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Commisaur
Metal newbie

Joined: Thu Apr 04, 2013 1:16 am
Posts: 193
PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2021 1:25 pm 
 

Why is it that some Alternative rock/metal guitarists like those from RATM and Tool are constantly praised by fans and critics (Grammys, Guitar magazines, music publications, Guitar Hero video game, Tom Morello was featured as the boss on GH3) for being amazing musicians that are capable of playing crazy technical parts and having highly unique styles? All the time you’ll here people say stuff like “OMG Tom Morello and Adam Jones are like the best guitarists ever. The stuff they play is so crazy and difficult to play and so utterly unique.” I used to talk and think like this all the time too, but then I got into extreme Metal and started to play the guitar myself and quickly discovered that Terrence Hobbes’ playing for Suffocation (especially Effigy of the Forgotten, my favorite album) is 100 times more crazy and difficult to play than anything from alt rock/metal. I’m pretty sure alternate picking, tremolo picking, down picking and playing actual powechords (with two to three fingers instead of just playing in a drop tuning to make a one finger power chord possible), traveling up and down the fretboard, soloing technically (incorporating sweep picking on many occasions) all constantly, save for the occasional slow breakdown, at 230 BPM for 4-5 minutes is more demanding, talented and uniquely technical than just strumming funk metal, playing drop D one finger power chords and mixing in some pedal effects all at around a midtempo 150 BPM, which is what I hear Tom Morello mostly doing for RATM.

No one in the mainstream recognizes or acknowledges this. Why are the guitar skills of Terrence Hobbes and others like him completely unacknowleged by these people? I think he deserves way more recognition for his skills. And the same goes for extreme Metal guitarists and musicians in general. Also something that no one ever seems to talk about including Extreme Metal fans themselves are the guitarists who can play crazy fast death/black/thrash metal AND do vocals at the same time in a live setting. How do they even remember the lyrics while simultaneously playing all that crazy stuff? That has never ceased to amaze me. Why doesn’t this get acknowledged more?

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Metal_On_The_Ascendant
Metalhead

Joined: Fri May 22, 2015 6:38 am
Posts: 1744
PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2021 1:41 pm 
 

Tom Morello is called 'innovative' from what I've read about him in those rags since ever. I agree. He always managed to make the guitar sound like something it was not. Measuring the skill of guitarists is a thankless job though. Because that shouldn't be the point of making music anyway.

Commisaur wrote:
How do they even remember the lyrics while simultaneously playing all that crazy stuff?


They rehearse. Plus they love what they're doing which makes everything a whole lot easier.
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Gas_Snake wrote:
....my attention span is not your guinea pig. If even one of your songs exceeds 10 minutes, you're either a fucking genius or you need to self-edit that shit.

Empyreal wrote:
Seems like a pretty reductive way to see art.

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Firmament1
Metal newbie

Joined: Sun Apr 12, 2020 1:40 am
Posts: 69
PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2021 1:53 pm 
 

I usually don't hear guys like Tom Morello being praised for their technical skills, but their playing style, or the music they've made. And I think the former is extremely fitting praise for Tom Morello of all people, with his use of effects. It's extremely distinct and recognizable. Not that this isn't the case for a lot of extreme metal musicians, but usually not to the same degree.

And let's be honest, most people don't know who Terrence Hobbes is. Most people don't really know about extreme metal, let alone the genre's key musicians. Besides, whether or not the music is good is more important than how much skill it takes to play it.

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Empyreal
The Final Frontier

Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2006 6:58 pm
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2021 2:42 pm 
 

The mainstream not recognizing underground bands isn't exactly some new revelation or anything... the underground is a thing and there are legions and legions of bands, of all genres, that are not properly recognized. Just how it is. Enjoy what you like and don't fret.

Plus, being crazy and technical =/= being good necessarily. This post comes off like some kind of edgy teenager's first time listening to metal.
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LithoJazzoSphere
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Joined: Thu Apr 23, 2020 8:11 pm
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Location: United States
PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2021 3:02 pm 
 

It's a popularity contest. Same reason Taylor Swift gets far more praise than Russell Allen.

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Metal_On_The_Ascendant
Metalhead

Joined: Fri May 22, 2015 6:38 am
Posts: 1744
PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2021 3:19 pm 
 

LithoJazzoSphere wrote:
It's a popularity contest. Same reason Taylor Swift gets far more praise than Russell Allen.


The apples-and-oranges-ness of this makes me think you're intentionally joking. Right?
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Gas_Snake wrote:
....my attention span is not your guinea pig. If even one of your songs exceeds 10 minutes, you're either a fucking genius or you need to self-edit that shit.

Empyreal wrote:
Seems like a pretty reductive way to see art.

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Coastliner
Metal newbie

Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2021 7:49 am
Posts: 191
Location: beyond the blue on some ancient, tattered Fates Warning cover
PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2021 4:01 pm 
 

Commisaur wrote:
Why doesn’t this get acknowledged more?


I think it always comes down to what moves you emotionally. One critic praises spider fingers because (s)he's left breathless, two more critics praise long notes, bendings and the silence between two notes because their breathing stops for a moment. That's it really. Personally, I prefer two notes by David Gilmour to the whole world of note blizzards; any type of weather is important though. [/music-the-ecosystem] :umbrella:
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GOOFAM
Metal newbie

Joined: Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:06 am
Posts: 136
Location: United States
PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2021 4:18 pm 
 

LithoJazzoSphere wrote:
It's a popularity contest. Same reason Taylor Swift gets far more praise than Russell Allen.


I don't really agree with the OP either, but this definitely isn't the same thing. For one, despite her legions of fans and what not, I don't think I've ever seen anyone praise Taylor Swift as a technically astounding vocalist. Her appeal, as far as I can tell, is more lyrical and songwriting-based. Popularity doesn't equal technical praise. Nobody argues that Bob Dylan or Ozzy or Billie Joe Armstrong are great singers from a technical perspective either (nor does anyone look at Dylan or Armstrong as guitar heroes).

What you do get is a popularity hierarchy within those who are technically at the forefront of a scene. Relative to most nu-metal type stuff, Morello was quite a flashy guitarist, and so the skill he had stood out. And that style of music was very popular for awhile, so he sort of seemed like the most advanced player around to folks who only focused on that exact scene. But certainly, plenty of metal guitarists at various times have worked their way into that kind of conversation (Yngwie, Petrucci, Dimebag, etc.), because they attain enough popularity to get some recognition and nearly everyone who hears them immediately notices their technical prowess. That's true of Russell Allen, too--anyone familiar with his work knows he's an accomplished singer, but his popularity caps his technical recognition below that of, say, Robert Plant, but above someone like Nils Molin or Felipe del Valle. This again contrasts with the Taylor Swift types, where sure, they have a lot of fans, but they also have a large group of folks who don't think they're very skilled at all.

I probably way overcomplicated this, but I think it works something like that.

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Benedict Donald
Metal newbie

Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2021 10:36 am
Posts: 149
Location: United States
PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2021 4:24 pm 
 

LithoJazzoSphere wrote:
It's a popularity contest. Same reason Taylor Swift gets far more praise than Russell Allen.



This.

This is the simple reality of it.

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Metal_On_The_Ascendant
Metalhead

Joined: Fri May 22, 2015 6:38 am
Posts: 1744
PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2021 4:26 pm 
 

@GOOFAM - Your post is excellent but calling Tom Morello part of the nu metal scene is inaccurate. His most notable band, Rage Against the Machine precedes nu-metal and was more a formative influence than actual part of.
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Gas_Snake wrote:
....my attention span is not your guinea pig. If even one of your songs exceeds 10 minutes, you're either a fucking genius or you need to self-edit that shit.

Empyreal wrote:
Seems like a pretty reductive way to see art.

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LithoJazzoSphere
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Joined: Thu Apr 23, 2020 8:11 pm
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2021 4:34 pm 
 

I've been a RATM fan for over two decades. People who praised Tom for technical virtuosity were a minority. He has some chops, but he rarely displays them. He was certainly above-average, but it's not that there weren't other capable guitarists connected to the nu-metal scene, from Mike Mushok, Mick Thompson/Jim Root, Daron Malakian, Greg Tribbett, Dan Donegan, Wes Borland, Rich Ward, etc. What enthused people about Morello's playing was the energy, the ability to craft catchy riffs, and how he could emulate turntable scratching and such in his "solos", not his hyper-speed sweep picking like the Shrapnel guys. I could play most any RATM song in my teens, it's not the technical difficulty that's the draw. The Swift comparison is of course an apples to oranges situation, I'm only talking about popularity. Taylor has a massive audience, Russ has a niche one. In the same way, RATM was all over the radio in the 90s and early 00s. You'll never hear Suffocation on a mainstream station, it's not music designed for mainstream appeal. So that's why you'll never hear as much adulation for Azagthoth, Suicmez, Karl Sanders, etc.


Last edited by LithoJazzoSphere on Sat Sep 25, 2021 4:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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GOOFAM
Metal newbie

Joined: Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:06 am
Posts: 136
Location: United States
PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2021 4:38 pm 
 

Metal_On_The_Ascendant wrote:
calling Tom Morello part of the nu metal scene is inaccurate. His most notable band, Rage Against the Machine precedes nu-metal and was more a formative influence than actual part of.


Sure. His popularity still occurred at a time when mainstream heavy music did not have an emphasis on showy leads or even notable riffs, which was mainly what I was getting at. I'm not sure fans of the '90s alt/nu-metal sound perceive RATM as really separated from it, but I generally agree that they retain a fair bit of distinctiveness.

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Metal_On_The_Ascendant
Metalhead

Joined: Fri May 22, 2015 6:38 am
Posts: 1744
PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2021 4:52 pm 
 

LithoJazzoSphere wrote:
I've been a RATM fan for over two decades. People who praised Tom for technical virtuosity were a minority. He has some chops, but he rarely displays them. What enthused people about his playing was the energy, the ability to craft catchy riffs, and how he could emulate turntable scratching and such in his "solos", not his hyper-speed sweep picking like the Shrapnel guys. I could play most any RATM song in my teens, it's not the technical difficulty that's the draw.


I remember a Total Guitar (UK not US magazine) article where Tom was showing you how to make your guitar bark like a dog and some of his stuff was not even based on effects but particular picking tricks he'd devised and whatnot. It was interesting to see that alongside string-skipping exercises and Paul Gilbert 'school of shred' columns. The magazines treated him like this quirky radical person when RATM was never really guitar-forward music like that.
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Gas_Snake wrote:
....my attention span is not your guinea pig. If even one of your songs exceeds 10 minutes, you're either a fucking genius or you need to self-edit that shit.

Empyreal wrote:
Seems like a pretty reductive way to see art.

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robotiq
Metal newbie

Joined: Wed Oct 03, 2007 6:08 am
Posts: 71
PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2021 5:12 pm 
 

Morello is one of my favourite guitarists, for many of the reasons already stated.
But also, his technique is impeccable (listen to the solo on "Settle for Nothing" for example).

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coupdebleus
Metal newbie

Joined: Thu Sep 05, 2019 3:11 pm
Posts: 81
PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2021 5:17 pm 
 

Commisaur wrote:
No one in the mainstream recognizes or acknowledges this.

Because it's not mainstream music and extreme metal dudes don't look like they're putting the work on reaching the masses. The guys like Polyphia, AAL, or Ichika Nito have mad chops and are getting a lot of mainstream presence because they invest on it while playing on genres that are extreme (within the parameters of popular music).

Music isn't supposed to be hard to execute just because anyways. If drop tuning gets you the same sonic result for powerchords as standard with half the effort, why suffer needlessly?
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LithoJazzoSphere
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2021 5:23 pm 
 

robotiq wrote:
Morello is one of my favourite guitarists, for many of the reasons already stated.
But also, his technique is impeccable (listen to the solo on "Settle for Nothing" for example).


I'd say "Take the Power Back" and "Know Your Enemy" are even better examples. But they're still hardly the focus of his playing.

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Metal_On_The_Ascendant
Metalhead

Joined: Fri May 22, 2015 6:38 am
Posts: 1744
PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2021 5:31 pm 
 

LithoJazzoSphere wrote:
robotiq wrote:
Morello is one of my favourite guitarists, for many of the reasons already stated.
But also, his technique is impeccable (listen to the solo on "Settle for Nothing" for example).


I'd say "Take the Power Back" and "Know Your Enemy" are even better examples. But they're still hardly the focus of his playing.


Good stuff. I find him most effective when he's in his sparse, atmospheric, doomish bag. Examples being Rage's "Revolver" and Audioslave's "Shadow On The Sun" but of course a lot of why those songs are great is owed to the other band members as well.

OP gave it away when they essentially made this Tom Morello vs. the typical extreme metal guitarist. Morello is not typical and a strange case for comparison.

coupdebleus wrote:
Because it's not mainstream music and extreme metal dudes don't look like they're putting the work on reaching the masses. The guys like Polyphia, AAL, or Ichika Nito have mad chops and are getting a lot of mainstream presence because they invest on it while playing on genres that are extreme (within the parameters of popular music).


There's also the point that shred as a specialized sub-genre exists and the magazines are routinely invested in those types of artists and fans because they epitomize utmost guitar playing. Death metal guitarists like Suffocation employ shredding as a tool to craft solos but they are not into the trade of shred. They are extreme metal artists well aware they are a niche genre.

Terrance Hobbs is likely to feature prominently in a guitarists list by Decibel than Guitar World and vice versa for Paul Gilbert.
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Gas_Snake wrote:
....my attention span is not your guinea pig. If even one of your songs exceeds 10 minutes, you're either a fucking genius or you need to self-edit that shit.

Empyreal wrote:
Seems like a pretty reductive way to see art.

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FLIPPITYFLOOP
Metalhead

Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2010 9:09 pm
Posts: 992
Location: Canada
PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2021 6:47 pm 
 

Metal_On_The_Ascendant wrote:
There's also the point that shred as a specialized sub-genre exists and the magazines are routinely invested in those types of artists and fans because they epitomize utmost guitar playing. Death metal guitarists like Suffocation employ shredding as a tool to craft solos but they are not into the trade of shred. They are extreme metal artists well aware they are a niche genre.

Terrance Hobbs is likely to feature prominently in a guitarists list by Decibel than Guitar World and vice versa for Paul Gilbert.


Yup. This.

Also, I used to hate on Tom Morello for a while, citing usual arguments like he's just making noise and wanking with pedals and such, until I one day ate my words when I heard Take The Power Back. Tom is indeed quite a good guitarist with nice chops and more than competent phrasing, and it's clear that for the most part, his lead ability isn't what he wants to focus on for RATM. That has my respect, as it's an artistic choice, rather than a technical hindrance.



Adam Jones is quite a good guitarist too, though his strengths are more on his rhythm abilities and his chord voicings - which shouldn't be too surprising given Tool's music. When guys like Adam and Tom are praised, it's important to consider WHAT specifically is being praised; as obvious as that sounds. I believe a lot has to do with the music they wrote, regardless of the level of technical ability in the guitar playing. There are a lot of great guitarists that aren't always featured in these mainstream magazines because even if their music was great, it was more niche and not fitting for the mainstream like what Guitar World caters to (hence why I don't really care about those magazines anymore).

I'd be really surprised if GW one day put out a feature article on Allan Holdsworth, for example. But I'd put my money on them doing an umpteenth edition on Jimi Hendrix first.

EDIT:

robotiq wrote:
Morello is one of my favourite guitarists, for many of the reasons already stated.
But also, his technique is impeccable (listen to the solo on "Settle for Nothing" for example).


Just took a listen to this after reading your comment - rad song overall and indeed a really nice solo!

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idunnosomename
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Dec 25, 2016 9:47 pm
Posts: 516
Location: England
PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2021 8:01 pm 
 

Tom Morello did put in the 8+ hours a day when he was getting started and had some tremendous chops. listen to the first RATM album all the way through, he's brilliant, the expanded edition also has some demo songs that also had some really clever shredding solos that channel Zeppelin, Van Halen and funk/hip-hop. but even later on in RATM's initial run he wasn't playing those legato runs in Know Your Enemy the same. Never rated him in Audioslave although I did like some of the work in the leaked Civilian demos.

Suffocation just need more props overall for everything from everyone really. one of my best gig experiences is seeing them (sans Frank, who wasn't doing the European leg) in this absolutely tiny club in Leeds three years ago. I did shake Terrance Hobbs' hand as he left the stage (which was barely a stage, it was just floor behind the monitors really) and really made my night. He is a superb guitarist, and it was a pleasure to be centimetres from his fretboard.

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Bingewolf
Metalhead

Joined: Mon Sep 18, 2017 9:59 pm
Posts: 742
Location: United States
PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2021 8:55 pm 
 

I love RATM and I liked Audioslave -- so I guess I'd say that I'm a fan of Tom's in that sense.... The thing with Tom is that it comes across that HE REALLY WANTS YOU TO KNOW HE'S THE GREATEST GUITARIST IN THE WORLD. Lol.

To the OP, very few people listen to extreme metal so of course they're going to take people like Tom and say how great he is.... I agree with your theory that there are so many great guitarists, but you're talking about one of the most famous musicians in the world. That's all that is. And to be fair, Tom is a great guitarist.... but this comparison is like "why do people like Corey Taylor but don't know about [insert any musician we like]" - it's all just marketing...

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LithoJazzoSphere
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Joined: Thu Apr 23, 2020 8:11 pm
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2021 9:16 pm 
 

idunnosomename wrote:
Tom Morello did put in the 8+ hours a day when he was getting started and had some tremendous chops.


I remember reading a interview with him (probably in GW) back in the day, and I think he said he had a 10-hour practice routine that he strictly adhered to, regardless of whether he had exams at Harvard or was sick. I don't know how long he held to it, but that was certainly ambitious.

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