Music Education

The Metal Minute: Death Metal

Do you hear it? Just over the horizon, clanging and rattling like a thousand empty soup cans?

It’s the Metal Minute. Last time, we discussed doom metal, a slow and more articulate version of metal. For this installment, things are getting grotesque and growly as we explore the world’s most brutal musical genre: death metal.

What is it?

Death metal can trace its roots to the 80’s, with major stylistic influences derived from early black metal bands like Venom and thrash bands like Slayer and Hellhammer.

Cover for “Realm of Chaos” by Bolt Thrower

Early death metal bands were inspired by these sounds, but wanted to create something harsher — more deathlike — and began to experiment with heavier instrumentation, more abrasive vocals and increasingly grotesque subject matter (see: “Frantic Disembowelment” by Cannibal Corpse).

What’s it Sound Like?

According to Chris Krovatin of Kerrang! magazine, “When a non-metal person describes metal by making a growling noise, they’re thinking of death metal.”

Cover for “The Enduring Spirit” by Tomb Mold

The genre features fast-paced tempos, overdriven guitar, blast beats on double-bass drums and abrupt changes to tempo and time signature. The resulting sound is heavy, distorted and aggressive. Combined with guttural, often inhuman-sounding vocals, the genre presents an intense and expansive listening experience.

Subgenres Within Subgenres

Like many other subgenres, death metal has several sub-subgenres. They include:

  • Brutal death metal

Pretty self-explanatory, brutal death metal favors faster, heavier and more brutal playing styles. The death metal nesting doll continues, as a sub-sub-subgenre called slam death metal has emerged from brutal death metal, infusing hardcore punk and even hip-hop elements into its sound.

  • Deathcore

The “deathification” of metalcore. I.e., the collision of hardcore punk, metal, and death metal. Like metalcore, deathcore is a label often rejected by metal dudebros who see the subgenre as “inauthentic.”

  • Death doom

The marriage of doom metal with death metal. Slower tempos and a more broody atmosphere with the growls and blast beats of death metal.

  • Melodic death metal

Pioneered in Sweden, leaning closer towards mainstream metal with a more melodic style.

  • Technical death metal

Also known as tech-death or prog-death, presents progressive metal with a death metal slant. Time signatures, rhythms and instrumentation becomes more complex — or, some would say, progressive — within this sub-sub-genre.

Who Makes it?

The death metal scene is robust. Here are several genre heavy-hitters:

Weekly Charts

Top Charts 4/2/24

Top Charts

2MYRA KEYESFlower In The BrickSelf-Released
3GOTTS STREET PARKOn The InsideBlue Flowers/PIAS
4TEENS IN TROUBLEWhat’s MineAsian Man
5RATBOYSThe WindowTopshelf
6TRUTH CLUBRunning From The ChaseDouble Double Whammy
7YUNGATITAShoelace & A KnotSelf-Released
8DANNY BROWNQuarantaWarp
9HIDING PLACES“After Image” [Single]Self-Released
10HOTLINE TNTCartwheelThird Man
12CHUCK STRANGERSA Forsaken Lover’s PleaLex
13GLASS BEACHPlastic DeathRun For Cover
15GOAT GIRL“Ride Around” [Single]Rough Trade
16HORSE JUMPER OF LOVEHeartbreak RulesRun For Cover
17METEOR POLICENew Type DestroyerSelf-Released
18PARIS TEXASMid AirParis Texas/The Orchard
19PEARL EARLIt’s DreadGreen Witch
20SLEATER-KINNEYLittle RopeLoma Vista/Concord
21SOFTCULT“Haunt You Still” [Single]Easy Life
22SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVEi’m so lucky [EP]Saddle Creek
23SPRINTSLetter To SelfCity Slang
24SWEET PILLStarchild [EP]Hopeless
25OFFICE DOGSpielNew West/Flying Nun
26STALEFISHStalefish Does AmericaHappen Twice
27TOUSSAINT MORRISONThe Very Best Of Ricky & JaneUrban Home Companion
28SEAFOOD SAM“Saylo” [Single]drink sum wtr

Top Adds

2ROSALIBite DownMerge
3NON LALike BeforeMint
4EELS“Goldy” [Single]E Works/PIAS
5TEENS IN TROUBLEWhat’s MineAsian Man
6NO MANGlitter And SpitIodine
7PORIJ“My Only Love” [Single]Play It Again Sam
8POWERWASHEREveryone LaughsStrange View
9ST VINCENT“Flea” [Single]Total Pleasure
10CRUMB“AMAMA” [Single]Self-Released
Weekly Charts

Underground Charts 4/2/24

Underground Charts

1CHUCK STRANGERSA Forsaken Lover’s PleaLex
4CAKES DA KILLABlack SheepYoung Art
5CLAN SPRMThe Great American EclipseHumblux
7TOUSSAINT MORRISONThe Very Best Of Ricky & JaneUrban Home Companion
8WAHIDfeast, by ravenInnovative Leisure/Praises Due
9CZARFACECzartificial IntelligenceSilver Age/Virgin
10STOVE GOD COOKS X STOUPE“Carbone” [Single]Mankind/Babygrande

Underground Adds

1WAHIDfeast, by ravenInnovative Leisure/Praises Due
2SCOTT Y LOS PELMAZOSAnalog Machine Presents – Scott Y Los PelmazosAnalog Machine
3JAY HOLLYWOOD“the eulogy” [Single]Self-Released
4POTATOHEAD PEOPLE“Keepin’ It Kool” feat. Kendra Dias [Single]Bastard Jazz
5PROZACK TURNER“Misunderstood” [Single]Hungerstrike
Weekly Charts

Jazz Charts 4/2/24

Jazz Charts

1NUBYA GARCIA“Fortify” [Single]Concord Jazz
3BUTCHER BROWNSolar MusicConcord Jazz/Concord
4DANA AND ALDENQuiet Music For Young PeopleSauna Boys
5ALFA MISTVariablesAnti-
8MATANA ROBERTSCoin Coin Chapter Five: In The Garden…Constellation
9THE FLYING BIG HORSE BANDA Message from the Flying Horse Big BandSelf-Released
10VIN VENEZIAThe VenetianInnervision

Jazz Adds

1WILLY RODRIGUEZSeeing SoundsOutside in
2KELLY GREENSeemsGreen Soul
4GHOST-NOTEMustard n’OnionsArtistry
5HENDRIK MEURKENSThe Jazz MeurkengersCellar
Weekly Charts

Chainsaw Charts 4/2/24

Chaisaw Charts

1ABORTEDVault Of HorrorsNuclear Blast
2BRATSocial GraceProsthetic
3FREYAFight As OneUpstate
6AMIENSUS“Vermillion Fog Of War” [Single]M-Theory
8BOUNDARIESDeath Is Little More3DOT
9ESHTADUR“Fire Above Mountain Below” [Single]Self-Released
10HORNDALHead Hammer ManProsthetic

Chainsaw Adds

1MY DYING BRIDEA Mortal BindingNuclear Blast
2GATECREEPER“The Black Curtain” [Single]Nuclear Blast
3WYRMHAVEN“Midnight Altar” [Single]Self-Released
4STRYCHNOSArmageddon PatronageDark Descent
Weekly Charts

Afterhours Charts 4/2/24

Afterhours Charts

1CLUB ANGELSoundbwoy’s Destiny [EP]Astral People/PIAS
2TATYANAIt’s OverSinderlyn
3JULIA HOLTERSomething In The Room She MovesDomino
6BLU DETIGERAll I Ever Want Is EverythingCapitol
7COR.ECE AND BAD COLOURSBeen Here BeforeBastard Jazz
82AT X SUKUBRATZ“Tu Perrito VIP” [Single]Angels Gun Club
9PORIJ“Unpredictable” [Single]Play It Again Sam
10BAD TUNER“maybe so” [Single]Foreign Family Collective/Ninja Tune

Afterhours Adds

1CLUB ANGELSoundbwoy’s Destiny [EP]Astral People/PIAS
2BLU DETIGERAll I Ever Want Is EverythingCapitol
3COR.ECE AND BAD COLOURSBeen Here BeforeBastard Jazz
4BAD TUNER“maybe so” [Single]Foreign Family Collective/Ninja Tune
5SAM GIRLING AND THEO BLANK“Always Pretty” [Single]Southern Fried
Concert Review

Kyoto Punk Quartet Otoboke Beaver Rocks Cat’s Cradle

Japanese garage punk band Otoboke Beaver melted faces and absolutely blew my mind at their March 26 performance at Cat’s Cradle.

If you’re unfamiliar with Otoboke Beaver, I cover them in this recent post. Here’s the rundown of their show:

The Openers

The first act of the night was NC-based riot grrrl band Babe Haven. Fueled by “rage ‘n’ Slim Jims,” this all-girl queer quartet threatened to blow the roof off the place with their vicious musical energy.

Cover for “Uppercut” by Babe Haven

Playing tracks from their most recent album, “Uppercut,” lead vocalist Lillie riveted the audience with her aggressively gritty screams and contagious vigor. Partway through the set, she passed the mic to guitarist Naomi for “Kung Pow,” a rallying cry against orientalism and fetishization that got everyone in the room thrashing.

For more info about Babe Haven’s “Uppercut,” check out “Babe Haven: NC Queer Punk” by Ben.

Following Babe Haven was the Drinking Boys and Girls Choir, a three-piece punk group hailing from Daegu, South Korea. The band’s name comes from its earliest members, who bonded over their shared love of drinking and singing.

Cover for “Linda Linda” by Drinking Boys and Girls Choir

Drinking Boys and Girls Choir presents an upbeat, summery take on punk, with airy beats and an absolutely sublime guitar. The band’s sound moves seamlessly along a spectrum from gritty skate punk to harmonic indie rock.

I’ve never heard anything like it. Myeong-jin Kim’s expert drumwork and Megan Nisbet’s entrancing guitar solos made my skin erupt in gooseflesh.

Otoboke Beaver

Otoboke Beaver’s performance was everything I’d hoped for. With an aces setlist, commanding stage presence and dazzling visual effects, Otoboke Beaver delivered one of the best concert experiences I’ve ever had.

Drawing both from their 2022 album “Super Champon” and the iconic 2019 “Itekoma Hits,” the group had everyone in the room at their command.

Cover for “Super Champon” by Otoboke Beaver

When lead vocalist Accorinrin — clad in a 60’s-style pink dress and matching eyeliner — raised a silencing hand, everyone clammed up immediately (except for one man whose incessant “whooping” earned him a scolding “shut the f–k up, man!” from a peeved concertgoer). Later, the audience erupted with delight as she brandished us a manicured middle finger.

Conversely, guitarist Yoyoyoshie’s ebullient orange pallette and cartoonishly cheery demeanor whipped the audience into a frenzy, her high-pitched screams and seemingly elastic facial expressions paired with an aggressive rapid-fire guitar.

Otoboke Beaver at The Crocodile in Seattle – Posted by David Lee, licensed CC BY 2.0 DEED.

Her penchant for audience engagement — compelling us to clap in time with the beat for “Don’t Call Me Mojo” — blurred the hard-set line between stage and audience. This effect reached its ultimate climax when she dove into the audience at the end of the set, crowdsurfing on a giant beaver-themed pool floatie.

Final Thoughts

Sometimes shows with multiple openers can drag, especially when they differ stylistically. However, Babe Haven and Drinking Boys and Girls Choir presented such powerful energy that watching their performances felt like shows in and of themselves rather than a preface to the “main event.”

Ultimately, the night was a showcase of several different faces of female-fronted punk music, and it was absolutely riotous in all the best ways.

Concert Review

Concert Review: Bar Italia

Often, the bands we like are located far away. 

When the opportunity arises to see a band on their first journey to your city, you take it. This was my experience with Bar Italia; upon hearing of the London-based band’s most recent tour, which included their first ever show in the Triangle (at Motorco in Durham), I had to buy a ticket. It was non-negotiable, and soon, very exciting; I was finally going to be able to see a European band that I had prayed would come to the South (many such cases). 

Soon enough, the day came. While I was taking a moment outside, I watched as large numbers of fans began to trickle into the venue. Many were dressed in typical indie garb that you’d expect from a rock show of this sort. Interestingly, many people seemed to mirror Bar Italia’s slick British style; I counted a number of mod haircuts, Britpop-y normcore fits, and pointedly English dress trends that would normally fly well under the radar in North Carolina. It was fascinating to see, as I could tell that these people were obviously big fans of the band.

The opener, named Great Area, began soon enough. Beforehand, nobody seemed to be aware of who the opener was- or what their sound was like- which made for a pleasant surprise. It was one person, assumedly also from Britain, with a backing track and a background projector, singing in an almost impressively deadpan style against hypnotic, retro electronic beats that captured the essence of a midnight ride through the streets of London.

The moody aesthetics and attitude were at the forefront, with the visuals featuring esoteric flashes of urban landscapes, dated tech advertisements, and loose snippets of pop culture edited seamlessly to go along with the music. Great Area stood completely still and stared ahead as they sang each of the songs in order. It was not a long set, but a perfect appetizer to begin a night of London scene vibes. 

However, the momentum of the night was interrupted by a nearly hour-long wait until Bar Italia came on.

The crowd began to stir around thirty minutes after Great Area walked off stage. According to an anonymous source, Bar Italia had requested that the Beatles be played as the venue’s background music in between sets and during both artists’ setup times. I overheard crowd goers making mock bets as to what Beatles song would come next, and I’ve never heard more discussion about the Beatles in years. The slightest sense of tension arose in the air, and every time the door to the back room opened, much of the crowd would stare, hoping for the band to come out. There were a few whispers that the band could have canceled, or that something went wrong last minute. Fortunately, this was not the case.

The frustration nearly hit its peak by the time Bar Italia finally arose from backstage, to thunderous, relieved applause. Without an introduction, they began.

The set consisted mostly of album tracks from their most recent full-length release, The Twits, which was met with generally positive emotions from the crowd. Highlights included the raucous “my little tony” and “worlds greatest emoter”, which got the crowd moving in the first phases of the set. Tracks from their previous album- which also came out last year- Tracey Denim, were welcomed with notably more cheering and singalongs than the newer songs, but this could be primarily because the singles from “Tracey” were played. Nonetheless, the crowd was entranced all the way through; however, it was apparent that some fatigue from the wait time in between sets lingered on people. The band also played a couple older loose singles that are popular amongst fans, to much praise.

Bar Italia present themselves as a three-piece, with two guitarists and a vocalist. For the performance, they added a touring drummer and bassist (special props to the drummer, who absolutely killed it). With this being said, the live sound was much different from their studio sound. This is mainly due to the fact that none of the programmed drums, synths, and strings present in the studio tracks were accommodated for in the live set. I saw this as a good thing, as they were able to turn up the garagey-ness of their act, and the clear and concise distortion and raucousness made for an enthralling, true-blue rock and roll performance.

For better or worse, the atmosphere of their performance was not as, well, atmospheric as the opener. The main stage lights were on the entire time, leaving the band in complete view from the audience. There were no background projections. This could definitely be a positive, as it was easy to see everyone and what they were playing. It lent a bit of intimacy and casualness to the performance, and made it feel as if they were a local band playing for a local crowd. 

Despite a couple minor shortcomings, the show was excellent, and the set ran just long enough. Bar Italia played extremely tight, without missing a beat, and the excitement of seeing a cult favorite band for the first time clearly resonated with everyone in attendance. Everyone seemed to leave satisfied, albeit perhaps with newfound opinions on the Beatles.

-Mike Utt

Band/Artist Profile Classic Album Review

If You Don’t Like Snakes, This Band Doesn’t Like You

Awesome Snakes was the tongue-in-cheek side project of Annie Holoien and Danny Henry of The Soviettes, a Minneapolis pop-punk outfit from the early 2000s.

Described by Holoien as a “f–k-around band,” the group’s iconic sound landed them not just critical reception, but a feature in the 2009 game Skate 2.

“[We] just needed to be a little more free and loose than the Soviettes could be,” Henry said in a 2006 interview with Silver Magazine. “So, we started Awesome Snakes, the idea being that we’d make a sort of jokey-mixed tape only we’d find funny. But we’d have total control.”

Photo by john crozier on Unsplash

The band’s first release, “Awesome Snakes,” came out through the cassette-only label Home Taping Is Killing the Record Industry in 2004. Two years later, the band put out “Venom,” their first and only LP, with Crustacean Records.

Despite the release’s highly focused subject matter, (centering pretty exclusively on “snakes” and/or “things that are awesome”) it was listed in the A.V. Club’s Minneapolis edition of “Best Music of 2006.”

In 2021, the band put out an expanded edition of “Venom” through Stand Up! Records as well as several vinyl pressings.

“At first, we approached them but they said they did only spoken word comedy,” Henry said. “But after seeing our show, they wanted to make a deal.”


Though certainly an accidental success, “Venom” is an objectively good album. Its pop-adjacent, lo-fi take on punk rock is interpersed with improv-like lyrics and incongruous soundbytes from random cassettes, giving it an uncanny multi-dimensionality that calls to mind the romantic eccentricity of 2000s indie films.

“It’s not a conscious way of entertainment,” said Henry. “We just do what we think is funny and good and if other people like it, great.”

Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash

Perhaps it’s this instinctual quality that makes “Venom” such a great release. The album feels like an expertly-executed comedic bit from the punkishly fab cover art to the discography itself, which features song titles like “I Want a Snake,” “Snakes Vs. Jerks,” “1950s UFO Vs. Snakes,” “The Future of the Snake Industry” and several others.

It’s clear from the album’s first track that Holoien and Henry are having an absolute blast.

It’s authentically fun and unintentionally genius. The cheery ebullience of Holoien’s vocals — at times reminiscent of 80s pop — contrast with Henry’s improvisationally unhinged and borderline inebriated spoken word. The lack of diegetic context — the question of why snakes? is never answered — only compounds the album’s bizarro humor.

Final Thoughts

Awesome Snakes is a great band for people who don’t take themselves too seriously.

Their work reminds me of the egg punk genre, though their sound is considerably less distorted or DEVO-esque. The staunch DIY quality of “Venom” is a refreshing return to what makes punk fun: f–ing around until something feels good, and chasing that feeling as far as it will go.

My personal favorite track, “I Want a Snake,” (featured in Skate 2) will live in my brain for years.

Band/Artist Profile Concert Review

The Mystery of Authenticity and The Pale White

Yeah, the guitarist and the drummer are brothers. Once I realized this small, yet crucial fact after a quick wikipedia search, their entire performance made sense. 

The Pale White are a three-piece rock band from the United Kingdom. I saw them play as the opening act for the Pixies at the Olympia Theater in Dublin, which I was lucky enough to visit with my mom on her birthday trip. We bought the tickets last minute the day before the show, as we had previously thought it wouldn’t even be worth trying to attain them. The Pixies were playing a three show stint and the first two nights sold out instantly. We were thrilled to get seats in a stroke of fortune and went in blind about the opener. I had never heard about The Pale White. 

We went early to the venue, and it wasn’t quite full yet. Our seats were up on the balcony. The Olympia Theater is beautiful, with French-style plaster flourishes in white on the maroon walls, chandelier, and a large red, velvet curtain half-hoisted behind the stage. 

In a chaotic burst, the drummer came first onto the stage to hype up the audience. His presence was instantly frenzied as he raised his arms for applause and cheers. I think the entire audience instantly got the sense that this guy was wildly intense about his craft and meant serious business. Then, in succession, emerged the lead singer and guitarist, as well as the bassist. 

Instantly, my mom leaned over and whispered, “Who’s band do you think this is?”