- Myrkur, Myrkur
- Týr, Valkyrja
- Chelsea Wolfe, Lone
- Behemoth, The Satanist
- Fleshgod Apocalypse, Labyrinth
The Antisocial Darwinist loves music of all types. There’s nuggets of awesome inside every genre of music people listen to if you’re willing to search it out. However, I only review music that can be broadly classified as some variety of metal. Therefore, I feel it’s necessary to make a stab at defining what “metal” is:
A style of music characterized by harsh, loud, or fast passages, often described as “extreme” or “difficult to listen to”. Metal instrumentation is typified by prominent drums and distorted electric guitar, although other instruments are often present. Though metal developed out of the bombastic arena rock of the 1960’s and 1970’s, it is differentiated from that genre by its tendency to use diatonic, classical-style phrasings as opposed to the pentatonic, blues-style phrasings more common in rock music. Vocal styles vary widely but tend to push the boundaries of human vocal capacity, ranging from operatic styles to inhuman screeching and growling. Metal music tends to emphasize dark or violent themes, negative emotions, and occult or fantastic elements.
Consider this definition vague in the extreme: there are many examples of music that is obviously metal but is missing some or even all of these characters. However, I think there are three characteristics that, if present, make a piece of music at least “metal-like” and I’m generally happy to classify as metal any music scoring higher than a 5 out of 10 in at least 2 of the following traits:
BRUTALITY: Metal should be hard to listen to. This characteristic represents how harsh the music is. Often, this is sheer speed, but it can come from other sources as well: violent or disturbing lyrics or cover art, vocal style, or ear-wrenching tones (common in industrial-style metal) all contribute to brutality.
ATMOSPHERE: Metal music should evoke an atmosphere characteristic of metal. That’s a bit of a circular definition, but most people who like metal will know what I’m talking about. Fear, anger, mystery, bravery and victory and war, depression and suicide, murder and depravity, pagan or Satanic religion, magic and the occult: all of these things are appropriate. The atmosphere can come from the lyrics or from the music itself.
CALLIOPICITY: Yeah, I made this word up. “Calliope” is the muse of epic poetry, so this word represents the “epicness” of a piece of music without using the word “epic” which has been drained of its meaning by its adjectival use in daily language. Metal should deal with big, serious themes that transcend the silly problems of “normal lives”. Metal songs don’t talk about relationships, or your shitty day at work. Or, at least, if they were to tackle issues like that, it would be like: relationships are impossible because of the UNSPANNABLE VOID SEPARATING HUMAN SOULS, or work is inevitably shitty because of the SOUL-DESTROYING MACHINE OF MODERN INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY. Calliopicity usually comes from the lyrics, but let’s face it, music can be epic in and of itself. “Ride of the Valkyries” doesn’t need lyrics, and nobody knows what that bit by Carl Orff is about at all…
Last, I rate music based on its PACKAGING. Get this straight, folks: I DON’T DOWNLOAD MUSIC except in the most unusual circumstances. I like CD’s, or whatever other kind of solid packaged thing you want to sell me. There’s half a dozen good reasons for this which I might go into someday in a post. Hell, how many of us old school metalheads would have discovered Florida Death Metal if it weren’t for those awesome Dan Seagrave album covers? So, I’ll give a rating and a short write-up of the quality of a record’s packaging.
Marduk, “Christraping Black Metal” — Brutality 10
Summoning, “Land of the Dead” — Atmosphere 10
Iron Maiden, “Hallowed Be Thy Name” — Calliopicity 10