Metal music wears its love of extremity on its sleeve. But don't be fooled. There is no one right way to rock. For example, the drunks in Slashpine play black metal, which means they play as fast as they can. On the other end of the spectrum lie Beatriz Monteavaro and Gavin Perry, AKA Holly Hunt, a drum-and-guitar duo that embraces the slow, syrupy crawl of the epic, atmospheric genre known the world over as stoner metal.
The term itself is a little ambiguous and can refer to a multitude of approaches and techniques. As connoisseurs of brutality, Monteavaro and Perry are not content to simply re-create the formulas set before them but instead construct an impressively personalized sampling of their genre's history.
To break down stoner metal and offer a better idea of what to expect from this Saturday's Green Room showcase, here is a list of five essential ingredients that, mixed together, make something definitely edible in an auditory way: Holly Hunt.
The band: Black Sabbath
The ingredient: Evil riffage
Ozzy and Iommi are the Adam and Eve of weed metal. Although the '60s
(Zeppellin, Hendrix, Deep Purple, etc.) had set rock 'n' roll on the path
toward total riff annihilation, rock music had been a source of unease
for popular culture since it came into vogue with Elvis' salaciously
gyrating groin and the mod-era Beatles' shaggy mop tops.
Sabbath didn't concern itself with innuendo or the forefront of
youth fashion. Instead, it loaded up the gravity bong, took a massive
hit while staring into the void, and then screamed "Hail Satan!" while
exhailing a mighty jet stream of smoke.
The band: The Melvins
The ingredient: Riff worship
A decade after "Iron Man" was the definitive anthem for greasy potheads, the Melvins brought a few buckets' worth of said grease to their
underground nuclear weed-riff laboratory bunker and turned it into
sludge. That is to say, the Melvins dared to divorce the riff from rock
music that it may be placed upon an idolatrous pedal to be worshiped as
a deity unto itself.
Sabbath may have imbued rock 'n' roll tone with a delicious deep-fried haze, but the Melvins made it crunchy.
The band: Earth (pre-2007)
The ingredient: Amplifier worship
The sneer-and-headbang approach of the Melvins appealed to Earth's Dylan
Carlson. But in the grand tradition of RNR extremity, it was not enough
to simply re-create Houdini. Instead, Carlson catapulted extreme music
into the mystical realm of amplifier worship. Look no further than Earth
2 for the teleological conclusion of the grand experiment started by
Tony Iommi. Earth-boiled stoner metal down to its absolute basics: rich, thick, dense guitars and lugubrious tempos.
The band: Floor
The ingredient: The bomb string
More than decade before Holly Hunt, Monteavaro cut her teeth as the
original drummer for now-legendary South Florida bruisers Floor. Although noted for its idiosyncratic embrace of big, bright pop music, Floor
also turned up the deep fryer. You can recognize Steve Brooks'
signature, absolutely crushing tone from a mile away (because, even from
a mile away, it will make you shit your pants).
The band: Earth (post-97)
The ingredient: Nuance
All of the bands on this list made a name for themselves by beating
audiences over the head. But the second wave of Earth revolutionized the
way a human ear can hear that which may be defined as "heavy." Rather
than assert power through pedals and volume, the group has employed
subtle drones and patient, repetitive composition to forge a weed-music
variant that sounds more like Ennio Morricone than a bulldozer.
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