My Craziest Metal Record

Death’s “Human” –

Cory asked me to send him the most extreme metal album I liked, knowing that the toughest thing he’s into is Mastodon.  This is what I came up with.

It took a long time because as I listened I realized that almost everything I like, relative to what he likes, pushes one musical element to the edge but lets other things be a little more conventional. For example, Sleep has clean vocals, but the riffs are slower and more repetitive than anything Cory’s probably listened to. Skeletonwitch has harsh vocals but the riffs are accessible, like Iron Maiden on speed. Condor is blackened and evil, but are kind of a basement punk band at heart, and it shows, and they know it.

Death stands apart. Human is a classic in the sub-sub-genre of technical death metal, two sub-genres I normally have little to do with. Death metal is fast, abrasive/harsh, evil, and often lower-fidelity; tech is like it sounds, using weird scales that can almost sound like 12-tone music (no tonic note), fast changes, and very precise playing. Tech is the intersection of metal people and math/music theory people’s interests.

But there is something about this record that bangs for me, something about the band’s ‘voice’ that works and is relate-able and awesome. I only checked it out because it was on some top metal albums list I’ve since lost track of, and for whatever reason, I hung with it. It’s not catchy, the vocals are pretty harsh, the riffs and underlying rhythms change completely every twenty seconds, it’s not even really heavy (though it’s aggressive in a different way), and it’s mostly nothing that I like about metal, but I keep listening to it.