I have said it before. Perhaps a thousand times. 2018 is the year of death metal. There isn’t a single subgenre in the metal universe that has produced as much quality material as death metal has. Every single ... Read More...
I like my Traditional Heavy Metal to be of either of two types; it should either modernize the genre and bring it into contemporary modes of production and execution or it should be incredibly dedicated to reproducing the old school style. Sadly, most trad metal falls in between those two approaches, attempting to produce something modern which calls back to the classics. This, invariably, fails and turns into a boring retread of cliches instead of a dedicated and convincing homage. But when the latter approach is embraced fully, like in the case of Lunar Shadow, Gatekeeper or Eternal Champion for example, the result is a great romp through what made heavy metal great to begin with. To that illustrious list we can now eagerly add Midnight Force.
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.
Black metal is one of metal’s most mysterious and plentiful subgenres. It finds new ways to reinvent itself every few years and seems to be sprouting out of every country nowadays. Though the genre seems ubiquitous today, it didn’t start out that way. A handful of bands in the early 80’s started all the tropes that metalheads are so fond of today. While the genre’s Satanic imagery, punk and thrash influence, or ethereal nature can’t be solely credited to a single artist, one aspect can: the vocals. Black metal’s classic screeches were the invention of one Satanic Satanic teenager in 1984.
There’s no dearth of bands inspired by the likes of Motorhead or the Obsessed but many miss the mark when trying too hard to emulate their forebears rather than putting their own aggressive stomp on the tried and true sound. This particular blend of blues-y, groove-laden metal often stays too long in its own lane, rarely straying from the formula to stretch and add enough of a band’s individual identity, but when a band is able to take this style and bend it to *their* will is where we get something unique.
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.
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.