In any form of art, there’s something magical about the “early works,” those seminal points of origin that set the course for wider narrative. It’s like the moment when the archaeologist finds and examines the fossil that ties together the map of disparate species. Or like the literary researcher who finally reaches the shelf with all the old texts, dusts them off and sets to work. Early extreme metal is a lot like this. There’s that turn around 1985 when you hear bands start to pull away from classical heavy metal. The guitar and bass picking patterns change, the vocals begin to lose their pitch, and the double-bass drum steadily becomes more important. Certain records appear and you realize, “wait, this isn’t really thrash anymore is it?” Buckle up and ride with us through The Nine Circles ov…80s Death Metal. Continue reading
One of my earliest and fondest concert memories is that of crowd surfing to Every Time I Die playing “Ebolarama” at Ozzfest 2004. I’d heard the song before on a mix my buddy made for me of a bunch of metalcore bands breaking at the time. This weird song that blended unorthodox singing and song structure with crushing guitars was a standout for me, and I was ecstatic to hear it live (and to find out who played it, my friend didn’t give me a track list). So there I went, flying atop the sea of Che-hats, gauged-ears, sideways haircuts and black sweatbands — a millennial metal moment if there ever was one. So for this Nine Circles ov…, let’s burn this mother down and go through nine of the boys’ best tracks… Continue reading
Integrity was always more than just a hardcore band. Not that anyone from the late-80s/early 90s scene was “just a hardcore band” – Sick of it All, Gorilla Biscuits, Strife, Bold, Judge and In My Eyes all had their own sound. But Integrity set themselves apart from the entire landscape with their sound AND their lyrics. Sure, for many years they were on Victory Records and part of the wave of bands that injected more metal into second-wave hardcore, which eventually birthed the sound we think of today.
But again, Integrity was different. Continue reading
I first discovered Cradle of Filth via the temporary resurrection of Headbanger’s Ball in 2003, when their video for “Mannequin” was in heavy rotation. This catchy yet creepy song stuck with me and helped me remember the band when I started getting more into black metal the following year, picking up the Lovecraft and Witch Hearts compilation and getting thoroughly hooked. “But they’re not really black metal, what are you talking about?!” Ah yes, I understood early on how controversial the band was within black metal circles. They, along with Dimmu Borgir and Satyricon, had achieved some crossover mainstream success in the mid-2000s. And thus this leads us into my Nine Circles ov…Cradle of Filth. Continue reading
The metal scenes in Europe and the United States have always had a symbiotic relationship. When one scene moves in a particular direction, the other one begins by emulating and then transcending that direction. The New Wave of British Heavy Metal was a profound influence on the American thrash metal scene, a scene which would greatly influence musicians all over Europe (e.g. Swedish death metal), and so on. To make a (very) broad generalization: Europe tends to bring the mythology and romantic mystique; America tends to bring a more self-oriented, personal touch.
This is true of the American black metal scene as well. A good introduction to United States Black Metal (USBM) requires an appreciation for the bands that began by directly emulating the stylistic giants of Scandinavia, Switzerland and elsewhere. True, the American scene has gone in all sorts of directions since its development in the mid-to-late 1990s. But listeners should have a sense of context before moving into the specialized realms occupied by death-laden heroes like Goatwhore and Hod, along with the indie/alternative influenced sounds made famous by Wolves in the Throne Room. So with that in mind, enter the Nine Circles ov USBM. Continue reading