MAP OF METAL – MY NEW ONLINE OBSESSION
My new obsession/time waster is the wonderful site Map of Metal, which is exactly what you think it is: an interactive map of the heavy metal genre and the genres that influence it. Don’t worry-this is not another over-hyped but ultimately unhelpful coffee table tome. Programmed and designed apparently by some Australian dude with a love for metal, a gift for writing, and possibly a need for a design sample when he goes job hunting, this shit is pretty damn amazing by any standard–and it’s huge! You can scroll around forever and find tons of little niches to explore (this image is just one small quadrant):
There are major hubs like “Death Metal,” “Thrash,” and “Grindcore,” and obvious non-metal genres like “Crustpunk” and “Grunge,” but also the subbest of the sub-genres, like “Blackened Crust,” “Visual Kei,” and the hilariously literal “Depressive Black Metal.” Clicking on each one gives you a badass, relatively non-judgmental description of the sounds and history of that type of metal, complete with a list of definitive tunes that you can click on and see YouTube clips of.
Aside from the site’s one major flaw, which is the lack of an index (I tried and failed to find whether Skeletonwitch might be listed anywhere), you will find nothing but awesome on MAP OF METAL, even if you are not a huge fan of the genre. Whether a novice to metal or a relative expert, there are so many songs to love, to debate about, and to listen to for you that you might not have heard–and fuck, you probably will come away converted to things you never thought you’d enjoy, even Christian metal!And the song selection is damn near perfect in each section, making sure to include the pivotal track that began it all, plus a smattering of famous and less famous tracks to showcase its delights and pitfalls (and usually a caboose-era track to prove that people were still doing Yngwie Malmsteen type shit into the 2000s).
My favorite section right now is the Speed Metal section and the subgenres spinning off of it, such as “U.S. Power Metal.” I’ve always known there was a unique niche in metal between bands like Maiden and Priest and the Big Four of Thrash, but finally now there’s a way to put that sound into a context and hear bands, both bad and good (mostly good!), who were finding their footing in a historical backwater–not yet ready to put down the eyeliner and get blood rained on them, but far tougher, faster, and more brutal than the vague memories of glam we might remember from Decline Pt. 2. There are still the still the soaring classical guitar octaves of Thin Lizzy, but you can just hear the spiked wristbands on the bassist, and… goddam, why am I writing this? I need to go back and listen to some more Helloween and Jag Panzer!