Harsh Vocals: A History

Perhaps the most definitive element of metal is the growling, shrieking, rasping, inhuman snarls we call harsh vocals. Certainly, there are genres of metal that don’t use harsh vocals, and they’re no less “metal” for it. But a full-throated death growl, rumbling and ominous, erupting from a cranked pair of…

The Devil’s Roots: Thelema in Metal

If a poster was created of famous devil-worshippers then Aleister Crowley’s face would no doubt be near the front and center. Despite not actually being a Satanist, Crowley’s “wicked’’ deeds placed him in league with the Dark Lord in the eye’s of the public back in his heyday. However, he was a practitioner of Thelema, a spiritual philosophy of self-empowerment that’s often lumped in with the glorification of evil much like Satanism has been throughout the years. And like old Beelzebub, Crowley and heavy metal fit together like a hand in glove, and his influence in heavy music can be traced all the way back to the genre’s earliest years.

Flesh & Metal – The Unholy Marriage Between Metal and Video Games in Doom’s OST

Doom’s 2016 revival was a glorious success, both in popular acclaim and game-avid, technical circles. Its soundtrack, a marvelous, metallic creation by Mick Gordon, was a big part of its success. hy metal though? What about the game’s story, mechanics and design creates such an affinity for metal music in general and the specific kind of metal utilized on the soundtrack (namely extremely percussive, 8 string guitars, dark, electronic ambiance and larger than life production)? More than that, how does metal facilitate Doom in creating an atmosphere, a unique visual and aural signature that is then translated into vibe, strong delivery of emotions to the player and narrative?

Nielsen’s 2016 Music Industry Report: A Bullshit-Free Guide

It’s the beginning of the year, which means that people like ourselves who write about music and the music industry received a nicely-formatted press release from Nielsen’s PR firm touting their shiny new year-end report on the music industry from the past year. For those of us who find the sorts of things these reports deal with – namely the increasing prominence of digital streaming and its effects on all sectors of the industry – this report is like a second Christmas. And though the press release lays out all of the top-line findings of the report in neat little bullet points, it’s still a lot of information to take in with a lot of spin (or at least things left unsaid) to make everything sound as rosy as possible. So, as a public service to those who care, we present to you a brief, unfiltered guide to Nielsen’s 2016 music industry report.

Endless Sacrifice – Suffering, Metal, and Identity Politics, Part 2

Welcome back to Endless Sacrifice, our ongoing look at the role which the ideal of suffering plays within metal. Our opening article focused on content analysis, taking a look at the ideal of suffering as it comes across from the content which metal is concerned with. Lyrics provided a fertile ground for exploration because they are the standard which music raises in order to convey its meaning (although we saw that a grain of salt is indeed needed when considering them). Today we discuss the instrumental side of things. Approaching this topic was not the easiest thing to do at first; after all, how does one relate strictly musical content to the concept of suffering within metal? Where to even begin, when what one gleans from a certain musical moment is nowhere near objective? What this apparent divide necessitates instead is a re-framing of the question itself.

The End of Dystopia: How 2016 is Thrash’s Redux

Thrash metal. It’s the archetypal sub-genre of metal. It wasn’t the first one on the scene, nor is it particularly representative of what metal music means today. Yet, it was the genre which served as the gateway into metal for a huge proportion of our community. When those unfamiliar with metal are asked to name any metal bands that they may know, you can bet that Metallica would be one of the most popular answers. And it’s not surprising to learn why. Thrash metal exploded all across the USA and Europe in the mid 80’s, dominating the metal landscape with its speed, aggression and technicality. Fast, furious and pissed the fuck off, it was exactly what people wanted. Bands quickly rose to bona fide rock-star status, and we’ll be focusing, initially, on the big four: Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax. Through the early-to-mid 90’s some sought, and found, mass crossover appeal when turning to a more commercial style of music. Charts were topped, and millions of records were sold. Yet, this commercial zeitgeist was paradoxical in nature. Yes, some bands had scaled the mountain. They had made it. But they also had nowhere else to go, nowhere but down. It was an achievement, but it was also the beginning of the end.