Friday, March 16, 2007

Scars Of Tomorrow And Metalcore

Scars Of Tomorrow recently posted a message about breaking up, and of course thanking people along the way as many bands who break up do. If you like, you can read that message at their MySpace page here.

I’m not going to beat around the bush here, Scars Of Tomorrow have had a track record for making completely by the numbers metalcore albums. While some people have accused them of making the same album over and over again, I pretty much saw them as re-writing the same Poison The Well song “Rings Of Corona” usually around 9 to 13 times for each release.

For the average metalcore listener who isn’t worried to much about bands experimenting with a sound or being creative, but rather executing music in a “proper” way, I think many of those fans would’ve rated Scars Of Tomorrow to be things like “ok”, “decent” and “pretty good”. These same fans though haven’t viewed Scars Of Tomorrow as being as good as some of the big bands that Scars Of Tomorrow have attempted to run with.

I will admit, putting an album out every year, and touring as much as they have for every release they’ve put out, I really admire the work ethic that Scars Of Tomorrow have had. They’re practically touraholics. At the same time, I never saw them land a headlining tour, and if they were on a tour with a lot of bands, they usually ended up opening for most of the bands. For a band that’s been around as long as they have, and worked as hard as they could, all the hard work just didn’t seem to pay off (at least in their eyes I'm betting). I’ve even seen shows where the band playing earlier than Scars Of Tomorrow got a better crowd reaction. I’ve seen smaller bands, regional bands, and weirder bands than Scars Of Tomorrow get better crowd reactions, bring more fans to a venue, sell more merchandise, and sell more albums.

What gives though? I mean, as far as I can see it, Scars Of Tomorrow executed their music “properly” in the eyes of a lot of people, so shouldn’t they have been more popular, especially since they worked so hard? Looking back on the situation, considering how derivative the music they played was, I think they reached the peak of their success.

With Scars Of Tomorrow breaking up, my original thought was that this might be a good time to bring up an article which some people might see as a rant or a hyperbole about the whole metalcore scene and how there’s a lot of metalcore bands. I had a lot of difficulty trying to formulate what I wanted my message to be, because we’ve heard the argument so many times about metalcore being oversaturated. I wanted to create something detailing how record labels really work and what peoples chances are of actually “making it” in a metalcore band are because I live in a small city, and I see so many bands that don’t get signed. My intent was to create something to say “Take this as a warning, and do your homework!”, but if there’s something that I’ve learned about local bands looking to make it big, the messages about creativity and hard work often fall upon deaf ears and simply get ignored.

I’ve heard of people before talking about bands who they thought deserved to get signed, but never got their “big break”, despite all the supposed “hard work” the band set forth. The reason I placed quotations around “hard work” is because a lot of people have different interpretations of how much hard work it does take (or should take) for a band to get signed to a record label.

It’s been my personal experience that most record labels are always looking for bands to sign. Record labels want to hear that well done demo land on their desk, and they want to witness the live show from the local band that everyone has been talking about. This might sound harsh, but if you’re an unsigned band, there’s probably a good reason why you’re not signed.

I have the belief that if a band is really that good, and has truly and actually put in the amount of “hard work” required, then I think things should work themselves out just fine, record signing and all. After all, if a band is truly putting in the required amount of “hard work” then they should also know what they’re in for in terms of watching out for bad deals, fake record labels, and the amount of success they might achieve. I’m tempted to say that there’s a typical exception to bands knowing what they’re doing, and working hard enough to get signed, which is supposed to be music so experimental and strange that no one gets it, yet there’s even a market for music that strange.


Converge has a great attitude towards getting their music out to people, the classic DIY attitude (standing for Do It Yourself). Instead of waiting around and relying on other people to do the work for them, they made their own shirts, booked their own tours, made their own record label, did their own artwork, lugged around their own stuff, changed their own strings, tuned up their own instruments, recorded the music themselves, and produced some of their own albums. Converge even made their own studio to record their own music. Rumour has it that Converge could afford to tour in a bus, yet they choose not to because it’s cheaper. I seriously wonder if any of the members of Converge own the equipment to press vinyls and make CDs, and operate that equipment when they have time.

Are there some bands that are going to get away without putting out the “hard work” needed? Sure, it’s always going to happen. Even from a creative standpoint some bands will be extremely derivative of their peers, but still manage to overshoot a lot of other bands and become relatively big. Still, even in those cases, those bands shooting straight for rock stardom and looking to make it as big as say Mastodon, Lamb Of God, Hatebreed, Shadows Fall or Killswitch Engage haven’t obtained the same level of success as those bands who took the time, worked hard and paid their dues. Actually, I can only think of a very few bands (maybe 3?) that get consistently beat up on in reviews for being clone bands bent on stardom. I’ll refrain from naming any names to be polite.

One has to wonder if said clone bands getting pretty close to hanging with the big boys will outlast the scene or not, or if adding a new popular clone band will chip some time away at how long metalcore will last before the bottom falls out of the whole thing. All these factors being taken into account, simply because a band plays generic metalcore doesn’t mean they’ll gain that much popularity, but who knows, maybe we’ll see a local band from my hometown become the next Scars Of Tomorrow.

Scars Of Tomorrow
Scars Of Tomorrow At Victory
Scars Of Tomorrow At MySpace

Some links to some album reviews for Scars Of Tomorrows previous albums:
Rope Tied To The Trigger Review At Metal Review
The Horror Of Realization At Metal Review
Rope Tied To The Trigger At The PRP
The Failure In Drowning At Decibel Magazine



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