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