The Nu-Metal Years Part One: Are You Ready?

The easy thing to do here would be to try to redeem Nu-Metal.

To try and convince myself and then you, dear reader, that, I don’t know, System of a Down’s albumToxicity sounds as good now that I’m thirty as it did when I was sixteen, when I’ve heard everything from Isis to Sunn 0))), Revenge and The Body since. Maybe to situate it within the long history of heavy music, finding in Mudvayne’s second album, The End of All Things to Come, the DNA of Metallica, Death, Black Sabbath, Alice fucking Cooper, Richard fucking goddam Wagner. Perhaps I’m going to tell you to ignore KoRn and Linking Park – the real genius of Nu Metal is in Nothingface, Chevelle, Dope, Guano Apes.

But look, Nu Metal really was a garbage fire. There are a handful of Deftones songs that are quite enjoyable and that really is it. Song for song, it loses out to drug-fucked Decline of Western Civilization Part 2: The Metal Yearshair rock, which, if nothing else, can be enjoyed ironically. Try playing Motley Crüe’s ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ and Limp Bizkit’s ‘Nookie’ back to back in public and note the reaction.

However, there is a generation, and I’m a part of it, that found heavy music through Nu Metal and circled back to find the records we missed at the time: Acid Bath’s When The Kite String Pops or Sabbat’s Fetishism. The first band I saw live? KoRn. In fact, not even KoRn, but their support band P.O.D. Various bands may have been your way in: Marilyn Manson during a tween-goth phase, Slipknot if you were late to the party, Hed P.E if… well, nobody liked Hed P.E, but my point stands: in the late nineties and early two-thousands, if you were mostly white and male, if sports and girls weren’t an option for your ectomorphic frame, but you still had too much testosterone for Tori Amos, then you were probably into Nu Metal.

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Iron Kingdom – Ride for Glory

Ah, the sounds of clashing blades and pounding hooves at the start of a traditional metal song. Young but startlingly accomplished Canadians Iron Kingdom choose to launch the sixth song on their third album with this genre staple, as sure a sign as singer Chris Osterman’s falsetto that these kids are for real.

Their days as Canada’s Got Talent contestants are behind them, and all true metal fans have sworn upon the replica swords they keep atop David Eddings [or Robert E. Howard or George R. R. Martin or J.R.R Tolkien] filled bookcases that they will speak of it no more. Iron Kingdom also evidence higher production values all round, even on their album cover (the artwork for their 2013 album Curse of the Voodoo Queen was frankly embarrassing for a few reasons). “Ride for Glory” features stories of ancient warriors both European (“Lief Erickson,” “A Call to Arms”) and from further afield (Vietnamese folk-hero Lady Trieu or Japan’s Samurai.)

 

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Chieftain

Calgary sludge storytellers Chieftain talk barbarians and bears

CALGARY — Georgia Meadows has to be coaxed into telling the ‘Bear Story.’ Onstage she’s a willowy, mystical presence in wide-brimmed Stevie Nicks hats, with a coruscating roar and a sweet croon. In person she’s funny and self-effacing, and has to have her hat wrestled off her head by Tanner Wolff, the band’s drummer, after claiming to have a bad hair day. One of two singers for Chieftain, she was recruited by singer, guitarist and high-school friend Rhys Friesen despite never having played music before and the reason, he says, is the ‘Bear Story.’

“When I was living in Canmore I went for a run and came across a grizzly bear. I couldn’t remember what you do when you come across a bear. Are you supposed to look it, curl up into a ball, punch it in the nose? So I decided to stand up on my tippy-toes and put my hands up in a claw shape above my head and I roared at it. It kind of looked at me like ‘what the fuck?’ and then it lunged at me. I roared again and it ran away. That’s my bear story.”

If the roar was terrifying enough to scare away a 600-pound apex predator, Friesen reasoned, it was right for the project he had started with Andrew Trueman, a project that would become Chieftain.

 

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Brothers of the Sonic Cloth

Interview: Brothers of the Sonic Cloth

CALGARY — TAD come up, when they come up at all, as an anomaly among Seattle’s grunge bands, more inspired by ‘70s metal than punk. Among Sub Pop Records’ first signees, the band was extremely active. Between 1989 to 1995 they released six albums, but disbanded in 1999 following a string of bizarre events: getting sued by Pepsi for alleged copyright infringement, getting sued by a born again Christian for depicting them topless (with their consent), and getting dropped by a label following a poster depicting then-president Bill Clinton smoking a joint. The band’s frontman Tad Doyle formed another band, Hog Molly, releasing one record before breaking up.

After that, Doyle went on a 15-year hiatus, relocating from rainy Seattle to San Diego, marrying and putting music behind him.

“I was just relaxing and enjoying my life,” Doyle says. “I did a lot of soul searching and pretty much wrote off music. I was OK with never playing music again.”

The feeling changed.

“I heard ‘War Pigs’ by Black Sabbath on the radio and it bought me to tears,” he explains. “I knew I had to start playing again and that’s what started Brothers.”

 

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H&M gets Trolled: Unethical Fashion Giant vs. ‘Strong Scene Productions’

y now, if you’ve been following the always fractious relationship between underground music and high-street fashion, you’ll have heard of Strong Scene Productions, H&M, and fake National-Socialist Black Metal Bands. In brief, the Swedish fast-fashion brand was accused of “one of the more ill-advised marketing campaigns in recent history.” Allegedly, they had created a fake metal label, Strong Scene Productions, complete with Youtube videos and a Facebook page. They had a roster of equally fake bands that included ‘LA/NY’, a ‘fierce representative of the French Black Legions’ who have been on hiatus since 2001 after running afoul of France’s anti-revisionist laws (which forbid denying the reality of certain crimes against humanity, chief amongst them the Holocaust.)
If you read Vice’s Noisey site today (hey, we won’t judge), then you’ll know that the whole thing was an elaborate piece of trolling, committed, appropriately enough, by Henri Sorvali of Finntroll (and Moonsorrow). H&M had no part in it, and the whole thing was designed to draw attention the tone-deaf appropriation of metal imagery by H&M, and the fashion industry at large.

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Heavydeath - Eternal Sleepwalker

Album Review: Heavydeath – Eternal Sleepwalker

If Necro Death Mort ever break up, Swedes Heavydeath will ascend to their rightful place as the least subtly named metal band on the planet. Until then they’ll have to settle for being one of the heaviest.

There are a lot of doom and stoner bands who can play slow and sludgy, fewer who’ll work on their guitar and bass sound to the point that it can be felt in your guts. Heavydeath are willing to let the clarity of their riffs fall into a gaping low-frequency void. Their take on doom is less slowed down death metal than sped-up Sunn 0))). Even their guttural, accented English lyrics recall Atilla Csihar’s vocals on Monoliths and Dimensions.

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Horns of Baphomet: The Story Behind the Symbol

he word ‘Baphomet’ appears in the names of twenty-seven metal bands: six are just called Baphomet, then there’s Baphomet’s Blood, Baphomet’s Temple, Baphomet’s Cunt. You read that last one right. The number of bands that have a goat-headed creature on their covers is incalculable. The idea of Satan as being somehow goat-like has persisted, despite it appearing nowhere in the Bible or Apocrypha, where he is described as being a serpent or dragon – when he is described at all. More recently, the Satanic Temple has moved to build a statue of ‘Satan’ in an Oklahoma Courthouse (CVLT Nation covered this of course).

The problem is that ‘Baphomet,’ a hermaphrodite half-goat usually seen with an index and middle finger raised skyward, isn’t supposed to be Satan and was never meant to be. The name has its roots in the Crusades that tore apart the Middle East for two hundred years – the symbol in later occultism – but even when it was used to slander the Knights Templar, it was never understood to actually be Satan.

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Review: Goat Semen – Ego Svm Satana

Some bands you can’t simply listen to, but must imbibe, must drink down deep within, to sample with each of the senses. Friends, I want you to taste Goat Semen.

The Peruvian quartet have spent the past decade working on Ego Svm Satana, most likely because if your debut album is going to declare in Latin that you are in fact Satan, then you’d better have the songs to back that up. Goat Semen do. With Ego Svm Satana, Goat Semen has released a perfect blackened death metal record. Goat Semen’s guitars sound like chainsaws on every tree in the Amazon, the drums create a horrifying wall of static broken by the sounds of medieval warfare, the vocals are turned up high enough in the mix that you can fully comprehend the ugliness that the human voice is capable of. This is an album (by Goat Semen) in which the sounds of air-raid sirens and gunfire are your brief moment of respite.

I trust that you can look beyond the name (because I clearly can’t) and give Goat Semen the respect they’ve been working for since 2002.

 

Classic death metal titans Obituary go on and on and on and on

Obituary has endured thanks to a classic formula of simple, family made death metal. Death produced amazing records, but was firmly in the technical death metal camp by their third album. Carcass and Cannibal Corpse have gore; Deicide has Satan. Possessed actually invented the genre but only stuck around for two full-lengths. All are great, but Obituary is definitive old-school death metal, sticking with cacophonous guitar tones, whip fast integrations of ‘80s thrash and lumbering sludge, and gurgling howls juxtaposed by piercing screams. Throughout their 30-year history (26 if you don’t count the time they spent as Xecutioner, 20 if you consider the hiatus) they’ve recorded nine albums and played host to 14 members. They are, all told, a huge fucking deal, and their fans love them for it.

It was those fans who Kickstarted the band’s forthcoming ninth studio album Inked in Blood, funding the entire project in less than 24 hours and going six times over the band’s $10,000 goal. At $20,000, those fans got videos of a live set recorded over three days at the indomitable Morrisound Recording (another family institution) in Florida, the centerpiece of the regional phenomenon. At $35,000, Obituary put out a making-of for the album that didn’t even have a title. The total kept on rising until topping out at an eye popping $60,000. Take that, Orgy!

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False Flag does everything but suffer in silence

The cover of False Flag’s 2013 debut EP Orobas sums these four Calgarians up nicely: there are skulls, horns, guns and an occult design that readers who spell magic as ‘Magick’ might recognize as the seal with which King Solomon allegedly bound the demon Orabas. Orabas, as False Flag’s vocalist and guitarist Russ Gauthier notes, is something of a anomaly for one of Satan’s minions: he is incapable of telling lies or betraying whoever summons him and can tell you whatever you want to know about the past and future.

“He seemed like a more positive demon, and I really liked that because demons are seen as bad things, but there are different kinds of demons with different traits.”

Occultism has been with metal since the beginning, but so has politics. False Flag’s name refers to the act of fabricating an attack on your own country in order to justify an attack on one’s enemies. There are real examples of false flag operations in history, but Google the term and, as Gauthier says, “you’re going to find a lot of weird shit,” mostly from the fringes of the American right, who use it to describe every terrorist attack, school shooting and dangerous weather condition that happens; literally, every single one.

 

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