Tape Wyrm Tape Wyrm

Well, it has finally happened. Months of submitting bloodstained album reviews of contemporary Baltic Troll metal has led Pinpoint to do one thing — give me my own weekly column. Readers can think of this as a utility closet with a pentagram poster on wall, a boombox on the floor and one of those dragon incense holders. It maybe a utility closet but it’s the coolest utility closet you’ll ever be invited to. This column, will hopefully allow me to expend all of my dark fascinations related to new releases in the world of heavy metal. Conversely, Pinpoint has asked me to stop wearing t-shirts depicting satanic sacrifice to the weekly staff meetings. Fine.

I understand that some of the already established readership maybe new (or frightened) to the world of heavy metal. It is my belief that heavy metal can be as interesting (even more at times) as any of the other form of music. Heavy metal suffers, though, from a terrible lack of social skills when introduced to new people. The music is strange, people are screaming and there is a bloody goat’s head on the album cover. It is my undying hope that I can be a service to you and possibly explain the reasoning behind that bloody goat’s head.

Before I begin though, I must talk about subgroups. Often times in metal reviews, subgenres are thrown around like pieces of currency in archetypal hip-hop videos. Some people will argue the ridiculousness of subgenres while others make derogatory remarks about the original poster with questions regarding their sexual orientation.  Sub groupings can be like a map, helpful when navigating the sometimes dark and hazy world of heavy metal. Much like Modern art, many different styles were formed in a short time span leading to distinctions such as “black” and “death” just as “Impressionism” and “Post-Impressionism” were split due to stylistic and conceptual differences.  Subgenres, though, are helpful only insofar as the listener needs them. “Atmospheric black metal” may mean nothing to one person but maybe helpful to another wanting to go further into a specific style. I have provided a rudimentary set of crib notes to some of the more popular heavy metal subgenres and historic milestones.  If you are a person who has no need to know the differences metal styles please skip to chapter 1 of this column or leave derogatory remarks in the space below.

 

Heavy /Protometal:  (mid 60s-late 70’s)

Heavy metal is another name for the large style of metal but it also denotes historic style of metal before smaller underground movements of “extreme metal”. Heavy metal was born out of the combination of blues and psychedelic rock and embraced darkness and fantasy. Today, heavy metal remains “lighter” and more radio friendly as compared to subsequent developments.
(see Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Lucifer’s Friend, Rainbow)

NWOBHM/Speed Metal: (late 70’s – early 80’s)

The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal retained the pop sensibilities of Heavy Metal and married it with the speed of punk rock. “Speed metal” was a somewhat grittier form of NWOBHM which overlapped in development and is the closet parent to thrash, black and power metal. Both styles are considered the turning point for later “extreme metal” subgenres.
(See Iron Maiden, Angel Witch, Moterhead, Judas Priest)

Doom Metal: (early 80’s -present)

Slow tempo, gloomy and thick like sorrow. Doom metal developed from heavy metal’s blues roots with a focus on mythological themes and an ultimate sense of despair. Doom is the earliest of subgenres as its development coincided with the NWOBHM. Strongly influenced by Black Sabbath. Clean vocals full of grief and longing.
(see Candlemass, Saint Vitus, Trouble, Pagan Altar)

Thrash Metal: (early 80’s – present)

Fast, angry with a texture of denim and sewn patches. One of the first smaller underground movements to develop from speed metal as well as the genre to gain most fame in later years. Music based around aggression, social and emotional commentary. Yelled vocals much like the roar of a drunken brawl. (See Metallica, Slayer, Kreator, Sodom )

Power Metal: (early 80’s – present)

Bright, heroic and battle ready. Developed from the NWOBHM/speed with a focus on epic themes and grand story arcs. Operatic vocals much like the cry of a wizard flying on a dragon.
(see Manowar, Blind Guardian, Iced Earth, Helloween)

Black Metal: (mid 80’s -present)

Dark, hallow and evil. Developed from speed, punk and thrash metal with a focus on dark metaphysical imagery. The Norwegian second wave of black metal was involved in numerous criminal incidents including murder, suicide and church burnings. Shrieked vocals much like a banshee.
(see (early) Bathory, Emperor, Marduk, Wolves In The Throne Room)

Death Metal:  (late 80’s – present)

Guttural with notes of eternal rot. Developed from speed and thrash with a focus on graphic imagery and harsh dissonance. Deep growled vocals. Perhaps the most recognizable of all of the metal subgenres as well as one of the most inaccessible.
(see Death, Grave, Autopsy, Cryptopsy)

In addition to this list, there is also more secondary sub groupings, fusions and further addendums. Time, location, musical style and lyrical themes can apart to classifications. Any interested participant  can choose their level and pace of education. There is no need, at this point, to know the difference between melodic metalcore and metallic hardcore. For those interested, Wikipedia is an ideal place to start as well as this interactive metal map.  And now — the rest.

 

Recent Releases

Altar Of Plagues – Mammal

I cannot think of any better way to start this column than talking about one of my favorite releases of the Spring.  Altar of Plagues is an Irish black metal band who already made an impression with their 2008 release White Tomb.  Evolving from the apocalyptic destruction of mankind, Mammal meditates on the subject of mortality with 4 songs / 60 minutes of nothing less than a landmark achievement in contemporary black metal.

Exhumed – All guts, No Glory

Because no metal column would be complete without a ridiculous blood soaked entry. Californian based Exhumed’s last few releases were called Platters of Splatters, Gore Metal and Slaughtercult. Now that you know that, their new release (via Relapse Records) is called All Guts No Glory.  You see where this is going. Exhumed’s history within the death metal scene is vast and the medals pinned on their rotting chest are many.  Despite thematic elements and dripping album covers, Exhumed triumphs, musically, with an uncompromising approach to classic death metal. It is gross but it is equally amazing.

Primordial – Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand

An acquaintance recently said to me that if I haven’t accepted Primordial’s newest release Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand as a stunning achievement in folk metal, then I was somehow less of human being. While I do not think it is that imperative, Primordial’s embrace of Celtic traditions is impressive — especially when it is done without bagpipes and a tin whistle.  You laugh — but it has been attempt before with varying degrees of success. The one thing Primordial does not lack is passion as their songs reach into grand storytelling and even grader track lengths.

Arch Enemy – Khaos Legions

Perhaps one of the more interesting front-women in metal today is Angela Gossow of the Swedish melodic death metal outfit Arch Enemy. Gossow’s snarling voice is inhuman and provides a raw counterweight to the harmonized guitar solos. Khaos Legions is the ninth release from Arch Enemy since 1996 and is Gossow’s 6th release since joining the band in 2001. Khaos Legions is enjoyable and works it way nicely into most every day tasks including driving, parties and staging a revolt armed with colored smoke grenades. Arch Enemy arrives at 2011 with years of experience to make their songs fly at the speed of light with little interference.

 

Wormrot

News

Wormrot is a Singapore based grindcore trio who was brought out of obscurity by the help of internet blogs. Just last year they were signed to Earache records with their debut being re-released to a larger audience. Things seem to be getting better for this grindcore Cinderella as the band prepares the world for their second release Dirge. To commemorate, celebrate and advertise, Wormrot has announced their very own app for the iPhone/iPodtouch which includes the new album (in streaming) as well as up to date information, photos and videos of the band. The app is free and can be downloaded here but before you rush into this, I must warn you this app, according to iTunes, includes:

Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humor
Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence
Infrequent/Mild Horror/Fear Themes

It is funny to see metal albums in terms of applications on commercial marketplace. This leads me to wonder how the rest of my metal library would be advertised if every band had a smartphone app. Regardless, there should be no reason at all why you shouldn’t download this 1.1MB free app. I believe it is safe to say you have bought sillier ones in past and/or are playing a silly game right now. Why not spend your night with some amazing Singaporean grind-core?

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Drone cowboys Earth are gearing up for an extensive Midwest/East coast tour. If you thought heavy metal couldn’t possibly extend to the dusty expanses of empty deserts you would be wrong — but not blamed for you previous line of thinking. Earth’s recent release Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light Part 1 was another fine addition to the ever expanding sound of a ghostly dust bowl. Earth is awesome but be prepared for some long periods of standing still. Oh also, the support for this tour is Ô Paon which is a an avant-garde vocal project by a Canadian illustrator in a green robe. Don’t expect to start a mosh pit. Or do. It’ll be funnier that way. Bring a lawn chair and have fun.

Earth’s Midwest/East Coast Tour

6/08/2011 Mayne Stage – Chicago, IL w/ Ô Paon
6/09/2011 Mad Planet – Milwaukee, WI w/ Ô Paon
6/10/2011 Magic Stick – Detroit, MI w/ Ô Paon, Isosceles Mountain
6/11/2011 The Strutt – Kalamazoo, MI w/ Ô Paon
6/12/2011 Grog Shop – Cleveland, OH w/ Ô Paon
6/13/2011 Johnny Brenda’s – Philadelphia, PA w/ Ô Paon
6/14/2011 Wadsworth Atheneum – Hartford, CT w/ Ô Paon
6/15/2011 Middle East Downstairs – Boston, MA w/ Ô Paon
6/16/2011 Le Poisson Rouge – New York City, NY w/ Ô Paon
6/17/2011 Ottobar – Baltimore, MD w/ Ô Paon
6/18/2011 Braddock Carnegie Library – Braddock, PA w/ Ô Paon
6/19/2011 The Historic Southgate House – Newport, KY w/ Ô Paon

West Coast Tour:
7/13/2011 Doug Fir – Portland, OR w/ Angelo Spencer et Les Hauts Sommets, Wyrd Visions
7/14/2011 The Northern – Olympia, WA w/ Angelo Spencer et Les Hauts Sommets, Wyrd Visions
7/16/2011 Port Warehouse – Anacortes, WA @ What The Heck? Fest [info]
7/21/2011 Catalyst Atrium – Santa Cruz, CA w/ Angelo Spencer et Les Hauts Sommets
7/22/2011 Slim’s – San Francisco, CA w/ Angelo Spencer et Les Hauts Sommets, Whirr
7/23/2011 Echoplex – Los Angeles, CA w/ Angelo Spencer et Les Hauts Sommets
7/24/2011 Casbah – San Diego, CA w/ Angelo Spencer et Les Hauts Sommets
8/02/2011 Tractor Tavern – Seattle, WA w/ Angelo Spencer et Les Hauts Sommets, Tiny Vipers
8/05/2011 The Shakedown – Bellingham, WA w/ The Narrows, Cold Lake
9/09/11 Hopscotch Music Festival – Raleigh, NC
10/02/2011 I’ll Be Your Mirror, curated by Portishead & ATP – Asbury Park, NJ

Earth – Old Black (Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light 1)

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And finally, American black metal tinkerers Nachtmystium is set to create multiple collaborations with obscure  yet venerable black metal band Von.  Von has been cited as an important influence on the Norwegian second wave of black metal as seen by their t-shirt being worn by Varg Vikerness (Burzum) during his murder trial. Great publicity gentleman. Von disappeared after recording a few demos and Eps and was briefly mentioned in 2003 with the Satanic Blood Angel compilation. Von’s unearthing will most likely be met with thirty people really excited and the rest of the population asking what black metal is and how it is related to Metallica.  Crib notes people, COME ON. Lamination is not that expensive. They don’t have to be mine. Just something.

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I thank you for coming to my utility closet and sitting with me on that overturned bucket. Hopefully you enjoyed my collection of tapes which sit on top my dogeared copies of Conan comics. I do not know how much time I have here but for right now, it is ours and the gloves of metal rule the night. That is right. Manowar can end any column.



4 Responses about “Tape Wyrm”

  • djinnocide says:

    Great primer for pinpoint readers who don’t know the ins and outs of our beloved genre. I can’t say that I’m too familiar with Pinpoint as a website, but if Tape Worm is going to become a regular article, then you can be sure I’ll be stopping by again.

  • Moniker says:

    That interactive metal map is pretty cool, it’s got a lot of great songs to listen to while you pore over it too =p.

    As someone who has listened to all of Arch Enemy’s albums, from Black Earth to Khaos Legions, and as someone who is a fan (to varying degrees) of all of them bar The Root of All Evil, I have to say Khaos Legions appears to me to be their weakest album yet, I just listened through the whole thing here http://www.myspace.com/archenemy/music/songs?filter=featured and I am quite underwhelmed, definitely not a fan of this one at all.

  • Epileptic Peat says:

    Um… I think you forgot Hair Metal and Rap-Metal. I mean how can Autograph and Kottonmouth Kings be late to this party? If you let a slip up happen like this again, your mother’s weight might be called into question on this thread. No really, awesome job. I’d still bang Angela Gossow.

  • rowe says:

    Does Zeppelin have any place in one of those categories?