I feel the same way about these three bands/acts: I would probably enjoy them more if the lyrics were in another language.
Woods of Ypres
Jeff suggested I listen to Woods of Ypres, which at first glance seemed like something would love: Canadian doom metal. Their last album won the 2013 Juno for Metal/Hard album of the year. Unfortunately, I’m not a fan. Their composition isn’t particularly interesting, but their lyrics are awful. If you enjoy self-help books and misogyny, this band might be for you. This band is aptly tagged as “depressive metal”. Every song deals with a mundane personal trajedy or anxiety, but deals with it using the coping mechanisms of over-generalization and platitudes. For example: the song “Move On!” deal with the end of a relationship, but asserts that “The woman will always leave the man. Women move on, men love forever.” Only people with an exteme inability to empathize with women, or believe that women are sub-human, would believe this. As a sensitive woman who can still remember how painful and awkward unrequited love, these lyrics make me want to shut down on the entire discography. There are ways to express your sadness about the end of a relationship without alienating an entire gender. Woods of Ypres should perhaps be commended for targetting the anxieties of 20 and 30-somethings rather than those of teenagers like a lot of rock bands, but the idea is better in theory than in implementation. Many songs contain unsolicited advice, like “Career Suicide (Is Not Real Suicide)”, and although they aren’t wrong, the end product is extremely lame.
I looked up the rest of the recent Metal/Hard Junos while writing this - I’m disappointed that the 2014 Juno was given to Protest the Hero’s Volition over Gorguts’ Coloured Sands (Beyond Creation’s Earthborn Evolution wasn’t even nominated), and that this year the Juno went to Kataklysm over Fuck the Facts and KEN Mode. At least it didn’t go to Diemonds.
My grandfather informed me that he reads my blog and then suggested I listen to Joe Bonamassa after watching a PBS special. If you think I’m going to make some comment making fun of PBS for not being hardcore, you’re wrong; PBS music specials are great. Bonamassa is an amazing guitarist who can rip through fast licks effortlessly. He also has similar taste in music to me: his solo debut album had a Jethro Tull cover, and one of his live albums has a cover of Yes’s Heart of the Sunrise. Bonamassa’s discography primarily consists of covers of much older blues rock, a genre I am unfortunately not that familiar with. Listening to Bonamassa’s discography sent me down a blues-rock rabbit hole. After climbing out, I’ve come to the conclusion that the originals were almost always better for two reasons: Bonamassa’s awesome technique often overpowers any other instrumentation, and his voice is a little too corney compared to the original blues singers, and thus some of the emotional core of the music is lost.
His original music holds a little more appeal to me, as it has nothing to be compared to. The exception is So, It’s Like That, where he copied the songwriting and singing style popular at the time. If you ever wondered what Avril Lavigne or Hoobastank might have sounded like if they went bluesy, that’s the album for you. The other complaint about Blues-rock was that a lot of the songs deal with male lust or longing, which are difficult to empathize with. It’s not intolerable like Woods of Ypres, who seem to want to take their own sadness out on all women.
But outside of that album and a few songs, Bonamassa’s discography is fantastic. I’ll have to check out more of the 90s/00s blues-rock revival.
Kansas has a new album and a cinematic emo cover of Dust in the Wind was used to advertise the latest World of Warcraft expansion, so I decided to finally go back and listen to all of Kansas’ discography. I don’t have much to say, Kansas is still awesome. The only thing has changed is that I hadn’t listened to their last album, 2000’s Somewhere to Elsewhere, and my interpretation of their lyrics has changed. Their last album wasn’t very good - Billy Greer’s voice has aged too much, and Walsh didn’t contribute to the lyrics. Livgren’s references to Christianity were more noticeable on this listen. And it’s not the absurdist or thoughtful flavour of prog Christianity like The Flower Kings, it’s closer to an American Evangelical version that promises that your life is terrible and you know that they only way to be happy is love Jesus (though thankfully Jesus is never mentioned, so it could be Tom Hiddleston). Other songs have dated lyrics. The Cheyenne Anthem lyric “We will share it with you, no man owns this earth we’re on” advances a harmful stereotype that they Cheyenne Indians didn’t see themselves as owners of Kansas and Nebraska. Andi, a song where an older man assures a young girl that all her anxieties will go away once she becomes a woman with boobs, is patronizing.
That being said, Kansas’ discography has far more hits than misses. Given that Kansas’ current lineup does not include Walsh, or Livgren, it’s not really Kansas anymore. At least Greer isn’t doing all lead vocals.