fssssssssshhhhh……. BANG like, BANGER Films…. ♫ Vader – “Shadowfear” *half time death metal section* *breakdown to set up heavy metal riffage* *heavy metal riffage* “GO!”
Translation: let the moshpit commence SAM: In the series “Metal Evolution”, I explored 11 subgenres of heavy metal, and over 400 years of music history. The show aired on networks around the world and was a big su ccess. But there was one glaring omission: there was no episode on metal’s most underground and aggressive subgenre, extreme metal. VADER, growling: “YAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYY…”
Translation: m/ SAM: Extreme metal is a term that covers a number of metal styles… including death metal, grindcore, doom metal… the first wave of black metal, Norwegian black metal, Swedish extreme metal… and more. Building on the sound of thrash, these styles ramped up metal’s speed and complexity. But there’s a question about extreme metal metal that I’ve long wanted to answer. “How is there so much diversity in a genre that, to most people, sounds like noise?” VADER “I still walk the Realms, as a master of the Shadowfear, Into all infinity!” m/ ♫ Celtic Frost – “Into the Crypts of Rays” *classic Fischer riff* *break it down again* *headbanging ensues* CELTIC FROST: “Years of plead, behind the walls…” “Chambers and vaults, scenes of fright…” “Unspoken words, in pain and dread…” “140 lives passed his hands” *chorus*
“Gilles De Ray’s the perverted son…” “Into The Crypts of Rays…” “Into The Crypts of Rays…” “Into The Crypts of Rays…” *epic outro riff* DAVID VINCENT: Certainly… ha it has, indeed… been a day of SUFFERIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING… *hellish growled echoes* ♫ Morbid Angel – “Day of Suffering” MORBID ANGEL: RRROOOOEEEHHHH…
Translation: The darkness takes us all…. MORBID ANGEL:
“A call to take your hand…” SAM: If anyone’s paid attention to the t-shirts I’ve worn over the course of this series… you’ll already know that I’m a huge fan of the darker and more brutal forms of metal. But even though I consider myself an extreme metal expert… I’ve always struggled to accurately define it. So to get started… I want to ask extreme metal musicians how they define this music. MORBID ANGEL: UUUUUUURRRRRHHHHH….
Translation: The end is nigh DAVID: Extreme music is for extreme people. There’s a lot of notes, there’s a lot of aggression, there’s a lot of fury…. and it’s fast. I mean, those are some key components to it, and that’s not for everyone. I mean, you know, it’s not easy listening… I can’t imagine your average, sort of, white-bred housewife doing laundry and then listening to, you know…. “Blasphemy of the Holy Ghost”. I mean, I just don’t hear that. IVAR: What is extreme music? What is extreme metal It’s a very pragmatic term. It’s a guitar style, it’s a way of using the drums… and it’s a particular usage of vocals. FENRIZ: One of the main lines from extreme metal and just traditional metal, or regular metal, ^is actually when you go from “aah” (sung) to “AAAAH” (growled)^ KEITH: I define extreme metal as taking all the musical elements of heavy metal and then pushing them one step further. To the point, whereby you start departing from conventional aspects of of music, so… Most outsiders would say, “Oh, that’s just noise”. It’s actually a very complex form of music, and delving into that complexity is part of the fun. ♫ Venom – “Welcome to Hell” VENOM: “Kill, we will kill death…” “Masturbating on the deeds we have done…” “Hell commands death kill…” “Argue not of feel the death of sun, “Burning, lives burning…” SAM: One of the first metal albums I heard that sounded extreme… was Venom’s “Welcome to Hell”. I’d listened to Iron Maiden, Motorhead, and bands that were part of the New Wave of British heavy metal, but Venom was way more intense. So I’ve come to Newcastle, England, the home of Venom… to find out why they were so extreme. VENOM: “Welcome to Hell!” “Welcome to f***ing Hell…” (that tongue tho) SAM: So it’s the early 80s, the new wave of British heavy metal is starting to explode… can you talk about to what extent you felt like you were a part of NWOBHM, or you felt like you were something completely different? MANITAS: I think, to be perfectly honest… we didn’t really feel that much of a part of it. I mean, we rebelled against that squeaky clean style, you know…. Everybody trying to produce everything as best they could, all this kind of stuff… And whether it was youthful arrogance or whatever, you know, we just did what came naturally. But what we did… by whatever means and by whatever force, became something entirely different to what everybody else was doing. ALBERT: The first thing that comes to mind that separates Venom are the vocals. You had stuff like Motorhead where it was definitely not just traditional singing, but… You know, Lemmy always had a tinge of melody, where Cronos was just really… he was- he really was just kind of, barking it out. It’s like the first kind of, proto-typical gutteral stuff. MANITAS: The vocal style played a big part in giving the band its identity. Maybe that caused restrictions in melody and all that kind of thing, like… but we were never about that. You know, we were just about that… that raw… punch in the face. VENOM: “Burning, lives burning…” “Asking me for the mercy of God!” “Ancient cries crying…” “Acting on the way of the dog!” “Welcome to…” DANNY: Venom put on these amazing shows… and yea, looking back, a little bit hocus pocus and, you know… decidedly cheesy, but… As a youth, bands like Venom, I think just really captured peoples’ imagination. You know, you had KISS, and they looked the part, but they sing about… love, and women, and bikinis, and stuff like that. Whereas Venom, they were singing about the devil and you know, Elizabeth Bathory… and it just was, uh… really vulgar. KEITH: It’s very hard to look at Venom with fresh eyes, you know, today. They seem a little bit absurd. But at the time, they were actually quite shocking. While other bands were alluding to sort of, Satanism and the occult, they were taking it beyond what other people were doing, saying, “Yes, we are in league with Satan!” “We’re not just interested in it, we are the real thing.” MANITAS: You know, you had Black Sabbath and Black Widow, and all those other people, but… but they still really weren’t stuffing it in peoples’ faces the way we did. You know, the pentagram and all that kind of stuff really hadn’t been seen before that. I think we all had an interest in the sort of, occult side of things… and mine definitely came from my grandfather, who was big on horror movies, you know, the old Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff stuff. And he would let me stay up late and watch the horror movies. SAM: So was the primary objective for Venom to shock people? MANITAS: Oh yea, absolutely, yea. Just to stick it in their faces and say… “Right, there you go. What do you think of that?” And if they ran away screaming, then great. VENOM: “Die, we won’t die, live…” “Our choice of difference is what you’ll never know” “Mortal voids live, die…” “Buried deep beneath the fall of the snow” SAM: Venom’s extreme music and imagery set a new blueprint for heavy metal in the early 80’s, and the band’s sound spread through the metal community. And the next band to pick up the extreme metal torch was Switzerland’s Hellhammer. ♫ Hellhammer – “The Third of the Storms” *metal, rough and raw. properly* SAM: Tell me about how Hellhammer started. How did that all come together? TOM: Well, I grew up in a tiny, tiny farm village of 1500 inhabitants in the 1970’s. And I was the odd kid out, a total black sheep… so for many years in my youth, I was in a very lonely, very desperate place. In order to somehow survive that emotionally, I resorted to music. I became such a fanatic that, of course, I dreamt of playing in a band myself, which led directly to me forming this band called Hellhammer. HELLHAMMER: “Total destruction…” “Mankind to Hell” “Blind and insane…” “The misguided repent” *SOLO* (okay, tapping) TOM: When Hellhammer started out it was largely a Venom clone, and probably a very deficient one at that. We didn’t know anything, we didn’t have any advice, we didn’t have any connections… and we were complete amateurs on the instruments, laughed at, continuously, for years in Switzerland, even in the metal scene. People said, “that’s noise, what you’re doing,” you know… “It’s not going to go anywhere.” So, we were very frustrated because we wanted to do more. I wanted to create better music, I wanted to be more dimensional, and so we decided to start Celtic Frost. And that’s when we became a real band, we were no longer the nobodies from Switzerland. ♫ Celtic Frost – “Necromantical Screams” (if your high school orchestra joined your town’s best bar band on Halloween ’81) SAM: Now that you had changed to Celtic Frost… what were the goals of that band, that new project? MARTIN: With Celtic Frost, we thought that being extreme meant not only being extreme about the lyrical themes or the imagery you use, but also being extreme in the sense of the musical inspirations, or the musical styles you try to incorporate, you know. We liked Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, Christian Death from America, 45 Grave, Roxy Music, you know… There are many, many more shades and colours to darkness than just black. CELTIC FROST: “Necromantical screams…” “Only you are deaf” BRANDON: Celtic Frost, what they really brought was this lack of boundaries. They’re bringing in choirs and like, you know, ambient music and like, really taking metal into new places. So I think Celtic Frost really laid the groundwork for a real sense of possibility in extreme metal. TOM: There was this tendency to say, “Well, in metal you’re not allowed to do this, or to do that,” and we found that ridiculous. We didn’t want to lose the heaviness and the radicalness of Hellhammer, but we wanted to do an endless amount of things on top of that. I thought it was possible to combine heaviness with something that approached art. ♫♫♫ m/ SAM: Unlike Venom, Celtic Frost wasn’t about shock. They were expanding the sound of extreme metal, and striving to create an artistic statement. But still, these bands were part of a fringe, underground movement. So how did extreme metal grow to the massive international subgenre that it is today? “Nectromantical Screams…” (…and scene) *grimy, grindy guitars swell in* *enter groovy metal riff* *banging of heads begins* SAM: By the mid-80’s, the pioneering extreme metal bands like Venom and Celtic Frost were becoming internationally recognized. But in the meantime, there was a new extreme music style developing in English cities, like Birmingham, a place well known for its metal pedigree, but this sound was a far cry from Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. 1 2 3 4 ♫ Napalm Death – “Scum” *inhuman growling* ♫♫♫ *moar inhuman growling* NAPALM DEATH: SCUUUUUUUUUUM! (bellowed) SAM: I want to start by talking about the state of metal in England in the early to mid-80’s… SHANE: From an early age, the guitar based rock/metal was always popular in England, you know. You would have Iron Maiden, Saxon, Judas Priest, Motorhead, in the top 10. But me and my friends, we wanted- we went further. We wanted Celtic Frost We wanted Bathory Sepultura, Voivod, Metallica and Slayer, bands like this, you know… We wanted the harder stuff. ALBERT: In the case of Napalm Death and the early British grind scene… stuff like Iron Maiden was like pub rock to them. Those guys are into all kinds of heavy sounds and heavy music, and they start to get involved in the underground tape trading scene, so… In addition to stuff like Hellhammer and Celtic Frost, they get to hear a lot of really fast, really aggressive underground music. SHANE: -Yea, because of the tape-trading comminity, we were listening to bands from the States and from Europe, who were also playing pretty fast. That’s how we found bands like GBH, Exploded, Discharge… All that was influencing us, and we started to crossover, ya know. Started listening to hardcore punk as well. All these punk bands were singing about real things, so lyrically it was a little bit more grounded, ya kno. These bands had something different to say, as opposed to, you know… #HAILSATAN w.e ya no m/ NAPALM DEATH: RAAAAAAAHHWWWWRRRR…
Translation: im hungry (wut) (righto) DIGBY: They were a political anarcho punk band, but one that was sort of, weren’t a part of the scene, as such, they were still apart from the scene. And it became a different animal. ’cause they were influenced by the thrashier end of metal. And they concocted this idea I think, just to go faster and faster. I mean, there was fast bands. We’d seen Slayer, we’d seen Metallica early on. We’d seen Venom. But Napalm Death, they just took it to a whole other level. NAPALM DEATH: GAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!! (banshee range)
Translation: what a wonderful world *giving birth sounds* SAM: The “blast beat” became an important part of Napalm Death’s music, um, what is the blast beat? SHANE: -Uhh, well, the blast beat would be, the way i would describe it, I mean, you got a rock beat, like that… *patticake* …and the Slayer beat- *double time patticake* That’s what I call the Slayer beat ya no and then it’s like, double that- *full metal patticake* …ya no, but that was the original blast beat for me, the one… ya no, the- m/ ♫♫♫ ALBERT: That blast beat that was brought in by early Napalm Death, it’s kind of like a whole now level of excitement and speed, and it just kind of PROPELS things forward. It immediately is a dividing line. *audience cheering* CRAIG CHARLES *following a beautiful string orchestra*: Now that was a big too angry for me, a bit too aggressive, a bit too doom-laden… A bit too subversive… So let’s lighten the mood here a little… SOME DUDE: NNNNNNYEEOWWW…! CRAIG: …w-w-was that it? ND: yea basically CRAIG: How-how come the songs are so short? DIGBY: People didn’t quite get what Napalm Death were, they were actually a joke, you know. They were actually a laughingstock to a lot of people. Not to me. I think they were bordering on experimental music and avant-garde, really. You know, Earache was proud as hell to release it. And, uhm… I remember distinctly mailing out about five promo copies of Napalm Death’s “Scum”. One went to John Peele. *dee de loot-dooo*
♫”JOHN. PEELE.”♫ JOHN: Hello, hello, hello, as we say in our country… this is John Peele in London for rock radio. This next is Napalm Death and this is from their LP “Scum”… *enter “Scum” KEITH: John Peele played all sort of weird and wonderful music from a huge range of genres, I was a teenager at the time, and… one night I heard this noise, you know, this blast… with growling and impenetrable guitars, and… blasting drums. They were tracks with sort of, like, these crazy names like “Prison Without Walls”, and… you know, that kind of stuff. It totally blew me away. SAM: Well, the Peele sessions had a pretty big impact for you guys, um… can you talk about, you know, what happened? SHANE: …And it was like, yea, the second album got like, number one in the independent charts. We were above like, The Pixies, and Sonic Youth, and… all these indie/noise bands that I’m into, ya no- I was like, “wow”, ya no, kind of surprised. So, things started to go pretty nuts from there, really. People looked at Napalm Death a different way, and in a way, really, Napalm just kind of, had this interest from the media. ‘Think we ended up getting more airtime than Guns n’ Roses, and i remember these GNR fans going, “How can that shit band Napalm Death get more time than GNR, this is an outrage!” We just thought it was funny, ya no… NAPALM DEATH: RAAAAAAAWWWWRRRR…
Translation: im still hungry SAM: Napalm Death had become the underground darlings of the British music press, and their style was termed “grindcore”. But then Liverpool’s Carcass took grindcore to even greater extremes, giving its political message a grotesque visual and lyrical identity. ♫ Carcass – “Reek of Putrefaction” (heavy, noisy, and disgusting. i’ll have two) SAM: Describe those early album covers, and what what was the impulse to take things in that direction at that time. JEFF: We wanted to make the most brutal-est, heaviest, nastiest album, and in some respects we succeeded, and in other respects, musically we failed (laughs), because it’s a musical abortion, but uh… we were never really interested in the cartoonish elements of metal. We wanted it to be more… BILL: …real. JEFF: Yea ALBERT: Previously, heavy metal imagery was stuff that you could pretty much find airbrushed on the side of a van. You know, warlocks, and warriors, and even depictions of Satan weren’t particularly frightening… These were real dead bodies! This was a whole other level of gore. DIGBY: Their ethos was to take all the sort of, traditional metal but they wanted to make it like, real life gore… not just a horror movie, pretend thing. I mean, it’s really repulsive stuff, and again, the whole point was to just push buttons, push envelopes. Let’s see how far we can take this. JEFF: Seeing how my sister was a nurse, there was a medical dictionary so I just started to use the uh, you know, the photographs from medical books. It was seriously done with intent, to make it an analogy of, like… dead corpse, dead corpse, you know… Human or animal, what’s the big deal, you know? BILL: We were trying to confuse people, obviously, ’cause everyone in the band was either vegan or vegetarian. Well, we were teenagers, you know, we were all 17 but, we weren’t aggressive people. SAM: So was shocking people, was that very important to you? JEFF: I don’t think shock’s the right word, that’s, wot, Alice Cooper territory. Disturb people, I think, is better. (…) KEITH: The first two Carcass albums were really, pretty impenetrable. Often sounds seemed to be out of time… It was often unclear who was singing, what they were singing and everything… and what started out as an interesting medical terminology of bodies being cut up, ends up in their later albums as an interesting general decay within society, so it was a big change. ♫ Carcass – “Heartwork” (heavy, melodic, and not as disgusting. its different) BILL: Some of the stuff we’d done on our first records, we were hearing other bands doing it, and um, we realized how easily assimilated that style was. At that stage it wasn’t a novelty anymore, playing super fast, being downtuned… I think we were out to prove something; we just wanted to do something that couldn’t be copied as easily. I mean, we wanted to stay ahead of the pack. ALBERT: By the time Carcass releases “Heartwork”, there is very little grindcore left in Carcass. It was the sound of a band kind of… reaching out for something different. There’s a lot of technical progressive stuff on there, the songs are longer… They have a lot of movements that are definitely not typical of grindcore… and what that record in particular did was it created this tipping point for the genre. ♫♫♫ CARCASS: “A canvas to paint, to degenerate… Dark reflections…” SAM: By combining extremity with melodic guitars… Carcass’ new sound influenced many future metal bands, but it also marked the decline of British grindcore as a distinct metal movement. So what else was going on in the extreme metal underground? *bangs your head for you* (game over) ♫ Death – “Pull the Plug” DEATH: “Memory’s all that’s left behind… as I lay and wait to die” SAM: When I think back to when i was a teenager, I remember hearing about this mysterious guy named Chuck Schuldiner, who was creating this really raw and brutal new form of metal out of Florida, of all places. Now sadly I can’t meet with Chuck because he passed away in the early 2000’s, so I’ve come to Morrisound studios, which became the home of the Florida death metal scene, to find out how this scene got started. DEATH: “THERE IS NO HOPE WHY DON’T YOU…”
(pull the plug) “Hey Terry,”
“Hey Sam,” “How you doin, man?”
“Good, man, how’s it goin?” SAM: So, I want to talk about Chuck a bit…. tell me about his role in helping kickstart this scene. TERRY: I first met Chuck in 1984 at a bar called Ruby’s, that’s where everyone played here… I saw a guy walking around carrying a bag of demo tapes, and I asked my friend, “hey,” you know, “what’s up with this guy?” and he’s like, “hey, that’s the guitar player of Death. You should go over and get that demo, it’s awesome.” And um, it was just incredible. You know, it was just so raw and heavy, I was a fan instantly. DEATH: “Pull the plug” “Don’t want to live this way” ♫♫♫ (trampled under hoof) DAVID: Chuck was really a great musician, you know… some of his stuff-
they were really- It was almost prog, but it was still, Chuck So, I mean, you see this, this really vast growth in him as a musician. I mean, it was all pushing boundaries. TERRY: You could tell even early on, his song writing, his song structuring… It wasn’t just like, “Im gonna scream and that’s it.” He wanted to make rhythms that were catchy and that had a purpose, they just weren’t fillers in a song, they actually meant something. MONTE: It was inconceivable to me that a band could be so heavy. You know, playing at speeds like that and doing it in a technical fashion was still a very new thing. And that’s why, you know, as far as I’m concerned… Chuck Schuldiner is pretty much the godfather of death metal, and Death were pretty much the first death metal band. DEATH: “End it now, it is the only way” SAM: When did you first hear about the Florida death metal scene? When did that first start to trickle up to upstate New York? ALEX: You know, probably with Death “Leprosy” coming out. We weren’t really totally aware that Chuck was from Florida, but Leprosy sounded so great, we wanted to know where that was done, and that was Morrisound. And then all of a sudden, you had bands like Obituary and Morbid Angel releasing records, and those were done at Morrisound as well. and we thought well, this is, you know, this is a place we’d like to go. ♫ Obituary – Slowly We Rot (bong) SAM: There was clearly a style developing here in Florida, but the thing is, someone needed to harness this sound, and so I’m meeting with the producer Scott Burns, who’s credited for crafting the legendary Florida death metal sound. (intense producin) SCOTT: You know, back then everyone laughed at us. Thrash was king and everyone thought death metal was shit. I just dug it because I liked anything that was over the top and extreme. These guys really wanted to be faster, heavier… and be taken as legitimate. But from a purely technical-like production standpoint, it’s hard to make things that are fast and noisy sound clean. ALEX: Morrisound was the first studio that really mastered a sound that would work well with fast double bass. The kick drums were audible. That was a big deal, because I just don’t a lot of those other producers back then knew what to do with fast double bass. Scott Burns and Morisound actually did, and it just sounded great. (bartender, ill take a fast kick, make it a double) SAM: What was the key turning point where this death metal thing was really starting to take off? SCOTT: Well, you just started to see a complete shift in the bands doing demos. All the sudden the thrash bands were done and it was all just death metal getting full coverage in all the ‘zines and stuff, and that’s when you started to see the record labels like Roadrunner, and Metal Blade, Earache… snatching up everything that moved. MONTE: I think a lot of eyes were on the death metal scene. There were a ton of great bands, I was able to just go in, in like a three year period, and sign everything from Sepultura to Obituary to Deicide… Suffocation, Malevolent Creation, Gorguts, Immolation… At the same time I was doing that you had Digby over at Earache… signing Terrorizer and Morbid Angel, and these records all sold. That really kinda showed the rest of the music business that, you know, there was money to be made here. CANNIBAL CORPSE: I. CUM. BLOOOOOOOD… *evil wretched guitars* ♫ Cannibal Corpse – I Cum Blood SAM: Death metal in Florida was starting to explode and independent record labels were distributing this extreme music around the globe, and it was Cannibal Corpse who became death metal’s biggest and most notorious band. CANNIBAL: GAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH….
Translation: make love to me ALEX: When we got Cannibal together, all five of us were pretty much on the same page from the very beginning. We wanted to be a really dark band that had horror/gore kind of lyrics, and… you know, really fast aggressive death metal. That’s what we wanted to do from the start. BRANDON: The reason Cannibal Corpse really became death metal’s top-selling band is that they had that very immediate shock value. You know, it’s not like Morbid Angel, where it’s like these sort of arcane, you know, Satanic Sumerian mythological lyrics, you know It’s just like, u kno… “Fucked with a Knife” u no It’s like… “woah” you know? BRIAN: We all thought that there were limitations on it, because of the subject matter, because of how aggressive it is, because it’s extreme. Even though they’ve never been on a major label, Cannibal Corpse have definitely sold a lot of records and done extremely well for themselves, and… I mean, certainly the controversies have helped, I mean, you had that election with Bob Dole. You know, he came in to this massive news conference and said, you know, “Cannibal Corpse are ruining the entire country because of their lyrics.” *applause* BOB: I want to talk to you tonight about the future of America. About issues of moral importance, and matters of social consequence. I’m talking about groups like Cannibal Corpse, Geto Boys, and 2 Live Crew, about a culture, a business that makes money from music which extols the pleasure of raping, torturing, and mutilating women. ALBERT: Bob Dole made some comments bemoaning this society that we live in that allows our children to enjoy bands like Cannibal Corpse, and… I have no idea what aide of his slipped that into his speech as a talking point, but I do know that there are five dudes in Tampa that are eternally grateful for that ALEX: Bob Dole said, “Well, we’re not trying to censor them, we’re just trying to publicly shame them, and let people know what they’re doing. I said- “Well we’re not shamed of what were doing! We want people to know about what were doing, so thank you for the free advertisement.” BRANDON: When Cannibal Corpse starts being talked about by US Senators, you’re just like, “Woah, “the level of the conversation about this band has just shot through the ceiling,” like, this is a band that’s being talked about on a national political platform as like, you know, one of the great evils in society, you know. This is no longer just an underground phenomenon. (if you haven’t seen this movie, shame on you) SAM: So, I want to talk about Ace Ventura… ALEX: Sure, sure. SAM: …how did that all happen? ALEX: I’m not 100% sure… but, as far as we were told, Jim Carry actually knew who the band was and liked some of our music. You know, he did let us know that when he first heard the vocals, he’s like, “Well, I just had to laugh, I’d never heard anything like that before, it sounded so crazy.” ALEX: I’ve met a lot of people that said the first time they heard Cannibal Corpse was by seeing that movie, Ace Ventura, and they said, in fact, that was the first time they heard ever death metal. I-I mean, I meet someone like that on every tour, to this day. ALBERT: Ace Ventura was another one of those little weird cultural moments that allowed them to elevate their presence, and sell more records. In a lot of ways, Cannibal Corpse are kind of America’s version of Napalm Death as far as a kind of, a cultural talking point for what people think crazy heavy metal is and what its supposed to sound like. And once it starts selling, then everybody kind of swoops in and wants to be involved. ♫ Cannibal Corpse – “Devoured by Vermin” SAM: So by the mid 90’s, some of the Florida death metal bands were having some mainstream success, but the scene as a whole has kind of become formulaic, and I actually remember losing interest in death metal because it felt stale and overdone. So the question is: what did it take to make extreme metal relevant again? CANNIBAL CORPSE: “Devoured… “Cesspool of vermin” “Devoured … “Bloodthirsty, rabid “Devoured by vermin” (whew) ♫ Mayhem – Freezing Moon *icy metallic guitars darker than a black mirror* SAM: In my first film “Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey”, I explored Norwegian black metal, and the controversy surrounding a series of church burnings and murders that happened in the early 90’s. GAAHL: Church burnings, and all the things, that I support, a hundred per cent, and it will be done much more in the future. SAM: But this time, I’m focusing on the music, and to get started, I’m gonna go and reunite with an old friend. NECRO: ..yea, Mayhem, we rule. If people don’t recognize it, fuck them! *scuse me* SAM: So the last time we met, it became kind of, this classic moment. *laughs* NECRO: It was a classic moment, that’s for sure… When you gave me that sloppy handshake, I was thinking ‘who tf is this’, looked like a fkn nrd ‘what is this, ‘some kind of school project?’ or w.e -and then you came up with some negative stuff like, eeh… “black metal is on the way down”… SAM, in context: …do you have any comments about that? YOUNGER NECRO: Yeah, I have a comment, FUCK U you know what I mean? OLDER NECRO: It was on my day off so, I’d had a couple of beers, and now, I’m happy to get another chance to, heh, start fresh again, so… SAM: Well, we’ll get on to the new interview… um, going back to your beginnings… what was the sound and the feel, of the music that you guys were trying to create? NECRO: We, um… *tsk* when we started to play in bands, we started playing Venom covers and Dead Kennedys covers, and stuff like that, and then when we started to make our own music it just became what it became. In the beginning, we started primitive which was just natural, and the moment we wrote the first four songs… we just knew that nobody had ever heard anything like this. FENRIZ: We wanted to continue the primitive sounds of bands like Bathory and Celtic Frost, cause thrash metal had toned down, became more straight… Death metal on the other hand, became more technical… I saw what Chuck did with Death and I was going, *facepalm* fucking hell, it sucks- I’m sorry to say. So we wanted to escape that modern metal style, the clicky drums and all that, We were drawn to just playing… (angry face) That, you know… ♫ Darkthrone – “Kathaarian Life Code” *icier, heavier, darkier, but just as m/ ♫♫♫ BRANDON: A big part of that first wave of black metal is that emphasis on keeping it stripped down, basic, very raw sounding. The look of it, the aesthetic, the imagery was very different than what was going on in death metal. On the one hand, ya no it was much more theatrical, because ya no artists were wearing corpse paint they were painting their faces white with black around it to resemble actual corpses. But at the same time, they had a kind of lofi approach, like… the album cover’s literally a shitty photo of a guy in white makeup in the woods, that’d been photocopied probably five times. FENRIZ: The idea of having one band member with paint, on the cover, in black and white… that became iconic. It sort of… *sigh* A lot of people did that afterwards… IHSANN: You know, when we did makeup and the imagery that came along with it, it had this very dark…ehh… atmosphere… which definitely helped to create mystery and danger, and that’s very different from sunny Florida! SAM: So where was the inspiration for the visuals coming from? IHSANN: It’s all a big mix, but of course the landscape in Norway, with the mountain and forests and everything… Definitely, it influenced us, and it just made everything larger than life. You know, extremely epic. GAVIN: You’ve got these guys and they look distinctive. They’ve got crazy medieval weapons, they’re in these dramatic woods; these are powerful images. It gets the imagination going, and so I’ve interviewed Norwegian bands and they said they’ve had fans that come up to them and say, you know, “Do you live in the woods?” “Are there trolls?”
“How many wolves have you fought?” They think it’s Lord of the fucking Rings, and for a lot of the Norwegians, some of them play up to it. ♫ Dimmu Borgir – “Progenies of the Great Apocalypse” *grand, demonic symphonies over blackened power chords* SAM:The roots of Norwegian black metal lay in reclaiming extreme metal’s primitive sound and imagery, but it didn’t stay primitive for long, and it was Norway’s Dimmu Borgir who turned black metal into a full-on spectacle. DB: “The battle rages on and on…” “Fueled by the venom of hatred for man” “Consistently, without the eyes to see…” “By those who revel in sewer equally” SILENOZ: …We knew that if we’re gonna do something special, we’re gonna have to follow our wish and not, eh… look at what other people necessarily want you to do, like a so-called written black metal rule or something like that. Our sound at the time was really fresh. We did the so-called “old school” black metal look, you know… but the music was more modern. Using a lot of keyboards and synthesizers, which at the time was… *laughs* not looked, eh…heh… looked upon as something that was trve or whatever. ♫♫♫ We already had the typical guitars, bass and drums, but we were always subconsciously looking for that wall of sound, you know, and not that keyboards make that wall of sound, but it definitely makes for a great atmosphere, and that was what we in Dimmu always have been all about, is the atmosphere, you know… KEITH: DImmu Borgir turned black metal into, almost opera… Even using whole orchestras at the time to create this big music, this very theatrical, almost cab kind of sound. They are a little ridiculous, but they’re also… annoyingly catchy. (lol) SILENOZ: When we went onstage, we wanted to have a full package, like a complete thing, not just the music. That’s how we gained so much of a bigger fanbase, and kind of paved the way for a lot of other bands too. Opened up borders, so to speak. ♫♫♫ SAM: Dimmu Borgir broadened the horizons of black metal, and they became Norway’s biggest black metal band… but meanwhile, England’s Cradle of Filth were shattering the conventions of the genre. ♫ Cradle of Filth – “From the Cradle to Enslave” CoF: “Two thousand fattened years like maniacs…” “have despoiled our common grave.” SAM: What do you think has set you apart from what people typically think is the black metal sound or look? DANNY: I didn’t just go straight for the jugular with the whole satanic thing. The lyricism, sort of explored more gothic terrain… more poetry, from people like Byron and Polidori and Lovecraft and Clive Barker… some mythology as well, that derived from, I suppose the British aesthetic. GAVIN: Danny is unquestionably the heart and brain of Cradle, because he brings in his own passion for archaic poetry, for hammer horror films… for gothic imagery, he’s got a great eye for visuals that work. Visuals that appeal. ♫♫♫ Cradle of Filth have that sort of accessibility on that level where a goth chick who otherwise listens to like, Marilyn Manson can appreciate a Cradle of Filth (record), whereas a Darkthrone (record) just sounds like, fuckin’… you know, like, uh… a jet engine to her, you know? Cradle of Filth has that sort of palatability by a more mainstream audience. DANNY: You know, I dare anybody when they say they’d start a band, and they don’t imagine themselves up on a big stage, you know, playing to a lot people. When Cradle of Filth was founded, that’s how we pictured ourselves. You know, we didn’t know necessarily that we were gonna get to those lofty heights, but that was the aim. SAM: But, as you know, I mean, there always seemed to be that code within the black metal camp which is sort of, like: “It’s supposed to stay underground”… DANNY: -Yea, but I don’t understand why these people are making all the rules here. There are no rules, that’s the whole point of it, and I just think it’s bigoted. ALBERT: Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth were kind of the whipping boys for a lot of the “TRVE”… uh, black metal underground. I understand why the TRVE black metallers were rallying againt it, because black metal was never meant to be pretty. It was supposed to be ugly and awful and it was supposed to scare you, you weren’t supposed to ballroom dance to it. BRANDON: In the early 2000’s, black metal’s as it big as its ever been, but you know, the real tried and true, die-hard bands have either rejected the style, moved on, or broken up entirely. Black metal had defined itself so insularly as this sort of elitist underground movement, that is sort of defined its own shelf life. SAM: I want to ask you a question that I think is maybe, one of the questions that you got mad at me for asking last time *laughs*
NECRO: Okay… shoot. SAM: Maybe it’s because it’s a stupid question. i don’t know, but I’ll ask it again: A lot of people say that by the early 2000’s, black metal had kind of… fractured. NECRO: …yea, I think that, uh, when you say it like that, that it fractured… uhhh… then I guess you’re right. I never thought about it. So it wasn’t- wasn’t that it went down, it just went all kinds of different directions, and people were confused and I can understand, maybe that was the thing- SAM: Yea…
-that confused you. So I didn’t get it at all, that yes, it was a very stupid question.
*Sam laughs* (that’s nice 🙂 ♫ Enslaved – “The Watcher” *clean, glistening guitars setting up a screaming black metal chord progression* ENSLAVED: AAAAAAARRAAAAAHHHH…
Translation: Darkness…. RRRREEEEAAAAAHHHH…
Translation: Fear…. SAM: By the early 2000’s, back metal was kind of in disarray, and apart from a few bands in Poland and elsewhere, death metal and grindcore weren’t really innovative anymore, and I remember feeling like the walls were kind of closing in on extreme metal and the genre really needed a new spark. And then a spark did come from a Norweigan band who managed to break free from their black metal roots. ENSLAVED (seriously now): “Fear….” “Life…..” SAM: So I wanna start with where you guys were at when you began as a band… GRUTLE: When we got started, it was in early ’91, we came from a kind of, uh- kind of small Norwegian death metal scene, you know, before the black metal revolution in Norway, and uh… suddenly, at a point, everyone decided to stop playing death metal *laughs* and go into this more primitive Venom and Celtic Frost inspired sound. You have Mayhem, Darkthrone, Emperor, a couple others, you know… so it was definitely a community of bands. BRANDON: If you look at early Enslaved, they were as pagan, sort of Viking black metal as it gets, like wearing fucking chain mail, like sitting on thrones with like a big flagon of mead, you know. But over the years they’ve progressed into this much more sort of open-ended, progressive metal band, you know, and the visuals have become much more psychedelic, almost like you took sort of a black metal band and fused them with Tool, or something. ♫♫♫ IVAR: Enslaved in the early 90’s was very focused around the extreme metal or black metal idea of having the narrative in the guitar, and using the vocal almost like an effect. But then, you know, we moved to where the guitars would also be part of the narrative, but we start pulling a little bit back in terms of letting the vocals be what is carrying the story forwards. ENSLAVED: “Farewell,” “May the darkness bind them…” SAM: Given that you’ve gone through all this evolution and experimentation, how important now is it for you to be extreme? IVAR: It’s not important to be extreme at all, actually. It’s not important how fast you can go, or how much of a tough guy you are, it’s about how far you’re willing to put your emotions into the music that makes it “extreme metal” for me. ENSLAVED: “Walking in footsteps of the fallen, “Blinded by lack of reason” SAM: I’m learning that what it means to be extreme in metal music today is expanding far beyond what it meant to Venom and Celtic Frost, and there’s a French band who is taking extreme music in some unlikely ideological directions, and who’s style has been called “eco metal”. ♫ Gojira – “L’Enfant Sauvage”
“So god I’ve been trying to match,” ♫ Gojira – “L’Enfant Sauvage”
“it doesn’t work” “I’m trying, I don’t know” “The aberration of this world” “I try to deal with” SAM: France is not a country traditionally known for a lot of metal bands, and I wanted to ask you, has it helped you or hindered you being from France? JOE: At first, I remember, it was a big handicap because there is no- In France, there is no tradition of international managers and record companies and stuff. Now, today when I look back on our career, I think it’s a good thing that we come from France. I think we were able to devil up something that was very, very personal. MONTE: What makes Gojira unique is, you know, first of all they’re from France, and France is known as a country that has not produced much good metal, and also, lyrically they’re doing their own thing, they’re singing about the environment. They have songs about whales, they’re calling attention to what’s happening to the earth, how mankind is, you know, just wrecking the planet. And I think there’s that intellectual angle that’s really, really appealing to people and you don’t see bands really doing stuff like that. JOE: Basically what I’m saying in my lyrics a lot is that we are nature. Nature is not just something outside of ourselves. I mean, everything is nature; this microphone is nature, this house is nature, and we are connected to each other by this, um… this universe (laughs) SAM: Why is this aggressive style a good vehicle to talk about the environment? JOE: I think the music is growing with the society. It’s a hard, brutal world we live in. Communication, interaction, media… everything is so intense and crashing. The faster the society goes, the faster the music goes. At the same time we want to calm things down and we want to be more simple. We don’t need to use gore, or put a lot of blood in our videos and stuff like that because life is brutal enough. GOJIRA: …OVER ME! m/ SAM: This is a big question, and its more of a philosophical one: what is the value of extreme metal to the evolution of metal music? BRANDON: An outside listener would say that extreme metal is like, this limiting form, that it has you know, this formula: crunching guitars, the double bass, the extreme style vocal, you know. I mean that’s what defines it, but in any art form, it’s what you do within those limits, within that box. I mean, if you just think about a band like Neurosis, or Gojira, or Cattle Decapitation, they’re doing such different things and yet they all fall under this umbrella of extreme metal. KEITH: I would say that since- really, since the early 80’s, the most creative stuff, the most challenging stuff in metal has been coming from extreme metal. One of the reasons for that is that the underground is a place where people could work relatively undisturbed and do their own thing, without worrying too much about what a mass audience would think. GRUTLE: We are music lovers, we are art lovers, not genre lovers. I mean, there are no limits, there are no rules. If there are rules, it’s not music. ♫♫♫ SAM: This final journey of Metal Evolution into the history of extreme metal has revealed to me that as heavy metal continues to grow, extreme metal is where the spirit of the original metal underground remains alive and well. It explicitly resists the mainstream and it pushes music to the edge, and for this reason, extreme metal may in fact be the most important subgenre in the story of metal’s evolution. ♫ Celtic Frost – “Into the Crypts of Rays” (show’s over. go home) Hey there, this is Sam Dunn from Banger Films, and I’m here to extend a massive thank you to everyone who helped make the “Extreme Metal” lost episode happen. As you know, this took us a long time and it was a lot work, and it took a lot of patience from a lot of you to give us the time to do it right, so I can’t thank you enough. I am so excited that this is finally seeing the light of day. But we’re not done. As many of you know, there are many more subgenres in the Metal Evolution family tree whose story has not been told, so if you go to Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter you can let us know which episode you wanna see next, and helps us continue the Metal Evolution journey.