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On May You Be Held, Sumac are a beast of free improvisation, noise, and metal

There’s a lot of room in the vast and aesthetically diverse landscape of metal, but one powerhouse trio occupies its own sound-deconstructing universe: Sumac. The heady metal-centric music that guitarist and vocalist Aaron Turner (Isis, Old Man Gloom), bassist Brian Cook (Russian Circles), and drummer Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists) churn out is such a left-field beast […]

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Hardcore, metal, and punk bands unite for Shut It Down: Benefit for the Movement for Black Lives

When Racetraitor formed in Chicago in the mid-90s, their uncompromisingly antiracist politics weren’t always warmly received in the hardcore scene, but after their breakup in 1999 their influence continued to spread (especially once drummer Andy Hurley joined occasional Racetraitor bassist Pete Wentz in Fall Out Boy in 2003). More than a decade later, the burgeoning […]

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Xibalba plunge into new depths of metal and hardcore on Años en Infierno

Named after a Mayan term that roughly translates to “place of fear,” Southern California trio Xibalba have been blending strains of metal and hardcore for nearly 14 years. They’ve increasingly leaned into their Latino heritage (they sing in both Spanish and English) and their death-metal influences, while expanding into new moods and song structures; on […]

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Oranssi Pazuzu voyage beyond black metal to a sound all their own on the new Mestarin Kynsi

When I wrote about these Finnish xenonauts last October, on the occasion of the only stateside tour in their 13-year history, I called their music “wormhole black metal”: “Oranssi Pazuzu plunge you into a tunnel of fatally deformed spacetime, bathe you in a sizzling cocktail of exotic radiation, and spit you out somewhere cold, dark, […]

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On Rebirth by Blasphemy, Cleveland metal miscreants Midnight show they still don’t give a fuck

Midnight are pretty much the nightmare that heartland parents feared during the satanic panic of the 1980s, when metal bands’ imagined lyrical (and moral) transgressions meant they were considered about as family friendly as murderers. Midnight’s music is nihilism with a beat, rudderless and apolitical; they’re as likely to cover 70s midwest punks the Pagans […]