Saturday, May 9, 2015

My thoughts on Runemagick

If I had to describe Runemagick in a few words, I could simply say that if there was a Eurovision Song Contest specifically for death metal and death/doom metal, Runemagick would be the eternal and undisputed winners. They display all the tropes of that event. They certainly have the melodies that stick with you for days on end and then seriously get on your nerves if you hear them one more time. They certainly have the songwriting that says nothing but makes sure it's what everyone wants to hear. They are guilty as charged when it comes to being absurdly overengineered to be liked by every single person on the planet. Everything is centered around the simplest and most inane possible hooks that exist for the sole purpose of being hummed along by as many people as possible. And there's nothing more to it, and certainly nothing of any substance. Sweden - twelve points.

You may think it's hyperbole, but it's really spot-on. I feel exactly the same about this band's material as I feel about a lot of pop songs. Incredibly catchy melodies at first, stuck in my head for days, incredibly grating after repeated listens. You can't not be annoyed by these banal hooks after about the tenth time you heard them. Runemagick try so hard to be inoffensive in every way that I don't know why they are playing extreme metal in the first place. They don't care about delivering anything of substance, they only care about that everyone whistles their melodies while doing the dishes. Can't say that approach will ever win a lot of favour with me.

Now with all the pop music comparisons, I think I need to make clear that I don't believe there is any major commercial intention behind the music. You can't compare this to bands like Cradle of Filth who do everything to catch any bit of attention they can get to sell as many records as possible. Nothing about Runemagick's image and appearance suggests they are interested in catching the attention of anyone, they appear to be proper metalheads and probably collected more death metal demos a month in the early 90s than I've owned in my lifetime. They have the look of your typical long-running underground band just doing its thing. The problem is that they don't seem to have any inclination to play anything even remotely interesting. It's all just a relentless onslaught of vapid hooks for the sake of vapid hooks. It never stops. There's never a second to break-up the "in one ear, out the other"-inanity with something even the slightest bit challenging to the listener's ears. You can do that in your Guns N' Roses tribute band, but death metal and death/doom metal really aren't the right genres for that type of songwriting approach.

That's really all there is to say. The songwriting is completely shallow, not a thing of substance to be found there. And all the other elements surrounding it follow the same path. Lyrics that say nothing in nice-sounding words, production jobs so clean you feel guilty your last shower was over four hours ago, artworks of a style you've seen a thousand times and weren't even impressed  the first time you saw it, even the logo seems like an afterthought. There's simply not a thing to this band that stands out in any way, except how much their music annoys me if I'm exposed to it for more than a few seconds.

Can we please have more interesting music instead? Something that throws you a curve ball, something unexpected. Something that might put you off on first listen but reveals its greatness after repeated listens. Something that challenges you, makes you think, keeps you interested. Something that real thought and inspiration was put into. Simply noodling one inoffensive bubblegum melody after another doesn't cut it. Give me a band that has my attention from the first second to the last. Runemagick can't keep my attention for the duration of the seconds it took me to type this sentence. Time for a healthy dose of Disembowelment's Transcendence into the Peripheral before my neurons start firing blanks.

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