Nov 022014


Welcome to another edition of THAT’S METAL!, in which I collect images, videos, and occasional news items that I think are metal, even though they’re not metal music. Today I have eight items for you.


November 11 is Armistice Day in the UK, commemorating the end of hostilities on the Western Front during World War I — a war that sacrificed an entire generation of young men throughout Europe, with more than 9 million soldiers killed (as well as 7 million civilians). This year, Armistice Day is being remembered in London in a way that’s both visually spectacular and entirely appropriate to the slaughter that the armistice officially ended.

Beginning in July and steadily continuing into this month, red ceramic poppies have been placed on and around the Tower of London, with each poppy representing a British or Commonwealth soldier killed in World War I. When the last poppy is installed on November 11, there will be 888,246 of them. Continue reading »

Sep 142014


Here we have the landmark 90th edition of THAT’S METAL!  I wish I could say that two months have passed since the 89th edition because I was assiduously preparing for this special occasion, but instead I’ve just been dragging ass. I wish I could say I will be less drag-ass in posting future installments of this series, but I doubt that would fool anyone. Anyway, after two months I’ve collected an enormous number of candidates for this installment and from that list I’ve sifted the following 10 items (some with subparts).

For any newcomers out there, this series is devoted to images, videos, and occasional news items that I think are metal even though they don’t consist of metal music.


I’m going to start with some volcanic activity. Item One is a video with the somewhat misleading title of “Diving Into An Active Volcano”. Despite the fact that no one literally dives into magma in this thing, George Kourounis does get awfully damned close. I’m guessing that even with the protective suit he was wearing, it got pretty toasty. And even the beautifully filmed footage of the lead-up to his walk along the brink of hell had my stomach doing flip-flops.

The location for the video is the Marum volcano on Ambrym Island in the South Pacific republic of Vanuatu. The camera work was done by Kourounis and Sam Cossman, and the dramatic score for the film is a piece called “I Still Have A Soul” by Gabriel Shadid and Tobias Marberger. Kourounis and Cossman were guided to the magma lake by Geoff Mackley, who originally pioneered this stunt and is responsible for other earlier videos filmed at the same location (see this).

I don’t think I have to explain why this is metal. I’m including a second video that shows different scenes from the same excursion. Continue reading »

Jul 062014

I hang my head in shame: Almost two whole months have passed since my last THAT’S METAL! post. Even by my own lazy standards, that’s pretty terrible. I have excuses, but they’re not very good ones. I’ll just keep them to myself and get on with it.

Because so much time has passed and I’ve collected so many items, this will be a super-sized edition. And if you’re stumbling into this series for the first time, it’s devoted to images, videos, and news items that I think are metal even though they’re not metal music.


As usual, we begin with a photo. Actually, the first six items in this collection involve photos. The first one is above. It was taken by Russian photographer Denis Budko inside a cave near the Mutnovsky volcano in Kamchatka, Russia. The unusual visual patterns were created as snow inside the rock tunnel melted. Here are a couple more (and still more images can be viewed at Neatorama, which is where I found them). Fire + ice = metal.


Continue reading »

May 112014

Welcome to another (long-delayed) edition of THAT’S METAL!, in which I present images, videos, and occasional news items about events that I think are metal, even though they having nothing to do with metal music. For this installment I’ve collected a whopping 10 items.


As usual, I begin with an image, the one you see at the top of this post. It’s a drawing entitled “Single Note” made with pen and ink by an American artist named Ben Sack. The diameter of the original is 4 feet and the circumference is 12.5 feet.

Clicking on the image will allow you to see a larger version, but even that won’t reveal the astonishing degree of detail that Sack meticulously created, incorporating a variety of architectural styles both ancient and modern (and some that have never existed except in the imagination). Perhaps equally humbling is the fact that Sack is only three years out of college. Here are a couple of enlarged details from “Single Note”: Continue reading »

Mar 302014

Greetings and salutations, and welcome to another edition of THAT’S METAL!, in which I assemble for your (potential) enjoyment images, videos, and occasionally news items that I think are metal, even though they’re not metal music. For this installment I have eight items.


Clark Little is 44 years old. He lives on the North Shore of Hawaii. He is a surf photographer. Armed with a Nikon D300 camera and a fish eye lens encased in a waterproof box, he goes where the surf is breaking and takes amazing photos, usually from inside the tube of the waves. His camera takes pictures at the rate of 9 to 10 frames per second, but he still doesn’t have long to make his shots before the waves bury him. The results are spectacular.

In the one above, Little captured a large wave while lying on dry sand as it broke to create a “shorebreak barrel”. Seconds after the shot, he was washed up onto the beach — his whole body covered in sand. In this next photo of a backlit wave on the West Shore of Oahu, the wind was blowing strongly offshore, creating a mist flying off the top of the wave. Continue reading »

Feb 232014

It’s been about six weeks since the last time I assembled one of these THAT’S METAL! posts, so the list of potential items I keep as I see things around the interhole has grown to gargantuan proportions. Because I’ve waited so long to prepare a new installment, this will be a jumbo edition, with 10 items. If you’re new to this series, I collect images, videos, and occasional news items that I think are metal, even though they’re not musical.


The first item begins with the image at the top of this post. It’s a photograph of flesh yielding to the pressure of grasping hands. But it’s not real flesh and those aren’t human hands. It’s a detail of a sculpture carved in marble.

The artist was only 23 years old when he completed the sculpture. His name was Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and he created the sculpture between 1621 and 1622 in Rome, where it is still located today. Its name is “The Rape of Proserpina” and it depicts the abduction of Proserpina by Pluto, the god of the underworld.  The statue also includes Pluto’s three-headed dog Cerberus. Phenomenal. You can see more photos below. Continue reading »

Feb 032014

photo by Erika Schultz (Seattle Times)

Those of you who aren’t NFL fans or didn’t care about the Super Bowl or, worse yet, were pulling for the Denver Broncos, you may want to skip this post. But that 43-8 win was a long time coming for Seahawks fans, and for the city of Seattle, and I have to do a little celebrating.

There sure as hell was a little celebrating going on in the streets of Seattle last night. It was a good place to be as people flooded outside in a display of mass delirium, the likes of which I’ve never seen here before.

Here are 8 9 reasons why the Seahawks 43-8 win in the Superb Owl was metal, even though it wasn’t music:

*  It was the Seahawks’ first Super Bowl championship in the team’s 38-year history and the city’s first championship in one of the four major professional sports leagues since the Seattle SuperSonics won the NBA title in 1979.  (It was the eighth professional sports championship overall: The Seattle Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup in 1917; the Sonics won the NBA title in 1979; the Seattle Storm won WNBA championships in 2004 and 2010; and the Seattle Sounders FC won the U.S. Open Cup in 2009-2011).

*  The Seahawks were an underdog going into the game but won by the biggest margin of victory by any underdog in the game’s 48-year history. The 35-point margin of victory matched the third-biggest in Super Bowl history — but all those other winners were favored to win. Continue reading »

Jan 122014

I’m embarrassed to say that almost two months have passed since the last THAT’S METAL! post. Between our seemingly endless (and still not ended) year-end LISTMANIA series, holiday diversions, and other excuses that I know must exist but can’t be remembered, I’ve brutally neglected this long-running series. The continuing list of items I keep for potential use has grown ridiculously long, and I hope I can get my ass in gear to plow through them on a more regular basis now that the new year has begun.

For newcomers, what I assemble in these posts are images, videos, and occasionally news items that I think are metal even though they’re not music. Today’s larger-than-usual collection is mainly winter-themed, with a few exceptions, beginning with this one:


The first item is at the top of this post. It’s a gold forehead ornament made during the fourth or fifth century A.D. in the Mochica civilization of what is now Peru. A feline head is in the center, and spiraling out from it are octopus tentacles ending in catfish heads. Its dimensions are 11 1/4 x 16 5/16 x 1 3/4 inches. It normally resides in the Museo de la Nación in Lima, but was recently on display as part of a unique exhibit of Peruvian art and archaeological artifacts named “Kingdoms of the Sun and Moon” at the Seattle Art Museum, which is where I saw it about a week ago. The museum’s web page describes the object’s history as follows: Continue reading »

Nov 172013

Greetings and salutations to one and all. It’s time for another edition of THAT’S METAL!, in which I collect photos, videos, and occasionally news items that I think are metal even though they don’t involve music (or at least not metal music). Actually, it’s way past time for another edition since the last complete one was three weeks ago. Having dragged my feet for so long, I’ve collected a large number of items for this installment. Here we go…


We begin with John Kenn Mortensen, a Danish writer and director of television shows for kids and himself a father of twins. In his spare time he makes drawings on post-it notes — those small sticky pieces of paper that people use to remind themselves of things that need remembering. Mortensen is not only a talented illustrator, he also has a dark, demented sense of humor and an occasionally Lovecraftian bent in his imaginings. His style is reminiscent of both Edward Gorey and Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are). The fact that he does what he does on post-it notes just makes everything more metal.

One example of his work is at the top of this post. Pay close attention to the jar on the right side of the lowest shelf (you can click the image to make it bigger). And here are other examples of Mortensen’s creations: Continue reading »

Nov 052013

Nothing is more fearful, or more fearsome, than death. Nothing of such importance is more unknowable or more frightening. No wonder the subject is of such central importance in music of all kinds, but especially in the realm of extreme music — which is an artform that can plumb, and exorcise, the intensity of loss, despair, horror, rage, and fear, like few others. Death becomes metal.

To find any kind of grace in the extinction of life’s spark requires the suspension of disbelief, or the eye of an artist. Bodies move after life, in the constriction of the sinews or in the transportation of the hollow remains to some kind of resting place. There is no beauty in such motion, not really. Certainly not when the face is beloved or even only familiar. It can be perceived as beautiful, but still terrible, only when the ultimate silence is a kind of reprieve, or when the shape of death is distant, when it is the flesh of a stranger that becomes mere sculpted alabaster matter.

Filmmaker Pedro Pires has found the shape of this awful beauty in his short film Danse Macabre, which I found last night through a link from an acquaintance. It’s not easy to watch if you have lost someone close to you, especially in the case of a suicide. In fact, it’s wrenching. It’s also NSFW, because the imagery of dead flesh is naked, as it always is eventually. But it’s powerful and powerfully realized, and it’s metal even though it’s not music (though the accompanying music deepens its effect). Continue reading »