Tag Archives: Pagan Altar

Biggest Ups: Over 40 Artists Share Their Favorite Albums of 2017

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Bandcamp artists pick their favorite albums of the year.

One of the features on Bandcamp Daily that generates the greatest amount of enthusiasm is Big Ups. The concept is simple: we ask artists who used Bandcamp to recommend their favorite Bandcamp discoveries. So, in honor of our Best of 2017 coverage, we decided to take Big Ups and super-size it. Here, more than 40 artists to tell us their favorite albums of the year.

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The Best Metal on Bandcamp: September 2017

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Metal Twitter, like all Twitter-based extensions of subculture, is mostly terrible, which naturally means I spend all day on it. Yet occasionally it’s illuminating, as a recent in-fight revealed. In short, some fans of the genre think metal writers should be apolitical, while others think that’s dumb. While there’s obviously been politics explicitly written into metal since “War Pigs,” nearly every band reflects the issues of its time to some extent, whether they do it consciously or not. That’s not controversial; it’s simply what art does. While this column may not always use its limited inches to speak truth to power directly, you’ll never read about a racist, xenophobic, or otherwise hateful band here. Metal should be a welcoming space for all kinds of marginalized groups, and pretending that the empowerment many of us have drawn from its swords and dragons can’t be political is an insult to its potential to help people.

View the Best Metal on Bandcamp Archives

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Doom Metal: A Brief Timeline

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Sleep “Dopesmoker”

The core sound of doom metal is instantly recognizable—and has been for more than 45 years. No one’s going to confuse doom with death, thrash, or black metal. And even though modern practitioners of the form have modified the structure, blended it with other subgenres, and sped up or slowed down the tempos, doom will always have its place in the lexicon of metal.

The structure of the music is rooted in the same scales as the blues, and doom’s emotional impact parallels the drained, downcast spirit of artists like Robert Johnson and Son House. But the sound is amped up and magnified so the tone isn’t just sad, it’s mean and disconsolate too. From the moment Black Sabbath broke through with their self-titled debut in 1970—essentially defining metal in the process—they laid the foundation for doom.

Doom affects the gut and the psyche, conveying sensations of darkness and foreboding with fuzzed out guitars, mid-paced tempos and generally morose vocals. Groove is paramount, as is a certain amount of repetition, generally achieved with crunching, palm-muted guitar chords complimentary, minor key melodies and rhythms that wax and wane, only to rise again. Sometimes there are organs, samples, and variations in musical complexity. These sonic shifts are what have helped sustain the genre from one generation to the next. But even without the musical modifications, doom is forever because dread and grief are universal—and musicians will always be drawn to express universal feelings of anger, hopelessness, fear, and sadness.

Once bands in the ‘70s heard Black Sabbath and Paranoid (which came out later that same year),  they were indelibly impacted; some started tuning down their guitars, plugging into overdriven distortion pedals and writing the loudest and ugliest dirges they could conceive of. Between the substances they were consuming, the wave of occult literature they were drawn to by Anton Szandor LaVey, Aleister Crowley, and Austin Osman Spare, and popular films like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, a sinister, depression-fueled spirit spread through the counterculture and stoked the growing flames of metal. And once doom had a foothold in the music form it would never be the same.

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