Friday, December 13, 2013

metal at a standstill

Keith Kahn-Harris with a piece at Souciant that detects retromaniacal tendencies in metal

Caused by the same syndromes of glut, hyper-access, over-abundance etc as with other zones of music in the post-broadband era:

"... We’re witnessing a significant transformation in the nature of music. Scenes act as incubators for identifiable styles and genres, for distinctive ways of being. The slow pace at which they used to be ‘discovered’ by the outside world meant that they had time to develop with a relative degree of isolation. It’s no accident that some of the most distinctive metal styles were initially developed in tightly knit local scenes: Bay Area thrash, Tampa death metal, Norwegian black metal..."

"Today’s ‘always on’ digital world, in which the gap between action and reaction has closed almost to nothing, has radically altered our relationship to time. Narrative history has collapsed into an eternal present, in which we’re flooded by media, sensations and events. Ironically, one of the characteristics of this present is increasing nostalgia and obsession with the past.... 

"The half-life of cultural production extends indefinitely, as nothing goes truly out of style, and artists linger well past their sell-by date....
"It is not just that nostalgia has become prevalent – although we can certainly see that in the case of metal, for example, with the continuous stream of re-releases and reunions from even the most insignificant 1980s bands....   

"There are still forms of metal that are being developed primarily by and for young people, particularly emo, screamo and djent. But their context is crucially different. Teenage metal in 2013 may offer a new kind of assemblage of metal and non-metal elements. However, it does not provide substantially new sounds. The accumulated weight of over 40 years of metal history looms over new entrants to metal. As nothing in metal history is completely discredited, there is no sense that a new generation can displace the old "

[Djent ? !? ]

"One possibly ‘game-changing’ development in the evolution of metal is the gradual retirement of metal’s biggest-selling acts.... None of this would matter if new generations of bands were taking their place as metal legends and stadium-filling platinum-selling acts, but few bands from the 1990s onwards have the same status and reach.....  it may be that without the unifying effect of mythic acts, metal may dissipate and fragment further.

"Whatever the future holds, innovation is still possible in metal. Yet this innovation has been atomised among hundreds of different artists that do not cohere into an overwhelming new direction. We are unlikely to see in metal again the kind of ‘mass extinction event’ that occurred in the early 1990s, that rendered entire genres all but obsolete."

Not really surprising that these syndromes are music-culture-wide  - Keiths' atomisation of innovation is a really handy concept, sounds very applicable to a lot of bloggy-world musics....

Here's an earlier post at Blissblog on the subject of retro metal

1 comment:

  1. Glad you picked up on my piece Simon - your work was a major inspiration for it. The piece is one of a series so please keep checking Souciant.