Between last week and the rest of this one, it feels like we're in metal heaven here in Dallas. Everyone fromNapalm Death
toEvery Time I Die
are hitting up local venues. And I, for one, love it. Bring on the metal. Typically, I'm all about Swedish and thrash metal with touches of hardcore here and there. Though, trying to pick out which of the metal shows to hit this week – especially with all the new acts on the bills – could be difficult for the uninitiated. Lately, everyone seems a little confused about how on earthIn Flames
is different fromAugust Burns Red
. (“Aren't they both metal?” Um, no.) So, here's your cheat sheet. Get to know the big metal and hardcore subgenres, and which bands to check out for each.
Those wanting more genres than listed here – and let's be honest, there are zillions – may want to spend some time looking at the metal family tree.
There's always some dude at metal shows calling out to the band to play some Slayer. That's because: 1. Slayer fucking rules. 2. The group's 1980s thrash sound epitomizes what many metal fans seek out live – shriek-inducing solos at shocking speeds. Thrash metal is particularly visceral. The music focuses on fast shredding and drumming to propel the songs. Ideal for headbanging. Plus, thrasher Rigor Mortis is often credited for helping develop the genre's scene throughout Texas.
OK, there isn't a groove metal band coming through town this week (as far as I know), but considering the primary groove metal band – Pantera – is from the Big D, it seems prudent to mention the subgenre. Groove is basically the 1990s version of thrash metal. Elements of hardcore punk are far more evident in the newer style.
Melodic Death Metal
Melodic death metal is often called Swedish metal, because so many of the genre's pioneering bands – In Flames, At the Gates and Dark Tranquility – are from Sweden. One of my personal favorite genres (along with thrash), Swedish metal brings together death metal vocals, traditional heavy metal melodies and crazy shred-filled solos. As of late, lots of these bands have made keyboards more prominent. Typically, keyboards are regarded as pathetic in metal – but this doesn't apply here. Overall, it just helps the music come off bigger and more symphonic.
One more thing: The fake metal band Dethklok in Adult Swim's Metalocalypse would fall into the melodic death metal genre.
Hit this show: California's Suicide Silence blend melodic death metal with touches of hardcore. Catch the band with Faceless, Nachtmystium and Nile at Fort Worth's Ridglea Theater on Sunday, March 16.
Women get a bad rap in metal and hardcore. Most of the listeners are dudes – yours truly an exception, of course – and most of their favorite bands have the same style of vocals. Finding women who bring that same kind of sound and get praised for it doesn't come often. Yes, this is disappointing, but in the last few years a few frontwomen have gained attention. Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy brings some deep growls to the melodic death metal of her band, and she has been greeted with open arms (and a whole lot of magazine covers) by both European and American metal communities. On the hardcore end of things, Walls of Jericho's Candace Kucsulain quickly earned respect within the scene for her enthusiastic stage performance, which has ended with her bloody and bruised on several occasions.
, Arch Enemy, Walls of Jericho
Hit this show: Walls of Jericho will be in town Friday, March 7, with premier grind metal band Napalm Death at the Ridglea Theater. DevilDriver and 36 Crazyfists are also on the bill.
Fast. Loud. Often politically aware. Sounds a lot like metal, huh? Hardcore is much less ostentatious. There aren't over-the-top guitar solos. You won't find hardcore band members donning spandex – even in the 1980s. Hardcore is a heavier punk rock. Like most punk rock songs, hardcore lyrics frequently focus on social alienation and causes. There are three bands who are always credited for birthing hardcore: Minor Threat, Black Flag and Bad Brains.
As the name suggests, metalcore merges heavy metal and hardcore. You'll often hear metalcore called the “new wave of American metal,” and it's fair as more bands are taking from a variety of metal and hardcore genres and blurring the style lines. The genre is all about fusion taking elements from styles like death metal (see Despised Icon), grind, post-punk and the well-known breakdown elements within hardcore.
Hit this show: Get your metalcore fix with Every Time I Die, August Burns Red, From First to Last, The Bled and The Human Abstract playing the House of Blues Wednesday, March 5.
Bands dubbed progressive in the metal realm tend to be focused on utilizing complex time signatures, earning the genre the alternate name of “math metal.” The same goes for those coming from the hardcore end of things. I'm most impressed by the intricacies found throughout all Converge albums. Mathcore bands like Converge and Dillinger Escape Plan avoid formulaic song structures. Those who hate those “screaming bands” need to move along.
Hit this show: Fans of DEP will want to see newer band Protest the Hero this Sunday, March 9, at The Door in Dallas with The Devil Wears Prada and A Day to Remember. Protest the Hero's latest disc Fortress is worth picking up even if you can't make the show.
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There's a common misconception about positive, or posi, hardcore, the idea that all these bands must be straight edge. Straight edge bands believe in clean living: no drinking, no drugs, no “risky” sex and some take it further to include no red meat, caffeine and the like. Many straight edge bands have a positive outlook in their songs, and why shouldn't they? However, one of key themes of the hardcore community is togetherness – the second family idea. One doesn't need to be straight edge to love that. The positive hardcore bands
Hit this show: Comeback Kid keeps the old-school hardcore positive mentality. See the band with The Cancer Bats, Crime in Stereo and Daggermouth Friday, March 14, at The Door Dallas.
If all else fails, you can try a little of everything at Ridglea Theater's “Metal Underground” show this Saturday, March 8. Bands on the bill include: Fist Full of War, Suicide Opera, Varekai, Skard Soul, Course of Ruin, American Lab Rat, My Last Entry and Choice of Persona. I'd put money on it being a good time. -- Chelsea Ide