Introduction to Power Metal, Part III: 1980s US Power Metal

A salute goes out to Misters Imladris and Kaelrok for sharing recommendations and insights related to the subject at hand.

After having recounted and commented on the birth and evolution of the first wave of European power metal in part II, the time has come for this author to travel across the Atlantic and take a closer look at the contemporaneous development of power metal in North America, commonly referred to as United States Power Metal (USPM).
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Traditional Black Metal

The term ‘traditional’ black metal used here denotes not the ‘orthodox’ movement of imitation or gimmick bands lacking any musical ideas of value, but rather points to the living and evolving movement now referred to as the death-black styles coming forth organically from punkish speed metal voices. The definition does not exclude the developments of the nineties which led to the musical distinction between a purified black metal and the older speed metal. However, this distinction represented only, or mainly, the Scandinavian expression of the genre separating itself from the more common tropes. More raw and unclassifiable bands within this distinction were forgotten in the wake of relative popularity of the Scandinavian stylings quickly became tired trope. The network of original underground minds seeking unique expressions of an undefined darkness became an incestuous cesspool. Unfortunately, this is today misleadingly known as ‘orthodox’ black metal.
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Exploring Metal Music Through Active Imagination Techniques

Active Imagination is one of the pillars of Jungian therapy[1] , and simply consists in engaging with the symbols of the mind in a way that allows us to contemplate them or even engage with them. Outside the stale therapeutic environment of clinical psychologists, we can discover emotions, situations and characters inside of our minds (and presumably in the collective mind) by using the same technique in a slightly more unhinged and less sanitizing direction. We can use the musical, lyrical and visual contents of metal albums which are more often than not intended to be mythical, and are thus a great source for archetypal projections.
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Black Fluxions

In his quest for accuracy and rigour eventually leading to his contributions to Calculus, Sir Isaac Newton borrowed terminology from an area of classical mechanics called Kinematics[1]. The terms fluent and fluxion incorporated eventually came to be known as variable and derivative. Each set of terms has its advantages in describing the object in question, highlighting one or another aspect. Fluxion in particular is quite useful in poetically illustrating an ‘instantaneous rate of change,’ and may serve us outside the realm of pure mathematical abstraction to bring attention to such immediate movement at each point in time. So, while the change from a measure to the next, from an idea to the next are changes in fluents, there can be said to exist fluxions in music which describe movements across a separate dimension —that of the inner experience. But such a transposition into the realm of musical description is only metaphorical, if useful to expand perception, and should be taken as a flexible mental aid.
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1983

A footnote in an article we ran last week sparked a lot of controversy among our very passionate friends who lurk the DMU comment sections.  No, it wasn’t that we correctly identified SJW journalists as the nail in the coffin of metal as we know it; instead it was an observation of the last death of heavy metal:

In the early 1970s, heavy metal was an exciting new musical and cultural movement. So much so, that it surpassed even rock music (thought to be revolutionary just a few years before). But towards the end of the decade came a near-lethal blow: punk rock. Faster, louder, more abrasive and aggressive, punk had risen the bar and metal couldn’t compete. From 1977-1983, metal was almost completely obliterated. Many had declared the movement dead – a fleeting flavor of the week experiment that did not stand the test of time.

Many took issue with this: “metal wasn’t dead!”  they cried.  “Albums were released, things happened!”  “You’re erasing history Brock, your articles ruined this site and my life!”

The intrigue and utter distraction of this phrase sparked the need to further elaborate:  Did metal actually die, during this time period, or did I somehow just miss a few years of quality metal development?

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Analysis Of Amorphis – “Karelia/The Gathering”

 

Amorphis are known for their terrible modern output that consists of ridiculous pop cliches and monotonous chugging. While their latest offering has furthered the pretension of this band and their Opeth like attempts of appealing to pseudo intellectuals through whatever the mainstream considers to be “deep,” it is hard to fathom that this band once produced some of the greatest Finnish Death metal to ever grace our ears. Through restrained, simplistic melodies that were all very tightly knit and some basic understanding of chord theory, Amorphis carved a grandiose album that would see them climb to the top of a fledgling movement.

The album opener “Karelia” – an acoustic piece recorded with two 12-string guitars – announced the intentions of conjuring grand battlefields where heroes would emerge amidst the chaos. The first guitar repeats a basic melody in the natural minor scale as the second guitar follows with the appropriate combination of diatonic minor and major thirds. As the melody continues without variation the diatonic chords move up a few semitones up the scale creeping towards battle as the chords quickly return to their original position until distorted guitars announce the battle.

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Did Rock & Metal Engineer Societal Destruction?

What do Jonathan Davis, Corey Taylor, and Scott Weiland have in common?  Answering the question “90 Hard Rock singers” would not be incorrect, but there’s something darker beneath the surface – all three men are rape victims.  Davis even documents the experience in graphic detail in a platinum selling album from his band, and many of Taylors lyrics are riddled with sexual abuse.

Why were the executives of the murder industry so keen on pushing rape victims as the new face of rock n’ roll?  Furthermore, why were the most popular genres of rock and metal so lyrically obsessed with self destruction?  From Grunge “morality is useless and life is hopeless” to Nu Metal “I’m a freak and everyone hates me” to Emo and Screamo “I’m lonely and will never be loved” to indie (soy) metal and rock “We failed to be what we should have been” the message of mainstream rock and metal music has constantly be one of self destruction.  This trend is mirrored by a 25% increase in American suicides in American suicides since the 1990s:

Suicide rates increased by 25% across the United States over nearly two decades ending in 2016, according to research published Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Twenty-five states experienced a rise in suicides by more than 30%, the government report finds.

More than half of those who died by suicide had not been diagnosed with a mental health condition, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC.

“These findings are disturbing. Suicide is one of the top 10 causes of death in the US right now, and it’s one of three causes that is actually increasing recently, so we do consider it a public health problem — and something that is all around us,” Schuchat said. The other two top 10 causes of death that are on the rise are Alzheimer’s disease and drug overdoses, she noted.

With statistics like this, it’s absolutely time to panic: our society is being marred by growing influences- intentional or not – to destroy ourselves.  Let’s examine music’s relationship to this now obvious horror and see if we can determine why this is happening.

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International Day Of Slayer XIII (6-6-18)

Every June 6 we celebrate a day sacred to all Hessians: the International Day of Slayer on which all metalheads celebrate what it is to be a metalhead, as exemplified by the music of Slayer and the lives of its musicians, including Jeff Hanneman (1964-2013).

Slayer beats back the world of human intentions which tries to make life safe, inoffensive, commerce-friendly, popular, and full of unique precious snowflakes. Its music affirms reality, which operates through power and will, over emotions and social opinions. It denies the importance of humans.

No doubt you know how to celebrate this holiday for metal folk worldwide, but as a quick refresher:

On June 6th, Hessians worldwide come together to do something upon which we can all agree – listening to Slayer! Finally, one of the most dismissed cultural groups in the world has a holiday to call its own. Join us in our cause to stand unified in our celebration of metal music and let us prove to the rest of society that we too have a voice.

Who is Slayer

Slayer is a band from California. Their music has come to epitomize Satanic speed metal music in the latter half of the 20th century. Their 1986 album Reign in Blood ranks as one of the single most influential metal albums of all time, typified by the modern classic “Angel of Death.”

How to Celebrate

  • Listen to Slayer at full blast in your car.
  • Listen to Slayer at full blast in your home.
  • Listen to Slayer at full blast at your place of employment.
  • Listen to Slayer at full blast in any public place you prefer.

DO NOT use headphones! The objective of this day is for everyone within earshot to understand that it is the National Day of Slayer. National holidays in America aren’t just about celebrating; they’re about forcing it upon non-participants.

Taking that participation to a problematic level

  • Stage a “Slay-out.” Don’t go to work. Listen to Slayer.
  • Have a huge block party that clogs up a street in your neighborhood. Blast Slayer albums all evening. Get police cruisers and helicopters on the scene. Finish with a full-scale riot.
  • Spray paint Slayer logos on churches, synagogues, or cemeteries.
  • Play Slayer covers with your own band (since 99% of your riffs are stolen from Slayer anyway).
  • Kill the neighbor’s dog and blame it on Slayer.

In honor of Slayer, of metal music worldwide in all ages, and of the spirit of facing reality with eyes wide open and embracing the opportunity of challenge and fear, we intend to keep this website open and celebrate the International Day of Slayer every year on June 6. Join us… welcome back!

Join us in celebrating the International Day of Slayer for 2018! This year, we offer Live in Reseda, a bootleg (courtesy of Melonville HC) from the glory days of classic Slayer as they were just starting their quest for world domination.

Nuclear Blast Records invoked the celebration with a sale on classic Slayer material (check the vinyls) and a video commemorating the event:

If you are here by mistake and wondering why Slayer (you’re supposed to yell this each time you say it, like this: SLAYER!) is important, check out the Heavy Metal Frequently Asked Questions file to see how this band influenced the rise of death metal and, well, basically everything else. SLAYER!

To aid in your celebration, enjoy some links to classic Slayer releases:

Show No Mercy (1983)

Haunting the Chapel (1984)

Hell Awaits (1985)

Reign in Blood (1986)

South of Heaven (1988)

Also consider other Slayer bootlegs like Captor of Sin, Aggressive Perfector, and Obscure and Obscene to keep your eternally damned dark soul raging!

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Forces of Satan Stumble

The consensus seems to be that Christ does not belong in metal.  Well, neither does Satan.  Rigid patterns of thought are not conductive to the creation of transcendental metal music.  The failure of NSBM stems from the rigid ideology into which the music was forced like a Procrustean bed.  The two Christian metal bands worth a shit have been covered on this site: Paramaecium and Antestor.  The only NSBM bands that are not terrible are the bands, like Graveland, that preceeded the creation of the subgenre and were only lumped in with the scene later… Gontyna Kry seems to be the sole exception to NSBM sucking.

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