Welcome back to Genre Genesis. For newcomers, here’s a brief overview of how this works. Four of the other editors – Nick, Scott, Jonathan, and Eden – have partners who are, shall we say, not nearly as invested in heavier music as we tend to be, and so their knowledge of the sort of stuff we tend to cover at Heavy Blog is almost entirely secondary. To that end, Sarah, Lauren, Kinsy, and Ronnie – the significant others of Nick, Scott, Jonathan, and Eden respectively – have volunteered to be part of this running series, where I give them a song and they catalog their thoughts about said song and attempt to label it with a genre based on their working knowledge of heavy music. Besides being a fun diversion from our usual content, this also serves somewhat the purpose of taking the piss out of metal and being a benign way of poking some fun at a community that is way too stuffy about how and why people enjoy various parts of the culture.
You should know by now that we’re not planning on taking any prisoners with this post series. The idea is to immerse our…volunteers in metal all the way and really dig deep into the core of what’s considered extreme today. Thus, how can we ignore the double duo of chaos that is Sectioned and Frontierer? In the fields of mathcore, they’re two of the most fast growing names, leaving their scorch mark all over the scene. And the scene loves it; something in it speaks to us, something in the anger mixed with sadness mixed with chaos strikes a deep root and shakes us. But how do people from outside of our scene, unburdened by influences and definitions, react to their specific, abrasive and unapologetic sound? I’m glad you asked; read below for some of those impressions.
I get that this is a two minutes long track, but still, why start out like this? No introduction? No slow fade-in? Or maybe it’s a shock value kind of thing? Well I was shocked alright. In fact, when I first listened to the track, I put my headphones on, but forgot to lower the volume. I then panicked, as eardrum-piercing screams tried to tear every fiber of my being to shreds, and in my distress, instead of lowering the volume, I took it up all the way, yelling in panic and confusion all the while and eventually throwing the headphones at my computer. While I don’t think the band behind this melodic fuzzball had that specific scenario in mind, I definitely think they weren’t imagining Oxford professors swaying to the music while sipping red wine in front of the fireplace.
The second thing I noticed after I came to my senses, was the speed. Why is this song so fast? Eden and I just watched an episode of Star Trek Voyager, where the crew of the lost starship encounters a planet stuck in a sped-up time frame. Every second for the Voyager crew is a day for the planet and its inhabitants. Maybe this is the case here? Maybe this track is intended for beings on a completely different plane of existence? Maybe this is actually Drone Metal for speedy aliens? I can only speculate, and be thankful the whole thing was over in under three minutes. This is not for me.
Another thing I seem to constantly not get is the screaming. I cannot differentiate one kind from another. Is this growling? does it count as growling at this pitch and speed? Or is it just screaming? All I know is that it sound sort of Punk to my uncultured ears.
There’s a lot going on that I barely have a chance to notice before the track ends. There’s drums, that’s certain, but then there are also guitars at some point, that sort of remind me of the opening theme of Mighty Max (which is a good thing of course). And then we get some lyrics (again? For the first time? I’m not sure). The only thing I got was “slow destruction”. I’m not a native English speaker, so maybe that’s the problem. Anyway, I think it’s kind of ironic the only words I got was slow destruction. It felt like super fast destruction, If you ask me. Don’t get me wrong, this music is impressive. Just not the kind I would willingly or knowingly listen to.
If I had to label this, I would probably go for Technical Alien Highway Punk Metal for Angsty Alien Teens.
I immediately like a song more when it can conjure up some sort of image or daydream-esque movie to play in my head while I listen to it. This is particularly true for metal songs, partly because, I will admit, I’m not prone to liking them (but I do try!) and most of the time I can’t understand the lyrics. So, if a metal song can pique my interest, especially for the entirety of the track, I’m sold.
This being said, from second one of “Annihilated” by Sectioned (most likely due to the two seconds of pure guitar feedback that it starts with) I felt like I was thrown into the sickest runthrough of Rainbow Road that I’ve ever played. I can’t say I know what it actually feels like to win a Mario Kart race (I’m absolute garbage), but after listening to this track for the first time, I can imagine the sense of urgency and the adrenaline rush that comes with being in first place. I keep envisioning Bowser and Princess Peach hot on my tail as I dodge banana peels and turtle shells, my thumb never leaving the acceleration button. My kart is screaming down that barrier-less highway, my inferior competitors are trailing behind me, and just when I think it can’t get any better, I hit a Super Star and blast my way over the finish line. I was definitely filled with a feeling of invincibility and the power to ~annihilate~ the competition.
As for the technical aspects of the song, it felt wrong to listen to Pedram Valiani’s vocals and the band’s rapid guitar chords on such a low volume. I found myself turning up the track and, dare I say, enjoying the ride Sectioned was taking me on. Right out of the gate you can hear the suspenseful build-up they develop all the way through the first minute. It starts out fast and only gets faster, and just when you think they’ve reached the climax, another build-up starts with wailing guitars. This finally collapses into the familiar territory of a slow, methodical breakdown which resolves any remaining tension. The listener is subjected to a musical rollercoaster; you never quite know where the track will be taken next. Sectioned fits a lot into a short song, but for what this track lacks in length, it makes up for in intensity and anticipation and will leave its audience completely satisfied.
Genre: Rainbow Road Rage Metal
I played this song on my phone via speaker, and legitimately didn’t even realize the song had started because I thought it was the emergency alert system test noise coming from the TV. We have three dogs, and each of their heads shot up at the sharp, high pitched noise emanating from my phone. They proceeded, as dogs are wont to do, freaking out about whatever the hell was making that noise. Thus, I dub this as “emergency alert system metal”.
I mean, seriously… what the hell is this? I can tell it’s intricate and passionately played at rapid speed, but what’s with all the weird noises? It sounds like someone playing a theremin at random times, and not well. There is definitely plenty of talent being displayed during the actual instrumentals in the track, but I just do not understand the appeal. I could never imagine myself going to a concert hall to “enjoy” this kind of music. Like, how would you dance/move to the random sharp noises? Just make sharper punching moves in the mosh pit? If you’re not in the mosh, do you head bang? How do you head bang to an emergency alert system?
I applaud the obvious musical talent on display here, but frankly I really don’t know what else to say about it. Jon recommends that I give it another listen via headphones. Not sure this is a good idea, but here I go…
Three minutes later
Nope. After second listen, nothing about my experience has changed for the better. In fact, it got slightly worse, mostly because I didn’t get to laugh at the dogs’ reactions this time around. This listen did highlight some awesome drumming, but frankly outside of that this just isn’t my cup of tea. I will be avoiding “emergency alert system metal”.
I often tell Nick that there are people who just make me want to sit them down and feed them a hot meal. People who just need a hug, you know? I think Sectioned needs several hugs. Metal seems to have this recurring theme of self-destruction and self-harm made flesh – reified on skin in a way that doesn’t let scabs form. This is an open invitation, guys, to come over to our house. We have neosporin and soup.
While I’m not sure I’ll ever grow to appreciate the scream-y vocals bands like Sectioned uses, I grew to like the dissonance present throughout “Annihilated”. There’s a nice guitar section that starts around 1:20 that shows off a great expression of the sentiments of the screamer in question. Overall, the musicianship in the track is clearly very planned, tight, and controlled overlapping sounds which I appreciate in the abstract.
It’s been a while since we’ve done one of these and Nick has long since given up trying to teach me what the different subgenres of metal are. That means I get to make up my own again!
Genre: Sad Boi Mathcore