Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Encyclopedia Metallum: aka Metal Archives

I decided to do a long overdue post about the Metal Archives while I am still compiling information about the next Dusting Off a Cassette and the remaining metal magazine reviews. I personally greatly enjoy the Metal Archives. I am a frequent poster, an even more frequent lurker, and an occasional contributor. The Metal Archives are an extremely valuable resource and it makes me proud that the metal community is willing and able to contribute to such a daunting task. That being said I do have some concerns about things.

This is the big one. I was a little naive about what metal was when I first discovered the site. I was shocked when Slipknot, DevilDriver, Himsa, Static-X, Godsmack, and other similar bands were not included. Later, Himsa and DevilDriver were accepted but not until after some major arguing. I was surprised but was willing to learn. I listened to some of those bands (I never understood the exclusion of DevilDriver or Himsa based on what I had from them) and was able to objectively come to my own conclusion on each band's relative metalness. I am now able to hear influences in bands. I was also pleased to see Alice in Chains and Soundgarden included as I always felt they were mislabelled as grunge because they came from Seattle.

The Archives only accept metalcore if it is more metal than core. This is kind of a tricky situation because determining where to draw the line is not always easy. Going back to Himsa for a minute, I never understood why their album Hail Horror was not considered by the moderators to be just as metal as music from Killswitch Engage, Trivium, or Shadows Fall. I could see why those bands were included, but I lumped Himsa's album in the same category.

On the other side of things are the bands included that I don't agree with, and there are some. For one, the site allows bands that are not metal in if they meet the requirements of a side project. However there are so many caveats in that rule that it may as well be dismissed completely. I don't mind having a site where the ambient project of some major black metal musician is not included. That does not bother me, I would rather have it be pure metal.

Sometimes there are bands included as metal bands that I don't agree with. The major genres in this case are so-called drone doom and whatever you want to call the recent Neurosis copycat bands. To me, these are not metal genres. Drone doom is just noise, an extremely slow riff repeated ad nauseum for 20 minutes is not a metal song. The Neurosis copycats are more post hardcore sounding to me. Groups like Sunn O))), Pelican, and Isis are not metal bands to my ears, although I'd be willing to take that back if someone could point me to an album that is metal.

There is a lot of hatred for bands that are more mainstream and popular on the message board. This is fairly normal in all genres I suppose, but it irritates me. I have no problem if these are accurate opinions of people, but if they are just badmouthing a band in public and then listening to them in private, that's hypocritical. I have never been one to back off of my opinions of bands. I did grow out of a nu metal phase when I was in law school. Groups like Staind, Korn, and Deftones did not sound as good to me as they used to. Now, my tastes lean almost entirely towards metal. Within that genre however, I have no problems with telling the world that I enjoy Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Trivium, Six Feet Under, and many more bands that are not overly popular on the forum.

My only real problem here is a personal issue. I'd like to be able to contribute more, but I am not a part of any scene, being in rural Nebraska, and I do not have the time to scour Myspace much in order to find bands. I have thus far submitted 12 bands, and that was not easy to do.

As mentioned earlier, I love the site, and I will list the things I enjoy rather than talking at length about them:
Reading reviews
Finding new bands
Talking to fellow metalheads
Reading someone having a hissy fit because their band was rejected
The fact that someone who has been banned from submissions is tagged "Fred Durst"

Endless entertainment.


  1. Excellent post. The self-righteous intolerance on the boards bothers me, but not as much as the barring of bands like Oceano from the archives. Now, I don't really care for or about Oceano, but to say that they're not a metal band but Soundgarden is is beyond ludicrous. An encyclopedia should be encyclopedic and err on the side of inclusion.

  2. Hi there,

    I knew about MA for a while but this week I thought I would like to help (maybe no submitting bands but fixing typos or stuff like that) and then I noticed the elitism and metal definition problems. I did argue BTBAM was metal (Wiki says so at least) but these guys started the "more core than metal" discussion, one of them then said he would bet I thought Nu-metal was metal just because it has the word metal. I then argue Nu metal was metal regardless of the shitty sound some of they have.

    At the end it is the admins call and I said I came to the conclusion they were not objective and they should not be called an encyclopedia, following I 'deactivated' my account.