Tag Archives: Metal

8 Essential LPs From Italy’s Power Metal Renaissance

Alex-Staropoli-of-Rhapsody-Claudia_Chiodi-1244

Alex Staropoli of Rhapsody, photo by Claudia Chiodi

In the history of heavy metal, Italy is often considered the birthplace of symphonic power metal: a genre that combined the speed of early German power metal with the neo-classical guitar playing of Yngwie Malmsteen, all in the service of telling elaborate (read: over the top) pulp fantasy stories. To some, it’s a subgenre synonymous with self-parody; power metal is second only to black metal in terms of the potential for unintentional comedy. It’s an easy target, as power metal trades the transgressive nature of even early heavy metal for earnest nerdery, in increasingly baroque arrangements. However, that narrative ignores the pivotal roles Italian heavy metal played in the global scene throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s—not to mention the renaissance happening in the genre right now.

Continue reading

Voyage Through Amon Amarth’s Must-Hear Releases on Bandcamp

Amon Amarth

They weren’t the first Scandinavian band to write about Viking history, Norse mythology, and the glorious thrill of battle, but Stockholm, Sweden quintet Amon Amarth have done more with Viking themes and imagery than nearly all their peers. Over the last quarter-century, they’ve risen to Odin-esque levels of achievement that the founders of the movement couldn’t have imagined: Top 20 Billboard debuts, world tours, and even a mobile video game.

Continue reading

Origin’s Origins: Revisiting the Death Metal Band’s Beginnings

Origin

“I still remember Dee Snider [of Twisted Sister] hosting this [TV] show, I think it was called Metal Shop, and they had Celtic Frost on,” Paul Ryan, guitarist and sole continuous member of death metal band Origin, says. “My friends and I saw the video, and we were terrified.” They got on their bicycles and rode three miles to the nearest record store to buy the album. Then they raced home to put it in the cassette deck. “We thought we were going to burn in hell listening to it.”

Continue reading

A Brief Guide to Metal In China

Be Persecuted

Be Persecuted photo by Deng Zhang

Though outside music was mostly banned from the People’s Republic of China until the 1980s, metal gained an early foothold among rock musicians and fans in the country. Genre forerunners like the glam-leaning Black Panther, formed in 1987, and epically named Tang Dynasty were packing stadiums and moving units in the early years of the genre’s appearance in the country. Continue reading

Ten Bands Keeping the DIY Scene in Portugal Loud, Edgy, and Alive

Portugese DIY

Illustration by Noopur Choksi

It’s something of an inside joke in Portugal that the country’s culture is basically about three things: fado, football, and Fátima. That was certainly true during the 48 years of António Salazar’s dictatorship, when it was next to impossible for anyone living in Portugal to get their hands on rock music from abroad. National rock wasn’t exactly forbidden, but it was frowned upon; government-sanctioned music was either fado or bubblegum pop about traditional national values, known as nacional cançonetismo.

Continue reading

Album of the Day: Inter Arma, “Sulphur English”

Richmond, VA’s Inter Arma are nothing if not chimeric, a mythical beast perpetually entangled in lashes of black metal, death metal, doom, noise, prog, and even folk (albeit in a Neil Young’s-worst-nightmare kind of way). Their latest album Sulphur English is only the five-person ensemble’s fourth full-length since the band’s 2006 inception (and their third for Relapse Records), but don’t mistake that for slacking; Inter Arma are also seasoned road warriors, and if you haven’t allowed yourself to be sonically obliterated at one of their incendiary live shows yet, it’s your own damn fault.  Continue reading

Album of the Day: Various Artists, “Jobcentre Rejects: Ultra Rare New Wave of British Heavy Metal 1978-1982”

Consider Jobcentre Rejects a Nuggets for a scene that barely was. On The Dole Records—a reissue imprint helmed by producer L-P Anderson and Oscar Nordblom—have titled the comp Ultra Rare New Wave Of British Heavy Metal 1978-1982. It’s a designation with weight, but one that may suggest something different than what Jobcentre Rejects delivers. These 12 tracks are fuzzy and frazzled bashers, where reckless rhythm matters just a little more than grueling riffs. It’s a subtle but telling difference that separates Jobcentre’s lunkheads from the sharper edges of Diamond Head or Iron Maiden, even if Bruce Dickinson sings on Speed’s “Down The Road” under the preposterous pseudonym Bruce Bruce. The louts who populate Jobcentre Rejects come across as the ne’er-do-well brothers of Motörhead, miscreants who are more inclined to blow their money on lager than on pills. They sound boorish but not quite dangerous; they’re not out to raise a ruckus, only to have a good time.

Listen closely and the 12 obscurities—all plucked from singles or EPs issued by one-shot or limited discography labels, typically limited to 500 copies or fewer—can sound metallic in their delivery and velocity, an impression cemented by the compilation’s closer, Metal Mirror’s barreling “(Living On) English Booze.” Still, Jobcentre Rejects won’t play as metal to most modern ears, given how its contents are built on bludgeoned blues and filled with low-rent hedonism: it’s party music for burnouts. That the hyper-charged boogie can sometimes play like pub rock (a connection underscored by Spider’s “Children of the Street,” produced by Graeme Douglas, a member of Eddie & The Hot Rods) is further testament to the intoxicatingly open-ended listening experience Jobcentre Rejects offers in spite of the concrete place and time connotated by the title. It’s a bunch of ruffians out to make the loudest noise they can, a ferocious spirit immortalized on wax—captured so cheaply and quickly, the music still crackles with giddy energy.

-Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Brazil Avant-Punks Deafkids Unpack Bolsonaro-Era Anxieties On Tense New LP

Deafkids

Photos by Jean Ribeiro

“Most people spend their lives believing that all of their feelings should be expressed only through three or four instruments,” says Deafkids’ drummer Mariano. He’s not passing judgment here; after all, his band’s earliest roots were in straightforward, D-beat punk. Rather, he’s musing on the question of how the heavy music community can free itself of the Eurocentric framework in which it has been forced to operate for decades, and embrace a wider diversity of musical traditions the way that he and his bandmates have done. For a Brazilian band, signed to an American label, who is gearing up to release its third album internationally — and appear at a Dutch festival next month, it’s a question worth considering.  Continue reading