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.
As the first summer this decade that felt like a true summer winds down, metalheads rejoice as the seasons turn in our favor. We trade in our black cutoff death metal shirts for black long-sleeved death metal shirts, battle jackets give way to actual jackets (denim and patch-filled, of course), cut-off cargos transform into jeans while combat boots…actually, who knows what metalheads wear to shows these days, though Dave Mustaine is hopefully still kicking about in his Nike Air Tech Challenge IIs.
The point is, temperatures will start dropping throughout most of the world soon, and inside those cold weather months is peak metal mise-en-scene. The black metal that champions either Scandanavian pastures or American fauna usually comes with a wintery tone, though that’s not to say that fall doesn’t get any love. The mid-autumn sky burns across many an album’s sleeves, and the first chilly wind of the season cuts the ankles of anybody still wearing Suicoke Kisee-Vs late into October. All that being said, it’s a little strange that when summer comes around, metal doesn’t tend to poke its head out.
It’s been nearly a decade since Deafheaven’s Sunbather crashed onto our airwaves in the middle of the summer and earned a place as a go-to metal album for the season. Bright pink color aside, it’s one of the few metal albums you could listen to on a beach. Its humidity comes without sacrificing intensity or dread, which is an accomplishment in itself. Yet, what Sunbather reveals more than anything else is that there aren’t that many metal albums that people associate with summer.
Truth be told, summer is not about the heat, and neither is metal. There are plenty of albums that will scorch your ears if you listen too closely. Immolation’s Closer to a World Below is a great example, but it’s fiery rather than solstitial. Summer is about openness, longevity, appreciation for nature, and showing off your winter bulk’s results. People are game for new experiences in the hotter months; they want to adventure. More than anything else, everybody wants a summer fling.
Hopefully, it’s clear where this is going, as all of those traits are readily apparent in heavy metal. Sure, you may not be listening to Songs from the North in July, but just like how there are boundless activities open in summer, there are limitless expressions of the self that people communicate through metal. It’s the season when gargantuan riffs thrive, when choruses and bridges reign supreme, and when you may actually listen to folk metal in public (or at all).
To cap off the first semi-normal summer of the 2020s, we present you with eight of the finest albums from the past month. September was a stacked month that pleasantly frustrated us as we scrambled to limit ourselves to just eight albums. But through the decisive powers and goal-focused mentality granted to us through our adherence to NoFap, we’ve abstained from covering this month’s column in a thick coat of neverending praise.