CONTAMINATION AREA: ROCK, METAL AND ELECTRONICS

"CONTAMINATION AREA: ROCK, METAL AND ELECTRONICS "

By Enrico Spinelli.

The history of music is dotted with contaminations between genres that are very distant from each other (one example among many is death metal with jazz); sometimes it happens that a band in search of new stimuli, or short of ideas, tries the experimentation card and then returns within one or two albums to the right path, perhaps less innovative but safer.

With this post I want to present you 5 works between rock and metal characterized by more or less marked contamination with electronic music; I state that I will not talk about industrial metal, synth-rock or genres that have in their DNA the mixture of synthetic sounds and classic instruments, but about albums of bands that had nothing to do with electronics and that after a single release they returned to own steps. Obviously, they are not all the works released with these characteristics and maybe they are not even the most famous, but they are those of my collection that then of all seem suitable for the purpose of the discussion, regardless of whether they are more or less successful, always in my personal opinion.

So, let's go!

LOU REED "METAL MACHINE MUSIC" 1975

The 70s marked the great success of Lou Reed as a soloist, Transformer first of all, but also marked the difficulty of reconciling his creativity with the needs of the fans: after the flop of "Berlin" ours was forced to create 3 works to repair financial losses, the more accessible "Sally Can't Dance" and two live shows, including the beautiful "Rock'n'Roll Animal". All this, in addition to the usual madness of the good Lou, leads to the birth of a weird double LP to say the least: the same record company tries to sell it with a cover that recalls the tour of "RnR Animal", only to face the complaints of buyers and republish it clarifying its nature as an instrumental album. In reality, even this definition is somewhat smoky, as it involves 4 tracks, each occupying a facade of the 33 rpm, for more than an hour of electronic sounds without real music, a real sound cacophony without rhyme or reason. Lou Reed claims with that record that he created the heavy metal and at the same time marking its end. Over time this work will - in its own way - be considered a cult and an interesting punk experiment, my opinion remains the same: a joke that should not be put up for sale and that forces only the completists on duty to buy (see myself).

JETHRO TULL "UNDER WRAPS" 1984


It is well known that Ian Anderson is a rather visionary and broad-minded leader as well as his tendency to transfer the suggestions experienced in his solo projects to his main band (just think of the affinity between his "Divinities" and "Root to Branches", both characterized by strong ethnic influences). After the album "A" (initially conceived as a project venue), in which electronics peeped out, released in 1983 an album dominated by synthetic sounds, "Walk into Light", making use of Peter John Vattese who from there to little will bring his experience in the mother band. The result is "Under Wraps", an album characterized by the massive use of synthetic sounds, even the drums are missing, replaced by a drum machine programmed by Anderson himself. Few concessions to his flute and a handful of more than dignified pieces, albeit atypical, such as the title track or the single Lap of Luxury. Incredible as it may seem, in the disc the Tullian atmospheres are very present and in general there is no strong disconnection with the history of the group, which again proves to have class even in dealing with different realities. The experiment will last the time of a record, in fact the group will retrace its steps by recording the excellent "Crest of a Knave" with which Tull will win the Grammy as best heavy metal group (!!!), winning over Metallica. 

Small curiosity: it seems to be the favorite album of the historic guitarist Martin Barre, a sign of the great quality of work as absurd as it is worth rediscovering.

W.A.S.P. "KILL FUCK DIE" 1997

The end of the 90s greeted with joy and hope the return of the historic band led by Blacki Lawless, (with Chris Holmes); remember that the group, at the time orphan of the famous guitarist, had dissolved the day after the publication of the monumental "Crimson Idol" and the less fortunate - but beautiful - "Still Not Back Enough" (which in fact was an integration of the predecessor), both originally intended as Blackie's solo albums. The hopes are high but K.F.D. leaves everyone speechless... and sows a lot of disappointment since it represents the most unusual you can hear, with massive use of synthesizers, filtered voices and a synthetic river of effects. In an album vaguely inspired by the movie "Apocalypse Now", Lawless and Holmes pour out all their anger over heavy personal events, channeling them into lyrics of rare violence and heaviness (listen to Killahead to believe), alternating powerful rides like the title track, Little Death or Taste the Addiction with more obscure and rhythmic songs like My Tortured Eyes, Kill Your Pretty Face, U or The Horror. The result? At least for me, concept presumed apart, absolutely successful in the intent to exorcise anger (so much so that it becomes my favorite listening in moments of greatest anger), and in its way consistent with the most shocking and transgressive dimension of the group, even if totally distant from the poetry of works like "The crimson idol" or "The Headless Children" (my favourite).

Despite an excellent tour (documented by the beautiful "Double Live Assassin") Blackie will decide to return to more canonical tracks with "Helldorado", bringing his creature back to quieter and less experimental shores.

MAYHEM "GRAND DECLARATION OF WAR" 2000

We know well the history of the band and its black past: born by the will of the guitarist Euronymous and disbanded in the aftermath of his killing, not before having published the black metal bible "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas", a dark record already from the formation (to date it is not known who really played the bass on that album). Great surprise in front of their rebirth, with the return of Hellammer and Necrobutcher and Maniac behind the microphone, the crazy screamer in the middle of "Deathcrush" with the obsession for self-harm on stage. The group releases a dark and perverse ep "Wolf Lair Abyss" (the first part of a concept inspired by Nietsk) which instills black hope in the listeners, in the face of a rather laryngitic vocal performance by Maniac. But here is the stone of the scandal, the album that carries on and concludes the concept "Grand Declaration of War", an album characterized by a massive presence of clean voices... and electronic effects... What happened to black metal? Much more thinned out, diluted within more canonically metal compositions, with large instrumental sections and irritating moments of emptiness (5 minutes of silence from the two "Untitled" I still can't explain them!!!).

But is electronics the problem with the record? Absolutely not, that is only ancillary, what is really missing is the feeling of fear and cold that the group knew how to create with its darker compositions, well present also in the aforementioned EP. And in fact the fans will appreciate the proposal so much that the songs of this album will soon disappear from the setlists while the group will first try a pimp rapprochement first with the lukewarm "Chimera" and then with two rather anonymous albums with the return Attila Csihar at the microphone ("Ordo ad Chao" and "Esoteric Warfare". Then the unexpected and very dignified" Daemon "will take care of giving us back a group still able to surprise us... and scare us.

ALICE COOPER "BRUTAL PLANET" 2000

Alice Cooper did it all! He proved to be at least as crazy as Frank Zappa, he invented shock rock (inspiring works such as "Rocky Horror Picture Show) and after a phase of disarray he proved to be able to cope with the most glamorous bands with the excellent "Trash" and "Hey Stoopid". The changes in society push him to create a sort of trilogy that explores the most controversial aspects, starting with the degeneration of youth, passing through the damages of technological progress and then ending on the drama of human relationships (dominated by sex, death and money); the first of these albums, associated with a beautiful comic that I will talk about on another occasion, is "The Last Temptation", closer to the classic rock sound of ours, while in 2000 "Brutal Planet", dominated by electronic sounds and particularly heavy compositions. Good Alice proves not to be second to her godson Marylin Manson in generating apocalyptic scenarios with the mix of rock and electronic, as evidenced by excellent tracks such as the Title-track, "Wicked Young Man" "or" Blow me a Kiss". In fact it is an excellent record, consistent in its own way with the Cooperian dimension, perfect in delineating the infernal scenario of a world dominated by machines. Alice will then take the whim of challenging his other godchildren, Slipknot, flirting with nu-metal (albeit in a broad sense) in the beautiful and underrated "Dragontown", but that's another story.

As I said, these are just some examples of "one-off" contamination; and what about you? Do you have any titles or bands that could respond to these characteristics?

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