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For those of you who follow our Facebook page, you may be aware that I have spent the last week on the Barge To Hell metal cruise in the Bahamas. When you lose access to wi-fi and sleep for a whole week there is a ton of stuff to catch up on! Filtering through the press releases that had built up in my inbox, I managed to happen across a little band from Montreal called Fallstaf. This quintet play a brand of straight up “modern metal”, drawing influences from a broad range of big name acts such as Mushroomhead, Five Finger Death Punch and Hatebreed.

While I realize to many of you that doesn’t exactly sound like the most appealing blend, fear not, because Fallstaf have a gimmick that they’re sure will set them apart from the crowd! One of the five members is dubbed as “The Hitman” and masks his identity with a black balaclava. The hitman’s instrument of choice is a trombone, which he uses in a somewhat limited fashion. Check out their new music for the track “Miller’s Crossing“:

Fallstaf have dubbed themselves as “brass metal” and I suppose that`s why I felt compelled to write about this. Metal has continued to expand and extend from its musical roots, to a point where not only is it no longer a mere offshoot of rock, but now has a vast network of its own tangents and subgenres.

However, 2012 is drawing to a close and looking at the landscape of metal now, is adding a single instrument to a mix enough to announce the coming of another new subgenre? We have subgenres based on onomatopoeic guitar tones (djent), time signature nincompoopery (mathcore) and the adoption and blending of entire musical styles (Ninjaspy as ska metal – Rammstein as industrial metal et al). The point is; can you really justify featuring a trombone in your band as the birth of “brass metal”

Considering also that brass in metal is nothing new. Progressive artists such as Devin Townsend have always dabbled in using small brass sections across their catalogue (admittedly nothing prominent, just for a little bit of added texture). The saxophone is a popular instrument for black metal king Jørgen Munkeby, who has used it prominently through his own works in his Blackjazz (stylistic blend of black metal and jazz) band Shining and has guested on Ihsahn’s previous two albums; adding in crazy saxophone shredding. Even Napalm Death on their most recent album Utilitarian turned to John Zorn and approached him to record some saxophone parts for the song “Everyday Pox“:

None of these bands have started calling themselves brass metal or claiming that they’ve created anything new. Shining are a blackjazz band (even naming their last album after their style), not because they employ the use of a saxophone from time to time, but because their entire musical style is black metal enforced with the leanings of the jazz genre.

Diablo Swing Orchestra are another band who use brass in their metal and go by the aptly named genre “swing metal”. This is because their music is a mixture of swing and metal and is incredibly evident in their songs almost immediately.

It’s all very well to add a multitude of cool instruments to your music and I love to see musicians branch out; but you have to go a certain distance to prove to others that it’s more than just a gimmick and actually serves to further your sound.

Fallstaf have one album released in October of last year entitled Bastards of a Pure Breed. Check it out and decide for yourself whether they qualify as a new genre.

What do you guys think? What does it take to create a new subgenre in metal? Sound off in the comments!