(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.
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):
We metalheads call things “metal” even when what we’re talking about isn’t music. Most of the time, it’s meant as a compliment (the ultimate compliment). Sometimes it’s just a description. In either case, I don’t think I could come up with a definition of what “metal” means when it’s used this way. It’s kind of like what Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously said about porn in Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964):
I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description ["hard-core pornography"]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it . . . .
Yesterday, while wasting my fucking time expanding my mind on the Internet, I came across one non-musical thing after another that made me think, “that’s metal” — from a cool New Zealand metal site, to abandoned buildings in Detroit, to rugby, to hakas, to Nelson Mandela, to poetry. Allow me to share (after the jump).