First, I feel the need to place a disclaimer here. This node is not intended to offend. If you listen to the music I talk about in this node, it does not make you an idiot. I am perfectly aware that there are others out there who appreciate good music for that reason, and not just because it's "heavy". I have simply noticed that the majority of people who listen to the music described below are musically idiotic, and have no concept of what these musicians are actually doing.

I don't want to become a "ranter", but this is an issue that bothers me, although I see no solution in sight. I have already mentioned parts of this issue in the nodes Tool: the hardest music in modern rock and Hardcore is Becoming the "New Jazz".

I am sitting at the keyboard right now listening to the Deftones. I encountered this band through my roommate, who is a big fan. I had heard them before, but not to the extent that I have in the past several weeks. The band rocks, no doubt. They are easily one of the heaviest bands I have ever heard. But it makes me sad that I was initially turned off to them by the fact that the kids who run around with Deftones shirts are typical "metalheads".

These kids have absolutely no clue about what this band is actually doing.

The album is called Adrenaline. The song is Engine Number Nine. As the up and down thrash guitar riff hits my back like a sledgehammer, the bass plays a countermelody that is so smooth it almost melts in with the guitar. The drummer is in and out of the time signature, oten playing completely across the bar***, only to slam back in at the end of the phrase with the rest of the band in perfect time. The crushing screams of Chino Moreno, the band's vocalist, mix with almost tearful melodies against this background of pain and wrath. These aren't punks without a clue. They're musicians, and so few people recognize it. So many musicians dismiss heavy bands as "noise" without listening to what these bands are doing, while the fan base is composed of imbiciles. The situation really bothers me. And the Deftones are far from the best examples I can think of.

Anyone familiar with my musical nodes will notice a definite favoritism of Tool. The band is incredible. Not only do they have one of the smartest, most succesful vocalists of the 20th century (Maynard James Keenan, whose "side project"- A Perfect Circle has the highest debut release sales of all time for it's first week on the market), but every member of the band is a fair virtuoso. As a drummer myself, I have an unmeasurable respect for Danny Carey, Tool's fabulous drummer. In my opinion, he and Matt Cameron, Soundgarden's ex-drummer (another under-rated band, I might add) are the best drummers in modern rock since Neil Peart (Rush) and Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson). Not only are his fills gut-wrenching, but his feel is insane. His sense of time is only shown up by his talent for ridiculous polyrhythms. Adam Jones, the band's guitarist is also responsible for the disturbingly beautiful album covers. And so it goes.

To keep this from becoming too ranty, I will avoid giving examples for each band I can think of. Instead I'll just list. Other bands that I consider totally underrated include:

Dillinger Escape Plan
System of a Down
Rage Against The Machine
Mr. Bungle

And others, but I won't bore you any further. Anyway, until music becomes mandatory in the schools, the situation won't be remedied, but that's not any of your fault. Ah, well. So it goes. (sigh)

(sigh) again. Well, Starke, I suppose you do have a point. However, I would like to add that my CD collection also includes Harry Nilsson, The Beatles, Jethro Tull, Elliott Smith, Yes, Wagner, Beethoven, Bela Fleck, Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, and Simon and Garfunkel. I'm not saying that to be an intelligent musician you have to play noise, nor am I suggesting that everyone who listens to 'heavy' music is an idiot; this writeup was simply an attempt to bring attention to the musicianship of certain 'metal' groups. Please let's not get bent out of shape.

I'm gonna go listen to the new Tom Waits album now...

***By request from XWiz, a quick, and hopefully not-too convoluted lesson on what "across the bar" means:

Generally, and particularly in drumming, a song's pattern follows the number of beats in a song's time signature. The most stripped down rock drum beat follows a quarter note pattern and goes BASS - SNARE - BASS - SNARE. This is often described as the "backbeat." In across-the-bar playing, the musician (in this case the drummer) creates patterns that do not follow the time signature. If the rest of the band is playing in time and one member plays a different rhythm that doesn't fit neatly into the time signature, this is called playing across the bar.

FOR EXAMPLE: A band is playing a song in 4/4 time. Each phrase of this song has four bars, each with four quarter note beats. For the first three of these four bars, the drummer plays the standard BASS SNARE BASS SNARE beat. On the fourth bar, however, he plays a fill (a brief solo). The first two beats of this measure still hold to BASS SNARE. This leaves the drummer with two quarter notes in the final bar of the phrase. He plays a sixteenth-note pattern on beat three (SNARE SNARE SNARE SNARE), a sixteenth-note pattern on beat four (BASS BASS SNARE SNARE), and continues soloing into the next phrase, still on sixteenth notes that bring him back in time with the band on beat three of the first measure of the next phrase (SNARE SNARE BASS BASS SNARE SNARE SNARE SNARE). That's all there is to it.

Rock bands which make heavy use of across-the-bar drumming: Tool, The Mars Volta, Yes, Mr. Bungle, Led Zeppelin, King Crimson, Clutch, Wellwater Conspiracy

I thought I might add a few cents to this writeup by giving a few examples.

Marilyn Manson
While his music may not be particularly innovative, the lyrical side is by far one of the most potent and philosophical explorations into human nature that you could ever want for - unless you're a theology or philosophy scholar with a photographic memory of Also Sprach Zarathustra.
Majority of fans: Idiot guests on Jenny Jones.

Highly aggressive and loud band. Firstly, any hardcore band who can get 9 guys together in a room and make some coherent noise is a band to be reckoned with. And to top it all off, their rhythm section - consisting of a drummer and two percussionists - are responsible for some of the most mindblowing rhythms this side of the century. While the guitars fare with the usual grind of one or two powerchords in rapid succession, the DJ and sampler offer some truly creepy atmospheres (instead of just grinding away in the background), and their lead singer can go from the throatiest scream to the clearest singing voice in a split second.
Majority of fans: Metalheads who compare scars with other metalheads.

Garbage / Orgy
While these two bands appear to be a bunch of image-driven sellouts, the truth is that their grasp of studio wizardry is unbelievable. Never have you heard finer, crisper production; nor will your search for sensible and instantly pleasing song construction need to look any further.
Majority of fans: Reclusive teenagers with gender-deciding difficulties.

Nine Inch Nails
Trent Reznor may be depressingly one-note in his lyrics, but his skill for songwriting is, until now, unsurpassed when it comes to one-man bands. Both multi-instrumental and a skilled vocalist, Reznor is capable of portraying a soundscape of disillusionment and desolation with such intricate perfection that a chill runs down your spine. He is also one of the few artists in the known universe to perfectly bridging the gap between the reclusive industrialists and the mainstream listening audience.
Majority of fans: Woe-is-me teens with angsty suicidal tendencies, who write shitty poetry and feel depressed for no good reason other than going through puberty.

Consider the following Artists who died young while Tommy Lee continues to live:

Jimi Hendrix
Lowell George
Bill Evans
Janis Joplin
Chet Baker
Tommy Bolin
John Bonham
Duane Allman
Berry Oakley
Phil Ochs
Sandy Denny
Woody Guthrie
Paul Kosoff
Terry Kath
Kirsty MacColl
George Harrison
Jaqueline du Pre
Jerry Garcia
John Lennon
Emily Remler
Frank Zappa
About a half dozen Spinal Tap drummers
Keith Moon
John Entwistle
Freddie Mercury
Kurt Cobain
and, of course, Paul McCartney

Music my friends is not about brains. Oh, good music takes brains to create and arrange, but deep down music is really about emotion. To connect it need not be deep, or technically demanding, or any of that. In fact, often a bit too much technical savvy can get in the way of the feeling (see free jazz). After all, even teenage boys have feelings. With music it is the emotion that matters.

Discipline is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end - - - - - Robert Fripp

It is useless and pedantic to argue that the masses don't deserve to enjoy Tool, Nine inch Nails or any a dozen other bands who manage to create both interesting and popular music. Think of all the people they miss. How many Bruce Cockburn songs have you heard on the radio lately? Yet if you go to one of his concerts it takes only about four bars to realize that you're in for something special. How many great jazz musicians feed themselves giving lessons because their albums don't sell diddly? Blues great Charles Brown was a school bus driver when he got his second break, via Bonnie Raitt. Adrian Belew was ready to quit music on the day Frank Zappa called and changed his life. I found my Toy Matinee disc in the cut out bin for $3 when they should have been famous. Why isn't Brittany Spears opening for PJ Harvey? Is it the boob job? How many of you have even heard The Dictators classic "Go Girl Crazy"? Has anyone ever heard of Automatic Man?

When an artist like Tool, Peter Gabriel, or Dave Brubeck breaks through and becomes popular it is because they succeeded as artists in touching some deep emotional response universal to us all. That's a real chore, particularly when DJ's insist that drek is what we want to hear, where payola is slipping in the back door of the music industry. How many albums have you bought where the worst song on the record was the hit single? The fact that stuff continues to get through is a tribute to talent and persistence.

Life is not fair. Deal with it.

If quality guaranteed popularity then Tommy Lee would be stocking cigarettes in a Seven - Eleven rather than shagging former Playboy Centerfolds and TV actresses on the net. If you want to do something, then reward good stuff. Buy it. Go to the shows. And support your local musician There are lots of fine local musicians who just didn't get the right break to make it big. Guys like Cincinnati's Rob Fetters, who now plays with Belew in The Bears. Ever hear of Paul Brown? He's a Columbus guitar vituouso who's been on the cover of Guitar Player magazine three times at last count. Baltimore's Jay Turner creates the tastiest jazz influenced rock over his viruoso bass lines. These people play in bands you can hear for five bucks while drinking reasonably priced beer. And there are lots more of them. In any good sized city or large college town someone is playing in a bar for peanuts. Someone you've never heard of, but will totally kick your ass! Many fine, original musicians fall through the cracks in the recording industry. They're worth looking for, and you can find them if you try. Ask around the music stores and the live music clubs. The good players know who the other good players are.

Let's not complain about the good artists who became famous. Instead, root for the people who deserve fame.

for more Jay Turner go to for Rob Fetters go to

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