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SummerButthurt2013

A Critical Analysis of the Summer Slaughter Butthurt

SummerButthurt2013

 

On the fateful day of Friday March 22nd, a dramatic event that has shaken and reverberated across the entire metal community occurred: the line up at this years Summer Slaughter Festival was announced. Hordes upon hordes of furious metal heads took to their respective computers to proclaim that this is irrevocably the worst thing to happen since the first use of Comic Sans. It was as if thousands of voices cried out in terror, with guttural screams ranging from how the tour has “sold out” to shrieks of despair exclaiming that Summer Slaughter has gone soft on us. All this backlash from a simple tour announcement raises the questions: what gives? Why all the moaning and groaning at what seems (at least at first glance) like a solid line up? It’s prompted yours truly to do some critical thinking, like counting on my fingers, to try and figure this whole mess out.

 

First, let’s look at the bands on the line up. As seen to the left, four of the eight announced bands (Dillinger, Animals, Periphery, and The Ocean) are almost universally considered to be some of the premier progressive acts currently making music in the metal genre. It’s also worth noting that of these four, three of them are at the top of the bill, implying that they’ll be playing the longest sets during every show. The remaining four bands could loosely be described as death metal, with Norma Jean being the outlier. The point of all this band cataloging  is to show that at least half of the tour will be playing progressive metal. This isn’t counting the bands that have yet to be announced, which, if my sources are correct, include Veil of Maya and Within the Ruins, two more fairly progressive metal acts.

Another important note: Animals as Leaders and Periphery have already both been on this bill, with Periphery touring as recently as last year (you can throw Veil of Maya in that bucket too if my hypothesis is correct).

Looking at the previous Summer Slaughter line ups, it’s really interesting to see how the tour has progressed over these past 5 years. It’s gone from featuring some of the biggest death metal bands in the genre, such as Necrophagist and Black Dahlia Murder, to more progressive outfits, like Between the Buried and Me and Dillinger Escape Plan. In reality, this is where the entire metal genre has been headed during the past 5 years. We are currently in the middle of the transition from death metal being the most popular subgenre to progressive metal. If you’re still in doubt, just look at how fast Protest the Hero completed their Indiegogo campaign, or the incredibly rapid rise in popularity both Animals as Leaders and Periphery have found after only two albums. The point is, there’s a big shift in the metal genre right now, and the current Summer Slaughter line up is entirely indicative of this.

Thus, with all this information in mind, can we really blame all the angry metal heads out there raging over the Summer Slaughter bill? If, hypothetically, the Progressive Nation Tour started to feature black metal after 5 years, it’d be pretty easy to be upset at such a scenario. Sure, there are definitely black metal bands who push the envelope and “progress” the genre, but do they really belong on a bill that advertises itself as a progressive metal tour? An answer to such a question is one of pure opinion, and it can be debated, but there’s no real right answer. It’s just like saying that Animals as Leaders aren’t “extreme” enough to be on a tour that showcases some of the most “extreme” bands in the metal genre. How is “extreme” defined? The trio that make up Animals as Leaders are without a doubt some of the most talented musicians out there, and can certainly shred it up when they want to, but does that make them “extreme”? The same goes for the rest of the aforementioned bands. It’s completely up to debate just how extreme these musicians are, with no clear right or wrong answer. Even so, it’s hard to deny the fact that each and every band on the current line up is unique and different in their own way, and should not be missed simply because they might be out of place on this festival.

So when you’re on the forums of Heavy Blog is Heavy, or you’re perusing the Summer Slaughter Facebook page, before you go judging the metal heads who are completely bashing the line up, understand where they are coming from. Sure, they’re going to be missing out on some of the finest acts that the metal genre has to offer when the festival rolls around this summer, but know that their indignation is at least somewhat reasonable, with just a slight hint of butthurt.

intrinsic

Interview with The Contortionist’s Jonathan Carpenter

Every now and then, a band comes along that just blows everyone out of the water with each musical piece that they write. Right now, that band is The Contortionist. I recently got a chance to sit down (or rather, stand up) with their lead singer, Jonathan Carpenter, to talk about their newest release, Intrinsic.

Bröötalisk: Alright, let’s cut to the chase. Intrinsic is, to say the least, a powerful record. Can you give me your though process behind the transition from Exoplanet to Intrinsic? What did you want to accomplish with this record?

Jonathan Carpenter: When we did Exoplanet, we went with the space vibe and that was something that I think, even before I was in the band, was a goal for the end result to be a sci fi type of story. With this album, we had to make a choice of where to go. It’s kind of like a novel style of music. I think we just kept the elements that makes us different and stand out and what we’re good at and finally carved out all the shit we just didn’t want to do anymore. Kinda made a new sound that represents what we enjoy playing live and what we can play live well. We wanted to push ourselves further and know that we’re getting better at writing music and performing it. We tried to get our wide range of sound in the new album and diversified it. Keyboards are definitely more pronounced this record, but they also don’t take over the album. I think overall we’re really pleased with how production and our concepts turned out.

Bröötalisk: Where Exoplanet was about the destruction of our homeworld and our search for a new one, Intrinsic is more about the human mind and how we interpret reality. What inspired you to write such a complex album? Are these kinds of thought provoking themes something you plan to do with later records?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdnIMto1WNU

Jonathan Carpenter: There a bunch of books that I’ve read, mostly science, not necessarily science fiction, that talk about topics that are still being discovered, like neuroanatomy and different biotechnologies that are discussed on the album as far as story goes. Reading books like that inspired me to talk about things that could happen in the future. Things that could really change our daily lives and experiences of reality.

Bröötalisk: Misha Mansoor of Periphery mentioned that Intrinsic is more of a “grower album”. That is, you have to listen to it multiple times before you really understand and appreciate the record. Is that something you were going for with Intrinsic?

Jonathan Carpenter: No, I don’t think that necessarily motivated us. But we didn’t really have a goal to make music that could easily be understood either. We would ask ourselves, “Do we feel like these songs are any more commercial or simplified that represents pop music or anything that’s not thought provoking?” We still feel like the sounds and everything are very interesting and that they break expectations.

Bröötalisk: Speaking of Misha, he always speaks very highly of your band. Is it safe to say that The Contortionist and Periphery and are BFFs?

Jonathan Carpenter: Haha yeah, that’s a good term to describe it. Whenever we’ve toured with them, things were amazing. We got along really well. Buddying up with everybody in the tour. That was an amazing tour in general, but Periphery was definitely great to us. It was a lot of fun.

Bröötalisk: Is that when you first met the band?

Jonathan Carpenter: We had played one show with them before that, and it was just a one off day where two tours got combined randomly. It wasn’t expected. We were the first band to play out of 10 bands, so we played in front of like 15 people. They were one of the coheadliners. So yeah, we met them there, and a year later we toured together.

Bröötalisk: Many people have been speculating that Periphery and you guys might tour together some time soon. Is there any info you can give out on this?

Jonathan Carpenter: We don’t have anything solidified right now, but there have been talks between their manager and ours. Summer Slaughter was definitely something we tried to be in the running for, and unfortunately it didn’t work out this year. But who knows, maybe next year we’ll get that.

Bröötalisk:A little more off topic, I’m what you might call a vinyl enthusiast, so when I saw that Intrinsic wasn’t being pressed on vinyl, I was disappointed. Are there any future plans to release the album on vinyl?

Jonathan Carpenter: I’d imagine that’s very likely that will happen. The reason we just released a CD is because we wanted to focus on just getting it out there and then maybe later on do some secondary things and spice things up.

We just couldn’t keep our hands off of each other.

Bröötalisk: So, every time I mention that I listen to The Contortionist, almost every one seems to think I’m talking about something Cirque de Soleil. This made me wonder, where did you get the name “The Contortionist” from?

Jonathan Carpenter: I’m pretty sure that that originated from Joey, our drummer. I don’t know all the reasons for it. I think it’s kind of a mixture between sounding fucking awesome and the fact that we change our sound a lot. But I’m not really sure, it wasn’t me. I would say that it’s basically those two things. You know how it is when you have to pick out a name.

Bröötalisk: What are some of your favorite bands out there right now?

Jonathan Carpenter: There’s a lot of lighter stuff that have nothing to do with metal that I like to listen to, Deerhunter, Minus the Bear. I really like Wild Beasts a lot. As far as metal goes, the newest Textures album is still really sick, I like to jam that out. I also like Last Chance to Reason, busting out Level 2 never gets old. The new Periphery was also really awesome, I liked that. Other than that, I haven’t really been listening to music because I’ve been so busy finishing up recording. But now that that’s over, I’m starting to get back into the cycle again.