Heavy Rewind – 1987: The Year in Metal

Every once in a great while we have calendar years that see iconic releases across a range of styles. It is rare that we see this happen in just one particular style. 1987 was one such year, though, as the entire spectrum of heaviness saw iconic records drop like so many tears from the eyes of mainstream pop music stars that these albums would devour. At the time, it didn’t seem like this was any different of a year for music until fans started to take a look at their growing record collections and what would spin out from the influence of so many landmark albums.

Voices of The Void: Quorthon

Black metal is one of metal’s most mysterious and plentiful subgenres. It finds new ways to reinvent itself every few years and seems to be sprouting out of every country nowadays. Though the genre seems ubiquitous today, it didn’t start out that way. A handful of bands in the early 80’s started all the tropes that metalheads are so fond of today. While the genre’s Satanic imagery, punk and thrash influence, or ethereal nature can’t be solely credited to a single artist, one aspect can: the vocals. Black metal’s classic screeches were the invention of one Satanic Satanic teenager in 1984.

Thank You For Not Smoking: Variations on a Stoner Doom Theme

As a genre, stoner doom has some fairly definitive characteristics: slowed-down tempos, rumbling low-end bass and rhythm, a focus on mountainous, hypnotic riffs, and a certain intangible haze cast over it all, creating a psychedelic-glazed listening experience. But perhaps most importantly, stoner metal worships at the altar of marijuana. Proudly wearing its influence on its sleeve (and name), stoner metal varyingly employs marijuana as a muse, a political rallying cause, an artistic aesthetic, and generally as the raison d’etre for the (sub)genre as a whole. From the smoke-filled cough intro in Black Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf” to Sleep’s epic journey to Jerusalem to Dopelord carrying the genre’s torch in one hand and a bong in the other, stoner doom is fundamentally and un-apologetically intertwined with marijuana. And yet, as firm of a grip as the green leaf has on the genre, there are contingents within the stoner doom scene that don’t embrace weed with the same fervor as their counterparts. Indeed, as counter-intuitive as it seems, examples abound of bands in the stoner doom realm that either explicitly or implicitly eschew the very association with marijuana that the scene largely views as a prerequisite.

Half-Life – Cradle of Filth, Part 1

Cradle of Filth have become one of the most recognisable and quickly dismissed names in extreme metal. Yet, although the band are widely regarded as populist, entry level rendition of the black metal formula, a closer look at their extensive catalogue reveals a far more innovative and surprisingly consistent act than their reputation suggests. Since their discography is so extensive—the band have released eleven full-length studio efforts to date, with one in the pipeline as we speak, and numerous and often notable tidbits here and there—this survey has been broken up into two sections. This first offering examines what many would consider to be the band’s classic period: moving through their early, formative years, up until their commercial breakthrough and (only) major label release in 2003; while part two will pick up from 2004’s Nymphetamine and carry through to the present day.

Djent Was A Genre Full Of Great Debuts And Little Else

Djent had an explosive entrance into the world of heavy music, around the start of the decade. It was a truly exciting occurrence, with first-wave acts like Periphery, Animals As Leaders and Cloudkicker filtering the technically-driven progressive sound of acts like Meshuggah, Sikth, and those of the budding “Sumeriancore” movement, into something  altogether more accessible, while still retaining much of their forebears’ technical and progressive edge. Yet, like most new sub-genres, djent quickly devolved into pastiche and gave way to over saturation—perhaps a little bit quicker than most. Djent, it seems, has had a propperly ballistic trajectory, and—in 2017—as its momentum trails off, it’s hard to get excited about this once-promising phenomenon.

Decibel’s Toxic Nostalgia – Exploring the Magazine’s Narrow View of Modern Death Metal

The following article is a collaboration between editors Jonathan Adams and Scott Murphy.  Before we dive in, let’s make one thing clear—we and Decibel (“America’s only monthly extreme music magazine”) agree that 2017 has been an exceptional year for death metal. Jonathan has highlighted countless fantastic death metal albums this…

Reading Between the Merch Lines: Literature and Metal

There’s an inherent alchemy required to successfully combine two seemingly disparate forces into something new. Famous, enduring pairings can be volatile and even counter-intuitive at first glance, but when done properly the result can be something far greater than the sum of each part. Peanut butter and jelly are each perfectly enjoyable on their own, but when paired together they create one of the most well-known and universally enjoyed sandwiches in modern history. Likewise, Calvin is a perfectly funny — albeit bratty – cartoon character and, similarly, Hobbes is a charming and occasionally profound tiger. But it’s their pairing that creates something greater: a friendship that serves as a vehicle for an entire comic strip, a philosophical and temperamental foil for each character to bounce off, and the sheer intangible joy the strip provides readers by allowing us to live inside their friendship. By fusing two independently enjoyable ingredients, an effective pairing can not only allow for a greater appreciation of the pair’s individual components, it can simultaneously create something richer and more meaningful in the magic as well.