The Metal Evolution series shows the evolution of Heavy Metal. The series is based on a premise that dissects the entire Heavy Metal genre, at least according to the producers, into 26 sub-genres. This lost segment is on YouTube.
This lost segment is called Extreme Metal.
The lost segment, “released to crowdsourcing contributions”, as Wikipedia states, had it’s release on April 15, 2014.
After the original series had already come forth, this lost episode was spawned. Much More and VH1 Classic aired the original series, Metal Evolution.
Scott McFadyen and Sam Dunn, Banger Films
It is such a shame that such a vital sub-genre as Extreme Metal has gotten the bastard child treatment, by being cast apart from the rest of the other Heavy Metal sub-genres like “Glam Metal”, “Power Metal”, and the NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal), just to name a few. Especially when it’s taken into account that we live in such extreme, some say apocalyptic, times that it’s inclusion in the original package seems almost mandatory.
Too explicit? Too extreme? A few images could be deemed just that, yet they didn’t have to be included.
Dunn and McFadyen made the fantastic “Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey”, “Iron Maiden: Flight 666” tour documentary, as well as the RUSH 2010, smash hit, “Beyond The Lighted Stage (The Band You Know, The Story You Don’t)” career-spanning band biography. The pair have called viewers’ attention to another one of their ambitious projects: Metal Evolution, a 2011 documentary, that is, truth be told, a labor of love on the part of the producers. 11 episodes are available in DVD format. Total professionals, the dynamic duo of all things Heavy Metal went around the globe and put their cameras and microphones to work.
Famed locales and all the notorious people that were deemed relevant enough to the subject matter of each episode, in this burgeoning field of Heavy Metal, were rounded up. Metal festivals that have become vacation spots for fans, held at land and sea, were visited — as they are what fans and bands flock to most.
There is a questionable entry of Grunge, as Heavy Metal, as part of the series. Isn’t Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Soundgarden, Green Day and Faith No More, as Grunge exponents really modern-age Hard Rockers?
Are all Grunge bands as heavy as is needed to be deemed Heavy Metal? An example of the infighting about who is Heavy Metal or Metal — which by dropping the word “Heavy” does seem to infer something else; it isn’t simply a short way to say Heavy Metal, when looked at under the proverbial microscope. The debate rages on as bands like Blue Cheer, Iron Claw, Iron Butterly, Steppenwolf, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple get tagged with the
clumsy term, adhered to by pundits, as Proto(type) Metal. The Metal Archives website, Encyclopaedia Metallum, doesn’t include the Aussie steamrollers, AC/DC. That is just ludicrous; but I digress.
So it all started with the U.K. trio, Venom. Mercyful Fate, though, gets a tip of the hat by being part of a clever, massive computer wall that is cut to as a leaderboard*, often. One can freeze the frames where it is displayed, as they are subdivided into Extreme Metal sub-genres, with logos from bands on each list, and is the most clever part of the whole darned thing. The “goth chicks” will love seeing the Cradle of Filth (who started making albums in
1994) frontman, Dani Filth later in the film with his blind man’s contact lenses intact, outdoors and out of costume, no less. His inclusion as the pin-up boy for Black Metal is actually quite hilarious.
I don’t know if I agree with having Dani Filth as the male sex symbol of Extreme Metal. That honor should really have gone to the late, great Carnivore and Type-O-Negative frontman, Peter “Lord Petrus” Steele. He hailed from New York City. At least Steele wasn’t a scrawny runt. He even laid claim to the title of not just Extreme Metal, but Heavy Metal pin-up man, by genuinely appearing with his penis erect in Playgirl Magazine; as it turns out — a freakishly huge penis, by all accounts. It was sent, unabashedly to every female Rock writer. Carnivore’s very deep growl of bass player, Steele made for a ferocious debut LP as the self-titled disc came out in 1986. Sam Dunn doesn’t acknowledge the hardcore punk influence that is obviously present in Venom, for starters. That’s a sticking point for this writer.
Hardcore Punk, Crust Punk, Metalcore, etc., was intrinsic to the development of an Extreme Metal genre. Anthrax’s Charlie Benante admired the work of Metal/Punk hybrid Cold Sweat, a band also hailing from the Bronx, NYC. One day he sat joyfully with Richard Casale and their girl followers, admiring the latest Cold Sweat session being aired by Mr. Benante. The fact that the cassette tape disappeared just around this point in time is more than a little suspect, not to mention the material bears some resemblance to what direction Anthrax chose to go in musically, at the time. Moreover, the metropolitan mecca of New York City’s legendary venues played host to Suicidal Tendencies, Cro Mags, Agnostic Front, Biohazard, Carnivore, among many others. Also Kory Clarke and Warrior Soul would hit paydirt, signing with a major label and releasing “Last Decade — Dead Century” in 1991. (South America’s) Atack Epileptico, Hellbastard, Saw/Sore Throat, NDE,
Filthy Christians are just a shortlist of the crazy kind of mofos putting out albums that bridged the gap seamlessly, with Extreme Heavy Metal with tons of Hardcore Punk pizazz. Slayer’s seventh full-length, studio album, from 1996, “Undisputed Attitude” was crammed with covers by The Stooges, Verbal Abuse, Minor Threat, Dr. Know, etc. Slayer members even participated in a band with Rocky George, from Suicidal Tendencies, and contributed two tracks by the crossover band they crowned Pap Smear. Though these projects were done for fun, it shows — especially with Jeff Hanneman’s Punk Rock tastes — just how unheralded Hardcore, Hardcore Punk, Punk, Crossover, and Punk and Grind were in the genesis of Extreme Metal.
*The Tree Of Heavy Metal, as it’s called, gets sold separately.
Trey Azagthoth’s early inclusion, has Sam Dunn telling us that he is a fan of “the darker and more brutal side” of Metal. David Vincent, the vocalist of Morbid Angel is seen strolling around conversing with narrator/host Sam Dunn. Morbid Angel had a complete album done in 1986 that the world wasn’t ready for, that eventually came out post-1989’s “Altars Of Madness”, as their debut studio album. It was “Abominations Of Desolation”. Yet, albums are not the focus of the presentation on this lost segment. Album cover art by the artists that are featured, gets shown, yet spotlighting album releases is not the manner
in which Dunn and McFadyen have made the crux of this presentation.
Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Saxon, Manowar, Judas Priest, may not be Extreme Metal — though Black Sabbath are not extreme enough? I just can’t agree with that. Actually, once I start to take this lost episode of Extreme Metal apart I don’t actually think that Ozzy Osbourne sang about “love, women, and bikinis”, as Dunn opines.
Next up are Hellhammer. Those who have the odds and sods package “Demon Entrails”, have scooped up just about all one could have on Hellhammer. A flash in the pan, the “Apocalyptic Raids” Mini-LP hardly seems enough to justify their entry. Yet it is . On this one, the filmmakers have got it right. Certainly, Tom Warrior got better and better. In just a few years, Hellhammer would metamorphose and Celtic Frost would emerge from the cocoon. Yet the best yet and current band of the guitarist, who is so heavy that his guitar sounds like a distorted brass section, Tom Gabriel Fischer Warrior, is Triptykon; btw, nice shirt Tom.
Then, Napalm Death are ballyhooed as the heaviest, fastest, most gnarliest thing on Earth. N.D. founded Grindcore, as far as this movie is concerned. Then it’s on to Morrisound Recording studio, in Florida. Terry Butler once a charter member, of the now defunct band Death, is there to talk about “Evil Chuck”. Hellwitch were obviously, to me, originators of the craft, also, yet Hellwitch’s guitarist and leader Pat Ranieri is nowhere to be seen. I relent that I am watching a popularity show, a bit wistfully. Producer/Engineer Scott Burns rallies behind the Death Metal cause, claiming in a nutshell, that it sounds good when it’s recorded right.
The gross Carcass, “Reek Of Putrefaction” album cover shows up next on the screen. Jeff Walker and Bill Steer, who have reformed Carcass, appear quite happy to discuss albums like “Heartwork” that introduced the world in big numbers, to an oxymoronic Melodic Death Metal style. Carcass are present and accounted for — available for interview — as they have staged a successful comeback. Walker and Steer are present to tell Dunn that they felt that their early style was being copied by many other bands. Therefore, they left behind “Heartwork”, even; something that isn’t onscreen — the dreaded “Swan Song” album that literally did reek of putrefaction, taking Carcass somewhere way out in Metal’s left field and signaling the band’s exit from the scene for many years.
If we are talking Extreme Metal, then where is Tiamat, Therion, Within Temptation, or Leaves’ Eyes? Where the heck is the German thrashing triumvirate of Sodom, Kreator, and Destruction? The non-inclusion of these aforementioned bands, prove again the popularity contest that makes this film one that the diehards can pass up, without missing much. Then again, it is difficult, to know what to leave in and what to leave out when one takes on a project with such a broad canvas to cover as Extreme Metal, then tries to throw it all into an episode that clearly needed to be at least a good 45 minutes longer to due justice to the subject matter. I guess it’s the usual spiel about production costs and time.
Roadrunner, Metal Blade, and Earache Records are reverently mentioned. No SPV or Nuclear Blast?
The following wasn’t in the movie, but I put it here for perspective as to the immensely changing Heavy Metal climate that ocurred as the 1990’s decade began. Cannibal Corpse had their debut album sent out to ‘zines for review, at the same time as Iced Earth came out with their debut LP. Both signed to Metal Blade, it was easy to hear and see just from one promotional package that Iced Earth was ill-prepared vs. Cannibal Corpse and their “Eaten Back To Life” LP. Cannibal Corpse had a gruesome, cartoonish Death Metal barrage.
Iced Earth were absolutely phenomenal, and would make a better second (studio) album, yet their brand of powerful heavy metal had arrived with it’s sell-by date already expired. Tim “Ripper” Owens would, granted, lift Iced Earth up to stand with the likes of Helloween, Fight, Blind Guardian, etc. Yet their rise in the midst of all the Extreme Metal
being birthed made for a harrowing time.
As Cannibal Corpse explain, it was the “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” movie that garnered the garish band extra special attention, that continues to this day. This part is in this lost episode of Metal Evolution: Extreme Metal.
Moving right along, Death Metal’s gore purveyors on the Western continent of America, Cannibal Corpse get the screen time that they rightfully deserve. Cannibal Corpse cornered the market on gore, and keep on replicating their past success with each steady studio album release.
Here I go again: No mention of Gwar, Seikima ii, or Ripper for that matter. The aforementioned bands are vaunted for wearing extreme costumes. By the way, where are the blockheads in Slipknot? I guess they are put in that neat box called “Nu Metal”.
I don’t listen to Slipknot’s music, but it all seems a bit cut-and-dried to distill Extreme Metal down to Death Metal or Black Metal, as Dunn and McFadyen have done.
The True Mayhem, as they can be called, from Norway, rose to the top and edged out the much better Dark Throne in the popularity stakes by being at the forefront of headlines that raged on, concerning the church burnings in Europe, as well as suicide and murder as occurrences in their band news. Although, Mayhem (their official name, as their albums read) betrayed each other with bloodlust in their veins, it didn’t exactly make their music better.
DARK THRONE’s Fenriz,
makes his points extremely well, and makes me glad I did see this expose as he himself could’ve scripted this movie, as a reverent expert on Heavy Metal. Fenriz comes out on the Black Metal side of things as, head in hands, he drops a bomb by dramatizing that the band Death sucks. It isn’t his only quick, sharp-witted point. Dark Throne should have been lauded for their 2013 masterpiece, “The Underground Resistance”, on-screen, as it proved that a Black Metal band need only change the vocalist to become a Heavy Metal band. F*ck the Power Metal bullshit. Below, a Metal Blade recording artist, who have just released their debut album, playing a so-called — by the Metal Archives online Heavy Metal data collecting site — rad style of Epic Doom Metal, could have made an appearance if only to prove that bands like Manilla Road, Immortal, Graveland, and The Hounds Of Hasselvander are just as heavy as any Death or Black Metal band. Yet, just because they don’t growl or croak or do the Cookie Monster routine, are deemed something else. Epic/Fantasy/Pagan Heavy Metal is, to the keenly engaged in all things Heavy Metal, at the forefront today of something special. I digress, as Dunn and McFadyen should be given props for the fact that they have managed to squeeze in about 35 years of Death and Black Metal history into about an hour.
Sam Dunn says he lost interest in Death Metal by the mid-1990s, as it had become “stale and overdone”. Dunn visits Mayhem’s Necrobutcher who survived Norway’s rowdy past. Ihsahn’s Emperor and (I think I caught) Enslaved, both from Norway, lead on to Dimmu Borgir’s full-on spectacle with keyboards making their grand appearance in Black Metal. (That’s funny as Mercyful Fate/King Diamond were doing this starting in 1981, and their virtuoso skills and popularity I guess didn’t interest Dunn and McFadyen. Again, it’s the popularity contest aspect, which really played no role at all in what was referred to in pre-Internet days as the Metal Underground. Bands like Poison/R.U. Dead, Sepultura, Onslaught, Marduk, Master, and Massacre, may be on that big computer board with all the logos — I think, as I didn’t stop the frames; it’s not that good of an episode.
Gojira, from France is introduced into the film by Monte Conner, the head honcho of Roadrunner Records. Gojira dress down, but still are clad in black, as they land the role as the last band featured.
No Cannibis Corpse, Job For A Cowboy, or Poppy Seed Grinder? Oh, that’s right Dunn was done with Death Metal a long time ago, at least according to what he says here.
Neurosis and Cattle Decapitation do get name-dropped. I should mention that Canada’s Voivod getting a few frames with an early career album cover, made me smile.
– Rich Castle