On the Black Mirror episode Bandersnatch, the young programmer protagonist, under the instructions of an Aldous Huxley inspired game developer, has the option of picking up a record by Tangerine Dream – Phaedra. As the young programmer and the viewer struggle with paradox in order to finish his game, we find a chance to do a casual DMU reflection on the parallels between metal and game programming, madness and the collapse of western civilization by substituting learning for entertainment.
It was an early day in the winter of 1999 when I awoke from a horrific vision of immense despair. I saw a desolate land, littered with waste and overcrowded with wandering souls in torment. Skeletons danced basking in the moonlight, and the light did not reach the wandering souls. Many were stuck in a swamp polluted with syringes. Others frantically dug through a graveyard searching for a cadaver but finding only a few rotting limbs. Some sought to create a fire but could not create a single spark. A large crowd gathered around the statue of a hammer but could not get it to move. And I saw a well, the waters of which were poisoned by a river of sewage from a foreign land. And above the well it was written THE WELL OF INSPIRATION.
Amidst the soulless mediocrity of the Nowadays era labeled by some as “modernity”, there exist certain currents of contemporary music which hearken to a perennial spirit, evoking reminiscences of an ancient and timeless existence of a more vibrant, numinous nature – ultimately putting the listener in contact with a deep intimation of the greater Reality of which they are a part. It is assumed that many readers of this site intuitively recognize that the best of Metal exemplifies this. Many fans and musicians of Metal also tend to recognise similar expressions as they emerge in other styles of music, whether it be Classical, Electronic, Prog, Punk, Folk, Industrial, Goth, or whatever. One enduring group which especially stands out to the sensitively attuned is, of course, the eternal Dead Can Dance.
M8L8TH and Peste Noire’s Famine have joined forces in creating one of the weirdest movements to have ever existed in metal, Commercially friendly NSBM! Best of all was that the partnership released a whole load of ridiculous music and fashion items. Famine who represents all the worst French stereotypes imaginable and who has made a career of his first album that was essentially a well executed Burzum ripoff but with Rock elements to make the whole much more digestible. M8L8TH play metalcore/RAC with a few Black metal aesthetics in the riffs and pretty much consist of frontman Alexey known for killing a few immigrants and whoever is willing to write music for him to rant over.
Floating between between Floridian Death metal and Black metal in the vein of Emperor with a large dose of the more percussive elements from the New York style. Bal-Sagoth do manage to fuse these elements in a combination that remains mainly in the aforementioned black metal style. An important element that would dominate later releases is the spoken word of Byron Roberts. Obsessed with reciting his long lyrics inspired by the fantasy books that he was devouring, Roberts will at times create a hostage situation where the music is on stand by and loses all the momentum built up, so that he can ramble on and the compositions can’t progress until he is done. Though his perfect diction and deep voice do keep in line with the aesthetics provided here, they add nothing to the music and kick the compositions back to the droning political punk where the music was just the backing track for the vocalist’s tirades. (more…)
After years of being forgotten and embracing the modern speed metal aesthetic, legendary USPM band Helstar return to its roots in an attempt to create a worthy successor for one of the greatest albums in the sub-genre, Nosferatu.
This reissue of two EPs as one CD/LP demonstrates clearly why the “Incantoclone” bands are all the rage: they take metal backward to rock and carefully disguise this as a wave of noise. To make an Incantoclone band, you forget about all the cool extended riffs and structures of Onward to Golgotha and focus on the rushing riff, which consists of choosing a power chord — first five frets only please! — and then wiggling your fingers in a constant chromatic fill over that note.
Death Squad – Split You At The Seams
Ever Rat Records, 1991
Speed metal — rising from Tank, Satan, Metallica, and Mercyful Fate — had a good but short run in the 1980s before enterprising poseurs worked rock and blues back into the mix, taking away the focus on riffs and song construction in favor of what were essentially pop songs with lots of muted E-chords. Split You At The Seams shows a late entry with roll-your-own spirit.
Chuck Schuldiner who once played crushing music that popularized Death metal before attempting to follow the mid 90s phase where every Underground band had to somehow rise to face the more rock influenced bands at their own game through whinier passages and trivial lyric matter. During that period his technical abilities increased but his inability to arrange worthwhile music become obvious rather as he relied exclusively on rock structures that culminated in a solo before repeating the whole process without any thoughts on progression, narration or momentum. This created the effect where some truly incredible melodies were juxtaposed next to some very mediocre sections derived from rock and other genres. This device was then taken by a large number of bands who have then used it to promote a singular idea over everything else and has contributed largely to the decline of metal in general. Let us look at a few moments where the Chuck Schuldiner syndrome was very apparent.
Metalheads hate civilization, or rather what civilization inevitably becomes: people forget why things are as they are and recede into a human only bureaucratic world, like a cult built on peer pressure, where they affirm reality-denial in favor of things that make humans feel good about being afraid of challenging themselves.