Subgenres of Doom
I don’t know that much about the musical intricacies of contemporary metal, which made this week’s interview with metal producer/engineer/guitarist Eyal Levi all the more enlightening for me. Levi is a smart and talented guy who really knows his stuff, and he very articulately dissected the process of recording metal music.
One of the fascinating points he made was that in the studio, metal music is heavily edited for timing. I’d always thought time-correcting live-played tracks to the grid (especially drums) was mainly a feature of pop music production, but that's definitely not the case. Levi told me that the tempos in today’s metal are so fast that if everything isn’t locked together rhythmically, the result will be a cluttered mess.
I was also surprised to learn that there are vocal coaches out there that teach proper technique for screaming vocals. Who knew? I guess it’s a good thing so that singers don’t rip their throats out after a couple of sets or a long recording session. Personally, I don't understand the appeal of screamed vocals, but as Levi told me, they're "an acquired taste."
One of the more interesting aspects of metal is that it's spawned a huge number of subgenres (something that's also true with EDM). There are countless different subflavors, all with their own parameters and “rules,” and even tempo ranges.
If you haven’t already done so, search Google for “Metal subgenres” and you’ll get some fascinating results. Wikipedia lists 27 of them, some of which have up to four subgenres (sub-subgenres?) of their own. There’s everything from Funk Metal to Viking Metal to Death ’n’ roll (a subgenre of Death Metal) to Sludge Metal, Pornogrind, Mathcore, Teutonic Thrash Metal, and many others. Gotta love those names.
I wonder whether this kind of super-specialization of genres is a good or bad thing for musicians? Does it encourage creativity through its plentiful stylistic variations, or does it stifle it by encouraging everyone to follow the rigid limitations inside each micro genre? It’s a tough question. What do you think?
One quick correction from last week's column about the Pro Tools interfaces from Apogee and Avid that will run on Mac and Windows. Apogee pointed out that the Windows development for the new interfaces was provided by Avid exclusively, and that Apogee still considers itself "100% committed to being an exclusive developer for the iOS and Mac platforms."