In my recent metal renaissance, I have noticed a fairly hilarious trend. It seems as though many metal albums like to open up with a nice, calm, acoustic piece. It’s usually fairly short, as though they cannot physically stand to play something that isn’t incredibly metal for more than 2:04.
At first I suspected that it was only a certain genre of metal that fell into this trap, the kind of fantasy nerd-metal as personified by The Sword. In this particular track they can only manage about 30 seconds of melodic introductory strumming before their unavoidable tendency to rock kicks in, but it is still a good example of this.
Why open with a track like this? Lamb of God, Trivium, shit, even Metallica’s opening track on Master of Puppets has the requisite 30-ish seconds of acousticity before launching into the Rock Band game-ender that is Battery. Actually, I guess it’s possible that all these musicians are just cribbing straight from a classic… but I’d like to give them more credit than that, and have narrowed it down to one of two options.
1) They feel it helps their image to open with their more sensitive side, to display that, despite the growling, screaming aural onslaught that is about to ensue, they are delicate artistes. They are the bard on the battlefield, stepping between the hewn corpses while strumming their lute.
2) It serves as a… as a seduction, I guess. They’re easing it in. “If we just opened with our most hardcore, badass, asskickingest track, it could, y’know, it could damage the listener. They’ve gotta become appropriately acclimatized to the metal hell that we live every moment in.” Much like, after I first bought Tool’s Aenima at Blockbuster Video on St. Clair Ave. West ’cause it had a neat cover, only to come home and realize that this porridge is too hot… but after a few attempts and listening to increasingly metal music, it eventually fit right into my ears.
That whole last paragraph makes me uncomfortable. Stop being so rough to my earholes, metal bands. I thought you said you loved me. That does it! We’re through. It’s only Fleet Foxes, Iron and Wine, and Bright Eyes for me from now on!