WE ARE: METAL?
With all of the writers here at We Are: The Guard, we are able to claim (with confidence) that someone on our staff listens to pretty much every different kind of music under the sun. We like to believe we’re an unbiased, nonpartisan site, and enjoy sharing sounds from every sound imaginable. We’ve got folks who are impassioned about indie and pop, hip-hop and soul, psych and folk, house and techno, and everything in between. There’s no genre we’re too afraid to touch— except for metal. We’re terrified. We have literally zero clue.
That’s where this intrepid reporter comes in.
I will delve deep into the worlds of Alt Metal and Black Metal. Or maybe Core Metal, and even Doom Metal. Look, It’s like the ABC’s of Metal. Then, touch on some extra weird ones like Pirate Metal and Viking Metal. Can’t forget about the Triple-S classics: Sludge Metal, Speed Metal and Stoner Metal!
There’s literally dozens if not hundreds more. So how about we just throw on some Whatever-The-Hell Metal for all of you beautiful readers! This is We Are: The Metal.
Let’s start with Spotify’s picks, because I have no clue where else to start. While this isn’t an ad for the music streaming service, they do have a bevy of playlists that are there for this exact purpose, to help wise-up the uneducated. Sure, this isn’t the hippest approach, but it’s the best we’ve got. Sure, I could call my friend Brendan and ask him if I’m headed in the right direction but that feels like cheating, doesn’t it? Just pretend I’m a Dad trying to relate to his sixteen year old son that wears black eyeliner, exclusively talks about how the world is ending, and sacrifices woodland creatures to Norse Gods. I mean, I get it Kurt Jr.—Though in my day we used to mosh to KoЯn. Are they still around?
NEKROGOBLIKON - THE MANY FACES OF DR. HUBERT MALBEC
Well, this sounds like Circus Metal. Is that a genre? Wikipedia doesn’t list it as one, so I guess it must not be. Sure, I could dig deeper into Nekrogoblikon’s catalogue to see if this sound is consistent but I’m not that much of a masochist. While I’ve found much enjoyment in these songs here, I’m not sure I can go any deeper without losing my identity. Dip my toes in the water, that’s about all I can handle.. “The Many Faces of Dr. Hubert Malbec” sounds like we’re about to get a real good show from some good old boys with its old timey piano stabs that belongs as much in one of the bars in Westworld as it does in a dingy underground metal club, I guess. That is until all hell breaks loose and lead singer Scorpion (A LITERAL GOBLIN)’s snarling growl takes over. While many of these songs are dark and dreary, this track has a hook that’s memorable and maybe even has a bit of funkiness to the guitars. I’d say that’s uncharacteristic to the genre but what the hell do I know? It seems like every track is doing something completely different to me.
FYI: A GOBLIN!
IGORR - IEUD
So Igorrr must be like a concept album band--- written from the perspective of the Phantom of the Opera or something? Like Tom Waits sitting down at the piano, belting out his pain before it gets so heavy it’s like the weight of the entire universe has come to rest on one man’s weak and fragile shoulders. With operatic singing (in both the forefront and background) as well as glitchy production cutting and splicing the track to veritable madness, this one is without a doubt my favorite of the bunch. It feels so otherworldly, like this is the song that plays over Cthulhu's nightmares in R'lyeh. “ieuD” has drums so fast, furious and vicious that I literally can’t imagine a human being able to physically playing them. If this isn’t a drum machine banging out that speed-freak pattern than I have no understanding how the world works.
YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN - YANDERE
YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN are a power metal sextet (which means six member band okay, get your mind out of the gutter) from Canada who have major J-Pop, C-Pop, and K-Pop influences on their otherwise heavy mega rock and roll sound. They’re like the music equivalent of a dubbed anime, with the the original Kanji subtitled below for good measure. I’m totally presupposing that they are power metal, as I have absolutely zero idea what is and isn’t power metal. Their music does sound powerful though-- like a special kind of forward momentum that is going to propel this song right into space to fight off a nine-tentacle monster named Steve. Steve is a good dude, but I’m sure he looks evil from afar. I’m pretty into the idea of a band having two names. Especially here with Yamantaka, which is the name of the Buddhist Destroyer of the God of Death. So there’s that.
CONVERGE - UNDER DURESS
SCREECH. HOWL. DRONING HEAVY REVERB. These are my initial thoughts listening to “Under Duress” by Converge. My brain can’t even put together complete thoughts, it’s drowned so deeply in the darkness. I am become destroyer of worlds. And--- I don’t mean this as an insult, but-- this is an entirely unpleasant sound. What the hell do I know? I’ve known so many people through my short life who cite Converge as one of the great metalcore bands of all time. But then again, maybe that’s also because they’re from the town next to the one I grew up in. Salem, MA… ever heard of it? The town that invented burning witches at the cross? Oh well, can’t argue with critical consensus, can you? That would be like arguing with mass appeal or financial success. Basically what I’m saying is, I don’t get it, but if other people do, who am I to say otherwise? Some jamoke writing an ignorant-ass metal article, that’s who.
VECTOR OF UNDERGROUND - MISHKA!
OH YEAH FIDDLE METAL BABY. I know I’ve been leaning heavy on some niche-ass metal for this article, but mostly I’m trying to find a corner (or multiple) of the metal universe that appeal to me directly. I’m just out here trying to live my best life, you know? Vector of Underground’s fiddle-core is so unique that if you turn your nose up at it you must be the one of the biggest snobs of all time. Like, get over yourself. Vector of Underground are like the metal little brother of Gogol Bordello. Straight up, I would not be the least bit surprised if they were actually homies. For all the metal heads out there who hate every single second of this article (and have stuck it out this far), may I at least take this opportunity to turn you on to Gypsy Punk band, Gogol Bordello. They rawk. If you dig this and hate me, you just might like them.
CHELSEA WOLFE - VEX
Okay, so I’ve definitely heard this name before. I can assume all you blog-heads have too. Chelsea Wolfe is a Pitchfork / Stereogum darling and we’ve even covered her here at We Are: The Guard as well. Wolfe does a killer job at bringing the darker side of things toward something more accessible to the blog-elite. Here on “vex” she melds indie-goth-drone with full on heavy metal. Thank God she’s legitimate. I had no idea what I was doing, but now my list looks cool. Sometimes all you need is some cred to round out a list. This way, we’ve got a little something for everyone. While not every Wolfe song has heavy metal screaming as the backing vocals, this one does. So we thought we’d include and make ourselves look super cool in the process.
DIMMU BORGIR - ARCHAIC CORRESPONDENCE
Dimmu Borgir are literally the Dad Garage Metal band that Satan and his hellspawns put together to provide some much needed entertainment to all of the millions of tortured souls of Hell. They perform every single night from 9PM to 4AM and then again from 5AM to 8PM. While many denizens of the underground find their sounds enjoyable, Dimmu Borgir play during torture time so it’s not a great time for anybody but the members of the band. I can just picture Satan slinging guitar and bellowing into the mic as four other smaller (but high-level) demons rock out behind him, with those suffering eternal damnation being flayed on the rack and burned alive behind them. That notion brings such a hellish smile to my face. Man, metal brings out some weird feelings in people.
BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME - THE PROVERBIAL BELLOW
I could probably write every single one of these blurbs about how technically impressive all of these bands are, but I chose to here on Between the Buried And Me because for some completely unexplainable reason, as I am as far from a technically savvy musician as one can get and still legally be allowed to write about music, this sounds the most technical of all to me. I feel like technically impressive and heavy-as-all-hell are the two defining characteristics of modern day metal. This is a band that my friends who dig metal would be pretty pissed off if I left off the list. So this one’s for you Jerad! Plus, this track is 13 minutes which is heavy unto itself.
PORCUPINE TREE - BLACKEST EYES
I’m not going to lie. I did a little bit of research for this one. Porcupine Tree are known as “Progressive Metal,” and as influenced by Yes and King Crimson as anything else. That’s why this one doesn’t hammer as hard as the other ones. Because it’s more refined. The lyrics are melodic, and oh my god even have a properly catchy chorus. But alas, it’s still metal, proving without a doubt that there really is something for everyone in this genre. If you favor traditional songwriting but want a bit of that technical heaviness to your music than Porcupine Tree is the band for you. If the mere thought of a chorus makes you want to puke than please look at the other 11 bands on display here.
GHOST - DANCE MACABRE
Ghost are as close to eighties butt rock hair and glam metal that we’re going to get. While they certainly don’t look like the part with their corpse face paint and the demonic anti-pope garb of lead singer Papa Emeritus, they sound more reminiscent of bands like Ratt & Warrant than anyone else on this list. If fiddle metal isn’t your thing and you’ve been permanently stuck in 1987 for the past twenty years, well then maybe Ghost is the perfect band for you. This isn’t meant to be an insult, if anything the opposite of it. The era that Ghost feel like they belong to is the time where metal was born and legitimized and made popularized. Without the eighties, none of this would exist. There is nothing more sacred than the beginnings.
ROB ZOMBIE & MARILYN MANSON - HELTER SKELTER
While I’m sure most of our readers have a solid, if not passing understanding of who both Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson are-- I can’t be the only one who didn’t have the slightest idea that these two had come together during their 2018 tour together to record a cover of The Beatles / Charles Manson classic “Helter Skelter.”. What could possibly be more Metal than covering the song that led to the unfortunate deaths of Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Steven Parent, Voytek Frykowski, Abigail Folger, Leno LaBianca, and Rosemary LaBianca? Then again, neither of these guys have ever been known to shy away from controversy. Not after Manson came out on stage with a semi-automatic machine gun as a microphone stand, and Rob Zombie made House of a 1000 Corpses.
DEAFHEAVEN - CANARY YELLOW
And then there’s Deafheaven. Combining metal with shoegaze into a loud-quiet-loud that is unlike anything else ever committed to tape (digital or analog, we’re covering a lot of years here). My Bloody Valentine would be so proud that they have a descendent coming up in their wake and making music so loud and intense that they’ll be the old men blowing out speakers one day. We here at We Are: The Guard have loved shoegaze ever since the term was first invented (before I was even born tbg) and it’s a real treat to see a band like Deafheaven continuing its legacy for a whole new generation of metalheads. And going wayyyy heavier than anyone ever could have dreamed it would go.
Hold up real quick as a final thought let me try and guess what these relatively unreadable metal fonts say.
I think one might say Creature?
I definitely see Gotchica.
Yeah, I got no clue.
I give up.
I hope you’ve enjoyed a very under-researched, mis-informed guide to some of the most interesting metal we could find on the internet. We have literally zero idea if this was informational, correct or remotely cool, but we sure as hell tried. I hope you all have a pleasant day. HAIL SATAN.
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From deep within the murky depths of the Los Angeles River emerged a creature: 50% raver, 50% comedian, 10% Robotcop. Kurt Kroeber doesn’t own a dog, operates Soundbleed (the world’s only dance party comedy talk show rave), and is down to party with you. Come up some time and say “Hey dude!” But definitely make sure to casually drop the secret Illuminati password.