“But this is just noise!” exclaimed my friend sitting next to me. He was referring to the Psycroptic song called ‘Colour of Sleep’ which I had just played in his car. This was not the first time such an incident had occurred when I played Death Metal in front of people. In fact, this is the reaction I have come to expect. Not that I reacted differently when I first encountered Death Metal.
I was a fan of Thrash and Heavy Metal and was always on the lookout for some music of the heavy persuasion. One fine day, on leave from school as I was ill, I chanced upon a band called Gojira. I buffered one of their songs called ‘Vacuity’ (now my favourite Gojira song) on Youtube. By the time the song reached its chorus I began to feel a mild headache and my sickness was further compounded. I stopped the song long before it could reach its end. I was left wondering how anyone could listen to this cacophony and derive a pleasurable experience from it. I thought me and Death Metal were done.
A year passed and I didn’t listen to anymore Death Metal. Always on the prowl for some good new music I was a constant visitor of various music blogs (I still am). One thing I always noticed was that a lot of Death Metal albums had glowing reviews. This got me curious. I was willing to take a chance again and ‘Misery’s Crown’ by Dark Tranquillity was the song I chose this time. It clicked. So much so that I downloaded the whole album (Fiction) it was a part of. Even though I am guilty of not listening to it more than twice that album will always be ‘The Album That Made Me Fall in Love with Death Metal’.
Soon afterwards I was listening to Death Metal left, right and centre. Everything was pale in comparison. How could anything match the ferocity of the pummelling double bass, the frenetic tremolo picking and the bone-chilling growls?
A few days ago, brooding over why people disregard Death Metal as noise, I realized that it was not ‘love at first listen’ for me as well. Since it is a complex genre, it takes time for the human brain to register all that is going on. The sheer speed at which the music is played is an applause-worthy feat on its own; the musicians often push the boundaries of human capability. Yet, it is not just the speed that catches the fancy of fans around the world. Death Metal’s cult following also stems from the fact that the musicians who make it are masters in the craft of songwriting and are not afraid to experiment as well. Being committed to their craft for the contentment they get from making music and not for monetary reasons, they write cohesive albums and are not just satisfied with releasing a hit single and an album full of filler just to milk all the money they can. The fact that Death Metal incorporates elements of a slew of genres ranging from Classical to Jazz speaks volumes of its creators’ virtuosity.
The reason why most people are left with a bitter taste in their mouth on their first listen is because they have already made up their mind about Death Metal before the first note has even hit their ears. Appreciation of this genre can only be yielded with an open mind. It took me just two listens to grasp that it was something special but it might take you more. What I can assure you is that your patience will surely be rewarded.
Here is the link to a playlist containing some Death Metal songs, I hope one of these ends up being your ‘Misery’s Crown’