For many who explore the crevasses of extreme music, “rock” is a word that has some not-so-good connotations. Like, “this shit is guaranteed to be boring” connotations. Let’s take a quick look at what’s likely the two biggest offenders to the name of rock. There’s no question that the poor…
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.
Black metal is one of metal’s most mysterious and plentiful subgenres. It finds new ways to reinvent itself every few years and seems to be sprouting out of every country nowadays. Though the genre seems ubiquitous today, it didn’t start out that way. A handful of bands in the early 80’s started all the tropes that metalheads are so fond of today. While the genre’s Satanic imagery, punk and thrash influence, or ethereal nature can’t be solely credited to a single artist, one aspect can: the vocals. Black metal’s classic screeches were the invention of one Satanic Satanic teenager in 1984.
There’s no dearth of bands inspired by the likes of Motorhead or the Obsessed but many miss the mark when trying too hard to emulate their forebears rather than putting their own aggressive stomp on the tried and true sound. This particular blend of blues-y, groove-laden metal often stays too long in its own lane, rarely straying from the formula to stretch and add enough of a band’s individual identity, but when a band is able to take this style and bend it to *their* will is where we get something unique.
Ever been in a real fight? A knock-down, drag-out brawl where chairs are launched, punches are thrown, and elbows are swung? Yeah, me either. Let’s be real, when a bunch of drunk dudes decide they want to start a fight for no reason whatsoever my first reaction is typically “check, please…”. There’s a part of me that wants to get into the thick of it, though. That primal, untapped portion of my psyche that not-so-secretly desires to feel the force of a fist slamming into my jaw, and my own bone-splintering retort. But I generally like my face (and most others’ faces as well), so seeing my handsome visage brutally disfigured over a disagreement regarding whose football team is the unequivocal and absolute best seems a bit silly. Thanks to our infernal overlords that we have grindcore and death metal to give wannabe brawlers such as myself a much less painful and infinitely more enjoyable release! Expulsion is the latest death/grind band to cross my ears and allay those violent urges, and with their debut album Nightmare Future they create a violent dystopia harsh and brutal enough to slake even the most fervent extreme metal fan’s bloodlust.
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.
Goatwhore might be the most metal band name in existence. I have a hard time imagining anyone hearing that name spoken in conversation and reacting in any other fashion outside of “oh, that must be a metal band. I’m leaving this conversation. What a bunch of nerds.” Sucks to be them, because they’re obviously missing out on some premium content. Straddling the worlds of death, black, and occult-oriented metal, Goatwhore are as difficult to categorize in this subgenre obsessed musical circle as they are to stop listening to. With musical output that is in equal measure intimidating, playful, heavy, and (dare I say it) fun, Goatwhore have carved for themselves a unique and immensely enjoyable niche in the world of metal. Vengeful Ascension does little to dispel this notion, as the band have here released another excellent album to add to an already solid discography.
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.
There’s no shortage of folk influence in the world of metal, but the vast majority of it is undeniably Eurocentric, which is to be expected, given England’s (and later Scandinavia’s) claim to its birth and subsequent rise. In the past decade however, we have been fortunate enough to see a…
Some legendary bands are unpredictable and that plays into their mythos. Others are legendary precisely because the thunder they bring is such their own that the consistency with which they produce it is a marvel unto itself. The Obsessed are one of those latter bands. Oft-cited and highly influential, Wino and company have been bringing their brand of sludgy doom metal to eardrums for nearly 40 years. If there is an “American Motorhead” they would be it albeit less prodigious in terms of actual output.