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Monday, August 27, 2007

A new guitar, perhaps?

Alright, so first let me say that I don't have much money at the moment so any talk here about getting a new guitar means doing so in the future, whether it's six months or two years from now....  The reason I'm looking is basically that my current guitar is great for rock but not so much for metal.  I'm not a shredder, nor am I that great at soloing in general, so it's not the lack of a Floyd Rose or anything like that.  Rather, it's the following: my guitar has lackluster pickups (called "Duncan Ibanez" humbuckers, which sounds like a Duncan-design type thing to me), a short neck with only 22 frets (I do play some solos and leads), and finally, I simply would like something new and exciting.  So that's that.
 
I've been doing extensive online research into different brands and such, and now I've pretty much got my heart set on a 7-string because I want the extra range, and why not?  At the top of my list currently are half a dozen Schecter models, led by the C7 Hellraiser and the C7 Blackjack---or if I win some money, the Jeff Loomis signature model.  The Hellraiser has EMG 707s while the Blackjack has Seymour Duncans, so I'm leaning toward the first one.  Both have set necks, fixed bridges with thru-body stringing, and 26.5" scales with 24 frets.  To keep my options open I've also looked around at Ibanez and ESP, but there's not as much there that I like.  Of course I know that online research is only the first step, and that it has to be followed with hands-on shit.  I'm hoping to make it to a bunch of guitar stores around Dayton and Cincinnati as early as this week to check out some models in person.
 
Now, I've also been kicking around the idea in my head of switching out the boring pickups in my current guitar with something better---again, someday when I have money.  This is something I may do either as a way to stall the purchasing of a new guitar, or as something in addition to buying a new one.:D  I'd like to keep my Ibanez as a rock guitar because I still enjoy jamming to the Toadies and Burden Brothers with my friend, so what do you think---real Seymour Duncans?  Dimarzios?  A passive EMG?  I want humbuckers with a nice rich, thick tone and some crunch, yet with clarity.  Definitely don't want anything that would sound glassy, bluesy, jazzy, or "vintage" because I don't really care for those sounds overall.  When it comes to rock my tastes are hard and modern in general.
 
That's all I have for now, I'm tired of writing.  Feel free to offer suggestions and recommendations.
9:41 am - 3 comments - 0 Kudos
Saturday, August 18, 2007

Metal subgenres

Metal music is probably one of the most diverse genres in the world.  I mean, classical music may have it beat, but I'm not if anything else does.  One doesn't have to spend more than five minutes in the Metal Forum to find out just how broad metal really is.  Let's see, there's: thrash, death, black, power, heavy, grind, folk, viking, doom, progressive, and many more.  And there are even sub-subgenres, such as symphonic black, melodic death, brutal death, technical death, epic power, etc. etc.
 
In the Metal Forum there are occasionally people who come along and whine about the number of subgenres.  Their main argument is usually that the "over"classification results from elitism and pickiness, and they usually also say that metal is metal, so "why can't we just leave it at that?"  To them, subgenres add confusion unnecessarily, and creating them obscures any research that a new listener may do in the genre.  I've even seen someone claim that there seems to be a subgenre created for every single band out there.  I have to admit, for a brief time in my metal-listening career (in the early days, of course) I agreed with this general viewpoint, and I thought that things would be much simpler if we stopped worrying about trivial details like sub-subgenres.  Metal IS metal, I said.
 
But I was wrong.  The crazy thing about metal, like I said in the beginning, is the fact that it is amazingly diverse.  Think about it: on the one hand may be something like Hammerfall or Dragonforce, power metal with cheery vocals, heroic and glorious themes, and crisp guitars.  On the other, there is Marduk, singing with raspy vocals about Satan and evil, with black metal guitars and little melody.  Then contrast Megadeth and Opeth, Necrophagist and Therion, Machine Head and Ensiferum, Vader and Iron Maiden, and on and on, and you'll get my point.  It's really somewhat strange that all of these bands can be discussed in the same place, when their sounds are so varied.  And it's also interesting that their fans overlap so much---which is naturally why it's all grouped together under the monolithic title "METAL".
 
In reality metal is anything but monolithic.  So we come to the formation of subgenres.  Why are these important, and why do we not only need them but also need the sub-subgenres as well?  Well, the truth of the matter is that creating further fields of classification does not create confusion or a feeling of elitism, but rather makes things much MUCH simpler.  I'll put it this way, which is how I explained it recently in a thread:
 
If someone were to come up and ask me, "Hey, what are some good metal bands I might like?"  I wouldn't respond, "Oh, Slayer and Moonsorrow, definitely," because that would be stupid.  Instead, I would ask them what kind of stuff they were looking for, like, clean vocals?  Fast rhythm?  Ripping solos?  War themes?  Classical elements?  Melody or no?  And so forth.  Once I had an idea of what the hell he/she was interested in, I could hone in on some subgenres and guide them along those lines.  Similarly, when someone comes up and says, "I'm really into In Flames, what's out there that's like them?"  I can readily respond, "That's melodic death, and you should check out Dark Tranquillity, At the Gates, Enforsaken....."  A personal example occurred several months ago.  I was surfing around on the BNR Metal Pages and came across Moonsorrow.  I found them on Ruckus and (legally) downloaded them, and was immediately blown away.  I saw that they were classified as folk/viking metal, so I investigated the matter and came upon Ensiferum, Vintersorg, Falkenbach, and others, and I'm very pleased.
 
The moral of all this is that subgenres are not only helpful but vital.  With the extremely broad nature of metal, it makes perfect sense to organize things along logical lines based on vocal style, lyrical themes, guitar sound and arrangement, technicality, and so on.  This makes it possible to find bands quickly, to branch into new areas easily and without fear, and basically to navigate the treacherously stormy waters that is metal music without crashing upon the rocks and cracking your head open in a totally gory and metal fashion.
 
So to those who hate and fear the subgenres, stop whining.  They are your friends, not your enemies, and you must embrace them or embrace your own destruction.  Now go and check out some symphonic epic technical folk death metal!  Joke...
4:13 pm - 4 comments - 3 Kudos
Friday, August 17, 2007

Lyrics

I'm not a very good guitarist.  I don't have the time to practice as much as I once did (when I first started coming to UG, at the beginning of my college years), and even when I do have free time, I find myself spending it on something else---reading, listening to new music, masturbating, whatever.  So I have no original music to upload in this profile, and even if I did, I have no recording equipment here to get it from me to you.  So that's the way it is.
 
In a Classics course I took this summer, however, I did find myself experimenting with lyrics during lectures.  I really dislike rhyming poetry (for the most part) and I have no skill or patience for writing that way.  What I came up with were some small pieces of abstract-ish, non-rhyming shit.  I'm a big fan of Lovecraftian fiction, and since I'd been (and still am) working on Lovecraft's Dream Cycle, I found myself inspired by the dark settings and worlds he creates.
 
My first one was derived from Lovecraft's famous (or at least it should be famous) long story, The Shadow Over Innsmouth.  I wrote it from the perspective of one of the fish-men minions.  It's nothing special, but whatever.  My second one was a short thing about the age-old creatures from Yuggoth in The Whisperer In Darkness and other stories.  Again, nothing special.  My third one was a bit longer, and it's based on Lovecraft's stuff dealing with the Great Old Ones.  I wrote it from the perspective of a troubled sleeper who sees visions of the past and future in his nightmares.
 
I also wrote two others that are basically miscellaneous.  One is a weird bit about the world dying because of the destructive greed of men.  The other is an anti-religious piece, about breaking free from the chains of dogma and the illusion of faith, and being able to find one's own way.
 
Now that I wrote all of this, I don't really feel like posting any of the things anymore.  I'd at least like to polish them a bit, and maybe write some more first.  I might post some in the coming days/weeks.  I'm not a fan of blogging, but look for some ramblings on metal, NHL hockey, and major league baseball in the future as well.
 
Player Two has left the game.
5:13 pm - 2 comments - 1 Kudos