An Ode to Spring – Metal, Thematics and Politics

Since the vast majority of Heavy Blog contributors fall on the left side of the map (shocking, we know), focusing on the latter seems like the way to go. Criticizing the other side of the political map is easy enough; taking a hard look at your own camp is where things get tricky. Thus, let us turn our eyes on one of the most typical leftist refusals to engage: the retreat. There are few places in the cultural world where this retreat is more obvious than in music and, more specifically, in metal. Even more specifically, the current throes which are black metal is undergoing are even more lucrative for our needs. There, leftist retreat is alive and happening right now, both because of the virility of the claims on the other side (read: the amount of black metal that’s truly awful) and because the themes of black metal have already been declared by the larger, more abstract “left” as anathema in the past.

Starter Kit: Progressive Bluegrass

Bluegrass generates most of its interest from technical ability, even in its most traditional veins. Generally, the genre operates a lot like jazz: different configurations of instruments improvise solos on standard tunes. There’s mostly likely an upright bass and some light percussion like tambourine or washboard in the rhythm section, treble instruments like fiddle, banjo, mandolin, and guitar taking solos, and multi-part harmonies in the vocals. Bluegrass generally borrows from the same sources as country and folk: Scottish, Irish, and English folk music, African American spirituals, and blues. Progressive bluegrass started, like progressive rock, in the late 60s. While, the compositions never really reached the complexity of prog rock, the idea was the same in the beginning: the chord progressions got more complex, it started borrowing from other genres most notably jazz, modern rock, pop, and classical music, and the lyrics became deeper.

Half-Life: Billy Joel

How does one adequately define another as a legend? I’ve often asked myself this question as I was writing this. There are, of course, myriad answers to that question, but I like to personally think that a legend is one who, through scrutiny and rough times, through lows and personal…