Hey! Listen to The King is Blind!

What exactly qualifies as “metal” can be a contentious issue. As any dedicated listener knows, the label itself accounts for a wide spread of sub-genres—ranging from softer, more atmospherically-inclined fare such as post-black/gaze and folk metal; to the frantic, bombastic realms of speed and power metal; and onto the spasmodic worlds of math- and grindcore; and even the bleak, all-encompassing, sonic oppression of drone and funeral doom. Many of these sub-genres remain contentious, and what is considered metal, or even just heavy music can shift and change depending upon what circles you frequent. Then again, there are those bands who (for any number of reasons) simply ooze the ideal of heavy metal, no matter which way you look at them, so that their status as a nothing less than a fucking heavy metal band cannot be denied. The King is Blind are one of those bands.

Hey! Listen to Gregorio Franco!

When one thinks about synthwave they more often than not conjure up images of neon landscapes made up of transparent grids, sunsets, beaches, palm trees, fast cars and anything else that may fit into such an aesthetic. That said, one does not tend to think about upside down crosses, demons, serial killers and an overall sense of evil in turn. However, for every genre that has ever existed there lies a much darker side, a subgenre which turns things on their head and produces a much more heavier sound in response. For synthwave that would be darkwave or darksynth, either seem to be interchangeable for the most part, with well-known acts such as Carpenter Brut, GosT, Perturbator, and Dance with the Dead carrying the torch. Of course, for every well-known act, there are those who are scratching, clawing and going through hell to be noticed, many of whom were influenced by those already leading that proverbial charge.

Gregorio Franco is one of those dark souls of the synth and, if what he’s produced thus far is any indication, he is not only one to keep an ear to the ground on but one to keep an eye out for as well.

Heavy Rewind – 1987: The Year in Metal

Every once in a great while we have calendar years that see iconic releases across a range of styles. It is rare that we see this happen in just one particular style. 1987 was one such year, though, as the entire spectrum of heaviness saw iconic records drop like so many tears from the eyes of mainstream pop music stars that these albums would devour. At the time, it didn’t seem like this was any different of a year for music until fans started to take a look at their growing record collections and what would spin out from the influence of so many landmark albums.

The Year of the Beast: How Iron Maiden Heralded the Metal Explosion

The story of metal is not linear. We didn’t arrive at the mayhem lurking in our Spotify playlists through a measured progression of technique, style, and genre. Rather, the evolution came in leaps and bounds, with dead ends and bursts of growth and pockets of innovation. To continue the evolutionary metaphor: the Cambrian Explosion of metal shot off in the mid 1980’s, as subgenres and geniuses and success combined into a specimen closely resembling much of modern metal. But the growth, although frantic, wasn’t instantaneous; rather, it seemed to expand exponentially from a single source, a catalyst in a chain reaction. That incipient band, the patient zero of metal as we know it today, is Iron Maiden. More precisely, the stratospheric success of The Number of the Beast, with it’s intricate compositions, transgressive lyrics, and trailblazing progressivity, diverged metal from hard rock completely and legitimized metal as a commercial viability, heralding the eruption of metal in the years to follow.

Lantern – II: Morphosis

One of the principal challenges bands with stellar debut records face is simply having to make another record. The magical element of surprise and general exemptions given by listeners for unmet potential due to relative youth have long been discarded, replaced instead by impossibly high expectations and the audience’s/label’s manic need for new material. Some bands, like Finland’s death metal legends Demilich, make one excellent full length record and call it a career. Good for them. Many others have opted for a more content-rich approach. While not necessarily the most consistently amazing record in a band’s discography, the sophomore album may be the most important because it gives the audience their first real taste of a band’s long term potential. For a band to thrive, it needs to do it right.

Reign in Blood: The Taxonomy of Thrash Metal

Welcome back to our Taxonomy series, where we break down umbrella genres like progressive metal, post rock and doom metal and outline all of the progressions and subgenres that have matriculated over the past few decades. The dissection of thrash metal you’ll find below contains a detailed dissection of the most crucial genre in extreme metal style. Thrash led to incredible innovations over the years, and in turn, a multiplicity of styles has made its way back into the genre’s core traits to form some of the most forward thinking metal coming out today. Seriously, many of the bands mentioned below have released records less than a year ago, and in some cases, less than a month. There’s a ton of ground to cover here, so without further ado, let’s riff on some of the best thrash you can use to mosh in your bedroom.

Darkthrone – Arctic Thunder

Once upon a funeral moon, Darkthrone was a band cloaked in mystery and steeped in intrigue. They rarely gave interviews except for a select few underground fanzines, were never seen photographed aside from album layouts, and never played live. They were the personification of “kvlt”; a band feared and revered for their complete abandonment of the self-described “silly, trendy death metal” style and full embrace of the aesthetics and sound of minimalist black metal. Taking cues from Burzum and pioneers like Celtic Frost, Venom, and Bathory, they endeavored to set the underground ablaze with the most raw and primitive black metal to possibly be generated by a shoddy basement recording. The results are well documented history.

With Strange Aeons Even Death May Die: Lovecraft In Metal

Since its inception, metal has been deeply entwined in the world of both fantasy and horror. The almost-unanimous pick for the genre’s first album, Black Sabbath’s self-titled debut, instantly separated themselves from other bands at the time with their lyrics about unintelligible and dark figures in the night, wizardry, and possibly rock’s first true tip of the hat to the genius author H.P. Lovecraft. With the title of the album’s third track, “Behind the Wall of Sleep,” Black Sabbath not only revolutionized heavy music from a sonic standpoint, but lyrically as well. Bassist/lyricist Geezer Butler’s fascination with black magic and campy horror flicks in the early years of the band could certainly be looked upon as the genesis from which the Lovecraft obsession in metal truly began.