The ‘what is dubstep?‘ conversation is one that’s been had many times here on FatKidOnFire – but as the sound expands and new listeners discover the genre it’s a conversation that often needs repeating.
As the mainstream continues to confuse the ‘dubstep’ sound with something entirely separate to what the word means to, say, followers of FKOF; we end up where we are today.
Metal fan Matt recently hit me up with the following post and I offered to give it a home. The below is an interesting discussion about what happens when musicians try their hand at making electronic music under the guise of dubstep. It’s not a topic I’ve put much thought into before – so I thought I’d let him deal with this somewhat controversial area…
Listening recently to a track far from FKOF’s traditional territory made me realise just how hard dubstep has hit the mainstream. The song was Muse’s ‘Unsustainable‘, from the album ‘The 2nd Law‘. It was almost offensively generic, stereotypically mainstream ‘dubstep’ at its worst.
Now, we know that the band like to dabble, and that they’re generally going down the electronic path, but this felt like something different. It didn’t feel incorporated or part of the record, it just felt chucked in because it was (their idea of) dubstep; the current ‘it’ music.
Maybe they were missing the point of dubstep, perhaps having taken inspiration from hearing Skrillex or similar. There certainly seems to be a trend of rock artists waxing lyrical about how ‘heavy’ dubstep is. Are they getting the wrong end of the stick?
This got me thinking – coming from the other side, can dubstep hybrids be successful? Is there something to be said about the dubstep + rock/ metal fusion? After all, there’s only so far you can go with some samples, a bassline or two and a few drum layers. As the genre becomes more popular (/saturated?), there are going to be those who start experimenting and innovating.
The music needs to go somewhere, so I decided to investigate some genre-benders…
I’m going to admit, I don’t know a huge amount about dubstep. My background is in metal, and most of my dubstep knowledge comes from following this very blog. As dubstep is not my speciality, I wanted to explore it from the metal angle; looking at the ever-growing ‘metalstep’/’deathstep’ scenes.
Before I chuck out some tracks, I’m not suggesting that this is for everyone – you may hate it. (We’re not even sure what we think of it.)
All I’m saying is that I had hunch that dubstep+metal could work, or at least be the beginning of something. Thinking about it, the two genres are not totally different (perhaps that discussion is better suited for a future post). Both are bass-heavy and work toward the breakdown/drop (whatever you want to call it), as well as displaying some sick drum work.
Talking of which, let’s dive straight in…
The Algorithm – Continuity
Brainchild of Rémi Gallego, who has a background in mathcore (which goes some way towards explaining the musical schizophrenia). Not always dubstep, but if you’re looking for a genre FKOF-up here we go. Perhaps the most ‘metal’ side of ‘metalstep’.
Sluggo ft. Wes Geer – Engineered To Destroy
Out and out brostep – more uptempo and in-your-face than is really necessary. Sluggo also collaborates with Korn frontman Jonathan Davis as part of Killbot, so it’s unsurprising to hear the Nu Metal sound coming through (especially in the guitar intro).
Antiserum and Dubsworth – Ugly Mon
A little less manic than the previous two, although with metal-style guitar lead over bass wobbles and grinds. With little imagination needed, the guitar-heavy intro could lead straight into an industrial record…
MIMK – Check Your Knickers Baby
Medusa in My Knickers. This duo from France create self-proclaimed ‘heavy EDM dubstep’. A provocative choice, and if I’m honest it’s getting a little too shit close to the hilarity that is ‘crunkcore’ for my liking.
Metal has a long history of electronic experimentation. Think NIN, think Rammstein or even the industrial genre in general. Think of Pendulum and their collab with In Flames, or more recently Korn’s interesting ‘The Path of Totality‘ album.
We’re at a stage where the ‘EDM’ (for the use of a better classification) genres are becoming more intertwined with other genres than ever before. Producers (and therefore the music we hear from them) continue to evolve, expand and proliferate in the variation of sounds made. Radio stations and the mainstream media continue to convolute the airwaves (digital and otherwise) with their take on the ‘dubstep’ sound. Is ‘metalstep’, or whatever it’ll be pigeonholed as, another chapter in the bastardisation of electronic music, or should it be more deserving of some recognition? It’s certainly a scene which is getting busier and busier.
All I’d say is, watch this space.
We haven’t got comments here on FKOF2.0 yet (as we’re still trying to find a decent mobile-optimised provider), so if Matt’s post inspires a reaction let us know on Facebook or Twitter. Matt will be back on FKOF in the future with more conversation pieces so if you’ve enjoyed his first post remember to bookmark his post tag.
Peace, love and respect.