A few weeks ago, I started browsing the internet for unsigned bands to take part in a compilation called “The United States of Metal”. Basically, we’re selecting one band per state to complete a 4 disc, 50 band sampler to pass out at WNY shows. Now, here’s the kicker and the inspiration for this article: The number of breakdowns being played in this country (probably at this exact moment in basements across America) is appalling to me. But just to get this out there before I get attacked for my opinion, I want all of you breakdown enthusiasts to know that I know where you’re coming from. I spent the early 2000s playing breakdowns as a drummer in bands and I also just spent the last 5 years using them sparingly as a guitarist. Now, I certainly don’t mean to imply that everyone uses breakdowns for the same reasons, but here were mine:
- If you have the right buildups in front of them, they can make or break a song as a mosh part.
- They’re a great excuse to let loose and thrash around on stage, if you’re the kind of player that pauses to focus on the actual riffs.
- They’re great filler. They increase the length of your song if you’re stumped on a part and require little to no musical skill (from a guitarist’s point of view).
However, after spending the last 15 years playing them, listening to them and inadvertently uncovering them everywhere, I’ve decided once and for all to check myself into breakdown rehab, and I suggest that a lot of you do the same. Sure, many deathcore and djent bands in particular, have some great songs and moments in songs that I can’t help but get into, but one thing this compilation has made me suspect is that a lot of you younger bands that thrive on chugs don’t realize how similar you all sound. If you ever have some free time, just go on google and type in “metal band from ____” and hit some random Reverb Nation and Bandcamp sites. You’re bound to find some gems, but you’re also bound to find the same breakdown or choppy djent part 6 or 7 times throughout your search, depending on how much time you put in.
Listen, I’m not trying to sound like a condescending asshole or a stellar musician. I am neither. In fact, most of the bands I’m talking about have drummers and guitarists that can outplay me with one arm or one arm and one foot, depending on the instrument, but I just had to get this out. Actually, that being said, don’t take this as negative criticism. Instead, try thinking of it as a professional courtesy (a warning) to those of you who don’t realize how much your band sounds like your neighbor’s band.
In conclusion, let me remind all you breakdown enthusiasts that if you’re writing a heavy chug as part of the song and there’s no way around it, that’s completely different. But I just can’t help but think that a lot of you guys are just filling in gaps with open notes because you can’t think of the next riff and you’d rather just finish the song and move on. If I’m wrong about the lot of you, then so be it. I can take a dose of reality in the form of a swift spin kick to the face. But what I can’t take is another breakdown band. So, that about does it. I’m officially in rehab and I’m not coming out until I can write a 12 song LP on guitar by myself without one senseless “beatdown” riff.
Cheers, my friends!