Metal Curmudgeon: Bolt Thrower’s Blitzkrieg Halts

bolt thrower - realm of chaos cover

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.

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“C” Is For Average

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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.

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Darkthrone Post Title and Cover of Arctic Thunder

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Darkthrone announced that the title and cover of their upcoming album, Arctic Thunder, shares a similar name with many breath mint brands and 1980s ski bro flicks. Hopefully this album is not phoned-in retro-heavy metal more disposable than an Altoids tin like The Underground Resistance was.

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Innsmouth – Consumed by the Elder Sign (2014)

innsmouth - consumed by the elder sign

Innsmouth play primitive blackened death metal in the vein of Darkthrone‘s A Blaze in the Northern Sky with the addition of several other metal riffing styles to the three chord hardcore Hellhammerisms. Consumed by the Elder Sign attempts to build an atmosphere resembling the terror and corruption of Lovecraftian Elder Gods through atmosphere, production, and samples that often come across as comically charming rather than haunting; cries of hatching star spawn sound like baby dinosaurs from Jurassic Park.

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Abigail – The Final Damnation (2016)

Abigail - The Final Damnation - cover

Article by Johan P.

The Final Damnation could be Abigail’s most worthwhile release since their sleazy blackened speed metal debut Intercourse and Lust twenty years ago. After tons of insipid punk/speed metal releases, more vicious black metal elements have once again made their way into Abigail’s repertoire.

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Cirith Ungol – Paradise Lost Reissue

cirith ungol paradise lost reissue

Cirith Ungol’s final and worst album, Paradise Lost is finally being reissued for the first time since its release in 1991. Metal Blade Records was unable to secure the rights to the album back when they released the first CD versions of the rest of the Cirith Ungol catalog in 1999. The CD, LP, and merchandise may be preordered from Metal Blade’s website and the band posted a press release their Facebook page:

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The Difficulties of Folk Metal: Part II

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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.

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None So Vile Turns Twenty

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Cryptopsy‘s None So Vile turned twenty this month. A more successful turn off your brain death metal work than Cannibal Corpse, simplified and straightforward deathgrind song structures allowed each musician ample opportunity to show off and drop jaws. Unfortunately aggression and technical showmanship can only cover up for so many repetitive mosh, hit people verses, funky slap bass, and taking three steps back towards verse-chorus-verse speed metal songwriting from their inspiration Suffocation. Nevertheless, None So Vile remains worthy of the occasional, once every couple of years listen due to Jon Levasseur’s superb heavy metal leads when not caving skulls in with a rock or something and Flo Mournier’s over the top ferocity that the original Dark Legions Archive review famously compared to a police beating.