Much in the same way as my previous post made a breakdown of which bands I consider the original-bands and which I consider the genre-bands, this post will break that idea of Original-Bands down further, into bands with a clear and audible ‘personality’ in their music.
Obviously there are other bands that I don’t listen to or have forgotten, bu the following is a rough list of bands that I feel have a huge degree of personality in their sound.
It would have been tempting just to add every progressive rock band to the list, as that was kind of the point of most of their careers and why those separate bands got stuck into one genre in the first place. Peter Gabriel, Keith Emerson and Steve Howe for example all have such vastly different musical outlooks and directions that it is strange anyone would consider them to be a part of the same genre. If you listen to ‘The Battle Of Epping Forest,’ ‘Living Sin’ and ‘Siberian Khatru’ one after eachother for example, you would find three clear instances of unique personality invading the music. With that in mind I only included a few prog bands with an extra special, abnormally high level of Personality in their music.
Personality is difficult to define anyway, as it is different from just distinctness (which DOES play a large part in it) but also takes into account a sort of auteur nature from the creators, or indeed gimmickry. If you can somehow build a picture of the individual creator imparting more of themselves in a song than is normal, then that is an example of music with personality.
With that said, here is my list of bands in my iTunes library that I consider to have more personality in their music than normal:
Amon Amarth – The Norse thing. Any song will convey this.
Amen – Casey Chaos is a character and it comes across most of the time. Listen to ‘Justified’
Anthrax – Specifically the Joey era. Joey was almost as much of a character as Casey Chaos. Listen to ‘Imitation Of Life’
Arctic Monkeys – One of the most distinct vocal and playing styles in music, in a scene of a million copycats they still sound truly original. There is much more of themselves in their music than most other bands. Listen to ‘R U Mine’ or ‘Still Take You Home’
Biohazard – The mixture of metal, hardcore and rap is enough, then both singers have huge personality on top.
Clutch– Again, a unique voice and approach in a sea of identical artists. Clutch are so distinct both musically and vocally. Listen to ‘Raised By Horses’
Cradle Of Filth – Nothing, ever, is similar.
Gentle Giant – Originality and distinctiveness were literally included in the band’s actual mission statement.
Guns n Roses – I’m running out of ways to say it at this stage. Listen to ‘Anything Goes’
Iron Maiden – First off there’s Eddie, then there’s Bruce’s vocal style, then the instantly recognizable guitars.
Jethro Tull – Nothing, Ever, is remotely similar to Jethro Tull. Anderson (and Barre) leak personality from every pore. Listen to ‘Sea Lion’
Jimi Hendrix – His personality was essentially what made the whole thing work. Without it most of his catalouge would be a bizarre mess. Listen to ‘House Burning Down’
Judas Priest – No one I’ve heard has ever had more voices than Rob Halford, and few bands have covered more ground without spreading themselves too thin. You’d need to listen to a lot to understand just how many voices Halford has though.
Kiss – No explanation is really needed, you’ve heard enough Kiss.
Korn – Even bands that specifically tried to rip them off don’t capture the unique sound or vocal approach of Korn. Any song will convey that.
Led Zeppelin – You can tell Led Zeppelin from a million miles away and any band ever enthusiastically described as Led Zepp clones barely sound like them at all.
The Libertines – There was more personality than actual music going on, their huge individual flavours and personal input turns short, scratchy and rough half-songs into characterful stories that are usually charming and memorable. Listen to ‘What Became Of The Likely Lads’
Limp Bizkit– There were five really unique musical voices, a completely unique frontman and an overwhelming lack of restraint. Despite supremely talented musicians (Wes, Sam and Jon are really special when you think about it), the personality of the band is so strong it almost seems like you could apply ‘more personality than music’ to them too.
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Skynyrd’s personality is as all pervasive to their 1970s Southern Rock as Arctic Monkeys’ is to their 2000’s British Indie. Listen to ‘Travelin Man’
Marilyn Manson – The personality is so overwhelming that the collaborative band ended up being known as if it was a solo act. Then literally became one. Any song will convey that.
Monster Magnet – Dave Wyndorf. His likes, dislikes and sense of humour seperate them from everybody else. Listen to ‘Kiss Of The Scorpion.’
Nine Inch Nails – Trent Reznor is just like Dave Wyndorf in that department
Nirvana – Say what you like about them, they were distinct and you could hear a lot of personality in most of their music. Listen to ‘Sliver’
Pantera– Some of the most distinct and easily recognizable music in history, masivly expressive playing and vocals. No matter how hard band’s try and copy them it never sounds authentic, like KFC chicken or Kellog’s Cornflakes. Listen to ‘The Underground In America’
Pink Floyd – In a million different ways, but especially the Roger Water’s centric stuff. Listen to ‘Not Now John’
Queen– More so than any other band in the list. Queen were more personality than band, they took a lot of Gentle Giant’s ques and pushed them further out. No two songs sound the same, they cover more ground than anyone else I’ve ever heard. Listen to ‘Keep On Time’ then ‘Seaside Rendezvous’ then ‘Hitman’ then ’39’ then ‘Dont Try Suicde’ then ‘I’m In Love With My Car’ all in a big row.
Queens Of The Stone Age Listen to ‘Hanging Tree’ then ‘If Only’ then ‘Battery Acid’ then ‘Quick And To The Pointless’ all in a big row.
Rush– Three really distinct players, nothing ever sounds similar to them.
System Of A Down0 Nothing ever sounds like them musically, then they mix in serious Political messages with wacky shtick. Listen to ‘Add’ and then ‘Cocaine Makes Me Feel Like I’m On This Song.’
Slipknot – Again, nothing ever sounds like them in any way, no one plays riffs similar to them, no one else really writes anything like ‘Tattered And Torn’ ‘Genlty’ ‘The Virus Of Life’ or ‘Gehenna’ and despite a lot of trying, Corey Taylor is hard to replicate. On top of that there are nine actual personalities in Slipknot, and more still that have been involved so it’d be difficult for most bands to get a similar balance of influences and opinions.
Tool– No need to explain, I think. Listen to ‘Wings Prt2 10,000 Days’
Honorable mentions: Deep Purple, Fear Factory, Radiohead, Blink 182 & Max Cavelera in all forms barr early Seps.