Think Tank: Reptilian Replication Edition

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The venerable Dr. Dubzlinger of Washington has allowed your reptilian hindrance.. friend… uhhhh.. acquaintance to offer up an edition of this esteemed column for your perusal. This post will cover the concept of replication in metal, or music in general really. I’m not talking about bands that are merely influenced by others, I’m talking about bands that seem to exist solely to replicate their idols. The (loose) question is – does it take as much/more skill to create a style or to create a nearly identical replication of an existing style?

Every now and then throughout history an artist has come along who is, over time, considered to be a pioneer, or of genre-defining proportions to their art. Their craft is the epitome. They have set a new standard for which others will reach. People will try to follow their lead, taking cues from various elements and mixing in styles taken from others, or original concepts of their own, creating something new (yet still somewhat derivative) with the combination. Then there are those who appear to have the ability to essentially forge the exact style of the original proponent. These are the artists we are going to be looking at today.

Art forgery has presumably been going on since art became a commodity. However sinister it may be, if you can create a duplicate of something that will fool even those who live and breathe the art, you must have some skill. I’m not talking about crude knock-offs, or copies of something that was originally some average run-of-the-mill exercise in mediocrity. I’m referring to high-end art. The material that scholars fight over ad infinitum. If they’re using AAS (Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometry) to check if your Fuseli is legit, someone else can fucking paint.

This concept can be applied to music. After the (awesome) Gruesome album Savage Land dropped earlier this year, the cold-blood started pumping through my little lizard brain. Death were such a force in the formation of one of the most heavily expanded upon genres of metal, yet it’s been nearly 20 years since their last album, and to my knowledge, no-one has managed to sound as close to them as Gruesome. Surely this is not through lack of trying, Death are fucking icons.

Hardcore Chuck fans may have been a bit sour about the band’s debut album sounding so similar to their beloved hero, others seemed extremely happy to hear a group continuing on his legacy. Gruesome (featuring members of Exhumed, Possession, Malevolent Creation and Derkéta) made no secrets about their worship and wore the influence on their sleeve proudly. They even went as far as to get Ed Repka‘s handiwork for the album cover. Had you told me 2015’s Savage Land was a contemporary remastered version of a lost Death recording between the Scream Bloody Gore and Leprosy albums, I wouldn’t have had the means to definitively prove you wrong. Do they possess a similar skill level as Death? I don’t think the answer is as easy as the one you’re about to assert so assuredly below in the comments.

The relationship between Death and Gruesome is not the only one that I considered for this article. Another similar connection can be made between Dissection and Thulcandra. In both instances (Death and Dissection), the vocalist/guitarist has died and the band disbanded following the death. The parallels are stark. Toilet Ov Hell’s resident grindologist Tyree offered me a couple of other similarly salient examples of worship to add to the two I have used so far, with Regurgitate aping the early goregrind period of Carcass and Blasphemy bowing at the throne of Sarcófago.

What I’m asking could be easily misinterpreted. The skills required to create a style are different to those required to perfectly mimic it. With practice, practically anyone can learn to play an identical cover of a Metallica song but to create an original song/album which could ostensibly be a Metallica song to a devout fan, is surely an art of its own.

Well I’ve said enough. It’s time for you to have your say. So crack a beer, pour a single malt (islay or GTFO), put on your dankest smoking jacket and fire up!

(Image viavia, via, via, via)

  • DCLXVI

    That gruesome cover art is pretty, um, racist

  • Very interesting article. I wouldn’t even know where to begin to start if I were to try and replicate almost any artists sound. Both Gruesome and Thulcandra have had really great albums this year. I can only hope that at some point in the future, someone will will try to copy Woods of Ypres’ sound as there aren’t many bands I’ve found that come close to it.

  • The Haunting Presence of Tyree
  • Hubert

    So the lizard people really are controlling the government?

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      That’s really all I got out of this article too.

  • The Haunting Presence of Tyree
    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      You drunk retard.

      • The Haunting Presence of Tyree

        If being drunk & retarded is wrong. I don’t wanna be right.

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

          Good man.

      • Dubzlinger, Malandro

        Yo, not to be all PC police, but maybe we should find alternatives to the word “retard”.

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

          Yo, too late. How about fucking idiot, stupid bastard, mentally challenged homosexual, inebriated dummy….?

          • Dubzlinger, Malandro

            Some of those would work, I guess, haha

        • Howard Dean

          Like imbecile, moron, or idiot? Or tard?

          • Dubzlinger, Malandro

            Go with the first three. I’m not saying don’t insult each other, just be sensitive to people with real disabilities.

          • Howard Dean
          • Dubzlinger, Malandro

            If it were up to the anti-vaxxers, polio would be making a comeback.

          • Howard Dean

            I know, fucked up. Those people are really retar… I mean, idiotic, imbecilic and moronic.

          • Dubzlinger, Malandro

            Asinine, even.

          • Howard Dean

            Asses, even.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Some would call them mentally challenged homosexuals.

          • Howard Dean

            Or developmentally delayed pan-gendered technophobes.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            I can’t top that one. You win Dean, byah!!!!!

          • Howard Dean

            inb4 everyone doesn’t touch this one with a 10 foot stun gun. Haha.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Done.

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            Amen to that. I dont use that word because I know people with disabilities. I don’t like it when people throw the word autism around like it’s a bad thing as well.

  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    This is a good question. My answer would be yes and no. If you are trying to replicate something like jazz fusion it will be hard. If you’re trying to replicate FFDP or Slipknot it would be relatively easy.

  • Dubzlinger, Malandro

    The amount of skill it takes to create fraudulent paintings is incredible. I think a follow-up question is whether we should praise the mimics as much as the original.

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      Being derivative ain’t a bad thing.

      • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

        Being derivative ain’t a bad thing.

        • Ha!

        • Dubzlinger, Malandro

          I would have done the same.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            I already did.

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      That is true. To be able to create an exact replica of a painting is extremely hard.

    • Good point, Dubz.

    • more beer

      It possibly takes more skill to create a perfect fraud. That being said Gruesome did exactly what they set out to do. Put out a record that is supposed to sound like the Death worship that it is.

  • What the hell, I liked Thulcandra and Gruesome because it makes me have a distinct follow-up to two dead bands. Bring the merol 😀

  • I think some bands that straight rip a style can improve upon the original sound. At this point, I’m way more excited about new Cannabis Corpse albums than Cannibal Corpse.

  • I have no problem with a band mimicking another band’s stlye as long as it’s up to the quality of the art they are immitating. Sometimes the band evolves later on and gains their own identity. When Norma Jean first came out, they were a Botch/Coalesce knockoff but a good one. A few albums later, they came into their own.

    • Dagon

      Kyuss has a pretty evident transition from their first EP/album to the second and so on.

      Good transitions are always appreciated.

  • Question: does it take as much/more skill to create a style or to create a nearly identical replication of an existing style?

    Personally I think it takes quite a bit of patience to mimic some one else style, for the main reason that it is some one else that created it. Does patience mean skill? Maybe.

    As a musician, I have always found it incredible difficult to learn other peoples songs. Specifically metal songs. I love metal, but I absolutely hate sitting down trying to learn someone else music… because it is not my style. I would rather sit down, play some twanging bluegrass, have some fun, and not be weedly deedly circle jerked to death.

    Also, some of the most innovative/whateveryouwanttocallit skills/techniques were developed through improvisation. Improv is on the spot(pseudo on the spot)! So trying to mimic someone else’s moment of glory (when you yourself have your own style) is tough.

    Mimic someone else’s material is kinda boring anyway. Music should be about having fun and being in the moment.

    GL

    • I’m going to use this to justify why I suck at metal guitar.

      • Dagon

        I’m going to use this to justify why everything I play sounds like that one Myrkur video.

      • I think another reason why “metal” guitar playing is so hard, is because it is hard. The distortion is up, there is no dynamics, you fuck a note and durrrrrdurrrrrsounds. I have always thought the amount of time it took to be proficient was way more than I wanted to spend. I would rather pick up a guitar, un amplified, play for a tad and put it down.

        GL

        • Yep. I spend 10x more time with my acoustic guitars than I do with the rock or metal electrics.

          • DCLXVI

            wanna sell that two neck you have?

          • NEVER!

          • DCLXVI

            flush!

          • I swear it is the dynamics that make them move appealing. All the individual notes do not get lost! I feel ya.

            How is the country album coming? I was picking a bit last night thinking about that…

            GL

          • It’s coming… The singer in my band just finished his solo album and it sounds pretty fucking great. I’ve gotta step up my game with it.

          • Is yours all instrumental?

          • There are a few instrumental tracks. Trying to learn how to sing like a normal person instead of just shouting.

          • Sshouting, lololoz. Man singing is tough! I am pumped to hear the tunes, though.

          • I might share a demo on the Facebook page so everyone can make fun of me for pretending to be Ryan Adams.

          • you’re not gonna pick up the ladies at a frat party with electrics.

          • hahahaa playing acoustics at parties….

            guy: *suave voice* “bb, I am so deep. Listen to this song.”
            lady: “Oh myyyy gursh, my dick is crushed!”
            guy: “oh bb, you sound like my toilet frands!”

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            You should hear my acoustic cover of House Of The Rising Sun. It’s not perfected yet but it will be soon.

          • more beer

            That`s what alcohol is for!

          • Ted Nü-Djent ™

            Joe on acoustic guitar..

            https://youtu.be/ooyPX1ciFqo

      • RustyShackleford

        I’m with Joe because I also suck at metal guitar lol. Everytime I try to do original metal stuff it sounds dumb, but I can play blues all damn day.

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      Amen to that GL. I don’t play metal guitar for the reasons you explained. I play acoustic guitar mostly and even though I’m not good I’ve been practicing.

    • tertius_decimus

      What he said. >>>>>

      Developing your own style can be fun even if good things you do, you do unintentionally. Then, when you’re sitting eleven hours in the bedroom trying to play exactly note-to-note what was previously written or worse — trying to replicate someone’s style, you start hating music. Most classical musicians from academical orchestras I’ve talked to kept saying how they loathe academical music for this very reason. They’re obliged to play something a man doesn’t feel, what is not the part of his/her soul. This is maybe the reason why classical music seems too boring for many — lack of personality. Personality is everything in art, ESPECIALLY if you are pipe organ keyboardist and your main job is to play Bach’s toccatas.

  • The Hard Rock genre, at least the radio rock portion, is mostly if not all replication

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      Very cookie cutter.

      • Yup, it’s a genre that is on the verge of dying if someone doesn’t save it. No David Draiman you cannot save it fuck off and die.

        • didn’t it die when nickelback was invented?

          • Nah there were still some good creative bands at the time.

        • Janitor Jim Duggan

          What happens when the genre dies out though? What will the bands that still exist at that point be reduced to?

    • DCLXVI

      HAIL TO THE KING!

      • M Shadows!

        YOU BETTER HAVE A GOOD REASON FOR SUMMONING ME!

  • Stanley

    So I was out for my run this morning and Skeletonwitch popped up on the shuffle. This riff at 1:35 in “Born of the Light That Does Not Shine” is the SAME as the riff at 1:05 in Misþyrming’s “Söngur heiftar”. Well there you go.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7ueNqEuwLI

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPMkitGwcE8

  • The Haunting Presence of Tyree

    For those that are not aware, it’s the anniversary of Jon Nödtveidt’s death.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_tXbsTOV4Q

  • sweetooth0

    I dunno, I always thought Regurgitate had one of the more unique sounds in the goregrind genre. There’s similarities to Carcass, but I find Regurgitate to have more of a crusty d-beat vibe to their tunes, and once they established that singular pitch shifted vocal style on Carnivorous Erection they sound pretty much instantly recognizable and unique to me. Now County Medical Examiners and Carcass, yeah that’s basically the Death/Gruesome thing right there.

    • The Haunting Presence of Tyree

      Definitely crusty! But, that first Carcass album was a HUGE influence. Especially in the early days of Regurgitate.

      • sweetooth0

        Yeah, I mean they pretty much set the template for the genre. Haemmorhage sounds a little closer to me though (and isn’t an intentional “clone” band like CME), although they ended up sounding more thrashy later on.

        • The Haunting Presence of Tyree

          Still one of my all time favorite gore-grind albums. So raw and disgusting.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31KL7i-apmQ

          • sweetooth0

            And then they release Sickening Bliss which actually has really solid production but it still sounds nasty as all hell. Band needs to put out another record!
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fu98cbU9GCU

          • The Haunting Presence of Tyree

            Glad they decided to go for more of the gore-grind approach on this one. Deviant was good, but it was more crusty grindcore more then anything.

          • sweetooth0

            Yeah Deviant is good, but I’m glad they brought back the prominent pitch shifted vox and the gore!

          • sweetooth0

            This ones good too and features some re-records of classic tracks in the newer Carniverous Erection style: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spVNzUvCBZg

          • The Haunting Presence of Tyree

            YES! Great release. I have this t-shirt actually.

          • Waynecro

            My brother had the Carnivorous Erection shirt when he was, like, 14. He thought it was pretty cool, but he quickly learned that the shirt is 100 percent girl repellent. He later learned a similar lesson with an Anal Blast shirt.

          • sweetooth0

            I managed to snag the double vinyl with the etched side and the extra 7″ of Effortless…. It fucking rules!

          • The Haunting Presence of Tyree

            Holy shit!

      • sweetooth0

        I’m sure to non-goregrinders it all sounds the same anyway

        • The Haunting Presence of Tyree

          Haha, bunch of fucking noise and gurgles.

  • Celtic Frosty

    Dissection isn’t listed as a “Related Artist” on Thulcandra’s Spotify page. Death isn’t listed on Gruesome’s Spotify page.

    • Dagon

      I thought I was the only one that payed attention to this stuff.

      • Celtic Frosty

        I always check the related artists, either to mock Spotify’s terrible algorithm or to find new stuff. Usually the former.

        • Dubzlinger, Malandro

          I love Spotify, but its recommendations are usually a big ol’ swing and a miss.

          • Celtic Frosty

            If you like this awesome band, here are 15 bands that fall somewhere within this same genre, or maybe not at all!

          • Dubzlinger, Malandro

            It once suggested Fair to Midland as a similar band to Meshuggah.

          • now there’s a band i miss

        • Dagon

          It’s specially crappy when bands with the same name get lumped in together. Their recommendations are usually ok to good though.

        • 9 times out of 10 you wind up with crap but like you, I’m a sucker and I end up dissappointed most of the time.

    • DCLXVI

      on this topic….I was looking through PIssgrave related acts this morning and came upon this toilet gold standard band https://open.spotify.com/artist/2ukHyCQ7IvZvT4MQas8KwV

  • Dubzlinger, Malandro

    I noticed an almost identical riff earlier this year. Check the intros to “Death Is This Communion” and “Black Psychedelia.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzYCGffMxsk

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyToitx5oew

    • Dagon

      Nice catch! Completely different genres/vibes though. Interesting.

  • Spear

    I’d say it depends on where the replicator’s musical persuasions lie. For example, AEvangelist made an album that sounded exactly like Portal, I don’t think it would show as much skill as if a band like Revocation made an album that sounded exactly like Portal. I feel like it takes a ton of skill to cast aside your own songwriting propensities to delve deep enough into the mindset of another artist to mimic them perfectly.

  • OldMetalHead

    I was and still am to some extent a fan of pre Hail A7X. I have to say I was pretty damn impressed at the time how well Mike Portnoy was able to acquire and replicate Jimmy’s drumming style for Nightmare. I know that’s not the discussion, just saying.
    Also Hail itself it pretty derivative to the point that I find it boring (also, can not fucking stand the drumming on that album), but again not identical enough to be a part of this discussion.

    • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS

      M Shadows?

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      M Shadows is not amused.

  • Guacamole Jim

    “does it take as much/more skill to create a style or to create a nearly identical replication of an existing style?”

    If we’re talking about skill as in “the ability to do something well; expertise” then it’s hard to say. I would almost say that people who define the genre, the pioneers, have less “skill” than the people who come after them and refine it, yet they people who started it have the vision necessary to move society along. Oft times the bands who come along with the new ideas don’t do it as “well” as the bands that steal them.

    • OldMetalHead

      I was thinking along the same lines. Skill and creativity are two different things. Someone skilled enough to take a vision beyond it’s original confines may very well be more skillful than the creator, not more creative though.

  • Dagon

    I just saw this while browsing Honest Album Art on Facebook.

  • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

    SABBATH = original kick ass metal. All else is derivative! No need for further discussion.

    That is all.

    • tertius_decimus

      Trettioåriga Kriget were playing proto-doom long before everyone.

      • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

        many attempts…..Only one King!

        • tertius_decimus

          …and his name is Crimson!

          • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

            ha!

  • Malted Hate

    I find it lame when a band tries to mimic a specific band, even going as far as having similar art. It bores me.
    There’s plenty of bands that in beginning stick very close to the sound of certain bands but ultimately they’ll either find their own sound, or pull in other influences to balance it.
    Bands like Gruesome set very specific guidelines for themselves that make that very very unlikely to happen.

    Nothing against Gruesome, but if I want Death I’ll listen to Death, and they are not my favorite death metal band ever so their output is enough for me.

  • 365chaosriddendays

    A reptilian in tie jacket that writes about Gruesome (this was my dream since my childhood) is awesome, good record in my opinion, well, Tyler Durden could answer to the question: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ol9CdCpSMac
    and speaking about Gruesome stuff, check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znqxMrZAeuc

  • Max

    I honestly don’t have a problem with clone bands on the face of it. I resolved this one to my personal satisfaction a long time ago: Bands invariably release a new album every two years. For a teenager, that’s a long time to wait. If you’re really deeply into a band’s style, sound, message and imagery, why WOULDN’T you tide yourself over with a couple of other bands who are consciously trying to do the same thing, but are at conveniently different stages in the album-release cycle?

    That’s actually why, more broadly, record labels sign up so many bands doing something similar in the initial development stage of a genre. The demand for that general style is outpacing the productive output of any one artist.

    Later on, the impetus becomes even more obvious: the originators have either disbanded or stopped producing that specific type of musical / sonic vibe. Entombed, alas, are never going to make another Left Hand Path. Carcass are certainly not ever going to make another Symphonies of Sickness. Discharge are never going to replicate Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing. Hellhammer are never going to reform. If it’s up to the Dismembers, Exhumeds, Disfears, and Gallhammers of the world to try their hand at recreating the magic, then so be it. (Whether or not they succeed is another matter, of course.)

  • Speyside or GTFO. (Kidding.)