Time For the Extreme
LET’S face it heavy metal is regarded as an extreme sub-genre of what is euphemistically called popular music. It exists in an underground cavern of wailing guitars and pounding drums.
Yet, even the term heavy metal fails to encompass the extreme music that spills forth with hellish wails and bile fuelled anger and angst against a dystopian world that prefers the vanilla vileness of an entertainment culture that picks shoe gazers and wannabe stars on reality shows.
We’re not talking about black metal or even the technical death metal bands here, but we are talking about the extremities of metal. And, it is also where crossover is not a dirty word.
Before even considering the emergence of extreme forms of music, let’s get one word out there – hardcore.
The bastard-child of emergent punk in the US and the primal metal/rock ‘n’ roll power of the likes of Motorhead hardcore has been developed from a range of influences almost as diverse as the sub-genres contained within it. (Powerviolence, Deathcore, Grindcore are among those listed in the exhaustive Wikipedia article).
But here in l’il ole Norn Ireland, while there are DJs claiming that their synth tracks (“come watch me play my laptop…”) are ‘hardcore’, true hardcore is beating like a cancerous cell intent on destabilizing this dystopian country.
Built on a sense of empowerment and righteous anger, bands like By Any Means have been carving out a path of hardcore ethics. Guitarist Paul ‘BAM’ Anthony in a recent interview outlined these values: “honour, loyalty, pride in onself, respect for others and yourself, integrity and personal responsibility”.
By Any Means are amongst the vanguard of hardcore, along with Spitting Teeth and Defyed.
Indeed it is Defyed who taken on board the lessons of early hardcore from local acts such as By Any Means and international hardcore acts such as Madball who recently played the Limelight.
All the bands have a furious energy and a defiant shout out in defence of the underdog and the disenfranchised.
However, they all have roots that can be traced back to the late 70s, when bands like DRI and The Dicks were hardening up the US punk sound of Black Flag. And, here is where the word comes in. Crossover.
A lot of the very best hardcore bands influenced the thrash metal of the mid-80s, and by the same token hardcore bands such as Suicidal Tendencies adopted elements of thrash.
Now, in 2014 the likes of current era Sepultura and Soulfly incorporate the elements of thrash and hardcore into a heady mixture as do local bands such as Altus.
What is certain is that there is a rapidly unifying alchemy in the world of extreme music, whereby the lessons of the past, the sounds of punk, metal and harcore, have drawn upon each other in order not to stay static.
However, there is one unforgivable crime to emerge from the scene worldwide. That’s metalcore…