Metal has, for all intents and purposes, pretty much reached the peak of how far it can really go with the extremity and weirdness while still remaining in its musical sphere and not moving into genres like noise or purely avant-garde. Subgenre movements like brutal slamming deathcore, atonal death metal, and noisegrind have been pushing the limits of slowness, weirdness, and overall listenability into strange, bizarre, wonderful new territories, and although the experimentation is certainly welcome, after a certain line is crossed, the returns start to diminish quickly, and what we're left with as a musical community is a handful of bands that are great in the context of a clambering race to the tipping point, but really don't serve much purpose for a listener who wants something, you know, metal. Don't get me wrong - I love Gigan, Jute Gyte, and probably any other ridiculous and 'unlistenable' band you could throw my way, but shit, what's a guy to do at this point if he's looking for something more reminiscent of the classic sound?
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One of the things I love about having the opportunity to review albums is checking out bands that are just gaining a foothold beyond their local scene. Greensboro, NC metalheads, Undrask, are one of those bands I probably wouldn't have learned about if not for having a copy of this album slid over to me by the Heavy Blog editors—but I'm glad it did.
Before hopping onto my soapbox, I should clarify that our staff loves receiving comments on our posts. The purpose behind Heavy Blog is to provide our readers (that's you) with recommendations of quality music as well as insight into genre and industry trends we find noteworthy. And whether you respond with positive or negative feedback, we appreciate you taking the time to read our opinions and provide thoughts of your own. But after reviewing music for the past several years, there are a few types of negative comments that have popped up on reviews my fellow contributors or I have written which do little to add to the discourse surrounding the album. While dissenting comments are something I encourage, the following collection of review comments either unfairly attack the reviewer instead of the review or attempt to define a review as something it's not. I've attempted to remain as fair as possible, but of course, I welcome your disagreement in the comments.
The eagle eyed ones of you will notice that we have added a Spotify playlist to the left hand side of the website. Currently, this widget displays a selection from our monthly Editors' Picks segment, rotating on a monthly basis. But that got me thinking. Playlists are a useful thing, a tool which I use on an almost daily basis to regulate my listening. I often listen to music when performing some other task or when I'm in a specific mood. I don't want to have to constantly select and play certain songs or albums. Sometimes I just don't have the time; sometimes, I just don't care what I listen to except that it's "death metal" or "broodingly heavy". For that, playlists are perfect, allowing you to easily curate in advance your vast musical collection. Keeping a large stock of them will help you chop down the sheer amount of moods available in music into something that can be digested properly.
Metal has, sadly, played a distinct and central role in this conflation of ideas between "viking" and "norse". By endlessly drawing from a single pool of images to describe these historical people, the same pool available to all of popular culture, it has reinforced, elaborated and cemented the image of the Norse as the ironclad marauder. The viking, in actuality a probably destitute and desperate person pushed from the liminal spaces of their society, forced to risk their life in order to sustain themselves, is depicted as a blood-hungry savage, intent on killing. In reality, vikings prefered quick sojourns on land with as much loot as possible while minimizing combat. Regardless, metal has chosen to view them as some omnipresent, ever threatening and efficient mercenary force, intent on as much damage as possible while holding a certain aloof and superior view towards mainland Europeans, hunting them like dogs. Fortunately, not all hope is lost. There exist several artists and bands within metal and its adjacent genres that work not only to represent Norse culture correctly but also to disseminate it to people around the world. These acts draw on the myriad atmospheres, influences and themes found in Norse texts to create a different image.