Mining Metal is a monthly column from Heavy Consequence contributing writers Langdon Hickman and Colin Dempsey. The focus is on noteworthy new music emerging from the non-mainstream metal scene, highlighting releases from small and independent labels — or even releases from unsigned acts.
The urge to pick up an object and set it back down is what makes us human. That’s why there are multiple markets that generate billions of dollars every year by capitalizing on the recesses deep within the homo sapien cortex that links serotonin release with moving weight. Don’t let scare statistics fool you: Civilization is the fittest it’s ever been. Obviously, Mining Metal is not a fitness column, but it’d be a disservice not to investigate the “metal” in the title. Any genetic freak in a slingshot bench suit knows the reason why it’s called pumping iron, and nearly anyone who’s stepped foot into an independent or old-school gym can tell you that there is no sweeter sound than the metal plates rattling on either side of the bar.
However, that rattling can’t empower us to smash plateaus alone, which is where music comes in. A Cannibal Corpse album will do the job, but there’s always room for improvement. If you search “meathead” on your preferred streaming service then you’ll find playlists with pictures of Guts (which should usually be a good sign) that are, disappointingly, filled with songs that fail to activate fast twitch muscle fibers. Therefore, while reputable lifting podcasts like Stronger by Science may throw out decent recommendations a la Tool and Mastodon, it’s as likely that you already know about these groups as it is unlikely that we are scientists. What we are, though, are two folks who crave the metal that lines the subcutaneous sinews connecting bone to muscle.
The point here is that while metal can encourage you to lift through its ferocity, any genre with beefy production can do the same. As such, it’s necessary to look beyond the beef, beyond the meat even, and deeper into the Nietzschean abyss. Metal, by and large, loves said abyss. The point is, you don’t have to listen to Pantera just because WWE wrestler Eric Bugenhagen does. It’s possible to listen to metal that represents the metaphorical tension felt at the bottom of a squat while you’re in the bottom of an actual squat.
This month’s collection of under-the-radar releases isn’t entirely dedicated to metal fit for the weight room as some of our picks demonstrate, but it’d be silly to downplay their visceral power. Plus, with Kentaro Miura’s passing last year, meatheads must continue to seek an artistic outlet. Think about it… how else will they experience a tragedy to spur their hypertrophy? Where else can they find the will to take a set beyond failure? Is there truly no paradise for them to escape to?
These are all questions that the meathead must answer for themselves. What we can answer for them is, “What should I listen to now?” There’s a smattering of everything this month, from progressive metal to sludge metal to black metal to black metal so raw it could give you Listeria. No matter what you fancy and regardless of if you even lift, there’s something here for you.
— Colin Dempsey
And an addendum from me: I learned recently I lost a friend in January to fentanyl. Rest in peace, Crow. May all people be safe, may Narcan become common, because users deserve to live and not to die. Oh, and another bonus for those of you who read these: the new record from Maul, which dropped last month, because one from last month got bumped to an August release. Keep this between us.
— Langdon Hickman