Many bands have been cited as the first founders of heavy metal – Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple… you’ll even hear chirps of Grand Funk Railroad or Blue Oyster Cult – but if you asked me? I’d tell you that the first sparks of metal could be found at a back-to-school fundraiser in Sacramento, California, a good five years before any of those bands would put riff to record. Mid-September, 1965 a group of British-invasion struck teens come together to celebrate the new school year and with them, the first glimpse of what would become an entirely new subculture. Featured at this benefit were two bands, the Hide-a-Ways (later known as the Oxford Circle) and Group B, whose members would go on to form a powerful, groundbreaking, and quite literally deafening blues rock power-trio. For your consideration, the first heavy metal band – Blue Cheer.
“What happened to Audrey Horne?” It was a question that permeated much of last year’s Twin Peaks revival, and one which lingers long after its close. Yet, while the cult TV series’ timely return has brought such bygone contemplation to the forefront of contemporary pop culture, that very same question has been pressing upon my mind with regard to the musical sphere for some time now. Having peaked with their eponymous third album in 2010, this once lively group of Norwegians (who take their name from a prominent character in David Lynch and Mark Frost’s cult television series, in case that introduction made absolutely no sense to you) seemed to degenerate—much like Twin Peaks itself—from underappreciated semi-cult act to middling pastiche with their two subsequent records. However—again, much like the origin of their namesake—Blackout sees this bunch of retro-rock worshiping ragtags return with their strongest offering in years.
I guess this was inevitable. When I originally conceived of this column, there was a lot of details I wanted to get into. Vocalists who started as screamers and turned into great clean singers. Vocalists who pioneered new styles. Vocalists who simply have unique voices. But before we get into all of that, I feel as though we have to establish some of the basics of metal singing. Back in the 70s, metal singers were simply rock singers with a louder band behind them. There weren’t distinctive styles. However, as metal became more and more separate from hard rock, the playing styles of each instrument involved in making metal developed their own identity and distinct style. In opera and classical singing, teachers and singers refer to voice types as “fachs”. The fach system was developed by the Germans to make casting operas easier. As we talk about the emerging styles of metal singing, I will be using this term. Arguably, the first metal fach was the Dio-fach. So, to establish these metal basics, I will be doing an overview of Ronnie James Dio’s voice, his career, and how he established this fach.
To put it plainly, Ruby the Hatchet’s second full-length offering, Planetary Space Child, reeks of 70s goodness. You can smell the High Life on its breath, the stale weed in its hair, and the sensual mingling of Marlboro funk and stage fog.
Let’s state facts: Clrvynt’s preface to “The Director of ‘Maryland Deathfest: The Movie’:’Metal is the Fucking Worst'” (this is literally how the post’s title was formatted by the way, I didn’t change it) is bullshit. Running an article filled with borderline/not-really-borderline-at-all misogyny, homophobia, and very palpable hatred for a huge swath of the community you’re part of is a terrible thing to do. However, if you’ve already decided to do that, don’t cop out by writing a six-line preface nominally denouncing the opinions contained therein. At least own the fact that you’re giving shitty opinions a stage and have some honesty.
In a mere five years, Nashville’s All Them Witches have the discography of a band well beyond their years – not in terms of output, but by means of musical growth over only four full-length records. “Maturity” is a term that gets thrown around too often when talking about a band’s development, but the four-piece’s latest effort, Sleeping Through the War, seems to warrant such description – especially when reflecting on the relative purity of the group’s first album. The band has come a long way in a short time and have crafted an enigmatic and unpredictable nature, with each release since defying expectations and satisfying with wonderment. That being said, Sleeping Through the War follows suit standing as yet another hallmark for the band, and arguably their most eclectic record to date.
Existence is filled to the brim with things that flood our senses in profound ways but evade easy description in written form. Take, for instance, the sound of the ocean. The warmth of sunlight against your arm. That tingling sensation after a close lightning strike. Words on a page sometimes…
2016 is shaping up to be a treasure trove for the traditional metal style. Bands like Sumerlands or Spiritus Mortus are tapping back into their metal roots and dredging forth intensely moving albums that more than succeed at holding a light to the greats of yesteryear. However, perhaps the most successful of these 2016 excursions is Spellcaster’s Night Hides the World, an album steeped not only in the aural trappings of traditional metal but also in the iconic aesthetics that have always accompanied the style. One needs only look at their video for the title track from the album to appreciate the level of dedication these Portlanders have for the aesthetic: aviator goggles, wolves crying at the moon, absurdly over the top solo gestures, leather jackets and much more combine to create that Iron Maiden circa the late 80’s feeling, channeling that over the top, rock star swagger that had captured an entire generation during the time.
I think that we at Heavy Blog briefly (read: mentioned) Rival Sons back when we did news, but those days are gone, and this is a band that deserves some serious attention.
We are currently experiencing an age where everyone and their mom plays in a stoner metal band. For some reason undecipherable (or, more accurately, yet to be figured out), there’s a huge glut of slow metal bands right now, and that’s leading to a few problems, namely, the fact that…