The Australian music scene. Having been oft-forgotten in other parts of the world for many a decade, over the past dozen years or so we’ve seen this country’s musical output burst from the underground and make waves the world over. Indeed, many a publication has spoken of the fact there…
Since the vast majority of Heavy Blog contributors fall on the left side of the map (shocking, we know), focusing on the latter seems like the way to go. Criticizing the other side of the political map is easy enough; taking a hard look at your own camp is where things get tricky. Thus, let us turn our eyes on one of the most typical leftist refusals to engage: the retreat. There are few places in the cultural world where this retreat is more obvious than in music and, more specifically, in metal. Even more specifically, the current throes which are black metal is undergoing are even more lucrative for our needs. There, leftist retreat is alive and happening right now, both because of the virility of the claims on the other side (read: the amount of black metal that’s truly awful) and because the themes of black metal have already been declared by the larger, more abstract “left” as anathema in the past.
Something that is nigh unavoidable as a metal fan is a once-beloved band falling off at some point in their career. As fans, we tend to gravitate to bands with great track records. Sometimes, we luck out and being following artists whose careers spanning span decades and churn out a…
Metal is inherently problematic. That’s a fact that anybody listening to metal should accept and come to terms with. It doesn’t mean that metal shouldn’t listened to, written about or loved; most things on the scale of globe-spanning musical genres are problematic. Metal’s inherent complex nature stems from the very reasons why metal is appealing and that’s what makes it so intrinsic to the style. Since metal appeals to places within us which society would rather not deal with, like war, violence, personal power, the mystical aspects of nature, and darker themes, those who work within the genre are prone to excess. In the process of writing about these themes and of immersing oneself within them, many artists lose the distinction between that which is to be faced and understood and that which should be aspired to or desired.
The word “aesthetics” is perhaps one of the most maligned and misused term in the modern age. To wide circles of the population, it has come to mean one of two things. It is either the Internet-popularized term (often presented as “a e s t h e t i c…
If the story of 1980 to 1984 was how NWOBHM (and more specifically, Iron Maiden) awoke metal from its dormancy to tear the boundaries of popular music, then 1985 – 1987 is about the coronation of thrash metal atop the metal throne, and the subsequent underground rumblings of a closely linked cousin, a blood brother faster, more brutal, and more astonishing — death metal.
Hello, it is I, the resident science fiction nerd for Heavy Blog (there are actually two of us now that Joshua has joined our ranks). A year or so ago, I covered Clipping.’s phenomenal Splendor & Misery, dissecting its themes and lyrics. In the process, I tried to give an overview of “afrofuturism”, a media spanning genre which uses science fiction and futurist thought to conceive of racially radical ideas and propose a counterpoint to what is often a white dominated genre. As I wanted to keep the posts from getting insanely long (they were already really long), I could only touch upon afrofuturism briefly and, seeing as that’s my medium of choice, I focused on its presence in literature. How good of Clipping. themselves then to help me shed light on less known but not less important instances of the movement/genre/way of thought.
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.
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.
Metal, like any current history, is a neverending story — a songbook perpetually revising its denouement in the storm of new releases shattering our ears and expectations by the month. But as exciting as it is to experience the history unfolding before us, that work is already done by listeners and blogs like this one on a daily basis. Vitally important and critically overlooked, I think, is the history of metal — the first chapters yellowing in the forty-odd years since they were bound in black and leather. This post, then, will serve as a continuation of this article detailing the early days of metal, and particularly the incredible importance of Iron Maiden’s The Number of the Beast to the fledgling genre.