(We’re delighted to bring you a special guest post today from New Zealand’s Steff Metal, who among many other activities is the creator of the wonderful STEFF METAL blog. She has a special list for us from down under.)
After reading all the end-of-year lists posted on NCS, and writing my own (Top Ten Metal Albums of 2011), I realised that – despite a few notable exceptions – these lists were once again dominated by the metal powerhouses of the US and Europe. Sure, we don’t exactly have a down-under equivalent to Fleshgod Apocalypse or Origin, but NZ and Australian bands are putting out more and more decent metal albums every year.
I’ve been trying to focus more on reviewing and promoting local metal acts, and what better way to do this than to pick some of the best Kiwi and Aussie releases of 2011?
1. Ulcerate – The Destroyers of All (Willowtip Records, New Zealand)
There’s nothing I can say about The Destroyers of All that hasn’t been said by a zillion other writers who’ve placed this in their top albums for 2011 – simply a stunning piece of experimental death metal. Flawless drumming, dissonant riffs, jarring, doom-laden vocals – the personification of extreme metal perfection. I’ve been going to Ulcerate shows for the better part of 8 years now, and I reckon you’d be thick to miss them on their upcoming tour.
(Man, time does fly. Last June we featured a guest post from New Zealand metal blogger extraordinaire Steff Metal introducing us to six NZ metal bands. Steff saw my appeal for guest posts a couple of weeks ago and, awesome woman that she is, she responded with today’s feature on still more metal from her beautiful homeland.)
After writing about NZ Metal Bands for NCS, I made a promise to Islander and a few other people that I would share a list of some of my favourite underground New Zealand metal bands. Possibly this was a year ago – times passes, I have steamtrains to drive, mad Scottish pirates to interview, and sheep to perform unspeakable acts upon.
While our more popular metal bands – 8 Foot Sativa, Just One Fix, Tainted, Sinate – etc, bear a striking resemblance to many popular US bands, our metal underground takes inspiration from all over the world. With a population of just 4 million, a young, rugged countryside of jagged cliffs and blackened shores, and an indigenous culture with a history of brutality and cannibalism, it’s no surprise our metal tends toward the brutal side.
(Today, the half-wits who usually write for this site are stepping aside to make way for another post from our occasional guest contributor, the awesome Steff Metal. You can see Steff’s other NCS contributions via the Category link on the right called Steff’s Posts, and you can (and should) visit her own site at SteffMetal.com.)
New Zealand. Land of hobbits, sheep, bare-breasted hippies, shoddy public transport and an abundance of lame indie bands. Barring ten months I spent exploring the world, I’ve lived in New Zealand my entire life, and – despite the sheep and the hippies – it’s a wicked place to live. Cheap as chips, an abundance of wilderness and a generally laid-back attitude.
Probably due to the laid-back attitude (and the hippies) New Zealand is not known for our metal. Our remoteness from the two major world metal scenes – Europe and the US – means our metal tends to mimic trends 6-12 months old.
Nevertheless, metal bands we have, and a decent variety, too. If I had to define a NZ sound, it would be “Pantera with a few more sheep jokes.” I’m not saying that’s exactly a bad thing.
Here are a few New Zealand metal bands for you to check out. (brave souls should continue reading after the jump . . .)
[Today, we're pleased to feature a post from our occasional guest contributor from the Antipodes, Steff Metal (whose usual site you can find here). We wish we had at least thought up the wicked title to this post, but that was hers, too. And the rest of post is also pretty damned wicked. Prepare yourself to be entertained, and to discover some new music in the process.]
I went to a Cripple Mr. Onion gig. During setup I was nursing my bourbon and cola at the bar when I overheard a couple of dudes discussing Arch Enemy.
“She’s alright to look at,” one said, “but she can’t growl for shit.”
“Yeah,” his friend agreed. “Chicks can’t do extreme metal. Every extreme metal band with a chick vocalist is crap.” Therein followed a heated discussion of what chicks should be doing instead of playing extreme metal, which I’ve omitted due to the rules of common decency.
Resisting the urge to punch them both in the face, I drained my glass and wondered if I could prove his claim false. Surely there must be extreme metal bands with decent female vocals?
It’s a long-held belief among metalheads that girls can’t do extreme metal. Extreme Metal is probably the most aggressive, angry, violent form of music there is, and every study ascertains its audience as overwhelmingly male. There’s a kind of “lost boys club” surrounding extreme metal, a sort of grymm forest treehouse with a badly handwritten sign on the door: NO GIRLS ALLOWED.
I think the lack of decent female extreme metal musicians has more to do with simple maths. Hardly any girls listen to extreme metal, and of those that do, hardly any play instruments. There are hundreds of thousands of men playing in metal bands and about twenty-two girls (seriously, I counted), and if 80% of all metal is crap, then that’s only … 4.2 decent female extreme metal musicians.
No I just have to find them. (and find them she did — read on after the jump . . .)
One of our favorite metal bloggers, whose base of operations happens to be in New Zealand, is Steff Metal. Every week we find unusual stuff on her site that we don’t come across anywhere else. This week she decided to create a mix-tape of her favorite pirate metal (and non-metal pirate) songs, most with video accompaniment and each with her own witty introduction.
A lot of extreme metal is angry, grim, violent, and cathartic — which is exactly why we eat it up here at NCS. Doesn’t mean it can’t be fun at the same time. In fact, we think most of the angry, grim, violent, and cathartic metal is also shitloads of fun.
But when it comes to fun, pirate metal may take the cake — as Steff Metal’s audio-video montage proves quite nicely. She’s obviously more a student of pirate metal than we are, and her collection includes some bands we’ve never heard of — but they can sure swash their buckles and haul their keels. (read on after the jump, mateys . . .)
On December 15, the New York Times ran a story about an academic symposium held in Brooklyn called “Hideous Gnosis,” which explored intellectual aspects of black metal. We posted some generally disrespectful commentary about the event, and got some thought-provoking reactions. We posted a follow-up piece earlier this week about one of the papers delivered at “Hideous Gnosis,” which analyzed whether it’s even possible for someone who buys into a black-metal worldview to talk about black metal. Today we’re continuing the discussion – but this time with a surprise contributor.
NCS welcomes, as our first guest writer, our favorite metal blogger from New Zealand — Steff from STEFF METAL. We’ve already written about her blog, which you owe it to yourself to check out, and she kindly accepted our invitation to add her wit and wisdom to NCS (because we could definitely use more of both). And unlike your NCS Authors, Steff is a black metal maven.
To set the stage, we got this comment on our original rant about “Hideous Gnosis” from a writer named Shinjuku Thief:
“I would disagree with your assertion that metal, particularly black metal, is about expressing emotion. What characterises a lot of BM, for me, is the absence of emotion . . . . I think although you scoff at anything remotely ‘intellectual’ you’re espousing a theory of your own . . . . That is the contradiction of metal, it claims to be primal, atavistic, earthy, of the body, but in reality it is so controlled, has so many codes, rules and boundaries that the fans in a supposedly unthinking manner enforce at every level. . . . [I]ts not spontaneous or relying on our innermost urges, its a well honed aesthetic and conscious action that is very much thought about.”
So, with that intro, here are Steff’s thoughts (after the jump):