music as athletics, crappy metal drummers

i love lots of music. especially death metal, that’s my comfort zone. unfortunately, a lot of metal musicians treat their songs and skills as athletic competition rather than art. drummers and guitarists are the worst offenders, i think. when they write music, it seems like they’re not really interested in making something that communicates anything to anyone, or is even pleasing to listen to in any way. instead it feels like they’re trying to write the fastest, most complex, most impossible-to-play music they can. and that makes for crappy songs, in my book.

for example:

sure, it’s technically incredible, but it’s boring because the song sucks. they wrote some really technically impressive, really forgettable extreme guitar exercises and called them songs. BORING. NOT HEAVY.

i find extreme drummer worship in metal to be the worst though. dumbasses will be like “dude, _____ is so sick, his double bass is inhumanly fast.” so what? faster does not necessarily heavier make, foolish mortals. i remember when people were gushing like this over nick barker (formerly of cradle of filth and dimmu borgir, now of lock up). i always thought his playing was fast but that was it. he didn’t do anything interesting, plus it sounded really triggered and fake and crappy. then i saw barker with dimmu borgir back in about 2003 and surprise, his drums sounded terrible live! really thin and crappy, like someone was playing joke drums on a super old keyboard. what was even worse was that he hit really lightly. that really bugs me, especially in metal. i mean, drums are supposed to be a primal, visceral thing to start with, and beyond that, when you’re playing loud, aggressive music, it only makes sense to play the hell out of your instruments, to really bash them. well, nick barker and many other metal drummers don’t. they just tap away and let the triggers do the work, albeit piss poorly. just watch this example of old nick, tap tap tapping away.

the guy could play for hours because he’s barely moving. it sucks, and it’s boring to watch. i think this is the opposite of extreme.

by contrast, this young dude who goes by the name krimh filled in for behemoth’s inferno (another serial tap-tap-tapper) recently. i came across this video of krimh playing live with the group and was fucking impressed. it made me bummed he isn’t the full time drummer for behemoth, because he’s talented as all hell and puts inferno to shame. this fella is tight, energetic, and hits like a bastard.

i love watching guys like this play. i could forget the the rest of the band and just watch this one obscenely talented individual for their whole set. i just find it so awe-inspiring to see gifted humans excelling like fucking crazy at whatever. i talked about this before great UFC fighters who are so powerful and precise yet flow so naturally. there is a real beauty to what they do, like i’m witnessing a connection between man and something bigger, some greater force. same goes for talented musicians like krimh.

other musicians included in my ‘holy shit, what a talented bastard’ list:

  • stewart copeland (drummer for the police)
  • norman watt-roy (bassist for ian dury and the blockheads)
  • prince
  • donald tardy (drummer for obituary)
  • ian astbury (singer for the cult)

i inadvertently just ended this entry on a positive note. that’s odd.


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