Against the Grain – Cheated Death

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…

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.

Unmetal Monday – 7/24/2017

There’s a lot happening in the music world, and we here at Heavy Blog try our very best to keep up with it! Like the vast majority of heavy music fans, our tastes are incredibly vast, with our 3X3s in each Playlist Update typically covering numerous genres and sometimes a different style in each square. While we have occasionally covered non-metal topics in past blog posts, we decided that a dedicated column was warranted in order to more completely recommend all of the music that we have been listening to. Unmetal Monday is a weekly column which covers noteworthy tracks and albums from outside the metal universe, and we encourage you all to share your favorite non-metal picks from the week in the comments. This week, we’ll be highlighting a few albums and tracks that struck our fancy over the past few weeks. Head past the jump to dial down the distortion:

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 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.

Khemmis – Hunted

Denver’s Khemmis materialized as quickly and supernaturally as the panel van wizard-style illustrations that grace their album art. Absolution, their impressive debut album from the not-so-distant 2015, bubbled up as a critical favorite, garnering attention from publications large and small – no small feat for an upstart band in an already populated scene. Taking nods from old-school progenitors like Candlemass and Thin Lizzy, Khemmis carry diverse classic vibes into the modern era, zeroing in on a more alloyed kind of retro revival than peers like Pallbearer or The Sword. Somehow, in wizard-like fashion, they’ve quickly conjured their follow-up, Hunted, a record that polishes the ideas presented on Absolution, but ultimately feels like an all-too-familiar sequel.

Kvelertak – Nattesferd

Norway’s Kvelertak experienced an explosive arrival to the metal scene in 2010 with the release of their universally acclaimed self-titled debut. Buzz spread almost overnight as their would-be niche black n’ roll experience found worldwide audiences and the attention of major label Roadrunner Records. The unabashedly catchy blend of black metal, hardcore punk, and cheesy classic rock riffs was a new experience to such a wide audience, and Kvelertak was quick to become a landmark album not just because of its novelty, but because of its genuinely exciting songs. So where are we now, six years and two albums later?