1. It is white. Very very white. And a little weekend hippieish at the edges.
2. And I mean musically white as well, there is no blues, no r&b, nothing but white meta (including a coupla black performers). It is as segregated as r&b.
3. There is no melody. Even when there is an attempt at melody, it isn't very good. But this is not about tunes. It isn't the currency of METAL, the way it was in glam metal days gone by. I am overstating at a ballad a set.
4. Singing is kept to a minimum, even bands who move from metal bowels of hell screams to full roar metal singing, don't sing much.
5. Guitar solos and riffing are kept to a minimum. They happen, but not as much as you might think.
6. Testerone fueled. 100% guys on stage, 80% in the stands, girls there with their beaus and variations on Goth girl. The bands aren't particularly sexist but when a guy from Killswitch Engage asks the single ladies to balance his balls in their mouth ("tastes like candy covered in shit") only a guy responds and is told he is strange and needs help.
7. New Metal doesn't have many messages:
a) "you people are out of your fucking minds"
b) don't let people give you any shit.
8. There is only one way to get into metal and that is by not worrying about it as music and freaking on it as harsh streaking white noise that feature the remnants of old structure.
9. This is form well well well over content. On record, both headlines Five Finger Death Punch and Killswitch Engage are willing to tweak the form, but on stage, this is straightforward guitar power.
10. New Metal is where hardcore meets heavy metal (i mean the real stuff, not Poison, Iron Maiden) and everything is stripped for power if not speed.
I got to the Prudential around 530 and picked up my photo pass and General Admission tickets. I was hardly going to go GA to a metal show so I also bought myself a seated ticket. I walked into the sight of the woman who was managing the pro photographers about how unprofessional they all were for not adhering to the three song and out of the pit rule. The sheepish photographers cowed. I rushed off to check God Forbid. Local metalheads, who mix up hard hard drumming with death metal. Know how I said, this is a white boy sport? These guys mix up the racial formulation with the same integrity they take deathcore and add metalcore.
After the set I go back to wait for the photographers and the Prudential employee has calmed down and is funning the pros from Dover. Except for me. I get pulled out for not having professional equipment. I always thought size didn't matter but, as a 5 Finger Punch Tee shirt so eloquently "One, Two, Fuck You". I mean, really, does Prudential not think I will post em to illustrate the story. If they do, what's their problem?
Whatever, I return to my seat in time for Emmure's slash and burn take no prisoners guitar plus special effects extravaganza. I might as well just say it now, I enjoyed all the sets I saw. I am a sucker for very loud noise variations and these guys had em in spaces. There was a guy messing with a PC on stage, but I don't think he was working on backing tapes! I think he was adding sound effects to the blistering guitars. Emmure have a new album, Slave To the Game, and I like it a lot. Especially "War Begins With You".
Pop Evil are possibly the most mainstream band on show today. And were getting hissed in some quarters. I loved them, imagine Led Zep without the blues and there you have them and it is really good. Lotsa sex songs, lotsa hard rock and roll vocals, and a timelessness more apt to opening for Megadeth if not indeed Soundgarden. Between shout outs to the military and shake rattle and rolling songs, culminating in the best song they will ever write "Boss's Daughter" , they were the best band till the headliners. They were doing 55 in 100, but I loved them anyway. They dedicate a song to our boys fighting in the military, which kinda speaks for itself.
"We are only as good as you are, you are only as good as we are" claimed Trivium's lead singer Matt Heafy, thereby making a fun night at a show into a civics lesson. But the band is fun, with a bass player who whips his hair like Willow Smith and a band that makes a strong stance for bang yr head metal core. This is metal as serious occupation choice and it reaches its zenith with 2008's "Shogun", where prog meets thrash.
The return of lead singer Jesse Leach to Killswitch Engage after dealing with some personal demons is reason enough for a full fledged screamalong. Killswitch Engage take away the somewhat mean spirited Trivium's haranguing set. The band are sort of funny The MC, who resembles Angus Young on steroids, has a funny schtick going from devil in leather Bermudas bowels of hell, to light and feathery speaking voice."NEVER HEARD OF A CIRCLE PIT" he roars, before adding "Pretty please" in his normal voice. The set is a steamroller of riffs and roars, with a lead singer and a secondary vocalist and was the clearest exposition of modern metal. They were like AC/DC: a relentless hit machine.
No, they didn't perform "The Way Of The Fist" and I have no idea why Five Finger Death Punch, a much friendlier outfit than their name suggests, are holding it back. So while we didn't get "one, two, fuck you", we did get "Do I care if you hate me, do you wanna know the truth? C'est la vie… adios… good riddance… fuck you" on the opening number, highlighting a set as professional and passionate as the stage lights and the backdrop. The 75 minute closing of the evening was everything a great rock band should be. Hit after hit, relentless, passionate, appreciative the way country music is (indie suffers from arrogance) and unstoppable energy and pleasure, Even if they are hardcore, troublemaking bad boys, they know what their job is at they perform it with a delight in the form that belies any semblance of going through the motion.
The same can be said for every band here. If this is the state of the art, the art is coming into its own. As it works the fringe and the edge of pop music, metal is now left entirely to its own devices and it has become a counter-culture staple with offshoots and offshoots on offshoots, but rules firmly to be adhered to. I spent five hours with modern metal and I thoroughly enjoyed it.