Extreme metal

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Extreme metal is a loosely defined umbrella term for a number of related heavy metal music subgenres that have developed since the early 1980s. It has been defined as a "cluster of metal subgenres characterized by sonic, verbal and visual transgression". [1]

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

Contents

The term usually refers to a more abrasive, harsher, underground, non-commercialized style associated with the speed metal, thrash metal, black metal, death metal and doom metal genres. [2] Hardcore punk has been considered an integral part of the development of extreme metal, in the case of song structure and speed, [3] [4] in every case other than doom metal. [5]

Speed metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music that originated in the late 1970s from new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) roots. It is described by AllMusic as "extremely fast, abrasive, and technically demanding" music.

Thrash metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music characterized by its overall aggression and often fast tempo. The songs usually use fast percussive beats and low-register guitar riffs, overlaid with shredding-style lead guitar work. The lyrical subject matter often deals with criticisms of The Establishment, and at times shares a disdain for Christian dogma resembling that of their black metal counterparts. The language is typically quite direct and denunciatory, an approach borrowed from hardcore punk.

Black metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music. Common traits include fast tempos, a shrieking vocal style, heavily distorted guitars played with tremolo picking, raw (lo-fi) recording, unconventional song structures, and an emphasis on atmosphere. Artists often appear in corpse paint and adopt pseudonyms.

Definitions

Extreme metal acts set themselves apart from traditional heavy metal acts, such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Motörhead, by incorporating more abrasive musical characteristics such as higher tempos, increased aggression and a harsher extremity. In the majority of the world, extreme metal does not receive much radio-play or achieve high chart positions. [6]

Iron Maiden English heavy metal band

Iron Maiden are an English heavy metal band formed in Leyton, East London, in 1975 by bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris. The band's discography has grown to thirty-nine albums, including sixteen studio albums, twelve live albums, four EPs, and seven compilations.

Judas Priest British heavy metal band

Judas Priest are an English heavy metal band formed in West Bromwich in 1969. The band has sold over 50 million copies of their albums to date. They are frequently ranked as one of the greatest metal bands of all time. Despite an innovative and pioneering body of work in the latter half of the 1970s, the band struggled with indifferent record production and lack of major commercial success or attention until 1980, when they adopted a more simplified sound on the album British Steel, which helped shoot them to rock superstar status.

Motörhead English rock band

Motörhead were an English rock band formed in June 1975 by bassist, singer, and songwriter Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister, who was the sole constant member, guitarist Larry Wallis and drummer Lucas Fox. The band are often considered a precursor to the new wave of British heavy metal, which re-energised heavy metal in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Though several guitarists and drummers have played in Motörhead, most of their best-selling albums and singles feature the work of Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor on drums and "Fast" Eddie Clarke on guitars.

Extreme metal's sonic excess is characterized by high levels of distortion (also in the vocals – grunting or screaming), less focus on guitar solos and melody, emphasis on technical control, and fast tempos (at times, more than 200 beats per minute). Its thematic transgression can be found in more overt and/or serious references to Satanism and the darker aspects of human existence that are considered out of bounds or distasteful, such as death, suicide and war." [7] "Visual transgression [can include] ... medieval weaponry [and] bloody/horrific artwork." [7]

Guitar solo

A guitar solo is a melodic passage, instrumental section, or entire piece of music written for a classical guitar, electric guitar or an acoustic guitar. In the 20th and 21st century traditional music and popular music such as blues, swing, jazz, jazz fusion, rock and metal guitar solos often contain virtuoso techniques and varying degrees of improvisation. Guitar solos on classical guitar, which are typically written in musical notation, are also used in classical music forms such as chamber music and concertos.

According to ethnographer Keith Kahn-Harris, [8] the defining characteristics of extreme metal can all be regarded as clearly transgressive: the "extreme" traits noted above are all intended to violate or transgress given cultural, artistic, social or aesthetic boundaries. Kahn-Harris states that extreme metal can be "close to being ... formless noise", at least to the uninitiated listener. [8] :33 He states that with extreme metal lyrics, they often "offer no possibility of hope or redemption" and lyrics often reference apocalyptic themes. Extreme metal lyrics often describe Christianity as weak or submissive, [8] :40 and many songs express misanthropic views such as "kill every thing". [8] :40 A small number of extreme metal bands and song lyrics make reference to far-right politics; for example, the Swedish black metal band Marduk has commonly referenced the Nazi Panzer tanks, which can be seen in works such as Panzer Division Marduk (1999). [8] :41

Ethnography is the systematic study of people and cultures. It is designed to explore cultural phenomena where the researcher observes society from the point of view of the subject of the study. An ethnography is a means to represent graphically and in writing the culture of a group. The word can thus be said to have a double meaning, which partly depends on whether it is used as a count noun or uncountable. The resulting field study or a case report reflects the knowledge and the system of meanings in the lives of a cultural group.

Keith Kahn-Harris is a writer, sociologist, lecturer, salonist, and music critic. He is an honorary research fellow and associate lecturer at Birkbeck College and an associate fellow of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research and a lecturer at Leo Baeck College. He is a regular reviewer for a number of scholarly journals, including Sociology, Sociological Research Online, Journal of Contemporary Religion, European Journal of Cultural Studies, and Popular Music History.

Transgressive art is art that aims to transgress; i.e. to outrage or violate basic morals and sensibilities. The term transgressive was first used in this sense by American filmmaker Nick Zedd and his Cinema of Transgression in 1985. Zedd used it to describe his legacy with underground film-makers like Paul Morrissey, John Waters, and Kenneth Anger, and the relationship they shared with Zedd and his New York City peers in the early 1980s.

History

The British band Venom are one of the first bands to venture into extreme metal territory, due to their ideological shift into themes of evil, the devil and hell. [3] Their first two albums, Welcome to Hell (1981) and Black Metal (1982), are considered a major influence on thrash metal and extreme metal in general. [8] This early work by Venom, in combination with bands like Discharge, The Exploited and Amebix as well as American hardcore punk brought integral elements into the budding extreme metal landscape at the time. [3] In 1983, Metallica would release their debut album Kill 'Em All , which fused elements of the new wave of British heavy metal with hardcore punk and the style of Motörhead, becoming the first thrash metal album, [9] and would eventually be certified triple platinum. [10] A few months later, Slayer would release their own thrash metal album Show No Mercy , influenced by the sounds of Venom, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Mercyful Fate. [11]

Venom (band) English thrash metal band

Venom are an English extreme metal band formed in 1978 in Newcastle upon Tyne. Coming to prominence towards the end of the new wave of British heavy metal, Venom's first two albums—Welcome to Hell (1981) and Black Metal (1982)—are considered a major influence on thrash metal and extreme metal in general. Venom's second album proved influential enough that its title was used as the name of the extreme metal subgenre of black metal.

Evil profound immorality

Evil, in a general sense, is the opposite or absence of good. It can be an extremely broad concept, though in everyday usage is often used more narrowly to denote profound wickedness. It is generally seen as taking multiple possible forms, such as the form of personal moral evil commonly associated with the word, or impersonal natural evil, and in religious thought, the form of the demonic or supernatural/eternal.

Devil supernatural entity that is the personification of evil and the enemy of god and humankind

A devil is the personification of evil as it is conceived in many and various cultures and religious traditions. It is seen as the objectification of a hostile and destructive force.

When extreme metal band Hellhammer first began making music, it was generally panned by critics, leading to the members forming Celtic Frost in its place, which proved very influential on the progression of the genre. During this period, the line between extreme metal genres were blurred, as thrash metal bands such Slayer, Sepultura, Sodom, Destruction and Kreator were integral to the first wave black metal scene. [3] The front cover of the Sarcófago's 1987 debut album, I.N.R.I. , is regarded as a great influence on black metal's corpse paint style make-up. [12] That record is also considered one of the first wave black metal albums that helped shape the genre. Their second album, The Laws of Scourge , was one of the first technical death metal records to be released. [13]

List of genres

Venom were significant to the development of speed metal into thrash metal into black metal. Venom (Brutal Assault 2014).jpg
Venom were significant to the development of speed metal into thrash metal into black metal.

Primary genres

Subgenres of primary genres

Fusion genres

Fusions between primary genres

Fusions with punk rock styles

Fusion with other rock styles

Fusions with other musical styles

Derivatives

Genres influenced by extreme metal but usually not considered extreme themselves:

See also

Related Research Articles

Death metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music. It typically employs heavily distorted and low-tuned guitars, played with techniques such as palm muting and tremolo picking, deep growling vocals, aggressive, powerful drumming featuring double kick and blast beat techniques, minor keys or atonality, abrupt tempo, key, and time signature changes, and chromatic chord progressions. The lyrical themes of death metal may invoke slasher film-stylized violence, religion, occultism, Lovecraftian horror, nature, mysticism, mythology, philosophy, science fiction, and politics, and they may describe extreme acts, including mutilation, dissection, torture, rape, cannibalism, and necrophilia.

Grindcore is an extreme fusion genre of heavy metal and hardcore punk that originated in the mid-1980s, drawing inspiration from abrasive-sounding musical styles, such as: thrashcore, crust punk, hardcore punk, extreme metal, and industrial. Grindcore is characterized by a noise-filled sound that uses heavily distorted, down-tuned guitars, grinding overdriven bass, high speed tempo, blast beats, and vocals which consist of growls and high-pitched shrieks. Early groups like Napalm Death are credited with laying the groundwork for the style. It is most prevalent today in North America and Europe, with popular contributors such as Brutal Truth and Nasum. Lyrical themes range from a primary focus on social and political concerns, to gory subject matter and black humor.

Doom metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music that typically uses slower tempos, low-tuned guitars and a much "thicker" or "heavier" sound than other heavy metal genres. Both the music and the lyrics intend to evoke a sense of despair, dread, and impending doom. The genre is strongly influenced by the early work of Black Sabbath, who formed a prototype for doom metal with songs such as "Black Sabbath", "Children of the Grave", "Electric Funeral" and "Into the Void". During the first half of the 1980s, a number of bands from England, the United States and Sweden defined doom metal as a distinct genre.

A number of heavy metal genres have developed since the emergence of heavy metal during the late 1960s and early 1970s. At times heavy metal genres may overlap or are difficult to distinguish, but they can be identified by a number of traits. They may differ in terms of: instrumentation, tempo, song structure, vocal style, lyrics, guitar playing style, drumming style, and so on.

Crust punk is a form of music influenced by English punk rock and extreme metal. The style, which evolved in the early-1980s in England, often has songs with dark and pessimistic lyrics that linger on political and social ills. The term "crust" was coined by Hellbastard on their 1986 Ripper Crust demo.

Melodic death metal is a subgenre of death metal that employs highly melodic guitar riffs, often borrowing from traditional heavy metal. The style originated and developed in Sweden and the United Kingdom around 1993. The Swedish death metal scene did much to popularise the style, soon centering in the "Gothenburg metal” scene.

Metalcore is a fusion genre combining elements of extreme metal and hardcore punk, that originated in the late 1980s. Among other styles blending metal and hardcore, such as crust punk and grindcore, metalcore is noted for its use of breakdowns, which are slow, intense passages conducive to moshing. Other defining instrumentation includes heavy guitar riffs often utilizing percussive pedal tones and double bass drumming. Vocalists in the genre typically perform screaming, more popular bands often combine this with the use of standard singing, usually during the bridge or chorus of a song. However the death growl is also a popular technique within the genre.

Thrashcore fusion genre of thrash metal and hardcore punk

Thrashcore is a fast tempo subgenre of hardcore punk that emerged in the early 1980s. Thrashcore is essentially sped-up hardcore, often using blast beats. Songs can be very brief, and thrashcore is in many ways a less dissonant, less metallic forerunner of grindcore. The genre is sometimes associated with skateboarder subculture.

Mortification is an Australian Christian extreme metal band which was formed in 1987 as a heavy metal group, Lightforce, by mainstay Steve Rowe on bass guitar and vocals. By 1990, in the Melbourne suburb of Moorabbin, they were renamed as Mortification with the line-up of Rowe, Michael Carlisle on guitar and Jayson Sherlock on drums. Mortification has released over twenty albums and several videos on major record labels such as Nuclear Blast. As one of the earliest internationally successful Christian death metal bands from Australia, they served as an inspiration for later similar groups.

Discharge (band) British hardcore punk band

Discharge are a British punk rock band formed in 1977 in Stoke-on-Trent by Terence "Tezz" Roberts and Royston "Rainy" Wainwright. While the band undergone several line-up changes throughout its history, the classic line-up from the early 1980s featured bassist Wainwright, drummer Gary Maloney, Anthony "Bones" Roberts playing guitar, and vocalist Kelvin "Cal" Morris.

Mathcore is a genre of music often seen as a subgenre of metalcore that combines the speed and aggression of hardcore punk and extreme metal. The genres roots can also be traced to post-hardcore and math rock bands of the early 1990s. Bands in the genre emphasizes complex and fluctuant rhythms through the use of irregular time signatures, polymeters, syncopations and tempo changes. Early mathcore lyrics were addressed from a realistic worldview and with a pessimistic, defiant, resentful or sarcastic point of view.

Deathcore is an extreme metal fusion genre that combines musical elements of death metal and metalcore and sometimes hardcore punk. It makes use of death metal riffs and blast beats, as well as metalcore breakdowns. Deathcore gained most prominence within the southwestern United States, especially Arizona and inland southern California, which are home to many notable bands and various festivals.

Groove metal is a subgenre of heavy metal music. Music journalists and fans have used groove metal to describe Pantera, Exhorder and Machine Head. At its core, groove metal takes the intensity and sonic qualities of thrash metal and plays them at mid-tempo, with most bands making only occasional forays into fast tempo.

Blackened death metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal that fuses elements of black metal and death metal.

Deathgrind is a fusion genre of death metal and grindcore. Along with pornogrind, it is related to the goregrind subgenre. Zero Tolerance described deathgrind as "grindcore and brutal death metal colliding head on." Dan Lilker described deathgrind as "combining the technicality of death metal with the intensity of grindcore."

"Like death/thrash and death/black, the name death/grind undoubtedly stems from the importance of specialist mail order catalogues and their related 'zine scenes in proliferating extreme metal music to an audience whose tastes, as the '90s progressed, increasingly crossed over the traditional line between death metal and grindcore - that of lyrical content. [Death/grind e]mphasis[es] overall musical brutality with a specific focus on speed-soaked fury and the firm retention of grindcore's traditional abruptness."

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Notes

Further reading