Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Mind of metal

Ever since my friend Gio returned to Texas (a gain for the Lonestar State, a loss for New York), we swap emails every couple of weeks. These messages inevitably detail what kind of tunes we're listening to, what shows we're checking out, etc. As he shares my love of metal, I was psyched to tell him about some of my more wicked purchases, "Annihilation Of The Wicked" by Nile and Immortal's "Battles In The North". His reaction?

"Pure death"

That makes me smile. While Immortal is firmly black metal, the differences between death metal and black metal are so tiny, they barely warrant mentioning.

If I had to pick a fave, I'd have to go with Nile's release. While "Battles In The North" is a non-stop assault of blastbeats and croaky vocals, "Annihilation Of The Wicked" is just so massive. The production is better (black metal is famous for the crappy sound quality of most of its most famous releases), the songs more epic, and it's just more satisfying overall.

If you don't believe me (and you're brave enough), check out the album's title track. It begins with a jarring, seven second blastbeat attack and then smoothes into a more melodic intro. This lasts about 40 seconds and then the first riff fest ensues. And then at about a minute and twenty seconds in?

All hell breaks loose.

Over the course of this eight and a half minute epic, there are innumerable tempo changes, interludes and terrifying passages. This is an amazing tune and a prime example of premium death metal.

Would that I had the means and the room to possess all the music that I want. The biggest problem nowadays is just keeping up with all my new acquisitions. I've still got to listen to some of the stuff I've been downloading.

So much music, so little time.

Bustin' a cap in your ear:

Public Enemy - It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back
(the greatest hiphop album of all time)

Aphex Twin - Come To Daddy
(because I am a funny little man)

Various - Robot Love
(marvelous minimal)

DJ Throttler - MP3 Compilation 1
(pulling out your brain and showing it to you)

Immortal - Battles In The North
(icy, windswept fields of war)


Blogger ocular spectra said...

there are significant differenes between death and black metal, but none that the average person would notice or care about.

i'm sure you know this ben, but for anyone else:

death metal generally has a thicker, meatier sound, with pummelling kick drums in fairly discernable time, and chunky guitars playing a succession of minor-key riffs and the occassional solo. the vocals are usually guttural, sounding like the classic "cookie monster", ranging from unintelligibly gruff (mortician) to mostly discernable (morbid angel). subject matter is usually death, gore, violence, or satanism. although nile uses an egyptian shtick and morbid angel talk about sumerian gods or being the best you can be the tony robbins way. the main point seems to be about whoi can be the most heavy or brutal.

black metal often has a thinner sound, with drums and guitars that play so fast the instruments are not actually in sync with each other. the guitars often sound like they're played with an electric razor, and play runs based on one or two chords. solos are rare. the vocals are often high-pitched shrieks, like birds being tortured. there have also been black metal bands that add fuller production values and more instruments such as keyboards and choirs (emperor, dimmu borgir), and even some that veer towards death metal guitar sounds and riffs on some albums (emperor, darkthrone). subject matter is often evil, pain, destruction, torture, black magic, or hatred of christianity, although again, some bands have goine outside of these. the main point seems to be about who can be the most evil, raw-sounding, and true to black metal.

then there's the look (which i realize is separate from the music): death metal bands often have scraggy hair and wear t-shirts of other death metal bands, with jeans and sneakers. black metal bands tend towards the more theatrical, usually straight black hair, the "corpsepaint" look (which simply looks like kiss or alice cooper makeup), with all-black clothes, leather, multiple spikes, boots.

it seems like there's generally a feud between the two camps but also much mutual influence.

1:41 PM  

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