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by Chuck Eddy

August 2, 2014

Metal Instrumentals of the 2010s

by Chuck Eddy  |  August 2, 2014

Let's face it -- the problem with most heavy metal singers is that they don't know when to shut up! But now and then they opt not to let their screaming, shrieking, bellowing or barfing overwhelm their bandmates, and the result is token instrumental tracks. They're often extremely short and usually not more than one per album, though in recent years bands as diverse as 3 Inches of Blood, Saint Vitus, Hirax and Battleroar have dared to include two or even three. The Virginia combo Corsair go so far as to cite Metallica instrumentals as a primary influence. Of course, there are also singer-free groups such as Karma to Burn, Loincloth, Animals as Leaders and Russian Circles who decide mum's always the word. But while those are certainly represented on this playlist, the mix is mainly devoted to acts -- including big deals Lamb of God, High on Fire, Rob Zombie and Chelsea Grin -- for whom wordlessness is a change of pace.

And it's often a refreshing one, providing a brief pastoral or atmospheric respite from metal's ubiquitous terror and turmoil. These tracks, which all came out in the past half-decade or so, show bands getting fancy and high-fallutin' (Holy Grail's "Nocture in D Minor," Exmortus' interpretation of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata"); taking a spaghetti western stroll across the border desert (Corrosion of Conformity's "El Lamento de Las Cabras"); scooting around in an electronic tugboat (ICS Vortex's "The Sub Mariner"); imagining nonexistent war horror movies (Gorguts' "The Battle of Chamdo"); dancing up some polypercussive disco voodoo (Kadavar's "Abra Kadabra"); stirring eye of newt and wart of crone and flute of Tull into their Wiccan brew (Blood Ceremony's "Hymn to Pan"); or exploring the outer limits of avant-garde white noise (Wolvhammer's "Lethe"). And sometimes, as in the case of Boston tech-death crew Revocation, they just go completely nutso with the crazed future-fusion chaos, performing complex integral calculus equations on their instruments. Maybe some even tape their frontpersons' traps shut!

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