Heavy Blog Staff’s Top Ten Albums of 2016

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.

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.

A Concert Review or Slayer and Anthrax Bring Both Schools: Old AND New

Slayer, Anthrax and Death Angel

Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater, Austin, Tx.

10/08/16

The 2,750 capacity Moody Theater feels like a miniature version of an arena, with a general admission floor and two mezzanines. The sold-out venue provided Slayer fans with a contradictory experience: seeing an arena-sized production with an arena vibe… in a small room. Like an 80s scale model, Slayer, Anthrax and Death Angel took concertgoers back to thrash metal’s heyday not by simply cranking up the nostalgia time machine, but by reminding listeners of what it was like when classic metal bands were releasing their classic albums and were eager to present their newest tunes to fans. Both Slayer and Anthrax accomplished this by putting new songs in key spots in their sets, something almost unheard of for bands that are 30+ years old.

From Deicide to Self-Destruction: How a Death Metal Pioneer Fell Behind the Pack

Way back in 2012, Paul Mazurkiewicz (drummer for Cannibal Corpse) sat down with Billboard (via Metal Injection) and was posed an interesting question: who are death metal’s Big 4? Now, boiling any genre down to a definitive group of four is realistically impossible – as important as the Big 4 of thrash are to the genre, bands like Sepultura, Overkill, Kreator and Destruction deserve just as significant a portion of credit. So too was the case with Mazurkiewicz’s naming of Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Deicide and Suffocation as the Big 4 of death metal, which leaves out a whole slew of bands seminal to the genre’s evolution (Death, Bolt Thrower, Obituary, Autopsy, Carcass and innumerable others). Yet, in terms of balancing popularity, influence and an active status, it’s hard to argue with Mazurkiewicz’s picks; all four bands are nothing short of genre pioneers who played pivotal roles in defining death metal from its post-thrash transitional stage. However, when we fast forward to the genre’s current landscape, it’s clear time hasn’t been as kind to the infamous blasphemers from the Sunshine State as it has for the rest of DM’s Big 4. Despite being near the top of the pack in terms of influence and album sales, Deicide has experienced a noticeable fall from grace from their prime in the early-nineties. But the question is – why? What caused these luminaries to become lost?

Starter Kit: Thrashcore/Crossover Thrash

My last Starter Kit (on Contemporary Thrash) brought in more recent bands and albums that cranked their amps past 11 and shredded faces with their speed. However, any genre is (to quote Shrek), like an onion; there are layers and layers of difference all balled up in one, and thrash metal is no different. While most people are at least aware of the genre’s staples (Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth, etc.), they might not know of the lesser known bands that speed even past the big names.

Deicide to Headline Annual Metal Alliance Tour

Since 2011, the annual Metal Alliance Tour has consistently produced quality tour poster art and lineups that enlist bands with comparable genres but unique approaches. Not to mention that the 2013 installment of the tour saw Anthrax headline each night with a full performance of Among the Living. This year’s installment  was announced…

Melechesh Announce New Album Enki And Guest Spots

Oriental blackened thrash band (or, in their own words, “Pioneers of Sumerian thrashing black metal”) Melechesh have announced their sixth studio album, titled Enki. They’ve also released the track list, announced the guest stars andother details about the album. First, the guests. Max Cavalera (Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy, Killer be Killed, ex-Sepultura) will contribute…