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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Genre Seeker: Deathcore - The Art of Harsh Vocals

Yes m'dears.

Those disturbing, ear-piercing, monstrous screams... together with the incoherent shaping of words, and bullet-like guitar riffing are signs that you have just listened to deathcore.

Quite literally obvious, deathcore is a sub-genre that fuses the styles of death metal and metalcore together. If you are someone who don't particularly like metal, let alone death metal or metalcore, please do not ever try deathcore, your ears might get traumatized. Now, while death metal as a genre presented morbid or dark lyrical themes, standard harsh vocals, and rather complex instrumentals, metalcore on the other hand was a resultant sub-genre which incorporated hardcore elements into the death metal style. Basically, metalcore was, well, more hardcore in every aspect of the death metal style. Harsh vocals were given more room to expand with metalcore vocalists experimenting with different forms of growling or screaming, and there was also the occasional moment of clean singing thrown in as well. Instrumentals went up a notch in terms of complexity, but sometimes just end up sounding plain thrashy though. As for lyrical themes, they can range from esoteric topics like philosophy to good ol' love.

So... deathcore was in its essence, a spin-off of a spin-off. This can be summed up quite simply by the equation below.

Death Metal + Metalcore = Death Metal + (Death Metal + Hardcore) = Deathcore

What you get out of deathcore however, is quite vastly different from its roots. Instrumentals no longer have any discernible rhythmic pattern (or at least not so obvious until after many listens), the harsh vocal range and experimentation is so much greater, and the lyrical themes mostly don't even make sense let alone their lyrics, meaning they can be just about any topic in life you can think of. If you are someone who has been exposed to some deathcore, and is currently going "What? How can all this crazy screaming and growling be music?! It's noise!"

Well, I would beg to differ. Under the unspoken laws of avant-garde music, deathcore can be (in my personal opinion) alternatively known as the art of harsh vocals. You see, it IS the crazy screaming and growling here that is the main focus of this avant-garde music genre. The guitars and drums are kinda secondary here, since the vocalists of deathcore bands are actually taking on the hardest role. If they don't do their growling-screaming thingamajig properly, they can end up with very frequent throat inflammations (or even throat cancer when they are old). I think they use their diaphragm the most when doing their standard growls, not their larynges. Anyway, it might be an interesting thing to note that the different types of harsh vocals presented in deathcore can be somewhat amusing and intriguing to listen to at the same time. In fact, I would dare say they are the only thing of interest to look out for in most deathcore bands.

There are quite a few different types of harsh vocals employed by current deathcore bands, namely...

The Shriek

The Low Growl

The High Scream (0:29 - 0:31)

The Pig Squeal (0:47 - 0:59 and any other similar parts in the song)

The Shriek-Growl (this is darned hard to do O.O)

Clean Vocals (they can be surprisingly quite good, differs from band to band though)

The Scream-Growl (rather common type apart from the Low Growl)

Alright, your eardrums must be ringing now. That about sums up the various types of harsh vocals in deathcore so far, and if you think this is extreme enough, there are sub-genres closely related to deathcore, that are even more extreme. Grindcore, noisecore, anyone?

Yes, deathcore may be the ugliest sub-genre of metal yet, but well, metal was all about being ugly in the first place (with the exception of symphonic, power, and some progressive metal). It is not really accepted as "music" by bands from other less extreme genres, most notably the frontman of Bayside, but hey, these guys are fronting an avant-garde genre that they have great passion for, and doesn't that put them on the same stage as the guys from the other genres? Even Black Sabbath's original heavy metal style was not widely accepted at first, but as time went by, look what became of the metal behemoth.

Deathcore is certainly not for the weak-hearted, hearing-impaired, pop-loving average Joe, but if you feel like the mainstream's not offering you enough, try delving into deathcore, you just might like it. There must be a reason why Bring Me The Horizon has shot to fame within a short span of 3 years you know.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Song Of The Week: Between The Buried And Me - Obfuscation

From the simple idea of Change Blindness, our minds are not as they seem.
An entire existence revolving around what we can't acknowledge.
A brain function we'll never admit as defeat....
a constant determination to find truths...to find reason...to find comfort.
An unspoken religion in being the ALL-DOMINANT...This is what we call a brain.

This step will allow the universe to run it's course.
We have a short ticket and a lot of it is in hiding...so lets take in what we can for now.
Just like here on Earth(a notion we do comprehend)
Hide what "others" can't understand. The universe is the biggest threat...
overachiever that commands attention. Brute force of hysterical reasonings...
There will always be a Marfa.

Close one eye. Step to the side.

As humans we could never be content with knowing all, yet we can't be content with the fact that our brains will never know.
A mental surgery...
a never ending journey...a technological drawback.
Pushing us further from our natural minds.
Even things created by other humans should be considered in the experiment of an entire species understanding.

A magicians pure joy...
A mind bend for the common folk...
Follow the straight line...(A full house watching what we can't see)
The ultimate deceiver...

Close one eye. Step to the side.

We will always be part of the great misdirect...stepping in and stepping out.
We will always be part of the great misdirect...Mirrors and Obfuscation.

Yes everybody, every Victory fanboy's favourite progressive metal band is set to rock your socks off you yet again with their forthcoming 5th album, the Great Misdirect out on October 27th.

Between The Buried And Me had originally started off as a crazy metalcore band, and they gradually progressed towards speed metal and then progressive metal. Amazing style changes huh, just like what Amorphis had undergone in the past. Anyway, if you have not heard of BTBAM, you really have not heard of progressive metal at all. The style of progressive metal favoured by senior progressive metal bands Dream Theater and Opeth are ever draaaaaaawling and nice to nod off too, they are no longer progressive metal in my opinion, because they do not seem to have progressed much at all.

Between The Buried And Me are y'all!: From left to right - Dustie Waring (Guitar), Tommy Rogers (Vocals), Blake Richardson (Drums/Percussion), Dan Briggs (Bass Guitar), Paul Waggoner (Guitar)

BTBAM on the other hand, has (from the sound of that new track above) definitely progressed from their last epic, Colors. The starting was reminiscent of the opening guitar riffs from Mastodon's "Capillarian Crest", the drum beats have gotten more complex, the bass was as thundering as usual, and the vocals was just good ol' BTBAM. Oh yeah, the length is definitely progressive metal (9 minutes and 15 seconds). As usual, they have that good blend of harsh and soft moments, in which during the latter, Tommy takes a break from growling and Paul, Dustie, and Dan just shred away on those seemingly indestructible strings on their guitars. The guitar melodies have definitely improved, with appropriate moments when they go hiiiiiiiiiigh up (like towards the end of Pantera's "Cemetary Gates"), and Killswitch Engage-ish moments when their vibrato just shake you up from the inside.

Good utilization of a blend of clean and harsh vocals in unison also certainly added a new unique musical device to BTBAM's musical arsenal, and the guitar solos, although long and mellow like Opeth's, do not make you want to doze off as quickly as they started.

Hell yeah, it would be a pity if you did not give this amazing song a listen!

The Great Misdirect will be out on October 27th, 2009.