(…to listen to, I mean; God knows I can’t play any music, acoustic or otherwise)
I’m not the biggest metal fan in the world, but I do prefer music on the heavier side; I listen to pop-punk for the ‘punk’ elements, and what I consider an ‘average’ song would probably constitute an aggressive’ song for people who are more into pop or acoustic songs. However, over the last two years I have realised that music does not have to be aggressive to be good.
This is caused entirely by the music group I used to attend; they had a ‘no metal’ policy, to avoid the contradictory image that they accepted people of all walks of life and backgrounds, but only ever seemed to play one genre – metal, and so their gigs these days consist largely of acoustic covers of rock songs, or straight-up acoustic originals. And these, if you’ll excuse the pun, rock.
I feel that with heavier music, lyrical content and meaning is often dismissed as secondary to volume and heaviness; angrier song must, by default, be more meaningful and emotional than more relaxed ones. I saw this with responses to Rise Against’s new album, The Black Market, where critics called songs not including screamed vocals ‘one of the most boring songs that [they] have ever made’, while The Eco-Terrorist In Me is worshipped as ‘absolutely goddamn amazing’ because of the presence of screaming.
The Eco-Terrorist In Me is my favourite track from the album, but not just because there’s screaming, or more aggression than the other songs, but because of lyrical contrasts – ‘I found God in the sound of your factories burning down’ links religious justification with conservation, rather than individual enterprise as it often is in US society; and ‘I found life as a thorn stuck in your side’ links purpose and meaning to destruction and conflict, meaning that standing for your beliefs becomes a source of personal motivation, rather than more vague religious obligation. That is why that’s an awesome song, not just because it’s loud.
And for punk in general, there seems to be a threshold of anger that must be reached for the songs to be tolerable, or even listenable, but I, as a listener of punk, genuinely enjoyed the acoustic songs played at the gig last night. I didn’t get on board with the ‘I’m fourteen but here’s a love song more tormented and sad than a cuckolded spouse would be able to write’ messages, but the singing was emotional, the guitars harmonious, and the commitment of the musicians to their music genuine.
Those songs probably wouldn’t be on my iPod, had I the choice, and they won’t feature in my dreams which consist of a montage of cool things I would do if I had the power of necromancy (these are often set to an Atreyu album), but for three hours last night, they were fun, sincere, and moving in places, without having those traits stupidly defined by the number of drum fills in them.