Back in the eighties, when music was overloaded with synthesizers and drum machines, a lot of people were afraid that machines were going to take over.
For many musicians, it’s still a real fear because we’re now in the age where a lot of singers can auto tune all their bad notes, and lip synch entire shows. But in the world of hardcore rock and roll and metal, there was no way you could get away with anything like that or you would get run out of town on a rail.
With metal especially, a band had to deliver their music without the help of modern trickery, or the fans just wouldn’t buy it. But now there’s the possibility that some time in the near future you may not even need to be human to deliver a great hard rock classic.
Many times when technology takes over, we mere humans are often the last to know, and this was certainly the case for me when I found out about the band Compressorhead. This is an all robot band, and all over the web there’s a video of these mechanical musicians playing a cover of Motorhead’s Ace of Spades.
Being a long time metal head, I was of course skeptical that a bunch of machines could replicate one of the greatest tunes in metal, but their cover was truly not bad. The robot drummer especially did a good job, but there’s no vocals, and what’s Motorhead without the throaty roar of Lemmy Kilmister?
According to a press release for the band, they are also programmed to cover the AC/DC tune TNT, Whole Lotta Love from Led Zeppelin, Pantera’s Becoming, and, appropriately enough, Sabbath’s Iron Man. They’re also going to play at Australia’s Big Day Out Festival this summer with the Chili Peppers and The Killers.
The band’s press release also asked us, “Did you ever wonder what Danny Carey [drummer from Tool] would sound like if he had 4 arms? How about if [AC/DC’s] Angus Young had 78 fingers? Imagine what [Metallica bassist] Robert Trujillo would sound like if he was actually made of metal? Well, wonder no more, meatbags. Compressorhead is the world’s heaviest metal band…Oil is thicker than blood.”
It’s a fun novelty to see what Compressorhead is capable of, but it’s also important to remember that a bunch of robots could never write or create a great song, it can only mimic one. Industrial metal bands like Ministry and Fear Factory would eventually bring technology that wasn’t normally used in heavy music to the party, like samples, drum triggers and loops, but as Fear Factory guitarist Dino Cazares once told Guitar World, it’s important to never lose your soul. This is especially true with metal, where feel is far more important than technical perfection any day, much like the blues.