Saturday, March 28, 2015

Wormed, Progressive Metal, & Representations of Space

Here's a ramble drawing out themes of "progressive" metal and representations of space. All ideas in this post are in their absolute infancy at this point.

Wormed is absolutely fantastic. Both LPs just blow me away. The guitar tone is strange and massive, very heavy but has this weird clarity, especially on Exodromos. My two first true/full-fledged BDM bands were Defeated Sanity and Wormed (here I exclude borderline or early bands like Cryptopsy and Suffocation). I didn't like the production on DS's newest album, but need to probably revisit it to get a better feel before I can enjoy or criticize.

In any case, I really like the space vibe Wormed has going on. It's in the guitar tone, it's in the chord progressions (just slightly proggy), in the rhythms (heavy and off-kilter), in Phlegeton's vocals, and in the weird little guitar parts played on the higher strings. It's like a progressive BDM that was actually progressive and didn't just follow the sound of "progressive metal" or whatever. From what I know, prog rock was actually progressive, but when it came to prog metal, instead of actually being a descriptor ("this is progressive music") it became a genre cliche sort of thing ("this sounds like progressive metal, a particular sound and not a descriptor"). So Wormed are not "progressive BDM" in that sense, though I would certainly call the music progressive. Fits perfectly with the space vibe.

There are many different space vibes that are possible, actually. Wormed are one, a sort of... cyber future space replete with spectacular new forms of cosmic process (the birth of stars, wormholes, neutrinos and explosions, that kind of shit). We could contrast this to Darkspace, whose space is empty and pitch dark; the vast eternal expanse of nothingness, the outer void (this would apply in a slightly different way also to Trist's Hin-Fort, which is more about astral projection into that void). There's also U.M.A. by Progenie Terrestre Pura, which is a clean eco-future where everything is shiny chrome and highly efficient computers run everything. Or again on the more technical/proggy side of things there's an old favorite of mine, Direwolf's Beyond the Lands of Human Existence, which is sort of a sci-fi epic which reminds me most of something like Warhammer 40k, chaotic battles and moral ambiguity, sprawling planetary systems teeming with warfare. And there are so many others.

For some reason, space-themed metal seems to do best (in my opinion) when it's proggy/technical death metal (Wormed, Obscura a little, Origin too)  or ambient/atmospheric black metal (Darkspace, Trist, U.M.A., etc.). And then there's proggy/technical black metal (Direwolf, Spectral Lore). Not much else really captures the vibe. Why is that I wonder? And what is the significance of all these different representations of space?

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