Spoiler Alert; although I assume most inclined to watch the movie already know the bloody details of the “satanic black metal underground” in Norway.
Most in the metal community rightfully cringed while viewing the trailer for the recently released “LordsofChaos” film. “Lords of Chaos” was released on Friday, February 15, 2019. The film was directed by former Bathory drummer JonasAkerland and starred Rory Culkin (Macaulay Culkin’s younger brother) as Euronymous and Emory Cohen as Varg. It is loosely based on a true story as it was depicted in the bestselling novel “Lords of Chaos” by Michael Moynihan, which is widely known to have grossly exaggerated the events that took place between the infamous “BlackCircle” in Norway in the early 90s. Despite the fact that the book is an obvious exaggeration of the events, reading it is still much more worth one’s time than watching this absolute disaster of a film.
The first notable detail was director Akerlund’s odd decision for Euronymous’ character, played by Rory Culkin, to provide a “Wonder Years” style narration to the film. This gave the movie an immediate air of cheesiness. And although the film did not appear to be taking itself too seriously, any real chances at humor were lost under a thick veil of discomfort that seemed to plague all the actors onscreen. As if watching a high school production, it was extremely obvious the characters were acting, which made them difficult to connect with.
What especially irked me was the disappointing portrayal of VargVikernes in the film. Although the man is completely bat-shit crazy, what makes him so dangerous is his intelligence. “Lords of Chaos,” however, portrayed Varg as slow-witted, reckless and a bit of a follower. They focused heavily on his involvement in national socialism but not all on how role-playing games influenced him. Later in the film, when his involvement in politics was supposed to be getting deeper, Cohen’s dedication seemed contrived or forced. I just didn’t buy it. Even his burgeoning anger toward Euronymous seemed disingenuous.
The movie was also sloppily put together. The depiction of Bard Faust, for example, was particularly thoughtless. The character is introduced only in passing at Euronymous’ store, Helvete. Moments later he’s depicted brutally stabbing a homosexual man to death. There’s little to no lead up to this horrific scene. It’s 0 to 100 with this character.
It’s flubs like these that led to, perhaps, the most disappointing aspect of the film — the utter lack of relevant music in the soundtrack. Aside from “FreezingMoon” and “Necrolust,” which were repeatedly played in the score, practically no Norwegian black metal appeared in the film. This is because the bands refused to sign off on the rights to the music after reading the script — which blatantly admits it’s full of lies. Instead of modifying the script to gain the support of the bands portrayed in the film, Akerlund went ahead and began shooting and it shows.
Although I have very little positive feedback for this film, I must admit the portrayal of Dead’s suicide and the stabbings of Euronymous and Magne Andreassen were exceptionally brutal, which is fitting for such a dark story. They did not hold back on the blood or shy away from showing Dead blow his brains out. In fact, though he laid it on pretty thick, Dead’s portrayal in the film was probably my favorite. The book talks a lot about Dead macabre obsession with death, road kill and astral projection and the movie seems to accurately depict the character.
Despite having spent years in conceptualization, as a final product, “Lords of Chaos” seemed rushed. In interviews, the actors seem to know little outside the conventional mythos, and many elements of the whole story were left out of the film. The lack of overall character development made the story difficult to engage. At the end of the day, what was missing from this narrative was a purpose. Though Euronymous’ admission at the end was surprising, the movie seemed to be in a hurry to fit in all the events without attempting to convey a message of any kind. Overall, I’d say stream this one for the lulz. This is not a serious production in any sense of the word.
2018 was yet another year filled with political division. From the Cavanaugh hearing, to Trump shutting down the government, to Adam Darski taking a photo with prominent Nazi larper/black metal legend Rob Darken, the drama just seems to get worse every year.
Despite all the commotion, more than a few bands released jaw dropping albums in 2018. Some prolific and legendary acts “retired” with a bang by releasing surprisingly crushing final efforts and some newer acts shocked us with insane debuts. Compiling this list was brutally difficult given the sheer volume of sick new releases and settling on an order was nearly impossible. Seriously, I’m still debating on the order, but for now, here are the top 10 best albums of 2018
10. Ennui- End of the Circle
Georgian funeral doom outfit Ennui’s fourth full length album “End of the Circle” was an unexpected gem for me this year. This is a band that opened my mind to the funeral doom genre. Previously, I had been too musically ADHD to truly grasp the beauty of funeral doom, but Ennui’s infusion of blackened ambiance into their otherwise traditional doom sound was able to hold my attention. That says something for a band who opens with a 30 minute epic.
I knew when I didn’t want to skip the opening track after 15 minutes, instead finding myself entirely immersed in Ennui’s melancholy microcosm, that “End of the Circle” was among the 10 best metal albums of the year.
9. Yob- Our Raw Heart
Oregon trio, Yob, is a band everyone has been talking about lately. Vocalist/guitarist Mike Scheidt cheated death by overcoming a near fatal intestinal disease but, while inspiring, “Our Raw Heart” is an LP worth noticing tragedy or not.
Scheidt’s brush with death was the inspiration for the sound and lyrical themes on “Our Raw Heart” and it shows through every impassioned wail and gloomy break on the album. In just 7 tracks, this release takes the listener on a dark journey of epic proportion that’s honest, heartfelt and raw.
8. The Spirit- Sounds From the Vortex
This album floored me the first time I heard it. With a sound plucked directly from early 90s Stockholm, The Spirit is truly a force to be reckoned with in the realm of melodic black metal.
Once more, the band understands the importance of memorable song writing. While the melodies on “Sounds From the Vortex” are tight overall, they maintain an anthemic quality that resonates well in live performances. Picked up by Nuclear Blast upon the release of their debut, this German foursome is one to watch in the coming years.
7. Mare- Ebony Tower
Despite being active since 2003 according to Metal Archives, Mare released their debut album “Ebony Tower” in August of 2018. In an era when Poland, Sweden and Russia are dominating black metal, Mare seeks to put Norway back on the map in a big way.
“Ebony Tower” maintains a perfect balance between avant garde and conventional elements in their sound, which creates a truly enjoyable and memorable experience for the listener. What I love about this release is its flow. With its contrast between melodic interludes and violent breaks, “Ebony Tower” is both kvlt and easily palatable. With a debut like this, I can’t wait to see what’s to come from Mare.
6. Immortal- Northern Chaos Gods
I think the entire metal community was both shocked and worried when Demonaz and Horgh decided to release an Immortal album sans Abbath. Little did we know we were in for a pleasant surprise when the album killed it.
“Northern Chaos Gods” is a welcoming homage to the band’s best era. The album is eerily reminiscent of “At the Heart of Winter” in the best possible way. Honestly, I don’t think I’m alone when I say I’m happy about the split because now we’re getting twice the good material from both Abbath as a solo act and Immortal. What can I say, I’m greedy.
5. Unanimated- Annihilated (EP)
I was honestly surprised by the lack of attention Unanimated’s comeback EP received this year. For their first release in over 9 years, these Swedish melodic black metal giants returned with a frostbitten bang.
Annihilation floored me, excited me and left me speechless. Listening to this EP gave me all those happy feelings that come from hearing perfectly executed metal. I couldn’t more stoked that these guys are back.
4. Monstrosity- The Passage of Existence
Like most people, my introduction to Monstrosity came from Mark English’s involvement with Deicide. I’m so glad I discovered Monstrosity and “The Passage of Existence” though because not only does album crush, Mark English has shreds for days.
Monstrosity is a palatable form of OSDM with thrashy interludes and killer solos. This album is truly memorable and easy to digest. Good death metal here.
3. Arkona- Khram
2018 saw another development in the world of metal; Arkona got dark as fuck. Seriously “Khram” surprised me with its range and versatility. The band is clearly taking risks with this album, writing longer songs and going in a heavier direction, and the risks are paying off big time.
Despite the band’s slight deviation in sound, Arkona has managed to stay true to their folky roots. What “Khram” showcases is the band’s ability to grow. This album hits in all the right places.
2. Judas Priest- Firepower
While compiling this list I felt it would be almost blasphemous to not include Judas Priest’s 18th full length release “Firepower” near the top. Judas Priest did what so many other classic metal bands fail to do every year; release an album that’s not only relevant in the modern day, but is an instant classic.
Many people are calling “Firepower” “Painkiller” part II and I have to agree with that assertion. When a classic band like Priest releases a new album, fans usually pray there are at least 1 or 2 good tracks on it, but every song on “Firepower” is an absolute banger.
1. Tomb Mold- Manor of Infinite Forms
As I said earlier, figuring out the order for this list was nearly impossible, but Canadian old school death metal outfit, Tomb Mold was an easy pick for the top spot. What makes “Manor of Infinite Forms” so absolutely crushing is its dedication to the true death metal style that defined the 90s.
This is a band that isn’t shying away from producing something absolutely disgusting, sickening and brutal to the core. All these elements make for a perfect death metal record and a top rank in Underworld’s best metal of the year list.
2018 gave us some great metal. Let’s hope 2019 delivers even better metal. Happy New Year! Hails!
The term overrated is indeed a favorite among metalheads. As a group, we love to quibble over which band is better than another as a kind of social primer. That said, there is a reason metalheads often find themselves citing bands as overrated. The mainstream media often gives undeserved attention to sub par bands while great musicians largely get ignored.
After explaining to your coworkers for the 100th time that “no, you don’t listen to screamo” it’s tempting to vent to your friends about the bands all those people continuously ask you about. After gathering your votes on Twitter, these are the top 5 most overrated classic metal bands.
5. KISS, AC/DC, Guns and Roses, Van Halen or Any Other Hard Rock Band the Media thinks is Metal
One of the most frustrating things about being a metalhead is continuously having to explain to people what metal even is, or what it’s supposed to sound like. Media outlets and popular music journalists have never given metal the attention it deserves and have often exalted hard rock bands as arbiters of the metal sound.
Thankfully, this is beginning to change, but it wasn’t that long ago that VH1 was airing metaldocumentariesin which the heaviest band mentioned was Twisted Sister or Skid Row. While there is nothing wrong with Twisted Sister their sound definitely doesn’t have the qualities of a classic metal band such as Kreator, Slayer or even Sabbath. They simply lack the aggression and misanthropic air that defines metal.
As I said, this is beginning to change, and media outlets are starting to understand what makes metal metal, but this attitude is ultimately what led to the demise of great things like Headbangers Ball. Because extreme metal is a shocking sound for many, it’s tempting for many music journalists to attempt to make the music palatable for a larger audience.
Journalists are finally beginning to understand, however, the massive global appeal of extreme metal. When met with this attitude in the future, all metalheads have to do is simply explain that KISS is not a metal band.
Perhaps no band in history has sold out harder than Metallica. Yet, despite only releasing 4 good albums, this band has gone down in history as one of the best classic metal bands of all time according to music journalists and the public alike. This is annoying as all hell.
Most metalheads can’t even remember the last time they listened to Master of Puppets or Ride the Lightening (2 of the acceptable Metallica releases) yet people can’t stop bringing them up whenever metal is mentioned.
The fact is, Metallica is a great example of an overrated metal band simply because of fact that there were several other, more exciting thrash bands in the Bay Area that were overlooked because Metallica stole the limelight. Bands such as Forbidden, NuclearAssault, Death Angel or Vio-Lence barely get mentions much of the time, despite arguably being heavier, but Metallica, oh they’re right up there with Sabbath. Yeah, okay.
I’m going to catch hell for this one, but yes, Death is definitely a perfect example of an overrated classic metal band. What irks me most about this band is how they’re treated like the end all be all of death metal. Diehard metalheads, however, have endless debates about the origins of death metal.
During Death’s inception, as Mantis even, there was a move toward heavier sounds (growled vocals, blast beats etc.) among many artists in the thrash scene.
Bands such as Sepultura, Kreator and Sacarfago were releasing albums that were arguably heavier than the milieu of upbeat, speed focused thrash that had come before. While their music could still be considered thrash, death metal definitely has its roots in these sounds. Could we call this proto-deathmetal? Did I just invent a thing?
*I think I hear the sound of death metal being born
That said, most metalheads are in agreement that the albums SevenChurches by Possessed and ScreamBloody Gore by Death sparked the death metal genre. I’m not here to dispute that. Maybe I lean more toward Seven Churches, but I digress.
I’m not here to dismiss the greatness of classics such as Scream Bloody Gore or Leprosy. The reason I cite Death as an overrated classic metal band has to do with
A. The rabid nature of their fans.
B. The mediocrity within the entirety of their work.
Death fans are really another breed. Yes, I will concede that Death was a prime impetus in the creation of the death metal genre but does that mean that we stop there and not tip our hats to all the other incredible acts, who are arguably more interesting and heavier than Death. Any fan obsessed with a single band, or worse, a single album, cough *Individual Thought Patterns* cough, is just annoying.
As I mentioned earlier, Death was a part of a movement of thrash, as a whole, experimenting with heavier sounds. Bands such as Kreator and Sepultura were also central in spawning the death metal sound. Chuck Schuldiner did work harder than most in his time, I’ll give him that, but this move toward death metal was organic within the scene.
Furthermore, Death’s sound began to weaken and move toward more progressive sounds later in his career. While other bands were getting more brutal and uncompromising in their aggression, Death was releasing albums such as Symbolic which, despite having a few really good tracks on it, is clearly an album designed to appeal to the masses.
I know I’m going to get shit for this, but according to polls, I’m not alone in my belief that Death is an overrated metal band and I’m a bit tired of constantly hearing about how Chuck is god. There’s a million other bands I listen to more and find more interesting than Death.
In case I didn’t infuriate enough people by disgracing the name of Chuck Schuldiner, I’ll add Venom to the list of classic metal bands that are grossly overrated in the scene. Literally every book, article and documentary on black metal cites Venom as the inventors of the genre.
I hold umbrage with this notion because I argue it’s inaccurate. Despite releasing an album entitled Black Metal, Venom no more represents the message of modern black metal than Steppenwolf did heavy metal.
*Cronos distances himself from modern black metal
They certainly had a dangerous image in their time. I remember being a youngin’ and being shocked by their occult facade and violent stage presence. The problem is that this band began and ended at image.
Early Venom has very little in common was what black metal became, and Cronos will admit that. In fact, the entire band continually seeks to distance themselves from modern black metal.
Bathory is the clear first choice for inventing the true black metal sound. Quorthon never wrote anything that sounded like “Teacher’s Pet” and also shared a love the Nordic culture and landscape that would eventually becoming a defining component of the black metal genre.
*the birth of the modern black metal sound
Yet despite Cronos‘ consistent dismissal of black metal or the mediocre, rock and roll air of many Venom tracks, Venom continuously gets praise and recognition for inventing black metal. This needs to stop.
To the people of whom Pantera’s placement on this list upsets, just know that I am laughing at you…..hard. There are endless reasons Pantera is the number one most overrated metal band of all time.
First of all, who gave a bunch of bros the authority to define classic metal bands anyway? Pummeling through the thin walls of trailer parks everywhere, Pantera are unequivocally the kings bro-ness and douche baggery from their meathead inspired aggression down to Phil Anselmo’s white supremacist leanings.
Frankly, I’m not here to argue about Anselmo’s racism, though. My real beef with this band is the fact that, despite music journalists categorizing them as thrash, Pantera invented the douchiest genre of metal— nu metal.
Basically anytime metal sees a semblance of mainstream success it turns into something unrecognizable to diehard metalheads. This idea is central to the creation of nu metal. Nu metal was a stripped down and castrated form of metal that could be easily consumed by the masses and Pantera’s comical, adolescent hostility was the perfect cocktail to incubate the creation of bands such as Korn.
I really wouldn’t care that much if Pantera weren’t regarded as a legendary classic metal band in rank with bands like Maiden by so many media outlets and people. Despite admittedly having a few decent albums, Pantera is essentially the Mountain Dew of metal, yet, along with Metallica, they are probably the most recognizable name in the genre. This is why they’re the most overrated metal band of all time.
Can you think of any classic metal bands you think are overrated? Mention them in the comments. Also, should I write a list of overrated modern bands? Let me know. Underrated metal bands coming soon.
In the many years I’ve spent frequenting local and underground shows, I’ve encountered many different types of metal heads. Some of the coolest, most hardworking, intelligent and passionate people I know hold a special place in their hearts for the world’s most extreme genre of music. Metal fans are diverse, with a culture spanning all over the globe and attracting generations of listeners.
That said, any genre of music is bound to attract bottom feeders and scummy assholes. Annoying people are everywhere and extreme metal is not immune to attracting society’s most irritating masses. During my time in the scene, I’ve been able to assess a few common types of people attracted to extreme metal that would have been better off as mere cum stains on their mother’s 200 thread count sheets. Here are the top 10 most annoying types of metal fans.
The Only Knows One Band Guy
This dude can usually be spotted at fests and major shows and will oust himself within minutes. He loves Slayer, or Pantera, or Death, has memorized their entire discography and he wants you to know about it.
This guy’s annoying because he’s not really a metal fan. He’s a Slayer fan. While others love Slayer, and may even call them their favorite band, they don’t obsess about the band to the point of the exclusion of all other bands.
What I’ve found, is that many of these obsessive fans of one band don’t identify with the metal genre outside of that band. Slayer or Pantera gives them an opportunity to go nuts. That’s all fine and dandy, except that the media often depicts these one band pony guys as “true metal heads” which is both inaccurate and annoying. Metal heads are actually pretty complex and the dude screaming SLAAAYYYERRRR! at the top of his lungs is not.
The Uber Elitist
Also known as “me,” guilty as charged. I think most music journalists are to some degree. I can understand how this happens. When you belong to a subculture that society continually attempts to undermine, it can be tempting to hold that which you adore so deeply within your clutches that you get tunnel vision.
Metal heads are constantly told to open their minds to other, shittier types of music, only to have absolutely no one open up their mind to their music. The few times a metal head can get their EDM DJ friend to listen to Sadistic Intent with them, they have to listen to them rattle off the same drivel about how they “couldn’t understand the lyrics,” “they prefer music with clean vocals,” or about how they “should check out this band Five Finger Death Punch” who they naively believe is just as heavy. They insult your music despite the fact that they’re literally listening to a cleverly arranged computer generated noise.
It gets even worse when the clubs, record stores and magazines refuse to cater to your unique tastes in underground metal. When you see your favorite club, that was once exclusively metal, booking emo bands to rack in bucks, or your favorite magazine featuring Bring Me the Horizon on the cover when you could think of at least eight bands more deserving of that position, you begin to feel as though extreme metal is this special thing just for you to love.
That said, if we want Revolver to put UADA on the cover instead of Deafheaven, elitist metal fans need cultivate an environment that allows the movement to grow. Looking down on someone for not knowing who Belphegor is helps no one. Nor does refusing to acknowledge bands who even slightly experiment with other styles in their sound as “true” metal. These kinds of experimentation help new listeners get acquainted with a musical style they might not know they liked.
Myrkur is a perfect example of this. Her fusion of Scandinavian folk, black metal elements and neo goth/classical was beautiful in a lot of ways. Was it the future of black metal? Fuck no! But the manner in which many true metal heads went about in berating her efforts was pretty gross. This attitude is going to continue to get metal dismissed as a relevant genre of music by mainstream outlets. Cultivating that niche factor is cool to some degree but eventually it can be frustrating to watch metal be continually be overlooked in the media, despite its massive global scope.
The polar opposite of the aforementioned elitist, the anti-elitist thinks elitism is what’s ruining the extreme metal scene. This guy’s right, to a degree; elitist’s snobbery is off-putting to newcomers in the extreme metal community. The problem is that this guy takes his loathing of elitism too far. He can often be found on social media and message boards in a keyboard battle with a true metal fan inventing genres like melodic brutal death metal.
What usually unites these anti-elitist types is their love for a band that’s been deemed as a “poser” band, such as: Lamb of God, Slipknot, Cradle of Filth or Mushroomhead. Many of these types actually love some of the heaviest genres of extreme metal but some overly machismo elitist turds gave them crap for liking one too many deathcore bands a long time ago and they’ve never been able to recover. Now whenever a friend glibly remarks about not liking deathcore they flail shamelessly about how elitists like him are “ruining metal.” All the dude said was that he didn’t like it.
What’s at the core of this guy’s behavior is his own insecurity. He feels like he isn’t as seasoned in differentiating various styles of metal as others, or that his ear isn’t as discerning, so he lashes out at those with discerning tastes in metal, claiming they’re bringing about the downfall of the scene. He is right on some level, petty squabbling does not help metal grow. But he needs to calm down. His insecurity is showing.
The Hardcore/Old School Guy Who Wants to Get All Political
This is a more recent phenomenon. Sure, there have always been bands like Brujeria and Gojira whose lyrical themes were political. But the volatile political climate in the present day has everyone thinking they’re a goddamn pundit and it’s making us all hate each other.
In one corner you have the left winger metal fans who’ve leaked from the hardcore scene and are on a mission to save black metal from the Nazis. According to them, most black metal bands are Nazis — even ones who’ve only expressed disdain for Islamic thought or who have included WWII imagery on their album covers. What was never that much of an issue before has been blown way the fuck out of proportion.
On the other side, you have the equally annoying anti SJW tribe ready to defend even actual fucking Nazis in the name of “free speech.” These guys are loud, obnoxious and just as triggered as their supposedly sensitive counterparts. They regularly announce their SJW purges on social media.
The Old Dude Always Talking About How Much Cooler it Was Back in the Day
One of the most interesting things about metal is its longevity. It’s stood the test of time and every year new generations of thrashers are born. According to some people, however, metal’s hey day is long gone. Metal was just better in the early 90s and it’s important to never stop talking about that fact.
This guy is usually pushing 40 or older and remembers the tape trading days like they were yesterday — even though he was only 12 when that shit was happening. According to this guy, shows just aren’t as cool as they used to be and the scene is dying a slow death.
He bases his opinion on low turn out for a Monday night show that wasn’t properly promoted. This dude never drops by those Friday night tech death shows packed to the brim with 20 year old pit monsters.
This person is against growth in the scene. He’s curmudgeonly and stuck in his own ways. He prefers the old school style and hates technology — he’s unwilling to budge. What these dudes will find is that, if they stepped outside their relatively closed off circle for a minute, metal is actually bigger than ever before. More bands are forming than in the past and fans are all the more dedicated to supporting the scene. Because there’s so much saturation in the scene, however, it can be difficult for bands to gain their footing and stand out among the rest. But that doesn’t mean the scene is dying. Quite the contrary, it’s on fire.
The Dude Who Won’t Stop Promoting
This guy’s in a band, did you know that? It never fails, every time there’s major metal show about 15 dudes promoting other, smaller shows, their bands, their distros or whatever show up. That’s all fine and dandy. The problem arises when these dudes don’t know when to calm down, stop promoting for a minute and just have a beer and enjoy the show. I can’t be too hard on this guy though, at least they support the scene.
The Genre Specific Guy
This person won’t give anything outside their genre preference a chance. It’s one thing to have an inclination toward a particular sub-genre of extreme metal, it’s quite another to regard all other genres as lame or inferior to your genre of choice.
To be fair, metal fans of this ilk are genuinely rare. More often than not, people who know jack about extreme metal assume we’re all like this. But this dude does exist and it’s pretty fucking annoying. If this is you, expand your horizons; you might discover something cool.
The Dude Who Gets Violent in the Pit
The mosh pit is, perhaps, one of the most misunderstood elements of extreme metal. Outsiders looking in often view mosh pits as rings of violence — cold Darwinist death traps caustically thwarting the souls of lesser creatures disquieted by the sight of blood.
Metal heads see things differently, however. Pit etiquette is mandatory. If someone falls, pick them up so they don’t get trampled. Don’t mess with the people on the sidelines. Protect the women from the giant dudes and overall just have a rowdy good time with limited amounts of bloodshed.
Unfortunately, there’s always one dude, in virtually every pit, that has to mess things up for everyone. This guy is usually wasted and oblivious to how irritating his actions are. Often, he is an outlier in the scene, someone unknown by many of the locals, who’s acting up seemingly to garner attention to himself. He crowd kills, does hardcore kicking and will smash into you with a full beer in hand during a sound check.
This is why a lot of metal heads hate hardcore and deathcore kids. Many of them seem to exhibit this overly violent, bro-ey behavior. The good news is, the metal scene is full of big, burly men who will put an idiot like this in his place should he get too out of hand.
The Crusty Dude “On the List”
Maybe it’s a personal thing, but this type of metal fan irks me the most. This guy frequents grind and doom shows, may or may not actually be homeless and somehow manages to get into every show for free. He cultivates this image of the ultimate scene supporter but spends absolutely no money on the scene. He can usually be spotted with a Miller Hi Life in hand bumming smokes off the people outside who paid to be there.
Certain shows will be filled with this type of fan. At shows like these, grind and noise shows in particular, you’re likely to spot at least one frightened pit bull in the audience against its will, and a combination of patchouli and swamp ass will usually be permeating the air. Many of these types of fans are in bands, but because they’re homeless and have nowhere to really practice, the bands are sloppy, two piece noise projects that sully the name of metal.
The reason these types of metal heads irk me is because they don’t represent what metal is actually about. Metal fans are some of the hardest working people I know. Metal is incredibly difficult to play and takes hours of dedication to master. These crusty fans are simply lazy, for the most part, and are the antithesis of everything metal represents.
Prog/tech death fans
If you thought the elitist was bad, the prog and tech death guys take the elitist attitude to another level. These types of metal fans walk around with an annoying chip on their shoulder. They believe they’ve earned the right to look to down on other genres of music because of the technical prowess of their favorite musicians.
They walk around musing about pentatonic and diatonic scales feeling superior to everyone else. If it’s not steeped in technicality and incredibly difficult to play, it’s not music.
I get where these guys are coming from in some respect. I do tend to look for certain key elements in a band’s sound in order for them to qualify as metal, but the way prog and tech death fans disregard all artists outside their niche as not “real musicians” is pretty fucking irritating. What these people don’t realize is that musicians who play other styles of music are generally focused on refining elements in their music other than just technicality — they want to create melody and atmosphere.
What prog and tech death fans simultaneously overlook and gloat about is how the music they listen to isn’t accessible to everyone. But while they’re feeling superior for their ability to appreciate complex musical overtures, thrash and punk fans are giving themselves whiplash and just having fucking fun. These guys need to calm down. Music is meant to be enjoyed as a social primer and lubricant. It’s great to appreciate it as an art form — musicians work hard to hone their craft — but at some point it’s time to put that stuff aside and have fun.
PS: Anyone who takes anything on this list too seriously is figuratively a shard of glass lodged deeply inside the pee hole of an uncircumcised penis. Hails!
Back in July of 2018, blackened shoegaze post-metal outfit Deafheavenreleased their fourth full-length album entitled “Ordinary Corrupt Human Love.” Deafheaven is a band that generates an inordinate amount of buzz in the digital space, and for good reason, metalheads just don’t know what to make of them.
I think most metalheads would giggle at the above image of former “Gorgoroth“ frontman Gaahl accusing Deafheaven of cultural appropriation, but it begs the question, are post–metal bands such as Deafheaven bastardizing metal as an art form with their extreme experimentation?
Metalheads can’t seem to agree. Some say that it’s high time a curmudgeonly genre like black metal opens up its collective mind to new ideas. Black metal was, after all, born out musical experimentation. Proto black metal, such as Celtic Frost was regarded as avant-garde with its odd uses of dissonance and, at times, slower tempos and outright deviations into the strange. They sounded like nothing anyone was doing at the time and for that they went down in history as legends.
Black metal is also a prime genre for experimentation because of its already diverse nature. You have everything from raw, to bestial, to melodic, the sludgy, to ambient classifying as kvlt. In fact, many DSBMand ambient artists, in particular, have taken risks with their style that softened the sound of their music to add an emotional appeal in lieu of the typical rawness that’s associated with black metal.
No one questioned the metal cred of a band like Thy Light, for example, when they opened their demo “Suici.De.pression” with a 3 and half-minute piano piece. Many metalheads, myself included, celebrated the bold move. It was dark, beautiful and absolutely moving.
I think the main reason a band like ThyLight can take risks like that is because the backbone of their sound is steeped in atmosphere and chilling intensity; meaning the black metal elements are not lost in the experimentation. I think that’s the key.
We can call this the “Opeth” effect — a name entirely coined by me, just now, while writing this. Basically, the idea is that a progressive band can begin with metal roots but take experimentation so far they cease to fit the metal mold. You can put “Ulver” into this category as well.
In short, it’s okay for a band to fuse melodic and softer elements into their sound so long as it doesn’t become to basis of its sound. In order to qualify as metal, the skeleton of the album must be intense and heavy.
That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with shoegaze bands such as”Deafheaven,” folky bands like “Kauan,” or proggy bands like “Latitudes.” Post–metal bands like these simply appeal to metal fan’s diverse tastes in music. These bands, for the most part, still understand metalhead’s attraction to melancholy sounds and that allows them to maintain their appeal to metalheads. Their lack of intensity and safer image also gives them a mainstream appeal, and good for them! The problem begins when vegan hipsters in painted on skinny jeans start claiming these bands are the future of metal.
In the past, when metal has grown and progressed, it’s always gotten heavier. Thrashmetal became deathmetal, death metal became brutaldeath metal etc. Sure, metal is heavier than ever before, but to claim we can’t continue on this trajectory seems unambitious. Post-metal seems to believe that getting softer is the only way for metal to grow. I disagree.
It’s also important to look at what a term like “post-metal” even entails. It’s derived from the artistic philosophy of postmodernism. Before the neckbeards start can wipe the Cheeto dust from their fingers in preparation to obliterate the comment section, I mean the artistic kind, not the imaginary, cultural kind YouTubers are always harping on about.
The idea behind postmodernism is to deconstruct art of all its defining characteristics and question what art is in the first place. This is when you begin to see urinals put on display in art exhibits. Post-metal seeks to do the same thing with metal — deconstruct it of its defining elements; which are intensity, heaviness and musical virtuosity.
By stripping it down in this fashion, they allow for greater experimentation and fusion of other musical styles that wouldn’t typically be associated with metal. In Deafheaven’s new release, for example, I heard elements of easy listening. Ukranian post metal band “WhiteWard” fuse jazz elements into their blackened doom sound.
This idea is going to be irksome to many metalheads for a number of reasons. First of all, metalheads are appreciative of masterful art. That’s not to say we’re not open to experimentation, but musical virtuosity will always take precedence over unique fusions and progressions. Also, we clearly enjoy labels. There aren’t a bagillion metal subgenres for no reason.
Of course, sometimes post-metal bands will contain elements that appeal to a metal head’s specific tastes. That’s fine. There’s no such thing as posers here, we’re all adults. But post-metal as a whole isn’t going to appeal to many metalheads because its overall values don’t run in tandem with the metal aesthetic.
That doesn’t mean I’m being a total snob and suggesting post metal bands aren’t heavy enough to fit under the metal moniker. Many bands, like Axiomafor example, could be classified as metal, for sure. It’s when a band strips metal of its edge and intensity so much it becomes unrecognizable, I have a problem. Am I cool with post-metal overall? Sure, do whatever the hell you want — just stop claiming those bands are the future of metal. They’re not.
Turkey isn’t exactly the first place you think of when it comes to extreme metal, but Grotesque Ceremonium is putting Turkey on the map. A one man project out of Ankara, Grotesque Ceremonium play satanic old school death metal with a blackened edge and a listenable groove. Think Abhoror but more easily palatable. The band released their first full length album entitled Demonic Inquisition with the up and coming label Satanath Records last year and the album kicks ass beginning to end. This is a band you need to familiarize yourself with immediately.
Anyone in the Cleveland area knows Limbsplitter isn’t exactly a new band. They’ve been touring and playing fests since 2013. 2017 is when they really started to take off though, releasing their first full length album, Chloroform Cocktail. Aside from having the most brutal album cover in history and hilarious song titles (Drenched in Menstruation anyone) Limbsplitter brings in hard with their musicianship. This is brutal death metal with a grindy feel and even some thrash and technical elements. They’ve been praised in Metal Injection and featured on a number of fests. Sick shit here.
Slow doomy death metal anyone? Seriously, Australia’s Contaminated blew me away with their debut album, Final Man. I can’t stop listening. This is some of the heaviest shit I’ve ever heard. Contaminated coalesces the suffocating thickness of doom metal with the intensity of old school death metal to create a dense and truly massive sound. What really resonated with me was how convincingly 90’s their debut sounded. Final Man may as well have come out alongside classics like Autopsy’s Severed Survival. Truly old school and original; Contaminated’s sound is simply crushing.
For the life of me I can’t figure out why there hasn’t more buzz in the underground metal community over Degotten’s debut Hexentrost. This is indisputably masterful blackened thrash with a power metal edge. With a sound that’s both colossal and dark, Chili’s Degotten are proverbial thrash metal warriors heading off to battle, six string axe in hand. This album is thrash metal perfection, complete with cool riffs and shredding solos, but what sets Degotten apart from others in the black/thrash genre is the nod to classic heavy metal and their melodic undertones. Original as can be, Hexentrost is a must have for 2017.
1. Cemetery Winds
I find it fascinating that such a perfect debut has managed to remain shrouded in obscurity, virtually uncovered by popular extreme metal music media. Cemetery Winds is a Finnish one man black/death project (at least I believe they are a one man project because J. Lukka is the band’s only listed active member). Their style is melodic on an enthralling level while remaining unequivocally Scandanavian death metal. The band’s debut, Unholy Ascentions, was released in February of this year. What sets Cemetery Winds’ sound apart is that instead of drawing on black metal’s rawer elements, as has been the most recent trend in BM of the 2010’s, they follow the old horde and draw on the more melodic elements of the genre. They achieve this while maintaining their originality and not falling victim to At the Gates worship. Unholy Ascensions is every bit as intense as any gritty Australian death metal band with the ambience of the most memorable Swedish black metal. This is truly incredible stuff.
Tons of metal zines have posted articles highlighting the best albums of 2017 so far. They all did this back in June, which I suppose makes sense. Unfortunately, none of these lists have met the expectations of Underworld Zine. Once again favoring a band’s popularity over substance, the mainstream metal magazines have failed to highlight some of the greatest metal of the year. I’m writing this article in response to that trend. Underworld Zine has always been dedicated to covering truly underground bands. These are Underworld Zine’s top six black, death, and thrash albums so far for 2017.
6. Warpath- The Ambience of War
Brutal death metal never sounded so good. Hailing from murky Irish wilderness, Warpath are a band you probably haven’t heard of or listened to but you should familiarize yourself with them immediately and prepare to have your faced melted. Unlike the menagerie of brutal death metal bands that have listeners struggling to keep their eyes open halfway through the album, Warpath manages to keep their latest EP, The Ambience of War, interesting from beginning to end. Pummeling blasts, emotive and technical solos, and absolutely sickening vocals meet to create an onslaught of brutality. The production value is top notch. While you can clearly hear all the instruments, the grimy quality of old school death metal isn’t lost in the clarity. This is sickening brutality at its best.
5. Desultory- Through Aching Aons
No death metal listicle would be complete without the inclusion of a proper, melodic Swedish band. Swedish death metal pioneers, Desultory, take the number five spot with their truly ferocious comeback album entitled Through Aching Aons. The LP has that classic Swedish feel that pays homage to At the Gates, respectably. But, dare I say it, Desultory has gotten heavier with age. They always had a bit of a melodic groove to their sound, and that isn’t lost on Through Aching Aeons, but this album is pummeling all the way through. Their combination of brutality and catchiness is what sets their sound apart from others in the Swedish horde.
4. Contaminated- Final Man
Australia’s Contaminated is possibly the heaviest band to make the list. In the vein of early Autopsy or Convulse, Contaminated has perfected a kind of doom and gloom death metal aggression on Final Man with guitar tones that sound like they were dragged through muck and vocals akin to gargling blood. Being a relatively new band, Contaminated’s 90s feel is utterly convincing. Proper use of downtuning and crushing, doomy passages make Final Man truly memorable in 2017. This is some seriously heavy shit.
3. Necrot- Blood Offerings
In an age of five string basses and blistering technicality, sometimes simplicity can be refreshing. This is certainly the case with Necrot’s latest release, Blood Offerings. There’s been a lot of buzz about the band’s latest album and rightfully so. Necrot have forgone the tech death trend, instead opting to create death metal in the vein of Dismember, early Goreguts, or even Death. This is driving brutality through and through, with catchy riffs, gritty production, and an overall sickening ambience. The kind of stuff made for circle pits and the wall of death.
2. Undergang- Misantropologi
It seems old school death metal is making a massive comeback. Undergang’s fourth full length release exemplifies this trend perfectly. Not that it’s really a trend. Misatropoligi would scare the pants off an Avenge Sevenfold fan. This shit is grimy to the core. D. Torturdød’s are some of the sickest low grunts I’ve ever heard and A. Dødshjælp’s blasts will figuratively rip your face off. Simplistic riffs are masterfully arranged on Misantropoli to create a captivating experience for listeners. Misantopologi is hard not to fall in love with.
1. Immolation- Atonement
The number one spot on the list is going to the old school masters of death and destruction, Immolation. Atonement doesn’t ease listeners into its glory, instead punching them in the face from the very first crushing riff. It’s always a relief when a band from the 90s can still destroy and Immolation does just that. This album holds no punches. With a victorious and powerful feel, enunciated lyrics, unrelenting brutality, perfectly timed solos and sqeals of the guitar, and melodic technicality, Atonement does not disappoint. But then, when has Immolation ever truly disappointed us? With Atonement, Immolation shows us how American death metal should be done, and we’re thankful for that.
6. Sinmara/Misþyrming- Ivory Stone/Hof Split
If I had to pick one scene in black metal today that’s touching on the originality of the early Norwegian scene, it would the current scene in Iceland. The black metal movement in Iceland is bursting with creativity and bringing a new, chaotic approach to black metal that hasn’t been seen in years. Sinmara and Misþyrming are leading the pack in Icelandic black metal and this year the two powerhouses teamed up to release a split. The album delivers a blackness and chaos of a black hole and conveys a message of sheer insanity. Sinmara are the real innovators on this EP as their track is vast improvement in quality to the tracks on Aphotic Womb. But Misþyrming brings it hard as usual with their addition to the split, Hof. This is cool. This is kvlt.
5. White Death- White Death
This band just creeped up out of nowhere. I’m glad they did because their self titled release is comparable to Satanic Warmaster or early Behexen. The Finnish foursome has seemingly mastered the aesthetic of early, orthodox black metal and brought it to audiences in a fresh and exciting way. Gloomy passages pair with dissonant riffs, and screeching vocals effortlessly. Even the occasional fist pounding rock and roll beat or acoustic lick can be found on the band’s self titled debut. This album is a must have for anyone who loves straight forward black metal done well.
4. Irae- Crimes Against Humanity
Irae is another orthodox black metal project, deriving significant influence from the early, Norwegian sound, but also paying an obligatory nod to the black thrash pioneers. Irae is a one man project out of Portugal, spawned from the ominous mind of a man known only as Vulturius. This is good stuff. Fist pumping hard rock licks meet with blackened dissonance, and thrashy interludes to form a truly killer, and old school sounding LP. Vulturius doesn’t overdo the ambience on this, making for a heavy black metal experience spawned directly from the pits of Hell. This will scare the hell out of your neighbors. Really fantastic.
3. Noktunal Mortum- Істина (Verity)
The first black/folk metal band to make the list, Nokturnal Mortum are quite deserving of their position here. Simply the way the first full length track, entitled Мольфа kicks in, with that beautiful string arrangement that builds up into sheer aggression, is enough the moisten your underwear. This album is a beautiful mix of ambient folk passages, triumphant battle cries, and sheer ferocity wrapped into an hour and fourteen minutes. The Verity experience is orchestral and you almost lose yourself in the beauty of it. Is this Nokturnal Mortum’s best release? Nah. But it still blows away many other bands under the same moniker. I can’t stop listening. Keep at it guys. Slava Ukraine!
2. Goatmoon- Stella Polaris
Findland’s Goatmoon seems to improve every year. Stella Polaris is a far cry from Death Before Dishonor in creativity and overall beauty. The intro is a beautiful acoustic piece that’s consuming and immediately demands full attention from the listener. Every song is more beautiful than the next, as BlackGoat Desacrator focuses on building atmosphere with gorgeous, melodic riffs. Stella Polaris is probably his most melodic release so far, matched only by Varjot, but with a fuller sound and better production. The second to the last track, entitled Overlord, is the one that really stuck out for me. The final track, entitled P.A.I.L. was interesting, to say the least. Almost an attempt on a black metal ballad, the track works surprisingly well. Overall, a win for Goatmoon. Hail! Victory!
1. Wode- Servants of the Countercosmos
This band is probably the most surprising on the list. A new band out of the United Kingdom, Wode is knocking the socks of black metal fans with two stellar releases. Wode’s sophomore release, Servants of the Countercosmos has a sound that’s almost legendary. To risk sounding presumptuous, can you say the next Dissection? Not that this is another Dissection rip off, far from it actually. It’s just that their sound is so highly memorable that it harkens back an era of musical perfection only matched by Dissection. Every song is better than the next, as Wode pummels into your soul with an unrelenting ferocity not seen since the 90’s. The melodic nature of the sound and clean production is reminiscent of the early Swedish black metal sound. All this greatness spewing from a band made up of musicians virtually unknown to the black metal scene. What a fantastic record.
6. Lich King- Omnomniclasm
Lich King makes the number six spot on this list for their newest release entitled Omnomniclasm. The sheer improvement of the band over the years has people starting to really take notice. Omnomniclasm is standard thrash metal done at its best. Focusing on speed, aggression, and ferocity, the new album holds true to original thrash metal vision. Halfway through, Lich King even hails its speed metal predecessors with a slow and triumphant display of power in the song Civilization. Think in the vein of Priest. What Lich King has always focused on, however, is having the coolest riffs and playing faster than anyone else. Omnimnoclasm delivers sheer speed like few others in the new wave of thrash and perfects the sound with good production and riffs that will crush your skull. Lich King is basically Vio-Lence reborn and for that we’re all thankful.
5. Power Trip- Nightmare Logic
This album has been getting a lot of hype from metal elitists this year and I can see why. This is crossover at its best. While I don’t hear a huge amount of hardcore influences on Nightmare Logic, the ones that are there are tasteful. Ultimately, this is aggression and speed perfectly executed through buzz saw guitar tones, face ripping riffs, rad tempo changes all spawned from the first crunchy riff. Nightmare Logic is a fist pumping masterpiece complete with anthemic choruses and some of the coolest riffs I’ve heard all year. Power Trip is good shit.
4. Witchnight- Unholy Speed Metal
Witchnight is a brand newblackened speed metal band out of Argentina but their sound, name, and overall image may as well be out of 1987. These Argentinian shredders go straight for the jugular with their unique brand of black speed in the vein of Tormentor or demo era Destroyer 666. The fifteen minute EP entitled Unholy Speed Metal is marked by its utter intensity, lightening fast riffage, and cool DIY production. This is the kind of album I can imagine procuring in cassete form from a truer than thou older friend who partied with Jeff Hanneman back in the day. The entire EP drips of blasphemy and rage. Unholy Speed metal is Witchnight’s first EP, first anything ever. I really hope this band succeeds. I need more.
3.Bloodlust- At the Devil’s Left Hand
Three words: Australian blackened thrash. Bloodlust is a relatively new band that has old pro chops. At the Devil’s Left Hand is the band’s second full length release but the structure and execution of the album is so perfect you’d think Bloodlust had been at it for decades. I could chalk this up to expertly executed D666 worship but honestly, Bloodlust bring their own unique flavor to the table. The most notable positive on this album is probably the tempo changes, which are so succinctly placed that you’re transported in a sort of thrash metal void upon listening. Just be careful when you’re listening to AT the Devil’s Left Hand. You might just break your neck whipping around to their paralyzing riffs.
2. Blood Feast- The Future State of Wicked
The blood thirst is real this year. Blood Feast are old school motherfuckers from Jersey who haven’t slowed down a lick. The band split back in 1991 and reformed in 2007 coming back with a vengeance. The Future State of Wicked is the band’s first full length release since reforming and it slays harder than a good majority of the youngin thrashers attempts at reviving the old school. Everything from the chilling artwork to the riffs that cut through you like chainsaw to Chris Natalini’s penetrating screams is as heavy as thrash gets. It’s as though they reformed just to show the new horde how it’s done. This albums just kills, plain and simple.
1. Hellripper- Coagulating Darkness Forming only three years ago, the UK’s Hellripper has already redefined the meaning of speed with break neck riffs and blistering solos. This is an impressive feat for a one man project. The band’s first full length release, Coagulating Darkness is more than simply unadulterated speed though, the execution is masterfully coherent and the tracks are catchy and memorable. This album just sounds evil. Guitar worship reigns supreme, as it should, on Coagulating Darkness as the solos are masterfully placed and the riffs are as cool as Destruction’s. Despite being from the UK, Hellripper’s music has an unmistakable Teutonic ambiance about that you can’t help but fall in love with. Really great stuff.
Disclaimer: Before anyone gets their panties in a bunch because I missed something, remember this is opinion. That said, if there’s anything you think I missed, please post it in the comments. I listen to a lot of metal but I can’t listen to everything. Also note, Underworld is not interested in anything PC, so if you have a problem with one of the bands on the list keep it to yourself and off my site. That’s all I’ve got. Stay trve! Hails!