If you were one of the fortunate people that happened to tune in during my last show, you got to listen to myself and three others discussing some of the deeper points surrounding music. While we were limiting our debate to metal, I believe that the points made by myself and guests Bartek, M.L. Dark Spawn, and WD40 can be applied to any genre. For those people that were not able to listen to the show, here I present to you the discussion we had.
Before I present the discussion itself, it’s important that you understand each guest’s music background. This can help shed light as to why they have different opinions. For instance, Bartek does not necessarily listen to Chainsaw Rock but does enjoy “anything that sounds good.” Talking to him beforehand, I got the impression that he listens to quite an eclectic range of music, from artists such as All That Remains to 3OH!3. M.L. Dark Spawn enjoys music that have raw voices, in addition to Mudvayne and a couple power metal artists such as Dream Evil and Kamelot. WD40’s base is epic power metal, like Nightwish from the Tarja era, and pagan metal like Amon Amarth.
The first question that I posed was to Bartek: are music or lyrics more important to a song? He responded that the music was the foundation to any song. And since we were discussing metal specifically, he continued by stating that many songs involving unintelligible lyrics are to be appreciated through their music anyway.
M.L. Dark Spawn responded that a person needs to have listened to metal for a while in order to fully understand the lyrics. Furthermore, he says that lyrics are important for the message of the song itself. Bartek countered that one shouldn’t have to sit and decipher the message and instead just enjoy the music. “Just listen to the song more than once,” M.L. Dark Spawn finished.
My next question was prompted by having Rammstein’s new album next in the set. Since most all their songs are in German, I asked WD40 whether he felt that song lyrics needed to be in English in order to be appreciated. He disclosed that he had quite a large foreign song collection and that while songs in English help convey the message, they were not necessary to enjoy the song itself.
Playing “B********” from Rammstein after this discussion added another layer of musical philosophy. According to Richard Z. Kruspe, the lead singer and backing vocals for Rammstein, the title is not a censored English profanity but instead stands for “Bückstabü”, a made-up German word. The reason for this is to allow the listener to imagine the title to mean whatever they want it to, even nothing.
So, this song listeners of both the “melody” camp and “lyrics” camp enjoy the song. Those with beliefs similar to Bartek can imagine the words mean nothing, and listen to the song as if the vocals were another instrument. On the other hand, those in company with M.L. Dark Spawn can imagine “Bückstabü” to present a message they want to hear.
Later in the night, we had new Megadeth playing. I asked WD40 if he thought bands famous for their “classic” material can produce new albums that live up to the “classic” expectations. He acknowledged that it is a question really up to personal opinion, and answered with a firm no. “I think their new albums can be fresh and they can still be good,” he said, “but if you’re going to compare it to the old albums then the bands change, the music changes, thus I don’t think they hold up to the old standards.”
Bartek disagreed. “You can’t put a date on good music,” he started, “I’ve heard the new Megadeth album and some of the songs that we are going to be playing and it’s great. It’s fantastic! It even compares to the stuff they used to make.” M.L. Dark Spawn agreed, but noted that it really comes down to which band is making a style change, and each person’s opinion.
This concluded our quasi-philosophical discussion about music for the night. Whether you are a firm lover of older metal, melodies, newer metal, lyrics, or a mix of the above, this discussion can provide a foundation for a journey of self-discovery about our attitudes about music.