Metal is weirder than ever right now, and we can’t get enough of it

Metal Hammer

Extreme metal has a long history of arriving at the doors of perception, but perhaps unsurprisingly, 2020 was the year that more people than ever heard it knocking. If 2019 wasn’t short of surreal, sense-heightening visions it could call its own – with stunning albums from France’s standard-bearers of avant-garde black metal, Deathspell Omega and Blut Aus Nord, as well as sci-fi-obsessed, multi-dimensional death metallers Blood Incantation – they didn’t feel of their time in quite the same way as 2020’s crop of sonic psychonauts did.

New albums from the likes of Finland’s Oranssi Pazuzu, New York City’s Imperial Triumphant, Leeds’ Cryptic Shift and more beamed down into a world continuously rocked by existential anxieties on various fronts – from the COVID-19 pandemic and isolation of lockdown, through to the rapacious Trump presidency, to the multi-pronged assault on truth itself. But while they might not have been a direct response to our current shitshow, the very nature of their otherworldliness struck a chord that brought metal’s outer limits into the conversation like never before. Whether or not 2020 was the year that metal took a leap into the unknown, it was the year when the unknown felt much closer to home.


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