Starting in the mid to late Eighties, many of the originators of death and black metal started to commercialize their music into straight speed metal for mass appeal to a bar show, beer metal audience; social concert goers in the uniforms of leather jackets, band tees, and high tops who treated shows as a time to socialize and shoot the shit with their friends while listening to typical bands that never challenged their musical preconceptions or startled them away from their ritualized moshing. Just a few years prior, many of these types would’ve been the same idiots seen in Heavy Metal Parking Lot. While most of their peers moved on from Judas Priest to Motley Crue and Guns ‘n’ Roses, many listened to what was considered an “acceptable” fusion of heavy metal and radio rock played by groups like post-Ride the Lightning Metallica, Anthrax, and Testament.
Article by Anton Rudrick.
Following a tradition of Finnish death metal, Serpent Ascending first proved its allegiance to the old stream of thought on The Enigma Unsettled. The project stood out as possessing that rare gift that grants vision past forms and into the value therein encased as dormant power, codified, awaiting a worthy hero who can pull the Sword from the Stone. While using techniques and musical structures that are well-known, interesting counterpoint and chant-like melodies can be seen in that first album, inserting them in between more conservative power metal riffs that were eerie enough to belong to occult death metal but also displayed a penchant for memorable phrases. Five years have elapsed since then, and several Desecresy albums have seen the definition and reaffirmation of that band into a distinctly esoteric style. Many were keenly expectant upon the future of Serpent Ascending.
An old interview, rediscovered, that apparently never made it to publication, so needs to find a home here.
Article by Lance Viggiano
Intolitarian is the work of a singular person who polemically positions himself as an artistic paragon standing on the opposite end of a polarity between retro-rehash, imported heaps of plastic and bad Xeroxes. Amidst such a landscape and armed with powerful rhetorical golden guns, he is able to churn out effort after effort which communicates nothing and everyone knows it. Like war metal, which similarly has nothing to say, criticism is parried through a simple maneuver: those who call this spade a spade simply cannot handle how extreme it is for it is certain that this work stands on the precipice of a new aesthetic era that will make death and black metal look like nursery rhymes. This defensive posture is of course a variation of the oft repeated, “You don’t understand” that is used by insular communities and critics to accomplish little more than convince the user of their own superiority where every induced eye-roll reduces to signals of ones own status as a martyr for good taste.
Metal was born of the fusion of heavy rock, horror music, progressive rock and the nascent proto-punk movement. The history of rock is the history of rebellion and rule-breaking: from Friedrich Liszt making his strings break live at key moments on purpose, to Jerry Lee Lewis lighting the piano on fire, to the Beatles with their hairstyles and jackets which were radical for the time, to the Doors being suggestive on the Ed Sullivan show, through Hendrix burning his guitar, to Kiss being super-sexual and painting their faces, to Black Sabbath who sang about Satan and magic, to Metallica who combined neoclassical with thrash and had a hard-partying image, to Slayer’s seemingly outright Satanism. Metal is about taking things one step further, breaking the rules and being unique. Not about following them.
Good music aims for a grade of “A” by experimenting and breaking the rules, but in doing so, takes the chance that it will get an “F.” Think of good music as Icarus: he flies toward the Heavens (or in the case of metal: towards hell) aware he is taking a big chance. He may well crash and burn to the ground in pursuit of his musical ideals. It’s a risk Icarus is willing to take.
Today we have way, way too many bands following all the rules of their genre, and not enough acts pressing ahead. When I look at my local scene it is clear that the bands who have stayed together a long while, while following the rules of their genre, are the bands who have been most successful. Most of these bands have decent music and are listenable. But its not stuff I want to listen to more than once, or see live more than once. This is the curse of local bands: competent, good at following trends, but not so good that they break out and become emblematic of those trends.
Article by David Rosales. This review is written on behalf of Akherra Phasmatanás, who so graciously bequeathed his own copy of the album so that its value as a promo investment by the band would not go to waste. He lost his harddrive and the review shortly before completion. Too busy later on and out of metal-reviewing circles, he asked David to review it on his behalf and to officially mention this copy came from him so that the band know he didn’t just drop the ball on them.
It is customary to start off a review of a Finnish death metal band by stating that they are Finnish. This generally carries a tacit implication that the band in question adheres to the particular sound developed more than two decades ago in albums like Amorphis – The Karelian Isthmus and Demigod – Slumber of Sullen Eyes. Such a useful hint, carrying so much information for those familiar with regional old school death metal distinctions, only takes one so far and while satisfactory to the casual customer, does little for the serious listener looking forward to knowing what sets Desecresy apart and what they bringing to the table.
Article by Johan P.
This text is a continuation of the previously published article, The Difficulties of Folk Metal. As stated in Part I, the threefold aim of this multi-part article is, in rough terms, to: 1. Give a short introduction to the subject, 2. Point out some of the difficulties connected with integrating folk music into metal and finally, 3. Provide alternative methods of integration. Part II will be dedicated to the second part of this quest.
Naturally, there are limits regarding the scope of my endeavor – the most obvious demarcation being that the article primarily focuses on Swedish folk music. In my view, the critique of folk metal is an ongoing project, and this article should not be seen as an exhaustive treatment of the subject at hand.
So, if someone else out there finds the subject interesting, you are more than welcome to make contributions. It could be in the form of additional material (metal or folk related) and complementary ideas to enhance the project. For example, the depth and applicability of the arguments presented below would surely benefit if the scope could be expanded to include other forms of traditional music.
Way back in 2002, Take Two Entertainment released an extremely violent and controversial game called State of Emergency. It was similar to their Grand Theft Auto franchise because the character could roam freely and rampage, indulging in murder and mayhem.
State of Emergency increased the violence in Grand Theft Auto to the point where you could run through the mall killing everyone with a flamethrower or cut off heads with a Samurai sword and then beat other people up using the decapitated head as a club. Extra points are given for destroying windows. The entire game is basically a violent, destructive and nihilistic riot.
Music critics eat brains for the same reason that zombies do, but are selective in what they eat. Zombies feast indiscriminately on central nervous systems out of pure need. But music critics eat brains by promoting the mindless and tearing down the good in order to promote themselves at the expense of the music.
What made the old underground so powerful? Continue reading Tape-Trading: The Secret Of The Underground