The Great Angry White Hope, or the New Loud Sounds From Way Out

Right now there are thousands—nay, millions—of disaffected youths out there yearning for a music that speaks to the anger welling up inside—but without devolving into something that’s just loud, screamy, and stupid. What I’m saying is that hardcore, that originally American Art Brut, like jazz or cartooning, has left a void. At one time it was the voice of the people, like an angry jazz, and nowadays it’s devolved into screamo, death metal, aggro thrashcore, and a zillion other variations on tempo that can be argued ad nauseum. (“We’re not metal thrash, we’re more metalcore.”) For me it had lots of great moments—seeing Avail in ‘98, that NYHC show in college with 20 unknown, amazing bands, or seeing the Rollins Band in 110-degree heat—but there were way too many low points: that band that brought a weight bench onstage, crowded mosh pits mainly used for fist fights, or the other band that walked the stage swinging baseball bats. There are glimmers of hope out there for people who aren’t eager to run face first into a wall yet could use a soundtrack for the burning contempt they get every time they hear McCain called a “maverick” for his pro-torture votes.

Wrath of the Weak, “Chapter I: A Leap of Faith Ends When You Crash Into the Ground” (download)

“Metal shoegaze.” When I say it now, it sounds like a random amalgamation of terminology, but listening to it makes me wonder what took so long for anybody to make the combination. A fast, churning, and violent My Bloody Valentine that could feel at home in the world of drones. So much metal is all speed, sound, and fury that lends itself to ironic detachment; this stuff actually has some weight to it. Something about them being from Buffalo gives me that glimmer of hope that something good is coming out of postindustrial upstate New York that might bolster their economy.

Warbringer, “Dread Command” (download)

For every well-meaning folk balladeer struggling to write that next anti-war anthem, maybe they should try writing a neutral-war anthem first, see what it sounds like, and work from there. Warbringer goes the full step of describing war in full, bloodletting detail, resulting in a great dichotomy of being a great song while reminding me of how I’d never want to live through something like that, like Waltzing Mathilda. It’s what CNN wishes it could have used during “Shock and Awe” footage.

Jay Reatard, “Always Wanting More” (download)

There’s lots of attempts to make a post-hardcore sound, maybe with a little more craft to it like your Mastodon; or just to make it math-ier, like Converge. Sometimes the basics work fine. Sped-up garage rock doesn’t sell the description that Jay Reatard deserves, but it is quick and vicious and good. Somebody will probably slow down his songs into their pop-punk detail and make millions to cater to the heathens that can’t take a faster pace, but for now he makes the original version with pure speed in flagrante delicto.

From an overly intellectual viewpoint, there’s really not much analysis to be made about death metal. Just a bunch of dudes in makeup singing about entrails, but really, it is the inheritance of true folk art: those sorts of creations that come about with little to any direct influence of popular culture and are usually created in madness. It’s the same impetus that leads people to recreate the Battle of Hastings out of matchsticks. The unique part is that they know how to play their instruments. These aren’t hyper-religious outcasts that learn to play music from a broken zither and a recording of “The Old Gray Mare” they found in an attic. They know their chords and I would venture to say some of them have “chops.” They just insist on singing about eviscerating the weak.

Crystal Castles, “Alice Practice” (download)

Most people can’t listen to a whole album of screaming; it begins to downgrade the pathos, but a scream here and there makes for good variance. This whole Crystal Castles album is just like that; eight-bit sounds that go from limo-nodding minimalist techno and then digital emotional purge. It makes me feel like I went somewhere after listening. If you could write a whole album of the most brutal emotion, sadly, it would be hard to listen to. Intersperse it with the Moog version of “Spanish Flea,” and there you have your concept album.

Melt-Banana, “Chain-Shot to Have Some Fun” (download)

Has anybody stopped to notice how bad this state of affairs is? Besides the total and monumental collapse of the U.S. automotive industry that is only holding on by a thread to America’s lizard-brain need for giant cars, they seem to make speed metal 10x better. We make Hatebreed, and they have Melt-Banana. Nothing American about it since it’s actually good: a cartoonishly fast blitzkrieg of sound. No wonder heavy metal is left to the dregs, it languishes in the need to be angry, dark, and fast, and in the end succeeds at none of them.

blog comments powered by Disqus