Monday, April 23, 2007


I was reading Blabbermouth today and came across an interview with Kreator frontman Mille Petrozza, where he talks about the backlash Kreator withstood in the 1990s when they attempted to diversify their sound beyond their thrash roots. The discussion go me thinking about these controversial experiments and how frequently they fail, usually with accusations by the loyal fan base that the band has sold out. Selling out has its place, but I think the real problem runs a little deeper.

Let's break things down: in general, most bands will change their sound over the course of their careers, because they get bored putting out the same old album time after time. Change and experimentation are pars for the course of human nature, especially for artists, who are expected to delve into the mutable aspects of the human soul on a daily basis. However - and here's the critical point - the desire to experiment doesn't equal ability to do so; many bands enter an experimental period and either feel the sting of critical backlash because they've either moved so far away from their original sound that they lack the experience to make a cohesive album, or because they don't have the musical ability to play anything but the sound that made them work as a band in the first place.

Case in point: even though I've developed a fondness for Load over the past twelve years, I think Metallica's conversion from thrash to what they've been playing since has been a failure - not because they don't put albums that sound exactly Master of Puppets any more, but because Reload, S & M and St. Anger weren't particularly good albums, lacking in the creative drive that still makes Master of Puppets so incredible 20+ years later. Metallica can experiment all they want to; it's their prerogative as artists and as people who have their own lives to lead, but they have yet to demonstrate the ability to create those experiments and do so with the same ability that they had as an edgy thrash band.

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