Heavy metal isn’t only for blasting out of the speakers to annoy your neighbours, or for sitting around listening in your basement wearing corpse paint as you plot a church burning or a night of smoking cigarettes in a cemetery. Throughout the years, cinema has given us some delightful gems featuring bands and fans of our beloved genre thrust into a variety of situations — often hilarious, horrifying, or both.
2016 was a strange year for fans of Nine Inch Nails, though not in a bad way; Trent Reznor promised new music and he delivered, in the form of the EP Not The Actual Events near the end of the year, along with a handful of soundtrack work with Atticus Ross. Possibly more interesting than Not The Actual Events was the announcement that Nine Inch Nails is officially a duo, with Ross finally joining Reznor as a legitimate band member (as opposed to just a long-time collaborator). (For those unaware, the two have been officially working together since NIN’s 2005 album With Teeth, though their relationship predates 2005.) Then, to stir the proverbial kettle again, it was announced that Not The Actual Events would not be released on CD (though it is available on vinyl), but instead a very limited “physical component” would be available for purchase, bundled with a digital download of the EP. As a big fan of Reznor’s work, I was excited to see what this could include, and so I ordered this “physical component” as soon as it became available, back in December. It wasn’t until February that I received my copy, and, frankly, the results are…interesting.
Like it or not, a whole bunch of the staff at Heavy Blog “grew up” on deathcore in the mid to late 2000’s. Some love to admit it and some loathe to—some didn’t listen to it at all because they were clearly more well-adjusted to life and stuff. With a decade of deathcore now (well and truly) behind us, it’s probably an appropriate time to look at some of the genre’s most notable releases in that time. As it’s 2017, let’s start with 2007 (well done, mathletes) and the first full length from California lyric shirt pioneers Suicide Silence. If your favourite deathcore release came out in 2006 then sorry, look elsewhere.
Regardless of one’s musical background, free jazz is one of those genres that can be extremely confusing and often border on nonsensical and sonically belligerent. There are even fans of jazz who still can’t get into the likes of the late works of John Coltrane or anything made by Pharaoh Sanders, preferring instead to listen to other, less insane iterations of the genre. While we believe that music’s value is something strictly decided by the listener, we’ve also found that, despite the difficulty of the genre, free jazz is incredibly rewarding. There’s something undeniably special about musicians that can improvise; if music is the expression of the soul, then free jazz is the direct output of an unrestrained musical voice. While it can sound like noise, it’s in fact a huge show of musicianship, as the artist in question must compress everything they know about music theory into one single point and, in a sense, abandon the strictures it causes for what they feel. In this way, we think free jazz can be one of the most magical and spiritually uplifting genres of music out there, and for those interested in exploring the genre further, the following albums are great introductions to the most liberated plane of jazz.
For those who missed our last installment, We post biweekly updates covering what the staff at Heavy Blog have been spinning. Given the amount of time we spend on the site telling you about music that does not fall neatly into the confines of conventional “metal,” it should come as no surprise that many of us on staff have pretty eclectic tastes that range far outside of metal and heavy things. We can’t post about all of them at length here, but we can at least let you know what we’re actually listening to. For those that would like to participate as well (and please do) can drop a 3X3 in the comments, which can be made with tapmusic.net through your last.fm account, or create it manually with topsters.net. Also, consider these posts open threads to talk about pretty much anything music-related. We love hearing all of your thoughts on this stuff and love being able to nerd out along with all of you.
Production is a mystery. At a glance, it seems like a simple task: record some tracks, mix ‘em together, work out a couple kinks on GarageBand, and voilà! Album. The reality, of course, is quite a bit more complicated than that. To be successful, production must serve the music; there…
If you’ve followed Heavy Blog over the bast few years, you’ve likely noticed our affinity for Australian post-rock quartet sleepmakeswaves. We highlighted them in our Taxonomy on modern visionaries in their genre; listed their latest album Love of Cartography as our sixth favorite album of 2014; and even wrote them a Love Letter. With their latest album Made of Breath Only on the horizon, William France – one of our very own Aussies – spoke with bassist and keyboardist Alex Wilson about the upcoming record, the band’s politics and crowdfunding.
RateYourMusic lists Madvillainy as the fourth best hip-hop album ever, with a 4.10 rating (averaged from 11,175 ratings at the time of this writing). It’s worth noting that the albums that rank above Madvillainy—DJ Shadow’s Entroducing…, Nas’s Illimatic, and the top spot of Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)—were all made in the 1990s, when hip-hop had (arguably) matured artistically and cemented itself as a staple of modern music. (There’s a reason this time, concurrent to the late 80s, is still referred to as “The Golden Age of Hip-Hop.”) This album essentially cemented the careers of producer Madlib and rapper MF DOOM as well, shooting them into the upper echelons of underground hip-hop, and making them some of the people to work with in the genre. Essentially, we’re talking about an album that, by many, is considered flawless. So what is my beef with it?
Voyager have been on our scopes for a while now; the progressive metal band are known not only for their brand of uplifting and engaging metal but also for a great live act and an overall energy that’s hard to resist. And so, when we learned that they were undertaking a crowdfunding campaign, we knew we had to pitch in. However, there was also within us a burning desire to know what made such a juggernaut of progressive energy tick; it’s always interesting to look into the influences which make such bands exist.
There are some punk bands that still manage to subvert the grand cliches, both musical and stylistic, that overtook punk. One of those bands is Canadian hardcore/punk/experimental heroes Fucked Up, a band who has never shied away from pushing punk to its very furthest limits, effectively achieving the goals punk initially set out to accomplish. Recently I was lucky enough to talk to their drummer Jonah Falco about exactly what inspires Fucked Up to constantly push the boundaries of punk music, as well as their most recent release, Year of the Snake.