Unearthing The Metal Underground: The Genre-Blending And Trend Ignoring Scene
Band Photo: Germ (?)
The big name metal bands may get most of the spotlight, but Metallica and Black Sabbath are just the tip of the heavy iceberg. Every week we search out and share lesser known or unsigned acts that deserve to be heard by a wider audience. For today’s edition of Unearthing the Metal Underground you’ll get a dose of metal that bucks specific trends and expresses a heavy sound in unexpected ways.
For all the focus on rebellion and the disdain for conformity, heavy metal is undeniably a style of music that breaks down into very regimented genres – black metal, thrash, grindcore, etc. There tends to be a rigid confinement that bands are expected stay within when creating music, and stepping outside those boundaries either leads to derision by hordes of anonymous Internet posters, or the formation of yet another sub-genre.
While there’s a whole division of metal devoted to ignoring those boundaries (prog and avant-garde), some bands simply blur the lines between styles naturally and don’t easily fit in one recognizable category. Breaking the strictures set down by the worldwide conclave of elitist metalheads , these three bands start with a standardized form of metal and then head in unexpected directions that set them apart and make them unique.
The solo band from Tim Yatras of Austere and Woods of Desolation, Germ is a project that exudes a pure love of music, no matter where the sonic inspiration originally comes from. Starting out with a highly atmospheric form of black metal using totally indecipherable vocals, the act then blends in shades of rock and other mainstream elements, including the use of clean singing. Going even a step further, the new album “Wish” mixes in trance and electronic elements, at times sounding almost like an ‘80s movie soundtrack. In a nod to the black metal roots, there is a bit of a lo-fi aura filtering everything, and the harsh vocals screech out from the background, just barely breaking out of the surrounding noise.
What’s interesting about Germ is that its particular blend of these styles rarely sounds like anything else out there. The collision of trance and black metal sounds essentially nothing like Nachtmystium’s forays into similar territory, and it also never falls into any resembling the dance metal or dubstep collaborations that have become par for the course lately.
For a condensed look at this intriguing mixup, check out the four minute track “Asteroid of Sorrow” below, or for a longer float down the cosmic highway that is Germ, instead dive headfirst into the 10 minute sublime ride “An Overdose on Cosmic Galaxy.” To check out more from Germ, head over to the band’s Facebook profile.
“An Overdose on Cosmic Galaxy”
“Asteroid of Sorrow”
The House of Capricorn
If black metal isn’t your thing, but you still want a darker atmosphere in your extreme metal, then The House of Capricorn may be more to your liking. The band starts its sonic adventures in the murky waters of stoner doom, where 10 minute songs are to expected, and then shakes up the songs with one part occult rock (along the lines of Ghost) and two parts Type O Negative/Peter Steele worship.
The House of Capricorn currently has two full-length albums outs: “Sign of the Cloven Hoof” and “In the Devil’s Days” (reviewed here). The band has no qualms about placing long, slow, and doomy songs side by side with up-tempo, anthemic tracks (if you didn’t know what you were listening to, it would be hard to immediately tell the first and second songs off “In The Devil’s Days” came from the same band).
Check out the entire slow motion gothic assault that is “In The Devil’s Days” through the bandcamp player below.
From the corpse paint to the unwieldy spiked gauntlets (how you’re supposed to drive or play an instrument with those things on isn’t entirely clear…), black metal isn’t known for its restraint or unwillingness to appear silly to the outside world. If I had a nickel for every picture floating around the Internet of Dani Filth or Galder making hilariously weird faces on stage, well, you get where I’m going with this.
Taking this lack of self-consciousness to a degree that can’t be matched by many other bands is Vintage Flesh, which goes way, way past even the normally over-the-top and high pitched vocals of black metal. While not as unlistenable as some of the more insane grindcore growls, the screeches and wails of Vintage Flesh are frankly bizarre in the extreme, and even die-hard black metal fans are likely to be left scratching their heads.
It’s almost like the sounds are supposed to be some sort of statement about how metal shouldn’t take itself too seriously, but after awhile somehow these scratchy screams click and actually start to fit amazingly well with the music. Looking beyond the bombastic and ridiculous vocals, the music itself also has an atmosphere that’s by turns darkly Gothic and then depressive to a suicidal degree.
On the full-length front, Vintage Flesh released “The Eyes that Glared at my Agonies” (reviewed here) and “Hour of the Night Gaunts” before changing names to Inverticrux. I’m not sure how it’s even possible, but Inverticrux is actually even a bit more over the top than Vintage Flesh. Check out the insanity in the YouTube clips below.
“Not to Die Until It Is Done”
“Priest Skin Ship”
“Cult Crashers” by Inverticrux
The metal-verse is a huge place, and undoubtedly there are a score or more of bands that twist the standard genre formulas in interesting ways. Share your favorite picks for underground bands that buck the norm in the comments below, and check back next Monday as we continue to unearth more underground metal.
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