Like everything else, human beings feel the need to categorise music. Unfortunately, this is restricting bands from exploring and exploiting their talent for fearing of losing fans; having problems with the recording labels; and most important of all, losing money and their jobs. The generic public who listens to anything that is played on the radio, is just good enough to vote for the best lipstick in a women’s magazine or for the sexiest blonde in a men’s magazine, and not to be selective with music genres. Such crowds are being misled by this idea.
I do believe that there are bands which can be very heavy, difficult, and sometimes disturbing to listen to. Though because of this music categorisation, and MTV influence, there are a number of bands who fall under the umbrella of rock genre who never saw the light at the end of the tunnel. This is quite a misfortune, when considering that some of them are better than any commercial rock band out there. I’ve seen people whom as soon as you try to tell them to listen to a particular band, simply refuse just because the band is classified as rock.
Ever heard of Paradise Lost? They are one of the few gothic metal, British bands who had the courage to go from one extreme to the other in just six albums. Lost Paradise, their first studio album was a heavy death/doom album. In every subsequent album they released, one could notice the evolution of their music and the band themselves. Even their image changed: the clothes they wear; the way they behave on stage etc. Their music got softer till they released their sixth studio album One Second, a synthpop master piece. While dj’ing, I’ve played songs from this album in non-rock clubs, and people came up to the dj stand to ask me who this band was. They even asked me to play more songs from the same album. If only I could tell them that this band falls under the gothic metal genre!
Many people stop listening to a particular band or artist because they changed their style and genre. I accept the fact that not everyone got enough bandwidth to handle a wide variety of music genres. Though it trips my overload switch when people say that a particular band is not good anymore because they changed genre. Do they expect that every band sticks to the same genre? Grow up! Looking at myself, when I was sixteen, I could be more than happy listening to heaviest and darkest metal. Fourteen years later I prefer to listen to something less aggressive, maybe with more with electronic influence and less guitar distortion.
And the same happens to a band. After all, a band is formed by human beings, and like everyone else, they get older and their taste changes. When they are in their early twenties, they like to play heavy and destroy instruments, but when they grow up, they find it more satisfying to play softer music.
The Gathering, a well-known Dutch band has also gone through evolution, and thanks to this evolution they lost a good number of fans. Their everlasting thirst for always experimenting with different genres of music, cost them dearly. When you compare Always, their first studio album, with The West Pole, you wouldn’t even recognize them. The first album is heavy, doom metal, while their latest release, is as good as Pink Floyd music, and I am not joking.
Is it wrong, or is it right that bands change? Unlike all the thirsty for money record label directors, I think it is the best option to allow bands to go through their natural evolution. Let them experiment and do what they want to do, because that is the only way how you can get the best out them. Unless bands experiment with music, there will never be something new and original to listen to. Back in their early days, Pink Floyd were classified as an alternative band. Today they are Pink Floyd, an iconic band every human being heard of! If you like a specific album from a band, and not their latest releases, it does not mean the band does not play good music anymore. It means that the band is experimenting with music, and respect that fact without pointing fingers at their previous or new work. Just don’t listen to it if you do not like it.