Since I’ve spent the week ruminating on music in general, here’s what my personal definition of a song is: a unit of an entire composition of music. I have an extreme enjoyment of an album on which songs were strategically placed on their album by the artists in question to develop their piece. Hence why albums like Porcupine Tree’s “Deadwing” (they hit you over the head with “The Incident”), Opeth’s “Blackwater Park,” and many, many, many others are so great. You can listen to one song, but listening to the entire composition is equally rewarding.
While I respect bands like Meshuggah, I have a hard time calling what they do music. It’s more an exploration of syncopated percussive assault in which melody (something I feel a song needs) is placed to the back burner. I know Devin Townsend writes “even though we have bands that influence still, we all rip off Meshuggah.” Many have critically acclaimed this sound as brilliant, but I’ve not been able to get it except in small doses (“Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave Them Motion” and “Pitch Black”). Being the nerd I am for anything music, Sam Dunn’s “Metal Evolution” documented how the songwriters of this specific offshoot of metal focus on the tribal, percussive elements, turning nearly every instrument in the band to a hammer.
I do not find this enjoyable or even musical (though it is obviously well written and charted). Honestly, of this style, only Acyl has capture my imagination for a long period of time. I love the manner through which they tie the music of their heritage into the percussive elements. It’s intoxicating.
Therefore, I look for bands whose songs are movements, like in an orchestra, for the most part for enjoying my music. The combination of melody, rhythm, verse, and orchestration is what makes the best bands that I have come to greatly enjoy. This is why Leprous is at the top of my list, while Pig Destroyer is a grave question (yes, I realize this is a bit without precedence in this writing because I’m not writing about hardcore). Hardcore is a sound I’ve yet to be able to qualify with how vapid I truly find it and is the antithesis of what I enjoy musically. I get that people love it, but when I see some of its fans gushing admiration of Hardcore and then putting Hip Hop down I get a bit puzzled. I view the two styles in their basest senses as the same. A complete and utter rejection of melody for rhythm and quick turn of phrase. In the end, all music is art, no matter how it’s written.