Being a child of Scotland, one grows up to love the rolling countryside, endless hills and mountain tops and inevitably, the inclement weather. If you’re a city person, this might end up inspiring the kind of dark, abrasive music of Dark Habits or Frontierer; all angles and sharp corners. Take a look past the grey metropolitan areas and there is beauty in the fog surrounding our Lochs and landscapes. Saor have spent the better part of the last five years channeling this into some of the most melancholic black metal around. Not afraid to use traditional instrumentation and styles, Saor’s latest offering Guardians blends the peaty smoke of the bogs with shimmering, incandescent strings and pipes. It’s one that Heavy Blog goers might have missed last year but this needs to change.
Is it possible for a post-black metal artist to sit still? Not that we would ever want them to, mind you, but it’s worth pointing out that many of the artists responsible for the creation and popularization of the genre have all moved away from the genre’s nascent sound and…
Welcome back to our ongoing series of best-of lists for 2016, where we give some of the bands we covered (or just adored) in 2016 a chance to publish their own lists regarding their favorite albums of this past year. It may be officially 2017, but we’ve got one more list…
Last year I took it upon myself not only to organize and compile our own staff’s AOTY list, but to take things one insane step further and compile a bunch of lists from major metal or metal-covering publications and websites into one MEGA AOTY list to rule them all. Eden and I then analyzed the list and made some (mostly snarky) comments about the metal journalism industry and how they approach these sorts of things. Though I still 100% stand by what we wrote there and the conclusions we drew from it, I was really interested in seeing how well some of them would stand up to another year to use as a data point. Thankfully, this year I had a lot of help in all of our list-making efforts thanks to fellow editor Noyan, who put a ton of work into coming up with the method we ended up using to aggregate our lists (if you haven’t already, you should absolutely read his post delving into the nitty-gritty of that methodology) and then did the actual number-crunching.
With our general list for 2016 out of the way, we can now shift the focus from our aggregate opinion to individual ones. Both outlooks have their own merit; the former provides us with an overview of our year in music. However, the latter shines a light on something we’re extremely proud of and that’s the varied and eclectic nature of our staff these days. We used to have a very certain type of music associated with Heavy Blog and while we still have a long way to go, we feel like we’ve done a good job at expanding our palettes and the representation of different kinds of music and metal in our staff. The lists below reflect that; you’ll find black metal, avant-garde, technical thrash metal, hip hop, rap, noise, ambiance, post metal and rock, melodic death metal and much more throughout these lists.
We wrote a pretty big check to ourselves when we closed off 2015. Publishing not only a list which proclaimed the triumph of 2015 but also a whole editorial dedicated to the idea of “The Golden Age of Metal”, we set ourselves up for disappointment. Like the rest of the music establishment which, in numerous places implicit and explicit, was apparently ready to join in the social lynching of 2016, we were well positioned to find it a sobering, dreadful, faith shattering year for music in general and metal specifically. Except it was nothing of the sort and we cannot stress our amazement at metal/music journalism’s reaction so far. 2016 was an absolutely fantastic year, building on the trend of solid and often groundbreaking releases from established acts and simply astounding, out of left field releases from virtually nameless bands. Sure, it had its disappointments for us from huge bands we had expected more from (although signs of their demise were certainly forthcoming) but, overall, it was a year which will surely be remembered in our circles as one of the best years for music in general.
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.
We’ve spoken about post-black metal a lot in the recent days and with good reason; it’s without a doubt one of the trends currently affecting the metal community. However, one of its least discussed aspects if how it bleeds into, and thus influences, the other genres of black metal. This osmosis can be heard on the new Downfall of Gaia record for example, a band that has never been too far from the post-black moniker themselves. Atrophy presents a further exploration of their sound which detractors might, foolishly, call “going soft”. It’s more productive, however, to understand Atrophy as an attempt to communicate with ongoing ideas and conversations within the sub-genre, sacrificing some of the hard hitting brutality of earlier releases for a more expressive and varied palette.
Even a cursory glance of our biweekly “What Heavy Blog Is Really Listening To” posts (last week’s update here) will reveal that there is a great deal of variety among our staff’s musical tastes. Due to this, we brainstormed the idea of “Playlist Swap,” another biweekly segment that takes place between playlist updates. We randomly select two of the participants from each update, have them pick their favorite track from each of the nine albums in their grid and then send the list over to the other person to listen to and comment on. Within these commentaries occurs praise, criticism and discovery, and we hope that you experience a few instances of this last point as well. This week’s post has Nick and David going tête-à-tête with some things the two already share their admiration for and some unexpected surprises!
Today’s musical landscape moves and changes faster than ever before, aided largely by the internet and social media. As such, new genres of music evolve at a far more rapid pace than they ever did in the pre-internet Dark Times. Post-black metal is one such relatively young and nascent genre, and it’s already seen a significant amount of creative innovation and commercial success.