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Headbangers’ Brawl 3/25: Are Metal Bands Just “Masturbating” When Playing With Orchestras?

Posted by on March 25, 2011

In an interview with Australia’s Soundwave TV, Slayer guitarist Kerry King was asked if the band would ever consider doing “some sort of crazy rock opera or anything really mental like that.” While you can watch his reply and the entire interview above, here’s what King said in response:

“I think when you play with an orchestra, you’re just masturbating yourself, and saying, ‘We’re king of the world. Let’s go play with an orchestra.’ Sorry, Metallica, but, unfortunately, you did that. [Laughs] There’s so many bands that do it just… It’s just masturbation, man. It was good before that.”

King’s colorful response brings up a heavily debated point in the world of metal. That’s why in this week’s Headbangers’ Brawl, Bram and Zach discuss whether metal bands performing with orchestras are cool or if they simply are ways for musicians to “masturbate.”

 

Zach: I’d say it really depends on the band. In certain situations, I think having an orchestra perform with a band fits really well, Dream Theater’s Score is a good example of that. Other times, though, it’s a combo that never should have been made (I’m looking at you KISS). So depending on the band, I think it can really add something special for the fans, which is how I view Metallica’s S&M.

 

Bram: I actually don’t view Metallica’s S&M as anything. It was pretty interesting for a few listens when it came out, but I really haven’t thought about it since it came out in 1999. That’s really the way I think of all orchestral collaborations. I’d imagine if you were there at the show, it was a phenomenal way to experience the band, but it’s not like it holds up.

As far as Kerry King, I think if there was an orchestra with the balls to play some Slayer songs with him, he’d probably change his tune. Having a full orchestra back you up might be “masturbation,” but there’s a reason people masturbate – it can be pretty powerful and awesome!

And it’s not like they broke any ground. Metallica really was just taking part in a tradition that bands like Deep Purple and the Moody Blues have done for years. Opeth has also performed with an orchestra. It’s pretty narrow-minded of King to dismiss any band that does that. I mean, try playing a guitar solo that isn’t completely sloppy and maybe I’ll move a little closer to agreeing with you.

 

Z: See, that’s actually where I personally disagree with you (in regards to S&M). I bought the 2 disc CD when I was in middle school and still listen to a few renditions off that album. As a whole live album, though, I agree it’s not as rememberable

As for Slayer being backed by an orchestra, I don’t necessarily know if I’d want to hear that. Would “Angel Of Death” or “Season Of The Abyss” be enhanced by an orchestra? I agree that masturbation is fun and sometimes powerful, but it doesn’t mean I want to watch everyone do it.

With all of this in mind, is there any band that you’d really want to see perform live with an orchestra? One band for me that comes to mind right away is Iron Maiden. They’ve definitely possess the epicness that backed by an orchestra would be even more powerful.

 

B: Tool would be interesting, but I can’t imagine being entertained by a full set with an orchestra by any band. I can think of a few non-metal bands that would be bolstered by a full orchestra, like Muse and Radiohead. Ultimately, I think Kerry King is ridiculous for his statement, but I don’t know that I’d want to sit through an entire orchestral set from any band. If they were sparingly used, I might be into it.

 

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Categorised in: Headbangers Brawl