song in full I’m not sure I’m entirely qualified to comment here… but I will definitely be referring to them as “Luciferian crooners” from now on.

  17. Personally, I don’t give a shit how anybody classifies a said band as I will always check them out and decide for myself what I think it is and if I like. I personally cringe when I see “Slam”,”Brutal” or “Djent”.

  18. Check it, since the prohibition and a lousy dry streak in my creative vocabulary, I have now resorted to using mid-era hip hop slang to describe all my metal genres.

    Things like, “Yo, this new Wormed is some good Bomb Ass Metal” and “I could really go for some Miggidy Mack Metal (obviously referring to Carcass)” and my current fave genre, “Icy Hott Stuntaz Metal” which will be for all my frigid homies chillin up nawth!!!

  19. Tremolo pick.

    At least until someone explains to me WTF it really means.

  20. I think the worst part about using these terms isn’t necessarily that they exist; it’s the continued misusage of them that causes problems. Just because you’re a sludge/doom band that has an atmospheric (NOT AMBIENT) part in your song (ie, you turn on your reverb and delay pedal and play clean for a minute or something), this doesn’t make you a “post-” anything band. BUT! If you’re influenced by sludge/doom but are doing something different, but completely and obviously influenced heavily by said genres, that’s when you get to tack on a “post” because your music simply won’t fit anywhere else.

    One black metal part in one song: NOT blackened.
    Black metal parts on all/most all songs: blackened.

    I totally agree on “Modern Metal.” If we’re going be historical standards, modernity began at the start of the Renaissance. So…do you mean “contemporary metal?” Cause that doesn’t narrow it down at all. In fact, that just expands it.

  21. “Snuggly.” If I see one more band that describes themselves as snuggly I’m gonna throw a fit. I mean, too many metal bands are calling themselves snuggly and, with few exceptions, there is no freakin’ way I’d want to cuddle up to them and stroke their soft fur. You know what I mean?

    • I do know what you mean. A really overused term. I’ve also had enough of seeing PR people referring to metal bands as “snookums”. Like, “This band is your snookums,” as if you’d want to nuzzle their cheeks. I’ve had enough of “hunny-bunch cuppy-cake” too.

  22. “when the music barely even plays lip service to the actual sound and style of Black Metal.”

    THIS!! Holy fucking Hel someone gets it haha.

    Look forward to reading the rest of this now, and the comments. Great post, more rants!

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