Hey, everyone! RobBarracuda here, and it’s time to for the second half of my look at the 2010 Adult Swim compilation Metal Swim. Make sure to read part 1 which covers the first 8 songs of the compilation, and if you like what you read and hear, you can download the compilation right here. Now let’s continue.
9. Saviours – “Dixie Dieway”
Saviours is a metal band from Oakland who have been active for a little over 10 years and have released 5 albums in that time. There’s not much to comment on regarding their sound since it’s fairly basic and straightforward. While leaning on stoner and doom influences, Saviours take a predominantly great deal of their sound from the more classic metal of the 70’s and 80’s. “Dixie Dieway” is no different, sounding the closest to a lost song from the early days of the genre that they ever have. The overall simplicity of the song makes it not one of my favorites on the compilation, but if this kind of more retro-leaning style of metal is your thing, then you’ll no doubt like it more than I do. It’s also worth noting that a different version of “Dixie Dieway” appeared on the deluxe edition of their 2011 album Death’s Procession, which slowed down the driving beat to a noticeably slower tempo.
10. Witch Mountain – “Veil Of The Forgotten”
Witch Mountain, as the name would imply, are a doom metal band from Oregon, and they most definitely know how to bring the doom, focusing on lengthy slow to mid-tempo songs that succeed at evoking a highly occult atmosphere. “Veil Of The Forgotten” first appeared on Metal Swim before showing up on their 2012 release Cauldron Of The Wild (Witch Mountain? Cauldron? I’m suspecting a theme here). The guitars and drums lure you into a lull with their darkly hypnotic playing, and the high-pitched wailing vocals/occasional guttural lows of Uta Plotkin invite you further to witness the ominous rituals of what I will assume is a group of either devil worshippers or witches, most likely. The song somehow manages to get more dark and suffocating around the halfway point when the bass, and eventually the guitars, begin to mimic the kind of melody you’d expect with witch gatherings, and it makes for a wonderfully creepy metal track.
11. Isis – “Pliable Foe”
Isis (not to be confused with the terrorist organization) was a metal band from Boston, Massachusetts who were known as one of the more popular groups in the post-metal genre, a style characterized by mixing slow-tempo (often sludgy) metal with ambient/shoegaze elements. Isis in particular is known for combining these songwriting elements with intricate and complex lyrical themes that often branch out and connect across multiple releases instead of just being contained to one album. “Pliable Foe” is actually from the last bit of original material the group released, first appearing on a split EP with sludge pioneers The Melvins on July 17th, 2010, 2 months after announcing their break-up and one month after playing their final show. The song opens up with a pretty-sounding keyboard melody and some dynamic-but-light drums before introducing melancholic guitars and vocals into the mix. Aaron Turner’s vocals and lyrics illustrate the tale of men who have been injured and broken by much physical violence, occurring from the POV of someone who appears to also want them fatally injured or dead. This becomes more apparent a little over halfway through as the vocals go from clean and melodic to jagged and harsh, with the guitars adopting a much sludgier tone than in the first half. While post-metal isn’t normally one of my preferred genres of metal, the complex songwriting and interesting lyrical content make “Pliable Foe” a really strong inclusion on the compilation.
12. Jesu – “Dethroned”
Justin K. Broadrick is one of the most prolific individuals in the metal scene, perhaps best known as one of the founding members of Godflesh, an influential group who served as pioneers of the industrial metal genre. When Godflesh dissolved in 2002, Broadrick started another project the following year called Jesu, named after the final song from the final (at the time) Godflesh album Hymns. While both projects have similar root elements to their sound with lengthy repetitive songs and machine-like rhythms and instrumentation, Jesu emphasizes shoegazing melodies over the much harsher style favored by Godflesh. “Dethroned” is the title track from an EP that remained unreleased until November 2010, when it was compiled alongside a reissue of Jesu’s first EP, Heart Ache. Both of these EPs were written in the early days when Jesu was just Broadrick working on his own, and “Dethroned” feels more evocative of Godflesh than anything else, especially with the programmed drums throughout. That being said, the signatures of Jesu’s sound are present as well, with melodic vocals overtop most of the track and melancholic guitars that only get more moody towards the back-half of the song. It’s a solid enough song if you want to zone out to something moody and heavy at the same time, but admittingly I’ll always prefer the grittier style of Godflesh to Jesu.
13. Pelican – “Inch Above Sand”
Going back to post-metal, Pelican is an instrumental metal band from Chicago who, interestingly, were originally signed to Hydra Head Records, the independent label owned by Isis’ Aaron Turner. The group is a fairly well-known one in the post-metal genre, even having their music licensed for other media (you might recognize the track “Ephemeral” from the closing credits of Dead Space 3). “Inch Above Sand” originally appeared on a two-song split with the band Young Widows, and it’s a pretty good song with a melancholic feel that evokes aquatic and oceanic imagery, nature being a common recurring theme in their music. There’s even a couple of southern tinges to the guitars in the second half of the song. If there’s a flaw to be found, it’s that the song is a little too slow for my taste. There’s actually a better version of “Inch Above Sand” (titled “An Inch Above Sand”) that appeared on Pelican’s 2009 release What We All Come To Need which has a somewhat faster tempo to it that I think better communicates the oceanic feeling of the original song.
14. Zoroaster – “Witch’s Hammer”
Unable to find a video of the song online.
“Witch’s Hammer” finds us back in the state of Georgia and Adult Swim’s hometown of Atlanta with the band Zoroaster, whose style is a mix of equal parts doom metal and good ol’ Southern-fried sludge. The track featured here is exclusive to the Metal Swim compilation, and it’s definitely on the heavier end of the spectrum. It comes right out of the gate, assaulting you with a steady wall of fuzzy guitars and bellowing overwhelming vocals before settling into a southern psychedelic groove, complete with the unsettling sound of whirring winds. The second half of the song gets into a more aggressive groove which effortlessly mixes the Southern and doom elements into a vicious assault of heaviness. It serves as one of the heaviest and finest songs that Zoroaster has ever written.
15. Withered – “Extinguished With The Weary”
Another band from Atlanta makes an appearance on this compilation: a death/doom metal group named Withered, who is undeniably the heaviest band featured on Metal Swim. While some of the other bands on the compilation feature sludgy guitars or occult atmosphere, Withered just hits you in a manner akin to taking on the full force of a jet engine blasting your entire physical being. This holds true for “Extinguished with the Weary”, the opening track off the group’s last album Dualitas, released a month after the compilation came out. The song’s pounding drums, break-neck furious guitars, and suffocating vocals, surround the listener in a massive cacophonous whirlwind of intensity that does not let up until near the end. It’s a song that pounds the listener into submission until the last two minutes, when the song finally lets up by introducing a slower doomier passage that lets the listener (hopefully) recover from the metal beating they just received before
16. Boris – “Luna”
The final song on the compilation sees us leaving Georgia as well as the United States. The most eclectic and bizarre group featured, Boris are an avant-garde/doom/noise rock trio from Tokyo, Japan, who have released a staggering 22 albums since their debut in 1996 (including 3 in 2015) in addition to numerous collaborative albums with other artists. While their first 3 releases focused on droning sludgy noise, later albums (starting with Heavy Rocks 2002) began to incorporate a more accessible stoner hard rock sound to their repertoire, although the group frequently bounces back and forth between drone/noise and hard rock across their whole discography. The song that closes out Metal Swim is one called “Luna”, which originally appeared on a 2009 release called Chapter Ahead Being Fake, a split album which also featured music from Torche. The song opens with a segment featuring melodious guitars and some drum fills before quickly segueing into the song proper, with fuzzy grinding guitars, fast-paced drumming, and Takeshi Ohtani’s vocals soaring and echoing above the entire song. These sounds build on top of each other all through, creating massive walls of sound all throughout it. The song is also driven by Atsuo Mizuno’s drumming, which utilizes blast beats throughout more than half of it: a somewhat unconventional technique to use, as it’s more resembling of death metal-style drums than anything that would typically be found in Boris’ catalogue. “Luna” does close on a more quiet ambient passage within the last three minutes to offset the melodic-yet-intense parts that came before. It’s worth noting that not only does the Metal Swim version of “Luna” removes 2 minutes from the original track (mainly the first/last minute or two), but this song also appeared on the international version of their 2011 release New Album, albeit a different and certainly inferior mix.
So that concludes my look at Metal Swim. It’s certainly an interesting collection of metal songs that covers as much ground as possible, from classic stalwarts to the more extreme facets of the 2000’s metal scene and even some unconventional artists. I hope Adult Swim decides to do a Metal Swim 2 at some point, seeing as how I think they could do a pretty good job at capturing what the metal landscape has become within the past 5 years or so. This is RobBarracuda, saying peace out until next time.