It's not for everyone, but Metal is deep and powerful, and it's an escape from the norm.
To learn more, we asked Albert Mudrian, author of Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces, these 10 burning metal questions.
Because it undermined much of the progress that underground made in the early to mid-'90s. After hair metal died and "alternative" music supplanted it, most listeners demanded more "authenticity" from their music. So, underground metal was able to build on the foundation laid by the early waves of death metal, black metal, grindcore and hardcore crossover and branch out in many new progressive directions (this is the period where a band like Neurosis really came into their own). So, just as metal was turning a corner in terms of its perception from outsiders, the invasion of the mooks began.
Oh, and that bass sound is really stupid, too.
Exactly how much of a debt does modern metal (speed, death, doom) owe to punk rock?
Hard to say. Obviously the faster stuff (thrash, death and grindcore) owes a considerable debt. But despite the fact that Saint Vitus were originally signed to SST, I don't think doom metal was influenced a whole lot by punk. Unless, of course, you consider Black Sabbath a punk band. Most modern metal bands that have had chart success (Lamb of God, Tool, Mastodon) have very little to do with the punk genre at this point.
Metal amazed us by hanging around long enough to attract a whole second generation of fans. Will there be a third?
It's never going away. Sure, there will be an ebb and flow in the genre's popularity. And, at the moment, it's clearly experiencing a boom period. But even when it wanes in popularity, it never completely goes away. Think of it like a virus in your system: once you've got it, you're stuck with it, even if the symptoms don't always reveal themselves.
As far as converting that third generation of fans goes, I think that's already happening. The fact that at least a third of the current audience at Iron Maiden concerts is in their teens suggests this as well.
Can anybody find out what, exactly, the lyrics to Black Sabbath's "Children of the Sea" mean? Is it a science fiction story, an allegory, or what?
It's a shame we didn't ask Ronnie James Dio in the Hall of Fame story we did on the making of Heaven and Hell because now we may never know.
There's some. The link manifested in the gothic doom metal subgenre. Celtic Frost were definitely progenitors in that sense, incorporating operatic female vocals and strings into their mid-'80s compositions. By the early '90s, an entire subgenre of bands led by Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride followed. Eventually it splintered with some acts getting more gothy, others more Pink Floyd/OK Computer era- Radiohead influenced. There are still some new goth metal bands popping up here and there. But they're generally from Europe and—more often than not—cringe worthy.
Quite a few bands show influence from Crowley, Lovecraft, Poe, and other horror authors. What is it about metal that makes it so intellectual?
I've never really thought of metal as intellectual. I think it's maybe more literary than anything. As you mention, Crowley, Lovecraft, Poe definitely informed the lyrics—not to mention the album art—of several metal bands. But it hardly stops there. Just look at the impact Lord of the Rings has had on extreme metal. Cirith Ungol, Gorgoroth, Morgoth, Isengard, Amon Amarth and Nazgul all took their band names from the Lord of the Rings. There are probably at least a dozen more acts that have done the same.
In your introduction, you talk about the ones that got away. For one thing, you couldn't interview Helmut because of "some midnight blood pact" between John Stanier, Peter Mengede, and Henry Bogdan. Come on, give us some clues!
I might be embellishing things a bit there. But the truth is that John Stanier, in particular, REALLY doesn't see eye to eye with Page Hamilton. We've asked Stanier to participate in an interview about the making of Helmet's 1992 record Meantime on no fewer than three occasions over the past five years and he declined each time. However, he's never provided a reason for passing. If I had to guess, I'd imagine it has something to do with money. More often than not, that's the reason a lot of these relationships fall apart.
From the same introduction, what's the situation on Danzig?
Think of Glenn as the Page Hamilton of Danzig.
What act of God or Cthulhu would it take for some of these bands to get a charting Hot 100 single? Or even airplay on the radio (beyond Sabbath and Slayer, of course)? Should we just nuke the music industry from orbit and start over?
For better or for worse, it's never gonna happen unless an extreme metal band drastically changes their vocals to a more "traditional" singing style. And then we probably wouldn't count that anyway! But if a flagship band like Iron Maiden can't get played on the radio, then what chance does Prostitute Disfigurement really have?
"Keep trading the tapes" is the battle cry of indie music fandom. What is the consensus of most of these band's position on music-sharing?
Every artist feels the pinch of file-sharing, but metal bands feel it slightly less. Most metal fans - myself included - are collectors and crave corporeal product. So, we still buy CDs, LPs, shirts and deluxe box set editions of records we already own. I think the general consensus of most younger bands on file-sharing is, "download our record and if you like it, please buy it." Probably more so than in any other genre, they stand a chance of that plea actually being heard.
July 30, 2010
Johan Hegg of Amon Amarth
Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath
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