Friday, March 24, 2017

Countdowns with The Rock Otaku 04: Top Ten musical genres that helped develop my musical tastes.

Hello degenerates, heathens, weirdos, and deviants.  I am the Rock Otaku, and I’m here to show you worlds such as hard rock, metal, punk, alternative rock, movies, TV, anime, video games, and anything that makes us scream, shout, and let it all out.

As some of you may have noticed, I tend to have that opening slogan in my blogs when I do something big or based on a series, but I seem to only discuss the first two (and three after that when the opportunity arises) in my blog overall.  As for the others, they end up serving as times to make references or jokes in my main series.  And this is the main reason why I am now going to try to fit in more anime reviews, news, and countdowns into my blog.

You know what, I’ll use the extra week I’ve added to my time to make my LET THEM EAT METAL series bi-weekly to create a series of countdowns.  And they don’t have to be just about anime.  I can use this to mention movies, TV shows, episodes of shows, news, games, and even other musical artists I want to talk about but aren’t able to usually thanks to my current load.  But today, we’re talking musical genres.

As you have noticed, I seem to be biased to not just certain types of rock and metal, or music in general, but I also tend to have certain melody patterns, musical styles, styles of singing, languages sung, and so on that I gravitate to, regardless of genre.  The first being that unless the first few hooks or movements of a song are amazing, regardless of length, I have a desire to change it, may it be an opening riff or the first chorus, or even the first use of anything.  I’m not sure why, but this leads me into liking longer songs that are effectively pop metal or metallic pop in the long run.  Second, I am a huge sucker for epic, emotional, heartstring-pulling, optimistic-yet-pessimistic melodies, may it be due to my fandom of film scores, anime music, or extreme, neo-classical or power metal.  Said melodies have to get a rise out of me emotionally, and I will give your song props if the keys and strings pull me in and feel fresh.  The third, and arguably the most important, is that I prefer songs driven by guitars.  There are ways of putting me off when you go the guitar-driven route rather than driven by synths or sampling which depend on the genre.  It may be because I play guitar myself, or because I prefer songs that have a sense that they were played with actual instruments rather than programmed with accessible software.  And that’s probably also why, along with the other two things I’ve mentioned, I tend to listen to more rock, punk, alternative, metal, blues, j-rock, and even j-pop than American pop, R&B, hip hop, and country.  Yes, I’ll listen to anything new if you ask me (and when an entry gets a bunch of views), but I tend to avoid genres that I’m sick of, and those are mostly what’s on Top 40 radio (post-grunge, nu metal, and emo are more listenable to me than what’s considered mainstream today with the exception of the awesome rock-crossover hit.  POST-GRUNGE, NU METAL, and EMO!).  But you’re probably thinking why?

Why is this the case?  How did I get here?  What informed my musical tastes in middle school, high school and college, may it be full jumps into them or flirtations with them, which led to my current musical tastes?  And what are they?  That, my dear reader, is the subject for today’s list.  Today, I’ll discuss the styles that grew on me, made me tick, led me to abandon the concept of mainstream unless I’m forced into it, have a more interesting musical palette than the rest of my family, and probably helped inspire this blog, my social media presence, and my overall personality in general.  As a result, I will offer the musical styles and genres that led to my development as a rock music fan, a metalhead, a shred-guitarist aficionado and practitioner, and probably an otaku.  These are my top 10 musical genres, because I want to say this before getting into certain styles on my LTEM series and because the Q&A isn’t in reach yet before I can explain some of my LTEM-decision making.

10.       Nu Metal/Alternative Metal:

Yes, nu metal had an impact on me as a music fan and probably, and subconsciously helped me get into heavier music.  So how did this happen?  There are probably three answers for that: my dad, radio rock, and professional wrestling.  Before I get to my first answer, let me discuss the joys, tribulations, and frustrations of radio rock.  Specifically the 90s worship and “hard, manly” approach of it.  While I’m not sure if I’d be on the same level of manliness as a member of the Joestar bloodline, Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Bruce Campbell, I can safely way that either due to frustrations with society or daily life, this crap does get me in a mood to fight off the pain and keep on doing that voodoo that I do so well.  And plus, probably because most active rock stations wouldn’t be caught dead playing Fall Out Boy, All-American Rejects, Panic! At The Disco, Metro Station, or (shudder) the Jonas Brothers, they tended to go back in the well of Korn, Slipknot, Godsmack, Disturbed, Papa Roach, P.O.D., System of a Down, Deftones, Sevendust, Tool, Drowning Pool, Tantric, Taproot, Staind, Nonpoint, Mudvayne, Static-X some shit band called Limp Bizkit, and other bands that’d be considered post-grunge (later on that) while keeping their careers alive and promoting like-minded bands and artists like Egypt Central, Rev Theory, HellYeah, and even Five Finger Death Punch.  For professional wrestling, name a song from the late-90s, early-00s era of WWE other than The Rock’s and Triple H’s theme that didn’t use nu metal and/or nu metal-inspired music for the wrestlers.  For my dad?  He was very much into this style, which I’m not sure is because of a frustrating job he had at the time, what the radio was playing, or if the Matrix soundtrack refined his tastes in music (seriously, that movie is around 18 years old, and we’re still debating if we live in The Matrix).  How did this affect my tastes?  Well, it gave me a loving for hard, energetic rock in the new style while also causing me to seek out and show a love for older bands that led to these artists like Rage Against the Machine, Pantera, White Zombie, Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, and even most thrash and death metal bands.  Yes, this led to my interest in lower-register, down-tuned rock and metal, which is probably more important since djent doesn’t completely sound like shit to me and most progressive metal also goes for the gut rather than the heart and brain while using the latter.

9.         Grunge/Post-Grunge/Alternative Rock:

Probably because, like I’ve mentioned, rock radio got the shaft from the masses due to crunk, snap, EDM, and bro country, it seems as if the scene is stuck in the 90s.  And taking from it a lot.  As a result, I was exposed (outside of rhythm games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band) to artists like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, Candlebox, Silverchair, Collective Soul, Red Hot Chili Peppers, R.E.M., Foo Fighters, and yes, even Creed and Nickelback.  The reason for this being low is the same as with nu metal, despite all the great alternative rock and metal bands: some of these acts either do not suit me in certain moods or have aged poorly, so poorly that I endorse Rocked’s Regretting the Past series.  But I do have some nostalgia for that sound, and it did lead to some amazing bands to come out of it like Alter Bridge and some of the more metallic bands in the post-grunge movement, like Breaking Benjamin, Egypt Central/Devour The Day, and Starset.  And yes, blame my dad for this.  I could say more, but I felt that I’ve went into enough detail with the nu metal entry.  Just replace “metal” with “rock” and the heavier bands with lighter ones, and you’ll get the same story.

8.         Metalcore:

Now to anger a lot of people.  Before I broke from the mainstream and said adieu to most of it (except for the stuff to make my blog relevant, which I need to get back into that), I did have a strong understanding and interest in this genre.  Whereas nu metal and alternative metal were based in grunge angst, simple rhythms and riffs, and more about the brain, this style of hardcore punk-tinged heavy metal went straight for the gut and sometimes the heart, delivering some of the heaviest stuff I can play to close family members, sane people, and those who weren’t versed in death metal and black metal, and my extreme metal interests, outside of Cannibal Corpse’s “Hammer Smashed Face” thanks to Ace Ventura, went only to Metallica and Slayer (wasn’t too sure of power metal at the time).  And if you’re wondering, this was entirely in high school, especially in my later stages, and what made me a metalhead was music played by musicians with poofy hair, so I did seek out more aggressive metallic music that I could talk with someone about, despite me being painfully socially awkward.  And thus, I ended up having a fandom of Killswitch Engage, Bullet For My Valentine, Avenged Sevenfold, Lamb of God (one of the better bands of the movement), Shadows Fall, All That Remains, Trivium, and others, and enough understanding of “screamo” that bands like Chimaira, Escape The Fate, and yes, Black Veil Brides were listenable to me.  But like any other metalhead, college got in the way, and my metalcore interest waned unless I decided to listen to it.  But it did lead me into showing enjoyment in genres like death metal, melodic death metal, black metal, and even djent at points.  But don’t expect me to give the genre good praise when I have to cover a metalcore band in any future reviews.

7.         Film music/Classical/Video Game Soundtrack Music/Broadway:

If you need to know something about me, I am a huge fan of old-school musical scores in movies (I’m not sure why I haven’t heard the great new scores yet).  Guys like Alan Menkin, Alan Silvestri, James Horner, Danny Elfman, Jerry Goldsmith, Thomas Newman, Michael Giacchino, Alexandre Desplat, Patrick Doyle, Howard Shore, James Newton Howard, Joe Hisashi, and my personal favorite, John Williams, are all composers that I have serious affection for due to having written scores that I absolutely adore.  And thanks to their contributions to my musical language, I even got into classical, ranging from Bach, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Wagner, and even Stravinsky, and my interest in classically tinged metal (which I’ll get to later) even helped with that matter.  But I also got my musical tastes from video game music, with composers like Koji Kondo being masters in my eyes, Jun Senoue helping me get my rock wings, and others providing some great music, with the songs from Rareware games being instant nostalgia-creators in my eyes.  And probably because of Disney, I don’t despise musicals, and I do have an affection for Broadway-style musicals and musical movies, and I’m man enough to listen to anything from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera.  That and Sound of Music and I do dig Rogers and Hammerstein works.  Overall, how did this all affect my musical tastes?  I’m still wondering if the last two great musical scores are ultimately going to be from TheDark Knight and The Avengers due to how bland they’ve gotten over the years.  Even when you got considerable talent doing them.  Does that suck?  I think so, but at the same time, I am also digging stuff like synthwave and neo-classical thanks to the combined efforts of those artists, and broadway-tinged AMVs always put a smile on my face.  Now to find a theater playing Avenue Q.

6.         Classic Rock:

But if my love of Aerosmith and Van Halen does say something about me, I listen to a lot of classic rock.  Heck, I’ve evened listened to classic rock back in high school and college.  May it be because of rock radio in Atlanta being weird, active rock stations playing AC/DC and Guns N’ Roses alongside the two bands I’ve mentioned, but I have a lot of mad respect for bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Boston, Queen, Joan Jett, Journey, Foreigner, Free, Bad Company, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steve Miller Band, Pat Benatar, Blonde, David Bowie, Doobie Brothers, Styx, REO Speedwagon, KISS, Foghat, Sweet, and so many, many other bands.  As a result, I dig the heck out of stadium rock and AOR-style bands that come out today.  So yeah, if you catch me listening to melodic arena rock with some sort of shred solo and catchy hook, blame my love of this and a few others that are coming up.  For this genre, don’t blame just my dad for this one, but definitely blame my mom for this one.

5.         Hard Rock/Traditional Heavy Metal:

But if there’s a bedrock for my musical tastes, it’s Aerosmith, Judas Priest, KISS, Iron Maiden, Van Halen, Motorhead, AC/DC, Accept, Guns N’ Roses, Black Sabbath, Scorpions, and other, so many other like-sounding bands and artists.  Thanks to the Rock N’ Roller Coaster, time with my dad outside of butt rock, Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Sonic Adventure, I am a massive hard rock fan and metalhead.  For these, the former got me into Aerosmith, the listed rhythm games gave me a sense that I would enjoy the concept of playing on stage with a rockin’ band, and the latter has one of the most influential soundtracks on my musical tastes, and I can still listen to and enjoy it every time I listen to it.  And that’s probably where my musical development practically started.  And that was the first couple of things that, more importantly, convinced me that I should probably learn how to play the guitar.  After that, and through some troubles, I’ve managed to get to a point where I can play songs by Aeromsith, Judas Priest, KISS, Iron Maiden, Van Halen, Motorhead, AC/DC, Accept, Guns N’ Roses, Black Sabbath, Scorpions, Deep Purple, Def Leppard, Led Zeppelin, and others, and that was the push.  And while certain aspects about those musical choices might have been informed by other genres entering my life and making me see more to the music, I’d have to say that if it wasn’t for bands like Aerosmith, KISS, and Van Halen, there might have not been a Rock Otaku writing to you guys and gals out there needing a rock n’ roll savior.

4.         Thrash Metal:

For this one, I’d give thanks to Guitar Hero for getting me started on this journey, but I’d have to say that if it wasn’t for bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer, Testament, Lamb of God, Pantera, Exodus, Overkill, and even Tankard, then I wouldn’t be into much heavier, faster, and more aggressive genres like death metal, black metal, and even power metal.  With its straightforward ethos, wild aggression, crazy moments, intense virtuosity, and harsh singing, thrash metal’s sound and fury made me realize that I was not just losing my tastes for super-sappy pop music, blah country music, and a declining rap scene, but that I was getting into something darker, scarier, edgier, more intense, thoughtful, and angrier than what would be considered normal music.  And Metallica’s current forays into their classic thrash sound and their classic thrash sound itself, the attempts at trying to nail “Raining Blood” in Guitar Hero, my admiration for Slipknot for their thrashier moments, being the first and probably only person in my immediate family to find Lamb of God interesting, the added interest in its emo-tinged offshoot, melodic metalcore, buying Five Finger Death Punch’s first album (and arguably their heaviest), looking into Mastodon, and playing the hell out of Bullet for my Valentine’s thrash-tinged “Scream Aim Fire” in Guitar Hero World Tour were steps into me becoming more of a thrash fan.  Is thrash metal my favorite subgenre of metal currently?  I’ll answer that once I turn down the Sabaton and Powerwolf, but it’s definitely up there.  Overall, you may see me as more of a liberal at this point, due to thrash’s mostly left-wing politics (until Dave Mustaine went nuts), but don’t let that worry you as I have a very weird sense of humor and don’t get offended by certain jokes aimed at certain groups of people (though if your autism jokes suck, then you’re not funny).  Plus I can probably play some thrash on my guitar, so don’t you worry.

3.         J-pop/J-rock/Visual Kei/Anison:

Now for the stuff that REALLY altered my musical tastes.  May it because anime like Pokémon and Dragon Ball were a part of my growing up, may it be due to Japanese-made games from Nintendo, Sega, and others, may it be due to my weird nature, but I’ve always had a weird fascination with anime that I decided to let blossom in college, and several artists helped.  I’m sure that my major influence in giving Japanese rock music a shot was through listening to songs on Groove Shark from an album called Rain Forest by a band called Concerto Moon, and based on the language of the vocals, I knew it was Japanese.  Then I started getting hardcore into anime, with series like Rosario+Vampire, Angel Beats!, Clannad (and After Story *snif*), Elfin Lied, Ouran High School Host Club, School Rumble, and Gurren Lagaan giving me the sense to carry on with my newfound passions in media, and then I started listening to bands and artists from the soundtracks more often alongside giving X Japan a bunch of spins.  Later, that would evolve into not just my interest and fandom of bands like Galneryus, but would lead me into listening to a lot of j-rock and even j-pop.  Other factors made me interested in visual kei as a musical movement, but I can verify that most of my pop music listening, specifically where I don’t want to punch something, comes from the Orient, and that it was a partial catalyst in me trying to learn the Japanese language.  Plus there's the fact that I have EVERY Japanese song that is possible in my Rocksmith DLC collection, including B’z, 9mm Parabellum Bullet, STRAIGHTENER, ACIDMAN, Golden Bomber, ONE OK ROCK, and the Birthday.  And yes, I am considering requesting X Japan, Galneryus, Concerto Moon, Nana Mizuki, Girl Dead Monster, Kotoko, Aya Hirano, FLOW, Stereopony, Mucc, the Gazette, Heidi, Nightmare, Minami Kuribayashi, Band-Maid, BABYMETAL, and Dir En Grey songs for that game as DLC.  And when I use TuneIn, I tend to find Japanese music stations to listen to, all for the pop, rock, metal, and anime tunes of the Land of the Rising Sun.  Yes, there’s a reason why I consider myself an otaku.

2.         Hair/Glam/Sleaze Metal:

Before this, I would not have considered the art of guitar playing or full-on metal fandom.  But after nabbing a compilation CD of hair metal rockers and ballads (one of those from Target that has a bunch of tunes both classic and obscure) with acts like Poison, Twisted Sister, Quiet Riot, Ratt, David Lee Roth, Winger, White Lion, Autograph, Honeymoon Suite, Skid Row, Slaughter, Dokken, Enuff Z’Nuff, and Firehouse, I was more than interested in this style of music.  It made me realize that the 80s were a much more fun time for music as a whole (despite the 90s being more interesting and being like a puzzle).  There was also this sense of grandeur and rebellion that coexisted when hearing these songs and realizing that (as well as hearing stuff like this in Guitar Hero, the Heavy Metal Guy shorts from Mondo Media, the Happy Tree Friends people, The Spongebob Squarepants Movie, and even the ending of The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy Christmas Special, the one where Santa was turned into a vampire and voiced by Gilbert Gottfried) these songs fit my musical tastes to a tee.  Then that expanded to other stuff like other compilations, full Motley Crue albums, and even and album or two by Ratt and Dokken, plus nabbing Skid Row’s debut.  Plus I even own Steel Panther’s Feel the Steel as well as saw them live.  There’s also my interest and infatuation with the whole “nu-glam” scene, where newer bands, mostly from Scandinavia, take elements from 80s glam metal and bring them to the 21st century.  And if there’s a musical style that serves as the bedrock for my guitar playing, it’s 80s glam metal as well.  I’m actually serious, I tend to think in glam and traditional metal terms when approaching the guitar, from power chords to palm muting to fast, shredding solos with some blues elements.  But if there’s a genre that made me go further into guitar training, it’s the Number 1 entry on this list.  Do you want to know what it is?

1.         Neo-Classical Metal:

Of the genres here I can state, this had probably the biggest impact on me as a person, a musician, a music fan, a music critic, and so on.  Why?  Probably because the moments when I’ve been getting into this, I was A) in college and starting to realize that metal was more than thrash and core genres, that the underground was capable of more beautiful music in the scene, B) I was taking professional guitar lessons, and some of my desires led my teacher to have me hone in my techniques in tapping, sweeping, alternate picking, and, well, shredding, so this genre definitely had examples I can listen to for shred, C) my music fandom was definitely developing to stuff like this due to my love of the guitar solo in rock, even if I originally had issues playing them, and D) because the melodies, techniques, and styles really changed not just how I view music, but even helped me push my guitar playing skills to the next level, try to play it more than rhythm games, and go to tabs to nail the works of Yngwie Malmsteen, specifically the songs I felt I could play.  And as a result, and because of a strong memory and playing on and off again, I could definitely play up to Eddie Van Halen’s level.  Or possibly Randy Rhodes.  And most likely nail Kirk Hammett’s parts before getting up to Marty Friedman and Jason Becker.  Guys like Malmsteen, Paul Gilbert, Becker, Friedman, Vinnie Moore, Tony MacAlpine, James Chastain, Syu, Norifumi Shima, Greg Howe, Bruce Boulliet, Rhodes, Kiko Loureiro, Rusty Cooley, Chris Impellitteri, John Pettruci, and others defined what it meant to be a guitar hero to me.  And I have my gratitude to not just my teacher, but even others within the genre and even internet stars like ERock for getting me into more classically-tinged rock and metal.  Thank you all, and I hope to get to meet you all soon.

For the honorable mentions, there are too many to count.  But they would include everything from punk to blues to emo to progressive to even some electronic.  But overall, what does this mean to all of you.  It means that sometimes, certain musical styles enter your life by accident, how you live, or if you choose to, and they can change how you view music as a whole.  And I do recommend searching out music or using your love of anything from movies to comics, TV and so on to see if you enjoy the notes played.  That and go back to what you listened to in your childhood to see if something did make an impact on you.  I also recommend to not listen to music based on what is popular but based on what you yourself think.  Sometimes you may realize that certain styles and movements of music appeal to you more than what is mainstream, and that you are more unique than you realize.  Yes, there are impulses to stick to certain trends and fads so you can feel like you’re part of the crowd, but what if it isn’t your crowd, what if it’s the smelly, passionate weirdos or nerds trashing the trends you’re strong-armed into supporting that you feel a kinship to.  If you feel that way, feel free to leave in the comments what your musical tastes, both current and past, are and how they define you.  Also feel free to tell me what styles of music and artists had a massive impact on your life, I’d like to know.

And Holy Crap!  30 Entries on this platform?!
Until next time, this is The Rock Otaku.  Love Loud, Play Hard, and Rock On!

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