Dispatches from the Port Phillip Bay Area – Into the Pit of Australian Thrash Metal

Due to the way we’ve decided to divide up the time zones, correspondence with an international audience from the humble southern continent of Australia often feels akin to looking into the past. Yet, despite this perceived futurism, Australian culture often trails its American and European counterparts by some distance. So it is that, while the northern thrash revival has come and (more-or-less) gone, the Australian metal scene is currently experiencing the biggest genre boom it has undergone since thrash metal originally emerged in the mid ‘80s. Back then, we brought our own quality acts to the fold, most notably in the form(s) of Mortal Sin and Hobbs Angel of Death, and the Allegiance in the ’90s. Yet, while the style had effectively remained dormant since then, the last five-to-ten years have seen an explosion in the amount of world-class thrash metal bands to have emerged from these southern shores.

Kvlt Kolvmn // August 2017

Welcome to the latest installment of Kvlt Kolvmn! Another amazing month, another installment attempting to capture it all. Our apologies for most assuredly failing in this regard. Nevertheless, a fairly large amount of black metal blasted through our ear holes since our last installment, and we are here to share our favorites with you. Believe you me, there were some good ones.

Love Letter – Himsa

It’s hard to believe that there was a time before the steady stream of blasé lyric videos, but at the turn of the millennium, music video purveyor MTV had to “bring back” the music video. The artform was essentially replaced by trashy reality television and cartoons by the late 90s, but eventually came MTV2 – a quality sequel (well, for a few years) nobody really deserved. So I guess it only made sense that they also resurrected their metalhead favorite from the 80s and 90s soon thereafter – Headbangers Ball. After all, this era had a ton to offer. The NWOAHM movement was all the rage, metalcore was hitting its stride, and melodeath was pretty much the coolest shit ever. Given that the combo of Kazaa and my dial-up setup wasn’t doing me any good – true story: I waited days (plural) to download Meshuggah’s Chaosphere only to find out that some jerk just relabeled of Neurotica tracks (some truly evil bastards out there), this couldn’t have been better timing for a dude who had recently gotten his license and began to fall in love with hanging out at the record store – the internet, for me, sucked for digging up new tunes.

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.

Expulsion – Nightmare Future

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.

Integrity – Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume

Metalcore wasn’t always the poppy, hair-flipping, Jonas Brothers-ass affair that it turned into during the early to mid 2000s. Metal and punk have always had an interesting dynamic and when the two cross over it has almost always resulted in compelling music. Black Flag showed their love for Black Sabbath on My War and the first thrash records of the early 80s are seriously indebted to hardcore punk and crust punk. In the 1990s, metalcore was one of the many punk-metal amalgams thriving. It combined the sludgy, downtuned, groovy metal of the day with the politics, angst, and breakdowns of hardcore punk. One of the originators of this fusion, Integrity, gained their popularity off their highly influential debut album, Those Who Fear Tomorrow, a thundering record that still holds up today. Unlike many of the bands in that early metalcore scene, Integrity hasn’t gone away since their legendary early release. On the contrary, the band is still firmly plugged into the current metal-punk world and makes some of the most interesting metalcore available. Their newest album, Howling, for the Nightmare Shall Consume, continues their long streak of successes.

Dead Cross – Dead Cross

Over a decade since the last Fantômas record’s release, drum kit demolisher Dave Lombardo and anomaly of human nature Mike Patton reunite for Dead Cross, a project that brings in Retox’s Mike Crain on guitar and Justin Pearson on bass. Dead Cross originally did not feature Patton on vocals, originally…

The Metal Explosion: 1983 – 1984

Metal, like any current history, is a neverending story — a songbook perpetually revising its denouement in the storm of new releases shattering our ears and expectations by the month. But as exciting as it is to experience the history unfolding before us, that work is already done by listeners and blogs like this one on a daily basis. Vitally important and critically overlooked, I think, is the history of metal — the first chapters yellowing in the forty-odd years since they were bound in black and leather. This post, then, will serve as a continuation of this article detailing the early days of metal, and particularly the incredible importance of Iron Maiden’s The Number of the Beast to the fledgling genre.

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.