What I like about progressive stoner is that it melds groove and intricacy with the distortion coated vibes of stoner metal. It keeps things interesting, helping the often bogged down genres surrounding doom and stoner remember dynamism and variety. Which is exactly what Stonebirds are all about; these guys play a version of progressive stoner which relies on big guitar tones, thick bass and a drawl on the vocals reminiscent more Chris Cornell than Ozzy Osbourne. Their recently released Only Time, while not a trendsetter per se, an interesting take on the track structure that often becomes too stale even in this, more diverse, version of stoner. Check out “Sacrifice” below as an example.
Last week on Voices of The Void, we discussed the idea of fachs in the metal world. If you haven’t read up on the Dio fach, do yourself a favor and get caught up. After Dio established his voice as uniquely metal, new personalities quickly hit the scene with new vocal ideas. The next big metal voice was Rob Halford, frontman of legendary metal gods, Judas Priest. For this segment about him, you can follow along with our nifty Spotify playlist at the end.
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.
Long before I started watching wrestling in the mid-’90s, it was synonymous with metal. Whether it was dude’s with long hair who were evident fans of the genre, the theme rockin’ theme music they used or performances by bands at the shows, metal and wrestling have always been bedfellows that go together like spaghetti and meatballs, Beavis and Butthead and Nicki Minaj and terrible music. Given the long-standing relationship between each medium, we here at Heavy Blog thought it would be fun to examine their similarities and the components which connect them to establish why it is they’ve remained so interconnected throughout the years. Now, without further ado, LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!
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.
When is something good just as another example of its genre, without effort at innovation or experimentation? In other words, how do you distinguish between something that’s just lazy and an earnest work of art created out of love of the genre that might go a bit too far with leaving most of that genre’s tenets intact? Sail’s Slumbersong raises these questions and then some, as it mercilessly worships stoner metal in all its fuzzy glory, never bothering itself with saying anything new or audacious about the genre. But you know what? It works. Slumbersong is a pleasing album, clearly crafte with love and a not irrelevant amount of talent for riffs, raspy vocals and groove.
Formed in 1978, Pagan Altar are among the old guard of metal. In their early days, they were unapologetic Black Sabbath clones – just listen to the first few seconds of Pagan Altar’s “The Black Mass” and tell me you aren’t expecting to headbang to Iommi’s legendary riff. But of course, there is nothing wrong with being a clone if your identical twin is Black. Sabbath. Crooner Terry Jones sings in a distinctly Osbourne-ian croak comprising the weakest part of the band’s sound, but it shouldn’t offend anyone who can palate Ozzy. The riffs that Terry’s son, guitarist Alan Jones, offers on tracks like “The Black Mass” and “Judgement of the Dead” are as doom-laden and memorable as anything the genre could sling when the Pagan Altar demo was released in 1982.
Even though parts of the metal community might like to imagine otherwise, metal is just another identity group, albeit a wide and varied one (contrary to what other groups might think of it). It has its own dress code(s), its own language, and its own system(s) of ideals. We’re here today to talk about a specific part of that system of ideals and the way in which it manifested through recent events in our community. This ideal is none other than the ideal of suffering, a turn of phrase which might sound weird at first. However, suffering has long been a method through which membership in a community has been signaled. From the very genesis of Christianity, through various moral systems and philosophies (Emanuel Kant comes to mind), and various manifestations in popular culture (such as wrestling for example), suffering and pain are often ultimate signs of belonging. Suffering can highly ritualized and contextualized, made to mean different things and communicate different ways of belonging.
In 1966, the advent of the Church of Satan would mark a shift in societal attitudes. Upon its creation, founder Anton LaVey declared “Annos Satanas,’’ – the first year in the “Age of Satan.’’ All of a sudden, a once feared, taboo belief system had ingrained itself in the public consensus, and its appeal extended to rock stars and celebrities whose participation in the movement would make it mainstream. However, the popularity of the Church of Satan was just one of a few countercultures shifting away from traditional, religious and wholly conservative attitudes. It is also worth noting that the Civil Rights Movement was ongoing, rock n’ roll music was massively popular and the hippies were spawning all over the world; particularly in America. The Church of Satan was merely a reflection of a society rejecting traditional values – well, a portion of society anyway.
With the rise of these movements came the response of the traditionalists who weren’t too pleased with the proposed change in norms. But the notion of Satanism was an especially terrifying one for them, to say the least. On top of the Church of Satan, the atrocities committed by Charles Manson and the Family helped instill a widespread fear of emerging countercultures across America. Throughout the 1970’s, Satanic panic was already being churned out by evangelists, but it wasn’t until the following decade where it would be given its label and become a catastrophic phenomenon.
It’s been just a few weeks since we last wrote about Black Sabbath and how they’d be playing their farewell show in Tokyo later this year but we may have spoken too soon. Instead, it was revealed that Ozzfest Japan would be headlined by Ozzy Osbourne’s solo band. This has clearly…