heavy metal

The first six months of this year have been an interesting ride in the rock and metal world.

Every so often I get the chance to hear something that catches me off-guard. I enjoy those moments, not just because they're rare, but because they usually end up being some of the more memorable experiences I have with music.

There may be no word scarier to the traditional metal fan than 'metalcore'. Merely mentioning the term stirs up feelings of angst and unease, as though the music is a deadly infection that threatens to wipe out earlier strains of heavy metal.

When an album comes across my desk with a press release bearing words like 'sodomy', 'filth', and 'vile', a small part of me has already started writing my opinion before I ever hear a note of the music. It's a lousy form of jurisprudence, but it's one I won't pretend to ignore.

In the long, winding story of heavy metal, one of the most under-appreciated chapters is that of American pioneers Trouble. The Chicago band was responsible not only for the rise and development of American doom metal, but three albums later also the development of groove and stoner metal.

Of all the subsets of heavy metal, doom may just be the hardest to do well. While thrash can get by on the adrenaline of speed, prog can get by on intellectual arguments, and death and black metal can get by on sheer aggression, doom has nothing to fall back on.

Progressive music has been in the midst of a boom in recent years.

Death metal has, over time, become a uniquely divided sect of the greater heavy metal catalogue. To ask metal fans on each side of the Atlantic what "death metal" should sound like would elicit two wildly different answers.

In due time, it's almost a guarantee that every sub-genre of metal will end up blended with every other. Bands like to break new ground, to establish legacies, and being able to claim an entire sub-genre as your progeny is an effective way of doing so.

I have never been a fan of Nile. I should probably start by saying that.