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Tag Archives: Death metal

Band of the Month: Edge of Sanity

Death metal water sold here

Death metal water sold here (Photo credit: Nick Sherman)

In the 90s, metal was practically dead to the mainstream media apart from some exceptions. But metal was not dead. It kept evolving in the depths of a weird place called the metal underground. In that place, the most extreme genres of metal became something new and interesting. One of these genres was melodic death metal,  born of death metal, NWOBHM and thrash metal.

When people about melodic death metal, they usually talk about certain bands: In Flames, Carcass, Dark Tranquillity,  At The Gates and so on. And when they talk about progressive extreme metal, bands such as Opeth, Cynic, Death.

But at that time, in the mid-90s, there was one band who played melodic death metal, progressive death metal and much more. The band was called Edge of Sanity from Finspång in southeastern Sweden, hundreds of kilometers from Gothenburg, the Mecca of melodic death metal.

Cover of "Purgatory Afterglow"

Cover of Purgatory Afterglow

I usually divide their albums into four groups.

The three first albums were rather basic death metal, although you can some original elements on them. “Sacrificed”, released on The Spectral Sorrows (1993) is actually one of the very first gothic metal songs ever despite of being “just” a Sisters of Mercy pastiche.

The second group consists of Until Eternity Ends EP, Purgatory Afterglow, Crimson and Infernal (from 1993 to 1997). Purgatory was the first EoS album I heard and it really blew my mind. Melodic death metal had not been so innovative and versatile before.

Cryptic (1997) is alone in the third group. Without Dan Swanö, there weren’t elements of surprise and diversity on this album. The music got a bit one-dimensional without the melodic, progressive elements. To my ears, Cryptic sounded nothing but a half of what it had been before. It was heavy and extreme but something was missing.

Cover of "Crimson II"

Cover of Crimson II

After Cryptic, EoS broke up. But Dan Swanö raised the band from the dead once more to create Crimson II (almost) all by himself in 2003. The result was an updated version of the EoS sound. Unfortunately, I had sort of melodic metal and could not enjoy the album as much as I had wanted. Had it been released just after Cryptic, it would probably have been the best EoS album.

And that was the end of Edge of Sanity. They always remained a cult band with a huge influence on many bands, including mine. Why didn’t they become the biggest band in the whole extreme metal genre? Perhaps their record company (Black Mark) was a bit too small. Perhaps their unwillingness of doing a lot of tours around the world. But well, it happens.

Anyway, their songs can be found on Spotify and Youtube, so check them out. If you’re into melodic but extreme metal, I’m sure you like them.

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Hipster Metal, WTF?

Teen hipster dressed as a carrot

Teen hipster dressed as a carrot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A day off. Nice. Excluding Easter Monday, I can’t remember having a Monday off this year. And I’m supposed to do a lot of things, but after an excellent, yet a bit exhausting weekend recording stuff with Eternal Tears of Sorrow, it’s almost too hard to start doing anything sensible. Cleaning up the apartment, doing the laundry, paying some bills, getting my car repaired, that’s just too much for a day.

Anyway, today I’ve bumped into an interesting term. Hipster metal. WTF is that? There was nothing like that when I was young. Metal was metal, not a very popular rock genre, considered only a phase in a young boy’s life, a slightly unintelligent form of rock’n’roll. The more I read about hipster metal, the more confused I became. What is a hipster, anyway? English isn’t my mother tongue, so I can’t have all the connotations of the word. But in Finnish, we do have the word loaned as “hipsteri” that to me, sounds like a guy or a gal who wants to be more trendy than “the mainstream youth”. Trendy in a very intelligent way, or at least in a way that makes them look smarter. The Finnish definition of “hipsteri” is used to describe “an urban subculture that involves listening to indie rock and wearing middle-class or working class clothes, like grunge rock guys and gals”.

self-portrait of Jonathan Youngblood, illustra...

self-portrait of Jonathan Youngblood, illustrating the concept "hipster" (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Still, after reading dozens of pages of hipsters and so-called hipster metal, I’m not any wiser. It could have something to do with my age (as I’m not a teen anymore) or it could have something to do with Finland being the country in the world where metal music is the most mainstream. Metal music is huge here, which is really weird, by the way. So, it could be that we really don’t need “hipster metal” here as metal is “hip” enough here. The best article on hipster metal is probably this, by the way: http://www.examiner.com/metal-music-in-houston/hipster-metal ..

Who (i.e. which bands) play hipster metal, anyways? There are a lot of opinions on this. Sludge metal bands, post-rock black metal bands etc, or so they say. Baroness, Pelican, Alcest? They are mentioned in many blogs and websites. Damnit, I like those bands… Well, I won’t stop listening to them. They have a lot of nice songs, and that’s enough for me. Are they hipster metal or just bands that some hipster metal heads (if there are any) listen to, or claim they listen to. I prefer the latter explanation.

American band Slayer at the Fields of Rock fes...

American band Slayer at the Fields of Rock festival, June 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t mean heavy metal should not evolve. Vice versa. It’s important for metal music to involve. If rock’n’roll hadn’t evolved after the 50s, all rock would still be like “Rock Around the Clock” and “Johnny B Goode“. And if you listen to some new black metal or death metal bands, you can say they sound quite much like the bands in the late 90s, do they? The overall production is naturally much better but when it comes to music, it really hasn’t so much new to offer. Or progressive metal? Has it evolved a lot since ‘Images & Words‘ by Dream Theater? Probably not.

There must be something new happening in the metal underground, though, I think. Just take a look at the most popular metal bands at last.fm. Metallica, System of a Down, Iron Maiden, Slipknot, Disturbed, Marilyn Manson, Megadeth, Korn. Most of them were successful in the 90s (or even the 80s) and the rest of them, well, they could have been big in the late 90s, too. Why aren’t there any bands sounding like the 2000s on the list? Are the metal hipsters right after all? Is there metal music that sound like 2012, after all? Has metal music stagnated in the past?

I bet there are people who can answer to these questions. I can’t, not now, anyway. Some day, perhaps.

 
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Posted by on 16.4.2012 in In English, Music

 

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