Celebrating more than ten years as a band, Enslaved unleashed this album upon the Scandinavian black metal scene in 2004. “Isa” marked the start of a “new sound era” of sorts for Enslaved; it introduced heavier shades of progressive music and melody while retaining the Viking and Norse themes of their early years.

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Brooklyn band Type O Negative was emblematic of the gothic/doom metal subgenre and culture, and the face of that band was Peter Steele (real last name Ratajczyk). Standing a menacing 6’8”, Steele was an intense character who, as many musicians do, channeled his personal problems into his music as a means of overcoming–an overcoming that he shared with his fans. Throughout his life, Steele showed up onstage with a smile, a sense of self-deprecating humor, and his glass of red wine despite suffering from depression, suicidal tendencies, and even at one point being involuntarily committed by his own family.

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“The only time I’ve ever seen Ronnie afraid,” remarks drummer Vinnie Appice, “was when he had just left Black Sabbath after all the work he did there, to strike out on his own.”

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Before I move onto other topics on HOM, today I want to solicit some feedback from you readers about my History of Death Metal series, which I just recently wrapped up. Reception seemed generally positive, but I’m interested to hear from all of you: how’d I do?

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Thus far in this series about the history and development of death metal, we’ve focused on three cities where the extreme music scene was quite strong: the Tampa Bay area, New York, and Montreal. Although bastions of death metal music, with the advent of the Internet and increased globalization, it became easier and easier for bands outside these main clusters to connect with each other….and to be discovered by new fans. We no longer have to turn to tape trading or the like to discover fascinating new acts, as metal has become a truly international (if still underground) sensation.

This final part of my history of death metal is about death metal elsewhere, outside the main hubs of extreme music and the bands carrying it to the far corners of this world…

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Previously in this series on death metal, we discussed the early days of the genre and the different scenes and sounds that developed in cities like Tampa, Montreal, and New York. There was already an astounding variety at work, from the brutal and basic acts like Cannibal Corpse and Deicide to the serious technicality and musical theory of Atheist and Death. But as the 90s blazed onward, death metal would begin to splinter into an even greater variety of subgenres. It was obvious that there was more to this music than just an uninhibited focus on speed, aggression, and gore. Mainstream commercial success continued to elude it nonetheless.

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In the early 1990s, the death metal scene in the USA was booming in Tampa Bay, Florida. Extreme metal heavyweights like Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, and Deicide were spreading their wings with a new sound that was even heavier than the heaviest thrash metal. During this time, a band called Death was right in the thick of it; some even credit them with giving the genre its name. So-called “brutal death metal” was born.

But there was more going on within death metal than this newfound brutality or an obsession with who could play faster, or be more evil. Another sound called “technical death metal” was emerging too. Keeping traditional death metal elements like blast beats and harsh vocals, technical death metal has its name because it combines frequent changes of riffs, time signature and mood within the same song (a feature more commonly seen in progressive music). Off-beat rhythms, non-traditional song structures, a high degree of complexity and theory are the order of the day. It’s a kind of music that really rewards repeated close listening and can take a while to internalize, but is very rewarding when you do.

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Death metal is for many people the definition of what “heavy metal” is.

Remember Cannibal Corpse’s appearance in the last section on extreme metal? Although the mighty Corpse is one of death metal’s definitive groups, the death metal genre is incredibly diverse, and not all bands will sound like Cannibal Corpse. In general, death metal can be said to contain extremely fast riffing and drumming (called “blast beats”), as well as rough vocals. There are two styles of rough vocals: “Cookie Monster” and “Sandpaper.” The first is guttural, the latter is higher-pitched.

Broadly, death metal can be divided into 3 main subgenres: brutal death metal, technical death metal, and melodic death metal.

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