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.

The Anatomy Of: Tengger Cavalry

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…

The Obsessed – Sacred

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.

Hey! Listen to Lethal Shöck!

Lethal Shöck are a speed/thrash metal band that sound exactly like you’d hope a band called Lethal Shöck would sound. One glance at the album art (an undead, Eddie-inspired figure shocking a skeleton with his guitar) should eliminate any preconceptions of subtlety. Although Evil Aggressor is Lethal Shöck’s debut album,…

Harsh Vocals: A History

Perhaps the most definitive element of metal is the growling, shrieking, rasping, inhuman snarls we call harsh vocals. Certainly, there are genres of metal that don’t use harsh vocals, and they’re no less “metal” for it. But a full-throated death growl, rumbling and ominous, erupting from a cranked pair of…

What Heavy Blog Is Really Listening To – 12/15/16

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.

Spellcaster – Night Hides the World

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.

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.