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#75 - Similarities in self presentation and themes among the significant four, part II.2: Band logos and cover art.

So, let’s continue. Thiswill probably get a bit picture-heavy so I thought it might be better to split the post up into two.

So what about cover art? Let’s make it simple fir ourselves and take the covers of the debut albums as a convenient starting point. This has the advantage that we can compare the presentation of those four bands in a phase where all of them were still distinctly and strongly Modern Metal:

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So, again let’s try to list noticeable similarities:

First: Formaly, all cover pictures are structured very cleanly, leaning heyv on straight lines, clear symmetries and clear axes. This is especially clear with Sybreed cover art that unfolds from a very obvious central axis. Mnemics cover art features a slightly shifted cross. Raunchys art is very clearly compartmentalised. Textures art has a lower third axis that is emphasized with a strong black line. We see the same pattern we already saw with the band logos. The imagery is very clean and technical. Very little depth, no complex perspectives.

Second: The content of the cover art is mostly abstract. With the exception of Sybreed art, there’s no clearly defined figures, persons or landscapes to be seen. On all covers, no clear stories or situations are presented. Instead, configurations of scenery and objects are shown in a collage-lika style. They imagery is evoking feelings and references, rather than delivering a clear message. This is certainly not exclusive to Modern Metal but it may pointto similar influences from the direction of the three pillars (which definitely used similar styles of cover art content) and probably Progressive Metal.

Third: Again, looking at the content, we see a strongly shared pattern. In all four cover artworks we see a combination of some kind machinery with things of organic nature. In Sybreeds art we see a human head on somehing like a combination of clockwork and industrial building structure. In Mnemics art, we see their logo situated between hydraulic looking framework with a digital looking circular structure at the core, combined with streams of light emanating from the middle. On Raunchys art, we see what looks like a blueprint for some machine overlayed with frames that show something that looks like a sunset scenery. On Textures art we see a picture of still lake and some of the bank with a tree ripping open to reveal a slightly rusted clockwork structure. The combination of the mechanical, technical, with the organic shows a strong connection to the musical style of those bands as this is the very contrast that was so unique in the early 2000s, using Meshuggahs riffing technique to make the verses sound more mechanical and using layering, synths and clean singing to contrast the dry mechanical hammering with industrial soundscapes and (warmer, more human) anthemic choruses. The cover art shows exactly this and also clearly points to the influences of those band, coming from the three pillars who used similar imagery but also beyond them, to Industrial Metal.

So, judging from those cover artworks, we have a situation very similar to band logos. Strong similarities, clear links to the shared main influences and some pointers beyond (even though much more could be said about composition, color temperatures, etc. Again, take this as a possible starting point for a more in depth examination). 

But did this stay or did the cover art change? Here, as was only slightly hinted at with the logos, one can clearly say that the regularities and changes in the cover art going on represent the regularities and changes in the stylistic decisions the bands made going on.

For example: As Raunchy adopted a more poppy, lighter style, so their cover art became more geometric, bright but also colder.

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When they shifted towards a more Newschool Melodic Death Metal influenced style, though, their art also shifted towards the organic, even scenic, which becomes very obvious on their cover art for “Wasteland Discotheque”:

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Another example would be Textures whose art stayed in the abstract but became more picturesque, colorful and organic with the time, in line with their turn to a style nearer to Progressive Metal:

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Sybreed and Mnemic stayed with the patterns layed out above, though, with a slight exception in Mnemics cover art for “Sons Of The System”.

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This, again, perfectly in line with the fact that they never changed their musical style drasticaly and always stayed within a certain range of their core formula with their experimentation.

Those parallels between cover art and stylistic development of those bands makes a strong point for the thought that those artworks were not chosen arbitrarily. They do reflect the music of those bands. And this makes similarities between them reflect back on similarities between the artists works themselves. So that my claim that there are strong core similarities between those four bands is strengthened even a bit more by these observations.

#74 - Similarities in self presentation and themes among the significant four, part II.1: Band logos and cover art.

Well, I have to get this behind me sometime, havn’t I? So why not now. As I already laid out when I tried to ponder why this should be done in post #58, I fear this may be tedious without too much gain. But still, a point has to be made, and I’ll try. To refresh what I’m trying to get at here: I’ll try to show that there are similarities between the works of artists of Modern Metal not only in their music but also in how they present that music. If there are, this will give us additional similarities to work with, situated in a slightly broadened perspective and some evidence that parts of the music industry, be it the artists themselves and/or Label and marketing people, saw a similar connection to the one that I propose in this blog. I’ll try to show this at the examples of cover art, band logos, band names and album titles (which are, of course, only part of an artists presentation) of my significant four (supposing that they can be seen as typical in that regard. Feel free to check back with other artists).

Let’s start with band logos. I’ll just begin by listing the band logos of the significant four:

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Note one interesting thing: The logos of Raunchy and Textures actually changed a bit. Raunchy started out without the star on top of the “N” and a cleaner font. Textures started out with a more distorted, rugged logo that looked a bit more ‘apokalyptic’. This actually reflects the way those bands changed stylisticaly, at least slightly.

So, back to all four: what is noticeable? 

First: They are all characters. No pictures. Very clean, very technical. 

Second: All four use very clean fonts. This is especially obvious in comparison to, for example, typical Black Metal or Death Metal logos, which are often very picturesque and heavily ornamented. Every character is clearly readable and distinct. The color palette is very even, most of the logo is kept in one color or texture (also on the covers, not just in these pictures). This clean-ness of font may be seen to reflect the often slightly sterile, mechanical nature of the bands sound; but also as a link to the three pillars Fear Factory, Meshugah and SYL, who used similar font styles.

Third: The characters are stylised in several ways. First by slight abstraction. In comparison to the usual everyday way of writing them, they are either missing certain lines (Sybreeds “B”, “R” and “E”) and/or use more straight lines (Raunchys “R”, A”, “U”, “C”) and generaly have a tendency towards parallel lines (Look at the height of the three horizontal levels in Sybreeds “BREE”, Raunchys “RA” and “HY”, Textures whole logo). In combination with slight digital distortion, shifts, asymmetries, or fragmenation, effects especially obvious with Sybreed and Mnemic, this, again, makes them look very mechanical, sterile but also futuristic, ‘cybery’ (sry, but I’m lacking better words here), like abstract cubic objects in a Cyberspace, a space vehicle or some futuristic tower. This may be a bit less obvious with the logos of Raunchy and especially Textures but take a look at the earlier logo of Textures:

imageIt shows very similar features to those I just emphasized. This earlier logo shows a bit more futurism akin to logos of bands like Fear Factory or SYL, while their later one, which you saw above, owes more to Meshuggahs logo. 

So, we definitely definitely have quite some similarities in the band logos of the significant four, which not only happen to show similarities to the logos of the three pillats but can also be seen to be thematicaly and stylisticaly linked to how they sound. So I think we have some very interesting and telling similarities here. I suspect much more could be said about influences here, especially from the directions of Industrial Metal and Progressive Metal but I don’t know my way around those well enough to write something substantial about that, so take this as a possible starting point for further inquiry.  

Next up will be cover art.

By the way…

… just to throw you a cookie while I have a slightly inactive phase (if that is something you can have in a slightly fashion).

I got more feedback on the post on Hyperial than on any other. Granted, that doesn’t say too much but I think it will probably interest some that are following this blog that Hyperial just put up their first full length for streaming:

#73 - Occasional Greatness. Hybrid Circle and Virtual Lakai

Two bands in the spotlight today. I know neither of them very well, so it’s short again.

What mad me put Hybrid Circle and Virtual Lakai into one post is that listening to their respective albums gave me quite similar feelings, apart from their slightly different style. There’s quite some potential in both of them and both albums have some really great passages where all the elements they employ come together perfectly. But I kinda feel that most of the time they aren’t quite there yet. Still definitely enjoyable as both albums are very competently put together, though, so give them a listen:

#72 - Closing in. D Creation

This one actually just came to my mind. They released their new album not too long ago, so it might be a good point to mention D Creation.

I would have had to mention them anyway, though, as D Creation have shown a rather interesting development over the years. I talked about how closely this whole Newschool Melodic Death Metal thing headed by In Flames and Soilwork is related to Modern Metal. And I think it is rather obvious if you listen to album like “Route To Remain” or “Natural Born Chaos”. But it is still always nice to have a band that actively shows, in some way, how the two genres are connected stylisticaly.

D Creation do just that in the way of transition. They started out with a pretty straight Newschool Melodeath style of Metal on their first EP “Pace Helvetia”:

Complete with chunky but still earthy and lead oriented riffing, slightly orchestral electronica and songwriting focused on poppy choruses. You already hear a certain general groove orientation in their riffing and the electronica also play a larger part in the sound than you may be used from bands like, say, Soilwork

They expanded on those things on their first full length “Silent Echoes” in 2009, showing certain Meshuggah-influences in their riffing, even more bombastic electronic layers and an even more poignant celebration of their choruses (which are beautiful by the way) and an even more free distributions of varying vocal styles. Here’s an impression:

By the way: Listen to it. It’s a criminaly unknown album, if you ask me.

But they went further from that point on and put even more emphasis on Meshuggah-influenced more cold and precise riffing, cutting back a tiny bit on the omnipresence of the electronic layers; getting a slightly more Industrial sound in the process. Here’s what they sound like on their 2014 effort, “Moderate Album”:

You can pretty clearly see how they arrived at what we can without a problem call “Modern Metal” by adjusting just a few tendencies in their music from album to album.

By this relatively smooth transition their development clearly shows how stylisticaly close and probably mutually influential Newschool Melodeath and Modern Metal actually are. Plus, they’re a great band, of course.

[sidenotes - Mircea on Mnemics indefinite hiatus

Just a short sidenote. After a long time of silence, Mircea, lead guitarist and founding member of Mnemic, finally explained the situation:

https://www.facebook.com/mnemic/posts/10152190321057043

Apparently the chances we will hear from this band again are rather small to basicaly nonexistent, as Mircea obviously doesn’t want to play this style of music anymore. A bit sad, if maybe understandable. I might disagree with what he has to say about djent but I don’t like to argue opinions based on taste.

But for the purposes of this blog, I’d like to point a tip of your attention at the third paragraph where he talks about Mnemics original main influences. Having my model of Modern Metal confirmed, if only in this very small instance of one band, by an artist himself, carries some value for it’s validity, I’d say.   

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