Modern Masterpieces: The Connexion Between Metal and the Compositions of Yesteryear
Terrorizor Magazine made a comparison between Arch Enemy’s Bloodstained Cross and the Seasons of Vivaldi. Revolver Magazine’s resident freelancer, Chris Krovatin, authored a superb article on the 6 most Metal classical compositions. Such is my textual evidence, yet my strongest proof is empirical. Listen to virtually any modern Metal, and it is clear that such music is inspired by the great classics. Contrary to the teachings of pop-culture, Metal is an extremely painstaking, technical, and complex genre. Unlike most modern music, contemporary artists of Metal are based less on Blues and more on Classical music. The intricate melodies, polyphonic sound-walls, and frequent use of syncopation differentiate Metal from most contemporary musical styles, yet link it inextricably to the genius compositions of yore.
Metal originated with the blues, taking the simple riffs to unknown, cathartic depths. As time went on, movements such as Thrash have brought speed and technicality back into the equation, giving us masterpieces to rival those of classic musicians. Take, for instance, the lessons imparted from Gradus Ad Parnassum, written by Johannes Fux. (Yes, that’s his real name.) In my brief yet torrid study of Counterpoint Compositions, I learned the difficulties of obeying the rigid structure of consonance, harmony, motion, and even the controlled use of dissonance. It was tedious to follow these rules and still manage to make the piece interesting and lively.
Yet, my favorite bands do just that, if not every day then at least often enough to get paid.
We are not the
Hollywood stereotype of stoners living in our parents’ basements, mindlessly banging our heads to anything loud. We are artists. Even those of us who are neither musicians nor composers are just as cultured as the monocle-wearing crowd who pine over Baroque instrumentals. Hell, we probably listen to the exact same Purcell operas as Mr. Cunningsworth. The only difference is we crank it to 11, while Old Man.C crosses his index fingers and flings Holy Water at our supposedly satanic asses.
Modern Metal utilizes the same rigorous structure, artistic enterprise, and musical talent as the enduring works of Mozart or Beethoven. Now we have10 string guitars instead of harpsichords, and we have growls instead of choirs. Then again, the phenomenon of Symphonic Metal proves that these vocal styles don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Even radio-friendly bands such as Killswitch Engage are a testament to the possibility of operatic vocals juxtaposed with screams.
Metal is so much more than mere fan-fodder to entertain and anger the unwashed masses. It is simultaneously malleable and durable… In a word, resilient… It has the same immortal virtue which sanctifies the gorgeous art that has endured for centuries.