Friday, June 28, 2013


I'm here to spread the word on a genre that you may not already know about. In fact, judging by how hard it is to find bands, I'd say this stuff is even less popular than metal. But it's just as awesome. It deserves to be known so I'm posting about it and hopefully at least one of you will find it as good as I do.

This type of music goes by many names: EBM, electro-industrial, dark electro, hellektro or my favourite, aggrotech. It's a dark and heavy subgenre of industrial music. You may know about industrial through some industrial metal bands like Nine Inch Nails or Pain (the best). Industrial itself is already a subgenre of electronic, so we're currently at least three levels deep in musical inception. I mean, just check this crap out. Electronic music is crazy! Just as a side note, clicking 'aggrotech', 'dark electro' or 'electro-industrial' on that Wiki page all link to the same place.

The timeline of the emergence of these genres is pretty confusing since they're often referred to as the same thing. Industrial music began in the early 1970s, around the same time as metal itself. Then EBM spawned off of it a decade later in the 1980s. In the mid-1980s, the awesome electro-industrial was created. Then in the late 1980s and early 1990s, dark electro and aggrotech appeared. To be honest, I still can't tell the difference between electr-industrial, dark electro and aggrotech. What I do know though, is that these guys have been making deliciously heavy music for about as long as metal bands have been doing the same thing.

So why should a metalhead care about some obscure electronic genre? Well for starters, it's metal as fuck. These guys focus on making the heaviest and harshest electronic music possible. Vocals are usually screamed, the lyrics are about typical metal themes like horror, anarchy and being awesome, and the music itself is complex and layered. Some bands even throw in down-tuned guitars when they feel like making a song extra metallic. While genres like industrial metal bridge the electronic-metal gap from the metal side, aggrotech bridges the gap from the electronic side. I would even go as far as to say that this is the most metal music you'll find outside of the metal genre.

One interesting thing is the countries that aggrotech comes from. South America (Mexico included) as a whole is a big exporter of this sweet sweet music. Personally, I enjoy the fact that I'm expanding my global repertoire of music by listening to this stuff. It's a place with a very scarce amount of metal bands. The second biggest aggrotech base I've found is located in Germany. These guys make both awesome metal and aggrotech. I think it's just because the Germans are so naturally aggressive. What a lovely language.

Another interesting thing is the online presence, or lack thereof, of these bands. There's no online repository like metal-archives to find profiles on everyone. The closest thing is vampirefreaks, which you can find the majority on. The only problem is that vampirefreaks doubles as a gothic social media site, which is its main focus. With the lack of functionality on its band pages, it's less effective than Myspace, and that's saying something. The only viable form of information seems to be the band's official website (if they have one) or their Facebook page. You'd better hope they update it semi-regularly. Practically none of the bands have a dedicated Youtube page, and neither do any of the labels. While Youtube is still the best place to find this music, almost every single video is some crappy slideshow that a kid put together in Windows Movie Maker. It's like a time machine to 5 years ago.

Here's a list of some of the better aggrotech bands I've found. Man I love lists...
  • Asphyxia
  • C-Lekktor
  • Combichrist
  • God Module
  • Grendel
  • Nitronoise
  • Phosgore
  • Suicide Commando
  • Xperiment
The highlighted ones are better starting points in my opinion, but you should check out as many of those bands as you can.

So turn up the bass and throw on some aggrotech tunes. This is an awesome genre that deserves more attention than it's getting. It's something that's not too far from metal yet a nice change every once in a while. Check it out!

-Zombie Viking

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Out of the Ordinary #1 Arkona

I like weird bands. I don't know why, but something just draws me to them. Metal as a whole is already a niche genre, which some people find weird, and it seems to attract a bunch of interesting music that just wouldn't fit under any other category.

The first band I'll focus on is probably the most popular, though I'm not quite sure why. Probably because they have a female vocalist and metalheads go crazy for that kind of crap. The band is Arkona, or Аркона if you're Russian, or Arkona if you're Australian. Though the band is from Russia so good on you mate for checking them out all the way from down under. The band is a pagan/folk metal band. Not too weird so far. Their vocalist, as I mentioned previously, is female and does both clean and harsh vocals. Also they're entirely in Russian. With a mix of singing, chanting and screaming. If that doesn't sound completely different from anything you've ever heard, then let me also add that bagpipes and accordions can be heard loud and clear in the majority of their songs. Wikipedia also lists bandmember Vladimir "Volk" Reshetnikov as playing "wind ethnic instruments". Last but not least, their vocalist Masha Scream is also one of the craziest performers I've ever seen. Just watch this.

I can attest to the energy and craziness, I've seen Arkona live. I had the pleasure of seeing them at Paganfest last summer. Let me just say that the band is darn good live and that Masha knocked over the mic stand at least 5 times. Like, completely knocked over to the point where one of the roadies had to come out on stage and pick it back up.

This is either a metal band or some really bad cosplay.
It's not just the fact that Arkona does a bunch of stuff that you haven't seen before that makes them weird, it's that the things they do shouldn't work so well together. Russian chanting with every kind of folk instrument over furious metal and a crazy amount of energy sounds like a recipe for disaster. Just watch one of those Russian dashcam videos to prove my point. But Arkona makes it work, and their music is extremely catchy as a result.

-Zombie Viking

Monday, June 24, 2013

Metal on the Side Mondays: Rotting Christ

Perhaps the first thing most people notice with Rotting Christ is the name. They must be some crazy Christian hating black metallers! And while they are black metal (some of the time), the band isn't quite what you'd expect.

What are you looking at?
Staying on the topic of the name for a bit though, they have indeed gotten a lot of slack. The name Rotting Christ was chosen with the thought "we'll see what happens" as far as I can tell. The band wasn't really looking to directly offend anyone, but at the same time they kind of were. Dave Mustaine of Megadeth fame refused to play with them purely because of the name. These guys have been doing it for longer than anyone though - 25 years. It makes you wonder how Rotting Christ lasted so long with a name like that. They got picked up by Century Media just 3 years after releasing their first album though, which probably played a big part in keeping the band around. I mean, the only band I can think of with a more offensive name is Anal Cunt, and they only lasted 23 years on and off. But they disbanded because their vocalist died, so I guess it's kind of insensitive of me to bring it up... Anal Cunt was also chosen as the band's name purely because it was the most offensive thing Seth Putnam could think of.

Lyrically, Rotting Christ likes to mix things up with all sorts of themes. They range from the typical anti-Christianity to occultism and even Greek mythology. The lyrics are also sometimes in Greek, the band's native tongue and country, just to be a bit different. Truth be told, there aren't too many metal bands from Greece (Firewind is the only one I can think of off the top of my head), so that already makes Rotting Christ a bit more unique.

With a Rotting Christ song, you never quite know what to expect. The band has gone through a few styles, from grindcore to black metal to gothic/dark metal and back to black with some folk influences. Songs sometimes include chanting, delicious clean vocals or wonderful growls on behalf of vocalist/guitarist Sakis Tolis. Just as an aside, brothers Sakis and Themis (drums) have been in the band for the entirely of its 25 year existence. That's a pretty big feat in the metal world! Getting back to the music, the riffs are also probably unlike anything you've heard. Rotting Christ just has their own unique sound and I can't think of any band to compare it to. The only thing I could say to give you some idea is that their riffs sound like they have a bit of Middle Eastern influences. But I could be completely mistaking Middle Eastern with something else. Needless to say, the music is good. Some songs are catchy and have you chanting along while other songs just create a sombre atmosphere. It's worth mentioning that you should listen through an entire album before making a judgment. That being said, every album has its own feel (and usually a different genre) and these guys have released 11 albums so I won't mind if you just stick with a couple albums for now. In fact, their most recent album, Kata ton Daimona Eaytoy, is pretty darn good and worth a listen or two.

Even a typical Rotting Christ song doesn't stay with one style. They'll usually start with one riff or chant or slow buildup. Then, just when you're getting sick of it, the song will completely switch pace and never use that riff again. This can be found in both songs above. Rotting Christ does have a tendency to repeat riffs for a bit too long, but this is easy to forgive when it's only used for a part of the song.

If you can find another band like Rotting Christ, I'll eat my own hat. These guys are just so unique and cover so many different styles that unless you're offended by their name, they're definitely worth checking out.

You can find Rotting Christ at:

-Zombie Viking

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Changing Vocalist

Before you start reading this post, press play on the song embedded above. Let the sound wash over you and take you to a mystical place you've never been. The waves crash on either side and strange but enchanting beings fly all around. A new age dawns before your very eyes and takes over your soul.

The first thing I thought when hearing that song is how surprised I was that a band called Fairyland was so awesome. I mean, no one in their right mind will ever take this French band seriously. Poor guys. They make good music though and that's all that matters. So I thought I'd check out their previous work. Turns out Fairyland has 3 albums total, with Score to a New Beginning being their latest and greatest. When I found a song from the previous albums and pressed play, there was something pretty unexpected in the sound.

This band has changed vocalists every single album. It's such a weird concept and it changes the sound so much. Every album sounds like a different band, and I found myself only really enjoying Score to a New Beginning. They even switch from female to male vocals between their first and second albums. It's a shame because I'm a pretty big fan of what I heard initially. Just the fact that I can say I listen to a band called Fairyland is enough for me to add them to my library.

You hear all the time of bands switching up guitarists and drummers. Even that is more newsworthy than a new keyboardist or bassists, poor guys. An instrument can be made to fit a band's sound and the style can be changed to fit that of a musician that has left the band, but vocals can only change so much. This is of course added to the fact that vocals are usually the main focus of the song.

I'll compare this to another band that has a constantly changing lineup: Ensiferum. The only two albums where they've actually kept every member of the band is between From Afar and Unsung Heroes. Oddly enough, these albums have some of the biggest changes in sound between them, but that's besides the point. Between Iron and Victory Songs, the entire band changed except for guitarist Markus Toivonen. The only thing people seem to have a problem with though is the new guitarist/vocalist Petri Lindroos. The songs generally sound the same as the first two albums, it's definitely the same band, but the most noticeable change is the vocalist. Perhaps this is an unfair comparison because Jari Mäenpää had a big part in writing songs for the first two albums and is a very talented musician in his own right, but I think it still argues the whole idea of a vocalist changing in a band.

It's interesting how much one member can change the entire sound of a band and it leads to the question of how many member changes a band can go through and still be considered the same band. There are bands that have completely changed every single member since their inception yet still go by the same name and still play songs that they had no hand in creating. One such band is Stratovarius. Their longest-lasting member has been in the band since 1994. The band itself was formed in 1984 and released three albums before Timo Kotipelto joined. While the don't necessarily play any songs from those first albums, they still carry on a name that other people made for themselves. Should this be considered stealing? Well there's a pretty famous case between the former and current members of Gorgoroth that tried to argue that very point. Give it a read if you want a laugh. Those black metal guys are crazy.

Anyway, I think I've rambled enough. These are questions that may never get an answer, though they're still something to think about. Even though Fairyland has a very different sound album to album, it doesn't change the fact that they're a good band and should be listened to. After all, it gives a whole new feel to old songs hearing them live with a new vocalist. The albums released will always stay the way they are, nothing can change that, but the band will live on.

-Zombie Viking

Monday, June 17, 2013

Good Workout Metal #4 Dragonland

Dragonland is a Swedish power metal band from Sweden. They're also the first power metal band I've featured in my workout metal series of blog posts. They just have that extra element that makes them great to pump iron to. Sure, you could throw on any old power metal as you hit the gym, but nothing works quite as well as Dragonland. Let me tell you why.

The first thing you may notice about Dragonland, besides that they're awesome, is how heavy they are for a power metal band. It's got all the power elements right there; the high-pitched guitars, powerful vocals, quick drums and epic symphonic keyboards, but everything - especially the guitars - are just played in a crushing manner. The riffs are deep and methodical, giving a crushing feeling with every pick of a string. The drums also contribute to this feeling with slightly different patterns than are typically found in power metal. It's not just a constant double-bass-fest, they actually have drums that compliment the guitars and give the whole song that extra push.

The groundwork is solid, but then these guys throw a whole other epic layer on top of it. The keyboards are great and fit well with the rest of the music. They also add a bunch of other ambient noises just for the hell of it. The vocalist is very talented and belts out every word with the same amount of feeling. Plus the lyrics are always about something grand, whether it's an epic journey, battle or just being in space. While this is a typical thing in power metal, Dragonland pulls it off amazingly every single time. Every song has the same epic feeling backed by the hard hitting instrumentals.

They also like to throw in harsh vocals every now and then in case you need that extra push during your last set.

Dragonland is simply the best power metal band to work out to. They're heavy enough to keep you motivated and epic enough so you don't get bored. The lyrics are always about something grander than yourself so you stay motivated. And they're just an overall awesome band so you should be listening to them anyway. So throw them on your music player of choice and hit the gym, fatty.

-Zombie Viking

Friday, June 7, 2013

Black Sabbath - God is Dead? Impressions

As an added bonus of being forced to listen to the radio, I also got the chance to listen to Black Sabbath's new song God is Dead?. Yes, I am in fact implying that I wouldn't have listened to it otherwise. There's just something about musicians reuniting after doing nothing for so many years for the sole purpose of making money that's just off-putting. Here are my impressions of the (long awaited?) track.

It sounds like ass.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start at the beginning. I had heard snippets of this song occasionally while changing through radio stations. These experiences went something like this: "What the hell is this?" "Is that Ozzy?" "Meh" and then I changed the station. It wasn't until I happened to hear one station's broadcasters mention that the new Black Sabbath song was up next that I thought I should give it a listen. Even if I didn't like it, I could still blog about it at least. So I took my hand off the dial and listened through God is Dead?. Here are my impressions.

It sounds like ass.

Mmm, delicious mushroom cloud pasta.
I have so many gripes with this song it's almost hard to decide where to start. First off, why is there a question mark in the title? It's a very mysterious song, posing many questions and then failing to answer them. Is god dead? Was this song just made to make money? What is a metal song doing on the radio? Why is it so bad? This is what runs through your mind while the same riff repeats over and over. I have the same main problem with this song as I do with most pop songs in that nothing happens. Up until the song actually picks up around the end, it gives the feeling that it's all building up to something yet consistently failing to actually deliver that thing. It's just boring, for lack of a better word. Ozzy's vocals don't help.

I can't really understand most of what he's saying, but it sounds like the song is about a young reader of Nietzsche pondering life's burning questions. In this world of sinners and blasphemies, has god abandoned us? Did he actually exist in the first place? Oh no, here I go with the questions again. Damn you Black Sabbath!

The face of metal, ladies and gentlemen.
It's pretty obvious that this whole reuniting thing is just for the money or else Ozzy wouldn't have been a part of it. These guys did create the whole heavy metal thing, and I respect them for that, but there comes a time when you have to pass on the torch to the next generation. Especially if you have nothing worth making music about. Like I talked about in my previous post on the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal, there are already younger bands stepping in and playing in the classic metal style while the bands they've taken inspiration from are still pumping out music. What a strange world we live in. Though I'm sure there are plenty of fans who grew up listening to Black Sabbath that are more than thrilled that the band is putting out another album. What do I know?

So as it turns out, God is Dead? is not a great song. I'm just now realizing that I probably heard the shortened radio version, but there's no way in hell I'm going to check out a 9 minute version of this song. It's not worth it. I'll go back to listening to music made by bands who formed yesterday now.

-Zombie Viking

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Why the Radio Sucks

I have recently experienced a tragic event in my life. My CD player in my car stopped working. It takes in the disc, says it's loading for a few seconds and then spits it right back out. With no auxiliary input to speak of, I've been forced to listen to the *shudder* radio. Believe me, it sucks.

Don't look at me like that, you smug bastard.
I'm fortunate enough to have all my preset stations set to rock music. I've heard some of the stuff on other radio stations in the past, and it's not pretty. Those songs just repeat the same sentence over and over again for 2 minutes (seriously!), broken up by a short and boring interlude. I don't have a problem with pop music in general, whatever floats your boat. And honestly, some pop music is pretty darn catchy. But this stuff that's on the radio, I don't know how people listen to half of it. The singers can't sing and there's no other music integrity to speak of. I stay as far away from those stations as possible, changing my dial to channel 200 just in case any stray radio-waves decide to wander in my direction.

The "rock" stations still have quite a few issues of their own though. When they play a song I recognize like Rush or The Who, it's great. It's no metal, but it's definitely bearable. All of the new bands sound the same though. It's the same sort-of deep singer voice and repetitive riffs. There's usually no solo or bridge to speak of, just a long stream of mediocrity. Sometimes I turn to a station and the stuff playing actually sort of sounds like metal until the vocalist or another bad riff comes on and ruins to moment. Damn you, mainstream media!

Sometimes I even change to a station right as a country song comes on. Yee-haw! That's a real day-ruiner right there. Just makes me want to go out and kill a puppy. The worst time is when all other stations are on their radio break so I have to suffer through another Subway promotion. Anything besides country music. Speaking of commercials, they're another huge downside to listening to radio. And this is something they couldn't fix even if they wanted to. Sure, I get it, radio stations have to make money. But (and I don't know if they do this on purpose or not) they all synchronize their commercial breaks with one another so I can't change to any station and hear actual music for a good 2 or 3 minutes. Screw you guys. I turned on the radio so I wouldn't have to sit through a silent drive, but sometimes it just gets to be too much.

When it gets to be too much, those are the moments where I just shut off the radio and listen to my crappy phone speaker. Basically every song turns into black metal, but it's still metal dammit! I'm forced to find and play simple songs in order to actually hear what's going on. No Wintersun for me, just Manowar and Hammerfall. I can't actually hear any song with more than 4 instruments. Those are the moments where the only thing stopping me from careening off the shoulder of the highway is the stack of precious, but currently useless, metal CDs I have in my car. Curse you CD player! And curse you radio! I do not wish my situation on even my worst enemies.

-Zombie Viking

Monday, June 3, 2013

Good Workout Metal #3 Fleshgod Apocalypse

You may be noticing a common theme in these workout metal posts, that the music is heavy and at least partially death metal. Well that's just what makes for good workouts I suppose. But now it's time for the deathest metaliest band of them all: Fleshgod Apocalypse!

The thing that makes Fleshgod so good to pump iron with is that they're always on. At any given point in a song, there's blaring blast beats or guitars or double kicks, or usually all three at once. Even the slower parts of their songs are about 1000 bpm above what a typical band would play. There are more snare hits in one Fleshgod song than there are on an entire album of, well, any other band in existence. Besides maybe Behemoth, but don't get me started on that. There are too many snares for any sane person between the two bands.

Fleshgod's songs are both beautiful and brutal, throwing in numerous symphonic elements throughout. It gives both the feeling of a good hard workout and of becoming a larger-than-life beast. It's hard to describe feelings though, so listen to the following song and feel.

Oh jeeze, I need to stretch after that. And find a shirt that's not ripped. Well at least now you know why everyone at a Fleshgod Apocalypse concert is jacked. I wouldn't go anywhere near that moshpit.

At the time of writing this I have just come home from a good workout. I was listening to Fleshgod, so I can attest to their magical workout metal abilities. Add them to your gym playlist, there's nothing more that needs to be said.

-Zombie Viking