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.
Well, well, well! After receiving vicarious threats from the participants of this column (it was actually just polite replies to my poll asking for feedback) about how I’m “going after them” or “subjecting them to the equivalent of aural torture”, I decided to mix things up with the selection for this installment of Genre Genesis. Moving away from the wailing tones of technical death metal or the screeching feedback of mathcore, I’ve delved deep into the roster of incredible albums released this year and came back with Moonshield.
If you need a reminder of who these guys are, you can check out my original post on them. They were sent to me by Simon (god bless his heart) as an extremely “us” thing; a power metal/hardcore combo band that sung exclusively about Dungeons and Dragons. What more could you ask for? Sure, their music is fast and aggressive but it’s also incredibly different and somehow more “accessible” than the other choices we’ve made for the participants in previous times.
I must say I wasn’t expecting such mixed result; this time, the opinions run the full gamut of “holy crap, this is amazing” through “I could take it or leave it” to “get this thing away from me, now”. I guess that I can understand that result, in retrospect; punk and hardcore aren’t exactly conciliatory genres and the intense passion which fans of power metal (and fantasy in general) can bring to the table has alienated many a person in the past. However, I’m definitely glad that it clicked with some of them; I personally love the album.
Next time you’ll be reading something under the Genre Genesis title, it will be part of our End of Year content! Stay tuned, it’s going to be great, and read on below for our significant others’ thoughts on Moonshield’s “The Death Cleric”!
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Moonshield’s “The Death Cleric” is a song that seems so familiar from my days when I thought I was so hardcore. You know, high school. When I first listened to this song I wracked my brain for the better half of the day at work trying to figure out why it sounded so familiar to me, and it finally dawned on me: This song’s vocals and some of its instrumental stylings sound similar to Atreyu’s “Bleeding Mascara”. I know this is a metal blog, so judge me if you will, but I was all about Atreyu and thought I was super brutal when I was in high school, and this song brought back all those teenage memory feels.
The drumming and guitar work have that very familiar punk/screamo/hardcore vibe to me. A blend that takes me to the early 2000s and the sounds of the likes of It Dies Today, As I Lay Dying (who I absolutely refuse to listen to or support anymore) and Bullet for My Valentine. This song in particular has a bit of a screamo vocal sound and that is what made me think early 2000s Atreyu.
I still remember going to the Taste of Chaos concert in Denver ready to mosh (which really wasn’t moshing, if I’m being honest) and feeling so alternative and badass. I am sure I am way off in regards to the official metal style and type, but to me this song sounds like my memories, and therefore I dub this Teenage Hardcore.
My introduction to Moonshield was Eden’s brief synopsis of “they sing about Dungeons and Dragons and stuff like that”. Initially, I was intrigued. In my head, this could go one of two ways: One, they could be fun and quirky; their music could paint vivid scenes of wizardly characters and intense battles. Or two, they could be so niche I easily get confused and lose interest immediately. I’ll let you guess which scenario played out.
Moonshield does not “sing about Dungeons and Dragons and stuff like that”, they legitimately sing about D&D. Having absolutely no prior knowledge of anything Dungeons and Dragons related, a quick search of what the hell a death cleric was lead me to an in-depth wikipedia page where I learned that it is a “medium humanoid” with the power to bring undead creatures back to life (and who is also multilingual???). Another look into the lyrics provided even less insight, but I did enjoy that they refer to the death cleric’s army of rats that she rides into battle and who protect her from harm (which is #goals, in my opinion).
Now, I’m a firm believer in the saying that there is an ass for every seat, but I can confidently say that this ass does not belong in this fantastical, role-playing seat. I try to find the good in every Genre Genesis pick, although for this time around I have to admit I struggled to find any strong redeeming qualities. However, after some consideration I realized “The Death Cleric” did further cement my love for metal as one of, if not the most all-encompassing genre of music. Where else can you find romance, sadness, anger, political rants, purely instrumental, horror, and now mythical categories all under the same musical umbrella? I may not be a fan of most metal music, but even with my limited exposure I can appreciate the unique ability of metal to bring so many different communities together.
Genre: If the Kids From Stranger Things Grew Up and Formed a Metal Band
Ok, so I’m not going to lie. Eden promised us that he wouldn’t specifically set out to torture us this time, but I didn’t believe him. But not only did he give us a D&D-themed track (I’m here), but it’s about a badass female character who arrives to control a battle (I’M SO HERE FOR IT). As a woman who games casually, I’ve avoided any games that would put me into contact with real live cis-men since I was constantly sexually harassed through my avatar in Runescape around 2004. God, I feel old writing that.
At any rate, if you ask Nick he’ll be the first to tell you that I’m into powerful and witchy women. I’m not sure if this was their intention, but Moonshield has written a metal version of the Morrigan and I willingly listened to this a few times. It’s a bit repetitive, but it’d power you through an expedition into the PvP Wilderness of old school RS. You can tell I’m getting nostalgic now. But while I was listening to Alkaline Trio and Taking Back Sunday in those days (yeah), I would give the rest of Moonshield’s album a listen today. The nerdiness has really hooked me in a way that the soppy sad lyrics of some of the other other tracks we’ve been forced asked to listen to. The guitar line moves the song along instead of weighing in down and the anger doesn’t bother me as much because I read it as RIGHTEOUS FEMININE GODDESS ANGER. So yeah guys, here’s the bar to beat for me!
Genre: THE MORRIGAN WILL CRUSH THE PATRIARCHY
This one is a bit confusing. I got strong Mighty Max vibes at the beginning, which is obviously a good thing. But then the vocals came in and were kind of flat? It reminded me of punk more than anything else. And then there was this part that kind of reminds me of Blind Guardian (which I only know of because of LoTR). What is going on here? It’s like fun geeky D&D-ish music but with really harsh vocals.
Okay, let’s look at the lyrics. Oh, yes, this band is definitely into epic fantasy. Wait, they’re called Moonshield and have magical creatures on the cover, I guess I could have figured they were into fantasy earlier. And it’s about a “Death Cleric”? What the fuck is that? So I google it and find out it’s a D&D character (I think). At this point I have to mention that I do love a lot of geeky stuff, and I do occasionally play board-games, but D&D is just not my thing (Not yet -EK). Which might explain why this song doesn’t really stir any kind of emotion in me. I don’t love it, I don’t hate it, I’m not horrified by the music or amused by the lyrics. It’s pretty much all meh. My most noteworthy thoughts about the lyrics were “would a one eyed raven fly in circles?” and “of course she takes no pleasure in this, she’s riding a wave of fucking rats which is 1) disgusting and 2) a poor and clumsy means of transportation”.
I have to assume that the intended audience of this type of music is D&D/epic fantasy fans who want to experience what they love through other mediums. But I’m not into D&D or epic fantasy, so this track sounds generic and boring to me. It sounds like it’s supposed to be a dark take on epic fantasy concepts, with the punk-ish vocals and all, but that’s about it.
Genre: Grimdark Epic Fantasy Soundtrack