Love Won’t Tear Us Apart: Post-Punk and Metal’s Budding Relationship

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Cross-pollination is a key aspect of musical evolution. As brilliantly explained in this very blog, “every rock or metal musician stands upon the shoulders of someone”. Recent times have seen a plethora of bands release music that stands with one foot on extreme metal and another on punk rock’s older (in spirit) cousin: post-punk.

Despite its name, post-punk developed in tandem with the larger UK punk scene of the late 1970s. Dissatisfaction permeates both of these subgenres, but this sense of displeasure is expressed in different forms. “Uncertainty lies behind every aggressive posture”, said the pumpkin baby in the context of Voivod’s Killing Technology. If this is true, perhaps punk’s penchant for loud anger stems from hope of changes yet to come.

In post-punk, there is no hope. Bleak and depressing motifs are met not with rage, but rather acceptance, sometimes even impotence. The implications of such a shift are at the same time lyrical and sonic. Introspection, failure and sadness become thematic cornerstones. Distortion, wall of sound and instrumental simplicity are substituted by cleaner tones, space in composition and a fondness for experimentation with synths/electronica, inherited from krautrock (think Neu! or Kraftwerk) and industrial pioneers (think Throbbing Gristle). To my ears, post-punk acts have always displayed a certain je ne sais quoi unfound in their punk contemporaries.

To those unfamiliar with the genre, listen to “New Dawn Fades” by Joy Division in order to set the mood. Please be mindful of the way this song (as many others in their catalogue) is driven by the bass sound. The guitar sound is not overbearing or constant, instead it pierces through to complement the emotional charge delivered by the vocals. The drums that punctuate this track are very high in the mix, serving as a perfect example of the archetypal sound of post-punk drumming.


Psalm Zero

 If it wasn’t for the homie Edward/Breegrodamus, I would have never listened to Psalm Zero and this article would have never existed. In his list of 2014’s best releases was Psalm Zero’s first LP, The Drain. The music hovers above the industrial tinged post-punk of Public Image Ltd. and the jazzy dissonant death metal of Baring Teeth and the like, never landing completely in one territory. It’s skronky, it’s melodic and at times even sweet – the clean vocals remind me of Morissey from The Smiths.


The Atlas Moth

Sometimes the most beautiful art emerges from torment and agony. The Old Believer is proof. In this record, the Chicago band weaved an intricate web of sludge metal and post-punk. Their gentler influences shine throughout the entire LP. Searing guitar leads and clean vocals provide an anthemic counterpoint to the unison harsh vocals and the heavy, distorted riffage that carries the piece. The atmosphere and pace of this record is reminiscent of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures. 


Vaura

Based solely on pedigree, I knew this band was worth checking out. I was absolutely floored when I did. The music in their second LP, The Missing, is very experimental but still carries many of post-punk’s compositional tropes. There is a lot of “open space” in between the instruments. The drums carry the signature sound of the late 70s/early 80s, even when blast beats come into play. The bass is many times the element that drives the sound forward, with inventive guitar work circling around it. The vocals, greatly performed, are responsible for taking all the emotion in this music and making it relatable – etching a long lasting impression on the listener.


An Autumn for Crippled Children

There is little I can say about this band’s latest album, The Long Goodbye, that has not already been said in a better, more meaningful way by Stockhausen. You can read his review work of art here. I’ll just ask you to, once again, note how the drums sound, especially in the mid-section of this song.


Bands like Killing Joke have always displayed a metallic sensibility, and some crossover between metal and post-punk could be heard as early as Celtic Frost‘s Into The Pandemonium. However, the amount of bands fusing both genres together has – thankfully – never been higher. Coincidence or not, three of the four bands featured here released their albums under Profound Lore Records, a label that definitely deserves a shout out for this.

Together, these groups deliver some of modern metal’s greatest moments of beauty and poignancy.

(Photo VIA, created by design professor Michael Zollner)

  • Tyree Ricci
  • Edward/Breegrodamus™

    Good stuff Fish God. I’m gonna jam some jams when I get home in a couple hours!

  • RepostedAvengedSevenfoldFan

    How about some of you punk ass bitches pick up a guitar and play some Zakk Wylde shit then maybe your lame ass wannabe comments will hold more water. Come to fox lake Illinois and run your mouth like that.

    AJ Cappellano · Guitarist/Vocalist of Wings of Severance, May 23 at 11:10am

    • Ricky

      I hear Zakk is pretty good at throwing eggs.

      • Dr. Dubz

        Like Yoshi?

        • JWG

          more like Birdo

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Fox Lake, IL: HARD AS FUCK

      • The God Emperor of Mankind

        GIFD from Fox Lake, IL m/

    • I, too, can play pinch harmonics.

      • RepostedAvengedSevenfoldFan

        A7x drinking game: take a drink every time they resolve a riff with an A5 to A5/C#

        I know they write 90% of their stuff in D minor but goddamn there are other ways to resolve to tonic than a major five first inversion?

        -Eric Bishton, 5 months ago

        • lol

        • more beer

          Only children need games to drink. Real men just throw them back.

    • Óðhinn

      To be fair, Wings of Severance is clearly the greatest band of all time. They don’t suck at all. Therefore, they can talk as much shit as they like. No lolbuttz here:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktD0_xIZfGA

      …And Fox Lake Illinois? Well, it’s hard bro.

      http://www.foxlake.org/

    • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

      a friend of mine was a “campground host” in Fox lake! (which meant he didn’t have to pay a trailer fee for his shed on wheels if he hosed down the bathrooms)…lol

    • Óðhinn
    • Óðhinn

      Hard at work on thier debut full length album with former drummer Janson Luedtke @ Nytemare Recordings, WoS is getting ready to unleash the beast. With a revolving door of vocalists over the years, they have finally found the lineup they’ve been looking for. With Sean Borchers on guitar, Phil Feinstein on drums, Ian Borchers on Bass and Handling back up vocals and Guitarist AJ Cappellano taking over lead vocal duties, the lineup is as strong as ever. WoS has released a preproduction version of Nothings the Choice with the new lineup for you all! Spread the word and look out for WoS In 2014!

  • HessianHunter

    It’s tempting to just call every metal band with spacy guitars “(something)-gaze”, but this was a nice reminder that there are other genres from which that mood can be derived. Nice work, Fish God.

  • HessianHunter

    Thankfully, hardcore and post-punk have been good friends for a long time.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WG4HBNRC7w0

  • Tyree Ricci
    • Post-punk as fuck.

    • CyberneticOrganism
    • more beer

      I saw these guys have to run off the stage at the Ritz in NYC in fear for their lives in 86. After playing for 2 minutes the pit stopped and everything that wasn`t nailed down in the club got thrown at them. HR from the Bad Brains Dumped an entire garbage can full of water off the balcony onto them. I`ve never seen a band in such fear for their lives as they were . They were truly horrible. The whole tour was like that.

      • what? that’s so bad! why that happened?

        there are some crazy punk stories.

        In Venezuela I knew about a punk gig which ended in a massive mosh pit with hurt people. Someone called an ambulance to treat the hurt people and when the paramedics arrived and entered the club, they were drag to the mosh pit and were hurt too.

        • The Beargod

          They started to play Shit Metal.

        • more beer

          Thats pretty crazy. I think as far as that Discharge show goes it was because they broke away from their punk roots and the crowd wasn’t happy about it.

          • Umm, I can understand that.

            Punks are the worse and the most conservative crowd I’ve ever heard of, jajaja.

      • HR seems like a pretty shitty dude.

        • more beer

          Yea he does. But it wasn’t just him it was every punk in the place. Discharge came out looking and acting like a hair band and the punks weren’t having it.

        • Pierre Generic

          I recently saw a documentary about the Bad Brains and HR doesn’t seem to be all there, not sure if it’s too much weed or some untreated mental issue.

      • Tyree Ricci

        That’s fucked up man. What an asshole.

        • more beer

          It wasn’t just him. It was almost everyone in the club. People were buying cans of beer and throwing them at them unopened. If I remember correctly they played after the Cro Mags. If you were playing in NYC back then after the Cro Mags you certainly needed to bring your A game.

          • Tyree Ricci

            Goddamn.

          • more beer

            Probably the craziest shit I ever saw at a show.

          • Tyree Ricci

            I’d say so, I’ve never experienced anything like that ever at a show.

          • more beer

            30 plus years of going to shows and that`s the only time I ever saw anything like that.

      • I can’t imagine that happening. Maybe at the time they weren’t accepted in the scene. At the same time I’m not shocked because it took place in NYC.

        • more beer

          They turned metal and the punks weren`t having it. I went to that show for the Cro Mags so I didn`t care that much about seening Discharge.

      • Óðhinn

        To be fair, they went from a cool hardcore punk band to a very shitty Glam Metal band in about 2 seconds. Like Cold Lake but worse. I can see why the fans were angry.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grave_New_World_%28Discharge_album%29
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_bvouD5Fqg

        • Tyree Ricci

          Yikes.

        • more beer

          I know. I`ve just never seen a band get so badly pummeled on stage before or after that!

        • Max

          I used to have that record! I was going through a phase of “Let’s hear what all the fuss is about with this old Discharge band that all of my musical heroes keep citing as an influence whenever I read interviews with them,” and THIS is the first record I picked up.

          Even I could tell that this probably wasn’t the sort of Discharge my heroes were referring to. Fuck knows what they were trying to accomplish with this album. I’m perplexed as to why it isn’t held in similar notoriety to Cold Lake.

    • The God Emperor of Mankind

      Ergh! If I don’t get this album soon I might have to execute a servitor!

  • Maybe I’m a tasteless idiot, but Unknown Pleasures bored me more than anything else.

  • Reichsmarschall Dean von Steel

    I actually had a period of time when I listened to a lot of “post-” whatever albums–The Atlas Moth’s An Ache For The Distance and the S/T EP by Chrome Waves were particular favorites. However, that sound never had a lasting impression on me, and I seemed to grow tired of it very quickly. Now, I rarely touch any of the stuff. I can be placated for short periods of time by all the bells and whistles, but I can’t fool myself for long: I like riffs–fast riffs, slow riffs, nodders, headbangers, riffs that make you punch the air, riffs that make you cry, whatever. I like riffs.

    Unrelated note: It appears that my preorder for the new House of Atreus album has shipped from Dark Descent–even though the official release date isn’t until May 5th. Byaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!

    • Stanley

      For the most part, I agree with you. It’s all about the riffs. Except when it comes to Cult of Luna. They have that je ne sais quoi and their albums are always in constant rotation. How do you feel about CoL?

      • Dr. Dubz

        Stanley, have I told you how much I love Cult of Luna? You should write a Porcelain Throne about them!

      • Reichsmarschall Dean von Steel

        I’ve listened to Vertikal (I think that’s how it’s spelled), and enjoyed it. I also enjoyed Panopticon by Isis quite a bit, and some stuff by Pelican. It’s not all unlistenable to me, but it gets tiresome–especially the stuff that touts itself as some transcendent amalgam of hardcore and shoegaze and sludge (which is already a mix of hardcore and doom) and black metal. That’s like code word for “tiresome sounds that attempt to be atmospheric and emotive but fall flat, but seriously you should enjoy it because I’m going to name drop a bunch of hardcore and post-punk bands from the late 70’s and early 80’s.” Blah..

        • The Beargod

          Thsi reminds me, have you ever listened to Altaar?

          • Reichsmarschall Dean von Steel

            Nope. What do they sound like?

          • The Beargod

            Base somewhere in semi-droning doom, but there is a lot of Black metal in it. I was just thinking that despite not being a post-band really they are somewhat close to such, but might be more to your liking. I’m linking two songs here, the first begins with some noise-stuff for a short while actually.
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WEC8O1Nl0Y

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnWky6VR2Jc

        • Dr. Dubz

          I think CoL do a better job of keeping things interesting by having varied song lengths and structures, but I see where you’re coming from.

    • HessianHunter

      I think An Ache For The Distance is a prime example of how to riff while also post-ing.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMyvu0-eU-w

      • Reichsmarschall Dean von Steel

        Indeed. And that’s why it had such a positive effect on me when so many other albums of its kind went in one ear and out the other. I honestly don’t find myself revisiting that album (or any other “post-” albums, for that matter). It’s a style I can enjoy briefly in very small (or nonexistent) doses.

      • Big Poppa Penis Pump

        First time hearing them. Pretty good, and from my hometown! Sounds kinda like a mix between Neurosis and Interpol.

  • i need to get some shit done today, but i i’m gonna pop my head in and say “DAT FUCKING VAURA SONG”

  • Dr. Dubz

    I dig Vaura. Selenelion is a wonderful rustling.

    • Tyree Ricci

      A vibrant and colorful boob.

      • Dr. Dubz

        There’s no boob on Selenelion, but there is a rainbow tree man.

    • Strange how they were touting themselves as a goth band at the release of Seleneleneleneleion, but that album doesn’t sound heavily gothy to me. Then The Missing comes out and it’s goth as fuck.

      I was shitting myself with excitement when I heard they were a “goth” band, but I actually prefer the more varied sound of Seleneleleneneleneleneion.

      Thoughts?

      • Dr. Dubz

        I don’t really hear the goth on Selenelion, and I recall liking it more than The Missing.

  • Coolstorybro
    • KJM

      This is more my speed.

  • Thanks for this piece, brolo! I need to check that Vaura record, I listened another record of them.

    And here’s my obligatory The Cure embed <3
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaQSrv2qtiM

    • Dagon

      The whole thing is on Spotify, my friend.

      • Spotify is playing with me. I’m not scrobbling to lastfm again, must be the proxy problem.

        Meanwhile, I’m doomloading again.

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    Can’t listen to anything now because work, but Joy Division and The Atlas Moth rule!!! My fave post punk album is definitely the relatively upbeat Marquee Moon though. Good article dude!

  • The Beargod

    This article was a good reminder to get back on Einstürzende Nebauten, also I like that Joy Division album.

    • The Beargod

      Vaura seems very nice too here.

  • RustyShackleford

    I avoided Atlas Moth for awhile, mainly cause I think the “blog that shall not be named” posted about them constantly and it was becoming a real turn off. Once I DID listen I regretted all that because they are super awesome. That Autumn for Crippled Children album is also super tight. I’m sorta fascinated by all the “post-” subgenres. I’ve always maintained that the term is silly, yet when someone says post-punk or post-sludge or post-black I know EXACTLY what they’re talking about, so maybe it ain’t so silly…

    Anyway, YEP!

    • HessianHunter

      I adore The Atlas Moth. An Ache For The Distance is a stellar record and has some of my most-played songs.

      • just saw them last night. the live setting does not fit them well. or maybe we were all just pumped for some more lively music (aka BTBAM)

        • HessianHunter

          I first fell in love with them as a live band. It’s a hypnotic experience. Def not fist pumping jams like BTBAM, though.

          • yeah, i gotta blame the mindset; not the band on this one! they do make quality music

          • Big Poppa Penis Pump

            BTBAM = butt pumping jams.

    • Dagon

      The way I see it is that “post” is used as an indicative that something is taking the elements of one genre – as in the instruments, the production, the ethos – and producing music that feels very different from the originator.

      Take post-metal, for example. There’s distortion, metal production, metal vocals but the songwriting follows a vastly different path. I like the “post” prefix.

  • Tyree Ricci
  • Guacamole Jim

    This isn’t really hitting the spot today – maybe I’ll come around on it later. But I will say, Vaura is fucking awesome. Solid win. All in all, I praise thee O Fish God!

  • NefariousDude

    The missing is one of my fav albums of all time.

  • Sir Tapir the Based
  • JamesGrimm
  • Mother Shabubu III

    DID SOMEONE SAY KRAUTROCK????! I love the turlet!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DT2Pk46nXU8

  • Ahmed Johnson The Reef Eater

    I love the Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen and Joy Division!

    • The Cure was excellent until the band broke up and Robert Smith continued to call the shitty lifeloving music he put out “The Cure”.

      Pornography peckpeckpeckpeckpeckpeckpeck

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GzAr70m5fk

      • Ahmed Johnson The Reef Eater

        You consider Disintegration lifeloving? That album is bleak even if it’s nowhere near as bleak as Pornography.

        • Disintegration does not sound bleak to me. Maybe a tad gloomy at times, but it’s mostly just lush and melancholy and kind of cheesy. In my opinion, of course. Which is 100% accurate AT ALL TIMES.

  • J.R.

    This Vaura is super good! and Autumn for Crippled Children are super good as well! I also like them because that article gave me my first Featured Comment. Toilet ov HIstory right there.

  • Big Poppa Penis Pump

    IMHO the best shoegaze/post-punk band to come out of last year.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbMI4IEyPT0

    • Russiagaze.

      • Big Poppa Penis Pump

        YakovShmirnoffcore.

        • Putinpop.

          • InfinityOfThoughts

            The anti Pussy Riot

          • I’m rather charmed by Pussy Riot. For their antics, not their music, which is not music–which is why so many people don’t understand them. It’s all a bit of a lowest-common-denominator approach to actionist art, but at least it’s effective and entertaining while they’re at it.

  • InfinityOfThoughts

    Vaura. I just became an instant fan. Nice work Dagon.

  • Myra Esoteric

    I think the rational explanation is that 14 year old emos grow to become 21 year old metalheads and then 32 year old Sonic Youth-listening hipsters.