Please, for the love of God, stop requesting Mo Bamba
by Christian Decker
You thought I was done with shoving metal down all your throats, but you were mistaken. I know what you’re thinking, how could death metal possibly reach a mainstream audience. Cannibal Corpse isn’t exactly radio friendly and their song titles and imagery turn some people off almost immediately. But the thing is, the more progressive elements of the death metal scene can transcend these negative stereotypes. So what if the songs are long? The musicianship and quality of sound are unparalleled.
I first got the idea for writing this article while listening to the album “Citadel”, by progressive death metal outfit, Ne Obilviscaris. Let me just tell you, this is transcendent music. Only three of the songs on the album have actual lyrics, but my god they pack a punch. The beautiful clean vocals mixed in with the ever-present death growling, makes for an astounding juxtaposition. The guitar work is amazing; with clear inspiration from classical composers and in the aching sorrowful minor key that makes such an amazing compliment for this kind of music. Did I mention that all their songs have violin solos? Let me tell you, listening to the violin play a beautiful minor solo and then listening to the guitar play the same thing is just mind-blowing. Don’t even get me started on “Urn,” their latest album.
Earlier last year, progressive death metal group Rivers of Nihil released what I think was possibly the best album of 2018, bar none. The band uses painful growling vocals with some intermingled cleans in many of the songs, along with more minor guitar riffs to create this atmosphere of fall and winter that feels so melancholic, but amazingly heavy at the same time. The guys somehow even managed to put saxophone solos in some of the songs and it somehow fits perfectly.
The talent and practice that it takes to make such masterpieces like that, is not easily found. I know it’s very easy for the music industry to make cookie-cutter acts that have a very simple and digestible formula, but I think it has really destroyed music as a whole, at least in the public eye. I’m sorry, but if you think “Mo Bamba” is a good song, you have a shit taste in music, you don’t have to like metal to admit it’s bad.
What disappoints me is that too often now, record companies and award shows, even the public at large, refuse to acknowledge the artists who work disgustingly hard at their craft, because they can’t recognize different forms of art. Honestly, most people I’ve talked to literally just cannot deal with the growling, that’s about it. These same people can go to an art museum and admire a fucking Jackson Pollock “painting.” Indie snobs look down upon it because all the lyrical themes aren’t about smoking after sex and the artist knows more than three chords.
However, I digress; most of these criticisms lie with the harsher sounding death metal, and often-black metal subcategories. My point is that that bands like Be’lakor, Insomnium -the bands I mentioned before- and others have the potential to be greatly appreciated if people can get past eh vocals, which honestly are still impressive. I mean Ulcerate, is literally just one guy doing all the instruments, it’s frankly criminal that he’s in the dark while the freaking Chainsmokers are performing at the Grammy’s with a mini ass keyboard. I’m not asking people to abandon other genres of music, but just to give more of an appreciation to the talents of artists not in their niche.