Search the FAQ Archives

3 - A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M
N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z - Internet FAQ Archives

Heavy Metal Music, Culture and Philosophy FAQ (Metal as Concept 1/3 )

[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index | Zip codes ]
Archive-name: heavy-metal/metal-as-concept-1
Posting-frequency: semimonthly
Last-Modified: 16-Mar-2006

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Part II       :: Metal as concept

   - Metal music arose from a fusion of jazz and rock with influences
   from classical theory, producing a music which gradually evolved
   into several complex postmodern styles which emphasizing an
   existential but nihilistic view of reality, civilization, and the
   "limits" of human consciousness.
   - Metal culture is a process of distancing oneself from the basic
   perceptual errors inherent to the thinking that has produced human
   history and society, implementing self-reliance, a self-awareness,
   and consciousness of the values of enjoyment and even hedonism as a
   mode of expressing oneself in being.
   - Metal formed from a basic idea of a straightforward disbelief in
   inherent value to existence or society, and from there examined
   taboos of thought throughout history as a method of exploring fear
   and despair, leading to an adoption of nihilism as an intellectual
   technique for clear perception, and from there creating an ability
   to understand structure independent from its
   circumstance/appearance which eventually developed into a method of
   understanding the motion   of information and chaos around us as a
   method of understanding mysticism.
   - The musical influence of metal, and the influence of metal
   culture  on aesthetics, are indicators of an injection of idea into
   the   mainstream of world culture at least on a subconscious level,
   where the symbology, aesthetic and communicative nature of
   structure as metaphor of metal as art take effect.

{ II. Metal as concept
   I. Music
   II. Culture
   III. Ideas
   IV. Applicability           }

   2.1 What is metal music?

   Metal music comes from a world-wide subculture which values
   nihilistic post-moral orders as a way for humans to approach
   understanding our existence as independent thinking beings
   constrained by reality. Metal as a collective system of thought
   believes in the individual, the inherent worthlessness of material
   things, the value and inspiration of fantasy and imagination, the
   intensity of creation, the power of destruction, and the
   soul-sickening descent of value that is sensuality and hedonism.
   It is what one might call a dentological decision tree, in that all
   motivations are driven by existential value to the experience in
   the context of the existence, and so absolutes are generated on
   several levels by shared intelligence.

   Over three decades and four generations of world marketplace
   culture  metal music - from heavy metal to the intermediate states
   of speed metal, early hardcore-deathmetal, and an early evolution
   of heavy-metal-based blackmetal, to the moderns, such as the
   abstract incarnations of death metal and black metal, ambient
   metal, and progressive chromatic death metal alongside ambient
   grindcore - metal music has held forth a philosophy of parallel
   human interpretations of reality which involves no authority or
   control for a variety of fundamental reasons:

      1 authority does not carry interpretation or question (boring)
      2 chaos is a sensible, perpetuative state for carrier of the
      metal virus;
      3 metal fosters creation and recreation in a world which will
      always tend toward stagnation if direction is not taken;
      4 it will free us from the barriers we rapidly create to
      insulate ourselves from the fear of decision;
      5 it demystifies decision into a logical system of understanding
      and contributing to natural process and growth.
      6 metal as a culture provides an understanding for many of the
      existential questions, and an expression for romanticism in a
      world afraid of it, which is beautiful for what it is: the quest
      for beauty, sometimes the quest for purity. (SODOMIZE VIRGIN)

   Metal is a genre of music which refuses to compromise the inherent
   nihilism of life as it seeks more romanticist outpourings of
   emotion and ideal. Coming from the underground the music is
   closely joined to intensely alienated social values but translates
   this dissent into a non-political yet unwaveringly steadfast
   metaphorical resistance to mainstream thought process.

   A form of music based in the theory of classical music and the
   instrumental format of folk/blues (rock), heavy metal emerged as a
   form of popular music in 1969 and has undergone various changes
   since, mutating as it evolves into what it always has been. With
   its extremist minimalism supported by its aesthetic of violence and
   destruction metal loses many popular music fans, which contributes
   alternatively to its evolution in minimalist rawness and to its
   progressive nature bringing forth more complex structures.

   Metal culture, or Hessian culture, involves loud heavy metal music
   made in the postmodern interpretation of classical music and rock n
   roll arrangement, creating a disturbing noise and profound motion
   in its practice and social implications. Author Kurt Vonnegut
   likens the role of an artist to society as the role of the canaries
   miners brought into the coal tunnels to warn for the presence of
   gas: when the birdsong changes or stops, death is near. At the end
   of the twentieth century, as we suffocate in the meaninglessness of
   the social machine we have made, metal and punk music are striking
   alarms of misery and fear hidden beneath the commercially-viable
   good assurances which have more than once prompted the adage, "Talk
   is cheap."

      2.1.1 Sound of metal?

         Metal music may utilize any collection of aspects including
         but not limited to the selection below.

         Downtuned - quite often, lower or more dissonant tunings and
         fingerings are used for a physical presence to the music.

         Convergent rhythms - metal bands tend to use rhythmic
         structures which target themselves for reduction by
         deconstruction of similar patterns to dominant themes.

         Tone centric - as part of the directedness and rootedness
         that makes music "heavy" in one school of the idea, a
         coherent and direct identification of a root tone is present
         in music that often refuses to change keys in the rock sense,
         moving tones   in a referentialism closer to
         "classical" music than popular tunes.

         Abstract - because its nature is tone-heavy its expression
         is an extremist structuralism, where the relevance of a
         sequence of melodies and polyrhythmic constructions defines
         part of an inner structure with relevance to an external

         Minimalist - as the industrial age expanded itself into a
         flattening, technological existence took over and prompted
         a simplicity expressed in rock n roll which attempts to
         remove paradox from the communication.

         Reactions many people have: angry, scary, depressing,
         violent, upsetting, disturbing, morbid, sadistic.

      2.1.2 Theory

         Music "theory" is a language of describing the shared
         process of the communication that is art and how we as
         individuals are able to speak to the whole of intelligent
         beings by addressing the common interpretations we must
         make, as thinking machines, to inference our own existence
         in a chaotic world. In metal, there are numerous instances
         of theory, many of which are expressions of an underlying
         philosophical evolution.

         Technique --> Structure
            Technique, which normally serves to embellish, became
            under metal the science of structure, with any number
            of strumming and picking techniques developed by metal
            musicians. Heavy metal worked through the austerity of
            power chords and a jazzlike rhythm to a deeply chaotic and
            abstract blues. Speed metal used muted-palm picking to
            create a mechanical, grinding sound, where death metal
            bands began to use a flutterstrum which would turn a chord
            into a stream of undulating sound with a massive tremelo
            effect, building a powerful tool for ambient melody.

         Melody --> Harmony
            Harmony in metal is used to unify a number of melodies
            to a sequence of tone centers which represent the parts of
            the idea being manipulated by the song. The riffs which
            metal bands use are structuralistic in that they describe
            rather than categorize, by the nature of their wandering
            phrases which use structural similarity for coherence
            rather than tonal unison. Where harmony serves to
            preformat a range of emotions for rock bands, in metal,
            melody drives harmony, letting the composer take the music
            into whatever direction he/she desires by dynamically
            associating tone centers with contrapuntal arrangements,
            layering strips of reference to narrative and joining them
            with harmonies.

         Tonality --> Dynamicism
            The major element of metal's evolution is a progression in
            tonality from the blues-rock extrapolationist grab bag to
            the chromatic, dark and almost mystically nihilistic tone
            patterns of death and black metal. The ability to change
            from a fixed-tonal system to a system which, like the
            Doppler effect, is based on proximity and speed to
            establish a current point of reference, provides for a
            basis of composition which is more specialized for
            systemic expression than for linear expression. This is
            similar to the postmodern novels of James Joyce and
            William S Burroughs, where a series of divergent threads
            unified unspoken topics indicated by metaphorical
            assonance with consensual reality experience.

         Chaotic music
            Many will say metal is "chaotic" meaning "there's a
            lot of noise," but to others this indicates that its
            composition involves specialized structures for what
            the song is trying to express, instead of variants
            on working general-purpose structures (Verse/Chorus).

               Heisenbergian Chaos
                  The discoveries of Heisenberg indicated that
                  one could not observe a wave/particle
                  interaction without influencing its outcome
                  by presence as a chaotic attractor. This in
                  turn indicates a systemic awareness, in that
                  if moving elements closer together means they
                  reflect an attraction, the grouping of items
                  in life itself suggests a series of attractors
                  extending beyond the organism to its
                  environment. If there is a level at which
                  we are contrainfluential, as Heisenberg
                  suggests, then there is some level of
                  abstraction in which every particle is
                  connected to every other, and thus that the
                  thing that is life works as a whole, as a large
                  system of connected orders.

                  Relativism --> Dynamicism
                     In metal, relativism (or: the state of
                     assessing relevance of events based on
                     their current context and not an
                     absolute) is used as a method of
                     defining objectivism; it is a strategy
                     of finding local relevances to compare
                     in order to project a placement in a
                     larger, complete order. As this
                     translates into music it becomes a more
                     ordered use of chaotic composition, in
                     which notes are picked arbitrarily and
                     used as the foundations of specialized
                     melodic systems, custom-created to express
                     the significance of the whole in what is
                     only an example.
                  Objectivism --> Melodic structure
                     Where harmonic interplay is specific to
                     the juncture of notes, melody allows a
                     structuring first by leading the music
                     through tonal changes and second by
                     gesturing toward a larger structure that
                     unifies the disparate changes in melody
                     as narrative. Metal is more melodic in
                     overall structure than any mainstream
                     music, a tradition it inherited through
                     speed metal's covert obsession with 70's
                     prog rock bands and neoclassicism. In the
                     era of death and black metal, this allowed
                     bands to dynamically allocate needed
                     musical structures for integration into a
                     narrative suggested by a metacontextual
                     interpretation of melody, removing the
                     barriers for progressivism (romantic
                     rationalism) and minimalism (nihilistic
                     structuralism) to join.

      2.1.3 Genre

            Heavy metal arose from loud simple blues and is defined by
            its primary progenitors: Black Sabbath.
            Taking the rhythm of blues and jazz and using it to
            underlay minimalist epic power-chord riffs, Black
            Sabbath took the blues to the next step of insidious
            artful subversion and glorification of the
            anarchistic freedom of demonic lust. Alongside hard
            rock originators Led Zeppelin the blues raised its
            twisted  and morally dubious head again in mainstream
            rock; where Led Zeppelin augmented rock's knowledge of
            harmonic structure Black Sabbath reinvented it
            altogether, being in the mind of one prominent
            critic "the second most important rock band to the
  heavy metal

               Some will doubt this distinction and classify Led
               Zeppelin and their family of blues-form hard rock as
               similarly heavy metal, but this makes no sense given
               the clear compositional direction within Black
               Sabbath's music: 1) more ambient beat structures
               focusing less on phrase than granular looping
               repetition, 2) dissonant elemental riffs with abrupt
               cycles, 3) bizarre song structures and experimental

               During their reign Black Sabbath built the foundation 
               for the harmonic essence of grunge, created a rhythmic 
               synchronicity in punk and rock, and opened experi-
               mentation in noise music, ambient beat-music, and 
               progressive minimalism. The period from 1969-1977 bore
               the most influence of their work, a morose conclusion to 
               the hippie rock of the middle sixties.

               Other influential music from this period: The 13th
               Floor Elevators, MC5, Jimi Hendrix, Blue Cheer, the
               Doors, Dick Dale, The Rolling Stones, King Crimson.

               It is worth noting that a primary influence on Black
               Sabbath was the guitar work of Django Reinhart, a jazz
               player in the 1930s, who like Black Sabbath guitarist
               Toni Iommi had lost the practical use of several
               fingers, compensating through a reductivist attitude
               toward harmony.

               Heavy metal continues to this day as an artform, in 
               practice by endlessly recombinant commercial bands and a
               series of artists who spend their time exploring new 
               paths for a vitally organic, earthy and yet tech-aware 
               genre. There are two or three major threads:

                  "Black Metal"(1)
                     Starting with British middle-fingered madmen
                     VENOM in the late 1970s, this style of heavy
                     metal used punk work ethic to make a simple but
                     surprisingly dark and expressive form of
                     anti-life art. At first humorous, it grew toward
                     illustrating the obsession with
                     negativity that is a hallmark of postmodern
                     consciousness, paranoia, and drone existence in
                     western nations.

                  "Doom metal"
                     Slow and painful, often gothic in its
                     suicidal "desires", mournful music, much of which
                     is based in the musicality of heavy metal, will
                     deliver a grinding and also almost ecclesiastical
                     experience of morbid anarchy.

                  "Power metal"
                     The marketing department came up with this
                     tasty term for hopped-up heavy metal that is at
                     musical essence a cross between speed metal and
                     funk or reggae, with bouncy rhythms and
                     jazz-inspired double-hit percussion. Pantera,
                     ...can someone fill in these terrible bands. The
                     music of power metal is based in the work of
                     decent heavy metal musicians as well as
                     atmospheric speed metal bands like Prong or
 speed metal

            As the seventies waned metal faded into a sad repetition
            of the image of its glory. Excess and a lack of musical
            innovation lead metal to still waters, where it drifted
            into either the hair-and-makeup wailing guitar tradition
            of stadium metal or the rising punk movement.

            Exceptions were Iron Maiden, who brought melody and
            narrative tempos to heavy metal, and Motorhead, whose
            proto-punk progressive metal grated against tradition
            and sensibilities with its biker graffitti narrative of
            nihilism in modern culture.

            These acts brought to a close the fading image of
            blues-oriented rock ("heavy metal") and the rise of the
            inherent progressive anti-aesthetic minimalism in bands
            such as Black Sabbath, spawning separate tendencies at

            In reciprocation to the decay, a furious tendency toward
            hardcore punk use of strumming rhythm over driving
            percussion simultaneously developed alongside the melodic
            and progressive intentions of the more
            advanced bands of previous generations. The
            counterpoint of punk -- whose violent rhythms and
            anti-consonant phrasing were vanguard of
            the new deconstruction of pessimism -- was the
            glitter-ladencomplexity of heavy metal, complete with
            classical melodies and rock virtuosity; the fusion of
            these two begat speed metal, racing tempo music using
            the muffled strum to form hard-edged and precision riffs
            with embedded melody, emphasing _structure_ where
            traditional heavy metal used shorter phrasing to
            emphasize _placement_ and _tone_.

            Of these rising acts Metallica (1982), sister act
            Megadeth (1984), and northern cousins Exodus (1984) were
            the primary disseminators of groundbreaking material.

            Metallica, of special note for their use of open chords,
            complex harmonics and melodic composition, began their
            career in emulation of faster versions of older metal
            bands. Soon acquiring musical skills and theoretical
            counseling in the dual virtuoso team of Kirk Hammet (lead
            guitar) and Cliff Burton (bass), Metallica grew in renown
            and peaked in musical development with _Master of
            Puppets_, combining the complex composition of 1970s
            progressive rock bands with the thundering domination of
            violent hardcore.

            Burton died soon after in a tour bus accident and the band
            never recovered, but soon they had spawned 1) groups of
            emulators and innovators in the style of muffled-strum
            epileptic-tempo speed metal and 2) other groups interested
            in the possibilities of metal/hardcore fusion, so that by
            1987 when they retired the metal scene had become more
            extreme and more erudite almost overnight.

            Before the peak of speed metal had even begun Alief, TX,
            hardcore crossover band Dirty Rotten Imbeciles were busy
            inventing the Sabbathified hyper-punk fusion that would
            project their extreme views and emotions upon a fragile

            Deliberately low-fi and abrasive, DRI's first two albums
            featured an unheard of brevity (18-25 second songs) and
            trenchant criticisms of modern society. This earned them
            fame in both metal and hardcore scenes as they injected
            needed energy into both genres.

            Also of note were micro-riffing shredthrashers Corrosion
            of Conformity, who blasted out several albums of curt
            songs destroying social control with metaphorically
            divisive structural deconstruction in a musical
            inheritance from hardcore and early death metal.

            Cryptic Slaughter and MDC (an acronym of varying
            significances) followed with even more acerbic anthems
            of distrust and anarchy; Cryptic Slaughter are
            especially interesting for their basic death metal on
            the latter side of 1985's _Convicted_.

            Despite innovation in both genres, speed metal was
            destined to collide with corporate megaculture and
            thrash was to burn out   its intensity as audiences
            moved away from the extreme to the more commercial in both
            hardcore and metal genres.

            The fomenting anger of the metal scene, as well as the
            increasing destruction of the planet and world
            superpower fascism, prompted retaliation with the
            negation of speed metal's "heavy metal" vocabulary of
            consonance through the most nihilistic form of musical
            expression to date: DEATH METAL.
 death metal

            When society seemed even more hopelessly fallen into
            acceptance and worship of its own collapse, the
            conventional tonality and "save the world" messages of
            speed metal and its ancestor, heavy metal, became too
            trite and ridiculous for the newest generations of
            alienated youth.

            Discarding harmony and nihilistically embracing the
            chromatic scale as law, early death metal bands espoused
            beliefs in the evil and orderless, the chaotic and the
            painful. Their rhythmic violence and insistence upon
            wildly-constructed and atonal guitar solos made them an
            instant target of both critique and shameless ripoff.

            The first wave of this technique, from Slayer (1982),
            had its roots in the old-style metal of Judas Priest
            evolved to become faster, ripping-strum styled
            metal that shifted with muscle over rigid, ambient
            repetitive beats.

            However the second wave -- Possessed (1985), Morbid Angel
            (1986), Deathstrike (1985), Rigor Mortis (1988) -- were
            more obscurely and bizarrely formed from raw innovation
            and chromatic scales. (It is worthy to note that Slayer's
            "Reign in Blood," of 1987, is an impressive musical
            definition of death metal that is often overlooked for its
            lack of "growly" vocals.)

            As the decade waned and humanity seemed further flung
            into the pit of materialism, death metal reached toward
            the progressive and explored the extremes of melody (At
            the Gates), ambience (Obituary), percussion
            (Suffocation), atonality (Deicide), and microtonal music
            (Atheist). Simultaneously however the bulk of death metal
            shifted toward a more percussive and chromatic style,
            composing their material visually from power chord forms
            along the bottom three strings of the guitar.

            By 1992 the peak had been reached, and afterwards
            soundalikeness pervaded all but the most
            individually-conceived bands. The overuse of death
            metal's nihilistic inventions -- chromatic open phrasing
            and chaotic soloing -- had made that genre, like hardcore
            punk a decade before, the   anti-commercial musical
            breakdown that in the end made it easier for ripoffs to
            dress up rock n roll in new production values to create a
            new product flow to meet a genre-identified need.

            In addition, a horrible trendy underground had developed
            around the idea of righteousness and moral good;
            consequently, they bankrupted death metal's ideals by
            conforming to mainstream expectations, and their music led
            itself back toward the dogmatic, tendentious, and most of
            all judgmental system of scales and harmonies.

            Back into the blues, there was suddenly a clear peak --
            significance and value -- arbitrarily imposed by scale
            structures that truncated the value of the music and made
            its ability for chaos limited to aesthetics only. A
            fatalism had invaded metal, once again; that which plays
            with the aesthetic of power must serve its time in the
            hell of that paradox.
 black metal(2)

            As if to rectify this stagnation another form of metal
            arising through the same channels of heritage began to
            spread its wings and develop its raw essence --
            ambience, melody, and stark nihilistic structuralism -- as
            it came closer to underground consciousness. The first of
            these bands were Hellhammer (1984) and Bathory (1985),
            with the former   playing slower sensually rhythmic
            material while the latter banged out mutating riffs over 
            strict simplistic ambient drum-machine percussion.

            Where death metal went for logical appeals black metal
            presupposed the end of the world and celebrated
            decadence, destruction, agony and morbid emotion as a
            means of exploiting the social climate to its own
            revelation. The melodramatic, overstaged and ludicrous
            "evil" presence of these figures drew attention to their
            mythological interpretation of the coming -- or perhaps
            ongoing -- apocalypse.

            An important genetic component of death metal, grindcore
            arose from the ashes of hardcore and thrash as the
            alienated punk-rockers and sociopathic metalheads of the
            world sought something more extreme, more evocative of the
            discompatibility they felt as a process of soul.

            With the rise of Napalm Death (1985) and Carcass (1987) in
            England the genre was well-founded as an
            alternatingly slower or faster version of punk, with bar
            chords colliding at high speed outside of the blasting
            furnace of rhythm. Deliberately dissynchronized timing,
            detuned instruments and guttural distorted howls of vocal
            brought this genre to the  attention of death metal heads
            who appropriated vocal and tuning habits, and to
            the innovative mind of Napalm Death-founder Justin
            Broadrick who made "industrial grindcore" with 1988's
            _Streetcleaner_ and immediately created a detour
            for angry metalheads and industrialites and punkers to
            make crossover music that was as unfriendly as
            industrial sounds like it should be.

            In 1994, Napalm Death's "Fear, Emptiness, Despair"
            sounded almost the last note for grindcore as its course
            of innovation started to veer from the minimalistic to
            abrasively coarse and simple, death metal-like music with
            complex jazz-y rhythms.

            Grindcore, like hardcore, thrash, speed metal and early
            forms of death metal, continues to this day, but most
            innovation remains at the aesthetic level and the
            original thrust has been lost.
 ambient metal

   question of existence

               The question with ambient metal whether it is a
               style or a subgenre rests in the conclusion to the
               query: does the music employ a new form of composition?

               Technique is not entirely new, but in new places,
               and the new way of writing music is so desolate and
               empty yet beautiful for that same ultimate potential
               that one is inspired to say: yes, it is a
               differentiation of the form of art.

   members of genre

               There is overlap with other genres but suggested
               acts to check out are: Gorguts, Burzum, Graveland,
               Immortal, Demilich, Slayer, Behemoth, Hellhammer,
               Darkthrone and Cadaver for an understanding of how
               this tradition manifests itself in metal.

   related genres

               Electroacoustic/Noise - K.K. Null, Tangerine Dream
               Hardcore - Discharge, the Exploited, Black Flag
               Prog/Psychedelic - King Crimson, Camel, 13th Floor 
               Classical/Neoclassical - Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner
               Jazz - Django Rheinart, Ornette Coleman
 styles and crossovers


               "Doom metal" does not merit a separate genre because it
               is one of two things: 1) very slow heavy metal or 2)
               very slow death metal. Although its ideology is more
               gothic and its aesthetic morbid, no significant changes
               have been wrought from inventors Black Sabbath (1969)
               and the doom work on Morbid Angel's _Blessed Are the
               Sick_ 1991.

               Of note: St. Vitus, Winter, Cianide, Skepticism, early


               "Industrial" as used in the record industry denotes a
               reliance on electronic beat equipment and often digital
               sounds. However, it does not govern the music
               underneath, which is almost always rock or heavy metal
               in essence.

               The exception being Godflesh, whose innovation prompted
               mainstream acts Ministry (1989) and Nine Inch Nails
               (1991) toward their more commercial rock-industrial
               terror dance music.

   black metal (1)

               "Black metal" as a term was invented by Venom, who with
               simpler but more violent and "evil" melodramatic
               versions of the heavy metal radio hits they heard,
               crafted an image which would be filled in the next
               generation with bands like Hellhammer, Bathory, Celtic
               Frost and Sepultura.

   power metal

               Heavy metal stadium rock dramatic extravagance coupled
               with the bouncier, violent rhythms of speed metal and
               especially speed/funk hybrids Suicidal Tendencies and
               the Infectious Grooves, together with a more
               testosterone attitude, makes a commercially viable
               genre: power metal. The Pantera variant described
               above is the main divergence from the pure hybrid,
               which is often in the form of technically-powerful and
               rhythmically precise heavy metal, in a style opened up 
               perhaps by Helstar or Psychotic Waltz or Mekong Delta 
               while most other bands were getting into the decon-
               structed aesthetic of death metal.

   speed/death crossover

               After the appearance in 1985 of Slayer's "Hell Awaits,"
               Possessed's "Seven Churches," Sepultura's "Morbid
               Visions," Deathstrike's "Fuckin' Death" and the second
               round of Morbid Angel demos, death metal had
               established itself as the next most extreme translation
               of the metal idea.

               Simultaneously in Germany, a movement to combine
               speed metal ideals with a more abstract and logical,
               dark sequence of tones took hold in the form of bands
               such as Kreator and Destruction, who put together
               deathy speed metal, or intense hardcore-inspired
               extremists like Sodom who built three-chord high-speed
               songs to accustom an audience to enjoying a fast and
               violent melody.

      2.1.4 Research List

         The following lists present a perpetually incomplete listing
         of important metal, added as we become aware of it.
         Suggestions always welcome, but it's only fair to warn you
         that our mailer filters from our secret list, "The Most Banal
         Pointless Metal Music To Outsell Everything Else By Year."
 historically important albums

               Heavy metal
                  Black Sabbath - Vol. IV
                  Judas Priest - Sad Wings of Destiny
                  Iron Maiden - Piece of Mind
                  Angel Witch - Angel Witch

               Heavy metal/punk hybrid
                  Motorhead - Orgasmatron

               Speed Metal
                  Metallica - Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets
                  Megadeth - Rust in Peace, Peace Sells...But Who's
                  Exodus - Bonded by Blood
                  Prong - Beg to Differ
                  Nuclear Assault - Game Over/The Plague

                  Dirty Rotten Imbeciles - Dirty Rotten LP/CD, Dealing
                  With It
                  Cryptic Slaughter - Money Talks, Convicted
                  Corrosion of Conformity - Eye for an Eye
                  Suicidal Tendencies - Suicidal Tendencies
                  Fearless Iranians From Hell - Foolish Americans
                  dead horse - HORSECORE: An Unrelated Story That's
                  Time Consuming

               Death Metal
                  Slayer - Hell Awaits, Reign in Blood
                  Possessed - Seven Churches
                  Master - Master, Deathstrike
                  Morbid Angel - Altars of Madness, Blessed Are the
                  Sick, Covenant
                  Suffocation - Effigy of the Forgotten
                  Cryptic Slaughter - Convicted
                  Sepultura - Morbid Visions/Bestial Devastation
                  Necrovore - Divus de Mortuus
                  Massacra - Final Holocaust

               Black Metal
                  Hellhammer - Apocalyptic Raids
                  Bathory - The Return
                  Sarcofago - I.N.R.I. (spec "The Black Vomit")
                  Mayhem - De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas
                  Burzum - Feeble Screams, Det Som Engang Var
                  Immortal - Diabolical Full Moon Mysticism, Pure
                  Darkthrone - Under a Funeral Moon
                  Varathron - His Majesty in the Swamp
                  Gorgoroth - Pentagram, AntiChrist
                  Havohej - Dethrone the Son of God
                  Impaled Nazarene - Ugra-Karma
                  Sacramentum - Far Away From the Sun
                  Emperor - Wrath of the Tyrant (not CM version)
                  Summoning - Minas Morgul

                  Carcass - Symphonies of Sickness, Reek of
                  Repulsion - Horrified
                  Carbonized - For the Security
                  Napalm Death - Scum
                  Blood - O Agios Pethane
 essential picks

               If you want to communicate the basic idea of a genre or
               subgenre through a song, this list will help you 
               introduce these types of music to outsiders:

               Heavy Metal
                  Black Sabbath - Paranoid
                  Iron Maiden - The Number of the Beast
                  St. Vitus - Mournful Cries
                  Judas Priest - Painkiller

               "Doom metal"
                  St. Vitus - Mournful Cries (best old school)
                  Winter - Into Darkness (best death/doom)
                  Cathedral - Soul Sacrifice, Forest of Equilibrium

               Speed Metal
                  Metallica - Master of Puppets
                  Prong - Beg to Differ
                  Testament - The New Order
                  Nuclear Assault - Game Over

               "Speed/Death Crossover"
                  Rigor Mortis - Freaks
                  Kreator - Endless Pain, Pleasure to Kill
                  Destruction - Infernal Overkill, Eternal Devastation
                  Sepultura - Beneath the Remains

               Death Metal
                  Morbid Angel - Blessed Are the Sick
                  Atheist - Unquestionable Presence
                  Entombed - Left Hand Path
                  Suffocation - Pierced From Within
                  Therion - Beyond Sanctorum
                  Death - Human
                  Dismember - Like an Ever-Flowing Stream...
                  Unleashed - Shadows in the Deep

               Black Metal
                  Celtic Frost - To Mega Therion
                  Emperor - In the Nightside Eclipse
                  Graveland - The Celtic Winter
                  Burzum - Hvis Lyset Tar Oss
                  Mayhem - De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas
                  Gorgoroth's Antichrist
                  Varathron - His Majesty at the Swamp
                  Immortal - Battles in the North
                  Sacramentum - Finis Malorum
                  Emperor - Wrath of the Tyrant, Emperor
                  Enslaved - Frost, "Hordanes Land"

                  Ildjarn - Forest Poetry
                  Immortal - Pure Holocaust
                  Burzum - Filosofem, Hlidskjalf
 author's picks

               Based on the personal preferences of the authors of this
               FAQ and not necessarily historical value:

               Heavy Metal
                  Black Sabbath - Sabotage
                  Judas Priest - Painkiller
                  Iron Maiden - Killers

               Speed Metal
                  Metallica - Master of Puppets
                  Megadeth - Rust in Peace
                  Prong - Beg to Differ

                  Dirty Rotten Imbeciles - Dealing With It
                  Cryptic Slaughter - Money Talks
                  Corrosion of Conforminty - Eye for An Eye
                  DBC - Universe
                  dead horse - HORSECORE: AN UNRELATED STORY THAT'S
                  TIME CONSUMING

               Death Metal
                  Master - Master
                  Morbid Angel - Blessed Are the Sick
                  Suffocation - Pierced From Within
                  Atheist - Unquestionable Presence
                  Demilich - Nespithe
                  Amorphis - The Karelian Isthmus
                  Dismember - Like an Ever-Flowing Stream
                  Slayer - Reign In Blood
                  Pestilence - Spheres
                  Sinister - Hate
                  At the Gates - The Red in the Sky is Ours
                  Monstrosity - Imperial Doom
                  Sepultura - Morbid Visions/Bestial Devastation
                  Pestilence - Spheres
                  Cynic - Focus
                  Dismember - Like an Ever-Flowing Stream...
                  Unleashed - Shadows in the Deep
                  Therion - Beyond Sanctorum
                  Unanimated - In The Forest of the Dreaming Dead

               Black Metal
                  Hellhammer - Apocalyptic Raids
                  Darkthrone - Under a Funeral Moon
                  Bathory - Blood, Fire, Death
                  Blasphemy - Gods of War
                  Immortal - Pure Holocaust
                  Belial - Wisdom of Darkness
                  Beherit - Drawing Down the Moon
                  Mayhem - De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas
                  Havohej - Dethrone the Son of God
                  Burzum - Det Som Engang Var, Daudi Baldrs
                  Gorgoroth - Pentagram
                  Emperor/Enslaved - Hordanes Land
                  Enslaved - Vikinglr Veldi
                  Varathron/Necromantia split
                  Rotting Christ - Thy Mighty Contract
                  Ancient - Svartlvheim
                  Sacramentum - Far Away From the Sun
                  Dissection - The Somberlain

               Ambient metal

                  Burzum - Hvis Lyset Tar Oss/Filosofem
                  Immortal - Pure Holocaust
                  Darkthrone - Transylvanian Hunger

      2.1.5 Technique
 Blast Beats

            Blast beats are the torrents of alternating snare and
            bass which increase the speed of death metal at the
            point of retribution. Some words on blast beats:

            Most drummers play blast beats as bass/snare/bass/snare
            etc. really fast, while hitting a hi-hat or a ride on the
            bass drum. From a blast beat "purist asshole" point of
            view it should be done with one foot. If your right foot
            isn't fast enough then keep practicing. Double bass should
            only be used when the bass is supposed to go twice as fast
            as the snare. If you are just alternating bass/snare
            bass/snare it should be with one foot. If you can master
            it with one foot it sounds way more brutal than with
            double bass (I don't know why, but it does). It's
            analogous to the way alternate-picking a 'chug' riff
            sounds way weaker than all-downstrokes. That's just the
            way metal is.

            The snare usually came down on 2 and 4 or on all the
            offbeats. I've read (I can't tell, it just feels
            different) Pete Sandoval sometimes blasts leading with the
            bass drum, but when he does it, the snare hits twice every

            It's like this:
            B = Bass
            S = Snare


            1   2   3   4

            Pete (I think he does this):

            1   2   3   4

            im pretty sure it's like this:

            1   2   3   4
            S S S S S S S S

            Right. Most drummers blast on the downbeat. But sometimes
            it sounds like Pete Sandoval leads with the bass.
                  - Lord Vic,
 Fast Strum

            This technique involving whipping your pick lightly across
            the bottom three strings of the guitar (mostly) for power
            chord tremelo action that, with the influence of the
            distortion, creates enough tremelo for an
            atmospheric/melodic effect.

            Fast strumming was a technique innovated first by Slayer
            and then perfected by Morbid Angel and others who made a
            sizzling tremelo technique out of what once was just
            playing faster. After a couple generations in the genre,
            the style is advanced enough that it can be used to
            carefully encode polyrhythmic data within a dominant
            rhythm, and is often used as foreshadowing by metal
            guitarists. Some ideas for how to do it:

               - use the wrist, and not the forearm
               - allow sparse motion in a whipping rhythm
               - dip the pick lightly against strings
               - move pick in circles for single-note strumming

            "Everything just kind of flows along. Sure, they used a
            lot of asymmetric time signatures (5/4, 7/4 etc.) but the
            note values don't vary so you can have 20 seconds of
            tremelo picked quarter- and half-notes at times."
               - RWTodd,
 Double Bass

            Death metal percussionists often add a strict machinism to
            their work with the alternating full bass hits of
            oppositional kick drums, creating an undulating wall of
            sound that conditions listeners to act out the diabolical
            bidding of the bands and their master, Satan.

            "actually louie bellson is credited with being the first
            drummer to put 2 basses togetther,his solo stuff is
            awesome but his stuff with big band and jazz artists is
            lame. and what I mean by that is him playing by himself no
            other instrument. ginger baker from cream also used dbl
            bass nick mason from pink floyd uses dbl bass lots of old
            psychadelic bands used it. it's been around for quite a
               - Steven PATRICK

            Pitch harmonics - playing a note that is one of the
            integral harmonic properties of the string - create an
            eerie unfinished yet definitive sound, producing a
            disturbing morbidity to their use in death metal (see
            Immolation, Morbid Angel, Incantation, Gorguts).


(c) Copyright 1994-2006 Hessian Studies Center @

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:

[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index ]

Send corrections/additions to the FAQ Maintainer:
The Hessian Studies Center <>

Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM