Why You Should Listen to Music Outside Your Wheelhouse: The Jazz and Metal Connection

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The bands of Metal Night keep their jazz innards to themselves. This music informs what they do, but doesn't control it. Too many metal bands have snuck in walking bass lines and swishy ride cymbals, turned off their distortion pedals between breakdowns and called it jazz. Too many jazz musicians have done the exact opposite and called it metal. There's a certain element of genre-hopping that will always come off as disrespectful, not to the music itself but to the people behind the instruments. This is why the choruses of "Party Down" by Reel Big Fish are more offensive than any Slayer lyric.

By no means does any of this mean that John Coltrane fans are automatically Meshuggah fans, or even that they should be. But if you consider the priorities of specific musicians, the starting points and the values, you might gain a deeper respect for music outside of your wheelhouse. This doesn't mean you have to like it; I respect the hell out of bluegrass musicians and see the parallels between bluegrass and hardcore punk as functions of folk music, but mandolin speed picking is still nails on a chalkboard to me.

At Metal Night, Black Fast singer Aaron Akin joined The Gorge for a faithful cover of an old school Metallica song. Beforehand, Akin said, "Every one of you has this cassette tape in your car right now." This wasn't true; probably five percent of the crowd even had cassette players in their cars. But the sentiment was powerful. This is what is important to this community. This is a direct example of its aesthetic starting point, maybe even a direct link to why these people love this music. In another time, place, dimension, this evening highlight could have been "Maggie's Farm" or "All The Things You Are" or "Everything In Its Right Place." At this time, this place, this dimension, it just happened to be "Seek And Destroy."


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