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Meditations on “Math”, Pt.II: Technical Death

Posted in math-rock, music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 01/07/2011 by alex c

Why did I decide, in just my second post on mathematics in rock music, to discuss one of most alienating forms of extreme metal? I really have no idea. Mostly it comes down to the fact that I had made a long list of bands and, as I sorted them, these fellas just ended up here. And by “fellas” I mean it. Females are notably absent from this realm and the reasons for this have weighed on my mind for years now (A friend and former roommate, Mary Iatropolous, attempted a rudimentary study of this phenomenon and her conclusions were both obvious and obscure). It’s a discussion well worth continuing, unfortunately it will have to be in a future post (thoughts in the comments are more than welcome).

Death metal, from its roots in thrash and hardcore, was always predicated on superlatives: Who could play fastest, whose sound was “heaviest”, who wrote with the most complexity? This kind of competition, friendly or not, has always been a generative force in art; here, among the most extreme exemplars of metal, we find a synthesis of high and low art. There is no middle-brow here: anti-bourgeois; this is scum divinity, sacred filth; “untouchable” is a word used for only to describe the richest & poorest.

I need to read Albert Mudrian’s book, Choosing Death.

Hank, in his post, provides Necrophagist and Cynic as examples of prog/tech metal. The former display an almost inhuman technicality in their music, a legacy that goes back at least to J.S. Bach (and likely farther). Personally, I find Cynic to be a terribly cheesy abomination, like walking into a Guitar Center wank-a-thon. Where Necrophagist plays brutal video-game soundtracks, Cynic exhibit the worst indulgences (overwrought melodies, too-sleek production, operatic vocals) of ’70s prog-rock and never get heavy. But that’s just me, for contemporaries I prefer Atheist.

I tend to dislike “genre bands” who follow an established template in their aesthetic. Mix it up, add something of your own. No two people like all the same stuff, so why write like that? The following bands are all ones who’ve taken risks with their sound and, to varying degrees, been successful in their execution…

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