The melodic rock industry - time to step it up

The other day, we (that is Malcolm, Dave T and myself) had a private conversation about the state of the current melodic rock industry as commented on by MR.com's Andrew McNeice in a recent Facebook post.

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Much of what he wrote there is dead on the money. I've been barking on about this for nearly a decade, so this shouldn't come as a surprise that some of the new material nowadays is just so cookie cutter like, that originality and uniqueness has gone right out of the window.

Earlier this year I made the decision to completely ban Frontiers releases from being reviewed on the site, for this very reason, among other things.

There are many reasons why rock/metal music sounds like it does today. My main issue is that I believe rock music in general has been done to death. There's not much more that needs to be explored in these genres because we've had nearly 50 years of experience to do so.

Personally, I don't think you can make the genres fresh because the ideas behind the music, lyrics and arrangements are all going to be repeated.

Intro, verse, chorus, verse, bridge, solo, chorus x2, outro.

You get the picture?

I know many of you will have a opinion on all, and we look forward to seeing those within this thread. Over to you. ✅☕

Comments

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    It would appear that music has gone as far as it can with regards to a new fresh sound. It's like they don't want to create anymore but would rather swipe from the past. For instance the new single by Silk Sonic. Oh, it's smooth but I've heard it all before. It must have took them a year to create that song and it's already faded away. I consider myself very lucky to have heard all the best new music genres when they happened.. 60's music, Beatles, early 70s hard rock, lite rock, Disco, Punk, New Wave, synth rock, hair metal, grunge and all of the other types. My biggest complaint about new music is it can't hook me and it's because it all sounds the same.
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    CandymanCandyman Australia
    At this stage in my life I'm probably not looking for that fresh new sound. Love listening to the music I grew up with and decades later my music taste hasn't fallen too far from where it was when i was 15.

    Frontiers releases sound interesting with all the special projects and different artists coming together. That is until i hear the end product that more often than not sounds the same as the other releases on the label. Boring, lacking energy, memorable songs and whatever it was that got me into the band back in the day. Usually I will try and be enthusiastic and then after a couple of listens never play them again.

    There is some great new albums being released that i enjoy. Some by bands that were around back in the day and some that have only been around for a few years. Maybe, If the motive for getting the music out there is for the right reasons ie the songs are strong, the melodies flow and the energy is great then its going to be fine. If the motive is to capitalise on a name and their past glories then maybe the outcome is going to be less than satisfactory
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    I refuse to believe that all has been said and done in rock music. I believe that if an artist is willing enough, daring enough and creative enough, there are still areas that have not been explored thousands of times. However, that belief is really being tested, since there are so many artists and especially "projects" that try to emulate what has already been done. Especially Frontiers is guilty of pushing and promoting this type of music, hence I completely support the fact that you stopped reviewing anything from the Frontiers roster.

    As far as Andrew McNiece is concerned, I really couldn't stop laughing about the post you included in your opening post , @gdazegod . He was the one handing out top review scores to some of the most redundant, formulistic releases ever created in the history of mankind. And now he's getting sick of all that repetitive stuff. Priceless!
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    I could go back to reviews I wrote in 2003 where I was saying the same kind of thing. AOR has been mediocre since the late 80's in my eyes. But this Frontiers stuff is the bottom of the barrel. I cannot consciously listen to any of that type of stale Euro AOR.
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    PatrickHemmingPatrickHemming Tampa Florida
    edited May 2021
    I’ll throw my two cents into this discussion.

    From Rock & Roll’s very inception we’ve had musical followers to go along with the musical innovators. When I look at the decades in ten year chunks it’s easy to see both. In many cases artists were going down both paths simultaneously. As it stands seventy years down the line we definitely have more followers than innovators. For me it just stands to reason and I’m ok with that.

    I love AOR & Melodic Rock along with so many other genres. I value melody above everything else. If the song is good I’m not bothered one bit about whether it’s breaking any new ground. I’m perfectly fine with the production fitting the song in lieu of cluttering it up with a messy soundscape just for the sake of being different.

    That being said, different strokes for different folks. I can certainly appreciate everybody has their own needs & wants to satisfy that musical craving we all share.
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    ChrisChris Germany
    Every once in a while an album comes along that recreates the classic sound better than all the other contemporaries and the end result is so good that it could even compete with anything released in the eighties. To me that one album was last years's H.E.A.T II. So I'm okay with today's state of the scene when there is utter quality almost unrivaled by the classics of the past.

    But that quality is very rarely achieved, for the most part the market is flooded by mediocre releases that on the surface repeat all the right moves but have no longevity whatsoever. In example the Sweet Oblivion debut at first sight was a perfect recreation of the Empire-sound but on repeated listens it just had no variety and it came and went with no lasting impact on me. It's a fun listen but it's a far cry from the genius of classic Queensryche. And I can' t help but feel that these projects are solely created to sell music to people who still hunger for the "good old days" (me included). You just need a real band to create the magic needed for real creativity. You can't create that by hired guns who write and produce for a label to recreate a certain sound that they were not part in when it was invented.

    Long story cut short, these days i'm more hunting for rare classic stuff, often provided by this website, than collecting the hundreds of actual releases that come and go unnoticed.
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    george_the_jackgeorge_the_jack No man's land
    edited May 2021
    ''As far as Andrew McNiece is concerned, I really couldn't stop laughing about the post you included in your opening post , @gdazegod . He was the one handing out top review scores to some of the most redundant, formulistic releases ever created in the history of mankind. And now he's getting sick of all that repetitive stuff. Priceless!''
    This! That's the primary reason I stopped reading mr.com. Most reviews of those ''''projects'''' were ranging from 90 to 100 score while in real life I could barely stand one song out of them!

    I also saw that post. Bobby Barth's input was spot on and pretty much sums up what we've been discussing here for years.


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    edited May 2021
    Been saying the same for ages and ages and ages, and I tell you right now for me personally this argument has stretched right back to 2006 when I listened to the Brother Firetribe album - the great hope that year - and thought it was a load of generic junk yet it was raved about everywhere - it opened my eyes to the amount of cobblers that was being sold to us . I said this at the time - yet at the time was looked on as a heretic in some places. I hate it, ABSOLUTELY hate it with every sinew and fibre of my body and soul when bands consciously align themselves with a a scene - AOR, Melodic rock or whatever. Did Journey start out as an AOR band, Toto? Boston? No they started out as people playing music and got lumped into a genre by people who need to categorise.
    Some of the magazines today are like trade papers - one in particular that specialises in AOR /Melodic rock is like a running advert for its sponsors, albums with glowing reviews for generic crummy heard it all before stuff.
    A magazine that started with a vision who's soul was corrupted by it's advertisers.
    Another is just a pricey glossy advert for it's own label.
    This is why places like Glory Daze are important - unbiased, heartfelt comments by people who love the music.

    It's also happening in the Prog rock scene people trying so hard to be proggie that it kills the scene - some might have noble aspirations - but please stop looking at the past - people have already mapped that territory out - it's no use walking over the already well laid out map and claiming the territory as your own discovery . I mean Transatlantic? The complete soulless money making machine of recycled prog cliches that is? Lets give it 12 months until the Absolute Universe multiple live album comes out live in the USA, then the European version. Oooh how about a separate release for each version of the same album here it is the Breath of Life version live and the Forevermore version live.
    From a band so bereft of original ideas or feeling it's comical just plod it out (last really great song the lovely SHORT song Bridge Across Forever nearly 20 years ago). The prog equivalent of constipation idea wise but diarrhea marketing wise.
    But I suppose when things get popular or in the case of AOR a potentially ego inflating niche people flock to them like moths around a flame .
    Just play - be who you are and develop - have your influences but innovate not imitate.

    Who'd have thought At The Drive In - would have morphed into The Mars Volta - this is the truth in music - playing what you want regardless of popularity (or even in spite of) and being who you are and developing not photocopying.
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    gdazegodgdazegod Antipodes
    edited May 2021
    What Nick said. ✅
    The 90s was a classic case of genre jumping, and magazines like Kerrang jumping ship to support genres that had a better chance of helping them survive financially. Look how that turned out for them.
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    PatrickHemmingPatrickHemming Tampa Florida
    I love love love Brother Firetribe, pushes all my AOR buttons. I really do enjoy music, new or old, that is derivative of music from it’s past & I’m 100% unapologetic for it, I love what I love. At the same time I have much respect for everyone out there & their unique musical tastes.
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    gdazegodgdazegod Antipodes
    As I see it, there are very few surprises anymore, hence my earlier comment: 'done to death'.
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    Well, having heard the new Styx single which is utter garbage I am inclined to agree with a lot of the above, but... Rock music isn't over, but AOR/ melodic rock has run its course which was clear two decades ago. Even though I haven't contributed here much in the last 2-3 years, I do keep tabs on what's going on, who is getting buzz etc. and honestly its a struggle listen to. Old, tired ideas, rehashed and recycled does is not a 'scene' but an embarrassment for those involved and sites like MR that have perpetuated the situation with inflated reviews that anyone with common sense can see through have not helped.

    I love good AOR especially from 75-82 and keep the classics from that era in the collection and I'm good with that. Outside a few decent albums that come up every so often that truly rekindle the spirit and feel of those days gone by, I don't need to hear it again.

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    Hmmm....I don’t have any brilliant revelations but will join in the good conversation.

    I think it has something to do with age. Rock music has always been driven by youth... and youth just aren’t actively buying, listening to and making melodic rock like they were in the 70s/80s heyday. (You know... the ‘glory dayz’??????). Youth tends to generate innovation and excitement in whatever it gets involved with.

    But all is not lost... just when I think that maybe rock IS dead, along comes an unexpected catchy 3-chord charmer...and all of a sudden there’s hope. And hope is a good thing, maybe the best thing....and no good thing ever dies!
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    edited May 2021
    It's funny how it seems to affect AOR / Mel. rock specifically, maybe because it's the more laid back nature of the music, although I must admit some prog is getting very predictable too (and hence not prog :) ) .
    For instance the KK Priest clip - there's KK pretty much aping Judas Priest - but I really liked it. I think maybe if something is done with a kick of energy and conviction that it might bypass the pit that AOR sometimes wallows in. There are some goodish AOR bands but there are too many so - so ones. There was a good quote by the U.S. band The Graveyard Train that I read a while ago and they mentioned that after they got a little success and they were signed to a label they started noticing a number of "little Graveyard Trains" springing up everywhere. We know success breeds imitators but
    the newer bands even sound like each other. Mind you GT did very little as far as I know after that one album with Geffen. Chucklesome though as there is / was later on an Aussie band called Graveyard Train.
    I often wonder how much of this is down to homogenised studio environs where a sound can be punched in rather than people working out their own guitar sound, drum sound e.t.c.
    Plus a lot of it seems to lack any conviction or passion or variation they all sing and play the same way - you know when the next note or the next change before it's played half the time, there's a lack of experimentation of trying to get your own sound. Then there's the players and how they approach what they do these guitarists/vocalists could be interchangeable and you wouldn't notice, their techniques all seem the same - you can tell the difference between say Steve Perry or Brad Delp - you know it's them when they sing, you know the difference generally between Neil Schon and Steve Lukather. Spys didn't sound like Aviator and Aviator didn't sound like Balance and Balance didn't sound like Breathless e.t.c. - and these were the relative minor players who if anything should have been aping the big successful boys like Foreigner, Journey, Boston e.t.c. but they didn't, they had their own approaches and add to that Journey, Boston and Foreigner didn't sound alike.
    So it's back to the KK thing - it does sound like Priest (as you would expect due to its lineage I guess), but I'm probably going to dig into my pockets for it because if the rest is as good as the track released then I'm probably going to enjoy it, it's nothing new - but it has an energy, which brings us full circle - does AOR suffer due to it's laid back nature?
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    PatrickHemmingPatrickHemming Tampa Florida
    I’d make a horrible critic. Lol
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    CandymanCandyman Australia
    If someone tried to be groundbreaking and do something different I'm not sure if I'd like it anyway. lol
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    Brilliant —- candyman, that reply is hilarious ... and so dead on!!
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    Hahaha! Good comment and probably very true. I don't think I expect people to be ground breaking - just mix it up a bit and stop trying to sound like other bands - be a little more individual and get some energy back .
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    PatrickHemmingPatrickHemming Tampa Florida
    I suppose I’m a stickler for quality production. The last thing I want is for the next Eclipse album to sound like it was recorded in a tunnel.

    I’m a simple man. All I require is catchy music with a good production. No new ground need be broken to make me happy.
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