Finding Humor In Metal

Take a seat, let the edu-ma-cation begin.

Seriously how fukin’ metal is this.

I often ponder upon all that the metal genre encompasses. I dont think too hard upon it as if one were to delve too deep, for it is a neverending, ever evolving chasm, the sheer enormity of the prospect has the potential to cause more than mere sleepness nights, migranes and feverish bouts of anxiety. Admittedly quite the diverse spectrum exists, with new genres spawned from the womb of others on a near nightly basis.
A corner of this same unfathomably large universe I like to explore has roots found in the very beginning of the scene itself, admittedly discovered more in one-off (B side) rare tracks, and collaboration pieces than complete albums. Although as time went on and studio time became more expensive experimentation exploded and collaborations transformed into a recorded reality this theme soon manifested into something unignorable.

 

If you’re easily offended this probably isn’t the finest of ‘jumping into the metal genre’ points.

 
SOD are one if the more widely known crossover acts of recent years. Their theme and popularity bled into more of an uncleanable stain as time went on spawning numerous other acts of similar ilk, music and lyrical content saturated in tongue-in-cheek/sarcastic themes. MOD are another act, incident following on directly from where SOD left off, who are considered forerunners of the same scene. Around the same time however, many miles away, others were tackling the same malleable theme but with another ‘take’ on the music itself.
 

An interesting take on another classic, but can you name which album it’s from?

 
Lawnmower Deth were not alone in their love of attaching metal snd humor together in an u holy union. Other acts existed, even in the same musical style and especially, at the time, on the Earache label but none garnering quite the same interest as the act who penned the quite unforgettable Satan’s Trampoline.
 

This track will bounce around in your noggin for days take heed!

 
Finding a very recent resurgence the act they have also managed to break into the micro brewery arena. But enough lingering on one of my favorite hobbies. Let’s take a mighty jump leap back across the ‘puddle’ (watch that landing though, it can be a bone snappin’ and virtually life terminating bitch!) in order that I might preach upon another of my favorite acts in much the same arena. 
 

Mammal Sauce. Apparently it can be used for almost anything from shapooing your hair and washing your car to enticing the cougar next door into performing oral favors free of charge. Wait wha-?

 
 
Crotch Duster are a collaboration sporting themes that most will immediately hate the premise of while others will enjoy bearing in mind the overtly sarcastic tones. Crotch Duster don’t merely use humor throughout their music and lyrics but embellish the whole package with a supreme technical aspect that widens the eyes to the point where they might seep ocular fluid and then drip like undercooked eggs down a stunned visage. Theirs is a musical style that covers a wide swath of the genre and then some. In one moment blistering Grindcore attacks the senses only to be soothed by relaxing Caribbean-esque tones in the next. The Big Fat Box of Shit album is at the very least an experience, a vacation from the norm into the depths of both musical dexterity and humor the likes of which teenage boys (and naturally Beavis and Butthead fans) exhibit on a daily basis. 
 

Free from slave ensemble the band find themselves at a loss for what to do other than pose for an eager elderly couple found walking their dog and thirsting for a subject to satisfy the whims of their vintage Kodachrome.

 
And then we have GWAR. Seriously if your knowledge of the metal universe doesn’t at least include a partial indulgence of Scumbags of the Universe I don’t know what to employ as a suitable punishment. Perhaps a few hours spent aboard their tourbus and subsequent utilization on stage would suffice?
VHS (originating from a forgotten, frozen corner, wilderness of Canada) have also joined the list, but rather than counting on the marriage of humor and metal to garner attention they’ve added another element. The missing ingredient for them is horror and cult genre homage. And I’m glad to report their ‘concoction’ works very well. Combining thrash, death and Grindcore elements with movie soundbites and short straight to the point tracks keeps the interest even if it does mean that nineteen tracks culminate in an album only thirty-six minutes in length (Screaming Mad Gore release, not ‘Uncut’ pictured below).
 

Gore and Metal of course it works!

 
This brings me to other releases I’d like to discuss. The first coming from Canada (surprisingly famous for more than merely moose, Molson, the Strange Brew movie, Annihilator, Anvil and rock legends Rush) and the Devin Townsend combined SYL camp. 
Guesses..?
 

Another must listen for those gingerly stepping into the realms of humor soaked metal.

Although the first Strapping Young Lad album, others boast more a serious nature, remains one of my ultimate go-tos of the genre (how could it not with its exhaustive frenetic energy and overall expertly constructed piss take aura) I’ll explore another release, produced and engineered by the aforementioned uber talented Canadian gent and fronted by SYL band mates Jed Simon and Byron Stroud. 
So what does this release have to offer.
 

One can only wonder at the stylistic musical implications from a band with such a moniker.

Zimmers Hole – While you Were Shouting at the Devil…We Were in League With Satan (Canada)
Released – March/11/2008
Century Media

 

Grabs the attetion somewhat, eh?

 
Having only heard snippets of this release before I was left stunned as to it’s overall impact on my senses. Boasting influence from many a genre it clearly showcases the talent of all its members and dramatic influence from SYL. Much like in SYL material the riffs are attention grabbing, driving, adrenaline fueled from the first until the last and the solo work impressive. Heathens vocals are top notch with a range that stands confidently side by side with the finest in the scene. The production is outstanding of a surprisingly professional manner in contrast to what many might have originally thought.
The title track is the first to caress the ears, blistering and atmosphere laden it leaves no room for query as to the overall theme found throughout (the remainder of the album). Spouted lyrics like glam rock can suck my cock and Exodus was fuckin’ right – all the posers must die! add to the intrigue and allure. With a high bar immediately set from the very first track one ponders upon the remaining tracks. Will they live up to the hype produced from the albums opener. The answer is a resounding Yes! As the album progresses the members prowess and ability bleeds through the speakers (which can’t possibly be cranked high enough) as the music weaves from one inspiring realm of influence to another. No one track however, is alike although all sport undeniable leanings from speed/thrash and NWOBHM realms, so much so that the listener is pummeled with reminiscing upon band and track titles from yesteryear that may never quite reach the ‘tip of the tongue’. 

Frazzetta art for the sheer hell of it.

A Saxon (remember those wheels of steel spinning guts?) inspired motorcyle revving track, Alright, finds its way into the playlist as too do fantasy elements. Befitting Manowar, Iced Earth and Three Inches of Blood albums. Hair doesn’t Grow on Steel and We Rule the Fucking Land stand out as early favorites. If it weren’t for the tongue in cheek quality inherent in the tracks one might think the tracks worthy of inclusion in a similarly themed compilation (remember those) based on the quality of the music and the majesty exhibited by Heathens remarkable vocal range and talent. This same range invokes images of classic Dio, Dickinson and early Souza fronted Exodus.
More tham obvious throughout is that ZH take a humorous stab at the silliness and ridiculousness of many bands worshipping the Devil, or Satan if you prefer, for nothing more than persona points. Found either through their lyrical content or the inbetween track snippets boasting pig squels, famous movie soundbites and Hell Awaits (Slayer – duh!) esque chanting. The glam rock versus speed/black/thrash metal is blaringly obvious from the albums title alone.
Whatever your thoughts on the slew of genres touched upon in this album there’s no doubt that this is a work of highly impressive calibre deserved of an esteemed placing in any collection. But be warned you might need to nail yourself down before hitting the play button as this has the highly improbable potential to incite uncontrollable twitching of the extremities.
 

Fuckin ouch!

 
Favorite tracks (of mine) include the opener, Devils Mouth, The Vowel Song (complete with an appearance from Dethkloks Nathan Explosion) and the much deserved homage to unknown throat magicians the world over entitled Anonymous Esophagus (…open mouths across the nation awaiting my donation… the lyrical content alone is worthy of a few chuckles). Although with that in mind the album delivers on a par with the best in the scene.
Highly recommended for those with a sense of humor and a hankering for riffs that’ll stick with you for days.
9.5
 Be prepared for a breakdown…”a cheeseburger breakdown”…or something along those lines.
 
Dead Cross s/t ( USA)
Release – August/4/2017

I bet it’s difficult to find a suit that fits. As Warren Zevon once said…huh – I wanna meet his tailor (Werewolves of London)

 
If any band deserves the moniker of ‘super group’ Dead Cross certainly does. Comprised of members from Faith no More (Mike Patton), Slayer (Dave Lombardo), Locust, Headwound (Justin Pearson) and Retox, The Festival of Dead Deer (Micheal Crain). The album naturally, with such a diverse mixture of associated influences, showcases a chaotic whirlwind like tsunami of styles. Should I also add cyclone, landslide and dizzying shark tornado for the full effect? Nah, I think anyone familiar with the above mentioned artists will appreciate what I’m aiming for.
Dead Cross is made up of ten tracks, all unique in their own right, unpredictable and memorable because each differs so much from the last in lyrical and musical style. For instance Bela Lugosi’s Dead sports an unmistakable Misfit’s vibe whereas Gag Reflex screams a Faith no More inspiration with a splash of Brutal Juice frenetic energy (for those not familiar check out the 1995 Mutilation Makes Identification Difficult release) thrown in for good measure.

The Real Thing vinyl. Dammit I need a record player

Mike Patton exhibits his remarkable range proving that his is a talent that only goes from strength to strength as time passes. I find it hard to believe that The Real Thing is perilously close to thirty years…uhhh…young! In one instance he’s providing melody that fans of previous releases might recognize then in the next a wail, a scream and something altogether different. But it works, amazingly well in fact, as the album crashes through the senses with all the panache and elegance of a drunken baby rhinoceros. Think a culmination of Nail Bomb, GWAR, Faith no More and Mutoid Man then and only then might you be somewhat close, so so far away, from what this album has to offer its audience.

The art gives nothing away as to music within. Bleeder 2015

 
The album isn’t without its tongue in cheek element and more than merely a pinch of sarcasm. And although the music would never feature on the cheerful chart side of things (whatever that means) its easy to tell that all members had a blast composing/constructing and recording this. Also from what I’ve read live shows are an extravaganza of adrenaline, in short an unforgettable experience.
I wholeheartedly recommend this although I’m certain that the live set/experience blows the recorded material out of the water.
9.5
Shell out some coin for this via bandcamp or visit your local retailer and keep the physical scene alive.
 
Of course there are numerous other acts I’ve failed to mention in this article, no disrespect implied. I’ve touched upon a handful, many others are deserved of mentioning Subterranean Fecal Root, O.L.D, Henry Metal, Tenacious D, Mr Bungle and Acid Reign are but only a few. Feel free to send further suggestions my way then who knows perhaps another article may be in order.
Go on dive in, explore the scene snd all the world of metal had to offer.

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You can find Cult laughing like a motherfucker and listening to metal on twitter.

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