Originally Posted by toshiro
I believe the core of this whole thing is what each generation considers heavy, as far as bands go.
Bingo, we have a winner. This is something i've suspected for a LONG time, but have just never been able to put into words. Only thing is, while you said what you think my (appriximately, anyway, i'm sorta on the border, a little old to really be part of the nu-metal crowd at 21, but since i grew up in the grunge era, i can't really call myself part of the metal age before it...) generation calls heavy, you didn't get into your own views- listed some bands, but not what makes them heavy...
I'm not sure where i fall in the "heaviness" spectrum... for me, the heaviness falls in the groove. I suppose because i tend towards syncopated, funky, hip-hop inspired grinding riffs... Idunno, download linkin park's "With You." the pre-chorus riff in there is about the heaviest thing i've ever heard. Why? well, it IS played on a 7-string, in B... but that's not the real reason. what makes it so heavy are the following things:
1.) the way it's set up. the verse of the song is practically trip-hop; tranced out, slow, trippy. Then, out of nowhere, BAM! here comes this riff.
then, when you get to the chorus itself, it goes back to a (comparatively) half-time feel; big, sustained chords. So, we've got rule of heaviness #1; heaviness lies in contrast.
2.) It grooves, but not on a straight 1, 2, 3, 4. It's easy to follow the downbeats- any idiot could jump around and break **** to it. however, while 1 and 3 are straightforward, the neihborhood of 2 and 4 are filled with offbeat stacatto chugs and harmonic squeaks. In short, it's a very jarring riff, that you can still groove to. so, rule #2- heaviness lies in the groove.
3.) It is markedly "lower" than the surrounding material. It just so happens to be on the B, but that's regardless here; we're not talking about absolute pitch, just relative. the verse and chorus are based around an E-B-G-D progression; open E, 2nd position B bar chord, 3rd position G (i play it barred, but open would work too), and 3rd position D on the B string- essentially, dropped D's D5 chord. you then drop from there to a B an octave below; basically rififng on a syncopated B-C-B-B-B-harmonic groove. This is related to my personal rule #1- contrast. So, rule #3- heaviness can be a product of relative, not absolute pitch.
4.) It builds tension. the main verse riff and chorus riff is 8 bars long; two per chord. The pre-chorus riff is 2 bar long. It is also a much buisier riff, as previously mentioned. this creates a powerful tension that is released dramatically when you hit the chorus. So, rule #4- heaviness lies in tension and release.
*for those of you unfamiliar with this tune, DOWNLOAD IT NOW, even if you don't like Linkin Park. Two reasons for this- one, you'll be able to relate to what i'm talking about here, and be able to agree or disagree more effectively. Second, this really sounds like nothing else on the Cd. I'm not a massive LP fan- it's decent, for nu-metal, but it all sorta sounds the same... not this song. Easily the best song on the CD.*
So, how do you guys define heaviness? Hopefully, this helps... i think my rule #1 (and these are only my personal rules, that i sorta created on the spot to give you guys a look inside my head at how i judge heaviness- i don't expect anyone else to follow them, or even agree.) is the big one here; for me, the bands that are the heaviest are the ones who aren't going for the throat ALL the time. I'm just starting to get into Sevendust because of this- when they put their minds to it, they can be VERY heavy... but they also have melodic sections. I've only heard a few tunes of theirs on the radio, but if the rest of their stuff is similar, i could see myself becoming VERY fond of these guys- they're making music similar to what i've had in my head for a while.
So anyway, what makes a song or riff "heavy" to you guys?