Friday, December 01, 2006

Is Metal Dead?

Here we go again: You can't kill a genre.

The latest to claim that you can is Anthony Lane in The New Yorker: ""Spinal Tap" ... not only assaulted the rock documentary and left it for dead but practically killed heavy metal as a musical species. (Not that hard-core metal heads would notice. They can’t hear you anyway.)"

At least he parenthetically concedes the point I made before: After a genre's "dead", practitioners of the genre somehow carry on making music anyway. So, once again, what can it really mean for a genre to be dead.

What's weird is not that Lane thinks Spinal Tap is Christopher Guest's most successful film (it is, far and away) but that Lane wasn't onto Guest a long time ago. Of one unsuccessful part of For Your Consideration, Lane says, "“Entertainment Tonight” is already so close to self-parody that it requires no further assistance." And metal isn't? It's as though Lane thinks metal was an important (or at least self-important) institution before Guest came along and -- zing! -- exposed it for what it really is. The fact is that metal, like all the marginal activities that Guest "documents", was/is important to practitioners and listeners and absurd to everyone else. Isn't the central conceit of every (not just the latest) Guest movie, "Hey, look at these freaks. Aren't they daft? Let's make fun of them!"

Lane accuses Guest of "rigging the evidence" in only his latest film… as if that’s not what he was always up to.
Don’t get me wrong -- I love Spinal Tap -- but it's of a piece with every Guest film that came after it, better though it may be. They may not show up in a Lane review or a Guest film, but there are intelligent metalheads who are conscious of how absurd or stupid the rest of the world thinks they are -- and have a sense of humor about it.

All right, so I’m a metalhead. Sue me.

Just for fun, let's just say you could kill a genre. If you're going to call in a hit on metal, you'd be much better off sending a real documentary -- Some Kind of Monster -- to do the job.
Forget the bologna-doesn't-fit-the-bread scene from Spinal Tap. Almost any scene from Monster is likely to be more damning. But, especially for mashup fans, I’m thinking of two interludes from the film in particular. One shows Kirk Hammett in full jogging regalia running down the street, and one shows James Hetfield driving an absurdly long hotrod (insert Freudian cliche here), and both are paired with a Metallica song. These are images of what money and California can do to even one of the most venerated metal bands paired with the incredibly heavy music for which they are venerated. The juxtaposition is powerful (and hilarious).

I hear the new Deftones album is good. Even The New Yorker thought so. And I recently found that Emusic has my two favorite metal albums: Sleep "Volume 1" and Confessor "Condemned". They also have a bunch of Don Cab stuff.

Speaking of Don Cab and Metallica, both make an appearance on my podcast. The problem is the podcast has yet to make an appearance on iTunes. World Famous Audio Hacker has been incommunicado. (Maybe he’s in jail again.) His site is down, and iTunes won’t connect to Bootie-to-Go. All this has gone on since my mix was supposed to air. Coincidence or not, it feels like a letdown. I didn’t want to steal WFAH’s thunder, but I really want to post this thing, so here goes.

This is sans interview -- which hasn’t happened yet, and which will no doubt be incredibly witty and insightful -- but all the music’s here if you care to check it out.

Noddable Industries Bootie-to-Go podcast

MP3 audio, 38 MB


Edit: I heard from World Famous Audio Hacker. He wasn't in jail, just working (can seem like the same thing sometimes...). Long story short, podcast is forthcoming after WFAH works out some technical bugs with iTunes. Stay tuned.

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