Thursday, June 18, 2009

Surfing with Power Metal

Two tunez today, one OK, one better! I post the first merely to demonstrate that EVERYBODY has a Babylon song. The song itself is, by any reasonable human standard, ridiculous. But then again, so is most of what Rush Limbaugh says, and he too has a sizable cult.

Yes yes, they play their guitars with untold skill. But the singing! I mean, is that what that is? It sounds like karaoke. At first I thought the above youtube clip was a rerecording by the person that posted it, in which case, you know, pretty good, better than I could do. Except the singing sounds like a demo, WHICH I have learned through some hasty research (I actually googled "dragonforce discography"--you see the depth of my commitment) is almost the case--they recorded Valley of the Damned as a demo in 2000, then rerecorded and rereleased it in 2003. And look, I know nobody listens to this band for their vocal prowess, but come on. Bad lyrics I'm used to. But you don't often hear a singer combine tunelessness, pitchiness, stiffness, and lack of personality to this degree.

Make no mistake, the lyrics are also really bad. They include the word "thee," which seems to've been picked to rhyme with "ecstasy"--both poor choices. (I think Cradle of Filth also enjoy a good "thee.") They're incoherent, not unheard of in rock/roll or the Babylon canon. Unfortunately, they're boring as all get out, and I've resolved to no longer think about them.

Um, but that is some wicked guitar that I'll never in my life be able to play. Kudos, guys.

Someone needs to tell Dragonforce that this is how you do it:

By "do it," of course, I mean "sing a bombastic power metal song that makes symbolic use of a dead Near-Eastern civilization." Well done, German people in Edguy! I mean, this is so much better than Dragonforce's "Disciples of Babylon," particularly in the important areas of singing ability and lyrical non-retardedness. In fact, Edguy have a unique take on Babylon. It's the place where they're safe and free, just like in the New York Dolls' "Babylon," but it's not some debauched land of immorality. Babylon seems to simply equal home for Edguy. This is almost a country song. (At least in terms of the lyrics.) (In terms of the shredding, it's more bluegrass.)

See, Edguy have been out in "a world of hate pollution" (the summer festival circuit?), and they're fed up. Life is "too short to get burned," so they're ready to stand up and "face the wind" (which recalls our hellish-Babylon friends in January Tyme and Rainbow...) and go back to the homeland. When they're home, they apparently spend their time building towers: "No one can prevent me from raising towers in Babylon!" It's almost as though they want to get back to their day jobs in construction--though you and I both know they're alluding to the Tower of Babel story in the book of Genesis.

But here's the point most commonly derived from the Tower of Babel story: Man's "towers in Babylon" were an affront to God, an overstepping of human bounds, an enormous act of hubris. To put it mildly, Edguy are pro-hubris. To Edguy, "raising towers in Babylon" is a reassertion of who they truly are. Especially with all the triumph in the music--the singer who sounds like he should be on Broadway, the soaring melody, the drums and guitar that speed home like Edguy's tour bus--how could you NOT side with the band? Especially when they throw in the following line:

"You tell me what you'd do if you were me
but you are you and I am I;
Lucky you, but this time I say: 'No!'"

A liberating line if you imagine saying it to your parents or your boss. But Edguy are addressing whatever force would prevent them from raising their towers. Probably God. (Possibly erectile dysfunction, but then I'd have to rethink this whole thing.) And this is one thing that makes the song unique. Normally anti-God metal songs are angry or creepy. This one's a joyful singalong. Black metal bands like Celestial Bloodshed should TOTALLY try this tactic. Of course, it's likely the song is less "anti-God" than "anti-haters." That is, it's against anyone who'd stand in the way of your dreams, with the Tower of Babel the archetypal example of a dream project that went sour.

And here's the other thing that makes the song unique--in most "don't stand in the way of my dreams" songs, the singer has to leave home to raise his tower. In this one, he has to RETURN home. As Edguy powerfully proclaim, to God or their workaholic agent or whoever:

"Pounding thoughts of home they make me know: 'I will return!'
I don't want to hurt you but you'll have to learn:
You are you and I am I!!!"

Why don't you make that your mantra for the next couple days? "You are you and I am I!!!!" Let me know how it goes.

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