Where Is The Line Of How Far To Redefine?
When it comes to metal, nothing will piss fans off more than a band changing musical direction. But nothing pisses fans off more than a band making the same album over and over again as well. Wait, so which one is worse? Making the same album over and over or experimenting with new sounds and styles? That leaves bands in between a rock and a hard place with each album they release to try making themselves, their labels and their fans happy. Unfortunately, it seems that 1 or 2 of the 3 usually won’t be pleased. When a band feels they’ve created their masterpiece, the label wants something newer and fresher. When the band sells their soul and makes watered down turds for the label, the fans hate it and the band always seems to be rushing right back to the studio.
It was announced that nu-metal has-beens Korn would be going the way of the Dubstep for their next ‘effort’. Since they have become a footnote for most metal fans now, most of us just shrugged it off and didn’t give a fuck pretty much like foray into rap music with Nas once upon a time as well. Whether it sells 15 million copies or 1,500 isn’t my problem, as long as they’re satisfied with it I suppose that’s all that matters. The only real attachment I hold to bands like them anyhow is the nostalgia of how much I hated the 7th grade. At the same time, while we all loved the self-titled album, Follow The Leader, Issues, & Life Is Peachy, they can’t keep making the same album over and over. Does that mean the nu-metal pioneers should abandon ship on their trademark sound and dabble into other genres of music entirely? Wouldn’t a simple retooling of their sound with each release have been sufficient?
The Korn situation is really a drop in the pan compared to the backlash Morbid Angel is facing right now. As one of the pioneers and arguably one of the most important death metal bands ever, how dare they make a make an industrial rooted album?! Never mind the praise that it’s gotten throughout the metal community, death metal fans can only apparently grasp one sound at a time. Not to mention there is the new release by In Flames which has everybody complaining about how they miss the older, heavier stuff. Even though when somebody posted a fake teaser for ‘Deliver Us’ and accidentally(?) posted 1997’s ‘Episode 666’, people still bitched about how terrible it was. Sometimes there just is no winning with metal fans, which is why it shouldn’t make a difference what genre a band shifts towards as long as they still make quality music with whatever sound they choose just as long as they don’t alienate their former selves altogether. In my opinion, that’s what side projects are for.
There are so many bands that have deviated from their original sound and pissed off their core fanbase but picked up a much larger fanbase and created much better music. Where would the original Pantera be? Or the original Opeth sound? Odds are both would be footnotes in the metal world drowned out in a sea of monotony and in the five dollar bin along with the new Marilyn Manson and Limp Bizkit albums. While it’s not a knock on either of the bands’ early work, there was nothing that would have set them apart from the rest of the metal world. When you talk about Pantera, does anyone talk about 1985’s I Am The Night unless they’re just being a pretentious dick? Exactly.
My stance is if you’re going to choose a genre that is already flooded with bands that sound IDENTICAL to yours, then you need to find a way to set yourself apart. If your band is already Rage Against the Machine then a rap homage album isn’t really needed. Whether it is adding effects, getting guitar lessons, or spicing up the entire songwriting process, make your band original. If that means dipping your hardcore band in smooth jazz, by all means go for it. If your band already has achieved that unique sound and a loyal fanbase, then maturing and trying new things on each album is highly encouraged just as long as you don’t alienate your core sound. If you make the same album over and over, then you’ll be Disturbed. When your band leaves metal behind to make poor, watered down ballads that could just as well be Daughtry songs, you need to rethink your stance in metal. Or when your band is a halfway okay metalcore band and does a 180 for the whiny tween rock sound while trying to hold on to the badass metal elite status, don’t you think you’ve gone far enough and made us suffer enough Avenged Sevenfold?
If a band goes marginally softer or heavier from album to album as their way of spicing things up, I just don’t care and that works perfectly fine for me, just as long as your music is already good. There is a ceiling for how heavy any band can get which is something that’s often neglected when a band promises faster, heavier albums and the fans expect the same. There is a thin line that every band has to walk with mailing it in and selling out to the masses on one side and going over the creative edge on the other. With that said they are then expected to find a new way to walk that line each time. So how far is too far in your books?