Cheat Sheet: Industrial Metal
by Chuck Eddy | April 27, 2011
Heavy metal was always about technology (as in Iggy and the Stooges: "watch out honey 'cause I'm using technology"). The genre largely emerged out of factory towns like Birmingham, England, and Detroit, Mich., at the turn of the '70s, and its distortion and feedback were obviously dependent on electrical energy and mechanical appendages. Guitars, amps, pedals, fuzzboxes, Mellotrons: an electric funeral pyre, as Black Sabbath put it.
So when industrial noisemakers, disco producers, and hip-hop DJs put synthesizers and beatboxes to abrasive percussive use in the late '70s and early '80s, it's no shock that certain wonky metal gear geeks were taking notes. The first major industrial metal mergers actually came, oddly enough, from a side of the fence then deemed "post punk" -- I'm mainly talking Killing Joke here. But before long, K.J.'s hefty, clangorous, doomsday trance-dance inspired any number of rebellious upstarts in Chicago (Ministry, etc.) and Germany (KMFDM, etc.) and the U.K. (Godflesh, etc.) to put dub in their din and vice versa. Before long, Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie were taking the shtick multiplatinum, begetting copycat scrungers in small prairie towns who hit the thrift stores for sequencers and samplers of their own. Somewhere in there, digital hardcore and crabcore happened. This rundown of 20 landmark albums charts industrial metal's history: the good, bad and proudly ugly.