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Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Legacy Contorted: The Facts About Dimebag Darrell And His Opinion Of Seven String Guitars

I rarely deal with the subject of music aside from the sporadic and very blue moon posts about certain issues that I find infuriating because they might be genuinely rife with irrationality, or be of a patently false nature. This is one of those topics that contains ample quantities of both vices – irrationality and falsehoods, spawned from the very ignorant depths of the Metal Community.

There's a subject that's been getting under my skin for the last ten years. It is closely linked with the controversy over seven string guitars as some niche breed of instruments that have somehow – through idiocy and cultural bigotry – cultivated a controversial reputation for being sheer tools of mediocrity in the hands of “talentless musicians” such as Nu Metal acts. I am not even going to get into the blanket condemnation of alternative and Nu Metal, since that's another subject, but I will focus on the baseless nature of this claim that seven strings are somehow tools for the sham musicians. 

Now what makes this irrationality worse is the cornerstone arguments in support of this opinion and pure perception – note: not fact – touted by purists of the metal genre, and worsened by the unquestioning group psychology of the community. What is this argument? It is a powerful claim that is apparently buried beneath an ocean of obscure and baseless references to the late and great “Dimebag” Darrell Lance Abbot: legendary hard rock and heavy metal guitarist; founder and iconic lead guitarist of heavy metal band, Pantera. I would like to address this misconception in full detail by treating this entry as a treatise of Dimebag's guitar philosophy, along with exposing the source of this misconception, which would then dispel this false dogma and perception of how this late legend denounced seven string guitars.

"Why does this get under your skin?" - Some Might Wonder

First, a bit of proper introduction and background to the thematic in question. Having a fundamental allegiance to most things fringe, heavy, black-natured, scrawled with blasphemous wounds of the macabre, and rife with unadulterated Satanic edge; I have an inexplicable, and irrefutable connection with the heavy metal culture, including many of its sub-genres and contemporary off-shoots. If it sounds dark, heavy, moody, and possibly thought-provoking. . . I'm there, and I'm ready to appraise it as well as feed off its energy like some starved demonic force from the cryptic splurge within a dying catacomb. I like my heavy metal, and I indulge in this appetite without any sense of restraint – I like heavy noise, and I employ instruments to create heavy noise; whether it appeals to an audience, an individual, or no one, is not my prerogative, but needless to say, I have like-minded allies in this pursuit.

Given my passion for all things dark and heavy, I tend to become a bit hung up on facts, claims, and conjecture, especially when one of my idealised veterans of the trade are falsely implicated in another moron's agenda. Now if only I had a pretty fuckin' penny for every time I've heard some no-name alias over the internet or some random stranger at a gig, go on to recount stories about meeting a famous musician and then proceeding to express opinions on behalf of said musician – some true, some pure fallacy. I am not going to imply that all claims of this nature are wrong, but I am going to make it very clear that these claims are purely claims until otherwise reinforced by factual information.

The claim that Dimebag hated seven strings with an unholy passion was one such exaggeration that has fuelled the argument by certain metal purists against seven string guitars. This, I think needs to be addressed properly since even the deepest natured research only unveils random hearsay from forums and sevenstring.org. It's usually that secondary-source anecdotal cliché, such as, 'My friend's cousin's ex-dead girlfriend's mother's second husband read some obscure scroll – that was destroyed during the Spanish Inquisition – about Dimebag that one time and the scroll said that he (Dimebag) hated seven string guitars!' I am sorry, but this is just not going to fly in the face of reason. Not to mention, the information is hardly even secondary since there's no trace of primary sources as one begins to unravel the concatenation of hearsay – it's really just a wide waffle of gossip with no real substance.

There is no doubt in my mind that Dimebag was a passionate musician with a skill-set and mastery of the axe that few among the modern-day greats could even dream of honing, so in my books, he earned a legitimate badge of honour to freely opine and critique. However, even then, I wouldn't allow myself to be swayed by his authority; there have been points where I disagree with Dimebag. Nevertheless, having had the immense honour to meet the guy once and only once, I know that his legendary skill is matched by the humble mentality of a complimenting rationalist; he's always been a flexible and open-minded individual.

The truth of the matter is this, Dimebag Darrell has always – without apology – held the view that guitarists should strive for better and achieve the most they can from the limitations of their instrument rather than being alien to the range of their musical weapon of choice. 

"Own your weapon, and don't let your weapon own you!" -- Inspired by Dimebag

This was the truth of it all. . . Dimebag never had a high opinion of guitarists with simplistic skill, but neither did he ever take exception to this and fully agreed with the age-old artistic anti-doctrine of, “To each, their own. . . If it works for you, then good!” Likewise, he didn't see the point of seven string guitars in the hands of individuals who'd only be using the lower three strings of the instrument – one could easily achieve this on a standard guitar, making the whole seven string feature an obsolete fad in the context of a guitarist who wouldn't utilise the full range of the instrument anyway. He even referenced Scott Ian of Anthrax using just a four string guitar as a legitimate stance and position [1].

Ah, so when we observe some facts, stop looking at things in absolute shades of black and white, and halt this relentless debauchery of taking shit out of context, it becomes evident that Dime never had an issue with seven string guitars, or even four string guitars. . . He had an issue with people who'd buy seven-stringers to show off while only using 3 strings of the instrument; something anyone could accomplish by simply down-tuning a standard six-string guitar – Dime did it himself!” – Reality Check

Indeed, Dimebag himself was a connoisseur of drop and low tunings, which he executed just fine on a six-stringer. He was an amazing guitarist, and he was able to capture all of his sounds within the constraints of his instrument – this was the hallmark of his pride and glory as a musician. Somehow, after Dimebag's unfortunate demise, and the subsequent case of the 'Chinese Whispers' amongst some of his ignorant devotees, Dimebag's legacy was now being seized to support this anti-down tune and seven string guitar crusade; a crusade that was never even Dimebag's mandate or burden in the first place, and a gross perversion of his personal position on the subject. It's these kind of seizing tactics and overarching zealotry that pisses me off; where the legacy of deceased legendary artists is disgustingly usurped by the myopic and misguided agenda of some opinionated elitist fans who never understood the concept of art in the first place. With this kind of rumour-mongering, before you know it, we have an entire internet audience quoting Dimebag as 'the hater of seven stringers' with impunity – as though it is one of those irrefutable facts that one cannot dare to question.

I will acknowledge that I am not certain how many people treat such proclamations seriously; I certainly tried my damn best to ignore this bullshit up until a recent incident. I am also certain that the subject is of little interest to outsiders, and doesn't even matter to most, but this is my domain where I chronicle my thoughts, and as a long-time fan of Dimebag's work, I feel that his true legacy needs to be honoured here rather than abused for the perpetuation of falsehoods. So this can be seen as my effort towards dispelling this insidious erroneous urban myth about him hating a certain kind of guitar.

Dimebag Darrell never hated seven string guitars, he simply didn't see the purpose of these guitars in the hands of artists who can't even use a standard instrument to full capacity – he saw their utility and market appeal as a pure gimmick that might mislead other aspiring artists who could do just as well without going that route. If anything, he was trying to enlighten the masses on the real implications of guitar range and how much can be accomplished even with a standard guitar, and what more can be done with one that contains an added lower baritone key. Unfortunately, Dimebag Darrell's little interview with Guitarworld from 1999 – one that I had read – is most likely the source of this snowballed rumour. I believe it was this interview that was grossly misinterpreted and taken out of context by some poser, raging, boozing, image-incorporated head banger, who most likely – in a moment of head-swirling, brain numbing frenzy – chose to perceive that as an all-out condemnation of all things associated with the number 7, before proceeding to infect the rest of this cesspit-network called the internet with this myth that has now taken on a life of its own under the guise of an 'unquestionable fact'. If there's a supporting argument for stereotypical metal fans lacking intellectual fortitude, this myth would be a stand-out piece since they're doing great disservice to their own deceased hero.

To quote Dimebag's closing comments on that subject:
I’m not saying I wouldn’t play a seven-string. It’s just that I’ve never needed one. Most dudes who play seven-strings don’t sound any different than someone playing a six-string that’s tuned down.” - Dimebag Darrell: Cra-Z-Boy;  Guitarworld, 1999

There we have it; truth magnified sans hyperbole and misleading conjecture. Dimebag never denounced or decried these guitars. It's dogmatic group-think like this that demonstrates just how the opinionated nature of the metal community will always be its sine que non Achilles Heel, since much of the bravado and passionate vulgar and gusto-stricken opinions are a false-front for an otherwise baseless or weak position on a subject matter where facts are anything but evident. It's just a shame for them that I don't tolerate jar heads hijacking Dimebag's name to rationalise their very illogical insecurities against the idea of diversity within the metal genre of music. So here's to the truth; the demise of a misconception, and genuine credence to the legacy of a great guitarist.

Finally, here's to Dimebag Darrell, as I honour his true memory in its unadulterated state today, along with hopes that I can use seven string guitars to their full capacity, someday. As it stands, I'm a terrible guitarist/noise-maker. Yeah, I'm one of those blaspheming heathens who abuses a seven-string guitar with pride, and when I met Dime, he didn't have much a problem with my philosophy, so long as gimmickry wasn't part of the parcel, which it wasn't. In fact, this post was provoked by my recent acquisition of the Dean Razorback 255 - 7 String, which prompted a not so well-informed outburst by one of my respected, but somewhat ignorant friends about how Dimebag 'hated 7 string'; clearly a far fuckin' cry from any form of truth.


Have a good one, moshers. Don't let too much of that blood rush to yer heads!


Kade


Reference:
[1] Chris Gill. (1999). Dimebag Darrel: Cra-Z-Boy. Available: http://www.guitarworld.com/dimebag-darrell-cra-z-boy?page=0,3. Last accessed 15th January 2012.


This post is dedicated to the memory and grandiose stature of Dimebag Darrell; an iconic guitarist and a man who loved all musical instruments regardless of their string count. . . and regardless of what certain idiots on Blabbermouth.net's comments section would have us believe.



11 comments:

Callysto Calaveras said...

Your blog is scary yet you seem knowledgeable about your topics.

How is that as a blogger you have no contact info available?

Kade (Storm) said...

Damn. Someone posted a comment. . . Reality explodes. Heh. Come to set my limbo ablaze?


First off, thanks for the acknowledgement. I'm content just being seen as an informed and thought-out speculator, although facts and genuine knowledge always help. To take things further, I think we both know that knowledge can be very scary, and this website is a representation of my aesthetic and outlook; it's meant to be both iconoclastic yet populist, yet contrarian – the whole paradox. If there was a hint of homage to reality in HP Lovecraft's horror-science fiction, then it would be the underlying theme of his stories where madness is achieved through the kind of absolute knowledge that would leave its subjects horrified in throes of nerve-retching dementia.

Anyway, to be fair, I don't think I necessarily pass the qualification of an actual blogger. The amount of posts in complete segregation – that have been made over the last decade, more or less make this an online lexicon of my thoughts and editorial slants. I guess that in pursuit of having a literary point of reference and cathartic outlet to off-set those final days when I'd have completely lost my mind, I forgot about the rest of the factors and activities that often come with blogging.

I'll look into the profile as I wasn't aware of contact information features or things of that sort. I'm still ignorant of the actual features of blogger.

Callysto Calaveras said...

I....have no clue what you're talking about on here. Well I mean I understand what you are talking about, but it would be like me talking to you about the finer points of womens intuition borne from the salem witch hunts.

I clicked on Hedonist and was brought here. I was expecting facebook or some garbage where I could grab an email because honestly who protects tehir information anymore these days.

So I figured maybe I'll read an article and post a comment. Well your page is scary it almost makes me want to leave. It's a little TOO demonic.

If not for your prose and way with words when pouring your syrupy batter into a frying pan of delicious thoughts it might have been a different story.

I am well versed in blogging. However Blogger somehow was never the sight to get seen at. Try livejournal. or video blogging at youtube. I must admit with the advent of vlogging, blogging has become sort of an outdated expression modality.

As for the content and intent of your blogging you are doing exactly what a blogger does.

The only issue I see is what you choose to write about only a select few people will understand or be curious enough to seek you out.

It's a tragedy and a complex at the same time.

Kade (Storm) said...

Yeah, that Facebook and other garbage, even though I am on some of 'em. . . oh the shame. But a great way to touch base.

To be honest, I rarely hide behind aliases, aside from Hedonist for wrestlinginc, because average internet wrestling fans can be quite. . . tedious to manage. So I am not that hard to track down, actually; it's not like the internet's overflowing with a lot of Kade Storms, last time I checked. Close contacts often think I'm making an easily traceable target out of myself since some of my craftily expressed axioms on here can be pretty scathing towards certain extremists.


Speaking of pros, those be some mighty strong ones of your own up there. . . complex, too. Why? Because I don't exactly know whether to feel condemned or profoundly commended. Being the self-righteous spawner of Satan that I am, I will take the post as a commendation! Muchos gracias! Seriously, cheers for the solid words!


Complexity is good, even in its tragic form. Speaking in an introspective context, personal conflict and complexity speak for individuals. Hell, I'll write something about that sometime.


As for what bloggers do or don't do. . . I am sure writing is something I do share with them, but I was speaking of the aftermath of the writing. Most individuals enjoy the platform as something beyond just personal outlet, which is why they have an audience and worthwhile interaction with said audience. There's recent blogs that have turned into bustling communities because that effort and intention was put in place. Clearly, on that front, I am the proverbial hermit. I just don't identify with that kind of profile, but I do see this blog as an accurate representation of my profile, so whatever link I have to offer, it is to this domain. Now whether that makes me a typical blogger or not, I can never be sure personally.


Livejournal? I've been there and done that. . . thing is that I've been on here long enough, and have contacts in the journalism community, who've encouraged me towards other platforms and websites. Yet I always seem to return to this place, segregated and ranting into oblivion. I've come to accept that there's a stubborn pattern at play. Although I have always wondered if there's something genuinely greater to livejounral or wordpress or [insert name of another website] than blogger, but my research turns up little. . . then again, I don't research the competition much.


Youtube. . . Ahahahahaha! Oh. I don't think those are two ingredients that can mix. To put it simply, Youtube ain't good for my blood pressure if I were exposed to it on such a level.


As for this place. Yes, it is rather putrid, scary, satanic, and off-putting. . . I'd say that's a very accurate representation of who I am. Plain and simple.

The outlook and thematic here is indeed very myopic, niche, and limited – no doubt. Then again, I wasn't really looking to vlog or preach to popular opinion per se – simply chronicle my thoughts as though I am my own audience addressing my self. Sometimes that sense of separation from ones own essence helps resolve internal conflicts as all of us cannot reconcile our inner thoughts and philosophies by hashing out that internal monologue. Did I mention that I am partially insane? No? Don't believe it? Ah. Thought I'd try. Seriously, I think it's very cathartic and a great way to actually re-examine one's views by putting them down on paper – digitally or otherwise – and then viewing them from another perspective by sheer proxy.


Well, thanks again for the worthwhile exchange -- the quality words of support. It is certainly a stark and welcomed contrast to the usual case of anonymous douche-bags posting incoherent babble because they take exception to the content. It's happened before, a few times.

Cheers.

Brandon Harvey said...

Greetings. Playing a 7 String dean dime razorback, ive wondered if dimebag ever played one himself. So i began to search the internet, and came upon this page. Knowing that stuff being said that he "hated" 7 string guitars, ive been very interested to read through this. And what i was reading here was pure satisfaction. This indeed sounds far more like dimebag, and im speechless how someone digged out the truth like that. And even thou im not a good guitarist yet, im working hard to tame my beast and dominate it, because i too think that you must take full advantage of the possibility a instrument gives you.

Kade Storm A.K.A. Hedonist said...

Thanks for dropping by and the support.

I'm generally rather put off by this elitist attitude in certain stunted corners of the metal community where anything from using drop tunings to certain play techniques are myopically passed off as 'cheating'. Music is the realisation of an artistic concept and should not be confused with some kind of olympic sport with an absurd notion of cheating.

This kind of attitude sets the wrong tone for understanding and exploiting the qualities of various extreme metal genres. I mean, what's next? Distortion is cheating?! Pfft.

Pegging lower baritone tuning against the standard range tunings (E-to-C) does produce a difference. For a darker and heavier tempo, lower tunings will produce a heavier percussive effect and that is unattainable at higher tunings. It certainly isn't cheating, but it is creativity. Dimebag himself employed this consistently, as with each Pantera album as his tunings seem to have gotten lower in order to achieve a deeper percussive sound to his rhythm passages.

I think that Lawrence Roberts, guitarist of classic Doom-Death Metal band Novembers Doom, had some of the best thoughts on the subject of down tuning and 7 string guitars. In this one post, he managed to address both the issue of tuning and the somewhat ignorant attitude within metal elitists with regards to down tuning. Have a read if you're interested. I'll definitely be discussing this at some point.

Link: http://www.ultimatemetal.com/forum/novembers-doom/255396-downtuning.html

Cheers.

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