History of Death Metal: How’d I Do?

March 26, 2015 — 3 Comments

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?

I plan to publish these guides and histories to the other subgenres of metal as well, so if there’s a better way I can present it, I hope to hear it! Here are some observations I’ve gathered so far from the (constructive) readers’ comments here and elsewhere…

1. This isn’t so much a “history of” as much as a “guide to the best-known bands.”

I have to mostly agree with this. Although it follows a rough timeline, looking back this series reads more like a guidebook to the most successful and innovative bands in death metal. I’m thinking of changing the category and titles on future series to reflect this. Or at least make a more conscious effort to make it more strictly chronological than it is (i.e., part 1 could be the influences upon the subgenre, part 2 could be the first 10 years, etc).

2. You spent too much time on Cannibal Corpse in Part 1.

It’s fine if you don’t like Cannibal. I didn’t always like them either, until I found a bunch of their albums used for about three bucks a pop and came to appreciate them from listening to those.

Even if I couldn’t stand them though, the fact is this band is a giant of the genre and has over two decades of death metal service under its belt. Cannibal Corpse has been highly influential, they tour nonstop (seriously, they’re on the road every year, somewhere), and if a novice listener was forced to try to name a death metal band, Cannibal Corpse would probably be the first one to come to mind. So it’s appropriate that I give Alex Webster and company their due. My hat’s off to them, and few bands have worked harder or done more for extreme metal.

3. No [fill in awesome underground death metal band here]? Shame on you! F%^%^@%&@$^&@$$%&@%?!?!?!?!?!?

These got less frequent as the series went on–for example, some were upset that I didn’t talk about Carcass and Napalm Death early on (until I would do so later in the series), but they couldn’t have known that was my plan at the start.

These callouts served a good purpose though. Thanks to comments like these, I got to hear about killer death metal acts that I had never even heard of, like Loudblast (from France), Sadism (Chile) and Slaughterlord (Australia). As thoroughly as I researched and thought about this series, some bands would slip through the cracks anyway. I wish I could include bits on all the hundreds of truly badass death metal bands and albums that have graced this earth! That being said, I am open to rewriting and expanding this series in the future and hope to find a way to discuss these groups in other posts.

Readers also kept me honest about a few mistakes here and there–for example, Atheist’s late bassist’s name is Roger Paterson (not Scott), and Wintersun was never a side of project of Ensiferum–it was a band started by someone who was fired from Ensiferum. Others were a function of time–at the time I wrote the first draft of this, Carcass had just played a few shows with guitarist Michael Amott, although he isn’t currently involved in the band anymore. So I want to thank the readers of Ultimate Guitar (where the series was picked up) for keeping me honest on those.

But now I want to open the floor to you, dear reader. Any suggestions for improvement? If you’re new to death metal, did this history/guide function well as a primer, a “Death Metal for Dummies?” If you’re a veteran listener, did I give the subgenre the respect it deserves and present it in all its glory?

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3 responses to History of Death Metal: How’d I Do?

  1. HOM

    Greatly enjoy your historical pieces, never know there were so many different types of metal! Where do you see the genre going next? I would love to know what the bands (new and old alike) have to say about that.

    Mungo P

  2. Haters gonna hate, live and let die.
    I enjoyed this retrospective thoroughly, as a recapitulation of great times which I had the immense privilege of living in my adolescence – thank you so much for this commendable effort of yours, Matt.
    Carry on with what you feel passionate about, and take pleasure in preparing for it. Life is too short to dwell on criticism, just take it as a necessary side of great things to be criticised, even if unfairly. It’s up to the reader to make the most out of your text – which rightly starts with the origins, those who remained at traditional ways of doing things, the innovators, and the come-back artists. Honestly, this chronological story helped me re-discover some bands which I had forgotten about. And also helped me put their records in perspective…
    Other readers may find bands missed out, but it’s up to them to write their own views on that marvelous genre that we all share in common.
    All my gratitude to you.

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