Tag Archives: Extreme metal

The 10 Most Annoying Types of Metal Fans

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.

elitist

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 Anti-Elitist

anti-elitis

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.

anti-kim_kelly
Whoooo cares?????

Metal is supposed to about escapism, but these assholes want to bring CNN into the club with them. Luckily, beers and shots can drown them out. But the truth is, metal should unite us. The tight-knit community of metal fans has always been heavy metal’s greatest strength, which is why it’s never really been about politics.

Those actual Nazi bands from back in the day have largely been ignored because no one cared. NSBM bands have mostly been deemed as bathroom black metal and many of them have turned to punk because punk rockers care more about the message than the music. The thing about metal is that it is really about the shreds…..and the devil. Hail Lucifer!

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

elitist metal fans

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.

mosh pit

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!

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666 The Best Death, Black, and Thrash Albums So Far This Year

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.

Death Metal

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.

Black Metal

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.

Thrash/Speed Metal

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 new blackened 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!

Six Weird Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Extreme Metal

I’ll never forget what it was like to discover extreme metal for the first time.  Thumbing through the glossy pages of Metal Maniacs and Kerrange magazine and seeing the images of larger than life, bullet belt and spike clad beasts that consumed me, gave me a completely skewed view of underground metal. As I grew older and immersed myself more deeply into the underground world, I became more acutely aware of the misconceptions I had about extreme metal.  I realize that many die hards are most likely already privy to much of this information, but it’s important to note that there are several inequities surrounding extreme metal that prevent the culture from achieving the sort of recognition it deserves.  Also, there’s just some genuinely funny, little known, realities about extreme metal that are simply worth sharing.  For one thing….

1. There’s No Such Thing as Groupies

Any sixteen year old, hormone filled, teenage boy looking to score brownie points with the girls in his life by becoming a musician, shouldn’t touch death metal with 75 and half-foot pole.   Extreme metal has never been very girl friendly.  The aggression and nefariousness of the sound, combined with the fact that for some reason, the ugliest of our species seem to create the most hateful music act as a girl repellent.

Can’t see why girls aren’t falling all over themsleves trying to get to metal musicians

Even well-known bands, like Metallica and Anthrax, can’t realistically harken back to the glory days of girls, girls, girls.  Of course, there are women into metal.  Many, in fact.  But women into metal are generally less superficial than women into other genres.  Metal itself requires more from the listener than casual pop music because of its complexity and depth.  It is also less readily accessible than other forms of music because of limited radio play and publicity, meaning that people seek it out because it adds meaning to their lives.  So the people who are attracted to it tend to be less superficial than say, the people who were attracted to glam bands with regular appearances on MTV.

Usually, women into metal are there for the music and not for the opportunity to meet a celebrity.  They also tend to be more cerebral, meaning that a for attraction to occur, there needs to be more than just a one-dimensional connection between two counterparts.  It takes more than good looks and money to impress a metal chick.  You need a brain. If you’re looking for money, you’re looking in the wrong place anyway because……

 

2. No One Is Really Making Big Bucks

Because of the things I mentioned earlier, lack of publicity and radio play, it’s difficult for a band playing extreme metal to generate any sort of substantial income.  Even the bands that have reached legendary status are living somewhat modest lifestyles.  For example, Fenriz of Darkthrone fame, one of the originators of the second wave of black metal, has held a steady day job at the post office for over a decade.

There are other factors that come into play as well.  Extreme metal maintains a certain anti- commercial aesthetic and runs on an underground ethic that prevents bands from making money the way many pop artists do, ie perfume and clothing lines.  And it’s becoming increasingly difficult for bands to make money selling records today because of popularity of internet downloading and free streaming.  Even back in the tape trading days, however, bands outside the mainstream weren’t generating most of their income from record sales, instead relying on constant touring for income, which often led to burn out and disillusionment for the bands.  It hasn’t changed much since those days.  Basically, unless you’re Slayer, you’re not making that much money.

Took ’em three decades but they’re making the big bucks now

When I was younger, I had no concept of how bad it really was.  A lot of good bands are literally paying out-of-pocket to get to out-of-town gigs, for which they won’t see dime for playing.  Next time you go to a fest, remember a good majority of the bands playing aren’t getting paid at all to be there.  They work day jobs and, because of an extreme work ethic, and a die-hard dedication to the music, they show up and rip the faces off crowds of moshing fans.  Even when these bands get signed, it takes quite a bit of time before the income they generate goes to anything other than gear and travel.  I’ve always found this fact about extreme metal upsetting because, for one…..

3. It’s Extremely Difficult to Play

Remember what I said about extreme work ethic?  Well, extreme metal musicians, death and thrash metal in particular, need it because metal is among the most difficult of all genres to play.  In fact, the only musical genres that even parallel the complexity of extreme metal are classical and jazz.

Metal emphasizes soloing, shredding, and blasts, all musical styles that require a great deal of practice to perfect.  The rise in popularity of tech death has only served to raise the bar for metal as well.  Younger extreme metal audiences are looking for more and more musical prowess and technicality in music every year.

And the guttural vocals that everyone outside metal seems to complain about, well those are extremely difficult to execute as well.  It’s not just screaming like many people seem to think.  If you want to hear screaming, listen to screamo.  Death metal vocals encompass a wide variety of vocal techniques, like tongue placement, and breathing exercises to produce those low, demonic growls.  The masses seem to only care about the fact that you can’t understand the lyrics, however.  I always found that funny because….

4. A Lot of Bands Don’t Even Have Lyrics

Yep, you read that right.  I found this out in an interview with Sodomized vocalist, Eric Newton, after to asking him a question about the lyrical content on the band’s latest release.  He admitted he didn’t really see the point in writing lyrics since people couldn’t understand him anyway..  This is more than just an isolated case, however.  In the mini documentary “Florida: Thrash ‘Til Death”, John Tardy of Obituary admits to not singing lyrics while onstage.

John Tardy of Obituary

Many times what happens, with death metal in particular, is someone from the band will write lyrics, and the vocalist won’t learn them right away if at all.  Because of the nature of the death metal vocal, no one really notices.  Death metal lyrics don’t claim to be meaningful even when they are written.  The point is to invoke feelings of fear and disgust from their audiences.  That goal can be achieved through grotesque artwork, repulsive song titles, crunchy riffs, and low-end guttural vocals that sound like the singer is gargling the blood of his victims. Lyrics are of less importance than these other factors in relaying a band’s overall message.

Of course, there are extreme metal bands that put a lot of effort into their lyrical content.  Behemoth comes to mind as Adam Darski (Nergal) often uses music as a medium to spread his occult message.  Even Napalm Death utilizes their influence to espouse their political ideals.  But the main point I’m making here is that song lyrics are not of great importance to extreme metal.  Death metal vocals serve more as an instrument themselves rather than a purveyor of information.  They are there for the atmosphere.  So in short, it doesn’t matter that much what the band is saying all that really matters is how the music makes you feel.  I suppose it’s a good thing death metal lyrics are mostly filler because…..

5. Bands Are a Revolving Door and Many Musicians Play in Several Bands

It’s pretty much always been that way.  Most people know that Dave Mustaine was replaced by Kirk Hammet in Metallica but did you know that Kirk Hammet played for Exodus before he joined with Metallica?  It’s simply the nature of the scene.  Metal fans share a camaraderie and passion that often sparks a yearning in the fans to create it themselves.  Go to any underground metal gig around the world and I’m willing to bet at least forty percent of the audience can play at least one instrument. With so many musicians in the scene it’s easy to see how bands can become a revolving door.

Also, extreme metal exists as an entity outside the musicians, meaning that fans aren’t simply idolizing a great guitar player or vocalist, they are in love with the aggression and energy of the sound.  It’s uncommon for fans to turn their back on a band for switching guitar players or vocalists as long as the new member has chops.

Because of the tight-knit nature of underground metal communities, many musicians will also play for several bands at a time.  Particularly drummers and bassists who are a commodity because of their relative scarcity.  Passion for the music often leads band members to start side projects as well, that sometimes blow up.  Anthrax’s Scott Ian, for example went on to form S.O.D. whilst simultaneously playing in Anthrax because of his love for hard-core.  S.O.D. is respected to this day for their involvement in creating the crossover genre in thrash.

S.O.D. circa 1999

The D.I.Y. nature of underground metal combined with the technicality of the music both attracts and creates musicians hungrier than ever to put their mark on the scene.  Shared passion for a musical style not celebrated by mainstream audiences creates a natural bond between fans of the music so it’s only natural that a lot of integration between bands would occur.  Because of the underground aesthetic of extreme metal, a new member is often already well-known within fan circles, so the number of bands playing with, sometimes as few as, a single original member remaining is not all that surprising, nor is the fact that fans haven’t turned on these bands.  Morbid Angel’s decision to replace David Vincent with Steve Tucker went over much better than Iron Maiden’s decision to replace Bruce Dickenson with Blaze Bailey, for example.  Blaze Bailey is basically a cum stain on the history of metal whereas death metal die hards celebrate Formulas Fatal to the Flesh as a brutal and original work of art.

Steve Tucker

It’s because this music is, and always will be underground, that a shared ethic exists among its fans; and that’s dedication to the extreme, which is why Metallica’s decision to turn their backs on thrash in favor of mainstream rock was far more detrimental to their image among die-hard thrash fans than their decision to replace Cliff Burton after his passing.  This proverbial middle finger extreme metal gives to the mainstream is one of the reasons why the bands who play it will never experience the glitz and glamour mainstream bands receive, which is why, for one thing….

6. There Isn’t a Backstage Per Say

Extreme metal bands generally play in dark, graffiti riddled clubs.  The clubs are small and there are no dressing rooms or any of that shit.  Not that the bands really need it.  Death metal is come as you are, fuck primping. An all access pass will typically grants a person access through all entrances of the club without being searched which makes it really easy to sneak in beer and what not, (a really cool perk especially since free beer for the bands is mostly a thing of the past) but there’s no secret area backstage where a party is happening.  Bigger bands party hard on tour buses and in hotels and every once in a while there’s a basement in the club where the bands can bring in beer and other substances but that’s not extremely common either.

No one drank more beer than Tankard

What’s cool about this is that the bands are generally down to earth and get up close with the fans.  It’s fairly common to see the members of the headlining bands in the audience banging their heads to the opening bands.  You can shake their hands and tell them how much you admire their work and even share a beer or two with them. This casual attitude in extreme metal is part of what makes it so near and dear to the fans who love it.  You feel like you’re a part of it rather than just a spectator.  No one in the underground is treated like a rock star so no one acts like it.  And that is way cooler than fucking VIP nonsense anyway.

These realities about extreme metal are what make the genre unique in comparison to other musical styles.  The fact is, the underground has been the same since its conception in the early eighties and that’s part of what makes it so magical.  Extreme metal was, is, and always will be a fire kept burning by some of the most dedicated fans in the world which is why is has remained pure.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Tabitha’s Top Six Picks for 2016

2016

If there’s one set of memes floating around on social media that everyone seems to believe, it’s that 2016 was a shit year.  The election was particularly messy, with proponents for both candidates treating their pick for POTUS as though they were some sort of elderly messiah.  People deleted each other on Facebook, protested in the streets, and everyone seemed to believe their political acumen was that of a tenured law professor at Harvard.

On top of the media circus, everyone fucking died.  Lemmy died at end of 2015 and ushered in a wave of celebrity death in 2016.  First we lost David Bowie, then Nick Menza, then Glen Frey of The Eagles, Prince (he was he one everyone pretended to love after he died),Leonard Cohen, and George Michael.  It wasn’t only music that took a hit; we also lost Gene Wilder, the mom from the Brady Bunch, Alan Rickman (better known as Professor Snape), and, the one that hit the hardest, Carrie Fisher.  More celebrities died of course but the list is exhaustive so I’ll just stop there.

2016 only redeemed itself with its metal.  This year saw great new releases from giants like Testament, Darkthrone, and Destruction.  Even the new Metallica album was an adorable attempt from them at being a thrash band again.  The underground metal of 2016 was particularly exciting.  Here are my top six picks.

6. Desaster- Oath of an Iron Ritual

destaster

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that Desaster is probably the most fun band to see live on this list.  The German black/thrashers have steadily been upping the ante with their most recent releases and The Oath of an Iron Ritual the pinnacle of circle pit, fist pumping success for the band, as far as quality goes.  Memorable thrashy riffs, breaks, and soloing set this album apart.  Blackened Teutonic bliss.

5. Murdryk- Antologi MMXV

murdryck

Murdryk’s Antologi MMXV makes the number five spot despite the band’s weird aversion to being compared to being compared to Dissection.  Killer riffs nonetheless, as well as emotional solos, and haunting atmosphere made this one memorable for me.

4. Baphomet’s Blood- In Satan We Trust

baphomets-blood

Thrash! Death! Sex! Destruction! Baphomet’s Blood easily takes the number four position for top picks of the year with their release of In Satan We Trust.  The band’s flirtation with Motorhead’s gritty vocal stylings and riffing, combined with anthem-ic choruses and slaytanic solos make for an unforgettable sound.  Think fist pumping, pentagrams, and broken necks.

3. Wode- Wode

wode

I got hip to this album later in the year.  Holy shit!  Amazing! The riff progressions on Wode’s debut self titled release are masterful.  This is definitive orthodox black metal tempered with unparalleled melody and emotion.  The raspy vocals and slightly lo-fi production give this release a chilling atmosphere.  Truly memorable.

2. Destroyer 666- Wildfire

destroyer 666

D666 always destroys but 2016 was a particularly good year for the Australian blackened thrashers.  Ignoring the whole racist scandal, the band released Wildfire, which stands alongside Cold Steel as an equal.  Fearlessly epic and heartlessly blackened simultaneously, Wildfire gets a lot of rotation on mine and so many others laptops and record players.

  1. Mare Cognitum- Luminiferus Aether

mare

This is the album I can’t leave alone.  Blackened melodic atmosphere with depressive and ambient interludes woven throughout, pair beautifully with Jacob Buczarski’s tortured vocals and melancholy guitar solos.    This is a memorable release that I’ll continue to return to for years after its release.  Luminiferus Aether slides easily into the number one spot for 2016.

Honorable Mentions:

Embalmer- Emanations From the Crypt: This one was well worth the wait.  Probably the most brutal release this year.

Dark Funeral- Where Shadow Forever Reign: This was a great comeback for the band. Melodic and frostbitten.

Nokturnal Mortum & Graveland- The Spirit Never Dies: Epic and amazing.  Double props to Rob Darken for ruffling Antifa’s sensitive little feathers.

Condition Critical- Extermination Plan: Thrash-terpiece

Vindland- Hanter Savet: Beautiful traditional, no bullshit, black metal with the melodious chill of Sweden’s best

There are so many more great albums I could mention but I have to stop somewhere. List your favorites in the comments.  Happy listening!  Hails!

Downloading Music Isn’t a Problem. Here’s the Real Reason Your Band Isn’t Making any Money.

Talk to any record/CD hoarding metal elitist and they’ll have you believing that anyone who’s ever downloaded an album illegally might as well be stealing money directly out of a band’s pocket like an orphan out of Oliver Twist.  Don’t get me wrong.  Illegally downloading music is a somewhat unsavory action, akin to stealing change out of a friend’s glove box, or farting on your roommate’s pillow.  I would definitely encourage a “scene supporter” to either buy CDs directly from a band, or MP3s from Bandcamp or directly from labels.  But illegal downloading isn’t the epidemic that CD collecting snobs would have you believe, nor is even the main contributor to the current pay to play culture within the metal zeitgeist.

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Literally the devil

People have been listening to music for free since forever.  All the metal veterans who constantly harken back to the glory days of tape trading were basically just downloading music illegally.  CD collectors who buy anything at used record stores are basically stealing from the band as well.  Do you stream music on Youtube or Spotify?  You fucking thief! The fact of the matter is, that unless you purchase a CD, MP3, or record directly from a label or at a show from the band, there’s really no guarantee that the band is getting any money from the sale.

So if record sales never really made a huge impact on a band’s income, what does?  Well first off underground metal bands really never made that much money.  As a general rule, metal bands don’t experience mainstream success and radio play because of the extreme nature of their sound.  Cannibal Corpse released three albums before they could even quit their day jobs. But today the idea of a band being able to quit their day job is practically unheard of.  Bands used to make money off of ticket sales, merch sales, interviews, and appearences.  But today most underground bands literally pay to play.  So what changed?  When did ticket and merch sales go down so dramatically that bands simply couldn’t make a profit let alone sustain themselves?  And why?

The problem does not stem from illegal downloading or even over accessibility via the internet, although admittedly those two elements might contribute it.  The true problem in the scene, however, is over saturation.  Twenty and thirty years ago, thrash, death, and black metal were still groundbreaking genres within metal.  Every week bands were pushing boundaries and playing heavier and faster than their predecessors.  Bands like Death, Slayer, Possessed, Deicide, Destruction, Mayhem, Darkthrone, Ulver, Sepultura, and Morbid Angel paved the way for countless other bands.  New genres, like doom, folk, and grind were born.  Genres began coalescing and blackened thrash, and death grind were born.  Death metal became brutal, then melodic.  Black metal became raw, then pagan.  New things were happening and it was exciting.  Bands had a signature sound.

big four
Say what you want about the Big Four, but they were doing something original.

Bands continued to push the limits  until sooner or later, everything had been done.  That, however, didn’t stop people from continuing to write music.  Instead of trying to be completely original, since that became an impossibility, musicians began drawing from their influences.  Eventually metal became the massive, worldwide phenomenon it is today.  While that’s unbelievably awesome for the average fan, it creates a problem for would be musicians because of an increase in competition.  There are simply too many bands.  With as many bands as there are, one would think that the streets would be swarming with metal musicians everywhere you looked.  It’s actually almost weird that kind of fucking lame that that is not the case, but I digress.

The thing is that there are simply too many bands for even the truest fan to keep up with.  Tell me one band you like, and I can name about ten more that you’d like based on that.  Like Dissection?  You should check out Vinterland, Eternal Lies, Nalgfar, Istapp, Lord Belial, Thulcandra etc, etc….  Like Destroyer 666?  You’ll probably like Slaughter Messiah, Aura Noir, Frosthelm, Excidium, Lord etc..  We just have too many choices anymore and that’s both good and bad.  Because metalheads are both eclectic and not fickle, it means that we never usually let go of our favorite albums, even after the band has broken up, and we’re always open to listen to another band that’s true to our preferences.  But since there are so many bands, no one can keep up.  A pair of friends can be talking about bands at a show and mention ten bands each that their friend has never heard of.  Neither’s cred even comes into question.  I’ve seen it happen.  I’ve had it happen to me.  It’s ridiculous.  It’s a problem.  So how do we rectify this problem?

It’s probably too late but there are a few things we can do.  First of all, some of you need to put down your instruments.  Look, I know you’re passionate, and you want to create, but most of you are mediocre and you’re not contributing much to the scene with your music.  If you want to be involved in the scene, there are so many other ways to involve yourself.  Book shows, draw sick art, write reviews, take photographs of nature, print shirts, open a record store, do lights……I could go on and on.  Maybe starting band isn’t for everyone.  Some of you just need to be fans.  There’s nothing more ridiculous than being at a show that’s literally bands watching bands.  That shit happens all the damn time.

Screenshot (23)
The new additions to Metal Archives as of this month.  317 new bands.  Some of you need to sit the fuck down.

If you’re in a band, stop with the goddamn side projects.  So you’re in a thrash band but you’ve really been getting into DSBM and you’re thinking about starting a one man project?  No, just no!  Either quit the thrash band and focus on the DSBM project or vice versa.  For God’s sake don’t do both.  The only reason there are so many bands but metal musicians aren’t filling the streets is because everyone is in three bands.  Just stop.  Focus on one thing and make it great.  Try and be original as hard as that can be.  Try and have a signature sound.  Pour your blood into your project.  Make an impact on the scene.

hellhammer
I’m pretty much in every band.

Fans, really need to start getting to know bands and their material.  This can be difficult with so much music to choose from just a click away on youtube, but it’s a trend that needs to resurface.  Back in the 90’s, we’d buy every Death album, or whomever, and listen to those albums over and over until they became ingrained in our memory, and we knew every word, and every solo by heart.  Today, there’s so much music readily available, we’ve all developed musical ADD.  We practically forget what a band sounds like right after listening to them.  We’re already on the next band.  This needs to stop.  Fandom and obsession needs to be reborn.  Of course, everyone has their favorite bands that they already behave like fanboys around, all I’m suggesting is that we do this more.  There are artists I have liked a lot that I never just never got around to listening to more than one or two albums from, let alone their entire discography, simply because of the sheer volume of my music collection.

And the last, and most important factor is to go to shows.  Go to as many as possible  Buy merch while you’re there.  Get drunk and have a good time.  Be a fan.  Even if you’re in a band, go see other bands.  Bring your friends and get the word out.  This is where bands make their money. on merch and ticket sales.  Show your support!

So I suppose my conclusion is that, metal has way more problems than illegal downloading.  If you own a thousand records but you never get out and see live music, I hate to break it to you but you are not a scene supporter.  All that means is that you are willing to designate a large portion of your apartment space to your huge music collection.  If you downloaded a few albums because you’re poor, you’re not the worst person ever either.  As long as you go to shows, and buy a t-shirt here or there, you fucking rule!  Let’s all stop the guilt tripping then and just try to create something original.  With that in mind, let’s bang our heads to some old Slayer, a truly original band in their time.  Your band couldn’t touch what they did.

 

Embalmination Tour 2013

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Embalmer has embarked on their western tour with Forged in Gore, and I (being a Cleveland native) was fortunate enough to catch the first show of the tour in their hometown with featured act, Rottrovore as well as local bands Blood Coven, Funeral Pyre and of course, Forged in Gore. The show was held at Lakewood’s only exclusively metal venue, The Foundry. The club is known for being one of many names (The HiFi, The Breakfast Club etc.) but has really come into it’s own as a spot for extreme metal. Slow to compete with punk/metal pub, Now That’s Class, The Foundry has respectfully become a haven for the underground in the past two years.

Blood Coven was the first band to hit the stage. They kicked off the evening nicely, playing classics, Warmaggedon and Feel My Steel, as well as showcasing their new track Age of Hell, to a lackluster crowd. Perhaps the highpoint of the set, for me at least, was when they played my request, Godless and Wicked.  The set was a bit sloppy in places, but not unforgivably so and the pure evil and aggression emanating from the stage, well made up for any slop in the performance.  Perhaps the only true disappointment was the utter disinterest, yielding from the crowd.  I can not, for the life of me, figure out why Blood Coven hasn’t become a greater force in the Cleveland metal scene.  Alas, I appeared to be the only person familiar with the material.  It was of no consequence to me however, I’ve been that person numerous times.  Blood Coven is truly a band worthy of recognition, so I give you Age of Hell!

Blood Coven’s ass kickery made way for black metal outfit Funeral Pyre. Funeral Pyre prefaced their first performance in twenty years with smells of acrid incense and arrant blackness. The crowd prepared for a celebration of evil. The enthusiasm of the crowd would only be met with sheer disappointment, as the set was an utter disaster. The drums were entirely too loud, drowning out sloppily played guitars.  Vocalist Brian Sekula, lazily fluttered about a goats skull as he shrieked classic tracks, Prosperity of Satan’s Reign and Celtic Sun.  Brief moments of harmony were quickly halted by clumsy mistakes, so attempts to get lost in the music or even discern one song from the next, were futile.  This band will definitely have to work together and practice more if they intend to gain a following in the underground live circuit.  Either that, or remain a studio band.

The show wouldn’t be a total bust, however, Forged in Gore hit the stage next to tear our faces off with the brutal death metal Cleveland has become known for.  Lightening fast riffing, blast beats and guttural “vokills” characterized the set.  Tongue in cheek requests for the band to slow down were met with a proverbial middle finger and even faster playing on the track Afterbirth Hors d’ oeuvre. Vocalist/bassist Brian Baxter engaged the crowd even further, inciting mosh pits and interacting with fans. Embalmer vocalist Paul Gorefiend performed guest vocals on a cover song to much approval from the crowd. Forged in Gore put on an incredible set. The band exudes professionalism and can most definitely anticipate a promising future.

We’d all anticipated Embalmer would go on next as initially Rottrevore was supposed to close the show but at that point in the evening everyone was inebriated and logistics mattered little.  Rottrovore went on next.  Excitement came over the crowd as Rottrevore set the perform their first live show in Cleveland in over 20 years.  Although I, personally am not an avid fan of the brutal death foursome, the band did not disappoint diehards, performing classic tracks like Unanimous Approval and Incompetent Secondary to perfection. Rottrovore closed their set with Conspiracised and fittingly the performance was met with “unanimous approval”.

The final band of the evening to play was of course, goregrind aficionados, Embalmer. An intoxicated Paul Gorefiend hit the stage, spewing vocals to utter perfection. You would never guess that he was wasted or that he’d injured his ribs at a Goatwhore show months back. Embalmer killed it, performing tracks from their must-have compilation from 1997, There Was Blood Everywhere, such as Rotten Body Fluids, the title track and my favorite, Bone Box. They also introduced new tracks from the soon to be released LP Apocalyptic Bloodshower. The new songs may have even exceeded the aggression found on earlier releases, which excites me for the release of Apocalyptic Bloodshower. The band closed with the classic, I am the Embalmer, paying homage to sole original member Roy Stewart. Embalmer did not fail to meet high expectations and “keep it fucking sick”!

Overall, the show was the definition of underground metal, with exorbitant demo trading, unofficial, laid back meet and greets, heavy promotion and intense gratitude for underground heads.  A rapturous evening of gore, dedicated to diehards.

Embalmer is currently touring the west coast with Forged in Gore. Dates are as follows…

6/8 Cleveland, OH
6/11 Kansas City, Missouri
6/14-6/15 Las Vegas Deathfest, Las Vegas, Nevada
6/17 Sacremento, California
6/18 Los Angeles, California
6/21 San Diego, California
6/22 Tempe, Arizona
6/25 Houston, Texas
6/26 Dallas, Texas
6/28-6/29 Gutfest, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Catch them in your town! Happy Listening! Hails!