Unearthing The Metal Underground: The Experimental Underground, Part 2
The big names in metal get a lot of press and are famous for a reason, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a treasure trove of high quality metal bands hiding out in the underground. Each week with the Unearthing the Underground column we take a look at unknown bands in a specific genre or location that deserve to be heard by a wider audience.
Metal is unique in the musical world for the many different varieties to be found within it’s overall borders. “Experimental” or “Avant-Garde” metal bands are those groups that head outside the standard boundaries of the stylistic breakdowns, combining different sounds or even making up entirely new ones. Whether it’s extremely discordant vocals, a meshing of non-metal music with heavy atmosphere, or even random bouts of circus music, experimental metal typically has something that prevents the mainstream from recognizing it. These bands usually manage to get a small, but devoted, cult following that enjoys the odd juxtapositions and flagrant disregard for what’s socially acceptable in music.
In the last Unearthing the Experimental Underground we looked at the Czech Republic’s Oblomov, Poland’s Furia, and Italy’s Viscera///. This time around we’ll dig into U.S. based act Hallowed Butchery, as well as Virus and Source of Tide from Norway.
Maine based multi-instrumentalist Ryan Fairfield is the mastermind behind solo act Hallowed Butchery, which was previously known as Hallowed Butchery of the Son. Metalunderground conducted an interview with Ryan, in which he discussed the name change and the project’s upcoming work.
Hallowed Butchery frequently uses the stylistic elements of doom, with long, lingering guitar tones and slow moving music. There’s also a good deal of black metal to be heard in the music, along with some truly odd sounds that often defy easy description. One of the project's more experimental works is the fourteen minute epic “Coffin Life,” which was included on a recent split with New York’s Batillus. The song chronicles the life, demise, and surprising afterlife of a man who commits suicide, going through several distinct changes in style. A clip from the epic song can be heard at the band’s MySpace page.
The video below also contains the track “The Kennebec” from the band’s debut EP “Funeral Rites for the Living.”
Hailing from Norway, which is already a region known for producing bands that push musical boundaries, Virus includes members who have been involved with both Ulver and Satyricon. Going in a much different direction than Hallowed Butchery, the members of Virus describe the group as an “eccentric rock band.” The one constant in the band is odd, off kilter guitar work that is far from the norm. Virus takes the ideas of how a metal band should sound and throws them right out the window, without bothering to stick to a specific sub-genre or use standard song structures. It’s weird, it’s odd, and it’s awesome. Virus recently finished recording the band’s third full-length album “The Agent That Shapes The Desert.” You can also hear some of the band’s music at this location.
The video clip below contains the song “As Virulent As You,” which is off the 2008 album “The Black Flux.”
Source of Tide
To finish off this week’s edition of Unearthing the Underground, we’ll spend a little more time in Norway. Front man Lord PZ of Source of Tide is no stranger to the avant-garde realm, having been involved in Peccatum and being related to Ihriel from StarofAsh, as well as former Emperor front man turned solo artist Ihsahn. Unfortunately it would seem that Source of Tide is no more, but during its time the band put out some truly epic and intriguing music that started in a base of black metal and took off to land’s unknown.
The band’s 2002 album “Blueprints” (reviewed here) was easily the most experimental that Source of Tide would get, but the sophomore effort “Ruins of Beauty” also had a few touches of avant-garde oddity in its melodic black metal. Source of Tide had massively varied vocals, using eight or nine different styles, although some of them were very much acquired tastes. While it’s unlikely the band will ever release any new material, you can check out some of the old songs at the band’s Last.fm page.
In the videos below you can check out “Final Battle – Ode to the Art of Self Destruction Pt. 2” and “Ye Memories of Sad Rebirth” from the “Ruins of Beauty” album.
Anyone who does a little more digging beyond these three bands will find there are many more quality experimental/avant-garde acts in the underground. Feel free to add your comment below or suggest more experimental acts that deserve to be heard. Make sure to check back next Monday as we explore more underground scenes from around the world.
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