It’s Monday and time to talk about metal. This time we’ll be looking into the use of humour within the metal genre.
Metal is often seen from the outside as the genre that’s full of angry bands clad from head to toe in black, with the vocalist shouting into a microphone, the band head banging in unison, while playing music so loud and distorted that it must be for a summoning ritual.
Okay, maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but nonetheless metal is normally quite a serious affair, often exploring the deepest and darkest depths of humanity without restraint. There are countless songs surrounding the hard to talk about aspects of life, such as euthanasia in the song ‘Final Exit’ by Fear Factory, or mentally breaking down and questioning your worth in ‘Alone I Break‘ by Korn.
But does it always have to be doom and gloom? Is there room for laughter within metal?
Some musicians outside of the metal genre have become successful and created careers in music with the use of humour and satire. One of the most recognisable being “Weird Al” Yankovic, who has been releasing parody songs since the early 80’s with songs like ‘Another One Rides the Bus‘ and ‘I Love Rocky Road‘.
But what about within the metal genre?
Steel Panther are a great example of a band that straddle the rock and metal genres, and use humour as the main driving force within their songs. Although their crude nature is not for everyone there is no denying their success. They recently headlined Wembley Arena last October, which is no small feat, and have been playing shows all over the globe for years.
Another example of an artist who has used humour, although not to quite the same extent is Devin Townsend. Throughout his career he has had a combination of serious music, along with the downright bizarre. A notably strange track from his early years as a musician is the Strapping Young Lad track, ‘Satan’s Ice Cream Truck‘ which is as bonkers as it sounds.
Townsend also has a whole album, Ziltoid the Omniscient, based around the concept of an alien by the name of Ziltoid coming to Earth in search of the ultimate cup of coffee. The album became so popular a follow up album, Dark Matters – part of the double album release Z², was written as a metal musical and later performed in full to a sold out crowd at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 2015. The album follows in the footsteps of Ziltoid the Omniscient, with Ziltoid returning to Earth but having stolen a creature, known as a Poozer, from the War Princess Blataria on the planet Titan. Subsequently Blataria invades the Earth and chaos ensues. Once again it is as bonkers as it sounds but the music is aware of just how mad the whole idea is, adding to it’s brilliant madness.
Did I mention he has a guitar with a built in smoke machine?
In this writer’s opinion there is definitely room for humour within the metal genre. It may be a thin line between working brilliantly or falling flat, and it may not always hit the mark with everyone who listens to it, but there is certainly room for a more light hearted approach in metal.
What’s your opinion? Who else in metal has been successful in using humour? Comment below!