Floaty music

One of the hidden influences on death metal, along with classical and progressive rock, was the wave of inventive ambient and electronica that came out in the 1970s.

In particular, this music like death metal, was highly structured in that verse-chorus structures would turn it into droning tedium. Thus it invented the narrative structures later used by death metal, the “riff gluing” as explained by Asphyx.

DeathMetal.org and InnerSociety.org announce collaboration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

inner_societyDecember 24, 2012 (Austin, TX) — The net’s oldest and longest-running metal site and home of the Heavy Metal FAQ, Death Metal Underground at deathmetal.org, announced today that the Inner Society blog at innersociety.org would be its exclusive representative in China.

Inner Society has for some time provided album reviews, news, commentary and information about heavy metal with the outlook that heavy metal is an art form with significant contributions to make in its critique of modernity, and in its gesture of a more naturalistic way of life. It is the premiere blog in China for underground metal from this perspective.

“We are pleased to announce this collaboration, as it enables us to reach more people worldwide with the message of true metal,” said DeathMetal.org spokesperson Rob Jones. “The more people we reach, the more wimps and poseurs leave the hall, and the greater likelihood that the remainder start seeing metal as an art form, not a distraction or a product.”

The collaboration kicks off with an extensive interview with Inner Society progenitor and editor, Strider, which delves into the reasons behind the collaboration and the importance of heavy metal in the lives of people on all continents.

About DeathMetal.Org

Founded in 1988 and originally distributed over dial-up bulletin boards, the Death Metal Underground is an archive of information about metal that has changed over the years but stayed true to its focus: revealing heavy metal as the art form that it is, similar to the work of Romantic writers like E.A. Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Mary Shelley, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth and Bram Stoker.

About InnerSociety.org

The premiere blog in China for heavy metal theory, Inner Society has provided information about underground metal to audiences in China while keeping its focus on the development of the music worldwide. Lauded for its articulate, no-nonsense reviews, the site has attracted a loyal following during its years online.

Mike Scaccia of Rigor Mortis dead at 47

Mike Scaccia, the brilliant guitarist of Rigor Mortis and later, Ministry, has died. He collapsed onstage December 22, 2012 while performing with Rigor Mortis and could not be revived. He is survived by a wife and children, and much excellent music.

Before you read further, consider this song he created with Rigor Mortis:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQURu5UqF40

mike_scacciaWhat made Scaccia’s playing distinctive was his sense of melody, finely-tuned strumming and tendency to use more than low crunchy notes, as well as an ear for a quality riff and an ability to use precise arrangement to let a song unfold to the greatest impact on the listener.

No one wants to type words like this. This is a tragic loss for metal, for music and for humanity. Scaccia was not only a killer shredder, but widely acclaimed as a decent human being. He inspired many of us with his literate but emotionally intense music.

That music survives him and will serve as not only his legacy but the best insight into his character. What do you hear in this music? Darkness, beauty, equilibrium and violence. Like the man himself, more complex than a few paragraphs can do justice to, but also based of a fundamentally life-affirming but realistic outlook on existence.

It’s events like this that make me hope there is a Valhalla or reasonable equivalent. The body can die, but the greatness of a musical hero lives on long after the dirt obscures the coffin. We’ll be thinking of you, Mike, and the family and bandmates you left behind, with today’s all-Scaccia playlist.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDV3kGraKB0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvyXeKGIY1Y

Al Jourgensen (Ministry) tribute:

I JUST LOST MY LIL’ BROTHER AND MY BEST FRIEND – THE 13TH PLANET COMPOUND IS DEVASTATED,COMPLETELY IN SHOCK AND SHATTERED. MIKEY WAS NOT ONLY THE BEST GUITAR PLAYER IN THE HISTORY OF MUSIC, BUT HE WAS A CLOSE, CLOSE, CLOSE PART OF OUR FAMILY – AND I JUST LOST A HUGE CHUNK OF MY HEART TODAY. OUR LIVES ARE FOREVER CHANGED. LIFE WITHOUT MIKEY IS LIKE ORANGE JUICE WITHOUT PULP – KIND OF BLAND. I HAVE NO WORDS TO EXPRESS WHAT THIS GUY MEANT TO ME, MY FAMILY, MY CAREER….EVERYTHING!
GET TO KNOW HIS LEAD PARTS – FOR THEY ARE IN THE PANTHEON OF MUSIC! UNFORTUNATELY, MOST OF YOU DIDN’T GET TO KNOW MIKEY’S SOUL -WHICH IS IN THE PANTHEON OF HUMANITY. HE IS MY HERO, MY FRIEND AND MY IDOL. MIKEY WAS ALWAYS BESIDE ME – MY RIGHT HAND MAN – THROUGH THICK AND THIN, THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY AND THE BEAUTIFUL.
REST IN PEACE MY BROTHER, MY FRIEND, MY HEART. PLEASE PRAY FOR MIKE SCACCIA AND JENNY, HIS WIFE AND THEIR CHILDREN, AND HIS FAMILY…..AL

Interview with Strider of Inner Society

inner_societyInner Society covers metal of the past and present both in China and the world. Strider, the editor and progenitor of this project, took a few moments to speak with us about his role in music and the strength of metal that powers the blog.

How did you become a fan of heavy metal music, and what made you decide to take the next step to being active in the community?

A net friend introduced me to Emperor, Dimmu Borgir, Burzum and other extreme metal bands during my first semester in college when I was just a mainstream alternative heavy music (like NIN and Tool) listener at the time. From then on I became a diehard metal fan.

I spent a lot of time surfing metal forums at the beginning of this process, debating about music and searching for anything I found interesting about metal. After listening to metal for about five years, and gaining skill at playing an instrument at the same time, I digested most of the big names in metal and became selective about what I heard. All those pop-song formulated and chord-based music are of little interest to me in the guidance of DLA and DMU.

At this point, I felt an urge to construct a community for all the people who like me have had enough of the dramatic modern music scene and instead want to study the heroic, narrative, anti-modernism nature of metal. Thus I created the blog.

China has been steadily increasing its numbers of metal bands. Do you think a distinct national sound is emerging? Or are there multiple national sounds (regional, like in the USA, or ethnic, like in Europe) appearing? Can you describe it, and mention how it pairs up with any belief systems that may have guided it?

Yes, bands like Zuriaake and its follower Deep Mountains had pioneered a sound that combines the Romantic side, more specifically the spirit in the Tang Dynasty poems and the landscape paintings of ancient China, with black metal.

Their usage of drumbeats are in the vein of court dances while the guitar sound resembles the overwhelming feelings of the misty Chinese mountain scenes. Together they provide a unique national metal sound that is very distinct from the average black metal bands.

But the problem is that these bands are at their core depressive or suicidal metal acts, which tosses decomposing chords and weepy riffs like an emo/screamo band would use into the songwriting mold of Burzum while lacking a valid direction. Basically they have nothing to say: they are aesthetically innovative but not transcendental.

Your blog, Inner Society, features an academic but practical look at the history of metal and its classic works. What are the advantages of this approach, in your view, relative to them more fan-based view that most sites take?

The fan-based metal sites are nightmares to me. They group all the people including the self-image-showcase hipsters into the same place in the name of metal. This lets everyone scream out their opinions no matter how foolish or worthless they are. Eventually this drowns the quality works in the sea of generic. That’s why I found DLA and DMU appealing at first place and ultimately created the counterpart in Chinese.

traditional_chinese_paintingDo you think metal music is in a slump? If so, how would it get out of this slump? What is it that makes the older metal stand out more, in the West at least, than the newer metal? Is there an idea, spirit or approach that works best?

Yes, metal music is dead at least on the surface of this planet. If it is to rise again the fans and the artists should learn to appreciate the consistency, integrity and artistic (as in classical music) approach that the older works endorse. Don’t lower standards if the music is not on par with the classic Burzum or Pestilence albums, because if we lower standards, metal will not be reborn; instead, we will get a wreck of clones and mainstream-absorbed rock star wannabes, and their popularity will drown out any quality metal that does birth itself.

What is it that makes the older metal stand out more, in the West at least, than the newer metal? Is there an idea, spirit or approach that works best?

There is an old saying in China: The times produce their heroes.

I think the same applies to the older metal bands. They had a broader space for development during the birth of underground metal. Based on the melody line oriented composition mode (the usage of movable power chords) and the barbaric image (anti-modernism) of the past metal genres, bands like Slayer, Sepultura, Possessed and Bathory simply took everything further. Ultimately, they pushed metal to a more extreme and more intricate height.

Whereas the newer bands are confronted with a highly commercialized metal scene, in which most of the people are looking for the metal version of rock music.Deep in their hearts, they know writing something as cryptic as the old classics would immediately cause them unpopular(at least it is so from the beginning). It feels like sail against the current.

In your view, is there something “ancient” about metal music that makes it so distinctive from every other pop genre? How would you characterize what you love about metal?

To me, the warlike guitar sound, orientation of melody lines and poetic structure of metal music are all inclined toward the ancient. Whereas other pop genres seems to be mostly about the celebration of modern world and modern lifestyles.

What I love about metal is that I think people can find the true beauty of our world through the abstract but reality-reflecting fantasy world that metal music creates in the absence of social pressure and the false values of our recent society. Metal culture is one of the few grounds nowadays that the hidden-reality-aware people can make use of to rebuild society from within, and that is definitely worth fighting for.

Visit Inner Society at www.innersociety.org.

Demilich merchandise re-printed and available

From Antti Boman:

You once requested to be notified when new Demilich stuff is available. Well, a new batch of Demilich shirts is ready for sale at Record Shop X ( http://www.recordshopx.com/artist/demilich/ ). Currently there’s the classic design in T-shirt, long-sleeve, and for the first time also in zipper hoodie! When the sales start rolling, I’ll also order more of the other styles, and patches + other shit.

This also means Demilich stuff moves from An Entity Shop to Record Shop X, completely. The good thing is that you’ll be getting your stuff a lot quicker, the bad thing is that it costs more now. I’ll try to keep the prices as low as possible, though.

If you want to get info on the future Demilich releases (new merchandise and the compilation CD/LP), please add your email address at http://www.anentity.com/demilich/merchandise.php

If you don’t want to hear the news, just ignore this. I won’t be using these email addresses again, unless you signed for notifications on the compilation CD/LP at http://www.anentity.com/demilich/discography.php .

It’s hard not to love this progressive death metal band from way before this was a trend. Ignored for most of the 1990s and early 2000s, the band experienced a renaissance in 2005-2008 and has been returning slowly to the fore ever since. Frontman Antti Boman now plays with Jess and the Ancient Ones.

Osmose: Ildjarn / Hate Forest split forthcoming

Cold minimalist black metal got a bad rap back in the 1990s when people figured out that it had basically taken Darkthrone’s techno-influenced Transilvanian Hunger and recombined it with the thrash from generations before.

Ildjarn in particular sounded like an occult nature mystic version of DRI, complete with the idiosyncratic songs made of tear-off riffs. As black metal devolved, more bands tried the brutal short fast and minimalist approach, but none quite achieved the pristine chilling isolation of Ildjarn.

Now Osmose Productions has announced a split between Ildjarn and one of the bands it undoubtedly influenced, Hate Forest. This slab of forest metal, called Those Once Mighty Fallen, presents past unreleased material from both bands, which are now both non-practicing.

Here’s the official announcement:

From the cold blackened graves their shadows rise…. Osmose Productions releases unexpected ILDJARN / HATE FOREST split CD/LP, called “Those Once Mighty Fallen”. Both dead bands are presented with their lost and forgotten recordings, accidentally found not so long ago. ILDJARN’s songs were created in the dark year of 1994 and HATE FOREST’s during cold winter nights of 2000-2001. Now, carefully re-mixed and re-mastered this audio- terror is available first time. A real epitaph to sincere, true black metal. No release date yet to communicate. – Osmose on FacePlant

As a total Ildjarn fanboi, I’ll be seeking this out with bells on. For more interest, read our interview with Ildjarn from back in the hazy 00s.

Heavy metal fans: brighter than you think

A new survey has found that “metalheads” are more athletic, socially successfully and musically literate than fans of other genres.

According to The Australian, one of the largest surveys of Britain’s metalheads discovered that metal is considered “an overwhelmingly positive force in the lives of those who love it.”

The article categorizes metal as “escapist,” meaning that it helps its fans through hard times. Nearly three quarters of the respondents to the survey said metal had helped them through a tough period in their lives, and 79% said they felt “energized” after listening to metal.

Its most interesting factoid came from Spinefarm managing director Dante Bonutto, who counterpointed the idea of metal as escapism with a note on its practicality. “[Heavy Metal] defines itself against the mainstream, the ‘short-term’ music fans that don’t play or think too much about music…Metal defines you against that shallow form of music,” said Bonutto.

Conducted by the British Phonographic industry, the survey asked 3,600 visitors of participating metal labels, metal magazines, and music industry sites about their listening habits.

Birth A.D. releases title track from new album “I Blame You”

Thrash band Birth A.D., who seem to be a continuation of later 1980s thrash like SOD and DRI, have released a streaming track from their new album, I Blame You.

The new album has been recorded with 80s metal guru producer Alex Perialas and includes re-recorded tracks from the first Birth A.D. release, Stillbirth of a Nation. Much like early DRI albums, this will give fans the band’s entire oeuvre in an updated form.

According to Blistering.com, the new album is “angry, fast, catchy as hell.” Should be a contender for album of the year if nothing else.

Thrash was a hybrid between extreme hardcore and extreme metal that arose in the early 1980s with bands like DRI, MDC, COC, Cryptic Slaughter, Fearless Iranians From Hell and Suicidal Tendencies making short, fast, punk-structure songs with metal riffs.

Currently most people refer to the genre as “crossover thrash” in order to differentiate the term from “thrash metal,” which was a 1980s teen metal name for “speed metal,” and comprises the range of music from Metallica through Destruction.

Immolation recording new album

NYDM founders Immolation are in the studio and preparing work on their ninth full-length album, according to apeshit zine.

According to the report, Immolation are in Sound Studios in Milbrook, NY with veteran producer Paul Orofino with Zack Ohren behind the mixing desk. The band state the album will be “one of their strongest yet.”

Starting out in the late 1980s as a speed metal band with death metal vocals, Immolation morphed in death metal and then technical death metal with 1996’s Here In After, regarded by many as the apex of the band.

After a long absence, they returned with a series of late death metal albums like Unholy Cult which used a simpler but more streamlined style of death metal.

With 2010’s Majesty and Decay, and later the Providence EP, Immolation went in a more commercial direction, taking the simple songwriting of radio metal like Slipknot and adding to it death metal and speed metal riffs.

As long-time fans, we’re hoping they’ll return to death metal because they do it so well, but we’re not so delusional as to forget that death metal very rarely pays the bills. Good luck to this long-running NY band.

Music has gone Emo over the past 50 years

Boo Fucking HooA lot has happened in the last 50 years.

A whole cultural revolution took over, starting in the 1960s, that combined the post-war “Me generation” with the progressive theories of the 1930s. Birth control, Viet Nam, Civil Rights, better quality marijuana, educating women, white flight to the suburbs, the EU, a radical decrease in traditional values and religion. We’ve been weaving in and out of that great cultural change ever since.

Generally, we think of modern pop music as the “counter-culture,” meaning it opposed the culture of its time. Many consider metal counter-culture, still others (paying attention to the early words of Black Sabbath, who claimed they were there to rain on the hippies’ parade) see metal as a counter-counter-culture or a subculture.

Either way, metal’s roots are in pop. Pop music is as eternal as the wind; millennia ago, it was the folk songs of isolated people who sang them to each other in their small towns. In the cities, these became High Art through theatre and later specialized music. But roughly the same idea remains: catchy tunes that make people think of important things in life in an offhand, slightly cynical, humorous and casual way.

During these last 50 years, pop has changed quite a bit as it has become more introspective, less complex and more minor-key:

In the 1960s, 85 percent of the songs were written in a major key, compared with only about 40 percent of them now. Broadly speaking, the sound has shifted from bright and happy to something more complicated.

When the researchers analyzed the beats per minutes (BPM) of each song, they found a decrease from an average 116 BPM in the 1960s to approximately 100 BPM in the 2000s. Songs in the 1960s tended to run under three minutes, whereas more recent hits are longer, around four minutes on average.

Even more interesting, perhaps, is that our current favorites are more likely to be emotionally ambiguous…studies in the past have linked music preferences to personality traits, such as a preference for sadder music being tied to more empathy, openness to experience, and less extroversion.

This points to an interesting facet of our culture during this time.

We too have become “tied to more empathy, openness to experience, and less extroversion.”

We’ve also become more alienated, and more likely to retreat to familiar experience.

Part of this can be explained by the sheer terror of the times. With nuclear missiles ranging around the skies, and non-stop internal turmoil and war abroad, we can’t be blamed for wanting to stay in the basement sometimes.

But even more, we’ve become Emo. Emo music is self-indulgent, a bit more depressed than melancholic, but most of all, it is self-pitying. It is music of the hopeless, kids who’ve given up and so they cut themselves to feel alive.

Our whole society has slowly gone Emo. People talk about their feelings and want someone to make it right for them. If something is difficult, people throw up a half-hearted stab and then run off to the TV or pub. We pity ourselves and idealize being a victim, because then others will take care of us.

In short, we’re an exhausted culture and our music, too, is exhausted.

Where does metal fit in? It’s usually minor key, but also chromatic. It throws the “complicated” emotions out on their ear and replaces them with fervid, warlike, and muscular riffing that fits together into a story.

If Emo is the disease, metal is the cure.